50th birthday in Greece

Jun 22nd, 2009, 08:15 AM
  #1  
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50th birthday in Greece

My husband said we can go where I want for my 50th birthday next year
I'd love to spend it in Greece. I am seeing on the forums how many people book their trip, then regret their choices (or should regret their choices say the advisors). Therefore I'd like advice before I get too far into it. We are looking to go for around two weeks. I expect I'll be off work from Aug 28, 2010 thru Sept 13, 2010 - however - these dates are very flexible if there is a better time to go. We live in PA, USA so we can fly out of Baltimore or Phila, or if it saves enough money/time NYC or Dulles. I'd love to say that money is no object, but it is - any money saving ideas would also be welcomed. I am still trying to get feel for the cost - I'm thinking $1500 airfare for two, $3500 loding/ground transprotation - does that sound resonable? I can easily budget for travel and lodging one we get an itinerary, but I have no idea how to budget for food/drink/tours/souvenirs so any advice along those lines would also be very helpful.

There will be at least two couples going - maybe up to four couples.

I do have a book on Greece on order.

I guess what I’m asking is, if I was your best friend with two weeks to spend in Greece with no plan in mind, what would you advise?

Thank you
davsy is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 09:10 AM
  #2  
 
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>>>$3500 loding/ground transportation <<<<
This is impossible to put a figure on until you have some idea WHERE will be in your itinerary, what sort of place you would like & how much transportation will be involved.
Accommodation can be from €20 a night (for very basic self catering) up to whatever you like! Much easier to give advice once it comes to it if you can 'think' in Euros too!
Ok, if I was your best friend I would say take a really good look at book when it arrives, search on the internet, then make notes as you go about things that interest YOU. History & sites, beaches, scenery, nightlife, shopping, traditional places. You can find all of these, Greece really does have everything! Pick some that you really would like to see, no guarantee you CAN do them all, but a good starting point!
Once you have some 'must sees' on your list you then need to be realistic geographically. It all looks very close on a map, but the logistics of travel come into play, for instance, if you want to see a couple of islands & Athens, it's better to make sure the islands are in the same group & save the Athens part until last when you are more ready to appreciate it & in a good location for the airport & departure, no last minute ferry or flight delay worries from an island!
Santorini, Mykonos & Lindos on Rhodes are the more expensive places, for accommodation, eating, drinking & shopping. No reason you shouldn't include any of them, it's just useful to know when looking at the budget!
The research & planning is half the fun, so enjoy it. There is no reason why you can't just book flights & arrange the rest yourself, in fact you could leave a few days unplanned & see where the mood takes you!
yiassas is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 09:11 AM
  #3  
 
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By the way, I celebrated my 50th by moving to Greece permanently!
yiassas is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 10:09 AM
  #4  
 
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".. dates are very flexible if there is a better time to go.."

Is it possible to consider May for the trip?
Unless you're really into beach swimming & lounging, May offers beautiful wildflowers & greenery in the countryside, fewer tourists, mild weather (but chilly nights possible), and the hoteliers & restauranteurs are eagerly awaiting the start of the new season.
tom_h is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 10:35 AM
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Hi Davsy!
Listen to Yiassas, davsy, she knows whereof she speaks .... I'm from Philly but I just spent some quality time with Y & her spouse in Greece during the past several weeks -- despite the fact that they visited greece maybe 30+ times before they moved there, they STILL can't get enough and are constantly going to new places. (of course they are nut cases but I luv them).

BUDGET -- Let's put your budget into Euros, just for fun! -- because all Greek prices are in Euros, and u don't want advisors to have to convert constantly, you can do that! BTW, the best conversion site is http://www.xe.com/ucc/ -- and it teils me that today, 1€ = $1.38 ... so $3500 = € 2,522 for 14 days roughly = €⁄180 per day for 2 or €90 per day apiece. You should be able to cover not just lodging & transport, but also food, drinks in moderation, snacks, museum admissions, sunbeds at the beach, incidentals & souvenirs ... especially do-able if your flexibility would extend to moving the 14-day period 1 week later, from Late August instead to Sept 4-19 or so. lodging prices go down. On my recent trip, I managed on €73 per day (but I'm an expert on frugality). As a solo traveler I had to bear room cost myself... for a couple, a €50 room just means €25 apiece.

