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NEWSLETTER WITH USEFUL INFORMATION
 
 
Kindly print off this Newsletter so that you can take it with you to Greece and use it as a handy reference.


This information has been compiled to help those who may consider visiting either Ouranoupolis or Mount Athos. It is based on local knowledge and is updated regularly in order to achieve a high degree of accuracy. Please note that any prices and fares quoted can only be approximate, since they are subject to seasonal variation.

Prefix telephone numbers with 00 30- if you are calling from Europe and with 001 30- if from the USA. If you are calling from anywhere in Greece, even if it is a local telephone call, the complete telephone number must be dialled.

THE BEST SEASON TO VISIT OURANOUPOLIS OR MOUNT ATHOS

July and August are the busiest months. They are fine if you are looking for guaranteed good weather and a busy little village. It is difficult to obtain a permit for Mount Athos but you can always take the tour to see it from the distance. Be aware August 15th is the biggest holiday of the summer and the village gets very busy with Greek tourists.

May-June and September-October are the best months. The weather is good but not uncomfortably hot and the place is a lot quieter. The beaches are almost free of people and accommodation is plentiful and cheaper. In October the locals gather the grapes which are pressed to produce the wine. What is left after the pressing is stored in containers to ferment for a while. Then at the end of October or beginning of November they are boiled in a sealed cauldron in the distillery to produce the local tsipouro. Each family takes their turn to produce their own supply of tsipouro and the distillery operates night and day. A visit is worth while just to taste the new product as it comes out of the cooler but be careful. It is the strongest you have ever tried. During November the olives are gathered. The locals beat the high branches with long sticks and the fallen olives are gathered in nets or by hand. This is the best season to visit Mount Athos.

November to April can be either cold and rainy or like an Indian Summer. The best time to visit is during the Greek Easter, usually in April, (different time than the English Easter) when all the wildflowers are in bloom and the smell of lamb roasting fills the air. The Greeks celebrate Easter much more than Christmas and the weather is usually good, but not good enough for swimming in the sea.

FLIGHTS
The nearest airport is in Thessaloniki, 120 kilometres away. The only airlines which have direct flights to Thessaloniki are British Airways and EasyJet. Both fly out of Gatwick airport. A good travel agent which always finds tickets at a good price is Travelmania, on 020 77004844.

TRANSFER FROM THE AIRPORT
Taxis are relatively cheap in Greece. If there is more than one of you it would be worth taking a taxi directly to Ouranoupoli. It saves a lot of inconvenience and the journey takes only one and a half hours. You can chance it by picking up a taxi from the airport but my advice is book in advance with Kostas the taxi driver from Ouranoupolis. You can reach him on his mobile phone 6944-277477. Just give him your name and flight number and he will be there waiting for you when you arrive. He charges the same as other taxi drivers, approximately 145 Euro but you will travel in the comfort of an air conditioned Mercedes.

Alternatively you can take a taxi to the Halkidiki Bus Depot in Thessaloniki and then catch the bus for the two and a half hour journey to Ouranoupolis.

RECOMMENDED HOTELS
If money is no object the best hotel in the area is the Eagles Palace, telephone 2377 031047-8, fax 2377 031383. A luxury, well designed hotel a few miles before Ouranoupolis. All the facilities are available but at a price. Unfortunately it is only open from the Greek Easter (usually April) to the end of September.

Xenios Zeus, tel. 2377 071274 fax 2377 071185, a small family run hotel in the centre of Ouranoupolis is highly recommended. Although prices are very reasonable it can boast certain luxuries which I have not found in any hotel of this size and price range. Every room not only has its own WC with shower, direct dial telephone but incredibly full air conditioning (cool in the summer and warm in the winter) and a television set at no extra cost. Because it is open throughout the year and is conveniently located between the port and the Athos Bureau it has become the favourite stopover for visitors to Mount Athos and travelling monks. During the summer months it is busy with holidaymakers. You can book a room either by contacting this site or by faxing your request directly to the hotel. A discount of 20% is available to members of the society Friends of Mount Athos. Breakfast is a delightful experience and you do not have to be staying at the hotel to be served. It is served any time before 11 a.m. and costs very little. It includes home grown organic eggs, hot bread from the local bakery and home made jam and preserves. During the summer fresh, locally grown fruits are offered. Ask for the locally grown fresh green figs.

