Greece, Travel

Demeter Cave House in Pyrgos, Santorini

June 4, 2021
Demeter Cave House

Recently, I was invited by Demeter Cave House to experience staying in their stunning cave house on Santorini. I can honestly say that if you are looking for luxury in a traditional Greek village in Santorini, this is the place to stay. While I was a guest of the cave house, all views are my own.

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Santorini cave houses or yposkafa are common in the villages, and they are built into the sides of the hills. The cave houses are built to keep the heat out in the summer and the heat in winter. They are then whitewashed yearly to help them maintain the white exterior and sun-reflecting properties. The cave houses are simply built and usually have built-in furniture. Many Santorini residents still live in these, and many have been turned into vacation rentals.

Demeter Cave House

Demeter Cave House is a luxury cave house but still maintains its simple charms. Demeter is an adults-only making the perfect place to come on a romantic holiday or honeymoon trip. The cave house has been built with couples in mind as well, with two of most things being present. It is located in the picturesque village of Pyrgos.

Entering the cave house, your own private jacuzzi greets you. While you don’t have a caldera view like you might in Oia, you have absolute privacy, which is not guaranteed in Oia. You and your loved one can share a glass of wine in the heated jacuzzi and relax after a day of exploring Santorini.

If you want to cook on your holiday, there is a kitchenette with all the amenities to cook a simple meal. A bottle of Santorini wine is chilling for you in the refrigerator on arrival, as well as bottled water. Demeter Cave House will ask you if you drink coffee or tea before your arrival, so your preferences are ready to make on arrival. Unlike many hotels, Demeter will even provide milk for your coffee or tea! I think this has something to do with the half British ownership and knowing the importance of milk in tea for the Brits!

Demeter Cave House offers breakfast as an option to order after you make your reservation. They offer Greek scrambled eggs or strapatsada, which is my favorite breakfast in Greece. Strapatsada is eggs, feta, tomatoes and oregano. The breakfast also comes with yogurt, fruit, bread, orange juice and coffee. You can take your meals in the private area next to the jacuzzi, inside or on the roof deck.

The television is a smart tv, allowing you to watch Netflix if you feel like a movie night in. Or if you feel like having a dance, there is a wonderful speaker that you can play your own music on. The sound quality was so good; I will probably end up buying my own!

Ready for an amazing sleep? The bed in Demeter Cave House is simply amazing! Not only is the mattress extremely comfortable and covered in pillows for all your sleeping needs, but it also glows. There are soft lights under the bed that you can control for a warm ambient experience. In classic Greek fashion, all the light switches for the room are located next to the bed, so you don’t have to get up after you have laid down to sleep.

Demeter Cave House Bed

I have saved the best for last, and that is the bathroom. The bathroom features double sinks and double shower heads! Convenience and comfort are top priorities in the bathroom of Demeter Cave House. Not only can you shower together, but you can also relax on the bench in the shower area.

Demeter Dave House bathroom

Santorini Sunset at Demeter Cave House

Trust me when I say you don’t need to be on the Santorini caldera or Oia to view the famous Santorini sunset. You can watch the stunning Santorini sunset from the beautiful roof deck of Demeter Cave House. Pyrgos village is the highest village on Santorini, giving it the best view of the sunset on the whole island. Also, you will avoid the crowds watching the sunset in Oia.

Sunset from Demeter Cave House roof deck
Sunset in Pyrgos Santorini

When you go up to the roof terrace, sit on the deck chairs that face the church, Agios Demetrios. The Santorini sunset will happen right over the roof depending on what time of year you are there, but this is a good spot for the summer. Enjoy it with some Greek mezes and wine for the ultimate Santorini sunset experience over Pyrgos village.

My biggest tip for watching the sunset in Greece and not just for the Santorini sunset is to wait for at least 20 minutes after the sunset dips below the horizon. The colors get better and better as the sun goes further past the horizon.

After the sunset, lay down on the soft cushy lounge chairs to watch the stars. These soft loungers are amazing to lay on. You might even fall asleep!

Services at Demeter Cave House

Demeter Cave House offers a wide variety of services that you might only expect to find at a larger hotel property. You can book things such as a couples massage, a sunset sail, or a honeymoon welcome package. Private pickups from the airport or the port can be arranged as well. Demeter is well connected to the local companies and can help you make reservations and suggestions on where to eat.

