1st trip to Greece - Plan B

Old Jul 7th, 1999, 06:30 AM
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1st trip to Greece - Plan B

A coupla months ago I posted ?'s re first trip to Greece (Sept) and rec'd valuable and v. helpful info, for which I thank all. Now I think I've hit upon wonderful itinerary: fly to Athens arriving 9/14. Get somehow to Napflon (sp?) and stay (where?) in N... until 9/20, exploring as much of Pelopponese as poss. After mtg in Athens, fly Athens to Santorini, stay at Astra Apt (anyone know 'em?) for maybe 4-5 days. Get to know that one island. Astra Apt's are not quite in Fira, which sounds ideal.
Should we rent a car? I've heard so many warnings about driving in Greece. Could we get to Napflion by public trans, rent a car there? Or hire driver(s) in Nap...? Or take public bus tours out of Napf...? Help! and Thanks So Much. I love this forum!
Old Jul 7th, 1999, 07:05 AM
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When we went to Napflion we drove ourselves. I'm not sure if there is public transportation or not. The drive wasn't too bad, although getting out of Athens was fairly miserable. Still, I think you will be happy to have your own car for exploring the area.

We stayed at the Xenia Palace. It was up in the hill just above the city with an outstanding view. It was a long time ago so I don't recall the price. I do remember they forced us to pay half board (including dinner and breakfast) but we refused to eat dinner there cause the food was mediocre. But otherwise the hotel was very nice.
Old Jul 7th, 1999, 08:48 AM
Neal Sanders
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Judy, we spent two weeks in Greece, including a week in the Peloponnese two years ago. I'll try to offer some insight from that trip.

We picked up a car in central Athens and drove to Delphi, then dropped down to the Gulf of Corinth and took the Rion-Anrion ferry, which puts you just north of Napflion (all Greek spellings are subject to interpretation). Napflion isn't the ugliest city in Greece, but its close, and I wouldn't use it for a base of operations. Rather, I'd pick some place like Olympia or Mycenae, or, as we did, stay a few days in each of those towns. I can highly recommend the Hotel Europa in Olympia and the Petite Planete in Mycenae.

Otherwise, getting to sites such as Sparta, Epidarus, etc. will be difficult as best. Please feel free to eml me directly if you have other specific questions.
Old Jul 7th, 1999, 10:11 AM
Martha B
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Much as I respect Neal Sanders, I think he's had a temporary lapse and confused Nafplion with Patras. Patras is just below the Rio ferry, and just as ugly as Neal says. Nafplion, which is close to Mycenae, is an old Venetian town on the Bay of the Argolid, and considered by most people to be one of the prettiest towns in Greece. We stayed at the Dioscuri Hotel when we were there. It isn't as upscale as the Xenia, but it's right in the old town, and, most importantly, didn't insist on half pension; the restaurants in Nafplion are good. You'll find "restaurant row" one short block inland from the big square with the museum. Wander down the street and eat at whichever restaurant has the most delious smells coming from the kitchen.
You can explore most of the Peloponnese from Nafplion. Easy day trips include Mycenae, Tiryns (another important Mycenean site, fairly underrated), the classical theater at Epidavros, the ruined, Roman city at ancient Corinth, the Corinth Canal, the island of Spetse (if you drive down, don't worry about ferry schedules; someone is always hanging around to pick up some extra money ferrying tourists) and of course the Venetian fort of Palamidi, which towers right over Nafplion. Longer day trips will take you to Olympia (with a drive through the Arcadian Mountains) and the great Byzantine site of Mystras, near Sparti. (Sparti itself, ancient Sparta, is a farm town and almost all its classical monuments have been plowed up long ago.) And if you decide Neal was right about Nafplion after all, go down the coast to Monemvasia, Greece's answer to Mont St. Michel.
If you don't want to drive out of Athens, you can take the train to Nafplion, and rent a car there. But the back roads of the Peloponnese really deserve to be explored by car. Just drive defensively, and watch out for donkeys, pedestrians, and that classic Greek traffic hazard, flocks of sheep. Oh, and BTW, the weather in September is usually superb. Kalo taxidi!
Old Jul 7th, 1999, 10:24 AM
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Gee Martha, I was wondering if Neal and I had been to the same Napflion. Perhaps you have the answer. I think it makes a good base too. And I can't imagine it being one of the ugliest cities in Greece. And the restaurants were great. We walked through the square until a taverna owner dragged us into the kitchen to see what was cooking. Then we ordered what he told us to order and had our best meal in Greece.

