First trip to Greece - need help!

May 7th, 1999, 06:50 AM
  #1  
Judy
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First trip to Greece - need help!

We have a meeting in Athens in September, and we've never been to Greece before (tho' it's been on my wish list for years). Here's a tentative plan that I came up with: we'd fly to Athens, pick up a rental car at the airport, drive around for a few days prior to the meeting - maybe 4-5 days? Then go to Athens, attend the meeting and see Athens, then fly from Athens to Santorini, spend a day or two there, then boat (I guesss) over to Folegandros, which I read about in Travel & Leisure, for a couple of days, then back to Athens and home. (My husband gets sea-sick, so we can't sail around the islands, alas.) Do you think this is a good plan? Any ideas or help anyone might have will be greatly appreciated indeed!
 
May 7th, 1999, 08:08 AM
  #2  
Paulo
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Personally, I don't like your Folegandros idea very much. On one hand, if you want to relax, packing and unpacking should be minimized. Then, the question of how getting to Athens from Folegandros (ferry excluded) remains. You'll have to ferry/hydrofoil either back to Santorini, Milos or Paros to catch a flight to Athens. Late September ferry options start thinning down and there's a possibility you won't find transportation in the particularday you'll be needing it. I would go to Santorini, rent a small car, relax and explore the island fully. You may postpone the decision on going or not to Folegandros till you get there, with precise transportation info on hand. In September, getting rooms in hotels should be very easy. Therefore you don't need to reserve and commit yourself.
If you rent a car for 5 nights, you may have a problem deciding what to do with it. We had the same problem last summer. We intended visiting Meteora, Delphi, Osios Loukas, Olympia, Nafplio, Micenae, Mistra and Epidaurus. No way ... we had to axe Meteora, spending a night in Delphi (sanctuary, Arachova and Osios Loukas), another one in Patras and 3 nights in Nafplio (set as a base to explore Micenae, Tyrins, Argos, Epidaurus and Mistra). We intended to visit Daphne on our way from Athens to Delphi but we got there too late. We visited Olympia on our way from Patras to Nafplio.
If you decide visiting Meteora, you'll need to plan 2 nights in the area (Kalambaka?) and most probably you'll have to axe the Peloponnese, or most of it.
Finally, try to get a flight that doesn't arrive to late in the afternoon. Till you you're set to take off, there may be little daylight time available to reach, say, Kalambaka or Delphi.
To visit the main sites in Athens (Acropolis, Archeological Museum, Agora, etc) you won't need more than 2 days!
Paulo

 
May 7th, 1999, 08:30 AM
  #3  
Beth
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If you only have a few days to drive around I would definitely stick to the Peloppennese. If you have extra time in Athens you can take a day trip from there to Delphi. The bus tours do this quite nicely. Paulo's suggestion of staying in Nauflion (what IS the right spelling for that city?) for a couple of nights is a good one, as it is convenient to so many great archaelogical sites. Be sure to eat at Hellas in the Syntagma Square in Nauflion, the food was excellent. There's also a decent beach at Tolon if you want to take a break from tromping around the ruins.

Another option to end your trip after Santorini might be to come back to the mainland and stay at one of the beach resorts not far from Athens. I've never been there, but I've heard nice things about the Astir. You can also get to Sounion from there.

In Santorini visit the Bronze Age excavation at Akrotiri, its fascinating.
 
May 7th, 1999, 08:38 AM
  #4  
lisa
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Judy: I was in Athens and a nearby small island called Poros (not Paros, that's a different one) a few years ago and it was my first trip to Greece as well. The island of Poros was absolutely delightful and I would recommend it highly to anyone who wants a non-touristy, relaxing, beautiful, reasonably-priced island experience a short ferry ride from Athens. On the island we rented a studio apartment with kitchen, bath, and a huge balcony overlooking the water for only $35 a night! Plus the food was fantastic ($6 for the most delicious fresh swordfish souvlaki), the people were wonderful, the beaches were nice, and the island was easily explored by moped. Now for the downside: I really did not like Athens at all! The pollution from car exhaust was virtually choking (this was in late Aug.-early Sept.). Everything was extremely overpriced, including the food, accommodations, taxi fares, you name it -- whereas outside of Athens this was not the case at all. Service in the hotel and in restaurants was dismissive. We had some particularly horrible taxi experiences. The city itself is sprawling and not very attractive overall. The Acropolis was indeed impressive and I wouldn't have missed that for anything -- but my advice would be to see that and then get out of Athens as quickly as possible! I have not heard of anyone having a bad time on any of the islands -- you will love it once you're out of Athens. My friends who've been to Santorini recommend it highly and I'm sure you'll enjoy it -- although we avoided it because we wanted to avoid the crowds and see someplace a little more off the beaten path. I don't know anyone who's been to Folegandros. I think if I were you and I had 4-5 days before the meeting in Athens I would head to a nearby island like Poros instead of renting a car and driving around. Anyway, I hope you don't have to be in Athens for too long -- I agree with Paulo that you don't need more than 2 days there. Good luck and have a great time.
 
