A 3rd day in Athens or Delphi?

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Mar 31st, 2011, 03:29 AM
  #1
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A 3rd day in Athens or Delphi?

We are a spirited, moderately active couple in the late 50s & 60s, planning a 16 night trip to Greece for starting on Sept 15. My trip plans so far include Crete (6 days), Santorini (3), Naxos (4), Delphi (1), Athens (2).

However, I've just reviewed the plane schedule from Naxos to Athens, and it's changed from earlier years -- on most days, the flights are at at 5:15pm and on Thursday (the day I plan to leave) there is an additional flight at 5:55am.

I'm torn between going to Delphi and an extra day in Athens. I know it's doable, but is it worth it? The 2 flights leave Naxos or arrive in Athens at awkward times, to say the least. My husband isn't thrilled over getting up at 5+am to catch a flight and drive for 2+ hours, yet that seems preferable than getting started at 6pm, potentially getting lost in the dark (we're talking end of September around 8pm). If we take the later flight, I'd consider leaving Naxos a day earlier just so that we have a day to explore the site without having to make the 2 hour drive back to Athens.

I feel mixed - Delphi's significance is of great interest to both of us, particularly because we visited Didyma in Turkey, and found it fascinating. The setting is spectacular, and that appeals to me a lot. On the other hand, there would be more time to spend in Athens, which is a mixed blessing, I think. I see that there really is quite a bit to see in Athens, and yet I keep hearing the message from others that it's best seen quickly. I realize it's a bias that has some truth but that it's not a fair one, either. And there is a part of me that feels that we're giving Athens short shrift. So I lean in both directions right now! I really could go either way...

We are both city folk, and love exploring cities, so I would greatly appreciate people's feedback as to what they would do. One more question (oracle needed here!) -- what is the likelihood that Olympic Air would add more flights by the summer?

Many thanks for all the feedback -- it's greatly appreciated!
Paule
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Mar 31st, 2011, 03:52 AM
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I would cut a day off Naxos so you could do both. I loved Naxos but you would still have three days there, and you have a lot of island time. I might also consider taking the ferry instead of flying since the times are so bad. I would not drive to Delphi in the dark. While the roads were good as were the signs, the signs telling you where an exit were are right in front of the exit, no warning. And Greek drivers make the Italians look slow and laid back. So I think night driving might be a mistake. It only takes a few hours to see the site of Delphi, and there isn't much in the town.

Here's a link to my trip report and photos. We went to all the places you are going except Crete. http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...rip-report.cfm
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Mar 31st, 2011, 03:58 AM
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Last question first: Athens - Naxos is loss-making route, and Olympic flights are subsidized under contract by the Greek government. Chances of extra flights being added are slim.

If you don't want to take the 5:55 am flight, why not leave the day before on the 5:15 pm flight, stay overnight in the Athens area (Rafina is nice, and near the airport), then make an early start for Delphi the next morning? I haven't gone back to review your itinerary, so maybe that won't work — just a thought, anyway.
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Mar 31st, 2011, 04:16 AM
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Delphi is one of the most evocative sites I have ever visited, and I would not pass up the opportunity to go there if it is at all practical for you.
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Mar 31st, 2011, 04:34 AM
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I hate to say this but Athens is the one city we have been to where two days was enough. IMVVVHO.
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Mar 31st, 2011, 04:53 AM
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Well, you should definitely see Delphi, but you really only need a few hours. Unlike a lot of people, I enjoyed Athens, but I was there early in the year before it got crowded - September may have the same advantage. See http://wilhelmswords.com/eur2006/index.html for my TR on Greece including Athens.
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Mar 31st, 2011, 06:21 AM
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I'm with Heimdall on this one, take the afternoon flight the day before, pick up the car & you could head towards the west of Athens for an overnight, Elefsina area, not the best, but it gets you part way on good roads that are fine in the dark (maybe 30 mins?). Alternatively, if you take the E75 route you could divert off there to Chalkida for an overnight, a bit further to go, but again good roads & it's a lovely place, spanning the mainland & Evia. Both ways would shorten your journey the next day to Delphi.
That should give you the time in Athens too, I don't know what colduphere did, or didn't, see in Athens, but I have been about 18 times, with stays from 2-5 days at a time, & still have some things to see! I've already been 3 times this year & am going again in May, so much more there than the Acropolis & a couple of museums, which are the main things that get mentioned!
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Mar 31st, 2011, 07:25 AM
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Delphi. Athens, which I set to love having had a classical archeology course in college, was the least attractive city I've ever visted. This was before it was spiffed up for the Olympics, however. My experience of Delphi was similar to Nikki's. It was unforgettable.
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Mar 31st, 2011, 09:39 AM
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Delphi. Definitely.
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Mar 31st, 2011, 10:44 AM
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You will have no trouble finding three days of sights and activities in Athens. Delphi is a wonderful place. I would take a day off the islands and have three in Athens and one in Delphi. Athens is less polluted and has been spiffed up since the Olympics.
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Mar 31st, 2011, 12:01 PM
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Listen to Yiassas & Heimdall. They have tried all the different ways, and are giving you what works best. I like Yiassas' idea to get you partway to Delphi on the E75, can't get lost... and then you could have your cake & eat it too! Reach Delphi long before the tour crowds, then get back to Athens before dinner. Athens in September is delightful. Progol I don't remember if you shared where u are staying, but if you're within the Plaka no-cars or limited-cars district, it can be very serene. Walking along the pedestrian promenade below the Acropolis.. delightful. Relaxing at a cafe in the shade of a huge plantana tree, restful. And sitting in a meadow (the ancient Agora) having a picnic, in the center of a nation's capital what a revelation. Do it.
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Mar 31st, 2011, 12:12 PM
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Excellent recommendations from yiassas, who is more familiar with driving on the mainland than me. Driving part way to Delphi after the 35 min flight from Naxos shouldn't be too tiring, and will give you a head start the next morning. Delphi is one of the most beautiful places I have seen in Greece, and not to be missed.

Athens, like most other large cities, has its good parts and not so good parts. The spruce-up for the 2004 Olympics made the city more attractive, with large areas in the centre now pedestrianised. After many times there, I still have much to see. Stroll up Apostolou Pavlou in the evening, walking past the Ancient Agora, sit down at one of the outdoor cafes overlooking the Acropolis for a coffee or drink, and you may be as captivated with Athens as I. Perhaps other posters can mention their favourite parts of the city.
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Mar 31st, 2011, 05:20 PM
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Wow, you folks are the best! Without a doubt, you've made the decision for me. Delphi it is! And the recommendations are terrific.

I really like the plan to take the afternoon flight the day before from Naxos; it makes a lot of sense, and stopping halfway or so to Delphi is an excellent idea.

Yiassas - Thank you! I will definitely look into Chalkida. We have no problem driving a while, and I would prefer staying somewhere that is pleasant rather than a "make-do" stop, if possible.

Isabel - I've been following your trip reports (especially the visual ones!) for the last couple of years and have read your trip report to Greece many times. I love your photography, and, as a former photographer, I truly appreciate your talent and vision in capturing such phenomenal images.

Heimdall - Your explanation of the subsidizing of the Olympic air flights helps me to understand the odd flight schedule. Your suggestions and recommendations are also a great help.

Again, to everyone here, your feedback is greatly appreciated. This is the kind of information you can't get by picking up a guidebook.

Paule
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