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Europe, Greece, Hotel/Accommodation, Travel

Kritikakis Village Hotel Ios, Greece

October 23, 2017
Kritikakis Village Hotel

When deciding where I was going to “live” for a month on the Greek island of Ios, I knew I wanted to be able to cook while I was there. This meant I needed to find a place with a kitchen and I was hoping for a place that had a monthly rate as well. I did lots of research trying to find the right place including Airbnbs and looking at smaller hotels. The Airbnbs were further away from my preferred location and some only had a shared kitchen. Finally, I found the amazing Kritikakis Village Hotel. Not only did each room have a small kitchen, I was able to ask for a monthly rate and they had two pools!

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Kritikakis Village Hotel

The Hotel

The hotel is set up like a small Greek Village and has all the lovely characteristics of that including whitewashed walls and blue doors. There are less than 50 rooms and it feels like even less. The reception area is located outside the village right on the road from the port. You can walk from the ferry to Kritikakis Village Hotel.

Kritikakis Village Hotel

The two pools are located on two different levels. One has the pool bar and the other has built-in sunbeds and is smaller. The smaller pool is also more shallow. The pool offers great views of Yialos beach. Breakfast is served a few levels up with a small cold breakfast and offers traditional Greek yogurt and delicious local honey.

Kritikakis Village Hotel

The Rooms

There are many room options to choose from at Kritikakis Village Hotel. You can choose from a studio with many single beds or a double. You can also choose an apartment style room that has a separate living area. The great thing about these rooms is that it allows for groups of friends to split the cost of a room and each have their own bed. The apartments are great for couples or people with small children.

Kritikakis Village Hotel

I chose an apartment since I really didn’t want to look at the kitchen for a month! When I contacted them about a monthly rate, they offered me a double bed apartment at a discounted rate. This was something you definitely had to contact them about and it may not be available during the high season. It was more than I wanted to spend, but I was very happy that I chose to do this instead of the studio.

Kritikakis Village Hotel

The benefits of staying in a hotel for a month was that I had daily maid service if I wanted. This meant no washing sheets and towels or mopping floors, which is definitely a plus while on vacation. It also meant I had help planning things or calling restaurants for reservations.

Kritikakis Village Hotel

Kritikakis Village Hotel

My apartment had a large terrace with a table and chairs and umbrella. Many mornings were spent here having my breakfast. The hotel also faces the west so you can catch a view of the amazing sunset on Ios. You are also close to the port and I could hear the ferries come and go, which I enjoyed. I preferred this location versus the village or the party beach of Myloplotas. I was close to the port, a grocery store, Yialos beach and many great restaurants. The bus stops right outside of reception and it takes you to the village or Mylopotas beach. You can also walk the path to the village if your legs are up for it. The path is also right next to Kritikakis Village Hotel.

Kritikakis Village Hotel

The Staff

By far the best thing about this hotel was the friendly hotel staff! They made my stay very memorable. Many times I would come back to my room to discover fruit or chocolates. One day I had a knock on the door only to be presented with a plate of fruit and loukoumades, Greek donuts!

Kritikakis Village Hotel

I chatted with the staff almost every day and made good friends with them. One night they even asked me to have dinner with them. It definitely made my time in Ios less lonely and I would have missed out on some great restaurants without their help. When I checked out they gave me a Kritikakis Village Hotel t-shirt! Which I have worn in Portugal a few times.

Kritikakis Village Hotel

The Location

As I mentioned before, Kritikakis Village Hotel is located not far from the port in Ios, Greece. There is also the bus stop right outside the reception door. The bus takes you directly to the Chora(village) and then onto one of the best beaches. In the port area is many restaurants, a grocery store and a bakery. Kritikakis is located in the best spot in Ios, Greece!

So if you are planning a trip to Ios, Greece, I highly recommend staying at the Kritikakis Village Hotel, check rates here. You will feel at home right away and be close to all that Ios, Greece has to offer!

