Archive for the ‘Tourism’ Category

Is it winter or spring? One day we have very strong winds that change the shape of all the beaches, like Glysteri yesterday.

This morning it was snowing for a little while and now the sun is shining.

Digea, the digital service provider, that makes sure that we have a clear tv signal, has announced that we need to retune our televisions on the 5th of February in the Sporades and some areas around it like Evia. Here is the link with the directions.

Today Skopelos has started to vaccinate the first, over 80 years old, citizens on the island. Skiathos and Alonissos did too. The photo below shows the head of the Health center Mrs. Regina Sklavos and the vice mayor Mr. Aristidis Voulgaris today (photo received from municipality press release ) The next people that will be vaccinated on the island are the first responders and municipal employees.

I think that the islands that are dependent on tourism will try and vaccinate their population quicker than the rest of the country. They will be ready to receive visitors, whenever that will be. We will see.

Stefano Psimenos is the founder of Terrain. It is a Greek cartographic company, founded in 2008. Stefanos is a travel writer and cartographer with a long experience in the field. His company has created a series of maps of Greece with unique features.

This week Stefano visited Skopelos again and met up with Heather Parsons who has cleared and tracked numerous trails on Skopelos. Their cooperation will hopefully put Skopelos, literally, on the map as a destination worth visiting because of its beautifully tended, interesting trails.

The photo above and below are from the last Skopelos Scramblers walk (before quarantine) It was my first walk with Muriel and Jim and it was so much fun. We met Jannis and his girlfriend with their mule and goat and we had a wonderful picknick. Hopefully we can do this again soon.

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The government’s decision for the mandatory use of face masks in all indoor public places between August 1-31 has been published in the Government Gazette.
Eating places, people with medical issues – such as difficulties breathing – or children under 3 years of age are exempted from the mask-wearing measure, as are hairdressers’ establishments and beauty parlors if facial care is performed.
In addition, restrictions are imposed on visits to retirement homes, facilities for vulnerable people, refugee centers and hospitals (to Aug. 15), excepting people accompanying patients, while ceremonies for life events such as baptisms, marriages and funerals are restricted to 100 people each (Aug. 3-15), keeping social distancing.

This coming week in particular (August 3 to 8), nightclubs, bars, live-music venues, bar-restaurants, cafes and such may only allow seated clients, not standing-room only. Recommended social distances must be observed at beaches, and public and private boats, throughout the month of August, while all open-air events, including saints’ festivals, are banned until August 31.

In addition, the suspension of air and land connections with Turkey, Albania and North Macedonia is extended to August 15. Also extended to August 15 are the requirements for visitors who enter Greece via Promahonas border station to have tested negatively over the last 72 hours prior to entry, and the same is true for air passengers from Bulgaria, Romania and the United Arab Emirates.
Anti-coronavirus curfews and group exodus restrictions at all refugee accommodation facilities and hot spots nationwide are extended to August 31. Effective since March 23, the curfews restrict to and from movement from facilities to the hours between 07:00 and 21:00, with a maximum 150 refugees allowed to leave per hour, and that in groups of no more than 10 people.
Meanwhile, intensive checks for the diligent observance of preventive measures against the coronavirus were on Saturday launched by the regular and traffic police and the Coast Guard.

Source: Athens makedoniko News Agency/ https://www.amna.gr/

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Re open Europe

I found this app where you can enter the country that you want to visit and it explains the various measures that the countries have taken in relation to travelling, quarantine, shops, beaches etc. You can see when the information is updated

Reopen Europe

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This morning we had to pick up our children from the Proteus ferryboat that would arrive in Loutraki and we decided to go earlier so we could enjoy Loutraki.

We visited the town beach and the two small beaches on either side of the village. Looking out over the sea we saw boats coming and going and having a purpose.

Later we sat in the shade under the mulberry trees to the left of the harbor and wondered if we could escape a weekend and rent a room along the waterside?

We saw four people working on the same small fishing boat and when the ferry boat finally arrived comments flew back and forth about the tourist season, who was coming of the boat and who was leaving. The usual things in such a small community but it gives you a feeling that you belong….

