Best countries to visit for when you’re on a budget

If you have the wanderlust virus , you know you feel need to travel as much as possible. However, your bank account doesn’t always agree. If you still want to enjoy the beauty of a long stretched beaches, feel the sun glowing on your skin and discover new cultures, we are happy to tell you that you can do this on a small budget. These are 8 countries you should visit if you don’t want to break the bank.

1. Cambodia, Asia

Daily budget: 15 euro or less

Cambodia is a very cheap destination, even by Southeast Asian standards. If you’re really on a budget and you keep your daily spending to a minimum, you can live on an amount of 10 to 15 euro’s per day. Firstly, accommodation can be found for as little as 4-5 euro’s per night (for a simple hut or hostel) and even the alcohol is cheap here. Secondly, if you eat the local food, you won’t spend more than 4 euros on a 2 course meal. Flights cost about 500 euro’s if you book ahead of time.

Angkor Wat. travel on a budget
One of the cheapest countries for travel

2. Thailand, Asia

Daily budget: 20 euro or less

If you’ve been to Thailand, you know you can live there as a King or a Queen. When I was there I had a massage almost every day and it only cost me about 5 to 10 euro’s. Thailand has one of the finest cuisines in the world but you can dine here for about 5-10 euro’s per person. (this includes your drinks!) It’s the ultimate backpacking country with a lot of cheap accommodation available. Thailand also has many options, you can make it as expensive as you want.

Koh Lipe. best countries to visit when you're on a budget
It’s never boring in Thailand

3. Georgia

Daily Budget: 27 euro

This destination is high on demand and made it on many top destination lists for 2019. Why? Adventure seekers have discovered the stunning nature of this country, plus it’s very affordable! Because Georgia isn’t rampaged by tourists, prices remain low, also for accommodations. If you decide to go backpacking for 14 days, you can do it with a budget of 400 euro per person. This is unheard of in western European countries. Time to out Georgia on your bucketlist? 

georgia
Stunning Georgia

4. Albania

Daily Budget: 28 euro

Never though of Albania? Well, time to change that! Albania is an underrated country with many mountains, canyons and the Ionian coastline. Albania isn’t full of tourists and therefore prices are very good! Be the first to discover hidden beaches and coves, or walk around in the Albanian Alpes. 

Albania, countries to visit when you are on a budget

5. Nicaragua

Daily Budget: 28 euro

We do not understand why we haven’t been here yet, because this place has it all. Untouched beaches, cute towns, rough nature, volcano’s and it’s extremely cheap to trek around. Above all, the country is relatively tourist free, which is also a big plus for many amongst us. Hotel rooms are an average of 15 euro per night. On average, a couple can live comfortably in Nicaragua for 1200 euro per month, not bad!

beer in Nicaragua
Have another beer in Nicaragua!

6. Greece, Europe

Daily budget: 30 euro or less

I’m speaking out of experience because as you might know because I have been to Greece many times. Firstly, food is one of the cheapest in Europe. For instance, you can feast on a large main course for only 6-9 euro’s. A beer will cost you about 2 euro’s. You will pay double the price in places like Mykonos and Santorini but if you visit the main land or Islands like : Folegandros, Lefkas or Naxos, you can definitely add Greece to your budget destination list.

Greece is great if you're on a budget
Lefkas (Lefkada) is great for budget travel

7. Philippines, Asia

Daily budget: 25 euro or less

It’s not the cheapest of the Asian countries we’ve mentioned but it certainly deserves a place in our top 8 and the reason it’s at number 7 is because of the long flight. The flight is by far the most expensive part of your trip but if you’re lucky you can get a cheap flight at around 600 euro’s per person. On the other hand, the Philippines are pretty untouched by mass tourism (unlike Thailand for example), as a result it can be more difficult to get around sometimes. That’s way you tend to spent more on boats, domestic flights etc. Read more about The Philippines.

Philippines Bohol
Relaxing in the Philippines

8. Bolivia, South America

Daily budget: 25 euro or less

Bolivia is a very popular destination for backpackers, simply because it’s very affordable to travel. There is something for every budget. Even the good hotels offer reasonable prices. (a 4 star hotel is available for as little as 80 USD) 

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Chill.. cuz your money isn’t going anywhere

In short, budget travel is possible, it just depends on the country you want to visit. And let’s be honest, the above options aren’t so bad right?

Love,

Wander-Lust

More tips?

Folegandros » Discovering the Cyclades

There is something rather special about this island, located in the Cyclades region: Folegandros. Most people visit nearby Santorini, but little do they know that Folegandros is like a dream.

