This blog aims to give a personal and totally biased view of the Greek islands I have visited. It is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to the islands. Two aspects of Greek islands that I love are seeing goats wandering around and the dawn chorus of cockerels crowing. Accordingly, each island I have stayed on will have a Cockerel Count and Goatiness rating.
Unless otherwise stated, all images are my copyright and may not be reproduced or copied. Should you wish to purchase a license for commercial use of my images please follow the link to my stock photography blog where you will find details of my agents. Comments are welcomed but reviewed before publication. Enjoy your visit. Regards, David.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Halki 2015 (Dodecanese):

Prevelis ferry docked at Emborio
June 2015 saw me making my third trip to the beautiful little Dodecanese island of Halki. A full five years after my last visit in 2010 (review here:Halki ) I decided it was time to return and see if anything had changed there -for good or bad.

This was a holiday that nearly didn't get off the ground (literally). For many years now I have been in the habit of staying at an airport hotel (Gatwick Hilton to be exact) for the simple reason that this eliminates the stress of getting to the airport on the day with all the potential transport delays that can occur (and, trust me, I know all about that). With an 9.00am flight and check in from 7.00am all I had to do was a leisurely five minute walk to the desk. The problem was I didn't hear my alarm and woke up at 8.15. A mad dash ensued without even time for a coffee. Thankfully, an airport employee got on his radio and they agreed to get me on the plane (they even re-opened the check in desk just for me). The deal was, though, that I was going but they couldn't guarantee my luggage was. Instead of a four hour flight full of happy anticipation I had a miserable few hours working out scenarios of what to do if my case didn't arrive. To say I was delighted when my case was one of the first few out is something of an understatement. Now my holiday could begin!

On board the Nissos Halki ferry from the port of Kamiros Skala we drew ever closer until that final moment
Stone sculpture on Ftenagia beach
of swinging into Emborio harbour on Halki. There it all was -the bell tower (tallest in the Dodecanese), the harbour front, and above all the clock tower still showing the time as twenty past four as it has done for so many years now. It really felt like coming home to me as it was all so charming and so familiar. I've already posted about my accommodation at the Dorothea Studios which had a magnificent view right over the harbour -it really exceeded my already high expectations from the brochure pictures. Needless to say my first priority was an outing to one of the three small supermarkets to stock up on essential items like Retsina where I was pleased to find the generous sized 1.5ltr bottles available. Sitting on my balcony with a glass of the piney stuff and looking over the harbour was about as good as it gets and continued to be for my two weeks there.

One of my favourite short (about 40 minutes) road walks on Halki is the one to Kania beach. Take the main road out of Emborio towards Pondamos beach and then the road to the right just past the school. This climbs steeply taking you past some strange industrial looking vehicles. I've since found out (thanks to the excellent Halki Visiting forum) that these are emergency electricity generators. Brought to the island, parked up and then never used -and never will be looking at them now. Less industrial, you also pass a field containing loads of wooden beehives all painted in the blue and white of the Greek flag. Now Kania was, in 2005 and 2010 a lovely deserted cove where your only company was likely to be a lizard or two. Not anymore! There are now sunbeds, umbrellas and a taverna and a handy bus service bringing Rhodes daytrippers up from Emborio in their hordes. It's not for me to be churlish -everyone has to make a living and I'm sure many more people now get to enjoy Kania as a result (and the taverna is said to be very good). It's just not for me anymore, sadly. But I still enjoyed the walk there and back even if I didn't venture onto the beach itself.

View of Emborio from the Dorothea Studios
Also on the Kania walk you will pass the new de-salination plant which converts seawater to fresh. This means that you will no longer see the several times a week visit of the water tanker boat from Rhodes. I rather missed that as well but on the plus side didn't find the water stop running in my studio like on previous visits.