Europe, Greece, Travel

Tips for Taking the Greek Ferry

October 16, 2017

Tips for Taking the Greek Ferry

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.

You dream of going to a Greek Island and soaking up the sun while sipping ouzo, but how did you get to those beautiful islands you dream of? Most of the islands are only accessible by ferry, although some of the larger more popular islands have airports. Booking ferry tickets are much easier than it used to be, but a first timer may need some help navigating the ins and outs of taking a Greek ferry.

Flights and the Ferry

My advice is to never ever book your ferry tickets the same day as your flight. This is especially true if you have hotel reservations paid for or work to return to after your vacation. Fly in and stay in Athens for the night or book a hotel near the ferry port. On my last trip, my ferry choices were to leave either at 7 AM or 4:30 PM which meant arriving in Ios after midnight. I opted for 7 AM, so I booked myself a hotel at Piraeus port for the night before. In this case, I could have never made a 7 AM ferry with any flight.

Which Ferry

There are many ferry lines, but not all the ferry lines go to every island. Which means you won’t have a lot of choices on which ferry line you take. You may be able to choose a fast or a slow ferry depending on which island you are going to.

The advantages of taking the fast ferry are less time on the ferry and more time on the Greek Islands. The other advantage is that the fast ferries are usually more modern than the slow ferries.

The disadvantages are if you get sea sick easily, the fast ferry might not be for you. Many of the fast ferries are hydrofoils, which are less stable in the sense that you feel the waves not that they are going to flip over. Another disadvantage is that you are usually not allowed on the deck, especially if the weather is bad. If the weather is really bad, the hydrofoils will be canceled. If you are going to a Greek island in winter, keep this in mind and allow for it in your schedule and bookings.

Which Port

Athens has three ports in which ferries leave from, Piraeus, Lavrio and Rafina. The issue with this is that not all islands are served by each port. For example, to get to Kea, you will have to leave from Lavrio. If you are booking your own ferry tickets, then I recommend using FerryHopper. (This is not an affiliate link.) It is straightforward and will give you indirect routes as well as direct routes.  If you are booking your tickets through an agent, make sure to check which port you are leaving from before you set out for your ferry as they are far apart and you will miss your ferry.

Tips for Taking the Greek Ferry

Getting On and Off

The first time I took a Greek ferry, it was from Ios to Santorini and back. Ios is small enough, and I had help, so it wasn’t very hard. But in Santorini, I was alone, and there were a lot more people and a lot more ferries. It also seemed a bit disorganized, although in hindsight it wasn’t.

Tips for Taking the Greek Ferry

If you are on an early morning ferry, go early as you may be able to get on without all the rushing that is associated with getting on later in the day.

At Piraeus there are many gates the ferries leave from and from the beginning to the end is far, so check it and arrive early to find the right gate. On the islands, there may only be one gate or very few. The best way to figure out where your ferry will depart from is the ask the Port police. They are in navy uniforms that look a little military in style. Your ferry ticket should have the name of the ferry on it, and most ferries are clearly marked.

You need to be there early but not more than 30 minutes. Rarely are ferries early in Greece and more often a few minutes or more late. But the disembarkation and embarkation process is fast, and they won’t wait for you.

Once you are on, you should store your larger luggage in the area you are directed to. Unless your bag is light, leave it here. It will be fine. There are too many stairs involved on the ferry, and you won’t want to bring it to your seat.

Proceed up the stairs, and someone will help you find your seat. Last year, I sat where I wanted, well except for business class but this year they really seemed keen on people sitting in their assigned seats.

Tips for Taking the Greek Ferry

They will announce each port as they get close and everyone will move downstairs to gather their luggage. It will seem chaotic, but don’t stress you will get your luggage and get off the ferry. It is a very efficient system even if it doesn’t look like it.

Do you have any tips for the Greek ferry? Share with us.

Europe, Montenegro, Museums, Travel

Visiting the Old Towns of Montenegro

September 18, 2017

Old Towns of Montenegro

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.

