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Greece, Travel

My Favorite Greek Cosmetic and Beauty Products

February 11, 2022
Kear beauty products in front of a vase of flowers

Traveling to Greece for the past several years and now living in Athens, I discover new great Greek cosmetic or beauty products all the time. As in many European countries, you can find upscale brands of beauty products in pharmacies.

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.

Don’t worry; I am not becoming a beauty blogger. However, I think it is helpful to share this with you for two reasons. One is, so you don’t have to search for good brands for the basic needs of shampoo, lotion, etc. Two, I think these things make better souvenirs since you will actually use them.

Korres

Korres was the first Greek beauty brand I discovered. I love the smell of cotton, and I found their brand when I saw a lotion called Pure Cotton. I also noticed they had a perfume called Pure Cotton as well! When I left Greece, I bought both of them on one of the Greek Islands. The smell is heavenly and not overpowering. The lotion was a body butter and while thick absorbed quickly. My dehydrated skin appreciated the moisture after two weeks in the Greek sun.

There are also matching body washes in most of the same scents. Click here to buy the Pure Cotton body wash.

At the Athens airport in duty-free, there is a whole Korres shop. Since I had some Euros left over, I bought some colored lip balm that went well with my tan. Then I also found an anti-aging body oil that smelled of Jasmine. That went in my basket as well! The oil was great for putting on after a shower as a lotion alternative.

Korres also makes shampoos, conditioners, make-up,  skincare, and some natural health remedies. I have only tried the throat lozenges. You can really only find these items in the pharmacies and the store in the Athens airport.

Some of the Korres products are available at Sephora but not the body lotions and shower gels. It is mostly their skincare line, which I haven’t tried yet. Many of their products are made with olive oil if you really want to go Greek! You can find some of their products on Amazon as well if you can’t wait till you get to Greece to try them.

Apivita

Apivita was my discovery of Greek cosmetics this year. I had not brought lots of shampoo and conditioner on this trip knowing I would be in Greece long enough to need to find a local brand to purchase.  I have oily roots and dry ends. One day, I was looking and found Apivita had a shampoo and conditioner specifically for oily roots and dry ends! It is the first product like this I have seen that actually works for me. I could go for several days without my hair looking greasy at the roots.

Another hair care product I love from them is their hair masks. Since my ends tend to be dry, I tried the Moisturizing Hair Mask with Hyaluronic Acid. Not only did it make my hair soft, it smells amazing!

Apivita also makes body lotions and some face anti-aging products. The other product I have loved from them has been the facial scrubs. I had been in Greece for so many months, my skin was suffering from all the sun exposure, my fault. I was looking for a scrub that would do more than just exfoliate. Apivita has a Bilberry brightening scrub and mask that is great.

Unfortunately, I have not found Apivitia in any US beauty stores yet. However, some products are available on Amazon like the Korres products. You can find it in many other European pharmacies too.

Olive Era

Olive Era is a brand I found in the Sofitel Athens Airport Hotel. It was in the bathroom for the toiletries. If you love the smell of olive leaves then you will love this lotion! It smells like an olive grove with some citrus.

I believe it is a spa product though as I haven’t seen it anywhere else. I can’t even find it online, which is a shame as I only took one lotion bottle from the hotel and there were two! This is definitely a hidden gem and something to look out for. There was also shampoo and conditioner of Olive Era in the hotel. They sold full-size bottles in the spa though. now I think I am on a mission. According to the label, it is made in Crete, so Crete may be on my next trip to Greece!

May 2019 Update: I received an email from Olive Era and they will have a website now.  Click here for the link.

Kear

Kear got in touch with me recently to share their brand. They graciously sent me items to review. While this is a review, all opinions are my own. The first thing I noticed when I received the package, was that there was hardly any plastic! The jars were made of glass or metal and lids were wood or metal. I love that!

Kear beauty products in front of a vase of flowers

Kear sent many products to try. They were all amazing and I love the use of natural Greek products in them. Each has a nice smell that is based on the ingredients in the product. My favorite items from the ones they sent are the Mastic Herbal Soap, the Soft Lip balm and the Calm Revive Arnica Body Oil. The body oil smells divine and wasn’t greasy at all.