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A changing world

The period since my last post, has been filled with horrible events like the brutal killing of mr. George Floyd and the ongoing news about the corona epidemic which still takes a lot of lives. Because of the corona epidemic and the various new rules and regulations I have a slight problem to get a grip. Some things don’t seem real.

We have to get on with our lives though, out there and here on Skopelos. We have to start or continue working, finding solutions for daily problems and take charge. But nothing will be the same ever.

I want to be ready for probable clients and not have awkward situations in my workspace so I have masks, gloves, anti septic gel and various kinds of paper in my office.
Do I shake hands when I meet clients? Do I greet them with a mask on? etc. etc. I don’t know, I will have to wait and see. I try to be careful when I go into a shop, if I see many people I wait. If I go to a coffee place I look if tables are apart and I see that a lot of businesses have plexiglas installed on counters for protection. Staff works with gloves and masks.

On Skopelos most businesses that cater for visitors are open and trying to make a living. So far we mostly see locals in the bars and sometimes in the restaurants and their presence is very welcome. Because of the long weekend coming up we also saw Greeks from the mainland arriving today and hopefully they will spend some money here.

Beach bar Glysteri has officially opened today. We saw waiters with gloves and beds and umbrellas with the approved distance between them. Kastani beach has opened also but no sign of a beach bar on Milia except for the kantina truck at the beginning of the beach. Milia beach has been cleaned except for the area around the beach bar and that is a shame , big pieces of glass lying around and rubbish too.

I visited Amarandos after a long time and the green sprouts that I saw between the burned trees, give me hope. In a couple of years small trees will cover the hills. The sense of mystery there is gone though but I hope it will come back slowly slowly.

In one week more international flights can go into Athens and Thessaloniki airport. I hear about a lot of cancelled flights and that is a shame because the companies don’t always return money but give vouchers and if your flight is cancelled many times you might get fed up and don’t want to go anymore to Greece and that is a shame and a loss for many.

Boat itineraries are updated slowly slowly and so far we have two ferry boats and one flying dolphin (Erato started today) sailing in the Sporades. From Volos and Mantoudi they sail. These itineraries will not show sailing dates very far ahead. It has never been like that but I hope we will have a good schedule for the (hopefully) busier summer months.

We have to remain hopeful that some kind of tourist season will take place. At the moment we take it week by week and that is the best thing to do, I think.

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(Skopelos today, early in the morning with a cloudy sky..)

Not all bars and restaurants on Skopelos opened today but many made an effort. It is good to see. I will show photo’s in the coming days of places you know and love. It were mainly locals drinking a coffee today because we don’t have visitors from abroad yet. We also see that Greeks from the mainland with shops and businesses came to Skopelos and are opening their places too.

After my message yesterday there were many comments (on Facebook) about whether you would, could, should come to Greece or not. Greece will have visitors from abroad coming accordingly to the timeline the Greek government has set. It is a done deal. I think it is safe to say that the Greeks and the people from Skopelos want people to visit and spend money, because they need it. A big part of Greece relies heavily on tourism.

I don’t think it is good to start judging people who want to travel to Greece in general and in particular to Skopelos. Everybody should have the right to make the decision whether they want to come or not. I think most people will keep in mind not to travel if they have symptoms that might indicate they have the virus and that during the their stay they should avoid being in big crowds and keep social distancing in place.

It is their choice though and be sure that they will be welcomed with “open arms”. When you can visit Greece depends on the country you come from. If your country has many casualties it will probably take longer and there might be a obligatory 14 days quarantine when you return to your country. That might be lifted by the time you start travelling because the amount of casualties per day has declined. It is all up to the governement of your country.

I think that the decisiveness, openess and the speaking with one voice of the Greek governement will help businesses and visitors to comply to the rules that have been implemented and it will make visitors feel safe to travel and holiday in Greece. For all kinds of business there are different protocols that should be followed and in general there is a healthy discussion possible about it. The rules will be checked for everybody’s sake and fines will be given when nessecary.

