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Naxos, Santorini and Athens - A Couple Discovers Greece

Naxos, Santorini and Athens - A Couple Discovers Greece

Old Jan 1st, 2007, 01:46 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 626
Naxos, Santorini and Athens - A Couple Discovers Greece

Hi everyone. My husband and I took a two-week trip to Greece last October for our fourth wedding anniversary, and this weekend I finally had time to write my trip report! This was our first trip to Greece, and we loved it and can't wait to go back.

The basics:
Us: An active couple from NYC, both age 35
Interests: Photography, history, animals, & hiking
Flight: JFK – Athens RT on Olympic Airlines
Itinerary: October 1 – 14, 2006. 5 days in Naxos, 3 days in Santorini, 3 days in Athens
Cost: Including everything, almost $3600

My photos from the trip are here:

Before I start, I would like to mention that DH and I are animal people. We were surprised at how many stray cats and dogs there were, and how many of them were friendly, not feral like most strays in the US. We made cat and dog friends in many places, and we fed them when we could. I found their plight pretty upsetting, as some of the dogs we saw were half-starved.

Anyway, our trip got off to a good start. We live in Astoria, Queens, a heavily Greek neighborhood, and the car service we used is Greek-owned. We had a great time chatting with our Greek cabbie on the way to the airport.

We had a good experience with Olympic Airlines on each leg. Our plane arrived at the gate at JFK late, but the staff was really good about getting us on board and into the air as quickly as possible. When we landed in Athens, it took us no time to get through the arrivals area and check in for our Olympic flight to Naxos. We arrived at the gate for Naxos with an hour to spare. We were bused out to a little Olympic Airlines propeller plane, and the flight to Naxos was quick and scenic. Which brings me to our first destination,

Naxos (5 nights)
We had a lovely time in Naxos. As it turned out, we preferred Santorini, but we made the most of our time in Naxos and we're really glad we went there.

Our first view of Naxos was of the airport, which consisted of a runway and an adorable little building. We took a cab to our hotel, Iliada Studios in the Grotta in Hora. Iliada Studios is beautiful, set on a bluff with a wide patio and a view of the Portara. We paid 40 Euro/night for 5 nights for a small apartment. We had two floors, a small patio downstairs, a balcony upstairs, and two private entrances. There was some confusion when we arrived because the owners weren't around, and the woman who worked there didn't speak much English, or much Greek, for that matter. She let us into our room without asking for proof of who we were. I ended up calling the owner, Irini, on her cell phone to confirm that we were in the correct room. Once that was settled, we showered and changed. I guess our schedule conflicted with Irini's because we never saw her until the night before we left, when she made a point of coming by our room. She even gave us our money back when her daughter overcharged us for the balance of our stay.

Iliada Studios is a good choice if you want a great view on a budget and don't care about being near the beach. It is also a good choice if you want to cook on your own a little and don't need much guidance from the hotelier. The hotel is on the other side of town from St. George's Beach. The shortest way to town is to walk through the parking area for the Hotel Grotta, down a hill on a dirt path into a parking lot. From there it is a short walk to the harbor and ferry dock. I suggest shoes with good traction for the path to the Grotta, especially going downhill.

On the first day, we met a little calico kitten at our door. The poor thing seemed to have recently lost an eye in a fight. She seemed to be attention-starved and hung around our room for the next few days, always begging for attention and getting underfoot. It really felt like she belonged with us, and it was very hard to leave her.

We spent that afternoon exploring the town. However, apparently there is a sort of siesta from about 2 pm – 5 pm, and everything was shut down. We wandered through the Old Town, occasionally bumping into other tourists.

On our first evening in Naxos, we went to check out the Portara, of course. It is in a dramatic setting on top of a hill. On our second day, during the siesta, we hiked to the cave chapel of Theologaki, on a hill above the Grotta. On our third day, we rented a car and drove around the island. The scenery of the island is stunning. We stopped in Filoti, but we didn't stay long. We walked through the town a bit, but we felt like we were intruding, so we went on to Mt. Za (Mt. Zeus.) Zeus was supposed to have been born in a cave at the top of this hill. The road through this region is very high up and there are no guardrails, so the drive was a little scary. We hiked the path until the paving ended and the path turned into more of a rock scramble. I waited while DH went on a bit farther, but he said he lost the trail after a few feet. The main path was littered with loose stones. This walk is not for the faint of heart, but it is well worth it for the scenery!