Hotel "SUNSET", tel. 2377 071372 & 2377 071394, fax 2377 071103 is perched on a hill above Ouranoupolis, overlooking the village and the bay. Apart from the stunning views it also offers a bar, TV and breakfast room. Every room has a sea-side view, private balcony, mini bar and telephone. Take your drink at the open air bar late in the afternoon and watch the sun set over the bay, a truly beautiful experience.




USEFUL LOCAL INFORMATION

APARTMENTS (TO RENT): Many of the local families own apartments which are offered for rent. A few are offered for rent throughout the year. They usually consist of a bedroom with its own toilet and shower facilities. They vary widely in quality. If you don’t want to leave it to chance please contact this site for recommended apartments.

BAKERY: The oldest bakery (over 30 years) lies in the middle of the village, the street before the Supermarket (opposite the hotel Xenios Zeus) turn left at the next corner. It bakes daily. Go as early as possible, because only leftovers remains for those who sleep late. It is open from 7.30 a.m. to 14.30 p.m..

A baker shop by the name of Arhondariki is on the main road as it turns left, approximately 100 meters from the tower. This baker shop receives it's bread fresh every mornings from Nea Roda. It is open from 7.00 o'clock continuously until 23.00 o'clock. Antigoni, the owner also sells sweet delicacies.

BANK: You will find the Agricultural Bank of Greece on the road opposite the hotel Xenios Zeus. It is open three days a week, Monday Wednesday and Friday, (during the summer 5 days a week) from 9.30 am. to 13.30 pm.. It does not have a cash dispenser machine but it offers a comprehensive service. You will be able to draw money and exchange foreign currency at very favourable exchange rates. On other dates you could exchange foreign currency at the Travel Agents on the main road. You will find branches of The Agricultural Bank of Greece and The National Bank of Greece at the near by town of Ierrisos, approximately 20 kilometres away. They are open every day except Saturdays and Sundays, from 8 am to 13.30 pm.

BARS: There are a number of good bars to try. Here are the best ones:
1. The open air bar of Sunset Hotel. Situated on the hill just before the entrance of Ouranoupolis, (watch for the sign on the left). Stunning views, open day and night until (very) late and most reasonable prices. A drink while watching the sun setting over the islands is a must.
2. The beach bar at Hotel Theoxenia. Hotel Theoxenia is 2-3 miles outside Oranoupolis on the direction of Thessaloniki. Situated on the beach, just across the main road, it is open all day and most of the night. Very romantic evenings by the sea but take a jumper with you as evenings by the sea can be chilly.
All the above bars are quiet family bars (children allowed) with background music etc. If you are looking for loud music and a more lively atmosphere then you must visit the open air bar "Bratsera". It is situated on the seafront of Ouranoupolis and it is open from 6-7 p.m. until the morning. As you approach the village of Ouranoupolis take the first road on the right, just before the petrol station, leading towards the sea. You will see (and hear) "Bratsera" in front of you. Listen to the latest tunes on a wooden decking designed to look like a ship.
Smaller and less noisy is the Almira Bar, situated somewhere between the Xenios Zeus hotel and the Kritikos restaurant.

BICYCLE HIRE: Bicycles can be hired at the Eagles Palace Hotel which is 6 miles away from Ouranoupolis, on the direction of Thessaloniki. However, motorbikes can be hired from Fun Adventure which is situated next to the bakery, directly opposite the bank (see Motorbike Hire).

