We are a mature couple (70s) who traveled to Greece Sept. 8 to Sept 29. Thanks to all my Fodors helpers it was magnificent. We seemed to be going opposite everyone else but it was perfect. Thanks to Fodors for suggesting it, We flew NY to Athens, then right away Athens to Crete and then made our way back by ferry. We each had a carry on backpack, good walking shoes and casual clothes.
Chania to Iraklion
We flew from New York to Rome and then to Athens on Alitalia. It was a pleasant journey. We all know how hospitable Italians are. You gotta love them! Then we flew to Crete on Aegean Air. Again a comfortable ride. We had a little time in the airport in Athens so I got all my ferry tickets from Amphitrion travel near exit doors 1 and 2. I was not able to get a SIM card at the Germanos because they couldn't process the paper work. When we landed in Chania it was 7:10. According to my notes, we had just missed the bus but no it was there. Just go to the right from the exit doors passed all the taxi drivers. For 2:30€, we had a comfortable thirty minute ride to the heart of Chania. It was an easy walk even though we went around in a few circles as we usually do. Hotel Palazzo is just after you enter the old town. The receptionist was very welcoming and spent time giving us dining options and directions. Our room was on the top floor. We did it and it was great practice for our upcoming gorge hiking.
We settled in and then ventured into the old town. It was a full moon and the harbor was magnificent. We ate at Glossitses - recommended by our receptionist. It was wonderful. We had local Crete red wine, white fish roe dip with homemade pita bread and a Greek salad with mizithra cheese ( Crete specialty). Peter had grilled swordfish and I had baby lamb. For dessert we had baked mizithra (Cretan white soft creamy cheese) rolled in dough. The restaurant gave us raki and a jell like dessert. We met a couple from Cypress who enlightened us to all Cypress has to offer. It was a wonderful meal especially the lamb and the staff were just great. We had a liter of red Cretan wine which was delicious but my lack of measurement smarts led me down the wrong path. By this time we were exhausted. Ten o'clock is a normal time for dinner in Greece. For me that is usually bedtime . We had a great night's sleep after an extremely busy day.
The next morning we had a nice breakfast - my first experience of Greek yogurt and honey. It is soooo thick and rich. I couldn't finish what they served me.
Then we set out to walk around the old town in daylight this time. Just a few feet from the hotel we met a man loading fruit into a car and he gave us each a huge orange. The oranges are great here and everyone drinks fresh orange juice. We went to a quaint little Byzantine museum. It was sweet and very well done. Then we wandered through all the narrow streets looking into all the shops. We visited a church that was closed but by this time we were hot and tired. Right next to the church was a taverna with outside dining that was shaded by huge trees. Peter had grilled cuttlefish that was so delicious. We had two cold beers that hit the spot! I was not really hungry. The Greeks always give you a gift dessert. They gave us two dark chocolate dove ice cream bars. Perfect on a hot day!
We continued our stroll around the harbor. We visited a mosque that was converted into an art gallery. The artist was a photographer who sold all prints mainly of Chania.
On the way home we decided to check out the beach. It looked rocky but inviting so we went back to the hotel to put on our suits. Peter decided to charge his camera battery and put the converter in wrong and blew the fuse so the hotel receptionist had to find the circuit breaker. I had bought water shoes in Amazing Savings and they were amazing on the rocky beach. I was so happy I had them. At the beach we met Sylvie - a woman from Paris. She took us back to show us a room she rented not far from our hotel . It was lovely. Every few feet in Chania there is sign for a room to rent. Each building has such quaint charm.
That night we had diner in another restaurant recommended by hotel staff- Tamam. It was good but could not beat Glossitses. We had one of my favorites- snails (a very generous portion), Graviera cheese ( hard yellow cheese), stuffed sardines and stuffed pepper and tomato. We also had a bottle of Cretan wine. As usual the meal ended with a pudding like dessert and raki. Sylvie came by the restaurant to say goodbye to us. After dinner we strolled home and off to bed to prepare for the next day's gorge experience and road trip.
I was nervous that our car would not materialize. I did not have to give any credit card to confirm and of all the rental cars we passed, I did not see one with Time Car sticker. Right after breakfast my fears were found to be stupid as usual. A handsome sweet young man arrived at the hotel and sat with us and went through all the paper work and I handed him 150€ in cash and we were off to our car down the road. It was a brand new red fiat panda. By the end of the trip, Peter was in love with the car.
