My itinerary for Greece

Oct 15th, 2013, 08:51 PM
  #1  
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My itinerary for Greece

At long last, after many years, I will be visiting Greece next May. I have 24 full days on the ground (no days with flights in them). Here's my plan at the moment:

I arrive at 5:25 pm on a connecting Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt. I see Aegean has a flight to Rhodes leaving at 9:30 pm, and it seems it should be pretty safe that I can make that flight. I suppose hoping to make the 7:30 pm flight is too risky. Anyway, I should start Day 1 on Rhodes.

Day 1-4 Rhodes
Day 5 Ferry to Santorini
Day 6-8 Santorini
Day 9 Ferry to Mykonos
Day 10 Mykonos (just to visit Delos)
Day 11 Ferry to Athens
Day 12 Pick up rental car, head to Nafplio
Day 13-15 Nafplio and environs
Day 16 Olympia
Day 17 Delphi
Day 18 Transit to Meteora
Day 19 Meteora
Day 20 Return to Athens, drop rental car
Day 21-24 Athens

I'd like to fit in Monemvasia (well, and Crete, but I gave up on that one), but I don't see where I trim a day to do it. If you have ideas, let me know.

I know there are some long driving days, but I live in the Bay Area and think nothing of jumping in the car and driving 4 hours to visit my folks in Reno, so I think I will be up to it.

Major interests are historical ruins, sculpture, antique places, lovely views - I take lots of very good vacation photos.

Any comments or suggestions? Any place I should try to fit in? Anywhere I might visit en route to somewhere else? Anything I should take out?
artsnletters is offline  
Oct 15th, 2013, 08:58 PM
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Take a day from Santorini and give it to Myknponos.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Oct 15th, 2013, 09:19 PM
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Do your plans include the theater in Epidaurus?
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Oct 15th, 2013, 09:19 PM
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Happy, can you give me a sales pitch for that? I have no interest in Mykonos, at least I don't think I do, other than as a jumping-off point for Delos. I'm not into beaches, and it sounds just too touristy and flashy (although maybe Santorini is these days too, I haven't been there in 20 years). What else is there in Mykonos that you think I would really like?
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Oct 15th, 2013, 09:20 PM
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BTW, your trip sounds great!
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Oct 15th, 2013, 09:20 PM
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joannyc, absolutely. I plan to use Nafplio as a base and visit all the major sights around there - Epidaurus, Mycenae, etc.
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Oct 15th, 2013, 09:58 PM
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Driving in Greece is not the same as in California. The best way to describe it that it brings "excitement" into driving.
San Francisco to Reno = I80 = divided interstate highway.
Except for main roads connecting Athens to big cities, many roads are winding 2 lane roads. Greece is very mountainous. The traffic level on these roads both in the mainland and Peloponnese are light. However, the drivers take advantage of the light traffic and drive 140kmh on 80kmh roads and pass cars on passing prohibited areas as if no such traffic rule exists. On main trunk toll highways, I would guess the fastest big engine sports cars were probably doing 180kmh.
It is a great place for lead-foot drivers.
I presume you have thought about risks with your Delos plan. You know Delos is closed on Monday. For your Delos plan to work, a Santorini-Mykonos boat must be running and the day you plan to visit Delos is not too windy for these smaller boats to operate.
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Oct 15th, 2013, 10:15 PM
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I've heard bad things about drivers in Greece before, so I'm a bit reluctant, but I don't think I can make the itinerary work by public transportation, plus I am terribly prone to motion sickness (but strangely enough not on boats).

I'll have to take my chances on Delos. Short of staying on Mykonos another couple days to make it more certain - and even then, I could end up just sitting on Mykonos for two more days NOT seeing Delos. I'm going in May and I've heard the seas generally aren't bad then, so I'm hoping for the best. I'd actually rather stay on Naxos and hang out longer, giving more days for the weather to cooperate, but Delos excursions from there only give you three hours on the site, and I'm craving one of the four-hour guided tours plus some time to do some "serious" photography. (Serious in terms of time, not in terms of quality I'm afraid.) So I guess I just have to roll the dice.
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Oct 16th, 2013, 12:09 AM
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Blue Star ferries from Rhodes to Santorini run only 3 days per week (Mon-Wed-Fri), so without knowing your exact timetable it's Impossible to say that you can travel on Day 5. There is another ferry that runs a couple of days per week, but it makes numerous stops and takes nearly a day to get there.