BOAT REPAIRS & ACCESSORIES: Try the general store on the main street right beside the petrol station as well as Stratos the boat and car mechanic (sees Motor Repairs).

BOAT-RENTAL: On the beach below the promenade of Ouranoupolis (between the jetty and the end of the village). A small boat with outboard motor - no need for special licence - costs approximately 60 Euro per day plus the cost of petrol. The charge reduces accordingly if one rents for a whole week. The boats are sturdy and easy to handle after a quick tuition but offer complete freedom to explore the islands. It works out very cheap it there is a group of you.

BUTCHER SHOP: There is one butcher shop in Ouranoupolis, situated in the middle of the village on the street to the left just after the hotel Acrogiali. It is open 7 days the week from 8.00 am until at least 23.00 pm.

CAR-FERRY: Daily from 7.00 o'clock early until 20.00 o'clock in the evening from Tripiti to Ammouliani and back. A trip costs 6 Euro. A person without car: 0.5 Euro.

CAR RENTAL AGENCY: Avis: Represented by the travel agency "Akis Tours " on the main street, telephone, 2377 071273, or mobile 2945 642542 and ask for Kostas. Other rental companies are represented by local travel agencies, so shop around.

CAR REPAIRS: You will find the garage of Stratos, if you take the first street on your left after you pass the gas station entering the village. Follow that road until you reach the village school. The workshop lies hidden behind the school. It is open from 8.00 a.m. to 15.00 p.m. and from 17.00 p.m. to 20.00 p.m.. It is closed on Sundays. Telephone: 2377 071117, Fax 2377 071356. In urgent cases, you can reach Stratos outside these hours on his private number 0377 071184.

CAMPING: The campsite of Ouranoupolis lies few minutes before the village entrance. It is in a very idyllic location by the sea and has it's own restaurant as well as a supermarket. It has direct access to the sea. Telephone/Fax: 2377 071396.

CHEMIST: It is located in the ground floor of the community-house, very close to the old tower. It is open daily in the summer-months from 8.30 am. to 13.30 pm. and from 18.00 pm. to 21.30 pm. Medicines which are not available can be ordered to arrive next day. No prescription is needed. The pharmacist Afroditi Ganiatsou and her husband can take your blood pressure and give advice on simple treatment. Telephone: 2377 071398. Her private telephone (in emergencies): 2377 071029.

DENTIST: The nearest dentist is situated in the village of Nea Roda, 8 kilometres away. Normally, the practice is open on weekdays from 9.00 am. to 13.00 pm. and in the afternoon after 17.00 pm.. There are also a couple of dentists in Ierissos, 17 kilometres away.

DIVING: Scuba diving with bottled air is strictly prohibited in the entire bay. You can snorkel however and spear fish to your heart's content, without the need for any permits.

DOCTOR: The local General Practitioner holds his practice on the ground floor of the old monastic building. No appointment is required but there is usually a long queue. He is available there only on Wednesdays and Fridays from 9.00 a.m. to 13.30 p.m.. On the remaining weekdays the doctor holds practice in the neighbouring village of Nea Roda. His telephone there is 2377 031306.

A private doctor is available in Ouranoupolis but only during the holiday season. He services the local hotels but he is also available for private consultations. His surgery is near the bank. His name is Alexandros and his mobile number is 6979720158.   One can find a paediatrician, in the near by town of Ierissos, approximately 20 kilometres away. A private visit to the paediatrician (no appointment required) would cost approximately 50 Euro. A medical laboratory is also available in Ierissos where one can obtain tests privately, including full blood and urine tests, at reasonable cost.
 
If in doubt as to where a doctor can be reached go to the practice by the drugstore, where a notice on the door states the place of practice for each day. Blood pressure and other measurements can be obtained at the drugstore.

DRINKING WATER: It is advisable that visitors to avoid drinking the local tap water. Although it is treated it is advisable to buy bottled water for drinking. Many locals prefer to drink the water from two springs one at the children's playground, near the hairdressers and one just outside the school perimeter. The water comes from natural springs and is though to be of much better quality.

