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Greece experts--Need tips so I can start to focus my planning

Greece experts--Need tips so I can start to focus my planning

Old Mar 30th, 2009, 06:51 AM
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Greece experts--Need tips so I can start to focus my planning

Hi--

We were in Athens once many, many years ago, and also spent a couple days in Rhodes then. That is the extent of our Greece experience. Now we have 16 days in Greece in the 2nd half of May, and I am trying to figure out how to spend our time. We are debating about even having a few days in Athens in our itinerary or completely eliminating it. We are wide open as far as where to go in Greece. I've been perusing the guidebooks, and there are so many interesting places I don't know where to even begin as far as planning.

We are more slow travel type people who will focus more intensely on a few areas rather than zooming around trying to see everything. We've done a lot of independent, international travel and are very comfortable being on our own in areas where English isn't spoken. We are fine with, and in many ways prefer, off-the-beaten-path type places. We've been many places that tourists,, and especially Americans, don't generally visit. And, we will probably rent a car if that proves most efficient for the area/s we visit. Generally if we are in an area for three or more nights we try to rent an apartment. And, ideally, I think we might prefer to find three or four or five bases to operate from rather than moving around all the time.

We active, middle-aged people who want to include some cycling or hiking or boating or other nature oriented/outdoorsy type time in our plans. We prefer the authentic to that which is developed to attract tourists and make them feel comfortable with familiar foods and language etc. We enjoy just wandering around and soaking up the ambience of places, learning about other cultures, wallking through gorgeous gardens or scenery, trying different types of foods, visiting colorful local markets, learning more about an area's history and traditions, visiting interesting museums, taking in a local classical concert or folk dance performance, being in quaint and charming areas where we can sit and enjoy a glass of wine etc. A few ruins are fine, but we do not want to plan a trip centered around visiting the ruins. I'd categorize us as budget to moderate level travelers who prefer to stay in small, quaint, family-owned types of lodging and eat at casual, inexpensive places or picnic for lunch. So, we are definitely not looking for anything high end.

We are not interested in areas full of package tourism or extremely touristy places or over-developed areas. While we'd enjoy some water-related activities such as kayaking if that would be a good way to get a unique feel for the area, we are not at all interested in going to the beach to relax and lie in the sun. We also aren't looking for the nightlife scene. If this analogy is helpful, when we visited Turkey a few years ago we loved Cappadocia and Istanbul because they were the most unique and authentic to us, and we least liked the Mediterranean coast. If we had that trip to do over, I think we'd skip the Mediterranean area and instead visit the less-touristed Black Sea area.

So, thoughts? Ideas about places or locales I should start investigating that would appeal to us? I know there are many experts here, and I figure if I can at least get some general direction on places to start investigating, my task will be easier. Thanks a lot.
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Old Mar 30th, 2009, 07:24 AM
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Definitely consider Northern Greece, and/or the Peloponnese. Northern Greece especially (not counting Meteora) seems to get few non-Greek tourists. See my TR at www.wilhelmswords.com/eur2006 for suggestions for the north. You can do even better with a car - there was a gorge in the north I would have liked to visit, but that really required a car. Another option would be southern Crete - there are places only reachable by boat or foot and the scenery is gorgeous.
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Old Mar 30th, 2009, 08:35 AM
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The Peloponnese sounds like a good option (Nauplio, Momavassia, Gythio, Elfonsisos Island http://www.aroundpeloponnese.com/ela...loponnese.html)
Islands such as Amorgos; Karpathos http://www.geocities.com/Colosseum/2252/karpatho.html
Chios and Crete http://www.interkriti.org/fly/index.html have allot to offer.
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Old Mar 30th, 2009, 09:24 AM
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Thanks. Your suggestions are actually falling in with a few of the ideas I'd gleaned from the guidebooks and reading a trip report here. Northern Greece does sound fascinating and like something we'd enjoy. I'll check our southern Crete too and Chios.

Does anyone know anything about Corfu? I found a company that offers interesting sounding bike tours for a week in either the south or the north.
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Old Mar 30th, 2009, 09:37 AM
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Are you splitting yourself in two to cover Germany and Greece at the same time?
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Old Mar 30th, 2009, 12:47 PM
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Michael--
I just put on update on my previous post about cycling Germany. We had changed out Germany tickets around several times trying to decide which airports to fly in and out of (that 24 hour free cancellation period really helped us this time) and then discovered we could get to Greece from Minneapolis for $550 round trip. At this low fare, Germany lost out and will be a future trip. I have never seen a fare this low to Greece from our airport. The airlines must really be hurting.
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Old Mar 30th, 2009, 03:56 PM
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Julies, hello again, I'm the one who got passionate about Athens on the last post --
If you genuinely want somethng that is quite *Greek* in flavor, there is this to be said about Corfu -- it's a green, fertile Northern Island ... and for a century before Greece became independent it was a protectorate of Britain and Germany... thus it has more a north Europe feeling... also it is a favorite of British package tour holidays. Not that you can't find your way away from that... just sayin'. And as for Northern greece --- just chillier, longer.

I think the Peloponnese would suit you superbly ... get a car from the airport and just head instantly for the isthmus. This forum doesn't have as many Greece experts on areas outside the cliche "top five" destinations as Trip Advisor does. On its search function you can find complete itineraries for the Pelops ...clock-wise or counter clockwise, 1 week or 2-week... its beaches on the west coast and the S.W. area are divine. The argolid area has THE most clustered group of stunning ruins within a day's drive (Mycenae Corinth, Nemea, TIryns Epidaurus, Asine, Lerna) and not just ruins... Nemea is noted wine country, the whole area is packed with citrus groves. And a "base" from which to explore them, Nafplio, is a World Heritage Site..the most beautiful Old Town in Greece, right on the sea! Going south from there are 2 unforgettable Medieval sites, Mystra and Monemvasia. Stanbr has wonderful slide shows of Nafplio and beyond http://travel.webshots.com/slideshow/551991579dJbWvh
and here's a complete Pelops counter-clockwise itinerary you can pick & choose from:
http://www.planetware.com/do-it-your...r-gr-pelop.htm

The other place where you could have a similar experience would be western Crete. If you wanted to sample both, I would suggest a week in the Eastern Peloponnese, based in Nafplio for 3-4 days, then driving to Mystra and Monemvasia, then back to the airport. Fly to Chania in Western Crete, explore the town for a day or two, rent a car and head out. There are a lovely walks through countryside and small villages just east of Chania. I know several gorges that are fun to hike (NOT Samaria) that are not tourist-troughs, and which take a few hours, not a full day. A quick drive to the south will bring you to the Libyan sea where there are day kayaking expeditions.

One thing you'll have to be realistic about -- Greece is not Tuscany, where you can have your "base" approach and drive out in a different direction every day. This country doesn't work like that; don't try to make it into Italy. YOu stay in one place for a bit then you must move on. But you can have an unforgettable time in the Pelopponese and experience a totally GREEk culture, in small family-run hotels, in little villages. And you are traveling at the BEST time of year, with fresh produce in markets everyday. (I myself will be in Pelops May 18-26). But as I say, the most experts are over at the TA site. Enjoy!
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Old Mar 30th, 2009, 04:07 PM
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Jan--

Thanks much. I'll pop over to TA where I am also registered. Your suggestions are fabulous and absolutely what I am looking for. The Pelopponese area sounds exactly like what we are looking for. I especially appreciate knowing that the idea of several bases probably won't work out for this trip. And, knowing this, and the fact that this may not be a super busy time of year, we may do our research ahead of time about locales and good places to stay and then just completely wing it. We haven't taken a trip like that in quite a while, but we've enjoyed them when we did (before our days of deciding we liked a 4 to 6 day stay in an apartment or house in one location). There are many benefits to just being able to move on when the spirit moves us. The downside, unfortunately, is the time it takes to find a room in each new place. Thanks again. Wow! Our dates are remarkably similar. We arrive in Greece May 17.
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Old Mar 30th, 2009, 08:57 PM
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Julies, before you go, I want to add a PS to apologize for the gaffe of Typing While Tired. When I recommended Trip Advisor it was no way intended to scant the extreme expertise of the many Greece traveler who add so much to the Fodor's Forum ... indeed many of whom hve become personal friends. It is simply that on TA there are people who are more than travelers like you and me, and most of the Fodorites. They are actually people who LIVE in Greece -- either born there or married to Greeks, or expatriates of UK, australia etc, who know a locale intimately on a daily basis... there are also several very savvy former travel agents posting.

I Do value all the information that my fellow Fodorites share about Greece, and have learned tons from them. This will be my 8th trip to Greece of 3-4 weeks since 1999, and I am still learning. I usually take along 4-5 people but this year I'm going solo, because I'm passing up some newcomer "musts" like Santorini, and visiting some places they would be less interested in (working on a book). I arrive May 18 - fly back June 15. Perhaps we'd better e-mail; click on my name.
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Old Mar 30th, 2009, 09:36 PM
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Jan I have been working on a new slide show on the
eastern Peloponnese. My assistant Lollypeter ran out of enthusiasm today so it is incomplete with no tags or descriptions on actual locations yet but the sites are Corinth, Ancient Nemia,Mycene, Epadarus, Nauplion,Mystras,Monemvassia,Aeropoli,Mani, and Gythion.
I expect to improve and finalize the slide show over the next week but I think this is representative of your suggestions above for the Pelopponese.
http://travel.webshots.com/album/570747214TsFWOw
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Old Apr 1st, 2009, 10:06 AM
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stanbr, this is the way I like to work ... You and lollypeter do all the work, and put together those fantastic slide shows -- and I post links to them everywhere!!

I hope you do notice that when I do, I always say, these fabulous scenes are by Fodorite stanbr (or TA's stanbr), and nobody so far has credited me with being a camera whiz.

I am SO glad u are doing this, because more and more people are realizing the joys of the Peloponnese and becoming willing to devote a few days to explore it.
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Old Apr 1st, 2009, 11:04 AM
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Hi Jan. I realized that there is more interest in the Peloponnese and our pictures were arranged in a manner that did not convey our Peloponnese experience.
Since I have a little time on my hands right now I thought I would try to put together something that captures the flavour of the sites.
We still have some additinal pictures to edit in and captions to be added but its hard to get Lolly to commit as much time as I need.

Since you ave been posting our pictures we have had over 100,000 hits on Greece. Keep up the good work spreading the news on visiting Greece.
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