Zakynthos - the turtles island, part 1

Time of visit August 2007

Zakynthos or Zante is the northernmost island in the Ionian Sea in Greece. It covers an area of 405 m2 and is the third by size from this group of islands. Specific for this island are the beaches with incredible pure, crystalline and warm water on one side and big massive rocks on the west side of the island.

As most specific for this island is the fact that in the northern part of the island a rare species of turtles CARETTA-CARETTA come to breed and are protected as part of the Marine Park.

Lagans costline

Laganas and the entire coastline around Laganas is connected in a long sandy beach.
To avoid the central beach of Laganas which is crowded, you may walk on the west side of the
Lagans coast where the small island of Agios Sostis is situated.

Agios Sostis is connected to the mainland by a bridge.
This island by day offers a cute beach cafe and at night turn into a disco. The beach is too small, but you can sit in the cafe and drink, sunbathe and swim, and is one of the better places for diving on Zakynthos.The feeling on the beach of Agios Sostis is relaxing. The entry on the island costs 3-4 Euros during the day, 7 euros after 6 p.m, 10 euros after 10 p.m. With the entry ticket you can order a free drink (cocktails are extra charged). Here are pictures of the island and the beach of Agios Sostis.

The beach in front of which this island is also called Agios Sostis.
The beach has chairs and cafes. It is located next to the beach Porto Koukla. Renting for two chairs and umbrella on the beach is 5-7 euros. Along these two beaches there are bars and taverns, but the crowd is smaller and the beaches are much cleaner than Laganas. It takes about 20-30 minutes walk from the center of the beach Lagans to beach Porto Koukla(10 min to Agios Sostis ).

After Porto Koukla the beach Kaminia is situated which differs from the rest with smooth white pebbles. In front of this beach lies island Maratonisi. You can find a few people on this beach, and don't be surprised that some of them are nudist.

All these beaches are connected and can be reached by walking by the coastline.

If you take the east side of the coastline of Laganas you can reach a separate beach that is part of the National Marine Park. Here the crowd is less evident. No bars, no chairs, but the beach is lovely, clean and peaceful. Restrictions apply within the National Park for protection of the turtles. Once we have found this beach it was our common destination.

The sandy beach goes to the beach of Kalamaki town, where the airport on this island is located.

Keri area and the island Maratonisi

Maratonisi Island is located west of Laganas and that's the largest of the two islands in front of Laganas which looks like a turtle.
East of Laganas is situated small island Peluzo to which the access is forbidden. (the island is in the red-zone of marine park).

To Maratonisi island tours are organized by ship from Laganas, but we went with our own arrangement from Limni Keri. This tour covered swimming at the Keri caves and couple of hours on Maratonisi. With this tour the motorboats leave you on the island and you can stay until the next tour come along.

Here is a picture of Keri caves.

Maratonisi Island is part of the National Marine Park. There are no bars, but there is a boat which provides a refreshing drinks and ice cream.There are no shades, and umbrellas are not allowed. But the beach is wonderful. In my opinion one of the most beautiful we saw on this trip.

At the end of the day you can visit the Keri
lighthouse from where you can watch the sunset.

Vasilikos peninsula

The Vasilikos peninsula has the most beautiful sandy beaches on the island. After a few miles from Argasi which is a continuation of Zakynthos town on the right side of the road there is a sign to Dafne. Road to Daphne is mostly unpaved.

Daphne beach is part of the National Park. Because of bad road that gets you to this beach, and because it is part of the National Park, you can find lonely beach with taverns and shadows and it's worth if you came here to plan to stay most of the day. The beach is prominently marked on the places where eggs of turtles are laid down.

After Dapfni follows Gerakas beach which is also part of the National Park. There are no bars, but offers umbrellas and chairs. Carrying umbrella is forbidden. There are no shadows. If you plan to stay longer, necessarily carry water and food.

These two beaches, Dafne and Gerakas are loctaed on the west side of peninsula.

The first beach on the east side Porto Zoro which is a beach for recommendation. The beach has a charming cafe which played a relaxing reggae music.
The beach is long and ends with a few rocks where you can dive and where there is clay, which can be used for beautification and for fun. The clay is why along the beach you will find people with green mask on there faces.

After Porto Zoro the road leads through pine forest to the Banana
beach. Banana is endlessly long and wide sandy yellow beach full with cafes and sun chairs.

After Banana beach follows Ag Nikolaos - beach with young people and water sports. Ag Nikolaos beach offers sandy beach and necessary accessories for a fun day pass. The beach has a interesting cafe. For younger this beach is obligatory, and for the family there is a secluded part thatis more peaceful and is sepparated from this part on the picture, but equipped with all necessary accessories (chairs, umbrellas, etc.).

National Marine Park

Some parts of the island belong to national marine park and have limitations in movement and ways of behavior.

Beaches as Daphne, Gerakas, part of Laganas beach (by Kalamaki), Maratonisi island, island Peluzo (this island has a total ban) have limited time to visit, from 7-19 because outside of this period visitors are the turtles that come to bring their eggs. Any noise or lighting interfere the laying down the eggs of turtles.

