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Athens & Santorini is booked - now a few more questions

Athens & Santorini is booked - now a few more questions

Jan 13th, 2007, 12:34 PM
  #1  
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Athens & Santorini is booked - now a few more questions

I have booked our trip to Greece. We'll arrive and stay in Athens the first 2 days, staying at Hotel Alexandros. Then we'll stay in Santorini (Fira) for 5 days, and I'm leaning towards Ira Hotel at this point (though they say they are renovating now through April which makes me nervous since we'll be there May 3, but it got such glowing reviews maybe I shouldn't be worried. I'm also considering Cori Regas and am waiting to hear back from Homeric Poems as well).

Questions:

1) What are the "must see or do" in Athens and is there any advice as to how to avoid the massive crowds I keep reading about? for example a better time of day to go, etc. I also like to explore outdoor markets, flea markets, if there is anything like that there.

2) We'll be taking the last flight out from Santorini to Athens the night before our flight departs back for the US. Since we'll get to Athens around 9PM and leave bright & early for the airport the next morning, any recommendations on a good, but fairly inexpensive, hotel very convenient to the airport?

3) What should I expect for weather in early May in Athens and Santorini? The weather site shows the average high as 75 and low at 60 degrees. Am wondering if I should pack a bathing suit or if it will be too chilly. Also wondering if rain is common during this time of year.

Thanks!
jumper22 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2007, 01:13 PM
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Athens shouldn't be all that crowded in early May.

Definitely bring your bathing suit. The weather will be warm enough for sunbathing, but you may find the water too chilly for swimming.

For your return to Athens, the two hotels convenient for the airport are Sofitel and Holiday Inn, but neither are inexpensive. Holiday Inn is the cheaper of the two. You can get a lower price at Sofitel by making a non-refundable booking through their website: http://tinyurl.com/y6zlu8.
Heimdall is offline  
Jan 13th, 2007, 01:45 PM
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If you decide to stay in town instead of near the airport for bugetary reasons, there are a few inexpensive hotels on Mitropoleos Street, just down one or two blocks from Syntagma Square (or just up from the Monastiraki Metro Station). There is an Airport Express Bus #95-E95-that departs every half hour, all day and night every day, from alongside Syntagma Square on the side opposite from the Grand Bretagne Hotel. The cost is 3.2 euro. Buy your ticket from the driver and validate it in the little machine inside the bus. There is ample luggage space inside as well. Early in the morning the trip will take about 45-60 minutes depending on traffic.

http://www.arethusahotel.gr/

http://www.holiday-in-athens.com/ath...el-athens.html

http://www.holiday-in-athens.com/ath...el-athens.html
brotherleelove2004 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2007, 02:24 PM
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I could swear that I read somewhere that you can now take the Metro to the airport in Athens. Is that true? I haven't been in Athens since June, 1998, staying at the Grand Bretagne, an absolutely fabulous hotel.

I will be back in Athens this July, staying at the Intercontinental, my mother's favourite hotel in Athens.

Is there a Metro stop near the Intercontinental that goes to the airport??

Cheers,
Thin
marginal_margiela is offline  
Jan 13th, 2007, 02:28 PM
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The metro now runs to the airport from central Athens. Modern a/c cars!
Heimdall is offline  
Jan 13th, 2007, 02:45 PM
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The Intercontinenal is on Syngrou and from the hotel it's about a 10 minute stroll to the Syngrou metro station. There is not a direct link from this station to the airport but use it to get to Syntagma (only two or three stops) and change there to the blue line which runs directly to the airport.

joe
joe4212 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2007, 03:33 PM
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The Sofitel is right in the center of the airport and it is a wonderful place to stay. But, sad to say, it is not inexpensive. It comes down to how early your flight is the following day.
If it really is early, you may want to stay there just for the convenience.

At the time of your visit I think it unlikely that you'll encounter large crowds.