After Mt. Za, we headed for the Temple of Demeter. That drive was an adventure. I had a road map but even so, we somehow ended up on a tractor path before finding the temple. The temple, like the Portara, is in a beautiful setting, surrounded by hills. The approach to the Temple is quite dramatic, and I could imagine clergy or supplicants making their way to the temple for worship. I imagine it's even more beautiful in spring or summer when the flowers are in bloom. We spent a good hour at the temple, photographing and befriending a friendly tuxedo kitten. The little guy almost followed us out of the temple! We ended the day at a restaurant on the beach at Mikri Vigla. I had read that the food there was great. The grill was shut down when we got there, but the food we did have was great, and the view was probably the best we had for a meal in our whole time in Greece, overlooking the beach with the mountains in the background. Which brings me to...

We had a great meal at Typografio Cafe-Restaurant in the Old Town. It is on the west side of the Old Town, and you sit up on a balcony with a good view of the street. We had saganaki made with Naxos cheese and bruschetta, and I had chicken breast with honey, ginger and candied fruit. It made a great meal with half a carafe of white wine. The setting was pretty romantic.

On our anniversary, we enjoyed a lovely meal at Vassilis Tavern, also in the Old Town. I had chicken stuffed with cheese and bacon. DH had sausage & chicken souvlaki wrapped in bacon. The saganaki was good, and the house white wine was light & crisp.

I would also recommend renting a car or scooter and checking out the taverna at Mirki Vigla. It's worth it for the views alone.

We tried a couple of different internet cafes, but our favorite was called Photo @ Naxos. It was on the edge of the Old Town, not far from St. George beach and near the Waffle House. It was the easiest and cheapest cafe to use, and it had fast machines and a fast internet connection.

We discovered the sublime combination of Naxos cheese and white wine. It was even better when paired with bread from stanbr's favorite bakery. I wish we had brought some Naxos cheese home with us, but we didn't plan well enough.

We did bring home some kitron. We went to the kitron store that faces the water in Hora; I forget the name of it but you can't miss it if you walk along the main strip with all the restaurants. We tasted all three types of kitron, and ended up buying two large bottles of the clear “special” 80 proof kitron, a smaller bottle of yellow and smallest bottle of green to bring home and share with our friends. So far, we haven't shared any, but we haven't drunk any either – we don't want to run out of it!

We took the ferry to Paros for a day while we were in Naxos. We had a lovely time there. We stayed in the main town, Parikía, all day. I was hoping to take a bus tour of the island, but the tourist season was over and those buses were no longer running. The old town in Parikía is a little different from Naxos. It felt a little more open. My favorite thing about Paros was the Panagia Ekatontapyliani, or the Church of 100 Doors. The inside was just beautiful, and to me, it was worth it to visit Paros for this church alone.

We also had my favorite meal of the whole trip in Paros. It was nothing fancy; it was the Souvlakeria by the port facing the road and the water. There is a photo of it on my website here:

We had pretty standard fare; just chicken souvlaki, tzadziki, etc., but it was really fresh, good food.
sunny16 is offline  
Old Jan 1st, 2007, 01:48 PM
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SANTORINI (three nights)
We took a Blue Star ferry from Naxos to Santorini. I really didn't expect to like Santorini as much as I did. I thought I'd prefer Naxos, because I'd heard that Santorini was so touristy. Having been there, I finally understand why everyone loves it so much. It is difficult to describe the beauty of the place, and photos don't do it justice. Our excellent hotel certainly made the experience more memorable. Three days turned out to be just about the right amount of time for us to spend there, although we weren't ready to leave when it was time to go. We want to go back and spend a couple of days in both Kamari and Firostefani.

I had read in this forum that in Santorini, you should spend money to get a room with a view of the caldera. It took a bit of effort, but I was able to get us a room at the Hotel Ira in Firostefani for 85 Euro/night. I believe this is a very good rate for a room with a volcano view, but it would have been worth it even if we'd paid much more. It is difficult to describe the sense of peace I got from being able to walk out onto our little terrace every day and look at that incredible vista. We could see the entire island end to end from our vantage point. At night, we could see the lights of Oia, Imerovigli, and Therassia, and we could even see the pulsing light of Akrotiri lighthouse. I like lighthouses, so this was a special treat for me.

I picked Hotel Ira partly based on the glowing reviews on Tripadvisor. As expected per those reviews, Manos and Kiki, the owners, were wonderfully kind and hospitable people. Manos picked us up at the ferry and dropped us off at the airport. He and Kiki were very knowledgeable about the entire island. Hotel Ira is gorgeous, but it doesn't look like the other hotels, being painted in yellows and pinks. Breakfast is included, and the dining room and its balconies also overlook the caldera. The breakfast buffet had good variety. I mainly stuck with yogurt and honey, but there was also bread, cereal, and usually some sort of cake from a bakery. There was a computer with a decent internet connection in the dining room that is free for guests to use. All areas of the hotel, including the pool, were open at all times, but of course they ask people to be quiet at night. The hotel was able to send our laundry out to be done, which was very convenient.

