YES – IT’S THAT TIME OF THE YEAR AGAIN! The sun is shining, the birds are singing, bare milky flesh is shyly appearing after a long shoving under thick layers of clothes, but you are
Where to go in Autumn
Hydra is all about endless walks & priceless serenityHydra © e.filis
Thessaloniki bustles during the annual film festivalThessaloniki © tom.tziros
enjoy warm temperatures & Venetian romance at ChaniaChania © Romtomtom
animation movies meet splendid architecture at SyrosSyros © Grakus Art
THERE’S ALWAYS ONE, ISN’T THERE? You have already been and done the summer holidays (which are usually too short, too hot, too crowded and too expensive). And there they are. It is late September, or even October, and you see them looking fresh, tanned and slightly smug, as if they know something you don’t. They just came back from their holidays and they are ready to conquer the world, when you are in dire need of your next break. What is their secret?
THEY SIMPLY CHOSE AUTUMN. Although Autumn can sparkle images of heavy downpours and the hesitating appearance of coats and scarves in northern European countries, Greece is still celebrating summer – but with a softer edge. It is still hot, but not a heatstroke-inducing situation. There will be others, but you won’t suffer from sardine-packed claustrophobia. Your holiday shots will naturally be elevated to National Geographic multicoloured extravaganzas, rather than overexposed washouts, because the light changes, the day is shorter and the shadows are playful again. Last, but not least, that room upgrade you wanted to treat yourself to, will not be loan-demanding, for you are now in “low season”. So, where to?
MEDITATIVE HYDRA. It is the lack of motorised transportation that is quitening to the senses. But it is the absence of day-trippers and holiday-makers that will allow for transcendence. Hydra is serene, almost languorous, in Autumn. You can go for a dip anytime during the day, without fearing a four-degree burn. If it hasn’t rained, the sea is pleasantly fresh. Just pack your swimming suit and go out for walks – long, seaside walks to Mandraki or Vlychos, just enough to request a quick sprawl on those small beaches. Not all hotels and restaurants or art galleries will be open by the end of October, but the ones who are, will feel, almost, privately hired – all for your enjoyment.
CINEPHILE THESSALONIKI. The co-capital of Greece, is the main capital for cinema afficionados. Now in its 52nd year, the International Film Festival boost pumps the cultural index of the city skyward. Although the 10-day festival is quite demanding, there is a plethora of numerous other activities claiming your attention. Come here for the museums and for long walks on the Promenade. Indulge in a glass or two of ouzo al-fresco and sample the famous mouthwatering northern delicacies. Thessaloniki will undoubtedly satisfy your apetite, literally and culturally.
OUTDOORSY CHANIA. The delightful city of Chania, which comes complete with an irresistible Old Town, a stunning Venetian Quarter and a solid Archaeological Museum, is sure to hold its charm year-round. However though, arrive in Autumn and you are in for multiple treats. Now is the right time for the majestic Samaria Gorge. Put on your hiking boots and head to one of the longest gorges in Europe, pretty much in peace. The hordes of tourists are now long gone, but the rains are yet to come, so you can get a real sense of exploration rather than being in one of the longest queues in Europe. At the end of it, you can reward yourself with a dip in the crystal clear waters at Balos, once again in peace and quiet. But the truly unique experience that autumny Crete has to offer is the rakokazana: a massive festival for the production of raki, the local firewater. A custom since 1920, it is a major cause for celebration, getting together, eating delicious regional specialities and sampling the local raki, which when consumed absolutely pure, is famous for leaving you headache-free the following day, with none of the usual side effects from careless alcohol consumption.
ELEGANT SYROS. Are you interested in design and animation and wouldn’t mind meeting like-minded people, and maybe the occasional Oscar nominee or two? Well then, the International Animation Festival in Hermoupolis is the place to be. Four days of screenings, workshops and lectures by some of the world’s best animators, could be a good enough reason to get those tickets booked. The screenings are held at the majestic Apollo Theater, modelled after Milan’s famous opera house, La Scala Di Milano. When you are not indoors, you might be tempted to stretch your limbs by walking the seemingly endless marble steps to Ano Syros, for its enchanting medieval atmosphere and the commanding buff-colored Monastery of the Capuchins. Or just skip the lectures for today and enjoy your morning coffee on Miaoulis Square, in the shade of palm trees and the company of some of the grandest neoclassical mansions in Cyclades. You are on holidays, after all.
Now, can you feel that healthy glow and knowing smug look coming?