Greece holiday: British tourists favourite Greek holiday destinations face erosion | Travel News | Travel

Where should you go on your next holiday?

Now that the world has opened up again it’s time to pack those suitcases and head off on a well-deserved adventure. Where should you be jetting off to? Take our quiz and find out.


With endless culture, gorgeous beaches and weather to die for, Greece is a great choice both for romantic getaways and family trips. Wander the historical streets of Athens and Thessaloniki or head to an island to soak up the sun – the choice is yours.


It may be far away but it’s definitely worth the trip. Japan has sprawling metropolises, stunning scenery, and a rich history and culture to boot. Check out the cities of Kyoto and Tokyo and make sure to get your fill of their world-famous cuisine while you’re in town


Hop across the pond and experience an array of cultures, climates, cuisines and more. You can leave the phrasebook at home and get truly immersed in everything that this sprawling nation has to offer, from the Grand Canyon to the Statue of Liberty


With some of the best food around and boasting the world’s most romantic city, France is a great choice if you’re in a hurry. Be in its glorious capital in just hours, grab a pain au chocolat and practice your language skills while wandering along the banks of the Seine


La dolce vita is calling! With its stunning views, fascinating history and world-famous Neapolitan pizza, Italy is a great choice, whether you’re after an adventure or want to dive into a big bowl of spaghetti


A little off the beaten track, Morocco boasts stunning architecture, winding street markets to get lost in, and beautiful landscapes. Soak up the sun in Marrakech or head to Chefchaouen for one of the most unique experiences a holiday-maker can have

The Caribbean

Sun, sea and sand – what’s not to love? Head to the Caribbean if you really want to unwind. With plenty of picturesque locations to choose from, from the streets of Havana to the beaches of Grenada, you’re sure to find something that fits your holiday dreams.


When most people think ‘holiday’, sunshine and relaxation comes to mind – but a different kind of trip can be just as rewarding. Splash around in the Blue Lagoon and try your luck at catching a glimpse of the Northern Lights. This is definitely one for the bucket list.


India is well worth a visit if you have some time to spare. With an array of different cultures coexisting in this vast and vibrant nation, as well as gorgeous food to be enjoyed at every turn, you’ll find yourself immersed in the experience. Take a trip to the Taj Mahal for that jaw drop moment

Swiss Alps

If snow sports are your thing, then this mountainous region is perfect for you. Venture down the powdered slopes and warm your hands at the après-ski afterward. Perfect for a group of friends, a romantic trip, or even some time with the kids – if they can stand the cold!

What kind of holiday do you like best?

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Which is top of your bucket list?

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Imagine Cruising’s new Rhodes and Greek Isles cruise holiday | Travel News | Travel

Picture yourself basking in the Grecian sunshine at a five-star resort, lounging by the pool before heading out to explore those waterfront tavernas for a sunset cocktail. 

Well, that’s exactly what’s on offer courtesy of a new holiday from Imagine Cruising that oozes luxury. 

The new 12-night Rhodes Retreat & Greek Isles cruise has everything you could want for a much-deserved break; an all-inclusive, five-star Rhodes holiday, and a cruise to breathtaking locations from Santorini to Naples. 

For the first five nights of the holiday you’ll be staying at the five-star, all-inclusive Mitsis Grand Hotel Beach Hotel which offers a state-of-the-art spa, THREE pools, six restaurants, two bars and other perks such as access to concierge and transfer services.

It’s also located within walking distance of Rhodes’ picturesque Old Town where there are plenty of shops and bars as well as landmarks such as the Palace of the Grand Master and the Knights.

From Rhodes, it’s on to a glamorous seven-night sailing on board Princess Cruises’ Regal Princess

The cruise ship, which boasts the Duchess of Cambridge as its godmother, has heaps of brilliant amenities for passengers to enjoy including adults-only retreat Sanctuary, restaurants ranging from grills to pizzerias, and plenty of Princess classics such as a giant poolside film screen, or the glass-bottomed SeaWalk® walkway to be found on the top deck.

As for the ports of call? Adventurers won’t be disappointed. 

The cruise first sails to Santorini, where the whitewashed buildings and blue domed churches make for picture-perfect backdrops, while the waterfront tavernas are a must-visit for a drink with a view.