Our first stop on the way to Imbros Gorge was to a little market to get water and some snacks. A friendly young woman kept giving us samples of her cookies and some wine. We met her daughter who had come home from her first day at school. Then it was off to the gorge. She assured us we were going in the right direction. Supposedly, the Imbrose Gorge is easier than the Samara Gorge. Let me tell you- God was with me when I chose not to do the Samara Gorge. Toward the end of Imbros, I thought they were going to have to send the donkey in for me. Luckily, Peter had found a dead tree and broke off two walking sticks. My knees were killing me. Initially, we had thought we would do a round trip- what were we thinking!!!!!! Many people passed us and some who were doing the round trip passed us twice. We were the oldest people I saw at the gorge that day. The hike was about five miles and it took us four hours. Two factors caused my lack of speed. The rocks were so hard to maneuver that I kept looking down to choose my best footing so I had to stop often to look up and admire the scenery. We also stopped twice to have water and some chips to give us energy to carry on. Not to mention how many pictures the photographer had to take. It was magnificent and I am so glad we did it. At the end of the gorge a very nice lady runs a taxi service back to your car. For 5€ each, we road in the back of a pickup truck with a young couple from Germany. The road seemed long and snaked around the mountains as we tossed around and were cooled by the wind.
Now starts the crazy part in my autobiography, if I ever write it, this will be the chapter titled, "I Know How Mary Felt." We were riding admiring all the beautiful scenery. Peter kept showing me on the map where he wanted to go. I kept plugging things into my GPS and every town was rejected. I had a map and the legend showed which places were cities and I was spelling the words right because I was copying them off the map. I even tried postal codes and that failed. Greece was a choice and I had used it in Germany and Spain and it worked fine. The problem with Greece is that they have different spellings for the same place. For example, we were going to Anogia (that’s the way it was on the map) but it was Anogea. I did not know this so every time I got Anogi typed in a different choice would pop up. Don't get me started on road signs with the Greek letters! We just kept looking to see where the water was and went in that direction.
Eventually, we found a lovely beach community. Every place we inquired had no rooms. In my heart I know Mary wanted to lean over from her donkey and strangle Joseph because I wanted to do the same thing to Peter except he was driving. It was self preservation that kept me from killing him. At that point I wished we had gotten a bigger car because it was dark and we seemed to have exhausted our options.
Peter went a little ways back to this town that looked like it had been bombed- buildings were gutted, the roads were dug up and no one in their right mind would look for a room there. There was a group of men hanging out together and Peter stopped and asked if any of them knew where we could get a room. Jonis jumped in his truck and told us to follow him. We stopped at a few places but there was no room in the inn. I was just about to give up when he told us to get out of the car. A lovely couple greeted us and Jonis said goodbye. Peter tried to give him money but he would not take it. We had a room at Damnoni Paradise. Not only was it a room but it had a kitchen and a backyard and it was walking distance to a BEAUTIFUL beach. It was paradise for 40€ and 4€ for breakfast. I would return to Crete to stay at this place. It was paradise!
Check out was noon so the next morning we had breakfast, went to the beach, showered and then hit the road again.
We left the beach and headed toward the mountains. We followed the mountains this time and arrived in a beautiful little village. Marina welcomed us with raki and cookies from her cousin's bakery. After talking to her with went to our room and then set off to visit a cave. It was a family run place and the caves were beautiful. After the caves, we went to another village and had barbecued lamb. It was kind of sad eating the lamb and hearing all the lambs bleating on the hillside behind us. We went back to our room. Marina had renovated this place with nothing but the best. We had a bedroom with a beautiful stone fireplace, a patio overlooking the mountains, and a kitchen. I fell asleep before going out to dinner. Peter was awake taking pictures. I will never forgive him for not waking me up to see the sunset which was spectacular. We ventured out to dinner but it was disappointing. We went to a place Marina recommended but we were the only ones in the restaurant and it really wasn't great.
We checked out that night because we wanted to get on the road around 6am to make it to the Palace of Knossos before the tour groups. We took the back country road for about an hour and 1/2. It was beautiful.
At about 7:50, we arrived at Knosos the old way- using a map. My GPS would not charge. Later that night I found out a few pieces of the charger were in the bottom of my backpack.
There was a free parking lot right next to the palace. Right at the entrance was a great cafe. We were able to have coffee, fresh squeezed orange juice and Greek pastries. Plus they have free WiFi and outlets so I charged my GPS.
The place was a good site to visit but so much of it is reconstructed it is hard to tell what is genuine. A woman from England called it an archeological Disneyland. We were happy with got there at the opening at 8 am. It was crazy when we were leaving. Besides the palace, the parking lot and streets were crazy.
Now begins a nightmare with our faithful red Fiat Panda. We made it to downtown Heraklion but we could not fine our hotel. The GPS would actually say we were 3 seconds from our destination and we would wind up going in circles for another 20 minutes. We actually found the hotel once but went around the corner to look for parking and got lost all over again.
Finally, we got near the hotel and Peter pulled over while I went in to see if they had parking. I said to this handsome Greek gentleman, “Help me, my husband is ready to kill me. “I waved Peter to come down to him and he jumped in the car and showed him the lot where he could park the car for 5€.