Kear products in front of vase of flowers

All the products are made in Greece with Greek products. Kear is available on their website, in pharmacies in Athens, Naxos and Thessaloniki and some soaps can be found in the AB supermarkets. Another great Greek beauty brand to take home as a souvenir on your next trip to Greece!

What about you, do you have any favorite Greek cosmetic or beauty brands?

Greek cosmetics
Food, Greece, Travel

Best Restaurants in Naxos

October 15, 2021
Greek food in Naxos restaurant

Eating Greek food is one of the main reasons I travel to Greece, and I have been in Naxos long enough to tell you about the best restaurants in Naxos! I should add that there are even some excellent non-Greek choices for restaurants in Naxos as well.

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.

Oasis

Oasis is a family-run restaurant in Naxos. The restaurant is located in Naxos Town near Saint George’s beach. All of the food is homemade. Specials are offered every day and vary depending on the day of the week. My recommendations are the pasticcio, the stuffed peppers, and the pork stew.

Best Restaurants in Naxos

Barozzi

Barozzi is a fine dining restaurant located not far from the main promenade of Naxos. I was invited to eat at Barozzi restaurant in September 2019. When you enter you immediately notice that this place is a bit different than many restaurants in Naxos. The manager greets you and shows you to your table. The tables are further apart from other tables, unlike many traditional tavernas in Greece. The decor is elegant and simple. The waitstaff is all dressed in white linen.

Barozzi in Naxos

The menu offers a variety for everyone. You can choose al la carte, or there are two pre-set menu options. One is a 5-course meal or a 7-course meal. You could also add wine for an additional cost. I chose to do al la carte as I didn’t think I could eat that much food. First, I was brought an amuse-bouche of three different items. My favorite was the tomato one, which I can’t remember what it was called.

Then I had arugula or rocket (as it is called here) salad that came with thinly sliced apples, honey dressing, and fried goat cheese. Honestly, I could have had this for my meal and been totally happy. It was so good. The goat cheese was still warm and sweet and salty at the same time.

My main course was sea bass encrusted with artisanal bread. I was a bit hesitant about this, but I love sea bass so I want to try it.  I should not have been worried. It was fantastic, and the bread is so thin; it is more like a crust. The best thing is knowing that the sea bass was most likely fresh fish right from the waters of Naxos.

There are only three dessert options, but I still had a tough time choosing which one. I ended up ordering the walnut pie, which was more of a cake. The cake was moist and was served with bitter almond ice cream. The cake was good, but for me, the star was the bitter almond ice cream!

Barozzi
Barozzi in Naxos

Meltemi

Meltemi is located just up the road from Oasis near Saint George’s beach. It has been around for many years, and people continue to return year after year. Meltemi’s moussaka is one of my favorites on the island. The dip they serve with bread is excellent. Most of the food they serve is traditional Greek cuisine.

Best Restaurants in Naxos

Metaxi Mas

Metaxi Mas is located in the Old Town of Naxos. Here you will eat in the streets of the old town if you want or sit inside in one of the cozy interiors. Everything I have eaten here has been amazing. My favorites are the zucchini balls, pasticcio, and the spicy meatballs.

Best Restaurants in Naxos
Best Restaurants in Naxos

Faros

Not all of the best restaurants in Naxos are located in Naxos Town. Faros is located at Agia Anna beach and features organic dishes. It also offers a great view of the beach. Faros also has some of the best zucchini balls on the island. To get to Faros, take the bus from Naxos Old Town to Agia Anna and walk down past the pier and it will be on your left.

Kitron

Kitron is one of my favorite places for breakfast, lunch and coffee. It is located right in the main port area of town and is a good spot to ferry watch while you enjoy your meal. Kitron is also a great place to get some work done as the wifi even works outside there.

For breakfast, I order the Strapatsada. This scrambled egg dish is a Greek classic. The eggs are cooked with finely chopped tomatoes and feta cheese.

If you go for lunch, they have a variety of sandwiches to choose from or light snacks. Don’t forget that afternoon Greek coffee either. In the evening you can explore the Kitron liquor offerings. Kitron is made from the citron fruit and it is distilled on the island in the village of Halki.