FLIGHTS -- I would try to get the USAir nonstop from Philly ... in today's climate I'd say you should be able to get a $750 ticket.. the prices have really gone down quite a bit. You will have to wait until the spring of 2010 to start price-hunting. try KAYAK or MOBISSIMUS search engines to check all the various booking agencies... then if you would rather, call USair & see if it will match the best price u find. I had a BAD flight with them in 2005 (uncomfortable seats) but now the nonstop from Phila is using better equipment and the seating (leather) this May-June was markedlly improved. The reason I suggest this daily nonstop flight is -- the flight arrives at 9:10 am, which gives you SO many more options aobut your itinerary ... you would be able to get a promotional-rate Aegean Air flight to your farthest island immediately (i.e., at noon), and be there by 1 or 2 pm! Then u can ferry back toward the Mainland, and do Athens LAST. ... not only does that strategy eliminate any worries about making your flight home ... if u do it last, you'll already be more savvy about navigating in Greece, so the big city will be exciting, instead of a puzzle or a hassle.

ITINERARY -- As Yiassas says, your choices must arise from YOUR interests; are your priorities archeology, art, history, beaches scenery, nightlife, shopping -- or all of the above?!?! Do you want to rent a car a couple of times?? (Driving really isn't bad, if u avoid doing it in Athens).. The important thing, as Y notes, is to choose islands in roughly the same Island GROUP, so the ferry routes will work for you. For instance, you can do
Crete - Santorini - Paros - Naxos Or Naxos- Samos - Chios OR (due to an overnite ferry ) Santorini - to Rhodes - to Patmos.. BUT -- you cannot do Corfu -- Lesvos --Karpathos -- Samos. Does not compute!

Sounds as if you have a really dream trip ahead of you ... and we hope to help you avoid pitfalls and to maximize your enjoyment. Perhaps u and I can even talk by phone, down the road, since we're both PA-ers. Happy birthday in advance!
travelerjan is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 03:17 PM
  #6  
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TraverJan, Thank you for your response! We are about 2 hours or so from Phila - and I'm all over non-stop! So I will definately look at that flight. Certainly we can talk on the phone - by next spring I'll probably be begging you to take my calls I'm thinking if €73 is doable we'll be fine!

yiassas, cool on moving there! is this your retirement or were you able to find work?

and you retirement reminded me - my hubby loves to surf fish (his retirement goal) - or any saltwater fishing - so I'd love to find a town where he can fish and when I get bored with that I can wander away to shop or sunbathe while he continues to fish- any suggestions for that?

As far as renting a car - that is certainly do-able.

Now I am VERY anxous to get my book - I got the Frommer's guide as that had the most stars on Amazon -(sorry Fodors) - what would you recommnend?
davsy is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 04:20 PM
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Davsy, you're a girl after my own heart. Advance planning makes for maximum enjoyment and relaxation.

BUDGET - Even tho sharing room costs makes €⁄73-75 very do-able, I would estimate a bit more (80? 85?) since you may be a group of 4-6. Sometimes other people can pull and tug you into spending situations you may not agree with ... however, the better you plan, the less likely you will be sandbagged in this way.

GUIDES-- FROMMER's is good; he's a bit upscale for me in terms of lodging, but I LOVE the candor of his writers. Since you have TIME, bless your heart, you can go to the library & check out all the guides they have. Particularly I recommend the DK EYEWITNESS GUIDE: the Greek Isles. Doesn't matter if it's an old edition -- you're not consulting it for room/meal prices, but for the sights/sites which don't change. this guide is particularly good for its detailed color graphics & succinct text that give a vivid visual understanding of the major highlights of each island. Also look at t. Cooks GREEK ISLAND HOPPING -- this book like no other, shows visually what works in putting together an Island itinerary. After u pick your 4-5 top choices, we can discuss the best sources for background on them. Down the road, if we need to talk, just click on my name & my profile has my e-mail address.

FISHING -- Alas, the Med is over-fished, in fact, almost fished out (only small fish like sardines etc are affordable), so sport fishing is almost non-existent, but for sure there are find plenty of other things to occupy hubby!