May 8th, 1999, 02:11 AM
  #5  
April
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Here's a different point of view. We went to Folegandros in September and found the ferries ran every two or three days. (Since we didn't know this, we stayed a week.) If you go, I highly, highly recommend staying at the fabulous Anemomilos Apartments (check out http://www.greekhotel.com/cyclades/folegand/home.htm and click on Chora). The rooms are architecturally designed and kept spotlessly clean. They sit atop the cliff right above the sea, next to the village and below the hill with the wedding-cake church, and they afford the most breathtaking views I've ever seen in my life. Our room had a kitchen, spacious living room area, writing desk and large bed, plus two balconies. A clothes drying rack was provided too. After this, Santorini was a big disappointment. Our conclusion is that, except for Akrotiri, there's nothing much there but overpriced rooms & food, tacky shops, and people who've dealt with far too many tourists. Our room cost many times more what we paid in Folegandros, yet it was filthy and shoddily run. It seemed at every turn we were being ripped off in one way or another. For instance, one tiny load of laundry done at a laundromat cost $14 Can. (and we got it back all wet!). Frankly, we didn't find the famed view that great either. So that was our experience.
I must admit to being somewhat horrified when we arrived in Athens, but, given some time for exploring, it can actually be quite a fascinating place. We stayed in the Plaka area which was close enough to walk up to visit the Parthenon (go early in the day) or to Syntagma Square. Watch the Evzones.
There are interesting sights to be seen around the whole Acropolis hillside, from statues to ruins to a surprise section of Cycladic type houses. The old road on the Plaka side is very smooth and slippery, so wear good shoes. At night, behind the grounds' fences are spooky dogs that sit still and quietly as ghosts... until something sets them off that is. The view from there, however, is lovely and romantic. Lower down are a cluster of restaurants that have lively Greek dancing, making for a festive atmosphere at night. The Neon cafes around town have good desserts and decent coffee too. If you go for a walk before dawn, the air smells of bread or bagels as the street side stands begin to set up. It's a nice change from the pollution smell.

 
May 8th, 1999, 02:12 AM
  #6  
April
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Here's a different point of view. We went to Folegandros in September and found the ferries ran every two or three days. (Since we didn't know this, we stayed a week.) If you go, I highly, highly recommend staying at the fabulous Anemomilos Apartments (check out http://www.greekhotel.com/cyclades/folegand/home.htm and click on Chora). The rooms are architecturally designed and kept spotlessly clean. They sit atop the cliff right above the sea, next to the village and below the hill with the wedding-cake church, and they afford the most breathtaking views I've ever seen in my life. Our room had a kitchen, spacious living room area, writing desk and large bed, plus two balconies. A clothes drying rack was provided too. After this, Santorini was a big disappointment. Our conclusion is that, except for Akrotiri, there's nothing much there but overpriced rooms & food, tacky shops, and people who've dealt with far too many tourists. Our room cost many times more what we paid in Folegandros, yet it was filthy and shoddily run. It seemed at every turn we were being ripped off in one way or another. For instance, one tiny load of laundry done at a laundromat cost $14 Can. (and we got it back all wet!). Frankly, we didn't find the famed view that great either. So that was our experience.
I must admit to being somewhat horrified when we arrived in Athens, but, given some time for exploring, it can actually be quite a fascinating place. We stayed in the Plaka area which was close enough to walk up to visit the Parthenon (go early in the day) or to Syntagma Square. Watch the Evzones.
There are interesting sights to be seen around the whole Acropolis hillside, from statues to ruins to a surprise section of Cycladic type houses. The old road on the Plaka side is very smooth and slippery, so wear good shoes. At night, behind the grounds' fences are spooky dogs that sit still and quietly as ghosts... until something sets them off that is. The view from there, however, is lovely and romantic. Lower down are a cluster of restaurants that have lively Greek dancing, making for a festive atmosphere at night. The Neon cafes around town have good desserts and decent coffee too. If you go for a walk before dawn, the air smells of bread or bagels as the street side stands begin to set up. It's a nice change from the pollution smell.

 
May 10th, 1999, 12:08 PM
  #7  
April
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Sorry about double posting, due to site problems over the weekend apparently. Bear with me as I try this to make sure it's working.
 
May 10th, 1999, 06:24 PM
  #8  
Pam
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Judy,
I too get sea sick and was worried about riding on the ferries around the Greek islands,but they are so large, that I never even felt a wave and really enjoyed the ride. By going on the ferry we saw all the islands and were able to really relax. I am not a person who likes to hop in a car and drive all over so, we spent three days in Athens and never left the Palaka area, there was so much to see. There are alot of museums close by, and people watching was great. We ferried to Santorini and immediately took a bus to Oia on the far end of the island. I did not find it a rip off at all. It was small, we stayed at a Greek run reconverted house that we found out about in Cadagon's Greece guide book and rented a car from a local co. and drove around the island. We found great beaches to sun on and a winery that was out of this world! Explore the small villages off the beaten path and you will find friendly, warm people. The postings about the ferry schedules are very true! We ended up staying on Paros for three days because we missed our ferry and another did not come for 3 days! There are so many islands, choose two and enjoy!
 

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