No visit to Halki is complete without a walk up to the medieval Crusader Knights castle. Passing Pondamos beach just keep going as the road (Tarpon Springs Boulevard) climbs up from Emborio to the (nearly) deserted old village of Horio. In the old days it then involved some scrambling up a sort of path to the castle but in 2015 this was all changing with EU funded restoration work going on. The path up is now much easier and clearer. I found myself in what was clearly a building site with cement mixers and other equipment dotted around. The chapel was in the process (nearly complete I think) of being rebuilt but, sadly, couldn't get inside to take a look. Health and safety also get a look in with a new wall at the cliff side of the castle and proper covering over the very deep well. Back in 2005 you had the choice of plunging down the cliffs if you put a foot wrong or disappearing into the uncovered well. Think I preferred that but as it was very much a work in progress I'll reserve judgement.

New for me this time was a walk to Giali beach. Reach this by entering Horio village and taking a long
Renovation at the castle on Halki
winding dirt track downwards for about 40 minutes (longer coming back up!). Somebody has a house just above Giali and had chosen to position three less than friendly dogs either side of the track. Just tread a precision path between them and you'll be fine. This is quite a wild rocky cove and beach with pounding waves that I certainly wouldn't venture into but made for some interesting photographs.

Also new this trip was a walk up to the plateau high above Emborio. Just follow the road on from Horio. When I say "Just" be aware that it gets much steeper and harder going and I considered turning back a few times especially when turning yet another bend and seeing the road still going steeply upwards. However, finally reaching the plateau I was rewarded by another charming little chapel and the remains of an old stone windmill and best of all goats. Lots of goats -as I found out whilst passing a stone enclosure and snapped a twig. Cue startled animals bolting out from the enclosure while I stepped back in a hurry. That's as far as I went on this trip but the walk back down gives fantastic views down into the valley and down to Emborio in the distance.

Tarpon Springs Boulevard down to Emborio
As with my previous two visits I took a day trip aboard the speedy catamaran ferry Dodekanisos Express to Nisyros where, for the third time, I was able to walk in the still active volcano crater. I'll post about that in more detail in due course.

So there were some changes. Kania transformed beyond recognition. The castle being renovated. The ANEK Lines "big" ferry from Piraeus to Rhodes is now Prevelis and not the Ierapetra L (but still created just as much excitement on each visit). And other things were just the same as they always have been. The chickens were still clucking around in the road by the town cemetery. Pondamos beach has a lot more sunbeds but still the lovely excellent taverna. Costas is still a great place to enjoy a cold Mythos and toasted cheese sandwich while watching the world go by. Above all the peace, charm and tranquillity of a small Greek island (except for the ferry arrivals and the daytrippers -but they come then they go again). Halki is, without doubt, one of my favourite Greek islands and one to which I intend to return many times in the future.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

How to add a Slideshow on Blogger.Com:

This post was originally on my photography blog but, hopefully, will interest readers here who wish to add a Slideshow feature to their own blogs on the Blogger.Com platform:

Sharp eyed readers will have noticed a new feature on this site. A slideshow at the top right featuring a random sequence of images that I have posted on here over the years. You could, of course, just scroll through multiple pages of posts to see the images -but how much more simple is it to just have them displayed in one place? Hover over the bottom of the Slideshow box and you will find control buttons to pause/resume the show and arrow buttons to manually move backwards or forwards -one image at a time.

So now you want one for your own blog, right? Well, it is really easy to do but required a lot of Googling about on my part to find the answer to the various questions as to how to get the thing to actually work :) This post will give you the information you should need -providing your blog is hosted on the platform. I'm sure other platforms have similar abilities but I cannot help with those.

For clarity -what I am aiming to do here is enable a slideshow of just images that I have published on this blog (there are other options to have a slideshow from your Flickr etc albums -but that is not covered here).

Start by clicking on Design on your Blogger dashboard then on Layout (on the left hand side). You will now have a template showing the various current elements of your blog -Blog Posts/About Me/Links etc. What you need is an unused box that says Add A Gadget. If there isn't one where you wish your slideshow to appear you can move an existing element to a different position by deleting then re-adding elsewhere or just using Drag and Drop to reposition an empty box (depends on the technology you are using).

You now have an empty Add A Gadget box in the correct position. Just click on the Add A Gadget words to get a pop up box showing all the various elements you can add. Scroll down and click on Slideshow by Blogger. Now the fun part. First give your Slideshow a title (just type into the top box). Next choose your image source for the Slideshow. The default one shown is Picasa Web Album. Great you will think -that's where the images on my blog are stored so that's perfect. Wrong -you will just get other peoples (public) images from across the whole of Picasa. That might actually suit some and you can fine tune it by choosing a keyword like Sunsets -so you will get a nice slideshow of other peoples Sunsets!