You’ll then head on to the Bay of Kotor, an old port in Montenegro with attractions such as the artificial island Our Lady of the Rocks that’s built on sunken ships, as well as its buildings’ beautiful architecture.

Messina – hailed as the gateway to Sicily – is next on the itinerary with its beautiful cathedral and delicious food, as well as spectacular views of Mount Etna.

While there’ll be plenty of gourmet dining on offer throughout the cruise thanks to the speciality restaurants, foodies are sure to enjoy the next port of call, Naples. Get ready to sample some of the world’s best pizza, although you may want to leave room on the itinerary for the hike to see Mount Vesuvius first! 

The holiday ends in Barcelona, where you’ll disembark and head to the airport for your flights back to the UK. 

Want to be on board? Prices start from £1,299pp based on April-October 2022 departures. Find out more and book at

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For a Greek Islands Vacation Without the Crowds, Head to Paxos

An odyssey around the Greek Islands during a pandemic was never going to be a breeze, but the lush Ionian archipelago seemed like the ideal antidote to months of cabin fever in a cluttered Athens apartment. I reckoned that if Odysseus could pull it off in a man-powered galley, fending off sirens, six-headed monsters, and a one-eyed giant, I could handle the slings and arrows of unpredictable travel requirements and capricious ferry schedules.

So I set a course for Paxos, a green speck just off the southern tip of Corfu, and intended to journey slowly south, alighting on the smallest, sleepiest Ionian islands, until I reached Odysseus’s homeland of Ithaca. I didn’t have a dozen ships and 600 men, but I did have a straw hat and a weather app.

Scenes from Greece, including a green doorway, and villa interior with red and black accents

From left: A street scene in the village of Loggos, on Paxos; a double-height living space at Paxos PTR. | Credit: Loulou d’Aki

Things did not get off to an auspicious start. The 90-minute crossing from Corfu to Paxos on a stuffy hydrofoil was not quite the pleasure trip that the ferry company, Joy Cruises, had promised. Coming out of the terminal with my travel companion, the Swedish photographer Loulou d’Aki, I perked up when I saw our rental car: a convertible Suzuki Jimny that looked game for adventure. But no sooner had we roared out of the pint-size port of Gaios than an ominous cloud of steam hissed from the hood, and the car wheezed to a halt.

Faye Lychnou came to our rescue. Practical, forthright, and filled to the brim with entertaining anecdotes, Lychnou is a cofounder of Friends of Paxos, a cultural organization that hosts festivals and waymarks centuries-old walking trails. In high season, she also moonlights as the local concierge for the Thinking Traveller, a rental agency that specializes in fabulously discreet villas in lesser-known parts of Greece, Italy, Corsica, and Mallorca.

A small Greek street lined with cafe tables

Street seating at Café Kalimera, in Gaios. | Credit: Loulou d’Aki

Lychnou bundled us into her car, dispensing bon mots as we drove past olive groves punctuated with the stacked bell towers of sepia-tinted churches. “See those handsome guys smoking in the shade?” she asked. “That’s the fire brigade.” She gestured toward a constellation of houses twinkling in the soft September light. “This is Manesatika. Like most villages, it’s named after the person who built the first house around here—Manesis—centuries ago.”

The road tapered from single-lane tarmac to dirt track until eventually Lychnou pulled into a muddy driveway. We had arrived at Aperghis, a trio of stone houses with a small pool surrounded by olive trees. A weathered table and bamboo love seat were angled in a corner of the terrace for sea- and stargazing. Although newly built by British architect Dominic Skinner, who has quietly cornered much of the luxury property market on Paxos and Corfu, the houses fade into the landscape. There are tree-trunk stools, rattan chairs, and stepping-stones for tiptoeing barefoot from hammock to outdoor shower to yellow-and-white-striped lounger. Bedrooms are cool and calm, with gray tongue-and-groove ceilings, painted white floorboards, and French windows that face west, so the whole room is dipped in gold at dusk.

What struck me most, after months of listening to rolling news, fighting street cats, and the white noise of distant traffic and cooped-up angst, was the silence. Pure, deep silence—until you really start to listen and discover that the landscape is humming with wildlife: throbbing bees, elusive songbirds, rustling hedgehogs, and the usual Greek chorus of cicadas. There are snakes, too, Lychnou warned as we set off to explore our surroundings on foot.

