Why are Cyclades white?

Cyclades: White and Blue Aesthetic

When someone is asking about Cyclades Islands all that you can think about is white and blue.

Blue is the sea and the sky. White is every single cubed-shaped house. White is the church that stands out of the rocky ground and the paved paths of white villages.

The scenery is the absolute example of minimalism, but it can indicate more than a minimal aesthetic.

Cyclades Islands weren’t always white

It is known that in ancient Greek art and architecture there were used colors made from plants and flowers. In the Medieval era, when the Aegean islands had a huge problem with piracy, the villages were surrounded by walls. The only color was one of the rocks and the earth, so they were less visible and safer from the pirate invasions.

Cyclades santorini

History is the key

In 1938, the Greek dictator ordered to paint all the buildings with lime, a white antibacterial material, so it could stop the spread of the epidemic disease of cholera.

In 1955, the Queen Frederica of Hanover presented to the Greek Prime Minister a photo of some perfectly-conserved white houses of Mykonos. She suggested white as the “trademark” of Greek islands.

1967 – 1974: The military government commanded to paint everything at the islands white by law. Even the islands that weren’t white before, were forced to change their local identity and to follow the ethnic style of blue and white combination, along with the colors of the Greek flag.

What about now?

Now, the white color is not obligatory. For locals living in the islands, it means cleanliness, clarity, and protection from the heat because is reducing the solar absorption.

But, what does the white color mean to us?

Does it matter if white exists because of past epidemic diseases, the desire of a Queen, political reasons or a touristic branding? When you are witnessing the scenery of Cyclades Islands it is impossible not to fall in love with the beauty.

You can’t help but be in love with the forms, the textures, and the way that the sunlight is reflected on the surfaces. Finally, you have to admit that all of this is a matter of material and color. A matter of white color.

“The white color of the lime made the picturesque unity of the settlement. As a theatrical scene: as if everything was created by only one hand.”

Le Corbusier, modernist architect

A journey through time in Alonisos

Welcome to Alonissos

You don’t have enough time to explore the wholeness of this small majestic island. It could be just one more stop on your cruise, (there are incredible day-cruises in unbelievable prices). But, if you wish to have a journey through time, all you have to do is visit the old village of Alonnisos. It is called Ηora.

Ηora is the main village and usually is strategically located on a high point of the island. Every Greek island has its own picturesque and charming Hora and it is reasonable to wonder what is so special about the Ηora of Alonnisos. Meanwhile, our journey has just begun.

You have just arrived at the port of Alonissos

You noticed a group of people that consists of both locals and tourists. They are gathered and are waiting for something. Stay with them and when an old bus will arrive you should jump into it without a second thought. Neither are there many buses, nor a lot of destinations. It will not last long. Just a few minutes. Enjoy the ride.

You have just arrived at the Hora of Alonissos

The bus will stop at a square with a huge plane tree in the center. Normally you would love to stop and feel in your skin the shade of the old tree. But now an uphill paved path is appealing you to follow it. It is revealed in a seducing way. On the way up to the highest point, you will find little-crowded squares, old paleochristian churches, stone houses with impressive bougainvilleas and breathtaking views of the sea. The main path will be crossed by even narrower paths. You will find shops with local products and artworks. You will watch women chatting from their doorsteps. You will not meet cars. If you are lucky enough, you will meet a donkey.

Alonnisos scenery

It seems like time is stuck in another era…

Maybe it is stuck in 1965 when an earthquake was the reason for the abandonment of the village. Later, German and English travelers fell in love with the old ghost village and decided to regenerate it. They bought the old damaged buildings and renovated them. They respected the traditional architecture of the island. In other words, we could say that they respected the history and the heritage of Alonnisos, too. You can easily recognize that you are at a place that is loved.

You have just arrived at the end of the path

And now what? You can feel satisfied because of your achievement. But it is not only this.

The way up was a kind of ritual. Wandering along Hora means discovering the periods and the layers of Alonnisos. It is your own Ithaca of Cavafy. It was more important than reaching the highest point.