EXCURSIONS: Can be booked at the hotel-receptions or in one of the local travel agencies.

FISHING: Anyone is allowed to fish with a fishing rod or a line, either from the coast or from a boat, without the need for licence. You can buy fishing lines, hooks and absolutely everything you need at the petrol station in Nea Roda.

FRUIT: Sold from the back of a van by the old tower. Furthermore, there is a fruit and vegetable shop on the road opposite the Xenios Zeus Hotel.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE: The most favourable rates can be obtained at the Agricultural Bank of Greece, on the days it is open (see "banks"). Otherwise at the bigger hotels and in the local travel agencies. They normally charge 2% commission.

HAIRDRESSERS: The hairdressing salon of Vangelio the hairdresser is on the main road soon after the entrance to the village. Look out for the sign on the main street. The opening-times: 9.00 a.m. to 14.00 p.m. and 17.00 p.m. to 21.00 p.m., closed on Sundays. Telephone: 0377 071111. Appointments are usually required.

HONEY: The famous Mount Athos honey can be found in Ouranoupolis. It is pure and natural without any preservatives. The best honey is produced by Tasos Ganiatsou the husband of the pharmacist. His bees are kept in areas free from pesticides and is extracted by traditional organic methods. You can find Tasos and his honey at the pharmacy, near the tower.

HOSPITAL: The nearest hospital is in Polygyros, approximately 100 kilometres from Ouranoupolis. Telephone: 2371-024020-9.

HOUSEHOLD GOODS & DIY: In a builder's yard just outside the village, near the village cemetery.

ISLAND-FERRY: The wooden open boats which take people to the larger of the islands set off from the main jetty in front of the old tower. The first departure is at 10.00 am. and the last return trip to Ouranoupolis at about 6.00 pm.. There is no need to book in advance and the boats leave half hourly. They are licensed to carry approximately 50 people and are fully equipped for safety, despite the short journey. It costs 3 Euro per person and the return trip is free, so for the return journey you can board any boat that happens to be leaving. If you want to go to a quieter location just ask the captain of one of the boats. He can take you anywhere you like and pick you up at a pre-arranged time.

MARKET: Every Tuesday morning (8am. to 1pm.) in Ierissos, 20 kilometres away.

MOTORBIKE RENTAL: Fun Adventure have been operating in a number of places throughout Halkidiki and they opened in Ouranoupolis in 2008. They have a comprehensive range of mountain bikes, motor scooters and Quad Bikes for hire. The price for a mountainbike is 14 Euro per day (from 9 to 21 o'clock). The 100cc motor scooters (semi automatic gear) at available for 27 Euro per day and the 125cc motor scooters (fully automatic gear) are 33 Euro per day. The Quads are Bombardier Rally 200, the best of it's type. They can be hired for 15 Euro per hour and they are great fun to drive off road. Organised tours in a convoy all the way to Komitsa beach are also available. There are also plans to organise mountain bike and Nordic walking tours in the near future. Ask for details at their office opposite the bank or visit their website at http://funadventure.at.

NEWSPAPERS: You can obtain English and German newspapers at a souvenir shop on the promenade near the old tower, beside the restaurant "O Pyrgos".

NIGHTLIFE: Somewhat limited (see BARS). There are no discos.

PATISSERIE: The sweet shop is called Zaharoplastio in Greek. You will find it just before the entrance of the village. You can take away a box of assorted sweets for very little money and try them in your hotel room. Simply delicious.

PETROL STATION: he nearest petrol station is at Nea Roda village, 12 kilometres away.

PHOTO-SHOP: The nearest Photo-Shop is in Iererissos, 20 kilometres away. They can print your electronic camera photos instantly or produce enlargements of your favourite photos. Should you require a professional photographer for any circumstances (or passport photographs) the staff are trained photographers. They also sell, cameras, batteries and many other items.

