Try Something Unusual For Your Winter Holiday: Greece

When thinking about a winter holiday, Greece will probably not be among your first choice destinations.  For you as for many people, Greece means heat, golden beaches, turquoise waters and a glass of ouzo on a terrace by the sea. Right, but… this is a thought you might reconsider if you like programs off the beaten tracks!

Greece has a lot more to offer than a summer cliché. Winter time is ideal to discover that it is also the perfect winter holiday destination.

If your motto is “no winter break without my skis”, here is a good tip for you: there are more than 25 ski resorts in Greece. They include famous Mount Parnassos, Kalavrita (in the Peloponese mountains) and Karpenisi (in the Pindus Mountains), also called the Switzerland of Greece, provide a total of 198 km of ski slopes. There are runs for all levels and a great after-ski life for prices far cheaper than French or Italian ski resorts.

Where else can you ski in the morning, have lunch along the shore, visit an archaeological site in the afternoon, party in a trendy bar in the evening and sleep in a boutique hotel in a picturesque village all in the same day? The answer is Mount Parnassos…

The Parnassos Ski Center, located on the peaks of Kelaria (1750m), Fterolakkia (1950m) and Gerondovrachos, operates from December until the beginning of May. It is probably the biggest and best organised ski resort in the country.  Nineteen runs, named after Greek Gods like Hermes or Aphrodite, with a total of 36km, seven ski routes, ten trails and three mini beginner runs. 2 cafe-chalets, a restaurant, ski and snowboard schools, ski and snowboard stores, equipment rental and a playground for children are part of the resort. Who could ask for more to enjoy a ski holiday in the country of Gods?

Mount Parnassos has many attractive points. It is located near Athens (about 2 hour-drive) and ranks among the highest mountains in Greece with an altitude of 2260 meters. Its stunning views look over the Gulf of Corinth and Gulf of Euboea and it is very close to Delphi, the mythical archaeological site dedicated to Apollo.

In my opinion, Mount Parnassos has another great asset. It is only 24km from Arachova, a picturesque cosmopolitan village nestled in the mountain.  Its steep narrow cobblestone streets, grey stone houses with red tile roofs, trendy bars, traditional restaurants and boutique hotels make it the place to be for an exciting after-ski or even non-ski life! Other popular snow centers are in Pelion in the region of Thessaly, Tymfristos in the Karpenissi area, Helmos in the town of Kalavrita, Mainalos in Vytina, Peloponnese, Vasilitsa in Grevena and Kaimaktsalan in Edessa.

Author: This article is written by Muriel Rammos-Vignol, who is manager of holiday villas in Greece. She also owns a villa in Skiathos-Greece and is an active blogger for holiday vacations in Greece.

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Pack Light and Stay Warm for Winter Trips

With the winter months approaching, packing for a getaway might get a bit tricky. Going light is always ideal, but is it manageable if headed somewhere especially cold? Luckily enough, there are easy packing hacks to keep the load off while still packing the right gear. We’ve got six tips below to make the next suitcase stuffing a (warm) breeze!

Layer up. Who knew packing five huge wool sweaters wasn’t necessary? The best way to stay warm is to stick to lots of layering. Pack light tank tops (for women) or t-shirts (for guys) along with a few button downs or cardigans. Bonus points for packing long underwear or other types of thermal clothing—these will keep people just as warm, if not warmer, than lugging a huge puffy jacket around. For layering 101, especially if traveling for outdoor adventures, make sure to bring base layers that protect against moisture (think: synthetic fabrics), insulating layers to combat the cold (thin fleece or wool), and outer layers (like waterproof or insulated shells) to shield wind and rain.

Remember your head, hands, and feet. A lot of heat is lost through the head, hands, and feet, so it’s especially important to cover up those areas well. Lucky for us, hats, gloves, and socks don’t take too much space and are perfect options for stuffing in a carry-on. If exposed to especially cold temperatures, it’s important to wear two layers of gloves and socks: one thin, synthetic liner, and an insulated outer layer. Do this, and even Hotel de Glace will even feel warm.

Choose compression! This trick is a trekker’s’ dream, especially if looking to do some winter hiking Place the bulkiest items (think coats, thick pants) incompression packing bags. These gems reduce excess air and create more space for other clothes and shoes in the suitcase.

Pack smart. Are three pairs of shoes really necessary? Think about what items are especially heavy (shoes, jackets) and stick to 1-2 of each at a maximum. Rolling instead of folding clothes in a suitcase also saves space. Just make sure to be careful if packing any clothes especially vulnerable to wrinkling; materials like wool and cotton are great for rolling, but collared shirts and nicer business attire should probably be folded. If clothes are folded, save them till’ the end to pack—it’s easier to close the bag with folded items on top.

Bring traveled-sized detergent! While packing light is important, clothes might still get dirty pretty quickly. One of our favorite tricks is to pack a travel-sized detergent to do laundry on-the-go. Simply soak dirty clothes in a sink for a few hours, ring them out, and leave them to dry. (Just make sure to time this so damp clothes aren’t stuffed back into a suitcase if heading to another destination the next day.) Many towns and hotels also have laundromats, so look this up ahead of time. It’s  also best to wear that shirt two or three times before giving it a wash. Unless it’s super smelly, nobody will really care!

Wear the heavy stuff. There’s no denying it: bringing some sort of heavy coat is a must. Instead of worrying about packing it, wear it on the plane, train, or automobile—if it gets warm, just take it off and stow it away.

 

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on December 4, 2015.

The Toronto Ice Storm

We get our money’s worth as far as weather goes in Toronto. All 4 seasons. It can be 34 c in the summer (as it was this past July) and -24 c at some point in the winter. Weather forecasts are educated guesses and don’t often turn out as advertised. Except this time. This was the worst ice storm in the history of Toronto. At one point, almost 300,000 Toronto homes without power. Including mine for 3 days. It was so cold that we went to friends after 1 day. No power equals no heat. And the ice storm meant lots of tree damage in my east end neighbourhood. Here’s a a few of my pictures.

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