Two kids standing by a Greek harbour, with a man anchoring his boat

The Loggos harbor. | Credit: Loulou d’Aki

For centuries, pale local stone has been used to build homes, wells, windmills, cisterns, barns, bell towers, watchtowers, and the terraces that protect the precious olive trees covering the island. There are an estimated 300,000 olive trees on Paxos—roughly 120 for every resident—and each one is numbered and initialed, a tradition that dates back to the Venetian occupation (which lasted four centuries, until Napoleon muscled in on the Ionian archipelago in 1797). The Venetians paid the locals for every olive tree they planted, and the resulting groves yielded countless blessings: cooking oil, lamp oil, soap, firewood, a dowry for a daughter.

Many Paxiots don’t bother pruning or prodding their olive trees. In November, they simply unfurl the nets rolled neatly into the crooked trunks and tangled roots of these great beasts and wait for the fruit to fall. Olives are periodically gathered up and pressed: a slow process that lasts until early spring, when the first tourists typically trickle back. This approach to harvesting pretty much sums up the island way of life—slow down, relax, let nature take its course.

View of a rocky coastline in the Greek Islands, taken from the water

The famously turquoise waters of Paxos, as seen on a boat tour. | Credit: Loulou d’Aki

Besides, there’s less incentive to work the land when selling it can be much more lucrative. Though the global price of olive oil has slumped, property values on Paxos and nearby Antipaxos have gone through the roof. This relatively remote island, measuring a mere eight miles from end to end, is now one of the most expensive slivers of real estate in Greece. (Gone are the days when you could buy a plot for around $100, as the actor Peter Bull did in 1964. “Buy cauliflower, string, Scotch tape, and a bit of land on Paxos,” he scribbled on his shopping list.)

But there are no ritzy boutiques or champagne bars, no fancy resorts, and scarcely any hotels. That is precisely the appeal for the European aristocrats and upper-crust Brits who are stealthily building palatial pads camouflaged by the hills, hovering on the edges of plunging cliffs, or poised on pristine coves with private moorings and speedboats for exploring the turquoise coastline.

A woman sitting on a concrete stub by the water on the Greek island of Paxos

Soaking in the sun on the quay near Mongonissi Beach. | Credit: Loulou d’Aki

Loulou and I soon realized that a car may be useful on Paxos, but a boat is indispensable. Super-yachts, sailboats, and inflatables crowd the marinas and fleck the horizon. You don’t need a skipper’s license to rent a little motorboat in any of the three harbor towns: Gaios, Lakka, and Loggos. The eastern coastline, which faces the brooding mountains of mainland Greece, is pocked with pebbled beaches like Levrechio (where we just missed Bono at the superb seaside taverna Bouloukos), Marmari (where we snoozed under sighing olive trees), Monodendri (too many rosé-swilling Brits), and Kipiadi (where spherical white stones shuffle hypnotically against the shore). The translucence and buoyancy of the sea is so incredible you want to shout for joy as you dive in. Swimming or snorkeling through every gradient of blue is like diving into a different dimension—flying, rather than floating.

A pinch church in a Greek town square

The Church of the Ascension, in the main square of Gaios. | Credit: Loulou d’Aki

The western coast of Paxos is all ragged cliffs and echoing sea caves, thousands of years compressed into swirling strata of sandwiched rock. These landscapes make you feel very small—especially as you gingerly spread your sarong beneath the great white flank of cliff that looms above Erimitis Beach. At sunset, the chalky rock face above glows pink and orange. Most people go for a late-afternoon swim, then clamber up the scraggly footpath for sundowners at the touristy but photogenic Erimitis bar and restaurant. Instead, Loulou and I went for a dip at first light and had the whole dazzling bay to ourselves, apart from two sturdy older women in headscarves, chatting as they picked grapes on terraced vineyards suspended between sea and sky.

In his 1978 book, The Greek Islands, Lawrence Durrell dispatched Paxos and its vine-covered offshoot Antipaxos—”two islands of little note”—in a single cursory paragraph: “The little, flat-roofed villages have water trouble; they live on cisterns and try to hoard winter rain. But the summers are fierce. There are good little harbors for small-boat owners.”

View of the ocean from a restaurant terrace in the Greek Islands

Ocean views from the terrace of the restaurant Bella Vista, on Antipaxos. | Credit: Loulou d’Aki

Loggos, the smallest of the three harbors, was my favorite. An irresistible Greek cliché mirrored in the glassy sea, the flagstone-clad waterfront was lined with pleasure boats, tavernas, and flip-flop shops. At the far end, we found three neat little bars in a row, with quayside tables for people-watching or sea-sprayed terraces for boat-watching. Giddy on cocktails, we strolled over to Vassilis, a taverna that once fed workers from the now-derelict soap factory and today caters to high-rolling regulars like the billionaire owner of Chelsea F.C., Roman Abramovich. You can almost dip your toes in the sea from your marble-topped table, as long as the local bus doesn’t come hurtling along the narrow strip between you and the water.

While we dined on spicy gazpacho, a whole bream harpooned that morning, and a lemony knot of wilted greens, we were entertained by three men in a boat—pink-shirted, rosy-cheeked tourists in a dinghy, to be precise, who almost capsized several times as they drunkenly struggled to untie the mooring rope. Across the bay, their girlfriends hollered encouragement. Soon after the wobbly dinghy finally drifted into the inky night, a fluorescent blue beam scanned the restaurant tables like a searchlight. A cabin cruiser with three churning engines loomed into view, and after much maneuvering a group of Bulgarians stepped ashore. We watched the deckhand struggle to pull away, oblivious to the fact that he had forgotten to untie the mooring rope. “Money can’t buy you everything,” said the guy at the next table, smiling wryly.

The pool at Aperghis. | Credit: Loulou d’Aki

Money—lots of money—can buy you a stay at what I’m quite sure is the most sensational estate on the island. Paxos PTR occupies an entire hilltop in Kastanida, high above the northwestern coast, but you’ll never find it unless the owner, Patrizia Peracchio, a petite but formidable Milanese architect, shows you the way in her battered 4 x 4. A concrete track through miles of forest turns into a stone driveway bordered by slender cypress trees. It’s like entering the set of a Luca Guadagnino movie, a heady immersion into a world of effortless chic.

Loulou and I were assigned the three-bedroom guesthouse, a playful mix of red modular sofas, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, bathrooms painted bright yellow and green. Tiny recessed windows ran along the walls of my attic bedroom, with carved wooden flaps to control the light and ventilation.

Anchors on a concrete slab

Anchors on the dock in Loggos. | Credit: Loulou d’Aki

Peracchio’s pool is positioned so it has clear views from one side of the island to the other: a panorama of hazy hills and open seas, filtered through a thicket of pines that have improbably taken root on the cliffside. I could hear waves smashing against rocks on the shore below as I swam laps in the gloaming. Fat raindrops started falling, a mist rose from the sea, and lightning flashed over the distant shadow of Corfu. Loulou and I retreated to the sunflower-yellow kitchen of the main house, a vast, open-plan space with sliding glass doors, to share marinated anchovies, stuffed peppers, and life stories with Peracchio. With her silver pixie crop, simple white shirtdress, and Greek leather sandals, she looked positively gamine, though I worked out she was in her seventies.

“You look very young,” I remarked.

“Because I am here,” she replied.

Sunset view from the pool deck of a villa in Greece

A classic Greek sunset from the pool terrace at one of architect Patrizia Peracchio’s hilltop rental villas. | Credit: Loulou d’Aki

The rain fell all that night, and 24 hours later an unseasonal storm was still raging. All boats were canceled. No sea-taxi skipper was mad enough to brave the weather. With a 48-hour ferry strike expected the next day, there was no way off the island for at least three days. Our Ionian odyssey was in ruins, but there are worse places to be stranded.

British explorer and historian Tim Severin identified Paxos as the Homeric island where Odysseus was bewitched by Circe, the sorceress who turned his sailors into swine and took Odysseus as her lover. Odysseus luxuriated in Circe’s lavish hospitality for a year, until he mustered the will to continue his journey. Surely that’s the best way to be seduced by Paxos—slow down, relax, let nature take its course.