There are really only three 'must see' spots in Athens. One, and two, is the Acropolis. Three is the history museum. Get a good printed guide/directory of the museum - they have some fantastic pieces of history sitting in glass cases that you have to be able to identify. Kind of a needle in a haystack kind of thing. Lastly, explore the Plaka. It is the fun part of Athens.
GBC is offline  
Jan 13th, 2007, 04:50 PM
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GBC-that's 4!!;-)

And don't forget the Central Market, the Benaki Museum, and take the funicular ride up Lycabettus Hill from the Kolonaki District for a drink and a look at Athens at sunset.
brotherleelove2004 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2007, 05:52 PM
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I stayed at the Cori Rigas in April 2006 and was very happy there. It is an old sea captain's house that has been converted by one of the family members into a series of apartments. The owner is a sculptor (his brother a painter), and he was very nice, as is the staff. The apartments all have their own patios where you can sit and watch the gorgeous sunset. We also enjoyed the owner's dog named Sue.

The Cori Rigas is conveniently located to the museum, the shops, the restaurants, and the tram (to get to the dock for a terrific trip to the volcano) but, like many of the hotels in Fira (and Oia) you can only reach it by going down many, many stairs. We paid for airport pick-up and baggage transport and it was well worth the cost, especially in light of the stairs.

As for the weather, the water in early May is way too cold for me to enjoy swimming (then again, maybe you're a polar bear!). Although it is very unlikely to rain, it probably will be windy, and that can make the weather feel much colder than the temperature would suggest. Here's the weather information for the site I like best from May 2006: http://www.wunderground.com/history/...lyHistory.html
As you can see, the wind gets going at a pretty good clip.

Yes, the metro does go to the airport, but the first train from downtown Athens doesn't leave until 5:51am (according to the current schedule - see www.athensmetro.gr, click on english, click on "metro operation," click on "operation," and finally click on "train service"). Many of the flights to the US leave too early for this train to be useful, and it sounds like you are on one of them.

Heimdall has accurately identified the only two hotels in close proximity to the Athens airport. I prefer staying in town so I can enjoy a fabulous dinner on my last night. In other words, I'd rather spend my money on a good dinner, cheaper hotel, and taxi to the airport (about 30 Euros) than pay the price for staying near the airport. However, with a 9 pm arrival in Athens (assuming your flight is on time, which may or may not be the case) and an early departure, I can understand why you would choose to spend the money for an airport hotel!

As for crowds, at the time of year you are going, it won't be so bad. Even though there will be lots of visitors at the Acropolis, it is well-worth visiting. The rest of the must-sees depends on what you enjoy doing. I agree with brotherleelove, the Central Market is something I love to take people to see and they always enjoy it. The National Archeological Museum is wonderful, and has an amazing sculpture collection. Eating and drinking and listening to rembetika music in the Psyrri district is always a good time. I have taken many, many people to eat kebab at O Thanasis restaurant near the Monastiraki metro stop and not a single one has been disappointed. The food there is amazingly good -- I go to Athens several times a year and always, always eat there, usually more than once. There is a flea market in Monastiraki on Sundays -- depending on who shows up it can be great shopping or dismal, it really varies.

One comment about the Hotel Alexandros. As you no doubt know, it is not in the city center, and you will need to take the metro (or a taxi) to get to the above destinations. That is not a problem, the metro is fast and convenient. BUT remember it does not run all night.
Eleni is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 01:40 AM
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I agree with Eleni that spending your last night in central Athens would be more fun, but by the time you get your bags, make your way into Athens, and check in at the hotel it will be around 11pm, too late to do much but sleep.

Sofitel is a five minute walk from the terminal. I stayed there two years ago when arriving late in the evening and having a very early flight to the islands the next day. Once inside the hotel I never heard the sound of airplanes taking off and landing. They have beautiful rooms and an excellent restaurant.

The lower price with a non-refundable booking took some of the sting out of getting the bill. I even had time for breakfast before walking to the terminal.
Heimdall is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 08:32 AM
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Thanks everyone so much for your comments. I can get a $200 rate at Sofitel with no changes/cancellation or a similar rate at Holiday Inn w/no restrictions. I'll have to decide if it's worth staying at one of those for the convenience, need to make up my mind. I figure we'll go to bed ~11PM and need to be at the airport ~7AM to catch our 9AM flight back to the U.S.

