Disappointed in Greek Islands

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Aug 10th, 2000, 06:50 AM
  #1
susan
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Disappointed in Greek Islands

I am on a lengthy trip through the Mediterranean and just completed five days on Santorini and Naxos. I have to say that I was very disappointed. The water is absolutely beautiful and the sunsets are stunning. But the islands themselves are uninteresting, in my opinion. They are rocky and arid, but not in a particularly dramatic way. Also, the two islands I was on were extremely polluted - - lots of litter, rusted out appliances, etc. by the side of the road. I expected something more elegant and unusual. Also, they are crawling with tourists, most of whom appear to be under 24 years old.

I believe the Aeolian islands off the coast of Italy are much more dramatic and interesting. Particularly Stomboli, which is a black sand, volcanic island like Santorini. On Stomboli, the active volcano dominates the island, providing a dramatic contrast to the beaches below - - much more visually stunning than Santorini. Also, you can climb to a ridge above the volcano at midnight (approx. 1000m high) with a guide and actually watch the volcano erupt. Its much better than anything I experienced on the Greek Islands. Just a suggestion.

I imagine I will be attacked for expressing my opinion on this subject, but I thought it might be helpful to someone else.
 
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Aug 10th, 2000, 07:42 AM
  #2
April
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You won't be attacked by me. Touristy, tacky Santorini was our least favourite place that we visited in Greece. While I too was disappointed in the lack of vegetation on Cycladic islands - and in a way one does look like another, we felt that nearby Folegandros beat Santorini hands down for dramatic scenery and was certainly less phony. I'm wondering if you found the people on those islands off Italy friendlier as well.
 
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Aug 10th, 2000, 08:36 AM
  #3
Tracy
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Hi Susan,

Oh dear. Next time (if you give the islands a second chance), I would recommend the Dodecanese islands. They're difficult to get to but so rewarding to be off the beaten tourist trail . . .

I have to admit that I use this forum (& other travel media) to find the most popular destinations - so I can avoid them! Santorini always wins in the popularity stakes, so perhaps I'll try it sometime during the low season.

And no, I'm not going to offer which tiny, picturesque islands my husband & I enjoyed earlier this summer whilst doing the Dodecs. We met and dined with lots of new Greek friends & can't wait to return during Pascha 2001 . . . !

Anyone have any other islands for the blacklist?
 
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Aug 10th, 2000, 09:00 AM
  #4
Thyra
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Very interesting observations, but just curious, did you expect lush vegetation? From all the photos I have seen there doesn't look like there is so much as a blade of grass on Santorini. IMO it might be better to research more before you head off to a destination. At least that way you won't be disappointed. I am sorry you did not have a great time though.
 
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Aug 10th, 2000, 09:54 AM
  #5
michele
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Susan,
I have avoided the Greek Islands precisely because of your observations. Several friends of mine, who USED to go to Santorini and Mykonos, agree with you. As for doing research, the islands get a lot of hype. Outside of this forum, it's hard to get an honest evaluation.

Was very interested in your observations of the Aeolian islands. Will add them to my list of "must sees".

Michele
 
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Aug 10th, 2000, 09:56 AM
  #6
hamlet
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No attacks from me, Susan. While Santorini is stunning, the crowds of partying twentysomethings take away from the experience of being there. I also went to Naxos and was uninspired. We made a trip around the island and the highlight was a stop in a village where we shared a homemade drink (tasted something like gasoline, I'm guessing) with locals who spoke no English. Along the ride we saw the garbage dumps along the sides of mountains where it seems people literally just dumped all their trash just like that. The clean clear water at the beaches was great though. We also had a few problems with merchants in Naxostown who sought to rip us off at any chance.
 
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Aug 10th, 2000, 10:31 AM
  #7
elv
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We liked Naxos - Naxos City, the Kouroi, the drive around the island. I liked the sparseness of the island, but then I like the desert. We noticed the litter also - especially the plastic bags - and we decided a good business to open would be trash removal/laundromat ("leave your trash and your laundry at just one convenient location!"). The thing that amazed us was the marble debris lying by the roadside - we calculated just one pile would cost about $5000 if you bought it from an interior decorator in the U.S. Desperately tried to figure out if we could carry it home in our suitcases.

I can understand why someone might not find the island interesting. If we all liked the same things, well, then, we'd all be in Hawaii or Prague or Nepal at the same time, wearing hot pick sweatsuits and fanny packs. Now ain't that a lovely thought...
 
