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Trip Report Briefly: Athens, Delphi, Meteora, Greek Islands

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Hubbie and I usually travel together on our own-- but I had a little window and wanted to see the Greek Islands-- so he stayed home with the aging doggie and I flew off on my own. 5 nights alone- 2 weeks with Road Scholar ((Island Hopping Agean tour) then a few nights on my own again.

I will just briefly mention some of the things that I especially liked or didn't like.

Started off with a wimper as my flight from California was seriously delayed, putting me in Athens airport at 1AM. Took a taxi, which costs almost 20E more (set fee) at night. (so weird, because my daytime taxi at the end of the trip took almost 3X as long. go figure...)

Arrived at Lotus Center Apartments and liked it very much. Big bed and nice sized bathroom. The location was just perfect-- situated near a major metro station and some major sites. Headed for the roof on arrival and admired the beautiful Acropolis at night. I also loved that the neighborhood was filled with shoppers-- but they were mostly local shoppers-- teens out having a day of it. They served a pretty good, though limited, breakfast... I watched her cooking the eggs in back. LOVE a good protein in the morning.

METEORA HIGHLIGHT !!! A friend told me I HAD to go to Delphi (my tour only went to islands) and as i looked into ways to get there, I saw that there was a tour that included both Delphi and METEORA. I took it as a 2=day overnight (about $130 with single supl.) and was so very glad I did. Of all the wonderful places I saw, I liked Meteora best and I feel like this was a bargain. It's a long slog... stopped a few hours at Delphi on the way down, then headed for Meteora the following morning. Trip included Dinner & Breakfast and the hotel was good. This was with Viatour. If you are in Athens and don't want to rent a car, etc. this is a great way to get to an unbelievable spot on earth.

Back in Athens, met up with my tour group and did the usual in Athens... what a treasure of a city!

Overall, I thought the R.S. tour was a great way to see 4 islands easily. Each time I found myself in line for the ferry, I was sort of happy to be on a tour. All the things I usually worry about-- am I early enough-- am I standing in the right line -- where do I put my luggage -- Is this where I get off? -- I just didn't have to think about at all. That part was great. Food was good, not great. Would have preferred fewer meals but higher quality.

It was a group of 16, which was a nice size. The group didn't exactly bond forever, but everyone was easy to get along with. (well-- there's always ONE... and my theory is that if you haven't identified that ONE person by the second day, it's probably YOU!! )
Did I ever LOVE having my own room!!! It's a lot of daily interaction, and was always nice to retreat from all the input at the end of the day.

loved ACROPOLIS MUSEUM. Athens Hotel (Parthenon Hotel) was good enough. It was super close walking to the Acropolis and Acropolis Museum, which was great. This museum is modern and just beautifully laid out. Also close to the jingle-jangle tourist shopping (Plaka) area, which I found a bit boring.

Ferry to Mykonos was easy.
FOVORITE ITEM ( bought on the ferry to Mykonos after the Syros stop) ... I brought back (by FAR) and wish I had filled my luggage with them, was Syros loukoumi . Friends have been begging for more. The very heavy little boxes were 1E each. I looked it up online, and it confirmed what my guide mentioned-- theirs is special because of their 'brackish waters'. also, they sell halvadopita,, which resembles 2 huge confession wafers filled with nougat. Delicious. Delicious bargains of the trip... don't pass on these vendors when they get on board!!

FAV HOTEL Mykonos was the home of my favorite hotel, Myconian K Hotel. Most in the group had private pools. I did not (because I'm a single??) but loved the bed with fluffy white covers and pillows and a gorgeous view of the sea beyond. Also best breakfasts of the trip. Mykonos is beautiful, and little Venice (VERY little!) and a trip to Delos were highlights. (btw, our sweet little senior doggie of 18 1/2 passed away while I was on Mykonos, so a piece of my heart will remain there forever.... )

Ferry to Paros and stayed at the perfectly located Pandrossos Hotel. Rooms all have water and windmill views. A 5 minute walk to a pleasant swimming beach (no charge for the chairs if you buy a 1 E drink) and 10 minutes to the heart of old town. Didn't find any amazing food there, but relaxing and lovely break from museums and ruins.

Santorini was not my favorite. Whoa the pretty view towns make Disneyland look empty by comparison. And made all the less charming by a huge drone that was buzzing all the super-expensive little hotels on the waterfront for over an hour!! So weird. Once in a while, it would just seem to stop and look at me (us all)... then buzz on. Our hotel was unremarkable... it's just such a very expensive island that one can't expect to be on a cliffside without paying up.

CRETE I loved Crete. So surprised to say that it was my favorite island. Amazing ruins (Knossos) and such a variety of landscapes. Much of it looks like Tuscany with hills and slopes filled with grapes and olive trees. Huge mountains. Lovely coastal areas, sweet seaside towns. Lots to explore.

We were based in Heraklion, which is a big city on the water. Walks along the water or walks through the vibrant shopping zone, which is filled with locals in the evenings. The Heraklion Archaeological Museum is also right in town and it is world-class! (...and antiquities don't tend to be my favorite museum experience.)

LOVELY! Also had a fantastic afternoon eating freshly grilled fish and swimming at MATALA (famous in the 60's among hippies who stayed in the caves along the water... Joni Mitchell among them... and still with a very sweet shadow of that influence with frequent flower murals and such.) The water here is perfect... tiny bobbing waves and no sharks or jellyfish to worry about!)

LOVED ...We took an overnight ferry back to Athens (the "Lato" ) and it surprised me in two ways. First, the dinner we had was surprisingly healthy and good... and the servers were super friendly to boot! Second, the room was so nice-- I've stayed in much worse (with smaller bathrooms) in Paris! We were politely shown our rooms by smartly uniformed employees. There was even a small tub! My ticket said 96E .. I don't know if this is a discounted group price, but seems like a bargain to me!

Back in Athens, we visited the National Archaeological Museum which was just amazing too. Don't miss it. Of course, we had a guide thorough all the museums (usually just for the first 45 minutes) and that makes it that much more interesting I

I feel like the ability to see 4 islands effortlessly made it worth taking a tour. We plan long trips to new places (with much help from Fodors Community) yearly... but somehow the whole getting-to-and-from all the islands I wanted to see seemed like a lot of work. We took a tour when we went to Turkey, and I was glad because there was just so much territory to cover and so much to learn. I feel like this was another good choice for a tour. I hope to return to just one or two islands on my own next time... and now have a sense of which ones those would be. That's it! KAWH

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