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Greece Itinerary Suggestions: Peloponnese, Meteroa, Pelion, Santorini, Athens

Greece Itinerary Suggestions: Peloponnese, Meteroa, Pelion, Santorini, Athens

Old Jul 8th, 2006, 05:25 PM
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Greece Itinerary Suggestions: Peloponnese, Meteroa, Pelion, Santorini, Athens

Hello--this forum has been a wonderful source of information! We're trying to finalize our itinerary before sending to Dolphin Hellas for assistance with bookings, and would love to hear any suggestions (especially for hotels and driving times) prior to doing so. So, here goes:

Day 1: Tuesday, 12 September
Arrive Athens 10:15 a.m. Get rental car at airport, depart for Kardamyli (~4 hrs through Tripoli-Kalamata). Explore Kardamyli upon arrival if time permits. Overnight in Kardamyli (Esperides Apts., Notos Hotel, Vardia Hotel, Lela's Rooms & Taverna (or Gythio as a base)

Day 2: Wednesday, 13 September
Scenic drive along Langada pass through Taygetos Mountains (between Sparta and Kalamata. Visit Mystras and Sparta. Drive back through Gythio then to Kardamyli. If time, hiking in and around Kardamyli. Overnight in Kardamyli.

Day 3: Thursday, 14 September
Early departure Kardamyli through Gythio to Monemvasia (~2.5 hrs). Visit Monemvasia.
Scenic drive around Mani peninusula, visit Vathia, Gerolimenas, Tenaro & lighthouse at tip, etc. Overnight in Kardamyli.

Day 4: Friday, 15 September
Scenic drive to Napflio via Gythio Geraki Kosmos Astros & Leonidio coastal road (2-3 hrs???). Visit Palamadi Fortress in Napflio if time permits. Overnight in Napflion (Hotel Byron, Pension Marianna, Pension Amymone, Pension Elena)

Day 5: Saturday, September 16
Visit Mycenae & Epidarus. (each ~ 45 min in opposite direction from Napflio). Lion Gate, Tomb of Atreus (beehive tomb), Theatre of Epidarus. Overnight in Napflio

Day 6: Sunday, September 17
Drive to Delphi (~3.5 hours from Napflio). Visit Corinth Canal and Acrocorinth on the way (if time permits and not done earlier). Delphi Sites: Oracle, Temple of Apollo, Archaeological Museum of Delphi, Castalia spring. Delphi open until 7:30 p.m. Overnight in Delphi (Hotel Castri, Olympic hotel)/ Arahova ?

Day 7: Monday, September 18
Drive to Meteora (4-5 hrs through mountains). (Delphi to Trikala ~3.5 hrs + 1 hr to Kalambaka) Would like to arrive before sunset for pictures. Visit some Monasteries in afternoon if time permits.
Overnight in Kalambaka (Koka Roka?) near Agia Triada.

Day 8: Tuesday, September 19
Visit remaining monasteries. Drive to Pelion (~3.5 hrs). Overnight in Pelion / Damouchari?? (Maistras Studios or Damouchari Hotel?)

Day 9: Wednesday, September 20
Tour villages, take train. Overnight in Pelion

Day 10: Thursday, September 21
Overnight in Pelion. Explore beaches, hiking
Day 11: Friday, September 22
Drive to Athens, return rental car (~4.5 hrs). Fly to Santorini? Or to Piraeus to catch ferry. Overnight in Santorini (Oia) (Delifini Hotel/Villas or Anemomilos Hotel)

Day 12: Saturday, September 23
Tour island: wineries, caldera, Akrotiri lighthouse, Akrotiri ruins, Red Beach (near ancient Akrotiri, Ancient Thira. Oia Sunset & Nice Dinner. Overnight in Santorini (Oia)

Day 13: Sunday, September 24
Tour island black sand beaches (Perissa & Kamari), Ammouni Bay. Shopping in Fira or Oia? Overnight in Santorini (Oia).

Day 14: Monday, September 25
Ferry or flight back to Athens. In Athens—Parthenon, Acropolis, Ancient Agora, Cape Sounion. Overnight in Athens (Attalos, Cecil Hotel, Acropolis View, Hotel Adrian)

Day 15: Tuesday, September 26
In Athens. Visit Natl Archaeology Museum, hand out around Plaka, etc. Overnight in Athens

Day 16: Wednesday, September 27
Depart Athens 10:40 am back to U.S.