Two scenes from Paxos, Greece, including a group of people having drinks waterside, and the stone walled garden of a rental villa

From left: An aperitif in the village of Loggos; the gardens at Aperghis. | Credit: Loulou d’Aki

Design Your Own Odyssey Around Paxos

Where to Stay

The Thinking Traveller has a handpicked collection of soulful villas on Paxos. Demand ha sbeen high since European travel reopened last summer, but weekly rates are surprisingly affordable and include transfers from Corfu—a swell as a never-too much-trouble concierge service. Aperghis, which sleeps eight, starts at $6,400 per week.

For pull-out-all-the-stops villas equipped with extravagant accessories (speedboats, chefs, yoga instructors), look to Five Star Greece. Patrizia Peracchio’s estate, PaxosPTR, sleeps up to 22 and costs $27,000 per week.

Where to Eat & Drink

Averto: This trendy spot has a lovely backyard enveloped by voluptuous greenery. Go for brunch (the coffee and eggs Benedict are excellent)or a twilit aperitif. Magazia; entrées $12–$21.

Bouloukos: Don’t let the booming Greek ballads put you off—this seaside taverna is a knockout. Order a Jenga tower of battered zucchini shavings dunked in blush-pink taramasalata, unctuous octopus with orzo, and the homemade pistachio gelato. Levrechio; Entrées$ 11–$19.

Bournaos: Stop for a Greek coffee at this old-fashioned kafenio across the roadf rom Averto. Magazia; 30-2662-030239.

Café Kalimera: A prime spot for watching all the comings and goings in the capital, this local hangout has a split personality: alfresco tables under a bower of bougainvillea for breakfast and a lively, dive-bar vibe after hours. Gaios; 30-26620-32318.

Carnayo Gold Lounge Café: Thin-crust pizzas, legit Greek salad, and spine tingling mojitos on a deck floating above a blue lagoon: this is what you came for. Mongonissi; 30-26620-32650; entrées $11–$23.

Le Rocher: Hidden down an alley beside a bakery, this tiny bar has a secret terrace on the water’s edge, just big enough fora handful of tables. Pitch-perfect at dusk as the horizon turns lavender and lilac. Loggos; 30-26620-31115.

Vassilis: Run by the same family since 1957, this quaint looking taverna has evolved into one of Paxos’s most sophisticated dining spots. Sea urchin bruschetta with taramasalata and samphire with black rock salt are served quayside by a polished crew. Loggos; entrées$13–$25.

A version of this story first appeared in the Deember 2021/January 2022 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline I’ll Follow the Sun.

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What better place to learn about Greek wines?

Though the Greeks were not the first to make wine — that distinction goes to the Georgians of the Caucasus Mountains — they’ve been at it for over two millennia. Today, they make a high-quality, exciting array of both reds and whites. The problem is learning about them. When I taught introductory wine classes, I advised students that the best way to learn about a wine is to focus on one type for a month. So, if you want to learn about Chardonnay, drink only Chardonnay for a month. That exercise is even more important with Greek wines because the nomenclature is overwhelming and truly foreign even for those who know a lot about wine. There are hundreds of indigenous Greek grapes and 33 individual appellations or PDOs (protected designation of origin) and scores of PGIs (protected geographical indication). (PDO wine and other foods are made in a specific geographical area, using a defined, usually traditional, method. PGI wine or foods are similarly based on geographic origin, but with fewer production regulations.) Then there are the names of the grapes themselves: Assyrtiko (ah-SEER-tee-ko), Moschofilero (Mos-koh-FEE-leh-roh) and Malagouzia (ma-la-goo-zee-AH), to name just three of the whites.

The opportunity for me to dive into Greek wines arose when we decided to take a 16-day family vacation to Greece over Christmas in 2019 — just before COVID-19, as it turned out. Visiting Greece in the offseason means far fewer crowds, lower prices in general, including half off at many of the archeological sites, and little difficulty eating wherever you want. It means bypassing the islands, because although it’s bright and sunny, it’s still really not beach weather.

Greek wine spans an enormous spectrum. Even with the potential for 32 meals accompanied by wine during our trip, it was clear to me that I needed a focus. I decided to limit our sampling to those three white indigenous Greek varieties because most of our travel would be on the coast, where seafood is plentiful. As I rapidly learned, the energetic acidity of Greek whites also made them a fine match for ever-present roasted lamb or pork.

