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A (too) short late October visit to Greece

A (too) short late October visit to Greece

Nov 2nd, 2019, 09:12 AM
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A (too) short late October visit to Greece

This was a top of the bucket list/ dream trip for me. It was almost perfect in every way. We were only there for a week, so the time was far too short. We didn't have the time to see/ do everything we wanted. But it was a great first visit to Greece and I hope to return soon.

Details -
3 nights at the Hilton Athens in an Acropolis view room
2 nights at the Canaves Oia on Santorini
2 nights at the Crowne Plaza City Centre in Athens

Best tip for the entire trip = Challiman's suggestion of Paul's Yellow Taxi - now PK Travel - for transfers and day trips.
HIGHLY recommend! Made life so much easier and really enjoyed the drivers.

Our beloved LoveItaly recommended a private driver for the Amalfi coast MANY years ago and I used her recommendation two Octobers ago for the Amalfi coast part of our trip. Having a driver deal with the logistics is just heaven and is being the only ones the driver is concerned about. I don't mind renting a car and driving myself in many places - and may do so in the future in Greece - but we definitely enjoyed the ease and convenience of using the PK Travel drivers.
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Nov 2nd, 2019, 09:24 AM
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The non-negotiable for this trip = staying at the Canaves Oia on Santorini
Trying another link -
A friend had stayed there years ago (at least 14+) and after hearing about her stay knew I would go there one day. This was finally my time to visit. I will return.

Pure luxury! I've stayed at some nice places. Loved the former Jalousie Plantation on St. Lucia as well as Ladera on the ridge above. I didn't think I'd find a place I'd like more.

I found it.

Gorgeous villa. Private terrace. Plunge pool on each terrace. Wonderful breakfast room service. They had Croque Monsieurs on the breakfast menu and I ordered that each morning. Attentive service and attention to detail. We were only there for 2 nights but I hope to return and stay at least 4.

The most incredible part may have been the views, just steps from our front door. Everything you've seen in Santorini photos? Right there.

Another plus was being just steps away from the beautiful shopping / restaurant area. Mere steps. We were worried about things closing down for the season, but there were still plenty of restaurant and shopping options.

On our arrival night, the hotel recommended the Sphinx restaurant with incredible sunset views. It was wonderful! More details later. On our second night, we were so tired we decided to stay in and not worry about "good sunset views". OMG. Perhaps the prettiest sunset photo I've ever taken was from our terrace. Not of the sun hitting the water (we watched the sun drop behind the Acropolis in the preceding nights) but gorgeous sunset skies.

And then the warm nights in the warmer private plunge pool, just outside our front door.


We let the hotel make the arrangements for a private driver transfer from the airport to the hotel and then again to the ferry on departure morning. Excellent service in every way.

Last edited by starrs; Nov 2nd, 2019 at 10:21 AM.
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Nov 2nd, 2019, 09:36 AM
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I had always planned to stay at the Hilton in Athens, because I have points. I really didn't expect to love the hotel. I LOVED the hotel. I did book an Acropolis view room and was very glad I did. I'm Hilton Diamond so was not surprised (but happy) to learn they upgraded us to the Executive floor with access to the Lounge. Free breakfast in the lounge or restaurant every morning. Afternoon snacks. Drinks throughout the day. Fantastic coffee machine. I was happy to learn that it was closed during an hour window every day so they could clean it. Sometimes I wonder about those huge industrial machines. Great, attentive service. I planned to spend my first day as a pool day and it was warm enough = temps in the 80s. Indoor and outdoor pool. And we learned from our taxi driver days later that the Greek restaurant there was very good.

But on my first night, I ordered pizza and just soaked in the view. On another night, after my friend arrived, we did the same. The hotel has a wonderful rooftop bar and restaurant, but why not take advantage of the view from the balcony for dinner?!

It never got old, seeing the Acropolis lit up at night outside the window - or watching the sunset behind it.