How to get there
From Naxos I took the ferry to Folegandros but if you do, always make sure you check the ferry times before planning your trip. My ferry stopped at about 3 different islands before arriving in Folegandros and by that time it was evening and I missed a whole day. When you arrive in Folegandros, you can take a public bus to the village which cost about 1.80 euro’s per person and takes you there in less than 15 min.

Folegandros Church

Where to stay
The island is very small and you immediately get a sense of the peace & calmness this place represents. It was easy to find my bed for the night because all the locals know each other and when I asked for my reservation at “Castro“, I was pointed in the right direction. The more steps I took, the more I fell in love. Hotel Castro owes its name from the location where it’s found, in the region of the medieval Castle of Folegandros. The Castle of Folegandros functioned as a defensive fortress and.. I got to sleep there. How cool! The friendly owners guided me to my room and although it was getting dark, my mouth fell open when I saw my balcony with probably the best view in town!

Hotel Castro Folegandros
The amazing private balcony at Castro’s

At night, the town turns into a romantic bohemian village. Trees with lights cover the top of outside restaurants. There are 6 different squares divided and each one of those has another cute place to eat. I arrived on a Saturday and because most Greek people are free on Sunday, the town is vibrant and alive. You will see everyone having a drink, pretty much everywhere where they can sit. If you want to join in the fun, you should try Raki, Ouzo or a hot drink I wasn’t familiar with, called Rakomelo. It tastes a bit like Glühwine and is delicious!

Folegandros
A bohemian dream

Folegandros is too beautiful to lay in your bed for too long, so I advice you to get up early. The town is wonderful in the morning and great to shoot some nice pictures. My balcony was a great place to have breakfast but you should also go into town and sit in one of the beautiful gardens to drink coffee. I had breakfast at Pounda where you can enjoy a Greek breakfast whilst looking at beautiful flowers.

Folegandros
The town of Chora is beautiful for walking around

Folegandros
Feeling completely zen at Agios Nikolaos beach.

The beaches
The best beaches in Folegandros are Agios Nikolaos beach (if you like peace and quiet), Agali beach (more popular) and the beach near the port, Karavostasi beach.

I would recommend to stay on Folegandros for at least 3 days. It’s an amazing place to relax and a total contrast to the busy Santorini.

Love,

Elke

The Santorini Guide 2019

The endless sea view, the white and blue buildings. Santorini is like a dream. And even though it’s one of Greece most visited destinations, we still think you should visit the island this 2019.

How to get there

With the fastest boat you can get to Santorini within 45 min from other nearby islands like Folegandros for example. Ferries can be late sometimes so always prepare yourself for this. Book your ferry ahead as it will save you money and you can do this online or at one of the tourist offices you will find in the main areas. 

Coming into Santorini is something special

Santorini Map

Ferries at Santorini
The ferries look small compared to the impressive coastline. The volcano on the right.

Impressive rock formations will leave your with an open mouth. 

Don’t stay in Oia if you want a more peaceful experience

Santorini is an island that attracts many tourist so if you are doing the Cyclades tour, this is the one you shouldn’t miss. It is rather special. If you want a little less touristy but still enjoy the amazing views whilst waking up, you should definitely book your accommodation in Imerovigli. With the busy Oia on the right side and the main town of Thira only 10 min away, it’s the perfect place to stay and enjoy breathtaking views. 

Santorini Hotel
Breaktaking views from the Absolutely Bliss Hotel in Imerovigli. 

Volcanic Beaches

Did you know Santorini has a White, Black and Red beach? The island is not known for it’s beautiful sandy beaches but if you get a chance, you should visit Red beach and Kamari Beach where you can find many sun beds, beach restaurants and shops.

Santorini
A red beach, who knew!

black beach
Red or Black. Only on Santorini

Visit the local villages

If you visit Santorini with your partner, you should definitely book a romantic dinner for 2 but… do something different and eat in one of the old villages like Pyrgos. Why? Because it’s authentic, the food taste amazing and it’s half the price! Still enjoy a meal with that-oh-so-amazing-view? Have breakfast at one of the many hotel options along the cliff. If you want to shop for some nice jewellery and high-end clothes, you should visit Oia but do it at the end of the day or early in the morning when it’s not boiling hot. Yes, there will be a lot of tourist so prepare yourself, and breath in, breath out. You’ll be fine 🙂

Santorini view
Romantic dinner for 2 anyone?

Santorini
The craaazy view. Picture shot at Oia.