I'm still researching hotels and sightseeing (we'll be playing things by ear to some extent as we go, we just like to have a general plan). We have a Michelin map and a Lonely Planet guidebook, I may get Fodor's as well.

We'd greatly appreciate any comments or suggestions! This is our first trip to Greece, I know it may seem as though we're cramming a great deal in, but consider that we are traveling from the US and any trip like this is rare for us. We want to see a mix of everything and not have any regrets!
swfeken is offline  
Old Jul 8th, 2006, 05:54 PM
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What a wonderful trip. I like that you have chosen some of the more unusual, less-touristed parts of Greece for your trip.

It seems to me that popping out of the airplane and taking a 4-hour drive might be a bit much. Jet lag, anyone?
Particularly since the hardest job is getting out of Athens!

Had you considered possibly seeing the Archaelogical museum at the front end of your trip? It is such a wonderful orientation to all that you are going to see.

Are you getting the drive times from michelin.com, or some such source? They mostly seem rather skimpy to me. Remember you need time for food stops and for ooh-ahh stops along the way.

We spent a night in Monemvasia and another night in southern Mani which makes your planning to do both in the same day sound very rushed to me.

I'm not sure why you need Dolphin Hellas for assistance with bookings, since in September you should have no trouble finding hotels, even as you go.

Mycenae and Epidaurs is a good one-day combo. And stopping at Corinth on the way to Delphi, since you are overnighting in Delphi, makes sense.

Pelion is a very pretty mountain area (haven't been to the beaches), but you might decide as you go along to spend more time in other areas. In my opinion, it does not measure up to most of the rest of your trip.

As you consider whether to fly or ferry to Santorini, keep in mind that although it takes a long time to get there by ferry, there is nothing in this world that compares with the view approaching Santorini by ferry.

I would vote for taking along the Lonely Planet guide and your list of researched hotels, and book along the way for maximum flexibility (except for first and last nights in Athens, and possibly Sanrtorini). But I realize that makes some people very nervous.

Oh, I have a deep case of Greece-envy, here. I've only been there four times and miss it mightily.
Vera
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Old Jul 8th, 2006, 07:37 PM
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Looks as if you have a wonderful trip planned ... I have not driven around Pelopponese, only day trips from my beloved Naflplio ... on basis of 6 extended trips to Greece, I wonder if you're allowing enough driving time -- these are NOT U.S. highways, and getting lost is a common thing... How's your Greek?? some road signs in English, but not in all the places you're going. Don't be too proud to ask directions (if you're a man your wife will be willing to ask).
Have you allowed enough swim time?? Water is divine in mid-september. I recommend Tolo beach next to Nafplio, or even tiny "town beach" in Nafplio. Also, there's a lovely beach near Epidaurus to cool off after your "ruin-a-thon."

Re Santorini -- FLY. The boat-urgers are those who were on cruises & sailed there while they slept; you can take a ferry back to athens instead, if you want... the schedules are better.
Also, are you aware that in Santorini the Akrotiri ruins are still closed (scaffolding fell, killed tourist) with no opening time announced.
Re Santorini -- I don't know what your budget is, but except for honeymooners, I wouldn't stay in Oia; easier to stay in Fira, not crowded in late Sept.
Instead of icky black beaches, try the "Salty Beach Club" on Perivogli beach if it's open-- we were there around Sept 15. Swim in sea, wash off in Club pool, Jacuzzi... free, for price of a drink!
Instead of the closed Akrotiri, climb to Clifftop Ancient Thira, above Perissa Beach. you candrive part-way up, climb about 30 mins. A jumble of ruins but a superb view.
In athens I suggest you reverse your days. On the day you return to Athens, do the big museum ... it's open til 7 I think even in September. on Day 2, get up EARLY to go to Acropolis, then down thru Greek Agora. Forget Cape Sounion unless you've got someone to drive you, or you're Superman. But by the time you get back to Athens, you'll understand all this... and you'll be addicted to Greece, as I am.
Have a wonderful FIrst Journey.

