Greece’s Andros Island, a pearl in the islands that are part of the Cyclades archipelago, was recently listed among the top 52 “most cherished” places in the world by the readers of the New York Times.
Instead of its annual midwinter story telling readers what the new “in” place is this year, where you must see and be seen, editors at the Times took a completely different angle, asking their readers to tell them about the places they love the most and which mean the most to them in the world.
The Times story emphasizes the point that, for all its many privations, the past year has at least taught us to appreciate the world around us — especially the places that occupy a very special place in our hearts.
“Hospitality is the heart of the Greek island”
Maria Dal Pan writes of her love for the Greek island of Andros in her essay, titled “Hospitality is the heart of the Greek islands.” Relating how she first explored the Cyclades island in the 1990s with her cousin, who is now deceased, Dal Pan says that the meaning of the island for her has changed, and her appreciation for it only increased, over the decades.
“I went to Andros for the first time, the island where my family comes from, in 1992, the year before I went to high school,” she recalls. “It was all magical. My cousin Giannis and I went around day and night.
“We woke up in the morning and went for a swim and in the evening we went out and danced with the new friends we had made. The island was full of life,” she writes.
Dal Pan adds that the trip meant so much to her that she even remembers what she was wearing while on Andros. “I remember 1992 as if it were yesterday, even what I was wearing and where we were going.”
She returned to the idyllic island in 2017, with her children, only to find that in addition to the old enchantment, she was able to enjoy new things about Andros that she hadn’t even noticed before, including a museum of contemporary art and the cinema. “With relief,” she states, “I found that little had changed… It is such a warm and welcoming place and the scents of flowers emerge in the air. Now my children are looking forward to coming back.”
Dal Pan’s Andros encomium holds 25th place in the 52 places on the Times list. Nikos Moustakas, the deputy mayor of Andros, took immediate notice of the article, saying “This great distinction has double value and importance, if we take into account that Andros is the only Greek destination that is on the list and that the selection criterion was to single out all the places around the world that managed to inspire, satisfy and relax travelers.”
This is especially meaningful, he stated, considering the “adverse conditions of the previous year.”
Other notable destinations in the Times story of the most cherished places in the world included India, Egypt, Spain, Costa Rica, England, Morocco, Iceland, Jordan, China, Scotland, Mexico, USA, Russia, Australia, Norway, Canada, Caribbean, Japan, Philippines, and New Zealand.
Sunday Times hails Andros as “Top Destination for Uncrowded Vacations”
Accolades for the island of Andros, situated just ten kilometers (six miles) off the tip of Euboea Island, have long been prominent in major international media, which continue to sing its many praises.
The Sunday Times recently named Andros the top tourist destination for uncrowded vacations in one of their stories; and the Daily Telegraph likewise urged travelers who seek the most secluded places in Greece to consider Andros.
In its glowing review, the Sunday Times recommended hiking the island’s heights along “Ancient shepherds’ tracks restored a decade ago by the volunteer group Andros Routes,” while touting Andros’ easy access from Athens.
The Times also mentioned visiting Andros’ “Byzantine forts on terraced hills, meeting locals in nicely ramshackle villages and ambling through chestnut valleys spanned by stone bridges.” in its recent story. There is also an important museum of antiquities on the island as well as a Venetian fort.
On list of “Most magical destinations”
The Telegraph also included Andros on its list of the “most magical destinations in Greece for 2020.” Although arid, like the the other Cycladic islands, the Telegraph states, Tinos “produces an amazing variety of cheeses, honey, and some of Greece’s most interesting wines at the T-Oinos, Volacus and Domaine de Kalathas wineries.”
The municipality of Andros adopted an original way to promote the island before the pandemic, aimed at those Greek citizens who may only be able to travel a short distance from Athens, called “Far away, and yet so near!”
The campaign, which lasted two weeks, was comprised of glowing photographs with stories from past Andros vacation experiences, on full and eye-watering display throughout the Athens metro system.
The posters and informational material were displayed in a total of 17 metro stations across the Greek capital in August of that year.
Deputy mayor Moustakas pointed out to Athenians at the unveiling of the new campaign “The quality, the proximity to Athens, the safety and the hospitality are the ingredients that make the island of Andros ideal for excursions to friends of quality tourism, so share a special experience with us this year.”