He then took care of the car from then on. Time car came to him to pick up the car. As I said before, it was a pleasure dealing with them.
Now the hotel concierge took us through the streets to a nearby hotel. He said, “I am taking you to the Hilton." It was the Aquila Atlantis. It was beautiful with a pool, fantastic breakfast and luxury accommodations.
That night we ate at Herb's Garden at the roof of the Lato Boutique hotel which was just a block away.
At Herb's Garden we had beet root with balsamic vinegar and thyme honey, fried cheese balls and anthrogalo (local creamy cheese) purée with roasted hazel nuts. Chicken drumsticks with molasses, sundried tomatoes and hint of sesame. " Skioufichta" homemade Cretan pasta with cherry tomatoes, basil flavored and anthotyri cheese. Rabbit twig aristo (restfully sautéed with thyme and rosemary laid on warm Cretan feta cheese, and hand cut fried potatoes. I think the pastas are better than the meats but it was beautiful and the food was delicious.
The next morning after a great breakfast at the Aquila Atlantis (I had booked with Marin Dream but they put me in the Aquila Atlantis for the same price), we walked down to the ferry and we were off to Santorini .
Santorini Day One
All worked out well with our ferry departure to Santorini. It was great being in a hotel just 200 meters from the ferry. Breakfast was served at seven so we had plenty of time to eat, check out and walk to the ferry. The ride seemed to go so fast. I used the time to catch up on journal writing. At Santorini a handsome young Greek gentleman held a sign with our name on it and he whisked us away to Lava Oia where we were staying. Greek music played in the van as he wound around the island. Another handsome young man grabbed our bags, flung them over his shoulders and led us to our little traditional house. Petrido was there to welcome us and show us around. The room had not been cleaned yet so we dropped our things and set off to see Oia. My first impression was not great- one jewelry store after the other and overpriced dull looking restaurants. The scenery seemed to be the only thing Santorini has to offer. We booked a trip tomorrow which might help to change my mind. We saw two weddings and actually found two restaurants which were good off the main road in the back. At the first we just had a beer and a dish made with puréed fava beens,capers and octopus. In the evening we found a cafe with roof top dining. (Militini) .We had white wine, eggplant salad, a Greek salad , a sausage dish with tomato sauce and grilled octopus. Peter ordered a submarine for dessert. It was like Bonamos Turkish taffy on a spoon in water. Everything was excellent. We met two honeymooners from New Jersey. They ordered a submarine after they saw Peter's. Then it was time to get some sleep.
Having our own place for four days gave me time to wash some clothes. It is like we have a new little house. The sunset was very disappointing because it was overcast. Maybe tomorrow will be better.
Great Day in Santorini (Day Two)
We made an excellent decision today and went on a Notostravel Bus Trip. Our first stop was to Akrotiri the ancient ruins just outside Thira. Our guide was excellent. I wouldn't have been able to appreciate it without her. Then we went to a black beach (Pervolios). It was beautiful - had changing rooms and of course crystal clear water. We swam for an hour and then had a great lunch at Zappas. After that we visited two villages ( Megalochori and Pyrgos) and went to the highest point in Santorini. It was scary when the bus driver turned to make a u turn at the tip. I couldn't look. Finally, we went to Santo Wineries. We tasted three whites, one red, a desert wine and Champaign . We got home just in time to catch the sunset which is an experience in Santorini.
We went home to shower and change and then walked back the pedestrian walk to a great restaurant (Kypreda). I don't know which is worse the pedestrian walk with all the jewelry stores and crowds of tourists or the road where you could get killed any minute by a car, bus or ATV.
It was worth the trip because dinner was great. We had lentils and rice, baked cheese in dough, taboulie and moussaka. For dessert Peter ordered an orange cake. They gave us lemon cello and raki. The waitress was wonderful.
Back down that dreadful promenade and home to bed.
Day Three Santorini
We got up late and just hung around our cute little house just doing odds and ends. About 11:30 we set out for the beach. The bus stop to Thira is just about 1/2 block from our house. We took the bus to Thira and then another bus to Parissa Beach. It was so easy- just jumped off one bus and jumped on the other. Right where the bus dropped us off there were lounge chairs and straw umbrellas. We ordered two beers and then later had two more beers and a Slovaki and fries and we stayed there all day. It was also a black beach . Again the water was fantastic and our waitress just loved us. There was no pressure to order more.
We went home to shower and change for dinner but it was so lovely on our patio, I didn't want to go out. When we went to the market, we had also bought wine and we had stopped at a bakery in Thira so we stayed home. We had scrambled eggs, special rolls, pistachio cake and wine for dinner. There were so many celebrations- a wedding and a birthday party so we were entertained by fireworks. We had spent 30€ at the market and we still had enough supplies for all our breakfasts. We just relaxed and then went to sleep.
