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With over 50 picturesque villages and many more pigeon houses (the total is well over 1000), Tinos is an island to discover in a leisurely way over many days. The landscape morphs from lush vineyards into looping coastal roads, barren boulder land,  and deep marble quarries. Within just a ten minute drive, its villages and beaches vary dramatically too; from Kolibithra, the surfers’ beach which boasts good waves in the spring months, to the tiny village of Volax at the heart of the island, distinguished by the poetry inscribed on the outside of its pretty, geranium shrouded homes.

Owing to its varied topography, the island also happens to be one of the best destinations in the Cyclades for food. So much so, that popular Athenian restaurants like Theio Tragi (Holy Goat – Tinos has lots of goats..)  abandon the city in the summer months, setting up shop on the island. Look to the following guide for the ultimate spots to sample some of Tinos’ very best gastronomic gems.

Breakfast in Tinos

 

If you can save yourself for a saccharine treat, head to the village of Pyrgos – known for its marble quarries and its generations of marble workers – for breakfast in the village’s most popular kafeneion (café). O Megalos Kafenes at the very heart of Pyrgos serves up (tried and tested) the very best galaktobouriko on the island. This semolina custard pastry with a heavy sprinkling of cinnamon, swilled down with a tar-thick Greek coffee is fuel for a morning of exploration.

Throw good manners to the wind…

Sparrows fly in and out of all the open windows above the heads of customers while inside, marble tables, old family portraits of the owners’ family members and ancient grandfather clocks nod to a bygone era.

 

Vineyard Tour in Tinos

Forget tangy Retsina, Tinos is fast becoming the Cycladic destination to head to for good Greek wine. Blessed with fertile land and a generation of wine makers returning to their homes to foster centuries-old traditions of grape growing, Tinos now boasts seven producers with up to five labels each. The varieties local to the island range from a fresh Asyrtiko (a refreshingly dry white) and the dark and deeply spicy marvotragano, which ages phenomenally.

If you can find it, head to the hidden village of Tripotamos (genuinely designed as a labyrinth so that its houses could not be seen and ransacked by pirates in the middle ages) to The Cross Roads Inn for a wine tour, tasting and lunch hosted at their own vineyard just above the village. Their label, X-bourgo, is named after the towering granite formation Exomvourgo Hill that serves as Tripotamos’ dramatic backdrop and hides a ransacked Venetian fortress at its peak.

 

Lunch in Tinos

 

For lunch with a view and an expertly composed seafood menu from perhaps the island’s most popular foodie spot, look to To Thalassaki. On the beach at Ormos Isternion on the south west of the island, this restaurant takes bookings in advance and will likely not have a table for those without a reservation.

Expect Mediterranean flavour with a refined twist. Smoked herring salad with a dainty garnish of red onion and dill as an absolute must-order here, as are the marinated anchovies on a bed of beans and the hearty penne (order it to share) topped with bottarga. There must be room made for dessert, which absolutely should be the mastika ice cream with loukoumi (Turkish delight) – a genius balancing act of aromatic pine and syrup-sweet rosewater.

Dinner in Tinos

Journey up to the village of Aetofolia past sci-fi feeling boulderland to dine at the family run taverna, Sta Fys’Aera. Sourcing everything locally, the taverna serves up meze dishes in a laid-back atmosphere but tired and outdated this is not. The dishes served here, though against a rough and ready feeling backdrop, are not your standard tavern fare.

Expect delicately spiced louza (the Cyclades’ most loved smoked pork), healing wild greens tea neatly served up in a teapot as a side to your wild greens order and the most satiating courgette salad you will ever have the pleasure of sampling. Wash it all down with a glass of mavrotragano or the taverna’s own raki.

To book a villa on Tinos,  contact us.  Given the culinary delights of the island though, this might be one of the islands where you don’t need to book a chef!

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Five Star Greece is proud to support a  wonderful environmental action group: Plastic Free Greece was founded by one of our guests- we are so proud of her-  someone who not only demands and appreciates the finest things in life (Five Star Greek villas and our service) but is prepared to roll up her sleeves and fight for what she loves.

Dimitra got tired of explaining to shopkeepers and cafés in the Greek islands that no, she didn’t want a plastic bag or straw- with a single-minded focus on changing the plastic bag, plastic straw culture that blights the seas, she suggests sharing these videos with  as many people as you can- in either Greek or English!  