POLICE: The nearest police-station is in Ierissos, 20 kilometres away. There is another police outpost on the border to Mount Athos. The policemen there will be pleased to answer any questions but do not ask them to allow you inside Mount Athos. Entry is strictly prohibited.

POST OFFICE: There is no post office in Ouranoupolis. There are however yellow post boxes, where you can drop your vacation postcards. They are emptied once a day (in the morning) Monday to Friday. Postcards and stamps can be purchased anywhere, from the hotels, from the travel agencies and from the souvenir shops. The nearest Post Office can be found in the near by town of Ierissos, 20 kilometres away. There is also a Post Office in Dafni, the port of Mount Athos.

PROPERTIES: Foreigners are able to acquire a property in the area in and around Ouranoupolis and many have done so. Outside the village, you require minimum 4.000 square meters of land in order to get permission to build a house which cannot be larger that 200sqare meters. No house may rise above two floors. A beautiful property with sea-view near the village costs approximately 70,000 sterling or 110,000 Euro. It is always possible to purchase land and built your own property, like the locals often do. Bureaucracy however is considerable. There are no professional estate agents and the contracts are drawn by a notary. If you are thinking of settling in Ouranoupolis let us know in order to provide you with more specific information.

SHOPPING: There are many souvenir shops which sell all sorts of mass produced souvenirs. Three things are worth buying, gold jewellery and hand painted icons from Mount Athos and local hand woven carpets. Gold is relatively cheap and is sold by weight. It is mainly 18 karat, and has a sticker on it to indicate the price per gram, according to the complexity of the design. To work out the price of the item the jewellery is therefore weighed jewellery in front of you and the weight is multiplied by the price on the sticker.

Hand painted icons are produced in Mount Athos and are wonderful works of art. Do not confuse them with the cheaper stamped on wood designs. Those that come from Mount Athos have a custom's stamp and signature on the back to certify that they are not antique and therefore can be taken out of the country.

If you are more of a food and drink person buy the locally produced tsipouro and some local honey.

SPORT: You can find tennis courts in some of the bigger hotels, such as Eagles Palace (phone: 2377 031047), Theoxenia (Tel.: 2377 071060) or in the Aristotle (phone: 2377 071012). If the courts are free, tennis players who don't live in the designated hotels can book. Water skis etc can be hired in most of the bigger hotels.

SUPERMARKET: The biggest supermarket in the place by the name of Tambakis lies directly on the main street and cannot be missed. Here, you can find almost everything: bread, cheese, sausage, candies, Cosmetics, liquors, beer, soft-drinks, T-shirt, bags, fishing tackle and more. The supermarket is open daily, including Sundays, from 8.00 am to 23.00 pm.. There are numerous smaller mini-markets in the side streets.

TAXI: The taxi stand of the only local taxi is at the foot old tower. If you need to go to the airport of Thessaloniki or Kavala you should book in advance. A trip to or from Thessaloniki costs approximately 145 Euro. You can reach Kostas the taxi driver on his mobile phone 6944-277477.


TSIPOURO: A drink very similar to the better known ouzo but worlds apart. Ouzo is the mass produced drink with the aniseed taste. Tsipouro is the pure extract from grapes. Each family obtains a special licence which permits them to distil tsipouro on a specified couple of days. The grapes are pressed and after fermenting for a couple of weeks they are boiled in a sealed cauldron. The steam escapes through a copper pipe which passes through cold water and the steam turns into liquid and comes out as tsipouro. It is a pure ands strong drink with no morning after effects. Nearly every restaurant serves tsipouro so ask for it. It is worth buying a supply to bring back home. Use the plastic cola or water bottles to transport it instead of containers sold locally which they always leak.

WATER-PROTECTION-POLICE: The office of the water-protection police lies at the entrance to the village. It is manned 7 days the week round the clock, tel. 2377 071248.
 

 

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