The Greek goverment has said that it wants to help out everybody and help re-start the economy. Mistakes have been made because so much is unknown and new rules and directives are implemented, adjusted and changed accordingly to results and experience. I think there is a general feeling that everybody wants to get on with it.

In the meantime on Skopelos, a lot of repairs and work have been going on. Kastro area, the square, the stairs going up en the surrounding area got a facelift. Stone walls repaied and built, the electricity on the square and along the staircase up is being re-newed and a waterpoint is being installed. I will show more of other work in the coming days.

Athens airport has released the guidelines that incoming passengers to Greece should follow. I have put them on my corona page. I think the same will apply for the other airports that will re-open in July.

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found today on the road to Glossa

Tomorrow on Skopelos but also in the rest of Greece, coffee places, taverna’s and restaurants will open their doors and customers can take place in newly arranged areas. The tables and chairs of one group of customers will be placed next to another table and chairs with at least 1,5 meter in between them.

What I understand is that the extra space that is needed within a business because the tables and chairs are further apart, can be taken from areas around the terrace (if there is space).

The Greek organization for food control (ΕΦΕΤ) has issued a lengthy information leaflet for all those working in the food industry. It is in Greek but anybody that is interested can ask me for it. Owners and employees of businesses will have to follow the new rules that have been set by the Greek government.

Organized beach bars will open on Skopelos and in the rest of Greece but the general rule will be that no alcohol can be served and no music will be played.
The general directive is not to get together in big groups with people you do not know, no dancing etc.

When visiting shops please take care and look how many people are already inside. There is a maximum of customers that can go inside. Some shops will have cards and when they are given out you need to wait outside.

Greece will be welcoming international flights from June 15, initially only at Athens International Airport. From July 1, all other Greek airports (including Skiathos and Volos) will be open to flights from abroad. There have been announcements from charter organizations that will start flying from the first of July.

Travelling with boats and buses can be cheaper because the VAT will go from 24% to 13%.

According to mr. Mitsotakis, the Greek prime minister, Greece’s visitors will undergo sample tests when required and must abide by the country’s general health protocols (to be announced soon), which however “will not cast a shadow over our bright sun or natural beauty”.

It was announced that Greece’s incoming tourists will not need to have a corona virus test prior to travel nor will they be quarantined after arrival.

Source: skopelosnews and GTP travel pages

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(Karya area today)

As of tomorrow more things will change in Greece.

The most important factor, as we go out now, is that we need to remind ourselves that social distancing and wearing a mask, where it is needed, are important rules to follow. Always washing your hands before you put your mask on and after you take it of.

The numbers of new corona patients in Greece is low but the Greek government keeps reminding everybody via television spots how and where people should wear masks, how you can make masks yourselves, warnings against big social gatherings. Well known and loved Greek actors lead in these videos and they are a hit. The first motto was stay home, now it is we stay safe.

Every Monday in the next couple of weeks, more businesses will be allowed to open and hopefully the economy will start “running” again but with a lot of rules. Greece is largely dependent on tourists and they might come to visit but in smaller numbers and the way of holidaying will never be the same for anybody.

At the moment only permanent residents and employees of businesses are able to travel back and forth to Skopelos without going into 14 days of quarantine afterwards but as soon as more people are allowed to use a ferryboat to travel to Skopelos they will be looked at to see if their body temperature is ok and every passenger needs to fill out a questionnaire. If they need to have a “corona free” statement/passport with them needs to be seen. That needs to be decided by the governments.

News about flights are: Flights between Greece and seven countries will remain suspended as of now for preventative measures on the Covid-19 pandemic, and non-EU nationals banned from entering Greece, the Civil Aviation Service (CAS) said on Friday.
In addition, all international flights must land only at the country’s main airport, the Athens International Airport (AIA).
Countries affected by the extension of suspended flights include Albania, Italy, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom. A total of 5 Notams were issued with the following restrictions:
– All flights to and from Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom are suspended until May 31 (23:5).
– All flights to and from Albania, North Macedonia are suspended to June 14 (23:59).
– All flights from Turkey to Greece are suspended to June 14 (23:59).
– Until May 31 (23:59), all international flights are obliged to land at AIA.
Exceptions to the suspensions include cargo and emergency flights, military and Frontex flights, and flights to repatriate of Greek nationals, among others.
In addition, the ban of entry by non-EU nationals is extended to May 31 (23:59). The exception includes family members, citizens of Schengen zone countries, health personnel, and third-country citizens with long-term visas to EU or Schengen countries, civil and defense authorities, humanitarian personnel, airline crew, and any non-EU citizen with a travel permit issued by a Greek consulate.