Last Full Day- day Four
At 8:30 we made our way down the 300 steps to Amoudi Bay to hook up with our catamaran boat trip. We had scheduled a transfer to and from the boat but I figured it was easy to walk DOWN and after the trip I figured we could swim and stay for dinner. I was later glad I had made that decision. We got to the boat and immediately made friends with a young couple from Toronto. Now we were the oldest on the boat. Seems like we are the oldest at lots of the places we go. But, there were some people close to our age. The boat made the first stop at the volcanic hot springs. They said they had life jackets if anyone needed one. I can swim but I am not an endurance swimmer. Just as I was deliberating my abilities I saw a young thing with a life jacket so I got one. I was glad when they blew the whistle and I had to make my way back. It was not easy but I got back in time.
Everyone on the boat was so friendly. Part due to unlimited drinks including ouzo. Our next stopped after considerable sailing time was the red beach. You could either jump off the side of the boat or go down the staircase. I went down the staircase because one of the young men would equip me with my life jacket which now I felt very comfortable wearing as others had joined me. Then we were off to a white beach. While the crew prepared our barbeque, we went snorkeling. They supplied the equipment and they put bread in the water to attract the fish. I asked if I could do it with a life jacket and he assured me that it was better with the jacket. He was right. You could just float face down and see all the fish.
Then it was time to eat. We had ordered pork, chicken or vegetarian. They had pasta salad, tomato salad, stuffed grape leaves, green salad and meat. There was plenty of food. It was buffet style and you could have all you wanted.
After lunch, they put up the sails and we went all around the island. It was glorious.
When we docked, a group of us made it over the rocks to the beach area of Amoudi Bay. I use beach loosely because it is pretty difficult getting there and it is very rocky.
Later we all went to a restaurant at the bay. We ate and watched the sunset right from our table at water's edge.
I decided to climb the 300 steps. Happy to saw I made it! No donkey for me. This is one place in Santorini where you do not see lots of tourists.
Back to Lava Oia and our last night.
Day One and Two Naxos
We arrived by ferry at around 7 pm. It was VERY windy. This was the first time I saw the windy icon on my iPhone weather. We walked along the main road from the ferry and then, when we got to the beach, we asked someone directions. We were very close and just needed to walk a little more on the beach.
Sofia greeted us at Hotel Ilion. We are just one in from the beach (about a half a block). She was so friendly and just kept laughing at us. She brought us up to a lovely room- another patio. It looked down a narrow little street, from where we could sit and watch a beautiful sunset.
After settling in, we set out for dinner. So many restaurants were filled with people and sounds of good cheer. It was hard to choose. One we noticed had Mama directing the family staff to deliver Greek comfort food. We sat down and Peter immediately saw a cabbage/ carrot salad that he had to have. I saw an octopus salad that beckoned to me. Peter ordered pork chunks with fried potatoes and I had village sausage with eggplant and onions over pasta. We had a 1/2 liter of house red wine and they brought us toasted Italian bread and three dips (cheese, fish and tzatziki). At the end of the meal, Mama sent us a carafe of red wine. Our bill was $29€.
On the way home we decided to sign up for a bus tour the next day.
Day Two Naxos
We went to breakfast right when it started at 8 am. OMG Sofia is the world's best cook. I could not believe the breakfast. There was a lot but also everything was homemade. Besides the usual cold cuts, cheeses, fruits, yogurt, honey and fresh squeezed orange juice, there were homemade baked goods, grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and if that wasn't enough Sofia would whip you up a fried egg.
Then we were off to our bus tour. Our first stop was to a pottery shop and ancient olive press in the village of Damalas. We watched a demonstration as the man made a vessel for wine. It was very different and interesting. I bought the kids a little pitcher that you put water in and then blow through it and it makes a bird sound. He must have tested five or six of them before he decided one that sounded just right.
Our second stop was an idyllic Venetian village (Halki). There was an old distillery where we tasted Kitron. Shops had beautiful linens with a woman weaving. It was too soon for lunch but there was a barbecue with chicken and pork on spinets. It was such a sweet place. We even picked some grapes when no one was looking.
We stopped at the highest point with a windmill in the background for a panoramic photo experience. Then off to the marble village (Apiranthos). Here we walked around and took many pictures. The tour allotted time for lunch. In our walking we got lost (as usual) and of course I panicked and thought we had walked to the next village. We barely had time for lunch but we did have a Greek salad with a glass of wine for 4€. It was more rushed than I wanted to be.
After a 40 minute ride around the mountains, we arrived at Apollonas, Peter swam and I put my feet in. The wind was fierce and the waves high for Greece but could not compare with the east coast of the US.
