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Greece Itinerary - Need Advice - Two Islands or more time on land

Greece Itinerary - Need Advice - Two Islands or more time on land

Jun 19th, 2009, 11:53 AM
  #1  
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Greece Itinerary - Need Advice - Two Islands or more time on land

I keep going in circles with my September itinerary to Greece. It will be me, DH and 22-year old son. We arrive in Athens around 5pm on a Friday night. We can keep our fingers crossed and hope we can make the 7:30 flight to Chania or head straight into Athens to start our trip. My family is more about scenic beauty, although history will obviously play a part in our plans. These are the two scenarios I've considered. I would really appreciate your input so I can start firming up my reservations.

Scenario 1:
Fly into Athens
Fly to Chania
Crete (5 nights)
Fly to Thessaloniki (pick up rental car)
Dion (1 night)
Kalambaka (1 night)
Delphi (1 night)
Olympia (1 night)
Napflio (1 night)
Drop off car in Napflio and take bus to Athens
Athens (3 nights)

Scenario 2:
Fly into Athens, spend 2 nights there
Delphi (1 night)
Olympia (1 night)
Napflio (1 night)
Fly to Chania
Crete (4 nights)
Take ferry to Santorini
Santorini (3 nights)
Athens (1 night) - dpearture is next day at 12:45

I'd really prefer to go to Crete and Santorini, but I'm concerned that it may be too rushed. I also like the idea of flying straight to Crete, but I'm worried that we'll be overly exhausted once we get there, plus I like the idea of the relaxing part of our vacation at the end. The plan for Crete, in either case, would be to fly into Chania and fly out of Heraklion.

Please let me know your thoughts. Thanks in advance.
internetwiz is offline  
Jun 19th, 2009, 10:13 PM
  #2  
 
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Well I think scenario two is looking fairly good however I think you are doing way too much in too short a time.

Olympia is way out of your way and you will barely have time to roll down the window for a photo before you are heading to Nauplio.

If I were to plan this trip I would try to catch the flight to Chania on arrival if you have the time to make the connection. Even a flight ot Santorini would work.

Chania is a wonderful place to relax and get over Jet Lag. You have not said where you are flying from. From Canada our trip is a long one so we tend to just hunker down in Athens for the first night.

There are good ferry connections from Crete to Santorini so it does not matter which place you go to first. I really like that you plan to spend 4 days in Chania and 3 in Santorini. This gives you time to explore and relax.

From Santorini I would catch a flight back to Athens and rent a car at the airport and head out to Nauplio for three days. I love Chania but Nauplio is even better.
You can use Nauplio as a base to visit Mycenae, Ancient Tiyrns, Ephaduarus and even ancient Nemia and Ancient Corinth.
Nemia is a sister city to Olympia and has its own stadium games temple and museum. It is really close not a 5 hour drive like Olympia.
By the way Nauplio has a great old town and three Venetain era fortresses and you can easily spend two days right here.

Save Athens for the day or two before your flight home. By then you will be in tune with Greece and will be ready to spend time in Athens.
I have some pictures of these various options.
Athens
http://travel.webshots.com/album/570719132pdjjHG
Nauplio
http://travel.webshots.com/album/551991579dJbWvh
Chania
http://travel.webshots.com/album/571195659jPcKjK
stanbr is offline  
Jun 20th, 2009, 06:47 AM
  #3  
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Thanks Stanbr.We are flying in from Washington DC, so a similar long flight. My family always thinks I try to do too but so I'm trying to cut back this time. Ideally I'd like to turn our rental car in at Naufplio and take a bus back to Athens,just to avoid driving in the city, but I'll have to track down the bus schedules to be sure this plan is realistic.
internetwiz is offline  
Jun 20th, 2009, 07:22 AM
  #4  
 
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You catch the X95 bus which departs every half hour from the airport and goes to Syntagma Square. Presumably you will take a hotel in the Plaka area.
From Syntagma many hotels are within walking distance or you can grab a quick metro ride to the Acropolis or Monastraki stations.
I understand the metro line from the airport is re opening in the fall but I am not sure exactly when. I think Sept is too early but you may want to make another post asking closer to you trip date.
stanbr is offline  
Jun 20th, 2009, 10:43 PM
  #5  
 
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If u pick up a rental car in Thessaloniki & drop it at the airport or Nauplio or anywhere -- you will pay a drop-off penatly of HUNDREDS of Euros. Believe me! I went thru this with someone I was advising last year. I say, skip the Thessaloniki Idea, also Olympia. Tooo much. ANd take advantage of those 44€ Aegean promotional fares to make your trip hassle-free. PS: ONLy in Crete, you CAN hire car in one city, drop off in another, no fee.

How about mashing the 2 skeds together?
Fly into Athens -- Plenty of time to get on 7:30 plane to Chania ...
Crete - 4 days (rent car in Chania, drop off in Herakilion) Hi-speed ferry to Santorini
Santorini - 3 nights; fly to Athens by noon, get rental car, drive to delphi for night
Delphi (1 night) see sitei in AM - drive to Nafplio
Nafplio -- 3 delightful days in area as per Stanbr, drive back to Ath Airport, turn in car
Athens -- final 2-3 days
travelerjan is offline  
Jun 21st, 2009, 07:38 AM
  #6  
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I like your suggestions travelerjan. I'm concerned about making the connection on the flight to Chania. We'll be connecting from a flight from Paris, as that's where we have a layover. The 7:30 flight that I'm looking at is the last flight of the evening so if we miss it, it throws off the rest of our schedule.

Also, where can I find the inter-city bus schedules? I'd really prefer to drop the car at Nafplio and take a bus into Athens (depending on the drop charge), but I know I need to do some more legwork to see whether that's feasible.

Thanks again for all your help.
internetwiz is offline  
Jun 21st, 2009, 08:21 AM
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If you follow Jan's suggestions there will be no need to drop the car off in Nauplio. You will be renting from the Athens airport and heading to Delphi and Nauplio. It is an easy drive from the airport on good roads all the way.

When you are ready to head back to Athens simply head back to the airport. It is no more than a two to 2 and a half hour drive. You do not have to drive in Athens at all and it is a 4 lane divided highway all the way from Corinth to the airport.
From the airport take the X95 bus into Athens.
This is convenient and you will not have to worry about excessive drop off charges.
stanbr is offline  
Jun 21st, 2009, 06:54 PM
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internetwiz, you will be fine on that 7:30 flight IF you do carry-on -- NOTE: from my experience with Charles de Gaulle I would NEVER again check baggage if connecting there. JAMAIS, JAMAIS, JAMAIS!! Please do carry-on, it's very possible. I just did it for a 28-day island-hopping trip ... checked my bag only on homeward-bound trip.

My friends who picked up a car in Thessaloniki and dropped it at Athens airport paid about E400 for car for 7 days thru Budget and E250!! drop-off charge!! They checked every conceivable firm ... smaller firms wont do it at ALL, and Avis, Hertz, Alamo etc all charged even more. About the ease of driving, Will you just please please listen to stanbr, he has done this half a dozen times
travelerjan is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 07:22 AM
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Thank you all for your advice. We've decided on Athens, Delphi, Napflion for land; Crete and Santorini for islands. The car rental quote I got was for picking up the car in downtown Athens with an airport drop off (no drop off surcharge but I need to figure out the location of the downtown pick up). This would be if we did the land part first, something I'm leaning toward since I think we will be hard pressed to do carry-on only. That said, it's been my goal to travel lightly, but despite it all, I haven't been successful. My DH needs to carry a medical device with him, and that takes up a good chunk of suitcase space.
internetwiz is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 07:34 AM
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For rental cars in Greece, look at www.economycarrentals.com. They're a broker, based in Crete, and have very good, all-inclusive rates. I haven't used them yet, but others report good experiences.
Mimar is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 12:25 PM
  #11  
 
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I would agree with much of the advice you've gotten so far and will add my 2 cents. I like your plan of Crete and Santorini first and then the mainland based in Athens saving Athens for last. I also fly to Athens from Washington via CDG on Air France. I seem to be in the minority but I've never had trouble transferring planes in Paris in under an hour and have never had any issues with checked luggage (although Athens can be slow in getting luggage).

You shouldn't have any trouble making the 7:30 flight to Hania. On my last trip from Washington to Athens via Paris I actually got in at noon and was able to get a good discount on the 3PM Olympic flight to Hania. All you have to do is give them your most recent boarding pass to get the discount. Olympic is under new management and isn't the same awful air line it used to be. Worse case for you is that there should be a 9PM flight to Hania also.

Unless the surcharge is really high I'd suggest picking up the car at the Athens airport. It's way easier to get out of town from the airport than downtown.
Roger1x is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 12:39 PM
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So Roger1x, would you recommend waiting until we get there to buy the tickets? I've been looking at the Aegean Air flights, basically because they come up cheaper than Olympic. Olympic's last flight out is at 6:45, so that would be tight, unless we can swing an earlier flight out of Dulles at the last minute, which is highly unlikely.