And I agree-- do your OWN booking ... direct to Hotels... I always do, and get better rates. Sometimes you have to fax, or even phone in the middle of the night... but you do well
In Nafplio, always recommend Hotel Leto, right up against the town's Castle walls... all 12 rooms face out on bay, ask for one with balcony the URL is
http://www.leto-hotel.com/hotel_e.html -- you have to phone or fax but you a much better rate than if you go thru agency...
In Athens I've had good luck with Hotel Adonis, roof terrace for breakfast and after dark has Acropolis view -- also need to fax them, not e-mail. Same rate or lower than Attalos & handier... on Koudrou... non-car pedestrian-only lane.
Best of Luck!
travelerjan is offline  
Old Jul 8th, 2006, 08:20 PM
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In three trip to the Pelopponise I have not had the privalage of being able to accomplish all that you you plan to do.
Accordingly I can't comment on your whole itenary.

However, I can say that when we arrived in Monemeivasia we were so captivated by the place that we spent two nights there. Needless to say, that destroyed my whole plan for the trip. I cannot complain about what we may have missed because what we experienced was so great that nothing could have been better.

Your plans do not provide you with time to actually see or experience anything.
Have you ever driven on mountain switchback road before? If you had, you would realize that you have not planned enough time to get where you want to go.

As my friend travelerjan says, once you get to her beloved Naphlion you may be captivated by the city and not want to go any further.

You are on vacation. Getting to a location doesn't mean you have seen it.

Relax, take the time to experience Greece. Expect to see half of what you have planned to do, and be satisfied if you are able to accomplish half of that.

Greece is ancient. Time is not relevant there. Don't rush it. It is something to be experienced.
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Old Jul 8th, 2006, 08:39 PM
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Just a word in defense of taking the ferry into Santorini. I have been there twice, and I NEVER have been on a cruise. Took the ferry. The experience of coming into the caldera is one of the top experiences of all my travels. But I can understand wanting to save time by flying. Just wanted to clarify that my advice is not based on a cruise!
Vera
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Old Jul 9th, 2006, 07:06 AM
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Hi,
This is going to be a great trip. If you decide to take the ferry to Santorini, there is an overnight ferry. You can get a sleeping cabin. It arrives early in the a.m. The ferry is not luxurious at all, but a fun way to get to Santorini via the sea without spending a whole day on the sea. The Pelion is great. The food in this area is wonderful. The water is so clean and the one beach we went to was small white stone. This is a great area to hike through. There is clean water ready to drink everywhere. Enjoy!!
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Old Jul 9th, 2006, 12:10 PM
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swfeken,

The idea of stepping off a 12+ hour plane trip, and then driving straight on to Kardamyli (close to a 6 hr drive), is daunting, if not dangerous, due to jet lag and general fatigue.

Having visited many of the same spots in Pelopennese this last May, I think you seriously understimate the travel times.

The most enjoyable and scenic roads in Pelopennese are 2 lanes, average speeds are rarely more than 30 mph.

The website www.viamichelin.com will calculate driving times between many Greek towns ... double that time for a more realistic estimate.

Other comments:

Kardamyli is a pleasant town, pretty shoreline, good trekking in the environs. Lela's taverna was hard to find but I had a most pleasant dinner there. The quiet seaside location was wonderful. Notos Hotel was modern, quiet, with small kichenettes that were a welcome change. It too was hard to find, on a dead end road branching off the main road at the northern outskirts of Kardamyli.

if you're driving south, deep into the Mani (highly recommended!), consider staying overnight in Geroliminas. A small fishing village, notable mainly for it's solitude and the pretty, rugged setting, but the drive there is spectacular. Also it's close to Vathia and other Mani sites. Hotel Kyrimai in Geroliminas is a deluxe hotel in a remodeled, large, Mani-style stone building.

You can find pictures at /www.yourgreece.gr .


The road trip through Kosmas, Leonidio, and on to Nafplio is a spectacular, less travelled journey through rugged mountains and coastline -- a wise choice! But there's no way it's a 2-3hr trip, probably closer to 6 hrs.

My parting advice is to "slow down" , else you'll be spending most of time in Pelopennese inside a car, too rushed to stop and explore.
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Old Jul 9th, 2006, 12:43 PM
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Hi swfeken,

A few of your days sound too ambitious. I think you need an extra day or two in the Peloponnese to accomplish what you want. Personally, I would cut out Pelion to flesh out your Peloponnese plans.