To get your own images use the drop down menu on Image Source and choose the Other option. A new box will appear saying Feed URL (essentially the internet address from where you want your images to come from). Here I tried putting in the web address of this blog -but that didn't work at all. What you need is the web address (URL) of the RSS feed of the appropriate Picasa album. Keeping up?

The easiest way (for me) was just to click on New Post and then the Add Image link. This gives you options to source an image by  either uploading or from your existing Picasa album. Choose the latter and then, in my case, the sub-album entitled My Small Greek Islands. On the right you will see a link for the RSS feed for this album. Click this and the address you now see in the address bar at the top is the one you need to copy and paste for your slideshow source.

So, go back and paste this in the Feed URL box and you should start to see a preview of your slideshow appear at the bottom of the pop up box. Success! Now there are just two more boxes to complete. Choose a speed for your slideshow Slow/Medium/Fast and Randomise images (presumably if you do not tick the latter it will just display your images in the same sequence every time).

Finally (!) just click Save at the bottom of the pop up box and then Save Arrangement on your full Layout page. Now go to View Blog to start enjoying your new feature. One thing I did find was that it displayed perfectly on Google Chrome but on IE9 it just kept saying "loading" where my slideshow should be. Worse, my views counter had also vanished from view. More Googling later and I found the solution was to click the Compatability box in the address bar at the top (the little oblong box on the right with a zigzag line through it). Because IE9 is getting old as a system you just need to click this to make the slideshow work perfectly -and my views counter came back as well.

This probaly all sounds way more complicated than it actually is but with the steps listed above you could probaly have your slideshow added and running within a couple of minutes. Enjoy! Regards, David.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Dorothea Studios review, Halki (Dodecanese):

Front windows with a great harbour view
Last June I made my third visit to the little island of Halki which is near Rhodes in the Dodecanese island group. Read my previous post on Halki here: Halki review .Travelling with Olympic Holidays I stayed in the Dorothea Studios at Emborio. A new post about my 2015 trip to Halki will follow in due course but meanwhile here is a review of my apartment.

View of Emborio from the window
The Dorothea Studios qualify as simply the most delightful accommodation I have ever had on a Greek island. I was in the number 4 studio, which along with number 3 is situated at the top and front of the building. Large, light and airy with lots of wood panelling - with a colour scheme of traditional Greek white and blue - the studio was a joy to stay in for two weeks.

Two large shuttered windows faced out directly over the harbour affording views of both the village and all
the nautical comings and goings -from the serenity of small sailing and fishing boats chugging in and out to the drama and excitement caused by the arrival of the massive Athens-Rhodes ferry which calls several times each week.

Private balcony at the side
I also had a side balcony leading off from the kitchen area which again had great views towards Nissos island and the harbour front. I was able to take countless photographs without even leaving my studio!

The kitchen area had a good selection of crockery, glasses and utensils and a kettle was provided. The shower was astonishing for a Greek island -shower curtain, fitting for the shower head and a powerful blast of hot water which put my shower at home to shame. Hot (very) water was available whenever I used it.

The studio has two comfortable twin beds and there is an additional double sized raised sleeping platform
Forward view from the balcony
accessed by steep wooden steps.

It's hard to find fault with this lovely accommodation (I couldn't get the television to work but I'm sure that would have been dealt with if it had been sufficiently important enough to me to report it). A light on the balcony would be a nice addition -if only to see if any flying objects have landed in your Retsina!

I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in the Dorothea and have re-booked the same studio for Summer this year. Worth noting that the other studio has a harbour facing balcony which you access from the corridor rather from the studio directly. This might bother some so look for the studio with the "side sea view" when booking if you want the one I had. Regards, David.

ETA Anyone considering a visit to Halki should check out the excellent and informative Halki Visiting forum. I have been looking at this for many years but I have only recently got round to signing up as a member. I have know idea why it took me so long but I am glad to be there now :)
Check it out with this link: Halki Visiting forum