When most people think of Montenegro, they think of the town of Kotor. However, Kotor is more than the just the town and includes much of the areas surrounding the Bay of Kotor. Montenegro also has so much more to see than just Kotor.

The highlights of Montenegro, for me, are the old towns or stari grads that dot the coastline of Montenegro. Three of these old towns are located on the Bay of Kotor the other two are located further south on the coast heading towards Albania.

Kotor

Kotor is the most well-known town in Montenegro. The region of Kotor itself is a UNESCO world heritage site and includes the old town. The old town dates back to the 13th or 14th century, although much of it was destroyed in the 1667 earthquake. Kotor has been held by many countries and seems to have changed hands back and forth many times even as recently at 1941 when it was part of Italy.

There are several entrances to the old town, and I suggest you explore the town from each one as it gives a different perspective. You can climb up to the walls in some sections as well. If you are ambitious, you can climb to the top of the mountain above to the fortress. If you want an amazing view of the fortress and walls at night, I suggest you eat dinner at the Hotel Hippocampus on their rooftop. It is not very big, so make reservations.

Old Towns of Montenegro

Old Towns of Montenegro

Old Towns of Montenegro

Old Towns of Montenegro

Old Towns of Montenegro

Herceg Novi

Herceg Novi is the first town on the Bay of Kotor. It was founded in the late 14th century. The old town right on the water and it makes a difficult to reach as the new town has built up around it. You have to park and walk down a hill to the old town and then walk up some stairs into the town. There may be another way in, but I couldn’t find it.

Your goal is to get to the Forte Mare or Sea Fort to see the beautiful views. I definitely see why the people chose this spot. Herceg Novi’s old town isn’t as large as some others, but it has several beautiful churches to see.

Old Towns of Montenegro

Old Towns of Montenegro

Old Towns of Montenegro

Old Towns of Montenegro

Old Towns of Montenegro

Perast

Perast is also located in the Bay of Kotor. The drive from Kotor to Perast is short. However, Perast is all old town, and you cannot drive into the town. There are parking lots at each end, which you have to pay to park.

However, Perast was my favorite old town in Montenegro. Perast was easily walkable since is flat. There is a small but good museum as well. Also, this is where the famous churches in the bay are located. Our Lady of the Rocks and Saint George Monastery are two island churches in the bay. Unfortunately, due to forest fires, I could never get a clear picture of them from Perast. You can take a boat to Our Lady of the Rocks. Saint George is private. Perast also has the highest bell tower on the Adriatic Coast.

Old Towns of Montenegro

Old Towns of Montenegro

Old Towns of Montenegro

Old Towns of Montenegro

Budva

Getting out of the Bay of Kotor now we head to Budva. Budva’s old town is walled like Kotor’s. Budva is much older though and dates back to the 5th century. Another stunning location as Budva is right on the Adriatic Sea and has some great beaches even inside the old town and right outside as well. After you explore the old town, visit the Citadela inside the old town to see the old Citadel and have a delicious lunch with a view!

Old Towns of Montenegro

Old Towns of Montenegro

Old Towns of Montenegro

Stari Bar

Further south, we come to Bar. Stari Bar or Old Bar is not in the new town. It is a short drive up the hill from modern Bar. Stari Bar is not as well preserved as some of the other old towns. However, because of its location, it offers stunning views of Bar, and you can see the Adriatic from Stari Bar. Some buildings have been restored, and you do have to pay a small fee to enter, but it goes to conservation.

Old Towns of Montenegro

Old Towns of Montenegro

Old Towns of Montenegro

Old Towns of Montenegro

Sveti Stefan

Sveti Stefan make look familiar to you as it is a frequently used photo when people are writing about Montenegro. The secret is that this old town is now a resort and you can only go there if you have reservations to stay or restaurant reservations. Given the cost was over €800 a night, I wasn’t going to be staying there. However, if you are driving, you can stop at the bus stop on the hill above Sveti Stefan and get a great view of the whole island. You can also walk down the hill to the island and gawk at it!

Old Towns of Montenegro

Have you been to Montenegro? What was your favorite part?

