How best to spend time in Greece

Old May 27th, 2008, 02:20 PM
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How best to spend time in Greece

I booked a cruise (having never been on one) that starts in Istanbul and ends in Athens in September. I plan to spend some time in Turkey before the cruise and some time in Greece afterwards. The cruise stops at: Mykonos, Rhodes, Patmos, Kusadasi, Crete and Santorini before Athens. I will arrive in Athens on Sept. 19 (Friday) and have extended my stay for a week so I can see more of Greece, flying home on the 27th.

I already have a hotel booked for two nights in Athens (19th and 20th) compliments of the cruise tour I am on). I may or may not want to take advantage of all that (spending two days and nights specifically to see Athens).

As an older single female, not keen on renting a car, I am trying to put together an itinerary that would work for me.

First, is it worth it for me to make time to go back to Santorini for a few days since the cruise will only be in port at Santorini for a few hours (5-9pm)? I am willing to go back, if it is worth it to spend a couple of days there.

Second, I really want to see Delphi and Meteora and am considering hiring a private taxi to do that for two days / one night. Bus tours of 50 people don't thrill me if I can see things some other way.

After reading posts on this board and doing some other research, it seems that the Peloponnese is a great place to spend some time, using Nafplion as a base (I would consider renting a car there for day trips). (I would love to see Mystras but not sure how do-able that is from Nafplion.)

Putting all that together I have this but not sure the places and proportions are appropriate:
2 days in Athens (multiple nights)
2 days Delphi / Meteora (one night)
2 days Peloponnese (two nights)
2 days Santorini (one night)

So, if anyone could offer some help for my itinerary, I would appreciate it.
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Old May 27th, 2008, 06:13 PM
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Just came back from Greece last week. Your itin. is doable. You might check out website www.greektravel.com. a wealth of info including side trips by private trans. which I found reliable as did my daughter and 2 kids just before I arrived. santorini is a long and noisy ferry ride, consider a flight. You have seen a bit of Santorini and might find Mykonos interesting. Each island is So-o-o different. Mykonos all blue and white, Santorini barrelshaped roofs, vine wrapped around the grapevine trunks to stave off wind damage, Ios.Partying non stop ( not my cup of tea but the kids loved it). Paros, quiet, Tinos, calm, reverant, and agrarian. Delos, very worth a side trip( day trips only allowed) I could go on and on. I loved the 2 weeks there and would happily return if I have another trip in my rapidly diminishing future. I am older also..77 this year. The hills get higher, paths rougher and $ dearer but I can't stop the itch. amer_can
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Old May 27th, 2008, 06:37 PM
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Thanks, ameri_can. I have reconsidered the ferry ride to Santorini and now thinking if I go, I will do a flight. Just wondered if it was worth it to go to Santorini for such a short time.

Glad to hear you are still traveling. I can't imagine not traveling and hope I will still be able to do that when I am 77. My father and I traveled together internationally until he was 81 and he did quite well.

I will check out the website you suggested.

Thanks again! Happy travels!
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Old May 27th, 2008, 07:10 PM
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Hi wanderlust123:
Your itinerary is doable, however, in my opinion, your are trying to do too much in 8 days to really enjoy. There is travel time involved, which you can estimate to eat up close to half a day to each location. Traveling to the airport, checking in early, possible delayed flight, arriving, collecting baggage, and then getting to your hotel in Santorini, and vica-versa in Athens, for example. Also, you may want to consider spending your last night in Athens, if you are flying out from there on the 27th.

I am Greek-American and went to Greece the 1st time in Sept. 2006. You have selected a perfect time of year to go. I went with my main goal to find my GrandFather's village in the Peloponnese (he came to U.S.A. in 1907).

I hired a private English-speaking taxi driver, Takis, who was fantastic. 6 day tour of the Peloponnese: Corinthian Canal and Ancient Corinth, Epidavros, Nafplio, Sparti, Mystras,etc.
Did find my GrandFather's village!!!And then 5 days in Central & Northern Greece. Delphi, Meteora, etc.
Prior to that 2 days - 3 nights in Santorini. Just right.

There is so much to see around Nafplio. And it is doable to get from Nafplio to Sparti - Mystras, and enjoy them, which would take up most of 1 day. Suggest spending the night.
From there to Delphi and to enjoy Delphi, the ancient site and museum, 1 day.
We spent the night, and the next morning, went to Meteora, spent the day touring, and spent the night.