Thank you everyone for all your input. I'll definitely check out the rental car places once I firm up my plans. In the past I've used AutoEurope -- that's where I've gotten my estimates -- so I'll have something for comparison.
internetwiz is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 12:52 PM
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I would not wait until you get there to buy the tickets. ROger didn't say WHEN his last trip was -- it could have been in March or something.

Another car rental option which is recommended by one of the regulars on Trip Advisor (who goes to Greece 2-3 times a year & always rents cars) is Budget -- BUT you use the .gr portal for the quote s... MUCH better than if you check via the USA site.
travelerjan is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 01:05 PM
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Actually I wouldn't recommend waiting to buy the tickets. I did on my last trip because I had a 70 minute connection in Paris which I couldn't be certain that I'd make. While I don't mind the Paris connection, if my plane had been even 15 minutes late I probably would have ended up on a later flight.

It sounds like you have a bit more time for your Paris connection and fairly likely to get into Athens not a lot after 5PM.

Despite my comments about Olympic being ok now, I still prefer Aegean(I had pre book with them for my return to Athens from Hania). To get a good price from Aegean I'm pretty sure you have to pre-book.
Roger1x is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 01:20 PM
  #15  
 
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A followup to not waiting to buy your tickets. My last trip was just a couple of weeks ago. We bought our tickets at noon for a 3PM flight. The tickets were 58 euro each and the flight was completely full. I still can't figure out how we got so lucky.
Roger1x is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2009, 05:29 PM
  #16  
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I have another follow-up to my original question. I think I'm too skittish to worry about making the flight to Chania when we first get there so I think we'll start with the land portion of our trip (except Athens which we'll go to last), which would be Delphi and Napflion. I think we'll be too tired to drive to either place when we arrive.

Where would you recommend stopping for the night (maybe an hour or so away from the airport)? Since we'll be flying to Crete after this loop, which city, Delphi or Napflion, has the easiest ride back to Spata? If we plan to take a mid-day flight to Crete, I want don't our drive to be too stressful, but I really don't want to stay by the airport either.

Thanks in advance.
internetwiz is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2009, 06:02 PM
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Since you are gettng in at 5 pm nd wnt to relax then get started early the next morning, There's a really good option, St. THOMAS B & B, that's about 10 minutes from the airport, has a pool, and will provide dinner by the pool with advance notice. THey have several rooms/units I think one accommodates 3 ... about €100. They will give you breakfast and arrange transport to & from the airport (it used to be free but not now I guess). I can't seem to access their website, but there are plenty of other links when you google, such as this:
http://www.travel-library.com/b&b/eu...mas_b_&_b.html
here are a bunch of reviews from Trip advisor
http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&cl...esult&resnum=1

About where to go first??? well ... with Delphi you need to see the site before the tour busses arrive, so you can't start driving there in the AM. Drive to Nafplio first... 2.5 hours, spend 2 nights there, then drive to Delphi starting at ?noon? . Use the Michelin site or Route Planner UK to get your route/trip time take their recommended route from Nafplio to Delphi; http://www.viamichelin.com/viamichel...ing_directions
http://www.drive-alive.co.uk/route_planner.asp
get a hotel for the night, and HIT THE SITE at 8 AM ... then you can drive back to the airport (about 3- 3.5 hrs) for a late day flight to Crete. Piece of cake.
travelerjan is offline  
Jun 24th, 2009, 05:08 PM
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Thanks Travelerjan. Your advice makes sense. I can't find the St. Thomas website either, but I'll keep looking. I'm sure I'll have some more questions as I go, but you've all given me a great start.

Thank you to all.
internetwiz is offline  
Jun 24th, 2009, 08:31 PM
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I think that ST. THomas has given up its website... but the link I gave you has its e-mail, and it says specifically to contact the owner by e-mail. I expect they gave up he website because of the cost -- not worth it just to fill 3 rooms.
travelerjan is offline  
Jun 24th, 2009, 09:19 PM
  #20  
Ian
 
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[[[[How about mashing the 2 skeds together?
Fly into Athens -- Plenty of time to get on 7:30 plane to Chania ...
Crete - 4 days (rent car in Chania, drop off in Herakilion) Hi-speed ferry to Santorini
Santorini - 3 nights; fly to Athens by noon, get rental car, drive to delphi for night
Delphi (1 night) see sitei in AM - drive to Nafplio
Nafplio -- 3 delightful days in area as per Stanbr, drive back to Ath Airport, turn in car
Athens -- final 2-3 days]]]]

Thank you, travelerjan. We just got back from Sicily & so, of course, my mind has started to think about the NEXT one. I haven't researched Greece, but you have given me a starting point.

Ian
Ian is offline  

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