Last edited by starrs; Nov 2nd, 2019 at 10:00 AM.
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Nov 2nd, 2019, 09:40 AM
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I planned the first 2/3 of the trip and left it up to my friend to plan the last 1/3. But her schedule was very busy and the logistics of choosing and getting to another island was not easy, so I suggested a visit to Delphi (another suggestion by Challiman) so we returned to Athens and I booked the Crowne Plaza City Centre for the last two nights. Just a normal hotel room, after the previous nights, but a very nice hotel with an attentive staff, and we enjoyed the breakfasts and one dinner in their rooftop restaurant. We opted to take the ferry from Santorini back to Athens, already knowing it would be a long day on the water. It was. We got to peek at islands along the way, but if I were to do it again, I would take a flight and have more time on land. We had suggestions of restaurants to visit, but were both tired so had dinner at the hotel. Memories of trips with my grandmother = long days and Holiday Inn restaurant dinners. The food was very good BTW.

Reasonable rates and good service made it a good night's choice before our day trip to Delphi and the flight out the next day.

We had a delightful taxi driver from the ferry into Athens. He asked about our return flights and we made arranegements for him to return on our last morning to take me for my noon flight and my friend for her 5:30 flight. As it turned out, we both flew out about 5:30, but that's another story/ adventure.

I'll return with more photos and more details of what we did.

Last edited by starrs; Nov 2nd, 2019 at 09:45 AM.
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Nov 2nd, 2019, 09:49 AM
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Here's my previous thread on Fodors, asking about "favorite memories" of Greece -
Favorite memories/ experiences in Greece?
Thanks to all who provided suggestions!
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Nov 2nd, 2019, 11:57 AM
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Here's a batch of photos from the private driver trips and Athens -

Monastery of Hoisus Loukas


Navel / belly button of the world (per Zeus)

Never tired of that view from the room's slider and balcony

Enjoyed the plaka area

Marble everywhere

One of three dogs on 2nd floor balcony walking back from Acropolis to Plaka

Back way up to the Parthenon

Surprise dessert with room service pizza

First night = room service Greek pizza

Temple of Apollo

Corinth channel

Ancient Corinth

museum view
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Nov 2nd, 2019, 12:18 PM
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I honestly don't know how to pick and choose photos to upload. Everywhere we went was just gorgeous. I think our favortes were Mars Hill/ Aeropagus where Paul was said to preach, just below the Parthenon. I didn't upload those photos. The view was stupendous but being there was powerful for both of us. Challiman strongly suggested Delphi, and I'm glad we went, but we both loved the monastery stop along the way as much as Delphi. We both LOVED getting out into the countryside of the mainland, and when I return I plan to spend as much time on the mainland as visiting more islands. I wish that we had time to fit Meteora in, but we didn't. Next time.

The drivers were excellent. For "local" trips, they use their luxury vans/ SUVs. The rates were reasonable IMO. For my friend's arrival, they picked me up at the arranged time at the hotel, we met my friend at the airport and returned to the hotel for just a little bit more than my taking a taxi two ways. Leo looked like Jake Gyllenhaal and was a very nice guy. The drivers are not guides and they make that clear so when you visit an historical site you need to hire a guide inside if that is what you want. My arrival was super early so I contacted PK and got a quote for my pickup at the airport, a day trip to Corinth with a return to the hotel by 3, and it was a perfect way to spend a first day and absolutely no concerns about getting to/from the airport, dealing with luggage, etc. Delightful. The driver for the long day trip to Delphi was a 30 year friend of the owner in his own Mercedes taxi and Constantine was one of the highlights of the entire trip. We loved talking with him - about any number of things. Cotton. US politics. WWII history. Cyprus. Current event and culture. We talked almost all of the way and laughed a lot of the time. My friend was a bit hesitant to use a private driver but she agreed. She loved the experience and the driver. One of the most memorable things he shared with us was the town - and a glimpse of the memorial - where Hitler's army killed every "male element" in the village. Men. Boys. Male dogs, cats, everything.
He took us to a wonderful restaurant (I'll describe later) for lunch after the visits and then drove us back to Athens.
One wonderful tip that I am going to take back is the recommendation of the Milos restaurants, including one in Midtown Manhattan and other locations across the world as well. They fly in the fish and other ingredients from Greece daily, from locally sourced vineyards, farms, even the sea salt!
There was one in the Athens Hilton, but we didn't know about it to eat there.

