Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel

With its protected harbor and more than a mile of pristine sand beaches, the Peloponnese town of Tolo has grown from a small fishing village to become the Riviera of Greece

With its protected harbor and more than a mile of pristine sand beaches, Tolo Greece has grown from a small fishing village to become one of the most popular Greece holiday destinations on what is thought of as the “Greek Riviera.” Families with children will especially appreciate the shallow water, which stretches at least 150 feet from the shore before dropping off. Tolo is just a 15-minute drive from Nafplio and less than 60 miles from Athens, makes it easily accessible for day trips as well as longer stays. Read More

Street scene in old town Nafplio, looking toward Syntagma Square and the harbor

Scarlet Bouganvillas cascaded down ocher walls. A palm lined plaza led to a simple church so blindingly whitewashed that it made me squint. Wrought iron balconies peered down on street cafes where locals sipped Greek espresso so strong it was guaranteed to produce a perpetual state of wakefulness. At every turn, Old Town Nafplio, Greece, revealed another gorgeous street scene. I was entranced. I wanted to sit under a shade umbrella and stay forever. Unfortunately, I had only two hours, as my Collette tour of Greece and its Islands stopped here for lunch, so I did the next best thing. I power-walked through the streets of Old Town Nafplio, snapping shots like the one above, which looks toward Syntagma Square and the harbor. Then I settled in for a leisurely lunch at one of the many street cafes. Read More

At Pefkis Workshop of Byzantine Icons near Meteora, Greece, son Theodore Pefkis paints specially commissioned Greek religious icons

Pefkis Workshop of Byzantine Icons is a family affair. The shop was started by Father Pefkis, a master iconographer who began painting exquisite religious icons 32 years ago. In addition to being an artist, Father Pefkis is also an Orthodox priest (Greek priests are allowed to be married, have a family, and a second career). Unfortunately, he was attending to church business on the day my Collette tour group visited, but there was no shortage of family members on hand. His sister, Kiki, greeted us with a smile and a bowl of Loukoumi (Turkish delight), a gelatin candy covered with powdered sugar. I was still licking my fingers when Kiki led us into the back room, where the frames are made. Each frame is hand-carved from local wood – cedar, walnut, linden, or beech – then covered with a canvas made from cotton fabric and coated with a thin layer of plaster. Unlike other religious icons, those produced at the Pefkis workshop are painted on canvas rather than on wood. Read More

Antirrio Harbor and Fort, with the new Rio Antirrio Bridge in background, which connects the Greek mainland to the Peloponnese Peninsula

Following a remarkable visit to the ancient Oracle of Delphi on the mainland of Greece, our Collette tour headed for the Peloponnese Peninsula. Beyond a valley carpeted with thousands of gray-green olive trees we crested a rocky escarpment. I gasped. Hills carpeted with undulating grasses swept down to the azure blue Gulf of Corinth. Our bus wound down to the plain, each curve revealing yet another magnificent view. We followed the coastal road westward, past villages with sparkling white houses and fish farms, bound for the town of Antirrio. Not long afterward the Rio-Antirrio Bridge came into view, its blinding white cables looking like modern day pyramids floating on a gracefully arcing deck. Officially named the Charilaos Trikoupis Bridge, this marvel of modern engineering links mainland Antirrio with the Peloponnese town of Rio at the narrowest part of the Gulf of Corinth. Read More

I stood upon the rugged flanks of Mount Parnassus and turned slowly, soaking in the 360-degree panorama. Behind me, pockets of fleshy pink limestone peeked from beneath the mountain’s gray shroud. Before me, a cluster of stately stone columns, carved from the pinkest stone, stood on a crumbling foundation. Giant blocks that once formed the famous Temple of Apollo had all but disappeared beneath swathes of tall grass. Yet despite its humble state, I was beyond excited to finally visit the site of the Oracle at Delphi. It was a journey I had been promising myself for more than 40 years.

Ruins of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, Greece

Ruins of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, Greece

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My curiosity about Delphi began in my mid twenties when, on a whim, I decided to have a series of past-life regressions. During my second session, I was regressed to a lifetime at Delphi, where I was a young male slave who worked for the temple priests. My days were spent transcribing prophecies onto scrolls that were distributed throughout the kingdom. The revelation was so vivid that I simply couldn’t dismiss it. So when Collette invited me on their “Exploring Greece and Its Islands” tour, which included a visit to Delphi, I jumped at the chance.
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Of the original 24 Meteora Monasteries in Thessaly, Greece, only six remain. Perched atop a sandstone pinnacle, this is one of the most picturesque.

If the Monastery of the Holy Trinity (Agia Triada) looks familiar to you, you’re likely a James Bond fan. The final scenes of the film, “For Your Eyes Only,” were shot here. Originally numbering 24, only six of the original historic Meteora Monasteries remain. All of them were constructed upon rock outcroppings near the present day towns of Kalambaka and Kastraki, located in the Thessaly region of Greece. Once an extremely remote, unpopulated region, today the Meteora Monasteries are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. Read More