Greek Itn. Ideas

Jan 1st, 2010, 11:46 AM
  #1  
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Greek Itn. Ideas

Planning a summer trip with my 15 year old daughter to Greece. We are active and enjoy a good locals guided tour, love to eat, both photographers, not so into museum hopping, like the ocean but not necessarily to swim. We want to travel around the country and wonder if its best to find a tour group or if from experience you believe that we could figure it out on our own. Right now planning on 10-14 days in mid july.

Some questions.... is better to day trip from one "homebase"? are there must experience local events that happen in the summer; street fairs, market places etc? is there a cheaper place to fly into and travel by bus train? We have ZERO greek language skills, are we better off with a tour, or is there enough in english we can get by? should i rent a car? hotels....we are kind of picky, so are there "american" chains you can reccommend?

All, any advice appreciated. And of course if I'm not asking the questions or giving enough info to be helpful...let me know.
vabarone is offline  
Jan 1st, 2010, 05:13 PM
  #2  
 
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If you plan to spend any time in the islands then a mainland 'home base' doesn't make any sense. Prices are high in July so if you keep a mainland home base and travel overnight from it you'll be wasting money on a room you don't use. Plan carefully, firm up your itinerary, and make hotel reservations accordingly.

If you want some assistance with planning that includes tours, transfers, hotels, etc., contact Dolphin-Hellas Travel and Fantasy Travel, both in Athens, to help you come up with a workable plan according to your requirements as well as your budget limitations.

http://www.dolphin-hellas.gr

http://www.fantasytravelofgreece.com

English is commonly spoken in Greece in the businesses that cater to tourists, including shops, galleries, hotels and restaurants.

It goes without saying that the more details you offer about your needs, schedules, budget, etc. the better the information you will receive in return.
brotherleelove2004 is offline  
Jan 1st, 2010, 05:26 PM
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I traveled in northern Greece and to three islands on my own, using buses, a train, ferries and a flight. I used a tour for the Peloponnese. I used Fantasy Travel for some reservations. I speak no Greek, although I did learn the alphabet. My TR is at http://www.wilhelmswords.com/eur2006/index.html . I'd recommend spending some time researching Matt Barrett's site http://greektravel.com/ .
thursdaysd is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2010, 05:38 AM
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Hi, vabarone, you have a great adventure ahead of you! To comment on some of your good questions:

1) - TIMING ... the earlier the better; if you could make it even partly in June it would be better; July brings the hottest weather, biggest crowds (even mob scene in some cases as all of Europe crowds into charter planes)... try for say at least June 25 on. And DO try for 14 days; if u are from US, it takes a full DAY to get there (when you count in the 7-9 hr time-change), so make it worth your while. Also, will enable a good experience, not rush-rush-rush.

2) ARRANGEMENTS - the Greek-based agencies named (plus another good one, Thesaurus) are used to helping N. American tourists; plus will be valuable as on-the-spot helpers if any aspect goes awry. KEY: that you first decide on YOUR priorities and your daily ball-park budget for lodgings. Then e-mail all 3 agencies about what destination u want and your lodging budget (in Euros), and compare their answers. (Important -- you can save big if you are willing to handle your OWN transport to/from hotel... it's very easy).

3) HOMEWORK - Go to Barnes & Noble & browse guides, then library to borrow the ones you like, & Xerox key pages; doesn't matter if they are older editions because u are looking for sightseeing, not today's restaurant prices. My choices for (1) good visual overview: HK's EYEWITNESS: the Greek Islands, and EYEWITNESS: Athens & Mainland (2)logistics, with a young slant - LET'S GO GREECE and GREEK ISLAND-HOPPING. And another good website for islands, succinct, good pix, youthful: - http://www.greek-islands.us/ the "Matt Barrett" site is for ALL greece; comprehensive and easy to read (but also be aware he "plugs' some services that he is affiiated with) http://www.greektravel.com/

4) REALISM - in 2 weeks the maximum that is realistic = 3 islands plus 3 days Athens. And to accomplish this will require flying immediately on arrival to your farthest island, and "hopping back" to do Athens at the end. Another approach would be to do a mainland tour by CHAT or KEY tours at the start ... of say, 3 days (Delphi and the Argolid area of Nafplio-Mycenae-Epidaurus), then fly to 1 island, ferry to another, then back to Athens. Islands will need to be in same general group. Here's a Map. http://courses.cit.cornell.edu/his45...eece%20Map.gif ... it shows you clearly that u could combine, say, Santorini & Paros, but or Corfu & Kefalonia -- but not Corfu and Rhodes (unless u have a flying carpet).