Greek mezes and wine on the roof deck of Demeter Cave House

If you need a car rental, which I recommend for Santorini, Demeter Cave House uses Pyrgos Rent a Car. I used them while I was there, and they were great! Renting the car was very easy, and when I returned it, they took me to the airport. They can arrange to pick you up as well. It is an additional fee, but no more than a taxi to the airport would cost. You need an international driver’s license to rent a car in Greece, so make sure to get one before leaving home!

What I loved the most was that after a day of exploring Santorini, I could come back to the quiet village of Pyrgos and Demeter Cave House and completely relax. Everything was quiet, and I didn’t have to worry about where to eat or where to watch the sunset. It was all on my doorstep!

Check Demeter Cave House’s availability directly on their website.

Demeter Cave House Pin
Greece, Travel

Island Hopping in Greece

May 14, 2021
Ferry arriving in Ios, Greece

When people think of Greece, they think of the beautiful blue and white buildings that dot the landscapes of a Greek island. Many people want to visit as many of those islands on their Greek holiday but they may be daunted by the task of figuring which islands to visit and how to go island hopping in Greece.

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This guide will not only tell you what to do on these amazing Greek islands but how to get to there. The main way of Greek island hopping is to pick a set of islands and take the ferry from each one. Don’t worry; taking the Greek ferry is easy and a fun way to get to all the Greek islands you desire.

You will want to find islands that are interconnected by ferry. Many islands are close to each other but the ferries may not go to the island you want even if it seems logical that it would.

Keep in mind this is just a small sampling of itineraries you can create for yourself. There are about 200 inhabited Greek islands to explore and a few island chains I don’t cover here. To see where the ferries go, check out Ferry Hopper’s planner.

Cyclades Island Hopping

The Cyclades Island chain is probably the most popular of all the Greek islands. This is the set of islands that include Mykonos and Santorini, but there are 39 islands. 24 of those islands are inhabited so there are tons of different islands to explore. You can’t hit them all in one trip but you can hit anywhere from 3 to 7 islands depending on how long your trip is.

Santorini – Naxos – Mykonos

If this is your first visit to Greece, you most likely want to visit Santorini for its beautiful caldera views. To start this island-hopping adventure, I would recommend flying to Santorini to use your time efficiently. Some must-see things to do in Santorini are the hike from Thira to Oia along the caldera, visiting the ancient destroyed town of Akrotiri, and visiting a Greek winery. After spending a few days, you can then take the ferry to the largest Cycladic island of Naxos.

For great hotel with a caldera view, book a room at Strogili in Oia.

Naxos sits between Santorini and Mykonos, making it a great stop and a less touristy island than the other two. This island features some of the best beaches in Greece, and because of its size, it has large agricultural activity. Naxos has tons of great restaurants as a result with wonderful local ingredients. Spend a few days relaxing here before heading to Mykonos.

While Mykonos is well known, it is still worth a visit for its great nightlife. Dance the Greek summer night away at one of its many beach bars. During the day, you can explore the island. Make sure to check out the Mykonos windmills for an iconic photo of your trip to Greece. Finally, you can catch the ferry back to Athens directly from Mykonos, making it a great island to end your Greek holiday on.

Book you ferry tickets on Ferry Hopper.

Naxos – Paros – Milos

As mentioned before, Naxos is an amazing island to visit and especially a favorite among families. To get to Naxos from Athens, you will want to catch the ferry at Piraeus. The ferries to Naxos usually leave early in the morning, so I recommend sleeping in Piraeus the night before to save time. If you really want to be closed, I recommend the Triton Hotel as it is one of the few hotels that serves breakfast early enough to eat before you catch the ferry. The hotel is no-frills but not a problem for one night.

Book a room at the Triton Hotel.

The ferry ride to Naxos takes about 4 and a half hours but is totally worth it. Watch the blue Aegean sea go past on the deck, and you will be starting your holiday right. After spending a few days exploring Naxos, head to Paros. The ferry to Paros might be the same one you came on to! It is a short hop to the Paros port. In Paros, explore the Church of 100 Doors and the fishing village of Naousa.

Stay in Naousa at the centrally located, Liparando Hotel.