Old Jul 7th, 1999, 10:51 AM
Neal Sanders
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Holy mackrel, Martha and Beth are exactly right and I am wrong and red-faced.

Yes, I was thinking about Patras and, all the while, trying to recall what was the name of that pretty Argolid Bay-side city south of Mycenae!

Yes, Napflion would make an excellent base, with the caveat that it's a real city with Greek-style traffic jams than can make getting out of town in the morning horrendous. Everything else above about Napflion is right on the money, especially the restaurant row comment.

The drive from Delphi down to the Gulf is beautiful, though, and the ferry crossing is a wonderful taste of Greek life (though not for the faint of heart, as the Greeks inadvertently lost the recipe for roll-on-roll-off ferries). The drive from Patras (got it right this time) to Olympia is very pretty and the trip through the Arcadian Mountains is spectacular. The shorter, but much less interesting route, is south out of Athens via expressway, across the Gulf of Corinth, and continuing to within 20 or so miles of Napflion.

Martha has the itinerary exactly right (she may have been the car behind ours), except that I would highly recommend making the trek up to Acrocorinth, the Byzantine (and later) era fortress above Corinth.

I'm now going to go have my head emptied on cobwebs....
Old Jul 7th, 1999, 01:42 PM
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I would definitively rent a car in Athens. We did so last summer and had no problems at all. We got the best deal with Auto Europe (in Greece AE is a car rental company and not only a car rental wholesaler as it is in the rest of Europe).

Consider the following relevant approximate driving times (nonstop):
Athina - Delfi 2:45 hours
Delfi - Olympia 4:30 hours (including ferry)
Olympia - Nafplio 3:30 hours
Nafplio - Mistras 2:00 hours
Nafplio - Monemvasia 3:30 hours

So, if you intend to make Nafplio your one and only base, you may be missing quite a bit. First, you would be missing Delfi (and Osios Loukas/Daphne). Second, a day trip from Nafplio to Olympia is pushing things a bit too far ... (if you stop on your very nice route a couple of times to admire the scenery and/or fine villages the round trip would take 9 hours ... and you'd have to visit Olympia in a rush). A day trip to Mistras is fine and I recommend it. Forget about Sparti ... just about nothing to see there. The rest of the sites (Micenae, Epidaurus, Argos, Tiryns and Akrocorinth) are all at easy striking distance from Nafplio, as pointed out by Martha. Monemvasia, once again, is just about out of question, unless you plan to spend the night.

If you're able to leave Athens early, I would recommend you consider heading to Delfi, visiting the Daphne and Osios Loukas Monasteries on your way. Make a stop in Arakhova for a visit and plan to be back for dinner. After visiting Delfi ruins the next day, you may head to Olympia (we did go to Patras instead, which was a mistake). The Rio-Antirio ferry crossing is indeed a piece of cake (very small waiting time) and interesting in itsef as pointed out by Neal). The next day, once again, after visiting the ruins you'll have much more time to enjoy the trip to Nafplio. You may plan to visit Epidaurus and Akrocorinth on your way back to Athens.

Should you not be able to leave Athens early, the reverse order of your tour would be better ...

Last July we used the Amalia hotels in Athens, Delfi and Nafplio (there isn't one in Patras, but there is one in Olympia). These are 4-star hotels that should average some USD 120/double. The hotels in Delfi and Nafplio are superb. The one in Athens, though very well located, is less so (but it costs only about USD 85). The Nafplio one is just outside the city (10 min drive), across the ruins of Tiryns. We liked it this way ... because Nafplio can become very noisy in summer/weekends. Should you decide for the suggested tour, you could book them all with a single email ...


Old Jul 7th, 1999, 10:36 PM
Martha B
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Thanks, Neal, for confirming. We were probably the car in front of you, trying to drive cautiously on those winding roads.

It's true I've never really done a day trip from Nafplion to Olympia. There's a gorgeous, little town, Langadhia, right in the mountains, which makes an excellent stopping place.
Old Jul 8th, 1999, 01:17 AM
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A few years ago I stayed down at the other end of Pelopenese at a place called Stoupa which was small and twee but I did do a trip to the Byzantine city of Mystras and I also recommend it - it is quite awe inspiring. Some words of warning though, it is up a fairly steep hill, it gets very hot so get there early and there were NO public toilets on the site! It takes 3-4 hours to view the site properly, so go prepared! With your visit to Santorini and more steep climbs, I hope you are very fit, if not start training now!
Have a great holiday

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