Greek wine culture is laid-back. The Greeks drink a lot of wine at lunch and dinner, but they don’t fuss about it. Even at chic restaurants with top producers’ wines, vintages were rarely noted. At family-run tavernas, we had wine drawn from a barrel or other large container and served in unlabeled bottles. No one turned an eye when we ordered white wine with lamb.

Greece’s most important grape, Assyrtiko, produces riveting, mineral-y wines with a saline-like edginess — especially when grown on its home turf, the island of Santorini. There the vines are sunk into a hole in the island’s volcanic soil and trained in a basket-like fashion to protect them from the island’s constant winds. Assyrtiko has been planted all over Greece as producers in other parts of the country capitalize on its popularity. The ones from Santorini need several years of bottle age to show their true character and will be labeled PDO Santorini. Assyrtiko grown outside of Santorini can also produce an excellent wine but one that has more of a fruity profile with less minerality and is more accessible with far less bottle age. You will also see Assyrtiko blended with other white grapes, such as Moschofilero and Malagouzia, to add structure and backbone.

Moschofilero, a grape indigenous to the Mantineia region of the Peloponnesus, produces a floral wine, reminiscent of Muscat, though far less fragrant. Some compare Moschofilero to Gewurztraminer, but I find it both less aromatic and less flamboyant. Moschofilero’s perfumed nature might make you think it’s sweet, but it’s not. It displays a distinctly tropical character with excellent balancing acidity that imparts liveliness.

Malagouzia, sometimes spelled Malagousia, is an aromatic grape indigenous to northern Greece. It was nearly extinct until the 1970s when an enology professor encouraged Vangelis Gerovassiliou, one of his students and now one of the best producers, to explore its possibilities. Malagouzia is now grown all over Greece and makes a uniquely energetic wine, combining subtle floral and tropical notes with variable amounts of minerality. Both Moschofilero and Malagouzia would be an excellent choice as an aperitif to accompany a Greek salad — which is a real thing and not an American invention — or with highly flavored foods. The floral elements balance the spice.

Greeks eat late. Many taverna don’t open for lunch until 2 p.m. The wait staff at Yama, a simple taverna in Kalabaka, the small town at the foot of the Méteora monasteries, laughed when I tried to make a dinner reservation for 8 p.m. We acquiesced to a 9:15 slot and found we were the only diners at that time. By 11 when we left, only one other table was occupied — also by tourists. Don’t be surprised when traditional desserts appear as a complimentary end to the meal. Though meals at elegant restaurants are expensive by Greek standards, the prices are still low by US standards and include tax and tip.

For what must be the largest selection of Greek wines by the glass in the world, head to Vintage Wine Bar and Bistro in Athens, where they offer more than 300. Their food menu is also extensive, making it a fine choice for dinner. For a light lunch or aperitif before dinner, Heteroclito, a small wine bar down the street from Vintage Wine Bar is excellent. The food and wine selection, though far more limited, is still well-chosen and the setting cozy and intimate.

Unsurprisingly, you can find a wide array of Greek wines outside of Athens. At Mia Feta, a modern taverna in Thessaloniki, a plethora of feta cheese awaits along with an extensive selection of wines by the glass thanks to bottles preserved under argon gas. The knowledgeable and friendly owner insisted we try what turned out to be the one red interloper we had on the entire trip, a stunning 10-year-old Xinomavro from Boutari. It made me reconsider my plan to focus solely on three white wines.

Finding Greek wines in Boston is easy. Go to Krasi, a restaurant in Back Bay where they have an outstanding selection of Greek wines, many by the glass. Go to other Greek restaurants. There are plenty in and around Boston. Or go to your local wine store and ask for Greek white wines. Take them home and drink them with fish or spicy Asian cuisine, or pork or lamb or pizza. You get the idea. After a few weeks, you’ll be surprised how much you’ve learned.

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The Greek region too remote for maps

Back in Fragkista, Dino insisted on showing me around his family home, an impressive stone mansion just off the village square. I sensed he had done quite well in the US, but I hadn’t realised just quite how well. His house was full of photographs of him posing with customers at his restaurant in New York. There were photos of him with Greek American royalty – Michael Dukakis, Telly Savalas, Aristotle Onassis – along with other celebrities of the New York scene – Rudolf Nureyev, Liberace, Zsa Zsa Gabor.

“We were the toast of Broadway,” smiled Dino. “Everyone came to my restaurant.”