Must Do’s

One of the other must do’s in Santorini is to walk to the top of Skaros Rock right across Imerovigli. It’s about a 20 min walk when you start across and you can get right to the top if you can get past your fear of heights. My legs were shaking a little bit while I was climbing up the last bit, but it was totally worth seeing the sun disappear into the sea.  You can also get up early and walk all the way to Oia or back. For this walk you need some trainers or steady shoes. It takes about 3,5 hours from Thira to Oia and about 1,5 hours from Imerovigli.

Santorini is a wine region?

Another thing that holiday makers don’t seem to know, is that Santorini has a wonderful wine region. The Santorini vineyards are the oldest in the country, and amongst one of the oldest in the world. There are 1500 hectares of vineyards on the island and you can to tastings and tours.

Santorni
Skaros Rock on the left with Imerovigli on the right

As I said, Folegandros & Santorini are two different and unique islands, but they also have a lot of similarities. To make things a little easier…
Romance? Check.
Best views? Check.
Tasty cuisine? Check.
You want to chill to the max? Pick Folegandros.
You want to shop and feel like a princess? Pick Santorini.
You want to see paradise? Pick both.

Happy travels,

Elke

Discovering Southwest Crete

Crete is the last island I visited during my Greek island tour. It’s by far the largest but also one of the Greek islands that never really appealed to me, mainly because of it’s party reputation. I needed to prove myself wrong and discover the best that Crete has to offer.

Getting there:
I was planning to take the boat from Santorini which takes about 2,5 hours but my boyfriend thought it would be a better plan to fly over there with a small propeller plane. 
History was repeating itself because last year a swore i would never step into a propellor plane again…Yes, I cried. Again.
The good thing is that it only takes about 20 minutes to fly and it cost about the same, if not cheaper, than the boat would. The boat from Santorini only leaves in the evening which means you lose a whole day in Crete. I had no time to lose as I only had 4,5 days left.

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Pointing at my destination with Heraklion all the way in the top right.

Once arrived, we rented a car. This is a must in crete if you want to visit the best parts. From the airport (Heraklion) we drove past the coast towards Rethimno and continued our way towards the southwest. One of the main reasons that I wanted to see this part of Crete, is because of it’s amazing scenery, a lack of tourist and lot’s to tell you guys about! When you drive towards the southwest, you will be surprised about how green Crete can be!

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Crete is very green indeed!

I always get hungry when I travel so after about 2 hours, we stopped along the coast and found a taverna next to a very nice and quiet beach.
When I looked at the menu, I immediately notiched that the food on there was very authentic. Everything was home cooked like; Briam, Moussaka or fresh Calamaris. As a veggie lover, I chose the Briam and it only cost me 5,50! It was one of the best Greek meals i’ve had so far and the lady that served us was so friendly.

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The perfect stop when you’re roadtripping.

» Chora Sfakion
After this nice stop, we kept on driving until we decended all the way across crete towards the south coast.

Passing a lot of small villages and even a huge clove, we arrived in Chora SfakionThis town was perfect for what I was looking for. I had no accommodation booked, so we looked around and after only 10 minutes I made a deal for a suite (including a shared swimming pool) for 40 euro’s per night for 2 people. Wow, this was a huge difference compared to Mykonos, Santorini and even FolegandrosWith this thought, I walked down to the village where you will find 2 small beaches, a harbour and a street full of lovely restaurants. Greece has a thing for bakery’s and Chora Sfakion had the cutest I had seen so far. Definitely buy your bread here. A Must try in Chora Sfakion » Sfakion Cheese & Honey Pie. It’s a speciality that every restaurant in town serves. I had mine for breakfast and the nice thing is, that they use local honey that taste so goooood.

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Traditional Sfakion Cheese & Honey Pie at restaurant Lefka Ori. Yummie!

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My favourite restaurant in Hora Sfakion: Lefka Ori

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The cutest bakery with so many things to choose from! Markos & Niki

Around Chora Sfakion:

» Fragokastello
15 km east of Chora Sfakion lays a 14th-century Venetian fortress, but there’s also a wide, white-sand beach beneath the fortress that gradually into shallow warm water, making it ideal for kids. Development has been kept to a minimum with most accommodation set back from the shore, leaving the natural beauty largely untouched. In summer, occasional concerts and folk dance performances are held. I was lucky to get an invitation from a local (we keep encouraging this kind of contact!) and enjoyed a traditional Cretan dance performance inside the castle.

