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Suggestions for excursions in the Greek Isles Oct 2013

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Jun 10th, 2013, 05:55 AM
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Suggestions for excursions in the Greek Isles Oct 2013

Going on a cruise with Celebrity to the Greek Islands in Oct. I'd like some suggestions for excursions when we dock at Rhodes, Santorini, and Mykonos. Will also be stopping at Ephesus Turkey, Messina Scicily and Naples Italy. Any suggestions for those?

Thanks for any help.
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Jun 10th, 2013, 06:09 AM
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good luck bro
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Jun 10th, 2013, 09:37 AM
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If this is your first visit, you can easily find enough to do on Santorini and Mykonos. Just get off the ship and follow the crowds. Plan a meal there as there are plenty of interesting places to eat.
You need a guide to see Ephesus. It is quite a distance from the port. Try to arrange a private guide in advance.
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Jun 10th, 2013, 06:19 PM
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We found Rhodes, Santorini, and Mykonos very easy to tour on our own, after a little research.

If I were in Naples, I'd want to see the archeology museum and Pompeii.
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Jun 11th, 2013, 08:11 AM
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In Santorini take the bus out to see the town of oli or oi ( not sure the spelling).It's a magical little town 30 from Santorini town what ever that's called.. Just catch the local bus. Liked it better than Santorini town.
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Jun 11th, 2013, 08:12 AM
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That's 30 minute bus ride
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Jun 11th, 2013, 12:08 PM
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It's Oia.
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Jun 11th, 2013, 03:06 PM
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In Mykonos, you can go to the beach, but it's not that great and it's a schlep from the port. I have enjoyed just driving around the island on a scooter, but you can also walk around town and have lunch. There are a lot of shops.

In Santorini, you can now visit the ruins of Akrotiri, which is a distance from the port. If you can do both that an Oia in the same day, I'd do it, but they are on opposite ends of the island, and ships don't often have a lot of time there. Alternatively, you could visit Akrotiri and then simply walk up as far as Imerovigli for the beautiful views. I think I'm the only person in the universe who finds Oia touristy and over-hyped, but I do. There's plenty of shopping and quaint places to eat right in Fira.

I'll be visiting Ephesus in a couple of weeks. I simply wouldn't miss it. But if you want to see Pompeii from Naples, then you may want to give Ephesus a miss. That's a lot of ruins for one trip. Herculaneum may be a better choice than Pompeii anyway, or you can take the ferry over to Capri.

I have no recommendations for Rhodes or Sicily. I have been to neither.
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Jun 12th, 2013, 05:07 AM
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I just returned from a Celebrity Reflection cruise that included some of the same ports. We did not buy shore excursions on either Santorini or Mykonos. On Santorini we took the free tender to the cable car lift ($7 or $8 return) up to Fira. Fira was heaving, in retrospect might have taken the bus to Oia but overall the stop was short, noon to 6:30 or so. Arkotiri is very interesting.

In Mykonos the ship was docked about 2 miles from Mykonos town, we took the $8 pp transit bus in to the town, had a fantastic lunch at Alegra, right on the harbor. Walked around poking in shops, etc. The return bus left every 20 minutes. Loved Mykonos.

I didn't "do" Ephesus but friends who did said it was very interesting but again very crowded. Depending on the number in your party, taxis over and back may be cheaper than the ship's shore excursion.

Having already seen Pompeii we did pay for a shore excursion to Sorrento which was very pleasant, we skipped the "opportunity to see woodcarving" i.e. buy something and had a pleasant 2 1/2 hours in the town.

Loved the ship, btw. Will try to get a trip report done soon.
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Jun 12th, 2013, 07:38 AM
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Ephesus is a must see and I think it's best seen with a guide. We have been there twice and have used "Hello Ephesus" each time. We met a guide named Oya the first trip and liked her so much we requested her again. I highly recommend her as she was very knowledgable, spoke English very well and is very nice.

Whatever you do get a good guide as this enhances your experience exponentially.

I agree that Santorini and Mykonos are easy on your own though when we went it was Oct. so the lines for the tender and cable car in Santorini were small. Hopefully they will be for you too. I think you have picked the perfect time to go.

In Santorini if you are so inclined try the local brew yellow or red donkey. It's made there and it's not even available in other Greek islands. Really good stuff. I had the yellow, a lager. Red is a heavier brew.

As for Naples we got a cab and went to Pompei. Awesome experience. You can also go to Capri, ride the Amalfi coast or as Doug said go to the "other" city Hercaelaneum.
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Jun 12th, 2013, 06:03 PM
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We did a cruise several years ago in this area and used private guides on Rhodes [great service], Santorini and to go to Ephesus. I'll look up my old info and post back.
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Jun 12th, 2013, 07:34 PM
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Here's excerpts from a trip report I wrote. If nothing else, will give you some ideas

Ephesus, Turkey

From Istanbul our first cruise stop was Ephesus. Here I had arranged a private tour and two other couples joined us. I had "met" these couples through a forum on Cruise Critic. This was Hank's favorite stop he said. It was amazing to see an entire city being restored that dated back before Christ. Some of the things they had in place even back then such as ways to cool the city, etc. were fascinating. We spent several hours going through the excavated portions. The ruins are about a ½ hour drive from the port. The crowds were huge. We were glad we did a private tour versus the 40 people on the bus, 40 people off and our guide would move at our pace. Very knowledgeable on the history.