5) LANGUAGE - Greeks you'll meet can understand & use english but always appreciate your efforts. If you start every sentence with "Parakalo" (please) then continue in English it works!. Here's a wonderful website that gives you ALL the key words/phrases you will need -- and you can print out the lists with phonetic pronunciation! Brilliant!! http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/greek/talk/

6) HOTELS - Explain what you mean by 'picky.' I will just say you will have a better time if you look at small family-run hotels (15-20 rooms) than if you stick to "american chains". For one thing, Hiltons just don't exist outside of athens. And the little ones are really where you will experience Greece, and true hospitality. It will help these forum experts advise you if you Specify what your demands are, instead of a word like "picky." Can you possibly give up the need for a gigantic bathroom, in order to have a divine balcony view?

best of luck in planning a lovely trip!
travelerjan is online now  
Jan 2nd, 2010, 07:53 AM
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That word 'picky', along with the phrase '"american" chains', has me worried too, and would probably exclude any hotel I have stayed at in Greece except the Athens Airport Sofitel. You could restrict your trip to Santorini > Mykonos > Athens, and stay in high end hotels, but that's not what I would recommend. ;-)

The reality is that most hotels and smaller domatia, even expensive ones, have firm matresses on the beds, small bathrooms (without shower curtains), and bins for the TP. On the other hand, you may have a balcony with a spectacular view of the Aegean, friendly hosts who will bend over backwards to make you comfortable, and a location on some of the most beautiful islands in the world.
Heimdall is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2010, 12:56 PM
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If I may, can I add another guide to check out?

Jan's are great recommendations but for in-depth historical information particularly (but few photographs) I don't think the Blue Guide for Greece can be beaten. It's an oldie but goodie!

http://tinyurl.com/ydxx7u7

I've used 'Blues' for a long, long time and they've never let me down. I understand from their newsletter that they will soon be launching a guide to the Aegean Islands.

Bill
billbarr is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2010, 06:10 AM
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Hi Bill,

If Blue Guide is adding an Aegean edition, that is very good news to me. Thanks for that!

Have you read The Cyclades, by John Freely? Not a guide, but it has lots of historical information on our favourite islands.
Heimdall is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2010, 12:32 PM
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Hello my friend. How are you? I wish you a very Happy New Year.

I hadn't heard of John Freely's book and have just ordered it on Amazon. Thanks for that.

Many times I have recommended John Ebdon's terrific two books published in the early eighties. They are now out of print but easily available online for a pound or two each. They describe his first and then return visit to Greece, to both the Cyclades and the Dodecanese. Please try and find them as I am sure you'd enjoy each very much. They are called Ebdon's Odyssey and Ebdon's Iliad.

There are now two new Blue Guides. The first, published in 2008 is called 'Greece: The Mainland' (I have it and it is superb) and the second 'Blue Guide Greece the Aegean Islands' is to be published in May 2010.

Bill
billbarr is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2010, 01:49 PM
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Hi Bill,

Yes, I am well, and Happy New Year to you!

I checked the Amazon website, and see that Blue Guide Greece the Aegean Islands is available to preorder and sent when published, so I will do just that. Thanks again!
Heimdall is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2010, 02:12 PM
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Thanks for that Bill! I think that will be my New Year's Present to myself! I count a year wasted that does not bring me a new guidebook on Greece or at least a new edition of an old favorite.
travelerjan is online now  
Jan 3rd, 2010, 11:26 PM
  #11  
 
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You can stay in Athens where there are many places to visit and a lot of monuments for sightseeing. Daytrips are very easy to do as there are many guided excursions available for tourists. I have already suggested the same activity to another user because it is the best option if you are a foreigner. So, have a look here to see which places you can visite during a guided tour: http://www.athens-greece.us/travel-t...eece-tours.asp . Continuously, you can pick up a ferry from Piraeus port and visit an island such as Paros or Santorini, you can even go on a cruise in order to visit more of them.
andreahooks is offline  

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