Europe, Hungary, Travel

Guest Post: 48 Hours in Budapest

May 15, 2017

48 Hours in Budapest

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.

This is a guest post from Jack at Find World’s Beauty

Budapest is an immensely beautiful, charming and diverse city that has risen to global prominence among travelers and expats alike over the last decade. Here are some suggestions on how to spend 2 days in the Hungarian capital.

Note as an introductory explanation that the Danube River divides the city into two main parts: Buda & Pest. Both parts offer an extensive array of sights while you should keep in mind that Pest is the most lively part where most of the actual residents live whereas Buda has served as the residence for the Hungarian kings for centuries and therefore contains the castle and fortifications.

Day 1: Dive deeper into the unique Hungarian culture while enjoying Budapest’s stunning architecture

Morning: Chain Bridge, Hungarian Parliament and Buda Castle

A morning stroll across the Chain Bridge will enable you to enjoy this wonderful feat of architecture in a peaceful manner before tourists invade the bridge in the afternoon. The bridge is furthermore an excellent place to take gorgeous pictures of the stunning Hungarian Parliament and the other architectural masterpieces that are situated along the Danube river.

48 Hours in Budapest

On the Buda side of the river, you will be able to take a funicular which takes you right up to Buda castle, the historical residence of the Hungarian kings. The hill moreover has some breathtaking viewpoints which offer fabulous views over the city and the river.48 Hours in Budapest

Afternoon: Hungarian National Museum and Market Hall

The Hungarian National Museum is a great place to learn about the unique place that the Hungarian culture and language (one of the oldest languages in Europe) occupies amid the European cultural landscape and is therefore definitely a good choice to get your annual history lesson in Budapest. Another afternoon activity would be a visit to the Market Hall where you can buy a wide range of local goods and delicacies if you wish to brush up on some Hungarian specialties.

Evening:  Enjoy a drink in the ruin pubs

Budapest has a buzzing ruin pub culture and the Szimpla Kert is the mother of those pubs which are like outside patios in rundown yet incredibly cozy buildings. When in the Hungarian capital, you should definitely not miss this typical nightlife scene and you will be pleasantly surprised by the amount of choice you have when it comes to ruin pubs and general nightlife options.

Day 2: Experience the beauty of Budapest from atop the hill and spend some time in the city’s trademark thermal baths

Morning: Hike up to Gellert Hill

One of the great nature related activities in Budapest is the hike up to Gellert Hill on top of which you will be rewarded with stunning views over the city. The path starts on the Buda side of the Danube close to Elizabeth bridge. The viewpoint can get crowded in the afternoon, which is why early birds will have the better experience.

Afternoon: Relax in the Thermal Baths

After having ascended to the top of Gellert Hill you will want to relax and there is no better way to ease your bones and chill your mind than to spend an afternoon in one of Budapest’s legendary thermal bath complexes. The Gellert Baths are situated close to the hike up the hill and offer various saunas, a large swimming pool and lots of comfy outdoor areas Szechenyi Baths are located in a stunning ancient complex which is an architectural gem but therefore also much more touristy. Note that huge parties are organized in Szechenyi Baths on special occasions if you happen to be in Budapest on one of those occasions you should definitely experience a thermal bath party, something Budapest does better than any other city in Europe.

48 Hours in Budapest

Evening: Enjoy an ice cold drink in the Ice Bar

Ice bars have become common in the world’s great cities and Budapest is no exception. Dive into this freezing drinks temple and taste one of Hungary’s strongest delicacies, Palinka (to enjoy with moderation). Budapest’s nightlife scene is varied and the Ice Bar is one of the more international alternatives. Like many attractions in Budapest, the Ice Bar suffers a bit from the huge tourism influx but it is still a unique place to enjoy a drink in the Hungarian capital.

48 Hours in Budapest

I hope you enjoyed this guest post by Jack on 48 Hours in Budapest as I did. Have you been to Budapest?

Please check out Jack’s Blog, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest to keep up with his travels.