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Aug 10th, 2000, 11:48 AM
  #8
Diane
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I'm wondering if Susan saw only the 'flat' side of the island? I've stayed in Firostephani and Imerivigli in a suite sitting at the top of the caldera. A far different experience from the other side of the island. I also do not go in the middle of summer when the islands are loaded with party-goers.
 
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Aug 10th, 2000, 06:00 PM
  #9
lola
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Nothing much can top taking a ferry into santorini, the largest caldera in the world, with the huge multicolored cliffs and the white and blue houses like icing on chocolate cake cliffs. We stayed in our cave-type, lovely room with a balcony over the sea and sunset. No disappointment here, but we were there in May, and kept our eyes on the scenery so we avoided crowds and trash. I recommend Santorini as a massive, bleak, stunning island, but do stay where you can enjoy the beauty.
 
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Aug 10th, 2000, 10:22 PM
  #10
April
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No, Thyra, I wasn't expecting lush vegetation - just a little more than what there was. I saw very little in the way of animal life either, but maybe all the hunters shot most of it. Somehow I missed the garbage.
 
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Aug 13th, 2000, 08:43 AM
  #11
Martina
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It's really just a matter of taste, isn't it?

Just have a look at my Web site, check the guestbook and see how many people just LOVE Paros (also a Cycladic island and probably "disappointing" place in your opinion).

This is it:

http://www.paros-online.com
 
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Aug 13th, 2000, 09:48 AM
  #12
Susan
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We're going to Greece and Turkey in September. Today we had friends over for brunch who just got back 2 weeks ago - they spent some time on a cruise ship, but also spent a few days each on Santorini and Crete. They LOVED it. Both of these people have travelled extensively (mostly to the Caribbean and through Canada and States). It was fun to see their pictures and I'm even more excited now about my upcoming trip! I agree with Elvira - thank goodness we don't all like or want the same thing.
 
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Aug 13th, 2000, 10:10 AM
  #13
Susan
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Martina, I just looked at your website and I'm sorry we're not going to Paros. (Actually I was in Greece many years ago and visited Paros - I liked it a lot then, so not sure why we didn't include it in this trip.) Anyway, I loved your website, especially the part about the stray cats. Our friends (from my earlier note) said that all the strays will break our hearts - my husband and I are 'cat people'. I'm glad to see that there are societies active in Greece to help the cat population. My vet's office here in Toronto actually has a collection box for donations which are sent to Greece. And thanks for all the good advice on how to help when we're there.
 
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Sep 14th, 2000, 03:46 PM
  #14
trw
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ARE THERE ANY MORE DISSATISFIED GREEK TRAVELERS OUT THERE? WHAT ABOUT THE MAINLAND?
 
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Sep 18th, 2000, 10:03 AM
  #15
Paulo
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Trw, I would say that, in general, dissatisfaction when visiting a particular country is associated with unrealistic expectations (90%), wrong planning and choice on what one has 100% of control (9%, e.g., choosing to visit one city instead of the other, choosing the "wrong" hotel, etc) and facts that the visitor can't control (unexpected strikes, unexpected extreme weather conditions, etc).

When we visited Greece (and Turkey) with another couple in July 98, we decided to balance our trip with sightseeing (ancient greek ruins, catholic orthodox, sites and medieval sites, nature, villages, etc), dining out, shopping and relaxing ...Living in Brazil, with very fine beaches just 50 miles from home, beach going was last on our list of priorities. Besides Athens, we visited Delphi, Arakhova and Osios Loukas, some of the Peloponnese (Olympia, Bassae, Langhadia, Nauplion, Argos, Epidaurus, Micenae, Tiryns, Mistra, etc), Santorini and Rhodes.

Once we were economic on our expectations, these were surpassed throughout the board. On all we had complete control, we regretted only spending a night in Patras (Olympia would have been better), waiting too long to book cabins on the Piraeus-Santorini ferry - we were able to get what was available; a lousy quadruple way down the vessel, near the engines - and taking the short boat tour in Santorini - Almost half of the tour is destined to stroll up to the crater in Nea Kameni - an extremely hot island in July, the path full of black pebbles, slipping one step back each two steps forward). Except for the expected very hot weather, we didn't have any further problems (the Meltemi wind was blowing in the islands but not strong enough to keep us stranded). The only minor mishap was the delay of 5 hours in getting the rented car to tour the Peleponnese (we easily adjusted our plans). Each on its own way, all sites we visited were very interesting. We didn't regret spending time to visit any pf them. We were very satisfied with every single hotel we used in Greece, food was superb throughout (we even learned to appreciate ouzo and a good retsina wine) and our ladies had much fun on their shopping adventures. Among other things, Santorini was also meant for relaxing ... and relax we did.