On the way home we stopped at the unfinished statue of Kouros (6th century BC). and a quarry.
Then we went home to shower and relax. Our hotel (Ilion) is right in the heart of everything. At the end of each day before getting ready for diner we can sit on our patio, sip wine that we bought from the supermarket on the way home and watch the sunset. The shower has a big round spray and there is plenty of hot water. Sofia (the owner) has made us feel so at home.
That night we went to Scirroc's for dinner. A couple from Manchester (husband is a chef) had recommended the restaurant. It was great. We had gigantic fava beans in red sauce, and a potato salad like no other potato salad I ever had (Noxos is famous for potatoes). Peter had sesame coated prawns(huge) with a mild chile sauce and a baked potato with tzatziki. I had lamb in a lemon sauce over basmatic rice. We had a wonderful local red wine. The restaurant gives you liquor with whipped cream and they also gave us an orange pie (more a moist cake.) Andrew and Janet were there also.
Third Day in Naxos
Beach day! After another wonderful breakfast, we were off to the bakery to get our round trip tickets to the beach ( 1.60€ each way). We met Andrew and Janet - a couple from England we keep meeting. We went passed Ag. Anna to Ag. Prokopis . First we walked to the end to take pictures of the smelly salt flats and then down to the beautiful smell free part of the beach. For $5€, you can rent two lounge chairs with an umbrella. I had a craving for ice cream and there was a Sunset Cafe. I got a sundae with vanilla and pistachio (pistachios are grown here) ice cream with fresh cream and strawberries. It was delicious. Peter got tutu fruity. We stayed at that beach a few hours and then hopped on the bus again and went to Plaka. Again we walked down the beach to the end when we noticed we were in a nude beach. We again rented an umbrella and chairs and met a lovely English couple who told us all about Naxos. We went up to the taverna where they were staying and had two delicious eggplant dishes . The owners have a farm and cook their own produce. We were joined by an Italian man who later rode off on his bike.
From the bus on the way home we could see the sunset.
We showered and then set out to Scorroc's for dinner again. We met Andrew and Janet again. There were no available seats when we arrived but the couple who sat adjacent to us the night before were about to leave so they gave us their table. Once you have been to this restaurant, you want to return. We had:
Scirocco salad (lettuce, rocket, dried figs, anthotyri Naxos cheese grilled with balsamic vinegar. I had fried anchovies and Peter had grilled sea bream and fried potatoes. Wine - makeaonikoz , teantaah. (Not sure of the spelling)
Our last day in Naxos was a Sunday so we went church hunting. After another fantastic breakfast, we set out to go to Mass. First we found a Greek Orthodox Church. In an ecumenical spirit, we went in for awhile. It was sooo hot and we did look out of place. I had a sun dress on and I think I was the only woman with arms showing. It wasn't till we were there a few minutes that we realized the men and women were separated. I could understand some of the service but we decided to leave and luckily nearby we found a Roman Catholic Church. The priest was so young and it was a small intimate setting with a loud choir of strong Greek voices. Communion was given in two spices by the priest dunking the host in the wine. The chalice was unique- it was a round dish with an insert in the middle for a little chalice of wine. After and before Mass we met some of the parishioners.
We left there and went to the archeological museum and then to a Venetian castle. While we were there we bought tickets for a concert that evening for 15€ each.
Then we made our way down to the Chora and had lunch at Irini’s. We had Pastitsio and beet root salad.
That gave us energy to climb to the Portera. You can get close but you cannot get close to stand in it as you see in many pictures. We got close enough to have a young German boy take a cheesy picture of us.
Exhausted we made our way back to Sofia at Hotel Ilion and changed and went to our beach right by the hotel (Ag.Giorgios).
We showered and set out back to the Venetian castle for the concert. It was magnificent . It seemed like everyone who took part in this production was in church with us that morning. The setting was beautiful. As you entered they offered you water, orange juice or lemonade. At intermission there were local wines, rake, ouzo and grappa. They encouraged you to have all you wanted. The music (violinist and piano player) were wonderful and the setting was spectacular.
On our way home we tried a stuffed burger, carrot and raisin salad and Naxos salad.
Home and off to bed for our last night in Hotel Ilion. Sofia was falling asleep watching TV but she woke to greet us. She is a saint and the best cook in Greece . There is nothing she will not do for you and she does it with a smile. Her breakfasts are to die for. There are at least four or five baked dishes cooked to perfection so the bottoms are just brown with a little crunch but not burned. She will fry you a perfect egg. There is always a crepe plus all the other usual breakfast foods. Everyone seems to feed on her cheerfulness and talks and greets each other and share adventures of the day before or a previous destination. This has to be the best place in Naxos. Behind us is a gated resort Naxos Resorts and I am sure they are paying a lot more. We will miss Sofia but it is off to Mykonos.
We arrived about 2:30 by ferry from Naxos. Our hotel owner (Sourmeli Garden) picked us up at the port and took us to the hotel for $6€. We were glad we used his service. Otherwise, I think we would soon be looking for the hotel. It is located close to the town and main bus station (10min walk). The problem is that in Greece you can walk 1/2 min and feel like your life is in jeopardy because of the ATVs manned by people who think they can drive them and can't and cars and then there are the buses. The pedestrian has no right of way.
We checked the schedule for the boats to Delos and realized there was a 5 o'clock bus. We rushed and made it to the old port by 4:30 but the day before they discontinued the 5 o'clock boat so we bought tickets for the next day.
We walked through Little Venice and saw the windmills. We stopped for a drink and witnessed another wedding. There are similarities between Mykonos and Santorini. They are both expensive, have MANY jewelry stores and many visitors from cruise ships. Mykonos does not have the beautiful geography that Santorini has. It is beautiful but cannot compare with Santorini. Yet I did see one of the prettiest sunsets here. There are many beaches that turn into party sites at night.
After walking for literally hours, we decided to have pasta for a change. There are several Italian restaurants here and this one makes its own pasta. It was really quite good. After dinner we took our life in our hands and went back up the hill. When we got to the hotel, our owner was going to the port to pick up someone else. He told us we could take the bus and the bus driver would let us off at the hotel. It is a short distance, one we easily walk, if the drivers were not so crazy.
We did not have breakfast at the hotel because we wanted to make the 9 am boat to Delos so that we would beat the heat. If that is at all possible!
We had a caloric high at a bakery shop. We just kept saying, "One of these!"
We made our way down to the old port and got the boat to Delos. At Delos we hired a guide and a woman from Hong Kong joined us. The guide was OK but we have had better. She sounded like she was on auto pilot and did not appreciate Peter's questions. At a certain point the guide leaves you and you go the rest of the way by yourself. It is supposed to be the birth place of Apollo. It is amazing how much of it is intact.
We made the 1 o'clock boat back and went straight to the bus station to get the bus to the beach. We wound up in Platis Yialos. The first thing we did was find a place for lunch. The place we chose gave you free umbrella and lounge chairs. We ordered a fish salad that had lettuce, octopus, prawns, smoked salmon and tomatoes. It was huge. Thank goodness we had decided to share it. It was 29.50€ but worth it. The beach was beautiful and had the highest waves we have seen in Greece. It was rough. We relaxed until about 6 pm and then went to the bus stop. We just made one which did get crowded. We had to stand but it was not a long ride. The bus driver let us off at our hotel.
We relaxed and showered and then went back to town. We ate at a place where Peter had bonded with an owner who wore wild colored pants. The place was called Caesar’s. A cat joined us for dinner. In fact a couple came a little after us specifically looking for the cat and then another guy came in who had told the couple about the cat. The food was Ok but the friendly owner talked Peter into a more expensive dish because the one he ordered was not available and then on the bill it was even another euro higher. Not a big thing but it makes me uncomfortable.
After dinner we walked some more. Some streets we had been on before but some were new. You never know where you will wind up as the streets wind around. We met a crazy old Irish guy (Eugene) who was with a woman my age from Australia. They brought us to a bar (Notorious). The owners were two very nice young guys. We had two drinks and then left to go home.
The bus driver let us off by our hotel.
The next day Peter decided we needed more exercise and he found a hike in Island Hoppers Guide.
We took the bus to Elia beach and then walked through Agari beach. Both Elia and Agari have nude sections. Agari was predominantly male in the nude section but I did not feel out of place. There were other women.
After we left Agari, it got kind of rough. It was more like rock climbing than hiking. At one point I refused to go on because I could not see water. We made a little detour but reached a dead end.
Then we met a couple from Belgium who assured us that if we continued on the road, we would reach the next beach (Super Paradise). We walked the rest of the way with them. When we were approaching the beach, Peter and the husband of the couple we were with and two other young men stopped to help a car stuck on a rock. It was a happening.
As we got close to the beach, we heard the loud music. As we entered through a bar dancers were on the tables dancing. It was entertaining. We bought the Belgian couple a drink for showing us the way. They hired a speed boat to take them back to Elia. Peter swam and I walked in the water. It was a little cool because the sun had just gone down. About an hour later we took a Super Shuttle back to town for 4€ each which was a great deal. The driver let us off at our hotel. On the ride home we saw a beautiful sunset.
That night we had dinner at gyro place in town. It was a very informal place with tables close enough to be called family style. The name was written in Greek. I had a pork gyro and Peter had a chicken one. We also ordered a grilled vegetable platter that had mushrooms, eggplant, squash and peppers. It was fantastic.