Firostefani turned out to be the perfect choice for us, as I thought it would be. It was close to the center of everything, but far enough away for it to be quiet. Firostefani is about a kilometer from Fira, and it's mostly downhill. There was a little grocery store nearby, which was handy. I would definitely stay in Firostefani, and at Hotel Ira, again.

Most people will notice two ways to get between the two towns: the path along the edge of the cliff, and the main road. There is a third way between them that you might not notice at first. It is by Aktaion restaurant and a church. If you go past the restaurant and between some cars parked just off the road, you will see a path between the buildings. It will drop you off by the Roman Catholic Church in Fira. This is the least scenic way, but it's the shortest, and you might want to take it after you've soaked in the views on the cliffside path.

Let me get the bad stuff out of the way. Our first night, we had dinner at Posidon restaurant in Fira. I know that this place is often recommended, but our meal there wasn't that good. My “chicken and potato stew” was chicken and french fries, served 45 minutes late and cold. DH's pork loin and bacon was ok, but the bacon was underooked. Maybe they were having a bad night, but I wouldn't recommend this place.

We had an excellent meal at Cafe Naoussa in Fira. We found it after our visit to the volcano. To find it from the cable cars to the Old Port, take a left from the cable car exit, then take the first right. Walk down to the next intersection. It's right across form a Chinese restaurant, and there's a jewelry store on the corner. Naoussa is up the stairs. There's only a view of the street, but the food is great. DH had a beef stew with potatoes, and I had chicken on a bed of rice. We also had a great meal at the famous Nick's Taverna in Fira. The first time we tried to go, there was quite a long wait, but we went another night and only had to wait a few minutes. One of our favorite Greek dishes at home is lemon potatoes, and we asked the waiter if they had any. It turns out that at Nick's, lemon potatoes aren't really served separately, but the waiter got the chef to prepare some for us, and they were out of this world. The tzadziki was very fresh and the fish was fantastic.

Also, we had a very nice snack in Oia at Cafe Skisa. We sat outside on the roof overlooking the caldera. I had choclate ice cream and DH had a yummy baklava that didn't look like any baklava I'd ever seen before. It had a lot more nuts inside.

Our final meal in Fira was lunch at Dionysus. The olive tapenade tasted store-bought, but aside from that, the food was great and the atmosphere was very nice.

Our first full day in Santorini, we spent the morning visiting the volcano. It turned out to be quite a treat. I recommend shoes with good traction for this excursion. I wore my hiking shoes and I was really glad I had them. It's a bit of a walk, all uphill, from the boats to the smoking caldera. It was really cool to see the lunar landscape and the great views of Santorini from this perspective.

Later that day, after our lunch at Cafe Naoussa, we stopped in the room briefly and walked on to Imerovigli, where we hiked to the Skaros. The Skaros is the ruin of a castle on a piece of cliff jutting out from the island. The footing can be a little tricky and there are no ropes or anything to keep you from falling, which I actually thought was kind of cool. There are no signs of any kind, but if you follow the cliff path in Imerovigli, you will be able to look down and see the church at the head of the path and find your way to it pretty easily. There are quite a few stairs leading down from the church to the Skaros. Once you get out onto the path on the outer edge of the promontory, you will see stairs leading to yet another church built into the cliffside. We came upon a dog just hanging out on the path. Unlike many of the dogs we saw in Greece, this one looked well-fed. She didn't seem too interested in us, but she accompanied us on our hike and kept coming and going. I have written more on her in my <a href=”http://sunny16.smugmug.com/gallery/2...4741351”>photo gallery</a>. We finally lost her in town when we went to find a good spot to watch the sunset, which we were lucky enough to see from Imerovigli that night.

The next day, we rented a car and drove to Akrotiri Lighthouse, Kamari Beach, Ancient Thira (which was closed on Mondays, so we didn't get to see it,) and Oia. There isn't much to see at the lighthouse, because it is owned by the Greek Navy and you can't get in, but you can walk around on a bluff below the lighthouse. Kamari was beautiful. DH and I ate at a souvlaki shack overlooking the water and then walked along the waterfront for a while. I waded in the water up to my shorts; I wish I'd had my bathing suit with me that day. The drive up to Ancient Thira was interesting because the road was so narrow and there were no guardrails. We were glad we were in such a small car, but passing other cars was a little hairy. We didn't spend as much time as I would have liked in Oia, but we did get to walk around a bit before sunset and have a snack at Cafe Skisa, mentioned above. We saw the sunset in Oia, but to be honest, I couldn't see what was so great about it as opposed to any other sunset we saw in the islands. We followed the crowd to a ruined castle, but of course we got there late and we couldn't get a good spot. Anyway, Oia seemed like a nice town, but Fira and Firostefani were more our speed.

When I tried to pay for something in Oia with my credit card, I discovered that my credit card was missing. After a few minutes I realized that I must have left it at Sofia Leather in Fira the night before when I was buying a jacket. This put a damper on the rest of our time in Oia, because I was thinking I would have to call my credit card company and cancel the card, and of course I hadn't brought the contact information with me to Greece. We rushed back to Fira after the sunset, and when I walked into the leather store, the salesman saw me and handed me my credit card! He told me he'd looked all over town for me the night before. I was incredibly relieved, and very thankful for his honesty. So, if you want to buy leather in Santorini, be sure to visit Sofia Leather!

On our final day in Santorini, we stayed in Fira and hit the museums. We visited the Archeological Museum, the Prehistoric Thira Museum, and the exhibits of the Wall Paintings of Thera at the Nomikos Conference Center. I enjoyed the latter two the most, especially the wall paintings. They are something to behold up close.
sunny16 is offline  
Old Jan 1st, 2007, 01:49 PM
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ATHENS (four nights)
We flew on Aegean Airlines from Santorini to Athens. Athens turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. I loved the fact that it was a vibrant, living city. I loved the clean and easy metro system, and the fact that the city was very walkable. I was kind of fascinated by the square concrete architecture of the modern buildings. But one thing that was a bummer was the food. I had assumed that because Athens was a national capital at a geographical crossroads, there would be at least a little Middle Eastern and Italian food, but it was difficult to find. All we could find was Greek food, which we were a little burned out on after a week and a half. I tried to find some other kind of food. Using my Time Out guide, we went looking for an Egyptian restaurant, only to discover that it was no longer a restaurant. We walked through Psyrri, and found a closed Italian restaurant and some closed Indian restaurants, but we were there in the middle of the day and there were no hours posted. We were afraid that if we went back that evening, they still wouldn't be open, so we didn't try. Yes, I realize that was our fault, but there you have it.

We stayed at the Athens Cypria on Domias Street, near Syntagma Square. We took the express bus from and to the airport, and the hotel was in a good location for that. The room was a decent size for a large city, and the location was good for hitting all the tourist spots. We paid 108 Euro/night for three weeknights and 120 Euro on Friday night, which I thought was fair. We were within easy walking distance of just about everything. Breakfast was included, and it was nothing to write home about, but it was fine.

Our first day, we walked through Psyrri to the Central Market and down Athinias street, hitting both Agoras and the temple of Hephaestus before the end of the day. In Psyrri, we looked for the Naxian grocery store mentioned in Matt Barrett's guide online. We found it, but it looked nothing like Barrett's photos, and the cheese looked a little scary, so we didn't buy anything there. From here, Central Market was an easy walk. It was a bit of sensory overload for me, and we didn't stay long, but I'm glad we went. We relaxed afterwards with a Greek coffee next door. Athinias Street is very colorful, with all kinds of shops selling interesting things. There seemed to be no end of shoe stores. I think this area is off the beaten path for most tourists, but I recommend it. On our walk, we came across some interesting graffiti in several areas, but especially by the Ancient Agora. The Agoras were interesting, but by the time we got to the Ancient Agora, I was a little too tired to appreciate what I was seeing. The temple of Hephaestus was very nice and peaceful, and I spent quite some time there taking photos.

I'm glad I have been to the Parthenon, because now I'll never have to go there again. We meant to wake up early to beat the crowds, but instead we got there around 11am, and the place was a zoo. I have never seen crowds like that at any site in NYC or elsewhere. We weren't allowed to bring our camera bags up to the Parthenon with us, even though we saw other people with backpacks, so we each took turns going in while the other person held on to the gear. This alone put a damper on the experience, but the crowds...there was no real way to soak in the majesty of the Parthenon with all the people. While I was waiting for DH, I had a very nice chat with a Canadian couple, each of whom asked me separately which cruise I had come in on. It was pretty funny. I gave them credit for finding their own way to the Acropolis from Pireaus on the Metro.