Please feel free to contact me at my e-mail [email protected], and I will be happy to give you any further details or info about my guide.
Marinos
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Old May 27th, 2008, 08:41 PM
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Since you will have briefly visited
Santorini I'd drop it from the rest
of the trip. As others have said it is possible but you'll be rushed everywhere.

I was in Greece in early May and the
roads once out of Athens were not crowded. I thoroughly enjoyed our
drive to Mycenae, Tiryns, Napflion
and Epidaurus. By late September I think you should find the traffic light too.

I also drove to Delphi and back from Athens and it was pretty well a whole day. So doing Delphi and Meteora with only 1 overnight might make that a bit rushed too.

Rob
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Old May 28th, 2008, 06:14 AM
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I agree 100% with ParisAmsterdam. No Santorini. ANd you might consider whether Meteora is worth all that driving ... there are wonderful videos of the monasteries to enjoy... and taking away that additional drive time would allow you to enjoy the pelopponese experience + delphi that much more.
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Old May 28th, 2008, 06:36 AM
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wanderlust
It sounds as if you are on the very exact trip we returned from last month. Gate1 travel? We enjoyed every minute of it! We loved the old city of Rhodes and also went to Lindos and would recommend the beauty there. Ephesus was oh so educational and visiting St John's cave on Patmos was awesome. We took the village tour in Crete and had an wonderful Greek brunch! Santorini was also wonderful but I would not go back. Everything is a walk UP and my knees killed me. It is beautiful and I'm glad I went but I would not spend more days there simply because it was physically hard for me. However, a lady that we made friends with on the cruise wanted to go back and spend 3-4 more days, so It is truly a personal thing.

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Old May 30th, 2008, 10:15 PM
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Planning to go also in September so bookmarking.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2008, 07:14 PM
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I am still working on deciding what I want to see and do....I appreciate all the input.

cd - It isn't a Gate 1 tour to my knowledge, but could be very similar. I booked it through a singles travel organization.

I am trying to decide if I want to book a private taxi for several days to see things or if I can do them on my own. Private taxi is very expensive for one person (250 Euros per day plus 50 Euros for each of the driver's overnights plus my hotel and expenses) and tour buses are less expensive but are limited as to what they do. I am workig through the option of doing it on my own with public transportation, etc., which is the most economical but also has it's drawbacks.

One thing about tours that concerns me is that, for example, tours to Meteora typically see only two monasteries: Great Meteoron and one of two others, depending on which day they are open, as not all are open all days: Varlaam or St. Stephen. The others are not visited. Another thing I learned in my research is that the tours to Delphi do not typically include the The Tholos Temple, Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia, Delphi which is down the road a bit. I would want to see that.

If I do these on my own with a private taxi, I can see all I want at my pace. I am guessing that if I do these on my own with public transportation to get to Delphi or Meteora (Kalambaka), it will take longer, but I could hire a taxi once I get to the destination and use them only to take me around once there and get a similar benefit but at a much reduced price.

I am willing to let go of revisiting Santorini but with a week in Greece after the cruise, I would like to include Meteora, Delphi, and whatever I can in the Peloponnese: Nafplio, Ancient Corinth, Epidaurus, Mycenae. Not sure how to arrange on my own but still investigating.

Wished I had time for Mystras, Monemvasia, the Mani, etc. Also Olympia and Lousion Gorge. But I just can't do it all....sigh.

Any thoughts on all this?
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Old Jun 4th, 2008, 09:17 PM
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I guess mostly it depends on how confident you are to drive in Greece
on your own.

I was lucky on my trip last month
in that I had 2 friends who were competent navigators with me at different times but I'd have done it on my own if they hadn't been along.

The car I rented was through Avis
on Amalias Street opposite Hadrian's
Arch in Athens. From there it's a straight shot down Sygrou then follow the sign for Piraeus onto a motorway. Follow the Lamia sign , then we grabbed the Corinth exit and it was clear sailing on a mostly empty motorway to just past Corinth.
From there it was an easy drive on small roads to Mycenae, Tiryns and
Nafplion.

Getting to either Delphi or Meteora
would be a similar route out of Athens but stay in the direction of
Lamia and take the appropriate turn
from there. Driving in Greece is NOT as intimidating as most people
would have you believe.

Like you I am just not a bus tour
person so a car was the only option
I considered.

I guess the main things to be aware of are:

- watch your mirrors closely... cars
come up very quickly from behind.

- if you see a sign be ready to
turn... NOW! You don't get lots of warning in advance.

- keep right and put 2 wheels onto
the paved shoulder as it's customary
to let faster cars get by that way
on 2 lane roads.

Study some maps in advance and I bet
you'll have a great time.

Rob
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