After spending a night or two in Paros, take one of the fast ferries to one of the further Cycladic islands of Milos. Milos has some other worldly-looking beaches due to its volcanic past. The beach that best represents this is Sarakinikio beach, made up of white smooth rocks. Sailing to some of the more remote beaches is one of the most popular things to do in Milos because you can’t reach them by car. Milos is a smaller island, so you may only need a couple of days here before catching the ferry back to Athens.

Tinos – Ios – Folegandros – Santorini

If you have a bit more time for your Greek holiday, consider hitting some out of the way and smaller islands. Again you will catch the ferry from Piraeus to Tinos. Tinos is a stunning island known for its artists and dovecotes. There are so many villages to explore on Tinos; you will want several days to explore this natural beauty.

Book you ferry tickets on Ferry Hopper.

After you explore, Tinos catch the ferry to Ios. Ios has something for everyone, from vibrant nightlife to stunning beaches and some amazing history. The island small, so take this opportunity to relax on the beach and eat some of the amazing local cuisine before going to Folegandros.

Book your room at my personal favorite of Kritikakis Village Hotel.

There are so many islands in the Cyclades that I cannot list all possible routes but you can see here how easy it is to island hop in the Cycladic islands.

Saronic Island Hopping

The Saronic islands are the closest islands to Athens. These make a great option if you don’t have a long time to spend in Greece. Many of these are also great options for a day trip to an island from Athens.

Aegina – Agistri

Getting to Aegina is one of the fastest ferry trips to an island, with the fast ferry only taking about 40 minutes from Piraeus port. You can also take a slower ferry that takes about an hour from Piraeus. Aegina is a beautiful island with plenty of things to do. If hitting the beach is your top priority, then head to Agia Marina on the island’s east side. A few of the ferries go direct to Agia Marina in the high season. While on that side of Aegina, make sure to stop at the Temple of Aphaia. The Temple of Aphaia dates to around 500 B.C. and is a great spot for views of the island and surrounding sea.

Book a room at the Aphrodite Art Hotel in Aegina.

After spending a night or two on Aegina, take the short ferry ride to Agistri. Agistri is mostly covered in forests but offers some amazing beaches. This island is not very touristy and gives you an idea of what life is like on a smaller Greek island. This island is perfect for relaxing. You can see I did just that in the video below.

Book a room at Hotel Alexandra that is featured in the video above.

Poros – Hydra – Spetses

Hitting Poros is a great option if you have a car as it is one island you can reach by car. However, you can still go by ferry, and it is faster than driving. Poros is a great place to practice the Greek art of people watching and boat watching. Because of its harbor layout, you can sit in almost any cafe and watch boats docking. If you want to get a higher view, walk through the town to the clock tower for a great sunset view.

Book your ferry tickets to Poros here.

After spending a day in Poros, head to the island with no cars! Hydra does not allow cars on the island. However, if maritime history sparks your interests, Hydra boasts a small but wonderful museum located in the port. It is called the Historical Archive-Museum of Hydra. While the name doesn’t sound nautical, there is plenty of nautical history there.

Book your stay at the Orloff Boutique Hotel Hydra.

Spend a few days in Hydra and then catch the ferry to Spetses. This island is also home to two great museums that happened to be inside historic homes. Museums on Greek islands are great places to escape the heat after hitting the beach. Spetses also has some stunning beaches to go for a swim at and relax.

Dodecanese Islands

The Dodecanese Islands are far away from Athens but are close to Turkey. The largest island is Rhodes. While you can take the ferry from Athens, it will be a long ferry, so I recommend flying to one island to start and then start your Dodecanese island hopping experience. Visiting the Dodecanese may require a longer trip due to their location and where you fly into Greece.

Leros – Patmos – Kalymnos

Leros is a great place to start in the Dodecanese Islands as there is an airport and the flight is only an hour-long! While Leros is not a large Greek island, there are tons to see. It is an island of great architecture with interesting buildings, churches, and castles to visit. Once you have explored all the buildings, head over to one of the many beautiful beaches for a nice swim. There are tons of Leros beaches to choose from.

Once you spend three or four days on Leros, catch the ferry to the island of Patmos. Patmos is known for its religious history as it is supposedly the place where John wrote the book of Revelation. You can even see the cave where John wrote the book. However, you don’t have to be religious to enjoy this lovely island. Patmos has some amazing beaches and is a great spot to scuba dive.