We visited several beaches this week because the weather is really good. Very high temperatures, above 30 degrees Celsius on Skopelos. We only found locals and it was strange to see, people who normally we would not see, because they are so busy. It is a new thing, I know.

(Elios beach today, our dog was not the only visitor!)

Greece’s 515 organized beaches opened yesterday.
Businesses running beaches, renting out sun umbrellas and sunbeds opened but with restrictions. These include recording the number of bathers present (max. 40 people per 1,000 sqm), distances between umbrellas (minimum of 4 meters), and restrictions on the number of sunbeds per umbrella (two, except for families with minors). Bathers are also obliged to lie on their beach towels rather than the bed itself.
Beach bars only sell pre-packaged goods, while refreshment stands, coffee shops and the like operate as take-away, not allowing seating. The sale of alcoholic beverages is banned, and delivery is not allowed in the area. Music is also banned to avoid clusters of dancing people. Customers must keep a distance of 1.5 meters from one another while ordering. All group contact sports at beaches are also banned.

(beautiful shells found on Elios beach)

The government on Saturday proposed that the Health Ministry’s committee of health experts considers the opening of restaurants, cafes and similar establishments on May 25, that is one week earlier than June 1 as was scheduled

Source: Skopelosnews and Athens News Agency – Macedonian Press Agency

Greece is reading to welcome everybody that loves this country. When that will be and how is uncertain yet. I hope soon more will become clearer. Until then, stay safe.

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(I finally photographed these poppies on the road to Panormos , in Loutsa.
I had seen them several times in the last few days but I never stopped the car. Yesterday I made the decision to stop because I also saw that with one good wind gust this bouquet of poppies would be gone forever)

Walking up to my office this morning I found almost all shops and businesses open. There were even a couple of guys who had taken chairs and stools outside and were arguing loudly about current affairs. From Bisque, Skopelos Gi/Σκοπελος Γη, the little coffee shop, Sofia the hairdresser, the bakery, peparithos and Saintukeri we wish you a good day wherever you are.

At the moment there are various European countries, Greece is amongst them, who are talking about how the travel ban should be lifted and under which circumstances. Greece relies heavily on incoming tourism and many businesses are waiting for foreign customers this summer. Greece will also launch a plan to support Greeks who want to holiday in Greece.
This is what Greece proposes and what the Greek travel pages have written about it: Greece Proposes EU-wide 72-hour Pre-travel Covid-19 Test

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(flowers found on the Pefkia/Raches road this Sunday)

Today more shops in Greece and on Skopelos are able to open their doors and when I walked through Skopelos this morning I saw people busy cleaning and putting up signs. It was wonderful to see and in the conversations I had I noticed a longing to go back to normal/ to start with normal again. Shops might be open but not with a lot of customers. We will have to see when that happens.

The available seats (52) on the Proteus boat have caused a lot of comments but I have heard from the Kosifis ticket office in Skopelos that more seats will be available soon. This will be nessecary because employees can now come to the islands with a written statement from the employer. Students that are having their finals this year have returned today to the schools. For the moment they are the only ones.

This snake skin we found on our land. A hedgehog also came to visit our house but probably did not like the cats. He is gone now. There is an abundance of animals around a the moment. Whether we take more heed or the animals feel more free because it is so quiet I don’t know.

There is a lot going on around the harbor and the town beach. I will take photographs and tell more in another post.

Not only are there a lot of flowers around but also a lot of herbs and flowers that can be used for teas etc.

I visited Sofia who is an expert and she showed me what she is up to. She gathers, she dries and uses many plants and herbs. This is her post about it on her blog.

Stay safe, wherever you are !

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