Greg is correct about Delos — you will have to insure your day on Mykonos isn't a Monday. The first time I visited Delos was in May many years ago, and it took three days to get there from Mykonos. The first day, a Sunday, was too windy for the boats to run, and the second day, a Monday, the site was closed.

I love Delos, and you can see photos of my second visit at http://www.flickr.com/photos/heimdal...7627791957268/. Much as it pains me to say so, I think you should give it a miss on this trip. After a lot of time and expense to get to Mykonos there will be a real chance that you won't get to see Delos. You could use the time saved for a trip to Monemvasia.
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Oct 16th, 2013, 06:41 AM
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triangled
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Oct 16th, 2013, 06:48 AM
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We went from Nafplio to Monemvasia in 4 hours in late 9/13 and the driving was fine. We stayed 1 day in a hotel on the rock and we swam off the rocks which was fun. I think that 1 day was plenty there, but we were glad we went. The drive to the west coast from there was twisty, but I enjoy the driving. In the states I do not drive a stick shift, but I enjoy it in Europe. I envy the amount of time you get to spend in Greece. Have fun.
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Oct 16th, 2013, 07:20 AM
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Don't be dissuaded or daunted about driving in Greece. With your itinerary it is the way to go. A few things to be aware of though:

- Drivers will pass on hills and on curves. Really. Especially at these 2 points stay to the right in your lane just in case.

- If the shoulder is paved you will be expected to put 2 wheels onto it so a faster car can pass.

- Keep right on 4 lane highways except to pass... as noted by a poster above, some cars will be flying past. On the highway from Athens to Corinth in 2008 I was doing 140 kph and passed maybe 2 other cars.

- Have change and small bills handy for toll roads such as Athens-Korinth.

- Don't go all the way out the the airport to pick up your car. Plan your route and leave outside of rush hours and you'll be fine. Driving in Athens is not the horror story people make it out to be. Parking can be another matter. I picked up a car rented via EconomyCarrentals.com from Avis on Amalias almost opposite Hadrian's Arch. It was a straight shot right down to the highway to leave the city.

I'd consider giving Olympia a miss. It's a long drive out of the way. On the other hand, it does give you the chance to cross the amazing bridge on the way to Delphi.

I had a passenger with me on my last trip... a friend who had taken Greek in school, although many years ago. But it gave him a vague familiarity with the Greek alphabet and therefore road signs. As you'll be on your own study some place names in Greek and maybe even make yourself a cheat sheet to help recognize place names. A GPS will be a real help when driving solo. If you don't have one, buy one before you leave so you can learn how to use it while driving at home. You can find good deals on used ones such places as Kijiji and Craigslist.

Have fun!
ParisAmsterdam is offline  
Oct 16th, 2013, 08:17 AM
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Your plan sounds good. There would be a lot more to see in the Peloponnese (not only Monemvasia, but Mistras/Sparta, Bassae, Mani, Koroni, Methoni, Pylos ......), but you have no time for all that. So it's better to concentrate on the Northern part.

Rhodos is a gem; it may be the warmest place along your whole itinerary BTW. But as said above, nobody knows the timetable of the night ferry to Santorini. It changed a lot in the last years (contrarily to the classic Piraeus - Mykonos, Piraeus - Santorini and Piraeus - Kos - Rhodos lines).

Most catamarans between Santorini and Mykonos start to run someday in May. Be careful if you plan to travel at the beginning of May.

Be prepared to get the definite ferry timetables only a few days in advance.

Therefore, I wouldn't book my accommodation long ahead (may be except your Athens hotel). In May (low season) there will most probably be free rooms at all Islands and mainland provincial towns, even if you arrive in the evening.
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Oct 16th, 2013, 09:03 AM
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Although Hellenic Seaways hasn't announced its 2014 timetable yet, their catamaran between Santorini and Mykonos always begins its season the weekend before Greek Easter, which is Apr 20th in 2014. This is a longstanding practice, and I have no doubt it will continue into next year. There should also be Sea Jets service by the beginning of May if not earlier. Sea Jets has already released some of its timetables for 2014, but I wouldn't rely on them not to change between now and next May.

Although Blue Star isn't listing 2014 timetables on its own website yet, gtp.gr is showing the Rhodes > Santorini ferry running on Mon - Wed - Fri from Apr 2nd. It doesn't have the usual "This schedule is not officially approved yet" notation, so the timetable appears to be firm. You will need to double-check sometime around April, because even "firm" timetables are sometimes later changed.