Despite their success, every year, for at least three months, they return to the place where they were born. “It feels like the same village I grew up in,” smiled Dino. “It’s smaller, the roads are better, but nothing else has changed. I can still see all my old friends from school here.”

He brings his family too. Though neither brother married nor had children, their sisters did, and the brothers are blessed with a panoply of nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.

“It’s important not to lose touch with your roots,” he said. “I’ve been in the States for seven decades now, but I’ll always be a boy from Agrafa.”

Our Unique World is a BBC Travel series that celebrates what makes us different and distinctive by exploring offbeat subcultures and obscure communities around the globe.

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Travel news latest: Canary, Balearic and Greek islands in running for green list

Spanish and Greek islands could be added to the UK’s green list as soon as June 8, ministers have suggested, even if their mainlands stay amber.

Robert Courts, the aviation minister, told MPs that the Government would treat popular tourist islands with low Covid rates separately “where possible” as it prepares to reveal the next tranche of destinations that could be added to the quarantine-free list at the start of next month.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told the BBC’s Today programme on Wednesday: “I’ve always said that of course it’s desirable where an aircraft can fly direct to an island, for example, and that island is therefore accessible in that you don’t need to go via the mainland, that you look at that differently. That’s what we did last year as well.”

This would put the Canary, Balearic and Greek islands – all boasting eligible data for the green list – back on the map for holidays ahead of the summer season, in addition to other Mediterranean and even Caribbean isles. 

Frontrunners are also understood to include Malta, Grenada, Cayman Islands, Fiji, British Virgin Islands, Finland and Caribbean islands thought to include Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, Turks and Caicos and Anguilla.

In less promising news, Austria has joined Germany in banning direct flights from the UK over concerns at the rising number of cases of the Indian variant.

Scroll down for more of the latest

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Greek islands to be fully vaccinated by end of June in aim to be green-listed

Tour operators will take British holidaymakers to amber list countries against Government advice, Telegraph Travel can reveal.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has warned travellers not to visit destinations on the amber list “for leisure purposes” when it introduces its traffic light system next week. 

But travel companies, including Tui, easyJet holidays and British Airways Holidays, are planning to run trips to amber countries including Malta, Antigua and the Spanish Canary Islands, using the guidance of the Foreign Office (FCDO), which is separate from the DfT’s, as permission to do so. Travellers returning to the UK from amber countries must quarantine for up to 10 days at home. 

Bharat Gadhoke, head of commercial at Aito, the Association of Independent Tour Operators, said the Government has failed in providing clarity to holidaymakers. “AITO questions the wisdom of having an amber traffic light at all. It’s neither one thing or the other. Basically all main holiday countries are amber at present,” he said. 

A spokesperson for easyJet holidays said it recognised the discrepancy but would follow the advice of the FCDO. A spokesperson for Tui said: “We want to offer our customers flexibility and choice this summer, so where borders are open and FCDO advice allows travel, we will operate to those destinations.”

British Airways Holidays said: “Customers who are unable to travel, or choose not to, can continue to change their holiday without a change fee, or request a voucher for future use.” ​ 

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7 Tips For Creating Your Own Greek Taverna At Home

We enjoy a mix of instrumental music and vocal music to change the mood as we move through our meal. In addition to the well-known classics, we like contemporary artists such as Anna Vissi and Nikos Karvelas. And, of course, we love when they sing together too! Don’t forget to play some Greek music while you’re setting up your Greek taverna or cooking.

5. Do Some Dancing

Something is likely to happen when you have a little good wine, a little good food, and a little Greek music in your home taverna. It’s the same thing that happens in Greek tavernas everywhere. First, you’ll start tapping your toes. Then a finger snap or two might emerge. Pretty soon, you’ll just feel like you can’t stay in your chair anymore. You’ll want to get up and dance! This is one of our favorite parts of Greek culture, and tavernas are a great source of joy for those who like moving to music.

You can choose to dance as you normally do, especially when contemporary music is playing. Or you can learn a folk dance or two before you create your Greek taverna and do some dancing Greek-style. Greek dancing is easy and fun. You can even learn it through free videos. A quick online search will provide lots of options to learn the Hasapiko, Kalamatiano, Zeibekiko, and other Greek folk dances. Once you give it a few practice tries, you’ll be a pro and can teach anyone else who would like to join in the fun.