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A traditional Cretan dance at the castle of Fragokastello

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The shallow waters with the fortress in the back

» Loutro
On the western side of Sfakion lays the cute bay village Loutro. The only way to get here, is by boat or by foot. You have a few options; taxi boat, a small ferry, rent a small boat or hike the 7km trail. I chose the small ferry which departs daily from Sfakion’s small harbour. A return ticket cost about 10 euro’s per person and takes 15 min. The absence of cars and bikes on Loutro makes it quiet and peaceful. You will find taverna’s and a few shops. You can rent boats, waterbikes or opt for a canoe like I did. This way you can explore nearby beaches like sweetwater beach and enjoy the turquoise sea.
Tip » Bring some sunscreen and a plastic bag to put your belongings in.

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Rent a canoe in Loutro and jump of the cliffs!

» Samaria Gorge
Europe’s longest clove (16km) is very near to Chora Sfakion and if you’re a enthusiastic hiker, you must have heard of it. More than 170,000 hikers, walk the Gorge each year and it’s one of the most populair things to do in Crete. At wander-lust we always try to discover the area’s that are a little less crowded so I hiked her little brother, the Imbros GorgeThis one is only 11km long and after about 5km you will reach it’s most narrow part at only 1.60 meters wide. Most people leave their car at the top and walk down, but I did it the other way round. Once you reach the top, you can walk down again or you can take a taxi or bus. It’s an easy walk but it’s always best to wear trainers and bring plenty of water. 

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Standing in between the narrowest part of the Imbros Gorge, Crete

 » Chania (old town)
Driving up north west, you will find Chania. Ok, it’s not next door to Sfakion (about 1 hour), but it’s a great place to visit when you make your way back up the mountain and that’s exactly what we did.

The old town lays next to the old harbour and looks amazing. Don’t be tricked by the seaside restaurants as they overcharge you but walk inside the walls and you will be able to find cute coffeehouses, restaurants and shops.

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Chania is a great place to spent a few hours!

Crete is so big, that it’s impossible to see everything. I wish I could have visited a lot more places such as a very special island called: Gavdos.
This island is about a 1,5 hours boat trip from Chora Sfakion and it has been said that it’s a true hippie experience. If you liked the book or the movie The Beach, you will love Gavdos. People walk around naked, have campfires, sing songs and stay there for weeks. But I guess I have to wait a little longer before I can cross that one of my bucketlist. Until then I hope you find these tips useful and experience the best of Crete. Just like I did.

My Island hopping tour has finished and in total, I visited 5 islands and I did it in 14 days and I spent 1200 euro’s.
To find out which islands I visited and what I did, read all the articles below.

Love,

Elke

Vasilitsa, the amazing skiing resort in Greece!

One of my best friends is Greek and I’ve known him for most of my life. I have been coming to Greece since I was 3 years old but he never told me about this amazing winter secret before until he sent me a text message last week with a few pictures that looked like the French Alps or Switzerland.
Little did I realize that these were pictures from a place called Vasilitsa Greece.

Winter wonderland in Greece
There’s fallen a lot of snow in Vasilitsa this winter

Vasilitsa is one of the best ski resorts in Greece. The ski center is located in the middle of Pindos, approximately 417km from Athens and 2,5 hours away from a place called Perdika, where I used to spent my summers. 

“Vasilitsa is one of Greece best skiing resorts, so why don’t we know about it?”

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Just a few hours away from a winter wonderland..

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Off the beaten track
Currently, Vasilitsa has 5 lifts and 16 ski trails, making this a perfect getaway for the Greeks. A lot of foreigners don’t know about this place though so maybe it’s time to pay a visit. During this season, flights are low priced and from Preveza airport it’s a only 3,5 hours drive before you get up on the mountain. 
You can choose different ski-passes: a day card is €10,- while a 5 day pass will cost you only €30,-!
If you just want to enjoy the views, you will only need to pay 3 euro’s. The ski sets are available for rent from about €12,- and snowboard sets will cost you €15. More info here.

Where to stay
Rooms are also widely available and not expensive! You can stay in a fully equipped room for as little as 250 euro’s for 5 nights based on 2 persons.

For accommodations in the area check here

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Stunning views

Vasilitsa
Picture perfect

Want a ski holiday a bit out of the box? Then pick Vasilitsa!

Love,

Elke

*All pictures from Vasilitsa are courtesy of Alexie Efstathiou

Vergina: The historic hotspot of Greece

Vergina, a small town in northern Greece, will surprise you with historic treasures.

The town became more famous after the important archeologic discovery’s of Mr Andronikos in 1977. He found the skull of Phillip II with a damaged right eye which indicated that he was hit with an arrow. You’ll learn a lot more when you get a guided tour in one of the many archeologic museums Vergina has to offer.