Get inspired at www.plasticfreegreece.com, and here is their New Year’s Resolution to share!

A NEW YEAR RESOLUTION – # ΜΠΟΥΚΑΛΑΚΙ ΟΧΙ ΕΥΧΑΡΙΣΤΩ
Make 2019 the year that you stop using plastic water bottles.  Our focus this year will be on eliminating / reducing reliance on plastic water bottles with our #ΜπουκαλάκιΟΧΙΕυχαριστώ (Plastic bottle, no thank you) campaign – if you live in an area with potable water, always prefer to drink filtered tap water and make it your habit to carry a refillable water bottle with you.  Plastic water bottles are one of the most common items found discarded on beaches (after cigarette butts and plastic food wrappers).  Τhe number of plastic water bottles has increased dramatically in recent years as companies have successfully convinced us consumers that bottled water is better than tap water.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Potable tap water has more stringent quality controls than bottled water, which in many cases is just bottled tap water (except that you pay for it).

DOCUMENTARIES
(1) GUARDIANS OF THE AEGEAN (84 min) ***NEW RECOMMENDATION***
A documentary by Omiros Evangelinos.  Interviews with local fishermen and authorities show how overfishing, ghost nets and plastic pollution are affecting the Aegean Sea, local communities and livelihoods.
Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLMhT4y9cuU

(2) PLASTIC CHINA (50 minutes)
This award winning Chinese film shows that we are consuming plastic faster than we are able to recycle it and that the practice of shipping plastic waste to developing countries for THEM to recycle is a terrible idea.
Link:  https://vimeo.com/271121164
Password:  PCJMAN52

Watch this short video from the Greek Recycling Company which explains which items should be placed in the blue recycling bins: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=jUXWKk3JLCU#

(3) ALBATROSS THE FILM (97 minutes)
A heartbreaking story about how plastic pollution is killing the albatross birds on Midway Island in the Pacific.  A mother albatross feeds its baby bits of plastic resulting in the death of her baby.
Link:  https://www.albatrossthefilm.com/watch-albatross
Go to the “CC” button and choose Greek subtitles.

(4) THE STORY OF STUFF (22 minutes)
An excellent story on how the entire economy works and how negative externalities, such as pollution, are not priced correctly.
Link:  https://youtu.be/9GorqroigqM (To turn on the Greek subtitles, go to the “Settings” icon and choose Greek.)

(5) Α PLASTIC OCEAN (22 minutes)
The Cyclades Preservation Fund has kindly funded the renewal of our distribution rights to this film for another year.
Link: https://aplasticocean.vhx.tv/screeners?code=58cc3219

(6) STRAWS (30 minutes)
Link: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/strawsgreek. Create a log-in, password and then press RENT.  Instead of entering your credit card details, please enter code PFGSCHOOL in PROMO CODE.

Let’s keep it clean in 2019, and please share!

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Five Star Greece is proud to support a  wonderful environmental action group: Plastic Free Greece was founded by one of our guests- we are so proud of her-  someone who not only demands and appreciates the finest things in life (Five Star Greek villas and our service) but is prepared to roll up her sleeves and fight for what she loves.

Dimitra got tired of explaining to shopkeepers and cafés in the Greek islands that no, she didn’t want a plastic bag or straw- with a single-minded focus on changing the plastic bag, plastic straw culture that blights the seas, she suggests sharing these videos with  as many people as you can- in either Greek or English!  

Get inspired at www.plasticfreegreece.com, and here is their New Year’s Resolution to share!

A NEW YEAR RESOLUTION – # ΜΠΟΥΚΑΛΑΚΙ ΟΧΙ ΕΥΧΑΡΙΣΤΩ
Make 2019 the year that you stop using plastic water bottles.  Our focus this year will be on eliminating / reducing reliance on plastic water bottles with our #ΜπουκαλάκιΟΧΙΕυχαριστώ (Plastic bottle, no thank you) campaign – if you live in an area with potable water, always prefer to drink filtered tap water and make it your habit to carry a refillable water bottle with you.  Plastic water bottles are one of the most common items found discarded on beaches (after cigarette butts and plastic food wrappers).  Τhe number of plastic water bottles has increased dramatically in recent years as companies have successfully convinced us consumers that bottled water is better than tap water.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Potable tap water has more stringent quality controls than bottled water, which in many cases is just bottled tap water (except that you pay for it).

