Colourful Calvi

Calvi is an attractive tourist town that is worth basing yourself in for its proximity to many pretty beaches.

A medieval citadel overlooks the marina from the bay’s western end, and is home to the Baroque St-Jean-Baptiste Cathedral and cobbled streets.

We’ll be exploring the meandering streets of the citadel later on.

Isle de Pietra

Heading for another fabulous Corsican viewpoint now – this time on the Isle de Pietra.

This little spit of land is close to L’Ile Rousse and features a lighthouse at its peak and some beautiful views of the wonderful coastline.

It is connected by a dyke to the port of the commune of l’Île-Rousse in Haute-Corse.

Located in the north-west of the city, the island of Pietra has two highlights: the Pietra lighthouse and the ruined Genoese tower.

Here’s a bit of naff video footage that doesn’t really give a real taste of it!

Naturally the human man goat perches precariously on the precipice in order to raise my blood pressure…

I cautiously approach the edge – the maniac smile says it all!

Here’s the Pietra lighthouse . Blindingly white in the harsh mid-day sun.

Beautiful beaches

Corsican is littered with stunning beaches of all shapes and sizes. So naturally we’re off to explore a few of them!

From tiny coves to vast swathes of pure white sand, there’s a patch of sand to suit everyone.

The sands are blissfully empty towards the end of September. It’s our favourite time of year to travel as the weather is still great but the crowds are thinning out nicely.

Green hills and wind blown salty trees back the lovely beach of Ostriconi.

Ostriconi Beach (also called the beach of Perajola) is renowned for its rugged beauty.

It’s wild and windswept, braced by dunes and immersed in fragrant Corsican maquis.

Maquis is a special wild-scrub area of Corsica that covers approximately 20% of the island.

It includes the fragrant curry plant and rock rose to myrte, daisies and various types of mint. When the wind blows over it, the smells are amazing.

As Corsica had seen some bad weather before we arrived, a lot of the beaches were covered in seaweed which detracted from their pristine loveliness.

However Ostriconi was not one of them and its gorgeous sands were weed free!

Look how joy filled we are!!! The water was phenomenally blue and the sun was just the right level of scorching!

Long way down!

On route to the gorges we pass by just one of the stunning beaches to be found on the island.

This is the pretty beach of Porto seen from high up above as we passed through the Calanques de Piana.

The beach overlooks the Golfe de Porto and is a pristine little stretch of sand.

All along the west coast road there are lovely vantage points where you can enjoy the stunning views.

Kalafatis beach

Beyond Mykonos old town there is very little to do on this tiny Greek island except enjoy the stunning little beaches that are dotted around the place.

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We hire a quad bike in order to zip around on and head to the South East of the island to the beautiful beach of Kalafatis.

It’s a glorious stretch of beach with trees providing much needed natural shade and gently sloping sands into inviting turquoise waters.

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A very faint breeze ruffles the palm frond umbrellas and is a welcome break from the heat.

The beach is a paradise for wind surfing as most days there are strong winds constantly blowing.

Typically for me however the week we arrived heralded one of the rare non-windy weeks!

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However the human heat seeking missile that is the tiny husband is incredibly delighted by the stultifying heat!

Windy millers

Before we head out of Mykonos town we can’t avoid visiting one of the island’s most iconic sights – the line of windmills high above the town. *rubbish phone pics alert*

The windmills can be seen from every point of the village of Mykonos and are the first thing seen when coming into the harbour of Alefkandra.

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There are currently 16 windmills on Mykonos of which seven are positioned on the landmark hill in Chora.

Most windmills face the North where the island’s climate sources its strongest winds over the largest part of the year.

Most of them were built by the Venetians in the 16th century, but their construction continued into the early 20th century. They were primarily used to mill wheat and were an important source of income for the inhabitants.

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Their use gradually declined until they ceased production in the middle of the 20th century.

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Boats and sparkling waters

Leaving behind the pretty Agios Ioannis beach behind we’re heading through the tiny settlement to the mini harbour at the far end of the bay.

After enjoying the obligatory snaps of vivid bougainvillea we come across the small picturesque chapel of Agios Ioannis which sits above a tiny harbour.

There’s absolutely no one around at all so we have this sparkling scene all to ourselves.

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Various boat trips and fishing excursions take to the waters from this tiny harbour.

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The pro tanner scampers off to find some super heated rocks to roast himself on while I opt for the cooling breezes that can be found at the boat harbour.

The colour of the water in Greece is something I never tire of. A constantly shifting, mesmerising, kaleidoscope of greens, blues and golds.

It’s well worth making the ten minute walk from the beach to enjoy the bobbing boats and peaceful views out to the sea.

Shirley Valentine

Following on with our bonus week in the tiny, scorching island of Mykonos. We’re off to the island’s most famous claim to fame – The Shirley Valentine beach.

The beach and restaurant made famous by the 1980s films is actually located at Agios Ioannis.

This is a tiny beach town about a 15 minute drive from Mykonos Town and a half hour walk from Ornos where we were based.

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While the taverna where Shirley falls in love with Greece, and life itself, might be long gone – replaced by Hippie Fish, a much more upscale and expensive restaurant – the gorgeous beach remains.

The beach got pretty busy with sun worshippers and falls foul to the eye wateringly expensive sun bed prices that blight this island.

But gaining a little perspective on the bay still allows you to appreciate the views that Shirley came to love.

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Next up we’re heading on past the edge of the beach to see Άγιος Ιωάννης (San Giovanni) a tiny church.

 

Algarve memories

Fresh from a week’s break with family in Albuferia, a bustling part of Portugal’s Algarve. Ten of us rocked up to the very swish Villa Bosque with its own private pool and spacious living quarters.

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Set down a quiet residential street it is just minutes from the main drag of Praia d’Oura with all its restaurants, supermarkets and “The Strip” the long street of bars.

It was ideally placed for the beach too, about 15 minutes walk. Perfect!!
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With tiny nippers in tow it was ideal for youngsters with a heated pool and lots of garden space to whizz around in.

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Here is a rare glimpse of my younger sister taking to the water!!

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Meanwhile I take it easy and put my feet up! (Fear not, it was only for arrival day – I was soon on the touring rampage, camera in hand)

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We took a stroll down to Praia D’Oura beach, a pleasant crescent of sand with some of the Algarve’s trade mark yellow ochre cliffs tumbling down to the sea.

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Later on in the holiday I take a hike around the cliff headland in the distance to Albuferia old town and its huge beach.

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But just for the first day we take a well earned rest (or I do – grandma has her hands full!)

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