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Samos island news and views

The Greek island of Samos sits close to the Turkish coastline, a large, long and mountainous island. It's once enormous wealth Is reflected In the archaeological sites.Samos has something for everyone, from the popular resorts of Pythagorion and Kokkari to quaint hill villages. There are miles of sand, large mountain ranges and some spectacular scenery. Luxury hotel lovers will head south and east while the adventurous go west and north.

Samos taverna
Samos off holiday map

'hoteliers disappointed at the holiday figures'. Samos is the only Greek islands that has failed to record a rise in holiday visitors this year according to latest figures. The arrivals of foreign tourists at the airports from January to September rose sharply this year says the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE). From January to September 2013, all the main Greek island holiday destinations recorded a rise except for the island of Samos, where holiday visitors dropped nearly four per cent on last year. The biggest rise was recorded not on a Greek island but mainland Greece at Kalamata Airport which saw tourist arrivals jump an incredible 50%, although in absolute numbers that only amounted to 53,507 foreign tourists. Santorini was the island with the biggest jump in holiday arrivals up just over 21% on last year with 236,554 visitors to the end of September. Arrivals also jumped sharply at Heraklion Airport on Crete with not only the highest numbers in real terms at 2.3 million but also up 17.7%. Other islands reporting double digit rises this year are Corfu with 11.6% and Rhodes at 10.8%. Hoteliers on Samos will be disappointed at the holiday figures. Samos lies in the north Aegean close to the Turkish coast. It is a large mountainous island and in ancient times was one of the wealthiest as shown by the great number of architectural monuments. Unfortunately not a great deal has been left for visitors to enjoy. Hotel developers have build over what was once an important archaeological site at the main resort of Pythagorion. Nevertheless Samos is a great Greek island for holidays with something for everyone, from big beach hotels to rustic hill villages. Samos is noted for its famous Muscat wines, especially at Vourliotes where springs keep the landscape lush and green. A dramatic and highly indented coastline is dotted with long, sandy beaches, sheltered coves and small shingle beaches.

Samos beach
Holiday bid

Samos in cheap flight holiday bid. While the rest of the Greek islands show a big surge in visitors this year beaches on Samos and Ikaria are comparatively empty. Now hotel owners want to tempt low cost airlines to open up cheap flight routes to Samos in a bid to boost traffic This year tourist numbers are well down on last year while other islands in Greece are reporting a rise in holiday visitors. President of the Hotel Association of Samos and Ikaria, Kostas Kyriazis, is urging all those involved in tourism on both islands to sign up to a scheme to bring more flights to the region. Those joining up will pay a €100 fee and the money will be used to promote both islands as holiday destinations. If enough people join it is estimated they could raise €500,000 by the end of the year. Most of the money could go on subsidising cheap flights into Samos which could bring in thousands more visitors each year. Mr Kyriazis said: "The main purpose of fundraising is to find a low cost airline, which will operate four charter flights a week over the summer season." Tourism experts say that subsidising that number of cheap flight airlines may cost around €150,000 but it could bring in an extra 20,000 tourists next year Samos is one of the north Aegean islands and lies close to the Turkish coastline. It is a large and mountainous island that was in ancient times one of Greece's wealthiest. It not only has many magnificent beaches but its archeological treasures much in evidence. Samos has dozens of sandy beaches, towering mountains, some very beautiful scenery with lush hill forests of pine and oak.

The hillside vineyards of Samos
Samos wines win gold

Samos wines win more gold. Plenty of holiday visitors to the Greek Island of Samos like to take in a tour of the island's famous vineyards. Now a clutch of Samos wines have picked up gold medals at an international wine competitions held recently in Europe. Samos Anthemis 2006 and Samos Nectar 2008 both picked up gold medals at an international wine competition held recently in Thessaloniki while Samos Nectar 2007 also took a gold medal in the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles event in Belgium. And at the Vinalies Internationales, in Paris, both Samos Nectar 2007 and Samos VinDoux 2010 picked up gold awards and Samos Anthemis 2005 took silver. The world-class English wine magazine Decanter has also given Samos Vin Doux 2011 a bronze awards while Samos Grand Cru 2011 and Samos Nectar 2008 were granted silver medals. Samos Nectar is one of the oldest wines of Samos, with a deep amber color and a strong bouquet of walnut. Anthemis has a deep orange colour and aromas of honey and butterscotch while Grand Cru muscat is noted for its topaz colouring and fresh palate. It's another great year for the Union of Vinicultural Cooperatives of Samos (EOSS), based at Malagari, and which runs two complete wineries, each with its own rich tradition in producing wines on Samos. The Karlovassi winery is located in the north of the island, while the Malagari winery is just a short distance from the town of Vathi. Visitors to the Malagari vineyards can also enjoy a stroll around the Samos Wine Museum which opened its doors in 2005. Samos has around 1,600 hectares of vines,most of them planted on steep terraced hillsides. They make one of the prettiest wine landscapes in the world at 800 metres above the Aegean Sea on the slopes of Mount Ambelos. Around 25 villages lie in the Samos wine region in more remote areas little affected by tourism. Most of the vineyards are in mountainous or semi-mountainous areas on deep soil with perfect drainage to produce the distinctive wines of Samos. The Samos Wine Museum is housed in that was once a privately-owned winery. The building itself is a 'living' exhibit, with huge wooden casks made in the early 20th century still in mint condition. Traditional wine making is brought to life with exhibits of tools of the trade, the vats and tubs and a display on the art of barrel making. There is even a simulation of the cultivation of grape vines on steep terraces, typical of Samos. The Wine Museum also offers fully-equipped conference facilities for use by the Union of Vinicultural Cooperatives of Samos .