DOCUMENTARIES
(1) GUARDIANS OF THE AEGEAN (84 min) ***NEW RECOMMENDATION***
A documentary by Omiros Evangelinos.  Interviews with local fishermen and authorities show how overfishing, ghost nets and plastic pollution are affecting the Aegean Sea, local communities and livelihoods.
Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLMhT4y9cuU

(2) PLASTIC CHINA (50 minutes)
This award winning Chinese film shows that we are consuming plastic faster than we are able to recycle it and that the practice of shipping plastic waste to developing countries for THEM to recycle is a terrible idea.
Link:  https://vimeo.com/271121164
Password:  PCJMAN52

Watch this short video from the Greek Recycling Company which explains which items should be placed in the blue recycling bins: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=jUXWKk3JLCU#

(3) ALBATROSS THE FILM (97 minutes)
A heartbreaking story about how plastic pollution is killing the albatross birds on Midway Island in the Pacific.  A mother albatross feeds its baby bits of plastic resulting in the death of her baby.
Link:  https://www.albatrossthefilm.com/watch-albatross
Go to the “CC” button and choose Greek subtitles.

(4) THE STORY OF STUFF (22 minutes)
An excellent story on how the entire economy works and how negative externalities, such as pollution, are not priced correctly.
Link:  https://youtu.be/9GorqroigqM (To turn on the Greek subtitles, go to the “Settings” icon and choose Greek.)

(5) Α PLASTIC OCEAN (22 minutes)
The Cyclades Preservation Fund has kindly funded the renewal of our distribution rights to this film for another year.
Link: https://aplasticocean.vhx.tv/screeners?code=58cc3219

(6) STRAWS (30 minutes)
Link: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/strawsgreek. Create a log-in, password and then press RENT.  Instead of entering your credit card details, please enter code PFGSCHOOL in PROMO CODE.

Let’s keep it clean in 2019, and please share!

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‘Sup man?

Stand-up Paddle boarding  or SUP, is cool, no,  I mean really cool. It is minimum effort, maximum result,  doesn’t pollute the seas,  is quiet, environmentally friendly, tones the abs and calms the mind. The fact that it is also a term that really cool people use because they are too damn lazy to say “What’s up” (too much effort involved there man.) is just a coincidence. Jet skis are fine if you don’t mind everyone glaring at you as you are noisy and polluting, and let’s face it, you do look a tiny bit 2016. For the cool ones, of any age really, it is all about the SUPs now.

Luckily, Five Star Greece has a dedicated SUP-er on the team.  I have paddled in Austrian lakes, German lakes, English rivers, and I can say with one hundred percent certainty, that the Ionian island of Ithaca in June or September is the best place in the world to do your Stand Up Paddle-boarding.

Glass-still seas, transparent warm water, no currents, countless secret coves and beaches to rest in, dizzyingly striated cliff faces where copper, pewter, silver, gold and chalky white are all reflected in the turquoise water, it is SUP heaven. The goats stare at you curiously as you serenely float by deserted beaches, small fish slip under the board as your shadow passes on the sea bed underneath you, and an afternoon sun pours down like honey, as Leonard Cohen once wrote. Leonard Cohen would have definitely been a  cool SUP-er. Not a jet-skier.

Call us to ask about our luxury beach villas with paddle boards, on Ithaca and Lefkada.

And if someone asks you ” ‘Supp?” just say, “Nothing man, nothing at all…. just floating along….”

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Five Star Greece by Ileanavonhirsch - 1y ago

One of my favorite blog slots of the year – the Mykonos round-up-

It  is all about the brands this year:

Dubbed “Loubi Beach,”  the most spectacular  show of the summer is the  Christian Louboutin pop-up shop which has opened  on Nammos Beach, in collaboration with the high-end boutique, Enny di Monaco. Christian Louboutin shows off in a  highly instagrammable installation inspired by the island’s beach-goers, whose legs dangle off  beach towels suspended high above, dressed in some of the season’s hottest styles.