Hope the voyage is a long one and you will find your personal Cyclops, Phoenicians and Egyptians.

Hope the voyage is a long one and full of adventure and you will smell the sensual perfume of every kind.

Voyage is more important than the destination

Alonnisos travel ithaca poem of cavafy words

Tsikoudia: The Greek traditional drink with body and soul

Greek Tsikoudia – An integral part of the Greek culture and way of life.

First things first! What is Tsikoudia?

Tsikoudia also commonly know as raki is a strong grape-based alcoholic beverage famous all around Greece. It is clear as water, containing 40-60% alcohol by volume. It is made by distillation of pomace and pieces of grapes (stems and seeds) that remained after a winemaking process. Nothing goes to waste in Greek tradition!

And why you should taste it?

First of all, because it is a Greek drink that you will meet literally everywhere in Greece. From the Cyclades to Crete and from Pindos Mountains to Athens Greeks always ordering tsikoudia to taverns or bars. Secondly, because tsikoudia is an integral part of the Greek traditional cuisine for ages.

According to predominant rumors, its history begins eight centuries ago inside a stone monastery on Mount Athos. Several monks tried to keep themselves warm in the cold winter by exploiting nature to the fullest.

History of wine is pretty much the same. Humans trying to exploit vine to the maximum. Apart from the fruit, producers used also leaves, shoots, and its trunk. As a result of this exploitation, there is a huge variety of flavors, colors, and qualities.

Greek Traditional Tsikoudia: The Recipe

After the completion of wine production in Greece, it’s time for Tsikoudia production. Main ingredients are the remnants of the process of turning grape into wine. Those remnants are called “Chikudas”. Producers keep Chikudas in a sunless and dry corner of their warehouse for 30 days of maturing. Then, they are ready to provide us with their precious ingredients once again through the distillation process.

This recipe left monks and spread throughout the Mediterranean meeting several changes and counterfeits. Therefore, within few years Tsikoudia was famous not only in Cyclades and Crete but also in Italy, Cyprus, the Middle East, Turkey and other places.

Depending on the distillation process, there are three types of related products:

  • tsipouro

  • tsikoudia / raki 

  • or ouzo.

All three products are an extra income for breadwinner farmers since 1900.

The distillation celebrity

In Greece, there is a tendency to celebrate whatever makes you happy. This is why there is a festive period dedicated to the production of Greek Tsikoudia. During the last days of fall, people all around the Cyclades come together in “Kazania” or “Kazanies”. Large groups of family and friends gather in the warehouse of the distiller to eyewitness the first production of the year. All together they eat and dance, and welcome the new tsikoudia on production.

tsikoudia greek traditional drink raki

Believe me, drinking Tsikoudia in Greece is more than drinking an alcoholic beverage. Do not miss this chance! Join hopwave and find your next islands destination for the best Greek traditional drink!

Tips for being a Soulful Traveler

A genuine way to become a soulful traveler

There are countless reasons for traveling the world, whether it be for business, pleasure, or something in-between. Nevertheless, you will always meet a person that views traveling as an opportunity for personal growth, self-exploration, and inspiration. They are who we call a soulful traveler.

If you book your boat cruise to the Greek islands, there are endless activities for enjoyment. And, like a photographer needs a great camera to capture the beautiful scenery, a “soulful traveler” needs a clear and focused mind to get the most of their experience. Your mind creates your world and consequently your vacations, so your thoughts are the fundamental component of rewarding experiences.

Why this is important for your next trip?

Whether we are planning vacations or not, we have the tendency to expect things to happen in a specific way, unable to create space for ourselves to enjoy the present moment. Great travelers know how to embrace new experiences.

soulful traveler relaxing in a valley watching sunset

Soulful traveler, you are the creator.

You can travel the Greek islands just to enjoy the weather, the beauty, or the food, and that’s a successful holiday.

But, as a soulful traveler, you can think about how you will wander around the islands where Socrates had a conversation with Plato, under the same sky and over the blue waters. Greek islands and their history are a great place for the mind.