IMO, if one's well prepared, it's very hard to go wrong ...

Paulo
 
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Sep 18th, 2000, 07:49 PM
  #16
Kevin
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Oi Paulo,

I will be staying at Santorini and Mykonos in about 2 weeks. I too like the idea of a balanced trip - historical/cultural sites, shopping/nice restaurants, and the beach.

You mentioned that you did a tour of
Nea Kameni. (You weren't very thrilled.) I had thought of visiting it. Do you have any suggestions on beaches/sites in Santorini. It is my first trip.

Obrigado,
Kevin
 
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Sep 19th, 2000, 12:50 AM
  #17
francesca
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It sounds like going at the peak of tourist season was a mistake for you. If you can, try to travel in June or September. We spent a gorgeous 2 weeks in Greece, including Santorini, in June and found no problems. The whole atmosphere must be very different once there are bus loads of 20 year old kids there. Don't give up on Greece, it's great. But maybe seek out the lesser-known islands, the mainland and OFF SEASON!
 
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Sep 19th, 2000, 09:38 AM
  #18
jane
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I must first say I am a committed "grecophile", having a father who was Greek and having been to Greece almost every year for the last twenty two years!

However I do agree about the rubbish problem, although I think if you read about anywhere in the med area including Spain and Italy, the problem exists there too.

We personally love Halkidiki on the mainland. There is a choice of areas and peninsulas so you can be quiet or busy. There are however no noisy nightclub areas and it is not the haunt of lots of youngsters out to get drunk etc., as it is mainly a family sort of area. It is also a place where many Greeks holiday, so dont go in August as it is very very busy. We love it so much we stayed five months last year, and four and half this year.

As regards friendliness, I think if you go anywhere where there are tourists you will get the few who spoil the reputation of the many. We may be lucky having gone there for many years but in general we find 90 percent of the people are friendly, helpful etc. The other 10 percent arent worth bothering about, and what about England anyway, I think 90 percent are on the make here !

We also have visited Leros in the Dodecanese (very nice, untouristy and friendly) and this year Chios in the North East Agean (very friendly people, a little barren as you might expect near the Turkish Coast, but the interior is beautiful. Also many medievel villages which were fantastic).

So please dont judge Greece by the merits or not of one or two islands. They are still among the friendliest people in Europe. We travel by car from England across France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy and can honestly say we find the Greeks more friendly and helpful than any of the other countries we go through, although I am sure there are exceptions everywhere.

 
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Sep 19th, 2000, 09:45 AM
  #19
lola
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Ditto on the Greek people. I love them!!
 
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Sep 19th, 2000, 03:06 PM
  #20
Paulo
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Oi Kevin,

As I stated above, our 3+ days stay (we arrived at 6am and departed at 7pm three nights later) was meant for relaxing, more than else. We got a couple of appartments in Imerovigli with all ammenities including a/c, a view to both sides of the island (into the caldera and to open sea) and a nice pool with a bar where we sipped ouzo in the late afternoons. Though available, we forfaited breakfast to force us to prepare our own (going to the grocery store to buy fruits, olives, honey, rolls, féta cheese, yoghourt, coffe, tea, milk, etc) and serve ourselves on a table set at the patio in front of the appartments admiring the view of the caldera. To explore the island, we rented a minicar (cheap, some GDR 11,000/day). Besides strolling all of Fira (including museums, churches and doing some shopping) and Oia (some more shopping and watching a sunset) we also drove up Mount Ilias (Monastery) and visited Emborio and Pirgos. A must is certainly the very impressive archaeological site of Akrotiri. There are quite a few beaches in Santorini (Mavropetra, Monolithos, Red Beach, White Beach, etc) but we weren't interested (none of them rivals the ones we have close to home). We did manage to go to Perissa and Kamari, though. Perissa (black sand beach) is more of a backpacker beach and Kamari (black pebble beach) is better established and more upper market. Though there's not much to it as a beach, we loved Kamari. It's distinctly lined with restaurants, bars and shops and it's perfect for relaxing and people watching.

The half-day caldera boat tour (GDR 3,500/person) is IMO a waste of time and energy. Navigating the caldera is nice, taking a dip in the thermal waters isn't that bad, but climbing Nea Kameni in the heat of summer is a no no.

We also treated ouselves very well regarding eating out (dinner at the 1800 in Oia, dinner at the Camille Stephani in Kamari, the Naoussa, Nicholas and the excellent stakes at Kastro in Fira, not mentioning the 2-brother's parlor with the best giros and falafel in Fira town).

Paulo

PS. Não há de que!
 
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