As the Louboutin PR agency puts it, pink-faced with excitement,

“Let’s stalk discreetly the crowd lying on the beach. Red, pink and purple towels are hanging from the ceiling and reunite the quintessence of Mykonos party makers archetypes resting during the day. One on the right is doing her nails, the one next door is reading glossy papers, those two – ohh those three sorry-are having some good time. This one prefers topless, pulling off her bra while another one is trying to decide between a glass of margarita or a sex on the beach. All different, but they are all dressed with the key styles of the new collection. That’s Christian Louboutin’s sense of humour.” 

Louboutin pop-up on Mykonos

So it’s  straight down to Nammos beach then for FSG,  to spot who is doing her nails, who is reading what, and who is pulling off whose bra – and clearly  having  themselves some good time…

Lindsay Lohan’s new beach bar, called “Lohans”  www.lohanmykonos.com   opened on Kalo Livadi beach in May – the star has been photographed there and it looks set to the be the island’s new big thing, though whether it  can quite top the  excitement of  what’s going on over at “Loubi’s” remains to be seen.

Lindsay Lohan opens her beach bar.
Photo by Jared

  • Nammos village  www.nammosvillage.com has also opened a second Louis Vuitton store, and a Nammos restaurant will shortly open in Mykonos town.
  • Buddha Bar restaurant www.buddhabarbeachmykonos.gr  has an exciting new menu. Makis , the maître d there recommends the  amazing scallops with truffle sauce.
  • Cavo Tagoo hotel www.cavotagoo.com  has a great new restaurant called Ovac. It’s run by the eccentric Evripidis, who managed Spondi in Athens for the last 10 years.
  • Lalaounis the jeweler,  www.iliaslalaounis.eu  won a prestigious prize  at the Couture jewelry show in Las Vegas, so pop in and ask Edward, the legendary manager of the Mykonos store, to show you the latest.
  • BA have increased flights from London and with four weekly flights from Qatar the island is rocking.

That’s enough excitement for one blog –  FSG is off to go discreetly crowd-stalking now….

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Five Star Greece by Ileanavonhirsch - 1y ago

 

Milos is not an island, it is an addiction, and its addicts know to their cost how undeveloped the villa scene is, and how hard it is to find somewhere to stay…

Luckily, from one perspective anyway, things are beginning to happen on Milos – apart from the addicts, people are slowly waking up to the fact that this is a gem of an island with  spectacular landscapes and beaches,  the famous white moonscape of Sarakiniko, the ridiculously picturesque fishing harbours or syrmata, perfect hilltop villages, catacombs, thermal springs, 7,000 year history,  fine food and vast tracts of Natura 2000 nature reserves, and there is some  thrilling  architectural design being spearheaded  by a few visionaries.

We go scouting every year, stalking properties and befriending local builders. In fact, I have been climbing over the garden wall of a certain villa for years, leaving  a begging letter under the door, in the hope that the owner will one day  give in and let us rent his house out..

Our haul for you is small but all the more precious.

Above the fishing village of Skinopi is a  austerely zen cluster of three stone and glass cubes set among waving grasses, wild thyme and lavender,  with the timeless theatre of passing boats below. Alcibiades landed here  two thousand years ago with the Athenian navy, to massacre 10,000 rebellious Milians and sell the women and children into slavery. The Milians were trying to leave the Confederation of Hellenic states,  thinking that they would prosper more on their own;  the Brexit of their times.  The Athenians weren’t having any of it as it would set a bad example to the remainers.. Juncker and Mrs May, take note…

Now things are more peaceful, and honeymooners, CEO’s with burn-out,  and people wanting to empty their minds and breath deep from the well of tranquility, will find refuge here.  A small path leads down through the  handful of fishing huts where a narrow beach is shaded by tamarisk trees.

Up in Tripiti,  one of the two heart-breakingly pretty mountain-top villages with sunset views to die for, we have found a finely restored old village mansion with amazing plumbing.

On the southern coast, washed by the crystalline waters of the Libyan Sea, we are waiting for a masterpiece of a villa from Greece’s most avant guard architects, and Greek architecture gets pretty avant guard. it should  be ready in July.. They have found an inspired patron, and the design features  roofs planted with waving wild grasses to blend back into the landscape, pierced with twisting glass light-wells that funnel light and air down into the rooms. The sublime view over the sea stretches out over the tranquil blue horizon.