RETIREMENT -- Yiassas & hub are from the U.K. they planned for quite a spell, and have also taken advantage of opportunities in their new setting. For the way they've organized their lives, and the gumption to take such a big step, I'm full of admiration.
travelerjan is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 10:58 PM
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Davsy,
I think now you have the general idea of how/where to start your research! I think moving your dates slightly later would be good too. Mid sept is still warm (or hot!) temps & the sea is like a warm bath as it's had all summer in blazing sun! Being slightly cooler than July/August it is more comfortable for walking around sites too.
I took early retirement from my job, moved here on a VERY tight budget, so we do have to do some work to top up. Our small income is in GBP so the budget has got even tighter with the exchange rates being low! It doesn't matter though, we would rather be here & poor than in the UK working like crazy just to survive & save for holidays!
Get some initial thoughts from your research & we'll help from there, you will have a great birthday celebration!
yiassas is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 11:11 PM
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Here's some sites for your research,
http://www.touristorama.com/index.ph...nguage=english
http://www.greekisland.co.uk/ some very honest (good AND bad) about the islands on here!
http://www.greeceathensaegeaninfo.com/index.htm
http://www.mlahanas.de/Greece/Regions/LousiosGorge.html This one is showing pictures of Lousios Gorge not too far from where I live on the Peloponnese, but scroll to the bottom & click on cities, islands etc & have a look around!
yiassas is offline  
Jun 25th, 2009, 06:10 AM
  #10  
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Thank you SO much for your help! Moving our dates to Sept is not a problem. Thank you for the sites! I AM loving just doing the research. I am sure I'll have many more questions as the time flys by.

I do have one question, when looking at prices I see things like: STUDIO-2 pax -what does the pax mean? The number of people who can stay there?

thanks!
davsy is offline  
Jun 25th, 2009, 06:47 AM
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Yes, pax is persons in travel speak!!
yiassas is offline  
Jun 25th, 2009, 12:07 PM
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Another "travel-agent speak" is "ex" meaning leaving from, I think, as in "ex Santorini 12 noon July 10".

I don't mind that, it's efficient. What I DO mind is that awful cutesy thing that seems to infect Fodorites who have frequented the forum too long ... altho it seems mainly to happen to those on the Italy/France circuit. It is the habit of calling one's travel partners "DH" (for dear hubby) "DD" and "DS" (dear son & daughter). I've even seen DS-I-L. Oddly (or perhaps not so oddly) this only seems to affect female Fodorites... men feel no compulsion to call their spouses DW. Please, promise us that IF you do this trip and decide to file a trip report, you will just call him Joe, or whatever.

PS: Since you love research, suggest you also join Trip Advisor forum... MANY MANY over there who are annual travelers to Greece and also residents. The Fodor Greece board is more likely to have participants who've done 1-2 trips. (Fodor Italy-France-UK have many posters who are frequent revisitors ... not the case for greece).
travelerjan is offline  
Jun 25th, 2009, 03:59 PM
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Thanks! I saw DH and was just thinking it was a nickname I will check out trip advisor - thanks!
davsy is offline  
Jun 27th, 2009, 01:05 PM
  #14  
 
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Davsy.... My wife and I also heading for Crete for a couple of weeks in October, and I've done a lot of research on where to go, what to see and I've found a couple of real good books that I think will help you out. The first is "Crete" it is a Cadogan Guide. It has some of the best maps I've found to date and it covers just about every city and village on the entire island from east to west and it's about 276 pages of great info with city guides, history, and recommnedations on where to stay eat, etc. My second choice is the AAA spiral guide to Crete. It's not as extensive as the previous guide but it's got a lot of good info on each major city and historical sites, plus info on hotels and places to eat. Now you can pick that one up at any AAA office for $16.95 and if you are a member there's probably a discount. However, let me give you a great web site that I found and on it you can get a copy of the AAA spiral guide for a buck plus shipping. I also got my copy of the Cadogan guide to Crete there as well and think it was only about $5.00 or $6.00. this is a close out book web site with great deals. However, it can be very difficult to come up with the title of the book you are looking for, so don't give up. It's worth the effort. I also bought the Byron Ayanoglu novel about Crete entitled "Crete on the Half Shell" If that title doesn't work try "A Tste of Honey" same book and same author but a different title. I really got a kick out that one and it's one of the reasons why I am spending an extra few days on Crete... Try this web site.... www.bookcloseouts.com and play around with those titles on the left hand index and hopefully you can get a couple of good deals... gotta run....
socal is offline  
Jun 29th, 2009, 04:34 PM
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Please look at Untours.com. They truly are the best travel company for a "real Greek experience.
Pammyjo is offline  
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