Sunday Special – Mykonos, Greece


Jutting into the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas, south of Albania, Macedonia (FYROM), Bulgaria, and the mainland of Greece are the striking Greek Isles. They number into the thousands though only 227 are inhabited. The Cycladean island of Mykonos is one of Greece’s most popular. Recognized as having a cosmopolitan vibe, it is renown for its widely popular nightlife and amazing beaches. High season  (July – August) brings in a bountiful number of tourists who enjoy the multitudinous clubs, restaurants, and shops. Low season (late October – April) is less crowded though some shops and attractions may be closed, weather is much cooler, and there are less frequent ferry rides. Shoulder season (May, June, September, & early October) is a blend of the other two seasons with less crowds and pleasant weather.

Although recognized as a “party” island, Mykonos does have more to offer. It has retained its Cycladic architecture of the past, something very prominent in Chóra (Mykonos Town) due to stringent regulations. I imagine the whitewashed buildings and narrow maze-like streets add a charm to Mykonos Town just as I found charm in Oia, Santorini.  The white windmills are a common sight on Mykonos, a throwback to early days when the strong winds of isle were used to power them.  Wander outside of the main town to a quaint town of Alefkántra, often referred to as Little Venice. This seaside village is lined with colourful houses and they boast an incredible sunset (a wonderful reason for me to consider visiting). As mentioned, beaches abound on Mykonos (Paradise Beach being one of the best known). And the winds make the island a great spot for water sport enthusiasts. Perhaps, if you’re lucky, you may spot the island’s adopted mascot too, Petros the Pelican (second generation).

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Streets of Mykonos, Greece – Photo credit: Bernard GagnonHouses in MykonosCC BY-SA 4.0

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Petros the Pelican, mascot of Mykonos – Photo is Public Domain

 

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Sunday Special – Iceland


One of the hottest countries to visit these days is actually rather cool. Iceland is possibly one of the most popular European destinations right about now. It certainly is on my list. After seeing The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, starring Ben Stiller I was awed by the scenery the film showcased about this small northern European island nation. Then seeing photos several friends had posted on social media it has quickly moved up my bucket list.

The landscape has been described as rough, rugged and barren yet holds a beauty all its own. Mountainous volcanoes, sheets of glacial ice, lava fields and geothermal waters can all be found here. And it is said the warmest of all are Iceland’s people, which I suspect is true. Along with nature one can expect great food, amazing music (Of Monsters and Men hail from Iceland!), art,  and literature. When I go here I hope to see much of the country, perhaps even by car so that I can wander about at my leisure.  Here are some ideas.

  • Route 1 – Ring Road – The main highway that links the country together spans 1,330km / 830 miles. A road trip of epic scenery. Do prepare for any road trips and plan accordingly.
  • Northern Lights – Iceland’s location on the planet makes it a fitting place to see the night skies dance with colour. September to April are the best times for viewing.
  • Geothermal Waters – Naturally heated spring waters are plentiful. Many places have created pools and spas where you can enjoy the hot waters in the crisp air. The Blue Lagoon; Myvatn Natural Baths; and Laugarvatn Fontana are a few.
  • Festivals – Every season brings festivals and events to celebrate music, art, sport, and food.
  • Creatures Big and Small – Iceland may be a small country yet there is bountiful wildlife. Arctic Foxes, Icelandic Horses (don’t call them ponies!), varied and beautiful bird populations, and of course whales swimming in the North Atlantic waters.
  • Natural Beauty – a land of volcanoes, glaciers, waterfalls, caves, natural springs and geysers, and a rugged coastline I suspect this is how this island country wows most everyone.
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Iceland’s southern Ring Road – Photo via rheins, Southern Ring Road of Iceland – 2013.08 – panoramio (4)CC BY 3.0

 

Islenskir_hestar Icelandic horse

Icelandic Horses – Photo is Public Domain

 

 

 

My Top 5 Cities to Wander


The Internet is riddled with Top 5 lists or whichever number is trending so I figure I will post one too. Where does this wanderer like to wander? Aside from just about everywhere I do have some faves. As I continue to traverse the globe I suspect this list will change though this is the list currently. 

It’s all about the cities. I have to say I prefer cities and the energy found within them. Of course small towns and nature are phenomenal and even entire countries I find amazing, though today it’s about the urban landscape. 

Here they are:

  1. PARIS – Paris! Paris! Paris! Arguably the most beautiful city on the planet, I always find wandering in Paris a joy. The art, the history and vibe. 
  2. ISTANBUL – An extremely close second, Istanbul took my breath away with its history, architectural beauty and culture.
  3. CHICAGO – Not only did I have a fab time in the Windy City I adored its arts, buildings and that deep dish pizza
  4. BUDAPEST – Not only does Budapest offer a gorgeous and clean city there is much to do.  Caving nearby, history, ruin bars & thermals baths makes for a very fun city!
  5. GEORGETOWN (a.k.a. Penang) & BELGRADE – tied for 5th as I was unable to decide. Both so different yet equally cool. Penang’s street art and street food within a chill atmosphere compared to Belgrade’s history, great people and fun nightlife made it a definite tie. 

There you go. My current top 5 cities. Next up will be my fav countries. 

All photos taken and owned by Eeva Valiharju / Wanders the World 

 

Top row (L – R): Paris, Istanbul, Chicago
Bottom row: Budapest, Belgrade, me on boat in Belgrade, Georgtown (Penang)

 

 

Sunday Special – Sri Lanka


The South Asian island country of Sri Lanka has been on my travel list for a bit now. Despite not knowing too much about this destination (yet) I have been intrigued and enamoured by the photos that have crossed my eyes.  So when I began my research for this post I thought I would pick one place and focus on that.  I couldn’t.  So much to see and do that I had to focus on the whole country itself (although I don’t think my little post will do it justice). Sri Lanka seems like a great place to go.  I won’t list every place and sight though I did find this wiki helpful.  So what can you expect to see, do and experience in Sri Lanka? Here are a few suggestions that I found:

  • A warm tropical climate (and some rain)
  • Eight UNESCO World Heritage sights such as the sacred city of Kandy and Sigiriya, an ancient rock fortress
  • Beaches galore for worshipers
  • Surfing is very popular here. Surf season varies depending on which coast you choose to ride the waves. Many place offer board rentals
  • Other outdoor activities such as white water rafting, snorkeling, trekking and cycling are prominent activities as well
  • Cricket games – it is a much loved game here
  • Temples and pagodas abound and can be visited though please respect the sights by adhering to guidelines such as being covered up or removing your shoes
  • Food – Sri Lankan food is influenced by its long history with a blend of flavours and often brings on the heat

Sounds great and it has climbed up higher on my travel bucket list.

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Tangalla Beach, Sri Lanka – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned By Colby Otero from Brooklyn, USA (Tangalla Morning  Uploaded by Ekabhishek) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Sigiriya (UNESCO World Heritage Sight), Sri Lanka – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned By Bernard Gagnon (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons