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Mini Greek Odyssey - Help!

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Dear lovely Grecophiles and Fodorites, I need your help. I am planning a trip of 3 ½ weeks (25 nights) to Greece in August/September and would really appreciate some advice on my itinerary. I’ve just completed my PhD and the trip is a long-awaited treat to myself so I want it to be quite special. The plan I have so far is to fly from the UK to Athens and from there take the ferry to Naxos. From this point forward I will have:

5 nights Naxos
2 nights Santorini
5 nights Eastern Crete - Stalis
3 nights Western Crete – 2 in Chania & 1 night aboard night ferry – Chania to Piraeus
A trip to Delphi & overnight in Athens (may spend this night on Poros should it be possible to get a ferry to the island after 19.00)

I’ll then have 2 further nights on Poros and some time to relax before being joined by family for a week of sightseeing in the Peleponnese and the Saronic Gulf (we may well base ourselves on Poros).

Some things it may be worth mentioning: I’ll be travelling alone until joined by family. I have a max budget (inc. accommodation, travel, spending) of £2500. I’ve just past 30 and am not much of a party animal but will enjoy a few dinners out. I’m much more interested in history, scenery, walking (if the heat allows) than beautiful beaches, although I’m sure I’ll see some of these. I’ll travel primarily by ferry and bus but may well rent a car if necessary to get to harder-to-reach/must-see places and possibly for the drive from Heraklion to Chania.

I’ve picked up quite a few tips and recommendations from guide books, web sites and, especially, this forum but I’m a bit overloaded now and in desperate need of some clarity. Does this seem like a decent plan? Would it be better to deduct a night from Santorini and add it to Chania? Is Stalis a good choice for a base from which to explore Eastern Crete?

Any help you can give will be most gratefully received and apologies for the HUGE post

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    Sounds like a good plan to me, although I can't see Poros as a good base for visiting the Peloponnese. Don't deduct a night from Santorini — two nights means only one full day. If anything, since you aren't interested in beaches, think about deducting a night or two from Naxos and adding it to Santorini. If, as some reports suggest, the Minoan site at Akrotiri reopens this summer, it will be worth having extra time there. :-)

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    I will comment on your last part, the Peloponnese.
    Don't base your self on Poros fopr the week, you will be seriously limited as to what you can see on day trips. Granted, there is a wealth of sites in the north east corner, but the Peloponnese is huge & has so much to offer. Save any of your budget that you can to hire a car for that week & travel around. A few places to choose from: Nafplio, Monemvasia, Mystras, the Mani & Diros caves, Ancient Messini, Pylos & Voidakilia bay, Methoni & Koroni castles, Polilimnio waterfalls, Stemnitsa/Dimitsana/Lousios gorge, Olympia, Kalavryta & railway, Corinth-canal/Ancient & Acrocorinth, Epidavros, Mycenae, Nemea, Tyrins...........There's so much you'll have a tough time choosing just a few!

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    You have a very workable plan.
    I like it that you are spending 5 nights on Naxos. There is much to do there. Since the season is starting to wind down a bit I suggest you may want to consider staying near Naxos town Chora perhaps at St George beach. There will still be lots of people around but not crowded. Naxos town has lots to offer including dining, shopping, day tours to Delos, an old market area that leads up to the Kastro, cultural entertainment at the Venetian museaum, and perhaps the best bread anywhere from the wood fired oven bakery in the old Market.
    If you like great beaches hop the local bus and head out to one of the west coast beaches just 7km from town. Plaka is our favourite. Ther are round the island bus tours so you can get up into the mountain villages and see Greece like it used to be.
    Or you can catch the local bus and spend a couple of hours in villages like Chalki or Filoti or Aparanthos. Renting a car is the bast way to go but since you are solo that may not be the best option.

    Heading out to Santorini for a couple of nights is something that I would suggest every first time visitor to the islands includes in their plan. This is the one place you should be prepared to spend money. Be sure to get a room with a caldera view. You can probably spend much of your time just sitting on your balcony looking at the ocean 1000 feet below you.
    Ferry connections to Crete are good so that is a logical progression however Crete is very large and can easily take two weeks just to see a portion of the island. Most people choose to stay either in the east or the west and it could take a good 5 hours to travel by bus from the east to Chania.

    You may want to just to concentrate on the east. Personaly we have always chosen the west and made Chania our base. We have spent a total of 19 nights in the west and still have not seen everything we had planned to do.

    Now leaving Crete may be where you could alter your plans. Aegean airlines have special fares occasionaly and you may be able to get a flight back to Athens at about the same price as a ferry ride. Even at full price not wasting that full day on the ferry it is probably worth it.
    Sorry I have no experience wiht Delphi or Poros so cannot comment.
    Have a great time.
    Here are some images of Naxos
    http://travel.webshots.com/album/552001505EYxVYT

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    Delphi is about doable as a day trip from Athens, but I strongly suggest you spend one or two nights there. Firstly you could split your visit one the sites and museum a bit and been able to visit outside rush hours, and then you could take some walks/hikes in the area. Scenery of course is always there, croded or not, but early morning and late evening light makes for great photo ops, plus ambience of the area is completely different when it is quiet. As far as you are interested in history, I think you'll find ancient Delphi very interesting, but may I suggest to read up a bit on Agelos Sikelianos and spend a visit on its house/museum too? His history relates with trying to revive the ancient Pythia games anyway,so not completely out of contex... In case you decide to hire a car for Delphi portion of your trip, you may explore Osios Loukas monastery coming from Athens and of course the wider area such as Galaxidi,Amfissa and so on. Let me know if you are interested on more info.