The first thing I am going to do when planning a return trip is to contact PK and request another day trip with Constantine. He truly was a highlight of our trip. The other drivers were good. He was great!

Last edited by starrs; Nov 2nd, 2019 at 12:21 PM.
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Nov 2nd, 2019, 12:24 PM
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Meals will be described later, but mostly casual vs fancy, with two nights of room service at the Athens Hilton. Greek pizza for my first night and pizza & pasta for another night. We had two fantastic meals. Again, photos and locations to come later. I need to upload those pics. Overall, we ate very moderately. Free breakfasts at the Hilton Athens and the Canaves Oia on Santorini. A pre-priced breakfast with an extensive buffet (with the best coffee of the trip) at the Crowne Plaza. This was not a foodie trip.
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Nov 2nd, 2019, 12:48 PM
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Sometimes you think a place simply cannot be as wondeful as the photos indicate.
But then you learn, it is.
Canaves Oia, Santorini

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Nov 2nd, 2019, 01:17 PM
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Starrs--Looks like you had an amazing luxurious vacation. Great hotel, views, food and the private mini pool. Truly lovely.
Thanks for sharing photos too. I think I would love to visit Greece some day, so will save your trip report.
Just curious, any fun shopping there.
What did you wear most days as the weather seems to be just gorgeous for total relaxation.
Have a great weekend basking with memories.
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Nov 2nd, 2019, 01:42 PM
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Originally Posted by ileen View Post
What did you wear most days as the weather seems to be just gorgeous for total relaxation.
The weather was glorious. Hot. Temps in the 80s. So very lucky!

We wore summer clothes. Summer weight tops, capris, etc. I tucked a summer sweater in but didn't wear it.

Last edited by starrs; Nov 2nd, 2019 at 01:57 PM.
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Nov 2nd, 2019, 03:00 PM
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Dinner at Sphinx - Oia, Santorini
Fabulous! Sunset view


Beef Tartare

Beef cheeks (incredible!)

Sea bass

Rooftop dining

Oia sunset
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Nov 2nd, 2019, 03:16 PM
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3 pizza nights -
Greek pizza - Hilton room service
Cheese pizza and pasta - Hilton room service
Fromage pizza - Mystic Pizza, Athens

Complimentary dessert

Greek pizza

Cheese pizza

room service

Fabulous dessert

Spaghetti bolognese

Balcony view

Balcony sunset

Fromage pizza

Mystic Pizza in Athens

Greek cola
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Nov 2nd, 2019, 03:28 PM
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Taverna To Patriko Mas, Delphi
Perhaps my favorite restaurant venue anywhere!
The food was good. The bread was fabulous. The combination with view was divine.
I will definitely return!

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Nov 2nd, 2019, 04:24 PM
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We found a favorite place in the Plaka. We returned several times. The first stop was for drinks and to use the restroom. We said we'd return for dinner but they were surprised to see us. Days later, Irene greeted us like long lost friends when we returned for after dinner drinks (after pizza at the Mystic Pizza and shopping). Enjoyed the drinks, food, friendliness and live Greek music.