Neckervd is correct that you don't have to prebook accommodation on the islands for travel in May. Hotel capacity is geared for August, and visitor numbers in May are well below that level.
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Oct 16th, 2013, 09:24 AM
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I would emphasize "definite ferry timetables only a few days in advance." I think the guide books say the time table is definite two weeks ahead. Perhaps except for the Blue Star, this is not the case. I was looking at a Hellenic ferry one week before my trip last month. I bought my ticket one day before the trip and a boat I was planning disappeared since I looked at the schedule a week before at www.gtp.gr.
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Oct 16th, 2013, 10:57 AM
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Car ferries that serve the main routes, e.g. Piraeus > Paros > Naxos > Santorini, are utterly reliable, because these are what islanders depend upon for transport and supplies from the mainland. Hellenic Seaways and Sea Jets Consortium operate catamarans only during the summer, aimed primarily at the tourist market. Toward the end of the season they may cut services early if bookings are low. Most of those catamarans are now in winter layup.

Once timetables are published and confirmed it's rare for them to change, with the exception of Sea Jets Consortium, which is notorious for its changes. Occasionally weather, industrial action, or mechanical breakdown causes a ferry to be cancelled, but these are rare occurrences. As a hobby I track Greek ferries on marinetraffic.com, and they almost always run on the days they are scheduled. Naturally you should check to see if the ferry is running according to schedule, just as you would check to see if an airline is running on time.

For long range planning you have no choice but to use the ferry timetables. There are several posters here on Fodor's and on Trip Advisor who are very experienced in the Greek ferry system, and can advise you on what to expect. Some ferry companies, e.g. Blue Star and ANEK, operate ferries year-round, and have much the same schedule from one year to the next. Other companies, e.g. Sea Jets and Hellenic Seaways, operate primarily in the tourist season and are more likely to change their routes from year-to-year. In 2013 there were major changes in the summer catamaran timetables.
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Oct 16th, 2013, 01:02 PM
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I would advice you to skip Meteora. It is too far from Athens and the The Peloponnese. Go to Monemvàsia instead, it is a Great place and if you are a Photography lover like me you will love it. And instead of Mykonos (-Delos) visit a non touristy Greek island like Symi or Astypalaia, believe me you won't regret it. I am Greek so trust me. Have a Great time in Greece. Καλές Διακοπές.
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Oct 16th, 2013, 01:23 PM
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We found Santorini over run with tourists ,and cruise ship passengers. Perhaps it was our hotel and the places we dealt with, but rarely were the staff Greek with their warm hospitality. Couldn't wait to leave.
We enjoyed Mykonos, walking around Mykonos Town. Perhaps we were lucky that no cruise ships were in port. Our hotel was filled with Greek families and those from N. Europe. In Santorini it was all Americans wherever we went, heavily honeymooners.
However, we much preferred Paros and Naxos and the Peloponnesean Peninsula to either Santorini or Mykonos.Delos was a wonderful experience.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Oct 16th, 2013, 05:14 PM
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Have to disagree with PetrosB3 about Meteora! I thought it was a highlight of my trip! Go, Go, Go!!!!
joannyc is online now  
Oct 16th, 2013, 06:14 PM
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My current plan would have me going Rhodes-Santorini on a Saturday, which sounds like will be an unlikely plan. If I have to go Friday, I'll definitely trim a day off Santorini - probably that day will go to Monemvasia. Current plans would have me arriving in Mykonos on a Wednesday, so even if things get moved up a day Delos would still be an option.

I want to photograph on Santorini - I've been before but took woefully few pictures. I remember it was gorgeous. Not sure why I didn't wield my camera a little more liberally. According to http://ports.cruisett.com/ there will be cruise ships in port every day I'm there, May 11-12-13, with the 11th being the lightest day and the 13th the heaviest, and shifting days around unfortunately won't help. Maybe I will leave a day earlier. In any event, I'll plan on rising early and making the most of the late afternoon light, when hopefully there will be somewhat fewer cruisers on the attack.

I totally get the issues with Delos, Olympia, and Meteora, but these are all places I particularly want to see and a big part of why I want to visit Greece. I've already been to Athens and Delphi, so trimming off Olympia and/or Meteora means not seeing anything new. If I cut a day from Santorini, I can add Monemvasia, which would be a big plus. I will just have to plan another trip to see Crete and the rest of the Peloponnese, and Delos if it doesn't work out this time.

BTW, I agree about Naxos - loved that island!
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