Between 7-19 am on these parts umbrellas are forbidden, the
towel may be placed to 5 meters of water, you must not dig the sand, not to make any figures in the sand, because they can obstruct the path of small turtles seeking the way to the sea.

On the entry of these parts the Marine Park staff take care to inform the tourists with relevant leaflets for the behavior. On every beach there are people in small cottages which supervise the behavior of tourists on this parts.

The places with a turtle eggs are visibly marked.

Hvar - island with mostly sunny days per year - part 2

From Milna on the road towards Jelsa there are two beaches Zarace and Dubovica. Zarace has two beaches with two bays.

The second beach has coffee bars.
Dubavica beach can be reached by walking through a steep path . The car is parked on the main road and you have about 10 minutes to the beach slope. Dubovica is located before the tunnel on the road towards Jelsa.
From Hvar town there are a lot of taxi boats which drive to Pakleni islands.
The boat leaves you on the port of island Sv Klement from where you have to walk to Palmizana beach. The beach has several restaurants, a fine sand and is very small. It is good to visit but not something we were thrilled. The water looked murky, there were many people and if there is not any other beach that we were not informed and we didn't see, we were not thrilled enough to want to go back to this place.

A view to the sailboats from one of the exclusive restaurants in Palmizana.The town of Hvar is a place where old buildings are mixed with new luxury yachts.
the panoramic image made from a fortress you can see the beautiful old buildings of this small town with narrow streets and luxury yachts as well Pakleni islands that rise before the island and the town of Hvar.
The port at night is filled with people who are walking by the luxury yachts.
One of the many charming restaurants located in the narrow alleys of the old part of town.

Useful information

From Drvenik to Shuchuraj the ferry travels 25 min and during the season there are 10 lines, and 6 lines out of season. During the season you can easily find ferry any time from Drvenik -Shuchuraj.

From Split the ferry arrives in Stari Grad for about 2 hours. During the season there are about 4-5 lines. For more information on the ferries and the order of departure and arrival

It's good to know that petrol stations are in Jelsa and Hvar.

Map of Hvar on

Prior to Stari Grad, on the road towards the town of Hvar, where the ferry arrives, there is a big market / mall.

Cost of dinner for two that includes seafood with homemade wine is around 25-30 EUR.

I recommend food restaurant in Milna 'Molly Onte' with fresh seafood, food that is manufactured with domestic products, friendly and where at the end of the dinner you get home made Proshek (liquor). From this restaurant you can buy homemade olive oil, which has received awards.

Our Route from Macedonia (Ohrid)
Ohrid - Kafasan -Durres -Shkoder -Oblike-Ulcinj-Lepetane (Boca Kotorska) (ferry)- Kamenari -H erceg Novi -Dubrovnik - Drvenik (ferry) - Shuchuraj (Hvar).
We have chosen
Adriatic road because you travel by the sea and wherever you stop to rest or sleep you see breathtaking places.

Hvar - island with mostly sunny days per year - part 1

Time of visit- August, 2008

Hvar is an island in Croatia with a mostly sunny and very few rainy days which can ensure a successful holiday. Hvar is often visited off season because of warm and pleasant climate throughout the year. This island is famous for its fields of lavender. Hvar is the fashionable place often visited by famous names, which is the reason for higher prices for food and accommodation.

If traveling by car you can reach Hvar by taking a ferry from Drvenik to Sucuraj or from Split to Stari Grad. Our route was Drvenik - Sucuraj. After 25 min ferry ride we arrived in Sucuraj.

The distance From Sucuraj to the central part of Hvar town Jelsa is 49 km, but the road is very narrow and with curves.

The road Sucuraj - Jelsa.

From Jelsa town which is located in the central part of the island to the town of Hvar, the road is a great, new and expanded.

Our choice of accommodation was a little place Milna that is located 4 km from the town of Hvar so you can easily go to town for a walk or for evening entertainment, and still have a peaceful holiday surrounded by beautiful bays and beaches on which you can enjoy through the day.

Milna has several beaches. Here is a view from our room towards the bays of Milna.

The first beach is in Milna, and the second beach Milna 2 can be reached by walking by the sea through the auto camp. The Milna 2 has a restaurant that is crowded during the day. The restaurant offers sun umbrellas.

The last one Milna 3 can be reached by walking for about 10 minutes on foot. This beach is a nudist beach, but with beautiful green color and crystalline water and sailboats often stop here.

Hvar beaches are mostly with white stone and many rocks, so you must be prepared with suitable footwear for water. The only beaches with sand are in the vicinity of Jelsa and auto camp Mlaska.

Auto camp Mlaska is located near Sucuraj by the road towards the town Jelsa. The Auto camp has two beach and one of them is a nudist beach. Both beaches are connected with cement coast. The Hvar has many nudist beaches which are marked as FKK. The beach sand is minimal, and the coast is cemented, but the water is clean and a beautiful turquoise.

The second sandy beach is in front of Jelsa town, which is also mostly cemented coast and in the water is fine sand and shallow.