We walked some more and then stopped for dessert. I had frozen Greek yogurt and Peter had mango- ginger sorbet. It was delicious and a great people watching spot.
Home to bed and get ready for our last leg of the trip. We leave tomorrow for Athens.
We left Sourmeli Garden at 11 am. It was a basic lovely place. We had a simple room -excellent shower with VERY hot water. We also had a lovely patio from which we could see the port. The owner was very friendly. My only objection was the walk on the road. I would not have wanted to stay in town so I think we made a good choice especially once we realized we could take the bus up the hill.
Instead of going to our usual bakery, we went to a place on the water. Peter had a ham toast and an ice double espresso. I had Greek yogurt with honey and fruit. It was beautiful with honey, yogurt, grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe, apple, pear, banana and kiwi.
Peter had decided we could walk to the ferry. I thought we were taking the water taxi which cost 2€ each. I asked the waiter how long the walk was to the ferry. He said, “It is too long. You must take a bus."
Peter said the waiter was crazy and he just thought we couldn't do it. He said I was stupid to worry. Hadn't I seen all the people with wheelies coming from that direction? So I flung my backpack on and started walking. Two times we had to back track because the road ended. Then we realized we had to walk quite a ways on the main road which is treacherous so we tried to hail a cab. When that failed, we started walking. I was saying a few choice words along the trail and then a knight in shining armor stopped and drove us to the port. He did not want money but I convinced him to accept it.
The ferry ride was six hours and it was pretty crowded. A nun sat next to me and said her rosary the whole time. Once a lady came over and gave the nun a little gift. It looked like perfume. On this ferry you could go out on the deck. It was beautiful out there. It is kind of fun on a ferry when everyone is lined up to leave and finally whistles blow and the hydraulic ramp goes down. Then the captain goes out and checks everything. No one moves till he gives his official wave. It is kind of exciting.
Well the ramp went down and we got off. We were looking for gate numbers so we could find the metro but Greek signage doesn't exist or it is in Greek. So, as usual we went in the wrong direction. I have to admit there were others going in the wrong direction. Crossing the street was crazy. We did as we did in China- just join a group and go and pray that there is not a mass murderer behind the wheel of one of the many cars coming.
All of a sudden, I saw the lady who had given the nun a gift. I asked her where the metro was and she said, "Come darling, I take you.” little did she know but she was going in the wrong direction and she lives in Athens! The one thing she had going for her was that she spoke Greek.
After asking directions, we realized we had to about face and CROSS the road again. After we succeeded to cross and walked about a block, we realized they had torn down the bridge over the road that went to the subway so we had to CROSS the road again. All the while my lady friend was with me. Sometimes I was guiding her and sometimes she was guiding me. She would often say, “Don’t worry Darling we will get there." She said we did not need to buy tickets, she would give us two.
Finally we got on a train, "Sit down Darling, it is a long ride.” When she instructed us to get off, it was the wrong stop. So she spoke to some more people and we went on more escalators (in Athens you go down deep to get to the train) and we said good bye to her. She wanted to come all the way with us but I would not let her. I was actually worried about her. I felt she was a little disoriented. Two days later we took a taxi and I saw a sign,"Silver Alert". I asked the cab driver what Silver Alert was and he said it was like Amber Alert but for old people. Peter and I looked at each other and I just prayed it wasn't my lady friend.
Not only were we on the right train and had to go only one stop but Peter found the hotel immediately.
After checking in, we went to the rooftop terrace to see the Acropolis all lit up. It was beautiful.
After settling in we went to find a Rick Steve's recommended restaurant ( Kati Allo). It was a small family run place. We were invited in to choose what we wanted to eat. A Greek salad, a beef (like pot roast) with orzo, a pork with okra and a 1/2 carafe of wine was 20€. It was fun.
Home and one last look at the Acropolis before bed.
The next morning we had a great breakfast at the hotel. Nothing fancy but good and a variety to choose. Lots of fresh fruit, yogurt, of course, and good coffee.
Then we set out for the Acropolis accompanied by our Rick Steve's downloaded guide. It was wonderful. After the Acropolis, we did the Agora with Steve.
After that, we set out on our own. Peter wanted to find Exarchia section of Athens. We bought four .60€ tickets which are good for 70 minutes. We only used 1 each. We walked and found a homey family run place similar to the night before. Peter had a fish dish that came with a soup. I had a stuffed pepper and a stuffed tomato. We had a fix beer too. (20€)
Then we walked to Syntagma Square. We went to the Benake Museum (not one of my favorites). After that it was time for the changing of the guards at the Parliament and since we were right there, we decided to watch it. Not too impressive. We sat in the park and started Steve's city walk. We followed it almost to the end but it started to rain and my feet were killing me so we went home.
We took showers and just relaxed before heading out to dinner.