Book your ferry ticket to Kalymnos here.

Kalymnos is known for its rock climbing activities, and there are tons of options. But, even if you aren’t into rock climbing, there is still plenty of things to do on Kalymnos. There is an archaeological museum housed inside an old mansion that is definitely worth exploring. And it wouldn’t be a Greek island without some great beaches to visit.

Astypalaia – Tilos – Kos

Astypalaia is a stunning island with a castle at the top. It is a great island to start with as it has an airport. The Venetian castle is the highlight of this Greek island. But there are other things to see such as the beaches and the Drakos Cave. Not only is it a cool natural attraction, but it is also rumored to be where pirates stored their treasure!

Book a room at the Kallichoron Art Boutique Hotel.

Tilos is the island for relaxing! The island is known for being one of the greenest places in Greece. However, there isn’t much to do but enjoy nature. Hiking is a popular activity on Tilos, and there are tons of old pathways.

Once you have relaxed enough, take the ferry to Kos.

Kos is one of the most popular islands to visit in the Dodecanese island chain. There is so much to do in Kos; you could spend at least a week exploring. If ancient sites are your thing, make sure to visit Asklepieion. Asklepieion is a temple built to honor the god of health, Asklepios. It was built after the death of Hippocrates. Another great ancient site on Kos is their Ancient Agora. Much like the Agora in Athens, it has ruins of temples and baths. Spend at least a few days on Kos so you can see it all.

Sporades Islands

The Sporades Islands have been famous by Mamma Mia. Much of the first film was filmed on the island of Skopelos, well, at least the outdoor scenes. While you can easily ferry hop between these four islands, you can’t do it from Athens. You will either need to fly to one to begin or drive to Volos or Agios Constantinos on the mainland to catch the ferry. You can only island-hop from three of the four Sporades as ferries to Skyros only leave from Kymi on the island of Evia, so I will give you things to do on each island, and you can decide the order!

Skopelos

Most people will want to hunt for film locations of Mamma Mia on Skopelos, including the church. The church is called Agios Ioannis Kastri and is located on the eastern side of the island towards the north. Once you hike to the top, head to a beach to relax. If you need more to explore, check some of the many monasteries on the island.

Book your hotel room at Aeolos Hotel in Skopelos.

Skiathos

Skiathos has something for everyone. The island boasts beautiful beaches, diving spots, party spots, castles, and churches. Not to mention all the wonderful Greek tavernas to visit. If you want to island-hop in a more traditional way, Skiathos offers many options for days sails that take you to Skopelos and Alonissos!

Alonissos

Said to be the most beautiful island of the Sporades, Alonissos is for the nature lover. There is a marine park to explore, plenty of hikes, and a cave to explore. Around Alonissos are several small islets that have churches on them and there are boats that will take you to them to explore.

Ionian and Northern Aegean Islands

The Ionian and Northern Aegean Islands are harder to island-hop on a ferry. Many places only go to one island from the mainland on these islands. For example, you can catch the ferry to Lemnos but not to another island from Lemnos. For islands like Corfu, you can catch more local ferry lines to one or two islands, but most of them are far from each other. Technically the Northern Aegean islands aren’t an island chain at all but get grouped together.

Let me know if you have done any island hopping in Greece and what your favorites were!

Greece, Travel

Getting a Greece Resident Permit

December 13, 2020

After several years of research and a year of living in Greece, I finally have my Greece resident permit. This was especially important this year with all the travel bans in place. If I hadn’t gotten it, I might not have been able to return home for Christmas without it. As it was, I didn’t receive it until the middle of November.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Getting a Greek resident permit is not hard, but it takes patience and persistence to get it. I am going to walk you through the steps of applying for the Greek resident permit here. This is for the financially independent resident permit. Keep in mind there are several types of permits in Greece that you can apply for.

Before you enter Greece, you should apply for a visa in your home country. Read my blog post about that if you haven’t done that yet.

Do You Need an Attorney?

One of the questions I am asked frequently is if you need an attorney to apply for the Greece resident permit. It is not required but may make the process easier for you. The lawyers in Greece have direct access to the Aliens administration to make appointments and ask questions.