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    Thank you all for your replies and all this info. Heimdall, the main reason I was thinking of cutting the Santorini visit short was because of the Akrotiri closure, so I am delighted to hear there is a chance I may get to see it after all - I will definitely stay for two nights and try to find room somewhere in the schedule to add an extra one. My thinking on the Poros front is an attempt to give my parents a holiday that is a mixture of relaxation and interesting sights but, having read your post yiassas, I am clearly going to have to rethink this. I’ll certainly hire a car but it’s important for my parents to have a base rather than move hotels frequently. Might you have any suggestions regarding this? Thank you Stanbr for the wonderful images – I am so much more excited now. You’re quite right about Crete – it’s huge and I’ll not get to see more than a fraction. No doubt I’ll have to settle for what I can see in the time available and identify locations for a return trip next year. Mariha2919, before your reply to my post I had not considered how little time I would actually spend at Delphi on a day trip. I have decided to hire a car and stay overnight as you suggest. The Hermes Hotel looks nice and is affordable but many people seem to suggest Galaxidi as the best place for a stopover. What would you suggest?

    My thanks once again to you all for all your suggestions and inspiration

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    Well if you stick to your plan on Crete you will get to see Chania which is one of the most beautiful cities in Greece. Be sure to find a room in the old harbour area.
    Here are some images of Chania
    http://travel.webshots.com/album/571195659jPcKjK
    Have a great time

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    Hi again!
    On your way to Delphi you can do a small detour and take in Osios Loukas Monastery which is an UNESCO world heritage site with a rich history http://osiosloukas.gr/osiosloukas/english_xml/index.html You can then either return and continue through the most common route passing by Arahova, or take the most scenic but more time consuming route through Aspra Spitia and Desfina area, approaching Delphi from sea side to mountain (from Itea). Distomo is a town near Osios Loukas worthing a mention, you will see many monuments in the area commemorating the massacre of local population from Nazi in 1944.... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distomo
    Anyway, Galaxidi is about 40 minutes drive from Delphi past Itea, a very scenic sea side town with interesting architecture. It was an important marine center till 19th century and this reflects on its beautiful mansions and its interesting nautical museum. Some nice churches too, a couple of beaches and a fishing harbour, plus nice fish taverns http://www.galaxidigreece.com/ Where to be based has to do I think with conveniance. If you want to say visit Delphi site early morning, starting from Galaxidi you'll have to wake up 40 minutes earlier and drive on somehow twisty roads too. As you'll have visit some scenic sea side locations already, I think you may definately spend a visit to Galaxidi if time allows, but stay in Delphi. Or for a change, stay on the mountain resort of Arahova which is only a 10 minutes drive away from Delphi... While it is a zoo on winter months, it is quiet and interesting place to be based off season, which in case of Arahova is summer : ) If you decide on Delphi, yes, Hermes is a decent B&B hotel, remember to definately request a valley view room!

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    Kalimera Casamassima !
    Have to come back on Poros, as it seems that the others here don't like (or maybe don't know?) the island, which I have chosen after 15 years in Greece to be the paradise to live :-)
    - Easy connected to Piraeus by Hydrofoil and FerryBoat (that time of the year we should still have the 20.00 hrs hydrofoil connection which takes you direct in 1 hr to Poros. You may consider as well to stay another night in Delphi/Arachova and leave by car in the morning, towards Galaxidi, pass the Gulf of Patras on the faszinating bridge (Antirio - Rio), drive along the coastal line, passing Diakopto, following to Ancient Corinth, stop at the Corinth Canal before taking the route to Epidaurus and Galata..
    - Hydrofoil connections to picturesque Hydra Island - ideal for a day visit
    - Every 1/2 hrs a small ferry boat to Galatas, Peloponnese opposite of Poros to pass the canal and without car on 24 hrs basis a small "varka", like a little fishing boat, that takes you to Galata. We are only 500 meters away from the mainland of Peloponnese.... in a way an island and not..
    - Day Sailing Trips available to sail around the islands of Poros - the main island with Poros Town, called Sferia and the bigger sized island Kalavria. Sferia and Kalavria are connected by a little bridge as well. Sferia is the typical Greek town with Taverns, narrow roads, fantastic views from the hill over the whole channel up to Peleponnes. Kalavria is the bigger part, hills, pine tree forests, beaches, various taverns and most of the holiday accommodations.
    - We are a paradise for walking and trekking tours too
    - Beaches around Kalavria - quiet and private or alternative a bit more hip for example on Askeli Beach
    - 2 Watersport Centers, Diving Center, Horse Riding, Quad and Bike as well as Bicycles for rent
    - Day Excursions - either on your own by rent a car or within a group - to the famous world heritage site of Epidaurus, less than an hour drive, from there it takes you in 30 minutes to Nafplion, the first capital of modern Greece, Mykene with the famous site is located in the same area, 15 minutes from Nafplion... on your way back take the route via the villages.. a bit longer but lovely views.
    - Where to stay? as looking into holiday and longer stay... Kalavria offers apartments, rooms, family hostels and hotels around Neorion, Askeli, Monasteri Beach.... a shuttle bus may take you every 30 minutes to Poros town on Sferia to the beaches... until late evening... but from most of the beaches you will not need more than 20 - 40 minutes walking!

    And last but not least.. we are a small friendly island with friendly people.. away from mass tourism, offering hospitality, fantastic Greek cuisine, a touch of a night life... the ideal place to relax, enjoy, to make new friends.

    Have a good time in Greece!!!

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