Picasso on the Beach

Picasso is also on the beach as you may have guessed. Picasso is a Mexican restaurant, and as a Texan, I am always critical of Mexican food. However, Picasso does a good job given their limited access to Mexican ingredients. The fajitas were good, and they serve a frozen strawberry after dinner drink. Picasso on the Beach is located at Plaka beach and is reachable by bus. Tell the bus driver you want to get off at Picasso.

Paradiso

Most people stop to eat at Paradiso because of the stunning view its beachside tables offer at Agia Anna. However, you should also stop because the food is outstanding! The beetroot salad and the papoutsakia (eggplant with minced meat) were terrific. So was the semolina cake we were offered on the house. If you really like the location, they also have rooms for rent.

Best Restaurants in Naxos
Best Restaurants in Naxos

Scirocco

If you need a break from Greek food, then I recommend Scirocco for Italian food. My favorite there is the carbonara. They also serve Greek food if you and your friends are undecided! It is a nice place to people watch as it is located in the main square of Naxos Town and many Greek families gather there in the evening to socialize.

Barabbas

Barabbas is a traditional taverna located near the port of Naxos. You will see many locals eating here. It is only open for dinner though. However, once you eat here you will definitely be back. Their speciality is fish and slow cooked meats. I recommend any pork dish on the menu! When I ordered, the brought out a complimentary appetizer. Don’t forget to have some local wine here too.

Apostolis

Apostolis is a modern Greek restaurant serving classic Greek dishes with a twist. The restaurant is located in the Naxos Chora and has a wonderful setting under paper lanterns.

Naxos Old Town

Su e Giu

Sue Giu, also known as Susanna, is another Italian option. It is located right on the promenade of Naxos harbor. It was the only place I found a pizza with pineapple on it! Yes, I am a pineapple on pizza lover. It was good, and the focaccia bread was really great. Sit upstairs for views of the harbor.

Best Restaurants in Naxos

O Giorgis

For the more adventurous type, head to the village of Melanes and eat at O Giorgis. I had some of the best food in Naxos here. The baked eggplant was so well seasoned and melted in my mouth. I was so full but still managed to finish the whole thing. Sit on the enclosed patio so you can have a wonderful view of the valley.

Coffee and Desserts

Greece is known for good coffee, and Naxos is no exception. I have spent lots of time having coffee in Naxos to see which places serve the best coffee and desserts.

Artοποιώ

This coffee shop and bakery was one of the first places I tried when I arrived in Naxos. I was up very early due to my jet lag and they were already open by 6:30 AM. The coffee is probably the best on the island. The baked goods are freshly made in the shop and it smells heavenly.

σιτάρι

Not only does this place have wonderful coffee but they also have some organic products available as well. If I am correct, the bakery is called Wheat in English. It is also open early for those of you who are morning people.

Waffle House

This is not the American Waffle House, this is a wonderful ice cream parlor that also serves ice cream on waffles. You can get the ice cream to go or you can sit and have it brought to you by a waiter.

Best Restaurants in Naxos

Aktaion

Aktaion is an upscale pastry shop located on the promenade of Naxos Town. They serve a selection of gelato, amazing macaroons and other mouth-watering desserts.

Best Restaurants in Naxos

Are you ready to eat at the best restaurants in Naxos now?

PS. Some of these Naxos restaurants are only open during the tourist season from April to October, 
so please check beforehand.

Europe, Greece, Travel

Tips for Taking the Greek Ferry

September 16, 2021
Greece Ferry

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 is 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.

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.

Flights and the Ferry

My advice is to never ever book your ferry tickets on 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. This 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.

Some of the Greece ferry lines include Blue Star Ferries, Seajets, and Hellenic Seaways. They are all reliable ferry companies.

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 seasick 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.

Book your ferry tickets here with Ferry Hopper!

Which Port to Catch Your Greece Ferry

Athens has three ports from which ferries leave, 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.  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. This is especially true if you are embarking on at the first stop. In Piraeus, you may board even an hour early on some ferries.

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 gates. 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. Some tickets will have your gate number on them.