6. Learn To Speak A Little Greek

Greece is known as the cradle of civilization. So we think everyone is a little bit Greek. That’s why it’s simple and fun to learn a few helpful expressions in the language when you plan on creating your own Greek taverna at home. Just a few words will help you get in the spirit and fill the ambiance with Grecian delight. Here are some words we often use in a Greek taverna that may come in handy.

OH-pah! This is a word that people say when they’re dancing and for general expressions of happiness, kind of like Yippee! YAH-mas! is like Cheers! when drinking.

YAH-soo is like hi! or howdy! (if addressing more than one person, you would say YAH-sas). KRAH-see is the word for wine. Psoh-MEE means bread. These are common words you will hear around a Greek taverna. If you want to learn more, check out a free lesson on Greek basics. There are several to choose from of varying depths.

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Britons front of the queue for Greek holidays

Hard-hit Brazil has posted more than 90,000 daily Covid-19 cases for the first time, as the country’s far-right President said he was happy his supporters were holding protests to oppose social distancing, reports Ben Farmer.

Jair Bolsonaro said the protests made him happy. “They show that the people are alive … we want our freedom, we want the world to respect our constitution,” he said.

Brazil now has 11,693,838 confirmed cases. Deaths on Wednesday rose by 2,648, the second highest tally after the record reported Tuesday, and now total 284,775.

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A road trip through the Mani, a literary Greek landscape suspended in time

The ancient Greeks believed the Mani — the central of the three Peloponnese peninsulas — was the southernmost point in the world. They were, of course, wrong — although it can lay claim to one geographical superlative: Cape Matapan, the tip of the Mani, is the southernmost point of mainland Greece. Being an extreme tip of land, it’s perhaps understandable that its inhabitants imbued it with legend. Take, for example, the yawning, sapphire mouth of the Caves of Diros; the ancient Greeks believed it to be the entrance to Hades, the underworld guarded by Cerberus, the three-headed hellhound. 

The Mani has inspired many storytellers since, among them the great British travel writer Patrick Leigh Fermor, who picked the Mani to be his home from home for almost half a century. In a short, dense account, Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese, published in 1958, Fermor insisted Maniot life had changed little since the days of Byzantine rule. I wanted to see if his account held water.

As I headed down the peninsula, the roads narrowed from three lanes to two, then from two to one. By the time I reached the partially abandoned hamlet of Kitta, the path was edging between stone buildings like a spring through a newly formed fissure. 

There isn’t an obvious reason to come to Kitta rather than any of the other similarly pretty villages. Fermor found himself here by accident, having got lost while swimming down the coast. He ambled into the settlement, tired and more than a little fed up, but his florid description of the place could easily be describing my own experience here: ‘The canyons of lane that twisted through the towers were empty and silent as though the inhabitants had fled an aeon ago.’ 

The author chose not to make this his home, instead building a house an hour to the north, just outside the scenic seaside town of Kardamyli, where he lived until his death, aged 96, in 2011. By then, his fame had rendered one of his book’s assertions untrue. Of Kardamyli, he wrote: ‘It is too inaccessible and there is too little to do there, fortunately, for it ever to be seriously endangered by tourism.’ Ironically, many foreign visitors now arrive specifically to pay homage to Fermor. 

But even for those with no interest in the writer, the Mani is a remarkable place to visit. The peninsula is sculpted by the Taygetus Mountains, which unfurl like a dragon spine all the way to its southern extremity. It’s their presence that keeps the roads from being too wide or too straight. Again and again, I found myself thinking how fun it was to drive along them and how little it mattered which of the odd, time-capsule towns and villages I stopped at along the serpentine route.

Fringing the roads, rheumatic olive trees thrive despite the lack of soil in which to take root. The dryness of the Mani creates small olives whose petiteness belies their superior flavour — Maniots will quickly tell you they make the best olive oil in all of Greece. Perhaps this is another of the region’s legends, but chasing it around plate after plate with fresh bread, I never found myself in a mood to argue.

How to do it 

Citta dei Nicliani has rooms from €120 (£105).

Responsible Travel has eight days exploring Laconia and the Mani Peninsula from €1,490 (£1,300) per person. 

Discover more inspiration and travel guides for Greece here

Published in the April 2021 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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