For example:

Day 1: Travel Day.
Day 2: Mystras/Sparta
Day 3: Monemvasia
Day 4: Gythio/Aeropolis
Day 5: Laconian Mani Coast (Vathia/Geromilenas etc)
Day 6: Nafplio (Palamidi, Bourtzi etc)
Day 7: Nafplio (Mycenae/Epidavros)
Day 8: Delphi
Day 9: Kalambaka (Meteora
Day 10: Kalambaka (Meteora)
Day 11: Travel Day to Santorini
Day 12: Santorini
Day 13: Santorini
Day 14: Return to Athens earliest flight.
Day 15: Athens

I really don't think you have time for Pelion personally.

Note: I hear Kardamyli is very nice, but as a base will require quite a bit of extra driving. Monemvasia for example is quite far away. I would consider Gythio instead and maybe turn Kardamyli into another day trip. I would turn my Gythio/Aeropolis suggestion into a Kardymali/Aeropolis one instead then.

You have such a crammed itinerary - I would definately fly to/from Santorini to give yourself some extra time.

Just some thoughts,

Good Travels,

Murphy
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Old Jul 9th, 2006, 12:47 PM
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Also, when I say two nights for Kalambaka...I think Meteora deserves on whole full day with an early start. So if you have extra time after travelling to Kalambaka from Delphi you could check out neighbouring Trikala or Pilos in an afternoon.

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Old Jul 9th, 2006, 01:03 PM
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Ack! Sorry, one more thing...the Dirous Caves just outside of Aeropolis are neat - very worth a stop since your in the area.

Just be careful swfeken! You run the risk of spending your whole trip in the car - that would be cruddy

I am stopping now.

Cheers,

Murphy
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Old Jul 9th, 2006, 04:58 PM
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Hi,
If you need to cut out parts of your trip it will be a difficult decision. I really love the Pelion and wouldn't miss it, so this a vote to keep that part of your trip in tack.
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Old Jul 9th, 2006, 05:44 PM
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Of your destinations, I have only been to Athens and Santorini (just got back). We loved staying in Ia. We liked that it was quieter there than Fira. Unless you're planning to do lots of clubbing and barhopping at night, I would suggest Ia. We stayed at the Delfini and really liked it. It's worth it to upgrade to an apartment or studio if you can. We also looked into the Anemilos hotel and are glad we chose Delfini. It's closer to the shops and restaurants and had a much better view. The only thing it lacked was a pool. Another suggestion is to sightsee in Athens first, instead of waiting until the end of the trip. We wished that we had done that. Also, I think it's worth it to fly to Santorini. It really does save so much time, and you might be able to find a great deal like we did so it's not much more expensive than the ferry. Sounds like you are going to have a wonderful trip!
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Old Jul 12th, 2006, 08:25 PM
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Okay--first a few responses. please excuse punctuation & capitalization it's late and i'm tired!

driving times were from our michelin map and LP guide. the one i had no clue on was the kosmos pass drive from Monemvasia to Napflio as nothing will calculate that, even by piecemeal (speaking of which Michelin online often locks up even when I try to calculate shorter pieces of routes...hmmn...another post?) We will add more cushion, though we knew we would need time to stop for sightseeing, etc. though we are now cutting this route out...see more below...

vera and others...santorini logistics...we're still trying to figure out (have looked into flying and ferries, would love to arrive by ferry for the view but not sure if it is possible as we will be driving back to piraues from the pelion, so thought it might be easier to fly in and ferry out as we are returning the rental car, though we'd love to save money and not fly, i'd rather fly back to maximize time in athens...i may do another post on this...), thus one reason why we were considering dolphin hellas, and other transfers if needed after we drop the car off, not to mention the posts i've seen that you can get a better deal on some hotels (~20 euro per night), but not necc. car rental. if not, we won't book all hotels through them (we're aware of the 300 euro minimum), i will research prior to booking. This is the first time i've seen people suggesting doing your own booking. maybe we should reconsider?? the pelion is the region we need the most assistance in choosing hotels (another post...) and yes, my husband in particular is not comfortable not pre-booking hotels. As he is doing the driving I don't blame him for not wanting to add additional time driving around looking for a place to stay.