How To Get There!
If you want to stay for a more than a week, plan your stay in Thessaloniki. Vergina has a lot to offer but after a couple days, you’ll be done with all the history and museums. Then it’s nice to get some city-life and enjoy a cocktail or two. It’s easy to get to Vergina from Thessaloniki with a rental car. It takes about an hour and a half. 

Tip: take a detour en route and spot the lovely lunch places with an amazing view of the Techniti Rimi Lake.

Vergina

Get Historical
Make sure not to miss the Museum of Royal Tombs of Aigai. Here you’ll find the grave of Phillip II and Alexander IV of Macedon. The guide told us a lot of complicated stories about their death, marriages and traditions. For example, one of the wives of Phillip II was buried in a chamber next to him in the tomb. Where she came from, it was a tradition to follow the husband into the grave. And so she gave up her life.

Vergina Greece

You can park the rental car next to this museum. The museum is open on Monday from 12:00 to 20:00 and on Tuesday till Sunday from 08:00 to 20:00. A normal ticket is €12. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to take pictures in the museum.

Get Local
If you want to stay the night in this small historic town, I recommend hotel Esperides. The owner (Mr Mantsios) is a lovely host and most of all: an amazing chef! Usually, he doesn’t serve dinner at the hotel, but if you smile friendly and ask nicely you might have a chance. At least don’t miss his homemade olive breadsticks and plum jam during breakfast. This hotel also includes a small spa with sauna and steam bath.

Come to Vergina if you love history, great weather and a wonderful Greek atmosphere. (the food is a huge bonus ;-))

Love,

Larissa

*Larissa is our brand new guest editor! She lives in The Netherlands and has accomplished a lot for her age. She works as an editor in Chief at BLVD

The best of Mykonos

Everybody has heard of Mykonos once in their lifetime. Mykonos is part of the Cyclades islands and the Ibiza of Greece. Known for its lavish parties and the jetset life, yet it has a lot more to offer than just that. Like many of you, I dislike mass tourism, so finding some less crowded spots on Mykonos seemed to be a quest. Lucky enough I did find some and I love to share these with you.

The Beaches:
Mykonos is surrounded by the Aegean sea so there are plenty beaches to choose from! But not all are suitable for what you might be looking for. If you have small children, you might want to visit the south east coast for example. For the best quiet beaches check these out:

The North:
» Fokos Beach (quiet, plus one small and tasty restaurant!)
» Merssini (private beach best for couples! No restaurant)

Mykonos has some quiet beaches
Staring in to the sea and feeling the warm sand at Fokos Beach

The South:
» Kalaftis (beautiful, windsurfing, good for children)
» Kapari beach (great for couples, to get there you must go off road a little bit)
» Agios Ioannis Beach (some nice beach bars like Hippiefish but very chilled out and not crowded)

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The hard to find Kapari beach. Ssst, it’s a secret!

The water in Mykonos is like.. wow.

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Eating well and enjoying the sound of children playing at Kalaftis beach

Accommodation:
Hotels can be expensive in the high season so if you’re looking for the best budget deal, check out the Paraga Beach Hostel at Paraga Beach. The view from the poolside is amazing and you won’t spend more than 120 euro’s for 3 nights depending on what accommodation type you will get. I slept in a 2 persons tent (TRB) with electricity but you can also hire a small tent for as little as 15 euro’s per night.  The only thing to be aware of is that on the left side of paraga beach you will find the infamous Paradise beach which is full of youngsters getting their groove on until 4 in the morning. Bring some earplugs and you should be fine though. The service at this hostel is great and they serve food all day long and even have a small supermarket.

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The view from Paraga Beach Hostel was pretty amazing!

glamping at Paraga Beach Hostel Mykonos
Very basic but you can’t get a better deal in Mykonos than this one! 🙂


Paraga Beach Hostel Mykonos
Laying by the pool at Paraga Beach Hostel

Next door to this hostel is an amazing boutique hotel called San Giorgio. This is a completely different experience and a big upgrade! I was lucky enough to get a tour and taste the amazing breakfast buffet. The hotel manager (who happened to be Dutch) explained to me that a lot of her guest come here to get that comfortable “home” feeling that large hotels don’t offer. San Giorgio’s architecture suits any type of traveller because it’s warm, stylish screams hippie chic.

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The bohemian entrance of San Giorgio Hotel

Their pool area is by far my favorite place of the hotel. Overlooking the aegan sea, you can chill here on large beds or relax at the bar next to the pool. I enjoyed my first healthy smoothly here and it cured my cold which I brought back from The Netherlands.
For rooms check their amazing website: sangiorgio-mykonos.com. Psst, if you book with Booking.com and you use our discount code, you’ll get €25 back, after you return from your trip!

