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[Crete] Trapped in Skouloufia? Please help!


Nov 14th, 2017, 02:25 PM
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[Crete] Trapped in Skouloufia? Please help!

Hello Fodorites:

A gigantic group of us (26 people : 16 grownups + 10 kids) will be traveling to Greece in mid June (Athens, Santorini, Crete). We are spending 4 nights in Crete and a friend of ours has booked 3 villas on AirBnb for our stay in Skouloufia (18 km from Rethynmo).

I think he picked this property because it was reasonable and one of the few places large enough to accommodate all of us. HOWEVER, it is really far from any of the major things that I wanted to do (Elefonisi, Balos, Chania, Knossos, etc.) HELP US, are we going to be trapped here?!?!

Since I cannot image making 1-2 hour drives each way with the kids, we will most likely split groups. One group will stay behind with the kids and do things local to Skouloufia. The others will head out a bit further.

1. What is the best way to get around Crete? What do you recommend? If you recommend renting a car, I"m guessing GPS is reliable.Also, is hiring a car + driver for the day pretty reasonable?
2. Do any of you know anything about this area of Skouloufia?

Manisha is offline  
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Nov 15th, 2017, 08:18 AM
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Is the Skouloufia booking non refundable. I would think you would probably be better off staying closer to Chania or Rethymnon where you can walk to all the attractions of the town.
Check out Theotokopoulou street in Chania it has lots of small pensions right in the old town. If you are booking this early perhaps you can book a whole pension like Pension Nora or just across Pension Jason. Staying in the city gives you walking access to the old town, a short walk to the beach and bus transportation. Images of Nora and Jason are in this album.
Theotokopoulou St area http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr5...7632118491316/

From Chania there is a daily bus to Elafonissi so you all can go. There is also a daily bus to Kissamos where you can take the excursion boat to balos and Gramovossa. There is a pirate fortress at Gramovossa the kids will love that.

Western Crete http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr5...7632115757899/
Aptera images 38-62 Balos Gramovossa images 79-106

Chania http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr5...7632117917828/

There are also regular buses to Rethymnon where the kids will love exploring the Fortezza.

Rethymnon https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr...57654700502270

The north coast of Crete has a major highway the National Road. Its easy to drive to places like Chania and Rethymnon and Kissamos. However once you get into the cities the roads are quite narrow and lots of traffic and parking is hard to find. You will also have to rent 4 vehicles for 16 people or a couple of large vans. Again once you are in the cities you will not be happy getting around in a van.

Hiring a car and driver will be expensive for a full day.

I honestly think you need to be in one of the cities.
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Nov 15th, 2017, 08:52 AM
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As a veteran of travel in a group, I suggest the first thing to agree on is that everyone can do whatever he or she wants to. Impossible to satisfy everyone, so go your separate ways as desired. Discuss the day's experiences while preparing and eating a communal supper. And discuss that agreement now so there is no surprise or resentment when the trip starts.
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Nov 15th, 2017, 11:10 AM
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Thanks stanbr for all this information. Unfortunately, the Skouloufia booking is non-refundable So at this point, I think at this point in time, it is looking like we need to start looking at buses. Maybe hire a couple of cars to go back and forth between Skouloufia and the Rethymno bus station. And then take buses from Rethymno to Chania and Kissamos. Unfortunately, its also looking like Balos and Elafonissi is out unless we want to stay overnight in Chania.
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Nov 15th, 2017, 11:11 AM
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THanks Southam, yes that is definitely what we are thinking. It will be virtually impossible for the group to travel together so most of us are okay with splitting up and doing our own things. However, it sounds like even if we were to split up, certain things like Elafonissi and Balos are out due to the long distance
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Nov 16th, 2017, 12:06 AM
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Skouloufia is not a bad area if you have a car...

Manisha the person that did the booking through Airbnb maybe did not know, that it is next to impossible to find space to accommodate 26 persons through an online booking engine... mostly because the allotment most companies have in a hotel is not that big, or because you can't book so many rooms at once, especially when children are involved...

With 26 persons you should have contacted hotels directly asking for a group rate, groups over 20 persons usually also get one free place.. Booking now for June 2018 means that most bigger hotels have availability to accommodate groups of that size, and you could have booked any bigger hotel in either Chania or Rethymno.. ( small boutique hotels don't have so many rooms....but there are many bigger hotels in both cities, even in the centre)

Official cancellation policy for accommodation in Greece according to the NTGO ( National Tourism Organization of Greece) is 21 days before arrival, so i am not very sure about not being able to cancel your booking.. Most booking engines of course offer non refundable rates.... but i really doubt this is in accordance with Greek law.....The owner of your hotel should of course know that, and he should also have an official license from GNTO....

As for transportation, if you would like to do certain day trips, i recommend contacting a couple of coach companies in Crete directly, giving them your program in order to get a quotation.
This way you could visit multiple places and stay together without having to split.

If you would like to split in smaller groups, i would recommend renting a mini van ( for 8-9 persons) rather than regular cars..

Parking in Rethymno is easier than Chania, but both cities shouldn't be that terrible in June....

Skouloufia is located in a nice area, even though away from he city of Rethymno.... Margarites, the Arkadi Monastery, the Melidoni ave and the new archaeological site of Ancient Eleftherna (http://en.mae.com.gr/the-wider-region.html)
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Nov 16th, 2017, 02:00 AM
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Clausar's link will work without the parentheses:
Heimdall is online now  
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Nov 17th, 2017, 09:26 AM
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Thanks clausar, appreciate all your advice! I will ask the person booking and see what he says about cancellation. We also just realized that we are taking the ferry from Santorini into Heraklion so that changes things a bit. But definitely this is all great advice and things to consider (at the very minimum for next time when we travel with this big group)

I will definitely check out those things you suggested around Skouloufia.

Heimdall - thanks for the correct link!
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Nov 17th, 2017, 10:07 AM
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The booking was through Airbnb. That location has a "strict" cancelation policy under which you will forfeit 50%. I very much doubt that AirBnB cares about Greek law.
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Nov 17th, 2017, 11:59 AM
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I wouldn't be so sure about that, if the hotel owner won't change cancellation fees, AirBnB shouldn't either.....
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Nov 17th, 2017, 03:03 PM
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clausar - thanks again for the link on Ancient Eleftherna. It looks pretty cool (and very close from Skouloufia)! Seems like a hidden gem as I had not seen it on Tripadvisor.

I have heard about the Arkadi monastery on Fodors forums before. But will now check out your other suggestions - Margarites, and the Melidoni ave

Thanks again!
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Nov 17th, 2017, 07:12 PM
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If Elafonissi and Balos are priorities for a few of you, you might consider staying somewhere overnight that allows you to see them, even if you have to pay extra for it.

There's a lot in the Rough Guide that I didn't see on Trip Advisor, or at least that was not well described on that website. Investing in that, and maybe the Michelin Green Guide, won't cost much in comparison to the cost of your trip and might provide invaluable information.
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Nov 18th, 2017, 09:48 AM
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Thanks kja, appreciate all your help! Will definitely check out Rough Guide and Michelin Green Guide.

Yes, I do have been thinking about staying overnight somewhere to see Elafonissi and Balos. I am not sure they will be all that they are hyped up to be. TA rates them VERY highly, but I need to do some more research.
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