Not far from the city was the last house known that the Virgin Mary lived in. It's believed she died at this site. The house is now a chapel and visitors come to pray and see the small house. One fascinating thing that recently happened is that the area had been hit with brush fires last year, but somehow the fire completely jumped the area of the house which remained completely untouched along with the grounds that are very green. It then went on down the hill. Makes you think.

We saw the ruins of the St. John site and we also went to the Temple of Artimus - another site. Not much there now.

Did the carpet factory tour which was interesting because they showed how they were weaved, and examples of different types, e.g. silk, northern Turkey, etc. Hank and I did buy a silk wall hanging as our souvenir of Turkey.

On to Greece!

Private Guide: Ekol Travel www.ekoltravel.com

Rhodes

First stop after Turkey. Really neat old walled town and of course site of the Colossus of Rhodes in the port (or so they say). Just think about the movie "Jason and the Argonauts" (sp?) and you have it. It was supposed to be a huge figure spanning the port. Nicholas was our private guide on this trip. He took Hank and I to Lindos another town known more as a resort. We climbed to the top of the Acropolis of Lindos and the view was spectacular. Could have taken a donkey up, but gosh why miss an opportunity to do more climbing on our own! Never knew my legs could ache so much! A small village at the bottom of the acropolis with shops - got lost in there but it was fun.

Anyway, the drive to Lindos was really neat as it gave us a chance to see more of the island than just the city itself. We ate lunch there at a restaurant right on beach that was really nice. My first chance for Retsina! Yeah!!!!! Seafood and Greek salads and wine - what more to life? We also stopped at a ceramic shop out in the boonies that two brothers owned who showed us their ceramics and explained the significance of the deer on Rhodes who used to eat all the snakes until they were hunted and a large portion killed off. Of course we had to buy a vase - beautiful - as our Rhodes reminder. It's interesting that the houses in Lindos are known for having brown shutters versus the blue shutters of Mykonos.

After leaving Lindos we went back to the city and Nicholas drove us all over the city showing us the various sites. After Turkey, Greece looked so clean! The people were all very friendly. He then dropped us inside the walled city where we walked around and just enjoyed the shops and sites.

Private Guide: Nicholas from Rhodes Private Tours www.rhodesprivatetours.com

Mykonos

In Mykonos the same day as Delos. We took the ship’s shuttle bus to town and walked up to the famous windmills of Mykonos and through "Little Venice." While wandering through the little alleyways and shops, we stopped out to a courtyard and saw the famous huge pelican in front of a couple of shops. This is a port to just walk around and enjoy yourself in. You can easily spend time watching the little old guys sitting outside a small chapel, people shopping, etc. We ate dinner and watched the sunset at a restaurant in "Little Venice." Again the seafood (and did I mention Retsina) was great. Mykonos is known as the city of blue shutters and it really is attractive to see all the white and bright blue.

Lots of shops down little alleyways. Fun stop.

Santorini

Just like the postcards! It was beautiful. The views were just amazing. Had hired a private guide with another couple and Dimitrius took us all over the island. Yes, we got pictures of the famous church with the bright blue roof! The views were stunning! Took a cable car up to the top of the city because I was not motivated enough to climb the over 700 steps to the top of the cliffs! All I know is that my knee was saying no way.

We had a really good time here. Went to a winery and enjoyed a sampling and of course bought some white wine. We actually managed to bring it home with us in the suitcase without breaking it. It was a very small winery – not like the big commercial ones in California. We sat around a table in the courtyard, drank wine, enjoyed the sun and just talked. We explored both Thira and Oia. Both towns had beautiful views. It just made you want to find that perfect hotel on the cliff for a few days. Went to the black beach which is popular for visitors and there are certainly a lot of hotels in the area even without the cliff views there. Had lunch with a great view - sunny day and wonderful.

Towns have all these teeny, tiny narrow walkways between the houses, each turn a breathtaking view. Very clean and they say very crowded in the summer. Dimitrius was great and letting us set what we wanted to see. Some people took a taxi (not what I would want to do between the two towns) and others rented a car. Frankly we were happy to have someone chauffer us all over and spend the time we wanted to at each place we wanted to go.

Private Guide: Dimitris Nikoladis E-mail: [email protected]
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Jun 13th, 2013, 04:32 AM
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Thanks so much for your suggestions. PatandHank, especially thanks for the "trip report." I appreciate the info on the private guides because my traveling partner sometimes can't do the ship excursions and if I have the name of a guide company that someone has used and is happy with, I like to use them. I'm looking forward to my trip and will do further research on the places all of you have mentioned.
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Jun 13th, 2016, 02:02 PM
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Hi Cathinjoetown, my family will take Celebrity Reflection. At Santorini, do we have a choice to embark at the old port or the new port (Athinios)? I would like to rent a car at Athinios (which is accessible by car) and then tour the island by ourselves, but not sure if there are ferries to this port or if they are for ship excursions purchasers only. I ask Cathinjoetown because she just took the cruise, anyone has the answer could you share please.

Thank you!
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Jun 14th, 2016, 05:55 AM
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No cruise ships call at the new port in Santorini. It's reserved for ferries. All cruise ships bring passengers ashore in tenders to the old port, and then you have to climb or take the cable car up. That's why time in Santorini is limited.

There are plenty of places to rent cars in Fira if that's your interest, but you won't really be in port long enough to do much exploring, so I don't know if it will be worth it.
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