Thanks so much for the tips on all the stuff to do in Athens, particularly on the specifics re: the metro and stations, it's so helpful. I'll have to read about all the museums/markets you mention. Last night I asked my husband about the history of Greece (he knows everything it seems) but for a change(!) he wasn't too knowledgeable so we will have to read up on our history so we can really appreciate what we will see there.

ANOTHER QUESTION:

4) I keep reading to bring shoes w/good traction for Santorini. Will a good pair of sneakers suffice or are we talking hiking shoes? I don't want to get there and not be able to do certain things because we didn't bring the right shoes.

jumper22 is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 10:10 AM
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Good sneakers are fine. Most of those warning statements refer to people trying to hike in sandals. Sandals are fine for walking around the villages, but if you want to walk on the trail between Fira and Oia, or from Perissa to Kamari, or walk down the steps to the water, or go to one of the rocky beaches, sandals can be a hazard.
brotherleelove2004 is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 10:15 AM
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Thanks, I'll bring my sneakers .

Well, I just talked to my husband re: the hotel for the last night and he made a good point - our trip will be able to be business expensed by then so the $$$ for the hotel that night isn't of concern. Problem solved!
jumper22 is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 11:05 AM
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Thank you for the prompt replies regarding the Athens Metro.

Cheers,
Thin
marginal_margiela is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 11:47 AM
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If you are in Athens on Sunday, the Monastiraki flea market can be very colorful. From there, you can walk along the pedestrianized streets up toward the Acropolis, perhaps stopping in the ancient Agora on the way or stopping in one of the many cafes for a drink and some people-watching.

The Psirri neighborhood near Monastiraki is buzzing at night with restaurants and clubs. Filled with local people. The restaurants get crowded around 10 PM.

The central market is fascinating, both the indoor markets for fish and meat, and the storefront stalls along the streets on the other side of Athinas Street for produce and other groceries.

Upstairs in the central market building is Stoa Athanaton, a club to hear live rembetika music. I believe they have both afternoon and evening (beginning at 10 PM sessions). My daughter and I were the only people speaking English in the large room.

I have photos of these Athens sights and markets here:

http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=...&x=0&y=-b9k6sz
Nikki is online now  
Jan 14th, 2007, 03:03 PM
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I was answering another question and realized there is one more thing I always do in Athens, and that is go to my favorite bookstore.

At 17 Panepistimiou Street (in central Athens) is the multi-story Eleftheroudakis Bookstore, which is wonderful. It has many English language books on the mezzanine, fabulous cookbooks in both Greek and English on the 2nd floor, and a cafe and nice, clean bathroom on the sixth floor.
Eleni is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 03:12 PM
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Niki-
Are the music venues appropriate for young teenagers? We will only be in Athens for two evenings and I am trying to come up with things to do late at night.
milliebz is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 03:38 PM
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Milliebz, I can only speak to the venues we visited. Stoa Athanaton did not seem to have many young teens present, but there was no reason it would be inappropriate for them.

The restaurants we visited in Psirri both had live music and many people of all ages enjoying dinner and music. One was Mandras, located at Ag. Anargyron 8, tel. 210 321 3765. The other was Plateia Iroon, on the plateia of the same name. Telephone 210 3211.915.

When you say you are looking for things to do late at night, be aware that the Greeks eat dinner around 10 PM and the music can go on until the wee hours of the morning.
Nikki is online now  
Jan 14th, 2007, 06:40 PM
  #19  
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Bookstore sounds good!

Regarding the dinner time - you mention it is normally around 10PM. Would it be the case that, if we were trying to find a place to eat earlier, most places would be closed? Just trying to plan accordingly.
jumper22 is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 07:39 PM
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Thank yu Nikki for your reply. I have added these to my list. BTW your photos were very nice. I also enjoyed your trip report.
milliebz is offline  

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