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. However, if they arrive early, they will not leave early. Don’t worry if you see your ferry arriving before you have reached the port.

What to Do with Your Luggage

Once you are on, you should store your larger luggage in the area you are directed to. There are too many stairs involved on the ferry, and you won’t want to bring it to your seat. Unless your bag is light, leave it here. It will be fine, and there is no reason to worry about it being stolen.  Do take your valuables with you, to be sure, though.

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.

Book Your Greek Ferry Tickets

There are many ways to get ferry tickets. You can purchase your tickets in the port at a ferry ticket office and many travel agency offices in whatever town you are in. It is also possible to purchase your tickets online. As I have mentioned before, I use FerryHopper to book all my ferry tickets. Some ferry tickets are now electronic and there is no need to pick them up. However, if you need to get them, you can arrive early at the port to pick them up. If you pick them up from a travel agency that you did not book with, they may charge €1 per ticket to print them.

Do You Need to Book Greek Ferries in Advance

It depends! When are you coming? If you are traveling to Greece in July and August, I recommend booking in advance. This is the high season in Greece, and ferries can fill up quickly, especially for islands such as Santorini and Mykonos.

If you are traveling to Greece at other times, such as September or October, booking a few days in advance is fine. For the rest of the year, you don’t need to book your Greek ferry tickets in advance. The only caveat to this is if a Greek holiday is happening, such as Orthodox Easter. The ferries then will be just as full as in summer and actually sometimes overcrowded.

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

Tips for Taking the Greek Ferry
Travel

Applying for A Greek National Visa

September 9, 2021
Applying a Greek National Visa

Since my first trip to Greece, I dreamed of moving there. But like in many European countries, it is hard for a person from the United States to move to Greece. At the time, I was still working in Qatar and had no idea how I could move to Greece without a job or speaking Greek. I started to do research and realized that Greece has a National Visa. This is informally known as a long-stay visa in Greece and many other European countries.

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.

Each country has rules about issuing a long-stay or national visa. It was unclear on the Greece website what the requirements were, and I couldn’t find any articles about it. The rules changed even after I inquired the first time, so I hope this article will help someone else with the Greece National Visa process. Please keep in mind that I am from the US, and the rules might be different in another country.

The Process

For the Greece National Visa, you must apply in your home country before you enter Greece. You must apply for the visa in the United States at your designated consulate or embassy location; click here for the list. Once you find your consulate, call them to ask what the required documents are. The list on the website is not current at the time of writing this post. Next, begin to gather all the documents you need. Only once you are confident you have all the documents you need, call back to the consulate to make the appointment.

Keep in mind that many of the consulates are small, and the visa department may only be one person, as is the case in the Houston consulate. When I called at the end of May, I could only get an appointment at the end of July! During this call, I was told I needed one more document.

You will present all your documents at the appointment and will most likely have a short interview. At the Houston consulate, I was emailed when my visa was approved. If you live close by, you may be able to pick up your passport from the consulate with the visa. Otherwise, you will need to provide a pre-paid envelope to the consulate. I recommend getting one with insurance in case your passport is lost, and you will need to replace it. It will also provide tracking.

The Documents

This is the list of documents I was told I needed. Keep in mind that this list can change and may differ for each consulate.

  • Passport with at least six months of validity past the end date of your visa
  • Birth certificate – official copy from the past six months
  • Apostille of the birth certificate – this needs to be done in the state the birth certificate was issued
  • Proof of income of at least €2000 a month or equivalent in your currency
  • Health insurance valid in Greece
  • FBI Background check or your country’s equivalent
  • Health certificate from your doctor – have it printed on letterhead if they don’t have a stamp
  • Visa Application with a passport photo
  • Visa fee, which was about $200

Other Things to Know

Please note that this is not necessarily a valid option for digital nomads or people looking for a job in Greece. I applied as a financially independent person as you cannot be working in Greece. I have plenty of savings to cover the required income for the visa.

Once you are in Greece, you must apply for a residence permit with its own requirements. Please read my whole blog post on the Greece Resident Permit application process.

Please let me know what questions you have about applying for a Greece National Visa, and I will try to help.

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Apply for a Greek National Visa - photo of Santorini