In the central part of the island on the south side you can find places with purest water on the island, but mostly rocky and with small beaches. To get to these places-Zavala, Ivan Dolac and Sveta Nedelja before the town Jelsa you take the way to the place Plitve. In Plitve there is a tunnel that is one-way and direction in both ways is controlled by traffic lights with motion sensor. The tunnel is narrow, low and increases adrenaline.

One of the most beautiful and cleanest waters of Hvar is the water in place Zavala. The road to this place is full of serpentine and narrow roads, but after you make it through here you will meet the purest water on the island. The beaches are small and there are many rocky sections.Ivan Dolac with the rocky coast.

The auto camp Jagodna is situated after Ivan Dolac and can be reached through a steep narrow road. The beach is small, and with early shadow in the afternoon.

In Sv. Nedelja we didn't find the beach, but we found this lonеly tree.

Prehistoric pile - dwelling on Lake Ohrid

‘…But those who dwell about mount Pangaion, and about the lake Prasias itself, were not conquered at all by Megabazos. He tried however to remove even those who lived in the lake and who had their dwellings in the following manner:—a platform fastened together and resting upon lofty piles stood in the middle of the water of the lake, with a narrow approach to it from the mainland by a single bridge. The piles which supported the platform were no doubt originally set there by all the members of the community working together, but since that time they continue to set them by observance of this rule, that is to say, every man who marries brings from the mountain called Orbelos three piles for each wife and sets them as supports; and each man takes to himself many wives. And they have their dwelling thus, that is each man has possession of a hut upon the platform in which he lives and of a trap-door756 leading through the platform down to the lake: and their infant children they tie with a rope by the foot, for fear that they should roll into the water. To their horses and beasts of burden they give fish for fodder; and of fish there is so great quantity that if a man open the trap-door and let down an empty basket by a cord into the lake, after waiting quite a short time he draws it up again full of fish. Of the fish there are two kinds, and they call them paprax and tilon.’

In the last decade in collaboration with the famous archeologist Pasko Kuzman underwater research are done on the Ohrid Lake in which a prahistorical remains of pile dwelling are found.

The only one of the found dwellings which was reconstructed is called ‘Plocha Mikov Grad’ (Miko’s city on platform) by the name of the men, instructor of underwater activities, Milutin Sekulovic- Miko, who found the dwelling in 1997.

‘Plocha Mikov Grad’ is a part of the Water Museum. Water Museum is located 20 km from Ohrid, by the Ohrid Lake, after the village Pestani, next to camp Gradiste

This museum complex has tree components:
• A reconstructed part of a prehistoric settlement on a platform above
water, built on wooden piles attached to the lake bottom;
• Accessible museum building and a diving base
• The Gradishte – Roman castrum

On this site with underwater activities were registered 6000 remains of wooden piles at the bottom of the lake at depth of 3-5 m which were the support most probably of a common platform on which about twenty prehistoric dwelling building built also of wood functioned. Based on the re-measurements of the surface area of the settlement it was determined that it had spread on a surface of about 8500 m2. It was built on a platform of wooden piles attached to the bottom of the lake. Because of the type of the material used to built this settlements (timber, reed and straw), they were often renewed. That explains the concentration of the piles in the bottom of the lake. The settlement was connected with the shore by a light path – a bridge built in the same manner and with the same material. The bridge was lifted up at night for protection of the animals and enemies. Based on the results of the underwater field investigations and based on the analysis of the movable archaeological material this pile dwelling settlement belonged to the Late Bronze Age and the beginnings of Iron Age, i.e. the period between 1500 and 700 BC.

The settlement which is reconstructed on Lake Ohrid has 7 houses built on a platform which is supported on 1200 piles.

In the diving base, tourist who would like to dive and explore could have that chance, guided by an diving instructor.

In the near future there will be a restaurant with a great view on the settlement and the lake with traditional Macedonian food. At the moment this complex offers coffee terrace in front of the settlement.

The reconstructed interior of the settlement is shown on the next pictures.

Part of the remains that are found on this site are presented in the museum. The museum also has an aquarium in which the piles as they were put under water are presented.

The bay in which this settlement is found and rebuilt is called Bay of the Bones, because of the animal bones found on the site, which is characteristic of the period of which this settlement is.

The museum is connected with a Roman trail with another ancient monument the Roman castrum, that is a fortification from the 2 century BC.

The last few years with these underwater activities several pile dwellings are found in the lake Ohrid. One of these settlements is found near the village Trpejca in the bay which locals call ‘Na Dol’ and onother one in northern Riviera of the village Pestani in the recently named Bay of Bombs (because of the bombs found in the water from the First World War).

On a beautiful location, with great scenery, with the efforts of great archeologist Pasko Kuzman, The Ohrid diving club and the Ministry of Culture of RM which invested 2 million Euros for this project, Ohrid and the tourists have unique opportunity on the Balkan with these kind of presentation to go back in time from the prehistory to Roman time and back to the present on the beautiful perl Lake Ohrid