If you decide to get an attorney, ask around to find one who has experience with this process. Many are not familiar with applying for the financially independent resident permit.

To use an attorney, you will need to get a power of attorney. The lawyer can write it up for you in Greek. You will then take it to your local KEP office to have it notarized. The KEP is the citizen’s services department in Greece. Take your passport with you. You may also need to have several copies of the power of attorney notarized, so do a few at once. At the time of writing this, there were no fees for the notarization.

The lawyer will tell you want they want you to do next.

Gather All Your Documents

You will need many documents to apply for the resident permit. Some of these will be similar to what you needed for your visa, so bring all those documents with you to Greece.

The documents you will need are your passport and a full-color copy of all pages, your birth certificate with apostille, a rental contract for an apartment or utility bill in your name, financial records, you will also need proof of insurance and passport photos. The passport photos will need to be digital on a CD and the four physical copies.

At the time of writing you need to prove you have €2000 a month in savings, passive income or retirement income.

All these documents will need to be translated into Greek. If you are not using a lawyer, you can have these documents translated at the Translation Service. The cost is pretty affordable at the service. There is a rush option if you need it. You will need to take your passport with you to this service as well.

Make an Appointment

Each Decentralized Administration has its own process for accepting appointments. After the events of 2020, more administrations have moved to online appointment systems for renewals. However, as of writing, the initial appointment still needs to be made via email.

The Athens administration’s email is dam_a@attica.gr. My experience with contacting them via email has been good. However, you may need to wait a day or two for a response if it is a busy time of year.

If your documents are accepted, you will be given a blue certificate that acts like a temporary Greek resident permit. Be careful with this document as you may need it to travel with while your application is being processed. You will also have to turn it in when you pick up the official resident permit.

Pay the Fee

To apply for the resident permit, you will need to pay the fee. Right now, the fee is €1000, and you can pay it online. If you can’t do this online, there is a small copy shop next to the Athens administration, and they will help you for a small fee. If you are applying outside of Athens, check with the local KEP office, and they can help you find a way to pay in person.

You will also need to pay €16 for the plastic card. This can also be done on the same website as above.

After Your Appointment

Once you have gone to the appointment, you may need to submit more documents after the appointment. You will need to send the additional documents by registered mail.

The most important thing is to follow up with them frequently. You can email them at dam_a_info@attica.gr. Keep in mind this is for the Athens administration only. You can also check the status of your application online.

I needed to submit more documents after my initial appointment. My lawyer sent the documents, and they were received. However, my attorney didn’t send a copy of the power of attorney, so they weren’t accepted. The administration never told us this, and I only found out after I emailed them.

How to Pick Up Your Resident Permit

When you get the notice your resident permit is ready, you will need to make another appointment to pick it up. You will need your resident permit number to register in the system to make your appointment. The online status system will show it to you at the bottom of the notice under remarks.

You will then go to the migration website to register and make an appointment to pick up your Greece Resident Permit. Right now, only part of the website is in English, so I recommend you use a Chrome browser and install the Google Translate extension.

Once you have registered, you can make an appointment. This part of the website is in Greek only. When you translate the website to English, there will be a section called “Performances,” which is not the correct translation. Then you will click on “Appointment for Performances.” This is also not the correct translation. However, this is where you make the appointment to pick up your plastic resident permit card.

Screenshot of Migration website to make an appointment to pick up your Greece Resident Permit

When you go to your appointment, you need to take a print out of your appointment with you, your passport and your temporary resident permit (the blue paper). You will give them the temporary permit.

They will print out a decision about your permit and all the rules to renew it. You will then sign for the permit and that is it! You are officially a Greece resident.

Other Things to Know

The financially independent resident permit is initially good for two years and can be renewed. If you are denied, there is an appeals process. Please email the administration for guidance on how to do this.

The process for getting a resident permit isn’t hard, but as you can see, there are many steps involved. Even with a lawyer, I had to follow-up with the authorities many times and with my lawyer. Be persistent in following up. I recommend checking every week in the online system and every two weeks via email. It is up to you to make sure they have all the documents they have requested.

There is nothing like the feeling you get when you have that Greece Resident Permit in hand. I was so relieved to get it. If you are in the process, I hope this helps, and if you haven’t started it yet, I hope you are now better prepared to start. If you have questions, I will do my best to answer them.

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Greece

Greek Gift Guide

November 16, 2020

This year has been a rough year for travel. Most of us have been unable to travel as we would like. Are you missing Greece or know someone who is? They might enjoy getting something from my Greek Gift Guide! Every artist or brand on this list has something I have bought something from or use on regular basis in my daily Greek life.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

The Round Button

I discovered The Round Button on Instagram and have been hooked on her products ever since. Alexandra’s inspiration is the island of Tinos. From her Tinos and Athens’ studios, she creates prints, pillows and jewelry. She began with prints and has expanded over the years. All the designs are clean and simple but no less stunning.

My personal favorites are the items she has created based on the Tinos’ dovecotes. The circle design and what it represents speak to me and really remind me of a Greek island. Greek islands are simple, beautiful places full of stunning landscapes, wonderful people, and ancient history.

The necklace above is the one I have purchased and the print I have is the same design but in simple black and white. However, I know the print is no longer sold. She has plenty of other beautiful prints available though. The Round Button ships internationally and when in Greece she items for sale in many shops all over Greece.

Ena Karo

The Round Button actually introduced me, via Instagram, to Ena Karo, a natural soap producer, also from Tinos. Ena Karo makes handmade soaps and toiletries on the island of Tinos. I bought two soaps in Athens so I could try them out and the smell is divine! They have also just released a Christmas collection of soaps that include scents such as Holy Night and 3 Magi.

All the soaps contain natural oils and herbs. This is definitely product you want to give as a Greek gift and a gift to yourself! My favorite scent is the Poppy Seed. I am dying to try more scents as well. If you want to watch some cool soap making, I recommend you watch their stories! Ena Karo’s e-shop isn’t ready yet, but you can reach out to them and they will get you sorted out!

In Athens, you can find Ena Karo at Flaneur. Flaneur sells unique souvenirs in Plaka and is worth a visit when you are here.

Aggeliki Stavrianou

Aggeliki Stavrianou is actually a friend of mine from when I lived in Naxos. She and I met while helping the local animal welfare. Her paintings of the Greek Islands will transport you! She still lives in Naxos and paints daily. Her art depicts island scenery in a realistic vivid way and you are likely to find a painting of your favorite Greek Island. This is the small painting I purchased from her earlier this year.

Aggeliki doesn’t have a shop online but you can get in touch with her to order either through her Instagram or her website. Act fast though as most paintings are one of a kind. She will ship anywhere in the world.

Olive Era

Olive Era is a Greek brand I discovered while staying at a hotel in Athens. The products have an amazing smell and will transport you to Greece just by using them. All products use Cretean olive oil! At the time of my discovery, they didn’t have an online shop. They now do and will ship internationally. If you are in Athens, they now also have a physical store to visit at Perikleous 28.

Olive Era

They have a variety of products, such as skincare, hair care and candles. I love the simple packaging of everything and the fact that it uses Greece sourced ingredients.

Apivita

While Apivita is a more well known international brand, it is no less Greek! This was one of the finds in the pharmacy that I still use today. My favorite products are the hair care products. I love that they are silicone-free and smell like Greece in a bottle. The hair products I am currently using are the Oily Roots/Dry Ends Shampoo, the Intense Repair Conditioner, and the Moisturizing Hair Mask.

Some Apivita products are available at Amazon if you can’t get them to ship directly to you from Greece. If you are in Greece, you can get Apivita products at most pharmacies. There is also the Apivita Experience Store in Kolonaki, which carries the full range of their products.

Korres

Korres was one of the first Greek beauty products I tried. They have great body washes and lotions. The scents are also some of the best I have ever tried. They also make skin care, hair care and face care products. Some Korres skin care products can be found at Sephora and on Amazon.

Most of their products are ethically sourced here in Greece. Some of the most popular products are the ones made with Greek Yogurt including their sunscreen and after sun line. Korres can be found in most Greek pharmacies if you are visiting Greece.

I hope this helps you give or receive a little bit of Greece this year for your holidays. Since most of these companies are small, you will be helping them in a year in which tourism dropped dramatically and still has not returned to pre-2020 levels. Other than the Amazon links, all the links are direct to the artist or brand and are not affiliate links. I want to support my local Greek artists and brands this year! Happy Holidays!