Below, is a charming and low-key new house built of stone, a few hundred metres from a  deserted beach, for grown-up hippies.

The iconic Syrmata of Milos are now  beginning to be  snapped up by imaginative visitors and refurbished-  despite Greek bureaucracy’s best efforts, and we will have one for rent next year for an adventurous couple wanting to have a unique experience.

Food follows design very closely –   Gialos and Armenaki in chic little Pollonia,  Medousa in Mandrakis,  Xamos outside Adamas, and Baricella at Tripiti all offer astonishingly good food.  The owners of Gialos have found the perfect balance of fresh, new flavours, with some dishes that some Michelin five star restaurants would be proud of.

A little snack at Medousa.

Scallops with  pumpkin purée at Gialos

Sea urchin salad

Ceviche with rocket

The manager of Gialos. He gave up waiting for us to decide what to order and chose it all himself, Genius.

After all that food, waddle down to Sarakiniko or one of the beaches on the southern coast and wonder why Milos is not on everyone’s bucket list of places to visit before they die.

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I don’t know why I have come over all gallic, but that is the effect that cosmopolitan and  soigné Sifnos has on me. Sadly  my computer does not come over all gallic, so cedilles and accents graves are missing..

Let’s start with the food – La Bouffe.

Sifniots take great care about their food, and Platis Gialos, the pretty fishing village in the south of the island, has some  astonishingly good restaurants on the waterfront, where the sandy beach slopes alluringly into the pale blue water, and in the evening, lights twinkle like little diamonds along the bay.

At Misso Misso, the specialities are mezedes, the little platters  for sharing, except they aren’t  so little here, and the resident cats are very fat indeed as everyone over-orders. The owner, Mr Costas, was preparing locally harvested capers for the Sifniot signature dish, Caparosalata, caper salad, when we arrived. The capers are soaked and salted, then he adds caramelised onion and plenty of rich wine vinegar to make a delicate foamy dip to be piled onto crusty bread and eaten greedily. He has promised me a jar of his capers if I go back tomorrow evening, so this is a totally unbiased review.

Mr Costas preparing capers for the Kaparosalata

Maiolika, where the chef is making a name for himself with his eastern Mediterranean influenced cuisine, (try the avocado, mango and grilled shrimp salad )  and Omega 3  with its clean and sophisticated palette of flavours,  complete the trio of fine restaurants in Platis Gialos.

Avocado, mango and seared shrimp salad.

Second: the villas here are really tres, tres chic.

Electra is half French half Greek, effortlessly and enviably elegant in a casual, bohemian way, and her house is an extension of her own beauty – avec des petits riens, she creates magic.

Nathalie is not French, qu’est ce qu’on veut, on ne peut pas tout avoir, but we are totally in love with  her artistic and  subtle house which is  tout a fait charmante, and we are introducing to our portfolio this year.

The French house-keeper at the most  impressive new villa we have seen on Sifnos will welcome guests of ours to a stupendous villa with  6 en-suite bedrooms, a hammam , sauna, gym and wonderful pool . Magnifique.

 

Third- les mondanités;

As Electra put it, “St Germain des Pres eat here, Saint Tropez meet there, Upper East Side over there,” and in the evening, the bars and little clubs of picturesque villages of Apollonia and Artemonas buzz with the multilingual chatter and laughter of friends from all over Europe who rendezvous each summer here. Palmyra,  the beach lounge in Platis Gialos is where the beautiful people head to for chilled music and cocktails. The stupendously beautiful Brazilian singer-wife of the manager of  Omeha 3 can sometimes be found singing bossa nova here.

Fourth –   Sifnos est élégant, in the true sense of the word which has to do with innate taste, style and being bien dans sa peau.. The Sifniots have the good sense to preserve and cherish not only their recipes, but  their  heritage of pretty villages, walking paths, unspoilt coast, wild mountains,  pottery and ceramics, decorative pigeon towers, and sandy beaches, which sparkle  and glitter with specks of mica.

Of course other nationalities are welcome, and  we have discreetly brought to Sifnos  its fair share of Hollywood A-listers enjoying precious and peaceful anonymity in secluded villas,  but book early, as the French consider this their island. Compris?

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