This year I visited Greece for the first time to take part in a week-long yoga retreat. Anyone who has watched me try to touch my toes will understand why Continue reading
Santorini is one of the most famous Greek islands, located in the southern part of the Aegean Sea to the east of Turkey. Continue reading
Bari. La Perla d’Apulia. Well… the biggest city in the south of Italy after Naples that’s got a bit of a beach and an alright Old Town. It may not be the biggest tourist destination of the region, but its main selling point is the port. The Porto di Bari is the doorway to the Balkan Peninsula and the means by which travellers and holiday-makers alike, sated with the delights of Italy and Western Europe, travel towards the Middle East. In fact, it was in Bari that a group of 11th century sailors deposited the bones of Saint Nicholas (affectionately known to you and I as Father Christmas, or Santa Claus), after seizing them from the Byzantines in what is now Demre, Turkey.
Multiple ferry lines serve the Port of Bari and you can travel from Bari to Croatia, Montenegro, Albania and Greece. We had a bit of a nightmare figuring out where we were meant to go once we actually got to the port and would have appreciated some advice beforehand, so for those of you packing up your bags and choosing a more novel way of travelling than flying this summer, here is my Bari Port How-To Guide.
1. Book your tickets online. You can do this via Direct Ferries www.directferries.com. Prices are actually very reasonable. For a two-berth cabin without a window (but with a washbasin) on the ferry that serves Dubrovnik, we paid under £300 return between us. I would recommend a cabin, as at peak times these ferries get VERY busy and it’s a long night if you’ve nowhere to doss down. It is of course cheaper to go without and choose ‘deck space’ (which can be anything from a reclining chair if you’re one of the first on board, to a bit of floor in the corner of the restaurant), so it’s up to you. You have to decide how hardy a traveller you are and what you’re planning to do on arrival. Personally, I wanted to get the most out of my day, so was happy to spend a bit extra for a semi-decent sleep.
Unlike other European countries, Greece is far more renowned for it’s traditional dress than its modern dress. Stresses of modern war and the impact of industrialisation have influenced how clothes were produced to follow the general European style, traditional Greek dress proves more diverse, preferred over modern clothing in the more rural parts of the country.
The clothing of Ancient Greece followed a simple pattern, with the main outfits (Chiton, Peplos, Himation and Chlamys) involving draping material over the body in order to form a dress, fastened in a different manner depending on the desired style. These items, known collectively as togas, fitted both every day and formal occasions, with formal dresses being decorated to distinguish both occasion and class.
As a middle-aged, musical legend once told us: we’re all going on a summer holiday. However, I can’t help feeling Cliff Richard was being a little closed minded here, because we might not all choose to go during the summer. Though October traditionally brings to mind Halloween, pumpkins, and nights that are taking a definite turn towards their long, cold winter form, I bet something you didn’t consider was a holiday in Europe.
October is a great month for travel. While one of the downsides to any summer trip is the inevitable tourist crush, in October the population of Europe is no longer made up of more holidaymakers than residents. This works out for everyone: for travellers who like to see the sights, it means that the popular attractions are less crowded and more comfortable to explore; for those who enjoy blending into the local scene, your job will be made a lot easier – nobody expects the autumnal traveller.
Avoiding the height of summer is also a good strategy for the cost conscious among us. You can backpack in style or treat yourself to the luxury break you’ve always been tempted by because, as it’s not peak season, this time of year gives you cheaper airfares and cheaper accommodation, leaving you more money to actually explore the country (and all without the oppressive heat, which brings me to my next point…).
The weather is cooler in October. An obvious statement – and one that might not appear to be selling the holiday idea – but hear me out. Cooler does not necessarily mean cold. Take Rome, for example. October is one of the city’s best seasons: the heat is off, the city is pleasant to walk in again, the thick coating of sun cream is no longer obligatory, and the prospect of spending hours in the rather shade-less Roman Forum does not need to fill you with dread.
(Make the most of the last warm sun-rays in Athens this October. www.puretravel.com)