We went to another Rick restaurant (Strofi). It was right up the street from our hotel and we were exhausted. Talk about ambiance. They have so many tables that have beautiful views of the Acropolis. We were spoiled because we have the best view from our hotel. The food was good. We had stuffed wine leaves (stuffed with rice and minced meat and covered with a lemon sauce), rooster over pasta, kid goat and vegetables in parchment, milk cake for dessert and a bottle of Greek red wine. (61€)
We slept well that night. The next morning we got up to be at breakfast at 6:20 so we could get a taxi to the bus station to get the 7:30 bus to Delphi. The ride to the bus station seemed to take forever.
We bought round trip tickets for 30€ each. The bus has assigned seats and makes on stop. The ride is lovely and takes two hours. We got off at the Sanctuary and eventually went to town. Rick does not have Delphi available for download yet but we had his book. It was certainly worth the trip. We went all the way up to the stadium and down the road to the Sanctuary of Athena.
Later we went to the town and had lunch in a Taverna. It had a good view but the food was not impressive. The town was dead. It looked like the season was over. Luckily we had bought return tickets for the 4o’clock bus which did not come till 4:30. So much for assigned seats. The bus was already packed when we got on and we had been waiting 45 minutes for it to arrive. I told the guy organizing the bus that I wasn't going to stand for two hours since I had an assigned seat. He made one of the locals get up and give me a seat. He was going to make Peter stand. I pointed out that he was 73 and was not going to stand for two hours. Peter said," Shush, don't tell them how old I am. “It was terrible. I would have gotten on faster if I had known my seat number would not be honored. On the way to Delphi they checked to make sure everyone was in the assigned seat.
When we got into Athens we were told to hop on any bus to get to the metro. We had two of our .60€ transit passes which last for 70 hours on trains, buses and trams. So we went from the bus to the train home. We were getting used to this system. Good thing we had not used two of our train tickets from the day before because you cannot buy bus tickets on the bus.
We were so tired that we went to Kati Allo again. The daughter in law said they were full but when Mama saw us she brought us in to pick out food and sat us at this little table she sits at outside the restaurant. We had fun talking to her. I wasn't hungry because we had a big lunch. I just wanted olives and bread to dip in the oil. Peter had two spinach and cheese crepes and of course our carafe of red wine. All for 11€ and Mama gave me a huge dish of olives.
The next day was Sunday and we slept until 8 and then had breakfast. We took the train to church. The train was delayed so we got there just in time. It was the cathedral of Athens (St. Dionysios Areopagite Cathedral at Omirou 9). The 11 o'clock Mass was a high Mass in Latin. The choir was spectacular. We even stayed after Mass to listen to them practice for the bishops last Mass that week. The tenors and sopranos were wonderful.
After that we stopped for coffee and then took the train to the National Archaeology Museum. It was free. We used our Rick downloaded guide. It was huge. We disciplined ourselves not to look at every single thing.
Then we went to the Acropolis Museum. When I went to buy ticket they said it would be free in a half an hour. So we went to have a bit to eat and then went back.
The museum was packed. It was Sunday and this part of Athens is a pedestrian strip. Families were strolling, musicians were playing, a mime was conducting a symphony and vendors were selling nuts and grilled corn on the cob. This area is just the perfect place to stay. I am so happy that we stayed there.
We used our Rick book at this museum.
The Caryatids were beautiful.
Then we strolled home and rested before we set out for dinner at Mani Mani which became our favorite restaurant in Greece.
House wine - Mani Mani
Fava beans with caramelized onion chutney
Green salad - lettuce, soft cheese (Novato), red peppers, and dried figs with sweet sauce.
Pasta carbonara-siglino (smoked ham), roasted mitzithra (traditional Greek cheese) mushrooms with fried egg on top.
Makarounes - homemade pasta, pork, mushrooms, zucchini and truffle oil.
Millefeuille-caramelized pineapple flavored with vanilla and rum.
Gratis - drink (mastic or Gk- Mastihou.
All for 59€ in an absolutely beautiful setting.
Sadly, it was our last night. We had to get up at 2:45 am to make our 6 am flight to New York. The train that goes to the airport does not operate in the middle of the night. To get to the bus, we would have had to take a cab anyway so we just took the cab to the airport. It is a 55€ flat rate but at that hour of the morning I felt it was worth it.
Cheers to Alitalia - I would fly with them anytime.
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Crete, Santorini, Naxos, Mykonos, Athens
We are a mature couple (70s) who traveled to Greece Sept. 8 to Sept 29. Thanks to all my Fodors helpers it was magnificent. We seemed to be going opposite everyone else but it was perfect. Thanks to Fodors for suggesting it, We flew NY to Athens, then right away Athens to Crete and then made our way back by ferry. We each had a carry on backpack, good walking shoes and casual clothes.