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Nov 2nd, 2019, 04:31 PM
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After dinner there one night, we walked to a place we were told we HAD to go!
They were right -

We were stuffed but took them "home" and had a modern twist on the traditional Greek donut while looking at the Acropolis from our room. Sweet!
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Nov 2nd, 2019, 04:44 PM
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Roadside restaurant with a view

the view

really good, simple food

And then a drive around Santorini on an ATV
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Nov 2nd, 2019, 04:59 PM
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After successfully surviving the ATV ride, we returned to eat at "home"

Incredible drinks with an incredible view

Wonderful breads

Fabulous spread trio

I really wanted the "Eton Mess" dessert but it was no longer available. We had a peach substitute that was good but very different.

View of the cruise ships near the ferry - our departure point on the next day. But tonight, off to the plunge pool!

Last edited by starrs; Nov 2nd, 2019 at 05:08 PM.
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Nov 2nd, 2019, 05:29 PM
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Random last photos - waiting for the ferry from Santorini, waiting for the plane to Santorini, views from the Oia terrace, etc.

airport coke

Walking to the Sphinx

First night in Santorini

waiting at the airport

new friend at the airport

flying in

first morning breakfast

breakfast visitor

Greek scrambled eggs with tomato - not a fan

My lazy day view

View from pool bar

Night view from the terrace

Series of terrace views

Hot chocolate

Ferry Coke

Watching and waiting

Happy to not be on a cruise ship
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Nov 2nd, 2019, 05:55 PM
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I rarely write trip reports. I fade part way through. Loading photos and adding some captions may be all I finish. I'll be happy to answer any questions.

The entire trip was built around staying at Canaves Oia on Santorini. It was as wonderful as I had imagined and I hope to return someday.
The Athens Hilton was the base for Athens because I had points and did a combo that got the rate down to 135 euro per night plus the points. The splurge there was the Acropolis view and it was well "worth it". The wonderful perk was the upgrade to Executive level but that was just a perk. I'd love to stay there again - with the same view.
For the last two nights, I chose a dependable hotel - again with a rate of 135 euros a night. Aside for the splurge hotel, rates were reasonable.

Thanks to Challiman, I used and loved PK Travel for the private drivers and trips to the countryside. That may have been our second favorite thing (after Santorini).

We got the next taxi in line at the ferry from Santorini to Piraeus. We really liked the driver and made arrangements for him to take us to the airport on the last morning (separate trips).

We got around Athens by walking (LOTS of walking) and using the BEAT app to call a taxi. It works like Uber. Really liked it.

Food was good, whether casual or fancy. Prices seemed reasonable, given the venue(s).

The big question mark was how we would spend the Santorini days. MY goal was to just relax on that private terrace with the amazing views. I knew my friend would want to be busier, and go out exploring. On the ride up from the airport, she started talking about how much fun 4 wheeling would be. Didn't appeal to me, but turned out to be the solution. They delivered the ATV to the hotel for 50 euros for 24 hours. It was parked in the private parking lot. She left early to explore the island while I did nothing but relax. I told her I'd go out for a highlights ride later in the afternoon. She returned hungry and thirsty so we set off and stopped at the first roadside option. It was really good. The ride was a lot of fun. I was concerned about being caught too far away and not getting back before sunset, but I decided my plan would be to just get off and take a taxi back home if needed. We drove back roads - well, on an island anything other than the main road is a back road. It was fun and we got to see everyday life kinds of things, like parents meeting kids getting out of school and walking them home. After a late lunch, we only wanted a light dinner (that was more of a snack) and then it was nighttime plunge pool time for me! Really, a dream come true.

It was a wonderful trip. I can't wait to return. I will add more islands and hopefully return in June or early enough to miss the big crowds. We met incredibly nice people everywhere, including / especially on the ferry. I wouldn't change a thing about it, other than adding another day so we would have had time to get to Meteora. At the top of my return list is a day trip with Constantine as the driver! The nice taxi driver's name was the same but went by Cosmos.

It was a great trip, easy going, with no real glitches and a lot of fabulous discoveries. So grateful for such a good trip.

Last edited by starrs; Nov 2nd, 2019 at 06:01 PM.
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