San Giorgio Hotel, Mykonos
Endless views from the pool area

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A colorful vitamin boost!

San Giorgio also has a stylish little brother called the Scorpios beach club just on the other side of Paraga beach. Same architect, different management.
They just opened in May and it already attracts celebrities and the elite. I danced at sunset which is something you must do when coming to mykonos. Read about the best beach bars in Mykonos here. In the “club” they also have an amazing clothing shop where they sell one Mexican label called Caravana Montaecristo. They offer an exclusive capsule collection for luxury-minded globetrotting travelers.


Caravana Mykonos
The beautiful collection of  Caravana

Where to eat:
The main town of Mykonos is called Chora. Be aware that it’s crowded at nights and you will walk through the small street at a slow pace. The best time to visit is in the morning. I have to be honest and I have to say I was a little disappointed by the food in this area and it was overpriced when you compare it to the more secluded areas. One restaurant I can highly recommend is Joanna’s Nikos Place Taverna. The food is amazing. Try the moussaka or the fresh fish from the grill! It’s situated at the left beach next to Chora and it can be busy. If you want a table with sea view, you must make a reservation.

Budget Tip: try and visit your nearest bakery and order a feta and spinach roll or if you like something sweet, try the pastry filled with cream. Both are typically Greek and this way you can have lunch on the beach and save some cash! A win win right?

Verdict: Mykonos is a must visit if you like the jetset life, don’t mind to spend a little more cash than usual and dance until sunset. This island hasn’t lost his raw beauty yet so definitely check out the afore mentioned beaches and enjoy the white and blue houses! If you’re looking for a more quiet island, check out Naxos, or Folegandros which are nearby.

Love,

Elke

Earthquake wipes away the 2 most beautiful beaches in Greece!

Remember my post about Lefkas, Greece last year? I will refresh you memory; I visited parts of the Ionian islands 2 summers back and one of the places I visited was Lefkas. My jaw dropped so many times during this trip as the beaches are somewhat special. I’m talking about Egremni beach and Porto Katsiki
These beaches are home to some of the bluest water you will ever see and on Egremni beach I could walk for miles without seeing anyone! The 2 most beautiful beaches in Greece. But in November a huge landslide washed away parts of Egremni and Porto Katsiki beach causes by an earthquake, which was marked as 6.1 ‘strong’ on the Richter Scale. Piles of sand, rocks and dust came on crashing down on the 2 favorite beaches, changing the picture perfect view.

Egremni beach Lefkas
Me at Egremni Beach in Lefkas

Wanderlust at Egremni BEach

Egremni Beach Greece
Behind me is the exact spot where the landslide happened

Egremni Beach now looks like this:

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Egremni Beach after the landslide..

Porto Katsiki Beach was less destroyed as it only washed away the end of the beach but it also changed the amazing viewing point a great deal.

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Porto Kasiki: The view back in 2014..

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The incredible Porto Katsiki Beach

Porto Katsiki after landslide
The end of the beach has disappeared completely.

People are trying their best to restore the beaches as fast as they can because summer is coming and Greece needs their tourist more than ever. Nevertheless, I still advice you to visit this incredible island because it’s amazing! Let’s hope it will cleaned up before the high season starts. For more info about Lefkas, read my blogpost here.

Love,

Elke

Interview » My best friend went to Lesbos, Greece. This is her story.

We’ve all seen the images, the news reports and heard the stories about the Syrian refugees. The boats, the fear and the thousands of people coming to Europe seeking a future.
The world woke up when a little boys body lays face down on a beach in Turkey. This is when social media started talking. We finally felt their heartbreak.
People wanted to do something. I wanted to do something.
But taking that step and actually doing something…that’s another thing. One of my best friends did.
We went out for a drink and she told me she wanted to visit Lesbos . Not for a holiday, but to volunteer and help.
What a brave decision I thought. She was going to do something beautiful but at the same time she was also going to see a lot of hurt and despair.
But she went. 2 long weeks. I asked her some questions;

Why did you decide to go to Lesbos?
A Facebook post appeared in my timeline of Merel Graeve, a volunteer at Lesbos, Greece. Here story was so sincere, urgent and desperate a feeling of responsibility grabbed me and wasn’t letting go.

Shortly after that a friend of mine posted on Facebook he was planning a trip to Lesbos. I instantly knew I was going to join him, and I did.

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The Facebook post that made Dagmare go to Lesvos

What was your first impression when you arrived?
I thought what a lovely, beautiful Greek island! Where are the refugees? Where is the emergency? Where is the online world of disaster, despair and emergency?