Laura and Vera, thanks for the Santorini tips it is good to hear first hand experience! and travelerjan for athens...that is the least researched part of the trip at this point if you can believe it!

Murphy--thanks--your responses are so thoughtful and helpful! we are taking your advice into account. it turns out we will have an extra day and might just add that to Meteora. However, we are keeping the pelion...see reasons below...

i hope i didn't miss anyone, i can promise i will be re-reading this post as we continue to plan!!!!!!

ok...so, I think everyone (on this and other boards) has talked some sense into us…though our schedule is still busy, we are cutting out the Mani and keeping Pelion as a compromise. We will stick to the classical Greek sites around Athens and Napflio (so still get a small taste of the Peloponnese), then head to the Pelion after Delphi and Meteora. Though I know the Mani region sounds incredible and would be enjoyable, it was the most difficult piece for us to work into the rest of our itinerary, due to the driving times, distance, etc. We could throw in a day trip to Mystras (more likely) or Monemvasia (on the main roads…not the mountainous scenic ones (as we will get that in the Pelion as well)--though they sound incredible), if time were to permit and we were up to it while in Napflio).

We are "naturalists" (biologists by training--I am a marine biologist), love beaches (in fact I originally cut out Milos because it seemed the beaches might be more beautiful in the Pelion), hiking, waterfalls, lush greenery…so the combination of that in the Pelion region, along with local villages with character and interesting architecture, sounds perfect for us. Not to mention that the beaches are unique from what we are used to (though this appears to be true all over Greece)--I've even seen pictures on the internet of interesting tidal pools in the Pelion, which absolutely fascinates me!). If we were going in the spring we might consider the Mani instead due to the wildflowers, but the Pelion seems a better place to visit in the fall / September (perhaps the leaves will be changing colors? Or is that too early). We live in Florida (US) so do not get to experience fall colors as those in the the Northern US.
We think we would always wonder if we didn’t check it out, and there are rave reviews of the area in multiple places (had we just read one page in a guidebook we would not base our decision on that). Plus it will provide downtime after driving and the full schedule of sightseeing we have planned (though we will of course explore the region, just not as rushed).

So, we’re revising our itinerary to exclude the 3 nights in Kardamyli, and add them to the Pelion (concentrating on the northern portion primarily), and Napflio, with an extra night to add somewhere once we figure out ferry schedules, etc:

Napflio 3 nights
Delphi 1 night
Meteora 1 night
Pelion 4 nights
Santorini 3 nights
Athens 2 nights
Extra night?

Thanks again for all of your help and thoughtful replies! We will be re-reading them and we continue to plan, and asking more specific questions regarding the locations if we can't find previous posts (especially for the Pelion, there isn't as much information on hotels)!
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Old Jul 12th, 2006, 08:53 PM
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Hi swfeken!

Your revised plan looks much better! Pelion will be beautiful. I am glad you chose one or the other (Mani or Pelion) - that way you can really enjoy one instead of sprinting through both. You can easily put that extra night in Nafplio, Pelion or the Kalambaka region (or even Santorini) - lots to do in all of these places

Monemvasia may be too far for a day trip from Nafplio - a few hours drive at any rate. Maybe if you got a really early, early start. Mystras is superb and the distance should be ok by car! Consider having lunch in little modern Mystras - good taverna on the main square.

Good Travels,

Murphy
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Old Jul 12th, 2006, 11:22 PM
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Hotels in Pelionbr /> Hotel Aloe in Ayios Ioannis, bit basic.
Hotel Damouchari in Damouchari, lovely remote location by the beach, mostly booked out in the summer by European tour operators.
Try some of the traditional mansion houses of Pelion eg Karamarli in Makrinitsa (a beautiful village), the Old Silk House in Mouressi a bed and breakfast in a mansion house run by an English lady for 15+ years (good source of local info for hiking and she makes a lovely breakfast, Kastanies a village inn built in 1898 full of antiques and local art in Tsangarada a another beautiful village
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Old Jul 14th, 2006, 04:53 PM
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Thanks again! Murphy you are wonderful...I hope to share as much when I get back.

Lauren I may have more Delfini questions...your pictures are amazing, and I'm still reading through your trip report. I still want to do Delos...but know that is crazy since we aren't going to Mykonos or Naxos...though I tried, I'm not up to trying to do some crazy route on the way to Santorini with everything else we're trying to cram in.