No matter how much you read about it, self-exploration is a unique and different journey for every one of us. You have to experience this for yourself.

As a gift from Hopwave, we gathered 5 “soulful tips” for your next trip.

  1. Get to know a local. Ask them about old myths, and learn about their way of life.
  2. Read a book after you wake up and before going to sleep. Your state of mind matters the most.
  3. Spend at least 3 hours a day without your phone or computer.
  4. Each day, do something you have never done before.
  5. Create your day. Like a painter, think of beautiful colors and let your mind guide you to your next masterpiece of a day.

Thankfully, you don’t have to go through this alone. Traveling is always an opportunity for growth both as an individual or as a group.

Don’t think too much, chase the moments! Allow your friends at Hopwave to assist you in planning your Greek Island explorations.

Traditional Greek Food – Dolmadakia (stuffed grape leaves)

If you know anything about Greece, you’ve probably heard a thing or two about Greek food. This remarkable country has plenty of delectable food to offer, but there are certain dishes that Greece is best known for, such as Souvlaki, Mousaka, and of course, frappe coffee.

The deeper your knowledge of Greece and its lands, the more you discover the country’s wide variety of incredible foods! Let’s learn about traditional Greek specialties.

A well-known dish is dolmadakia, or dolmades, which are stuffed leaves, usually vine/grape or cabbage leaves. Dolmadakia stems from the word “dolma,” which comes from the Turkish verb “doldurmak,” meaning to stuff or fill. The leaves are filled with minced meat, rice, parsley, and different spices. When the “home” of these same ingredients are peppers, tomatoes, or zucchini rather than leaves, the masterpiece is called “Gemista.”

For those that are not familiar, vine leaves pack in a lot of nutritional value. Not only are they low in calories, but they have sufficient levels of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Furthermore, grape leaves have curative properties for both the body and mind, as studies show they can help combat memory loss while keeping the body young. This traditional Greek dish stays true to the Greek folk saying, “healthy body, healthy mind.”

Ingredients:

Fresh or jarred vine/grape or cabbage leaves – 205 grams (~60 leaves)
Rice – 1½ cups
Olive oil – ½ cup
Water – 3 cups
Juice of 1 lemon
1 onion, finely chopped

Add to taste:

Dill
Parsley or Mint
Salt
Pepper

Instructions:

  1. Start by prepping your leaves. For fresh leaves, wash them thoroughly, remove the stems, and blanch them in boiling hot water. Place aside to cool down. For jarred leaves, rinse them thoroughly, remove stems, and place them aside.
  2. Next, sauté the olive oil and onions in a large pan.
  3. Add the rice and stir for one minute, then add water and let it simmer. Once the water starts to evaporate, add lemon juice, herbs, and spices.
  4. Stuff each leaf with one spoonful of the mixture, and roll the leaves. Here is a helpful video showing you how to easily roll the leaves.
  5. Put the stuffed leaves in a large pan with one cup of water and a bit of olive oil. Cover the pan and cook for half an hour on low heat. Once removed from the heat, let cool for 30 minutes. They are now ready to serve or to refrigerate for later.

 

Dolmadakias are delicious when eaten both cold and warm.

This vegetarian recipe is both vegan and gluten-free, but minced meat serves as a great addition to the filling!

PRO TIP: eat with feta cheese, yogurt or tzatziki, and squeeze some extra lemon juice over them before you eat!

Getting excited about the traditional tastes of Greece? Stay tuned to learn more about Greek food! With hopwave, you can discover the best of the Greek experience.

Where to go in Greece: 4+1 Underrated Greek Destinations

4+1 options to help you explore Greece

So it’s time to explore the Greek islands. Because we are avid travelers, the hot-spot destinations swarming with tourists could potentially be underwhelming and overpriced. Not quite the experience we’ve been dreaming of.

No more wondering where to go in Greece! Pick your favorite places, book your tickets online, pack your bags and start traveling!