The people I did see where volunteers in team-shirts and yellow emergency vests.
Quiet, calm and peaceful. Soon after that I knew exactly where to search for images of sorrow, hope and fear..

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A young child in one of the tents

We are much greater, much more powerful and more capable then we think.

Was it worse than you expected?
Yes and no. The yes part is the truth of this matter is worse then you expect. It crueler, tougher and more inhumane then you can think of.

The no part is, we are all human. And the best part with humans is, there is a strength in all of us, that arises when we are in danger. It comes from a place inside of you, you never knew you had inside. That’s stunning and mind-blowing to witness. I saw this with everybody on the island. 
From people arriving by boat, fleeing their war-torn countries, with people helping those people on shore and I started feeling it myself.
We are much greater, much more powerful and more capable then we think.

Dagmare in Lesbos
Dagmare in Lesvos, Greece

Can you describe a typical day in Lesbos?
Smugglers send boats 24/7 so people arrive 24/7. 

The island of Lesbos has 199 miles (320 km) of coastline, so that’s quiet a distance to search for boats.
Most of the boats arrive in the north or near the harbor, that makes it easier to oversee.
All camps need helping hands to help provide food, give out clothes and blankets or collect garbage.
It’s a non-stop need. You have to take care of yourself and eat, sleep and rest at moments that fit you well.

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What do you think the government needs to do to solve this problem?
Start welcoming human beings with dignity, respect and humbleness. 

They have been through things I hope I am never going to experience in a million years.
Start covering the news in a sincere, truthful self-interest kinda way. 

Did this experience change you or your perspective?
Yes. It showed me that the way I’m brought up in a Western country, feeling safe etc. was normal to me. Puts it all into perspective.

Seeing the easiness of how you can contribute to a greater cause without asking permission, needing a diploma or get a job interview.

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People are camping anywhere where they can find a spot
Tell me a little bit about the website you developed. Needs-Now.
We developed an in-your-face-real-time portal where you see whats Needed Now in several places op Europe.

We gain access to big stocks of supplies for cost price which we then display online.
If you want to donate your money, you spend it efficiently on needed goods. You can buy ponchos, tents, food, fire wood etc.
And we make sure it get’s there. (so you won’t receive a package of fire wood at your front door! haha) You can spent 5 euro’s or 10.000.
We spend every donation on the chosen goods. Its transparent, open and accessible for people with big and smaller purses.


Dagmare’s website Needs Now is getting a lot of positive attention

Needs Now Results:
Within 1 week – Professional food truck including all kitchen supplies
Within 1 week – 9 pallets of clothing, 1000 fleece blankets.
Within 2 weeks – 2000 breakfast meals & 1000 diner meals
Within 4 days – 1250 halogen lamps
Within 2 days – three large army tents
Within 1 week – generator
Within 4 days – One day of fire wood
Within 4 weeks – 5.000 poncho’s
Within 3 weeks – 2 x 10ft containers


And finally, what can we do?

Many things!
1. Visit needs-now.org to see where the Need is Now and spend a few euro’s. 🙂
2. Sort your (still wearable!) warm clothes and bring it to asylum centers.
3. If your thinking of volunteering start here: http://www.bit.ly/lesvolunteer
4. Add sense to the national debates. Take time to read stories, look at portraits and see films that shows different sides of this humane crisis. UNHCR shares numbers, facts and Kurtzgesagt and the Gapminder Foundation has basic explanations. Start sharing them!
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If you want to donate or support/sponsor Dagmare and her team so that she can continue to help in Greece, visit Needs Now.
All photo’s are shot by the amazing Florance Schreinemachers who also came on this trip with Dagmare.

Love,

Elke

Discovering the Cyclades » Folegandros & Santorini

After 3,5 days sightseeing in Naxos, it was time to visit my 2 most anticipated islands of the Cyclades: Folegandros & Santorini.
Both islands are very different in many ways but nevertheless extremely beautiful in their own right.


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Folegandros and Santorini

Folegandros
From Naxos I took the ferry to Folegandros but if you do, always make sure you check the ferry times before planning your trip.
My ferry stopped at about 3 different islands before arriving in Folegandros and by that time it was evening and I missed a whole day.
When you arrive in Folegandros, you can take a public bus to the village which cost about 1.80 euro’s per person and takes you there in less than 15 min.