Greek racing yachts compete
Yacht race

Greek Islands' yacht race countdown. The oldest and biggest yacht race to be held in the Greek Islands is set to get under way later this month. The Aegean Rally, now in its 48th year and organized by HORC (Hellenic Offshore Racing Club), will set sail from Faliro Marina, just 6km from Athens. Boats will head for Katapola on the Cycladic island of Amorgos before turning north to Pythagorion on Samos in the Dodecanese. After the coastal race of Oinousses they head for the finishing line at mainland Sounion on July 24, having covered a total of 450 nautical miles across the Aegean. More than 30 yachts are expected to join this year's event including top crews from Greece as well as many overseas competitors. Organisers say the weather forecasts for the Aegean are ideal for racing sailing with winds expected to blow from northeast throughout the event, ranging between 15 and 35 knots. Many sideline events and celebrations are expected to  supplement the Aegean Rally programme this year. The 48th Aegean Rally is organized under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Greek National Tourism Organization and the General Secretariat of Sports. Exclusive sponsor of the race for the second consecutive year is Amity-MOTION.

Marathokambos on Samos
New port for Samos resort

New port in the pipeline for the Samos holiday resort of Kambos. A competition has been launched to build a new harbour for tourist boats on the south coast of Samos island. The south-west coast of Samos has become increasingly popular in recent years. The port of Marathokambos and nearby beaches at Kambos and Votsolakia attract many thousands tourists each year. But the area can only be reached by a long and circuitous drive over the central mountains from the main harbour in the south-east of the holiday island of Samos at Pythagorion. Now the Greek National Tourism Organisation (EOT) has announced an open competition to build a harbour to shelter tourist boats in Port Marathokambos, Samos. The project includes building a new port for €3m and providing electricity at a budget cost of €1.1m. Firms have been invited to submit their plans by July 19. Foreign bidders are allowed but they must demonstrate that they have completed similar projects in the last five years. All participants must submit bank guarantees of €69,600. The project is 85% funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and 15% by the Greek government.

Yiannis outside his Samos shop
Bouzouki workshops

Bouzouki workshops on Samos. I love the sound of the bouzouki and the bouzouki is, of course, the sound of Greece. Now you can learn the basics of bouzouki playing or even make your own instrument in workshops held on the holiday island of Samos. The workshops are held at the Samos Bouzouki School in Pythagorio, home of musician Yannis Loulourgas, who is passionate about both the music and the instrument. In the Greek music workshop you get to hear how Greek music originated, and learn to play simple songs and rhythms that underpin Greek music. Greek music not only draws on the major and minor scales but on many ancient scales handed down from other cultures – Ionian, Dorian, Byzantine are just a few. One scale is called 'sabaa' an Arab word for sunrise. You get 10 one-to-one lessons and to join you need only know how to play any string instrument. At the end of the course you get DVD showing bouzouki techniques and y0ur own CD. The Build Your Own Instrument workshop is a step-by-step guide to carving, shaping, decorating, varnishing an instrument and in five days you get to own your own hand-crafted baglamás. The baglamás is a small stringed instrument widely played in the Eastern Mediterranean. All the parts are prepared and ready, so you can start assembly straight away. At the end of the workshop Yiannis and his family invite you on a Greek barbecue. For detail of courses check the Samos Bouzouki School website. Yiannis studied Byzantine music on Patmos and started playing the bouzouki professionally in 1973, aged24. In 1977 he went to the United States to carry on with his music studies and stayed there until 1983. Nowadays his instruments are not only sold all over Greece but around the world. Yiannis Loulourgas lives with his wife Jocelyn and two children, Thanasi and Maria, in Pythagoreio, Samos.