We crave the lesser known, and lesser traveled gems that offer authentic experiences to satisfy our wanderlust. Yes, we know, everyone says you must visit Santorini, but let’s save it for the off-season and consider these Greek islands that are underrated but remarkable. 

Where to go in Greece – The island-style summer!

Nisyros

greek islands nisyros

Off the beaten path

A volcanic island with charming hilltop villages, green meadows, and one of Greece’s most beautiful churches, this place is sure to satisfy those looking for the road less traveled.

Island Group: Dodecanese

Alonnisos

greek islands alonissos

Life of leisure

One of the first inhabited Aegean islands, with a picturesque harbor, a notable wine region, and natural landscapes, Alonnisos is the perfect place to unwind.

Island Group: Sporades

Thassos

greek islands thassos

Lush natural landscapes

 With stunning crystal beaches and mountainous forests, this island is the perfect relaxing getaway.

Island Group: North Aegean

Náxos

greek islands naxos

Best of both worlds

 As the cultural center of classical Greece, Náxos is a hub of traditional culture and ancient sites, along with beautiful isolated beaches.

Island group: Cyclades

Where to go in Greece – The land-style summer!

Chalkidiki

greece summer chalkidiki

Something for everyone

Not actually an island, but a group of three peninsulas in Northern Greece, Halkidiki is home to countless sandy beaches, intimate coves, green forests, ancient sites, and nightclubs, sure to satisfy all traveler types.

Before deciding on a place take into account some questions that could help you decide on the perfect destination for you:

  • City, beach or countryside?
  • Adventure or relaxation?
  • Shopping, culture or adrenaline?
  • Family,  friends or boyfriend/girlfriend? Or maybe solo?
  • Independent travel or have everything organized for you?
  • Budget or splash the cash? Or somewhere in the middle?
  • Off the beaten track or a tried and tested destination?
With hopwave, you can explore these places, ensuring the ultimate experience. Take it from your island experts!

A Boat Cruise around Greek Islands…

Why a boat cruise…

When traveling to new places, travelers commonly explore on foot, by car, or by the means of public transportation. But, if you consider traveling in Greece, you’ve found the ideal country for exploring on a boat cruise.

Let’s see why a boat cruise can be the best way to explore the Greek Islands.

It’s impossible to experience Greece’s vast number of islands and their countless remote beaches in any other way!

While traveling by bus or car requires significant effort and patience, a boat cruise eliminates these pressures and offers pure relaxation. This allows you to savor every moment of your journey. Choosing a boat cruise amplifies the travel experience at every level.

From the cheerful spirit of the captain to the excited company of your travelers, you will feel a sense of togetherness that is unique to small boat cruises. A taste of exceptional Greek food along with a few icy cool drinks throughout the day is sure to enhance your trip even more. Not to mention, your photography skills will improve with the help of the crystal blue waters and breathtaking landscapes.

Each island is vastly different from the next. Visiting multiple islands in one day is a great way to maximize your potential and see as much as possible. As I’m sure you can guess…

This is attainable only by a boat cruise.

boat cruise around greece

You’ll get the opportunity to swim around beaches and caves that aren’t accessible by land travel. Anything you see on the horizon and would love to know about, just ask the captain and he will fill you in. No breathtaking scenery will remain undiscovered. When the boat is anchored and you swim ashore, there’s even more to see.

You will find yourself floating in the crystalline waters and exploring the beauty around you from an entirely new perspective.

These are the priceless moments that the boat cruise offers, which typical forms of travel cannot.

All you have to do is decide which part of Greece you want to explore and book your tickets for an unforgettable boat cruise like this one around Milos

Don’t ever forget…

“You don’t have to be rich to travel well” – Eugene Fodor

With hopwave by your side, you have one more local friend that is here to help you arrange the perfect trip.

Aphrodite – “Venus de Milo”

Aphrodite of Milos

Okay, I’m not going to tell you about Aphrodite. We’ve all heard of the Greek goddess of love, beauty, and pleasure.

Then what is this post about? 