The island is very small and you immediately get a sense of the peace & calmness this place represents.
It was easy to find my bed for the night because all the locals know each other and when I asked for my reservation at “Castro“, I was pointed in the right direction. The more steps I took, the more I fell in love. Guesthouse Castro owes its name from the location where it’s found, in the region of the medieval Castle of Folegandros. The Castle of Folegandros functioned as a defensive fortress and.. I got to sleep there. How cool!
The friendly owners guided me to my room and although it was getting dark, my mouth fell open when I saw my balcony with probably the best view in town!

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The amazing private balcony at Castro’s

At night, the town turns into a romantic bohemian village. Trees with lights cover the top of outside restaurants. There are 6 different squares divided and each one of those has another cute place to eat.
I arrived on a Saturday and because most Greek people are free on Sunday, the town is vibrant and alive.
You will see everyone having a drink, pretty much everywhere where they can sit. If you want to join in the fun, you should try Raki, Ouzo or a hot drink I wasn’t familiar with, called Rakomelo. It tastes a bit like Glühwine and is delicious!

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A bohemian dream

Folegandros is too beautiful to lay in your bed for too long, so I advice you to get up early. The town is wonderful in the morning and great to shoot some nice pictures.
My balcony was a great place to have breakfast but you should also go into town and sit in one of the beautiful gardens to drink coffee. I had breakfast at Pounda where you can enjoy a Greek breakfast whilst looking at beautiful flowers.



The town of Chora is beautiful for walking around


Feeling 
completely zen at  Agios Nikolaos beach. Wearing a colorful bikini of Triangl

The best beaches in Folegandros are Agios Nikolaos beach (if you like peace and quiet), Agali beach (more popular) and the beach near the port, Karavostasi beach.
I wish I had more time to explore this special island but I had already booked my next ferry to Santorini. If you are planning to visit Folegandros, I would stay at least 4 days.

Santorini
With the fast boat you can get to Santorini within 45 min. Ferries can be late sometimes so always prepare yourself for this. Book your ferry ahead as it will save you money and you can do this online or at one of the tourist offices you will find in the main areas.
Coming into Santorini is something special. The impressive rock formations leave your mouth wide open and the thought that this island lays next to a vulcano, makes it even more special.

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The ferries look small compared to the impressive coastline. The volcano on the right.

Santorini is an island that attracts many tourist so if you are doing the Cyclades tour, this is the one you shouldn’t miss. It is rather special. If you want a little less touristy but still enjoy the amazing views whilst waking up, you should definitely book your accommodation in Imerovigli.
With the busy Oia on the right side and the main town of Thira only 10 min away, it’s the perfect place to stay and enjoy breathtaking views.

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Breaktaking views from the Absolutely Bliss Hotel in Imerovigli. 

Did you know Santorini has a White, Black and Red beach? The island is not known for it’s beautiful sandy beaches but if you get a chance, you should visit Red beach and Kamari Beach where you can find sunbeds, beach restaurants and shops.

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A red beach, who knew!

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Red or Black. Only on Santorini

If you visit Santorini with your partner, you should definitely book a romantic dinner for 2 but… do something different and eat in one of the old villages like Pyrgos. Why? Because it’s authentic, the food taste amazing and it’s half the price!
Still enjoy a meal with that-oh-so-amazing-view? Have breakfast at one of the many hotel breakfast options along the cliff. If you want to shop for some nice jewelry and high-end clothes, you should visit Oia but do it at the end of the day or early in the morning when it’s not boiling hot. Yes, there will be a lot of tourist so prepare yourself and breath in, breath out. You’ll be fine 🙂

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Romantic dinner for 2 anyone?

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Realizing the craaazy view. Picture shot at Oia.

One of the other must do’s in Santorini is to walk to the top of Skaros Rock right across Imerovigli.
It’s about a 20 min walk when you start across and you can get right to the top if you can get past your fear of heights.
My legs were shaking a little bit while I was climbing up the last bit, but it was totally worth seeing the sun disappear into the sea. 
You can also get up early and walk all the way to Oia or back. For this walk you need some trainers or steady shoes. It takes about 3,5 hours from Thira to Oia and about 1,5 hours from Imerovigli.

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Skaros Rock on the left with Imerovigli on the right

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And on top of the world on Skaros rock. (still weak in the knees!)

As I said, Folegandros & Santorini are two different and unique islands, but they also have a lot of similarities.
To make things a little easier…

Romance? Check.
Best views? Check.
Tasty cuisine? Check.
You want to chill to the max? Pick Folegandros.
You want to shop and feel like a princess? Pick Santorini.
You want to see paradise? Pick both.

Love,

Elke

Missed the previous adventures of Elke’s Greek Island hopping tour?
Check her post about Naxos and Mykonos.