Odin thanks for the hotel tips! Have you ever heard of Hotel Faros in Milopotamos? Several people have mentioned that Damouchari is now booked by package groups, a shame, it looks like our kind of place. We would like to stay on the beach in the Pelion, though I'm still considering, as the traditional mansions look like they have a great deal of character. If we were there longer, we would consider multiple locations (and may even consider 2 nights in each, but that just adds another place to pack up and go to--we're up to ~7 hotels in 15 nights now....).

I'm still trying to decide on the travel agent question, does anyone else want to add their 2 cents?
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Old Jul 14th, 2006, 08:12 PM
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travel agent question, my 2c :

Normally I prefer to do my own booking, then I KNOW it got done, I have the confirmations, etc. In _most_ cases the agent is an unnecessary middle-man.

In Greece, nearly all the innkeepers read, write, and speak adequate english. Nearly all will communicate efficiently via email, but occasionally one needs to fax back & forth.

Now the exceptions:

1) there are some wonderful, smaller hotels in Greece that do _not_ have much online presence, don't use web much, etc.

The booking agency "Your Greece" ( http://www.yourgreece.gr/page ) was well worth their 15 Euro booking fee, as I would never have been able to book, much less find, some of their "client" hotels on my own.

2) an agency sometimes has a block of rooms available in hotels, that otherwise would be "sold out".

3) an agency sometimes has better rates than dealing direct with the hotel, but there is a cost: you may have to pay the full amount in advance. Changes and refunds are costly and/or difficult.

For me the chance of better rate is usually not worth the loss in flexibility.
tom_h is offline  
Old Jul 15th, 2006, 09:02 AM
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We did much the same trip as you a few years ago. My girlfriend had family in a tiny village right in the middle of the pelopponese - we had no schedule and it was a good thing. Driving around takes MUCH MUCH longer than you expect. Sheep on road, rough roads etc. You have to do the caves of Dirous - was one of the highlights of our trip and being Sept. it will be quiet when you go into the caves, most amazing. I too was extremely nervous about not booking hotels - the only place we had trouble was Santorini - not because there were not vacancies it was just hard to wander around and figure out where to stay. If I had to do that in Santorini again I would book my hotel before hand. The rest - honestly I would just book as you go. It will work out fine - there are lots or rooms and they are very happy to bargain with you at that time of year. I totally envy you, we loved Greece (be prepared to fall in love with the country) Have a great time. Marg
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Old Jul 16th, 2006, 02:32 AM
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I'm not familiar with the Hotel Faros, I know Milpotamos and it has a beautiful beach and taverna above it serving good food. There are several places around Milopotamos offering rooms or apartments. The village of Mouressi (Old Silk Store B&B) is only 10mins away from several beaches, so needing a beachfront hotel was not necessary for us. It was nice to go back and stay in a quiet village and go to the local tavernas rather than stay in Ayios Ioannis. There maybe some hotel options around Papa Nero, we only pre-booked first couple of nights at the Aloe hotel in Ayios Ioannis and then moved around thereafter. Stayed in Vizitsa at the Santikos Mansion.

After Pelion we went to Meteora (stayed at the Divani, had room with a view of one of the monasteries) from there to Delphi. We didn't stay in Delphi but continued onto to Galaxidi, a charming village by the sea and stayed at the Hotel Archontiko, another restored mansion house. Again, we just turned up with no reservation.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2006, 06:57 PM
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After mulling over the situation, we have changed plans yet again. We have cut out Santorini and will add that time to the Peloponnese, keeping Delphi/Meteora, Pelion, and Athens.

It would have cost ~$500 extra to fly to & from Santorini and it didn't seem worth it for 3 nights as our expenses have now gone past what we originally budgeted (perhaps our new plan below will allow us to cut down on what we've estimated for hotels however...). The ferry schedules didn't seem to be in our favor either, so overall it was a logistical headache.

The surprising news is that we've been convinced to play it by ear and book as we go (except in Athens). I am pinpointing a few hotels in the areas we think we will be overnight. Very adventurous for us (though it's funny, my husband's co-workers thinks he is nuts for renting a car and doing a self-guided tour to begin with)!

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