A volcanic island in the Aegean Sea known as “the island of Aphrodite.” Since we already know about her, we can imagine the allure of this island, better known as Milos.

Now, everyone has preconceptions about the Greek islands and their beauty. But, Milos may satisfy and exceed your expectations better than most of them.

Have you lost your mind?

With all the incredible Greek islands out there, how could Milos possibly be the best? Let’s remember, it is named after the irresistible goddess of beauty and pleasure after all. 

Aphrodite!

Now, let’s forget what we think we know. Let’s search a little bit more, look further, embrace our imagination and let her go.

Milos is more than clear blue skies, crystalline waters, and uniquely stunning beaches. If we just ogle at Milos’s beauty, we wouldn’t be appreciating the depth of the island’s magic. Don’t you think Aphrodite would be upset if you only saw her for her beauty?

For this reason, we must remember Milos’ villagers. Let’s see through their eyes. Let’s feel the salty waters, gaze at the stars, and hear the hum of the boat as it glides along the waves, just like they do.

Milos fishing boats

Discover Aphrodite 

These rock-backed villages are telling more than an ancient story, they’re calling us to explore, they ask us to feel with a villager’s heart.

We must discover the fishing villages, like Klima, and feel the coolness of the fisherman’s homes that are carved into the rocks.

Or in Pollonia, we can walk along the fisherman’s wharves and watch the bobbing boats as the catch of the day is loaded ashore. There is magic in their way of life

If you want to visit Milos, take our advice and feel like a local; feel like a hopwaver.

To become a hopwaver is to become a traveler

Become a traveler!

Once you have the travel bug, there’s no going back!

To travel is not only to vacation far from home. True travelers, they know how to leave the comfort of familiarity for a place made entirely of uncertainty.

Why?

  • The love for the unknown.
  • The thrill of new experiences.
  • The passion for adventure.

You book the tickets and the accommodations. You find the best island tour guide, then pack your things and set sail!

Or…

You walk out our front door and curiously wander the streets. With no plan and an open mind, you discover the beauty around you!

As long as you embrace the journey and inspire good vibes, there is no wrong way to travel!

  • What should I see?
  • Where should I go?
  • What is the perfect souvenir?traveler

Let me tell you, my friend. There is no right or wrong answer.

Get lost in your favorite island without Google Maps, or Yelp, or even without hopwave! We are here to help you but it’s your trip. So, Take the lead!

Travel like a local. Allow yourself to feel the vibes of the island and discover the ways of the people. Don’t obsess over your tour guide, nor your trip advisor app. Just talk with the locals and learn about all the “hidden” secret places!

Unsure where to start?

You’re in luck. Hopwave is here to help you discover beautiful and unique destinations around the Greek Islands. We want to bring you as many options as possible for you to decide what is the “bestest” one for YOU! Do yourself a favor, discover the most fulfilling experiences and pick the one you like the most.

But what is the difference between the tourist and the traveler?

Imagine: You’re in a square in front of a famous monument. The square is swarming with people, all posing for pictures. Your phone’s about to die due to using Google Maps all day. It’s hot, and you’re wondering if this was worth the long and crowded bus ride.

Now, imagine: You’re wandering down an unknown street. You put your phone away, you’re fully alert, and the world feels vibrant. Not sure exactly where you’re going, but you’re being led by an energy, a feeling. While you feel the air on your face, and hear foreign languages, a smell of an awesome local dish tickles your nose from a distance.

A tourist is told where to go and what to do. A traveler discovers where to go and what to do.

A tourist seeks advice from other tourists. A traveler seeks advice from locals.

Don’t be a tourist, become a traveler. Because being a traveler means that you follow your heart, not a map. Maybe live off the grid, and trust your instinct. Always, the best experiences waiting just outside of your comfort zone!

By now, I’m sure you have the travel bug. So… What is your next travel destination? Just get into the mood and hop from place to place, and let the waves lead you! Taste the hopwave experience and let yourself ride with the wind! What are you waiting for?