After the Parthenon, DH and I walked through the Plaka, which was kind of a letdown after being in the islands for 10 days. Next, we kind of saw the rear end of Psyrri. I had read in Matt Barrett's guide online about a section that had a lot of Indian and Asian stuff, and since I'm of Indian descent, I thought it would be a hoot to check it out, so we went looking for it. We ended up finding people selling vegetables and carpets on the street. It reminded me a little of the Indian section of Queens, NY, but more scruffy. I didn't exactly feel unsafe but I did feel a bit uncomfortable as a tourist, and DH felt even more out of place than I did, so we got out of there quickly.

On our last day in Athens, we walked to Hadrian's Arch and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. The Temple of Olympian Zeus was huge, airy, and practically deserted. It was a relief to visit it after the madness at the Parthenon the day before. After that, we walked through a small part of the Botanical Gardens, through Kolonaki to the funicular up Lycabettus Hill. We happened to pass some guards from the changing of the guard on our way to Kolonaki. From Lycabettus Hill, we ended up walking through Abelokipi, Neapoli and Exarchia, stumbling upon the National Archeological Museum. DH wasn't all that interested in going, so he watched my camera bag while I breezed through for an hour. It wasn't nearly long enough, and someday I'd like to spend more time in there, but I got to see some more art from Ancient Thera, which I really enjoyed.

I ended my stay in Athens with a special treat – a fried apple pie from McDonald's. As a rule, I avoid McDonald's even at home, but abroad, I try to find their fried apple pies, since at home they bake them and they're just not the same. By our fourth night, DH and I had given up on having a good meal, so I went to the Everest deli and he went to the McDonald's next door, where he saw that their apple pies were fried.

I understand that it is necessary to take each new city and country on it's own terms, and we enjoyed 99% of our stay in Greece and can't wait to go back. But the food thing in Athens was a serious disappointment, especially after all the great food we had in the islands. I assume we weren't looking in the right places, and I'm certainly open to suggestions for next time. (DH says there won't be a next time, but I want to visit Poseidon's temple at Cape Sounion someday, so we will be back in Athens at some point!)

Anyway, thanks for reading if you made it this far. Hope you enjoyed the trip!
sunny16 is offline  
Old Jan 1st, 2007, 02:29 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 274
sunny16-many thanks for your excellent trip report! We are heading to Greece in September and are planning to visit Naxos, Paros, Santorini and Athens, so I found your report extremely useful.

We too would likely be flying Olympic as well from JFK and connecting onward to Naxos or Paros, so glad to hear that went well. Love your photos also-they are beautiful!

Were you happy with the location of your apartment in Naxos? We're undecided on staying in that area or on St. George's Beach.

For Santorini, I have my heart set on staying in Oia I think, but not 100%; we haven't booked anything just yet, so I will take a look at Hotel Ira.

Do you mind if I ask what your general food budget was per day on the islands? It seems as if we could budget a little less per day in Greece vs. France or Italy and still eat well?

We're currently planning 3 nights each Paros & Naxos, 4 nights Santorini and 3 nights Athens. However, wondering if we can do 2 nights Athens instead? What time did your Aegean flight get you to Athens from Santorini?

Thanks very much for sharing, and glad to hear you had a good time. now I will refer to this report several times over the coming months while finializing our plans.
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Old Jan 1st, 2007, 03:40 PM
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lhopp, glad my trip report was helpful & thanks for the compliments. Congrats on your trip! I think autumn is a great time of year to go to Greece because the weather is still nice but a lot of the crowds are gone.

I'm not sure we'd stay in the Grotta again if we went back to Naxos. We aren't really beach people, so we didn't need to stay on the beach. I think we might have enjoyed staying closer to town, but the distance wasn't really a problem because the town is so small.

Oia is a lovely village and I'm sure you'll have a great time there. The location of Fira suited our goals for the trip, but that area certainly isn't for everyone. However, I can't praise our hotel enough.

I just looked at my figures for the trip and we ended up spending about $75/day. That includes snacks, drinks with dinner, wine for the room, etc. Like anyplace, you can spend as much or as little as you want on food, and there were days when we splurged on a big lunch and ate at a shack for dinner. We enjoyed all of it. Plus, we didn't pay for breakfast for six mornings, so that kept costs down a little.

Our Aegean flight arrived in Athens around 8pm, but we had a choice of something like 6 flights between Aegean and Olympic. I think how long you want to spend in Athens will depend on whether you like cities, and how much you want to do and see.

Best of luck planning your trip!
sunny16 is offline  
Old Jan 1st, 2007, 03:49 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
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Thanks for the reply Sunny16-much appreciated!!
lhopp is offline  
Old Jan 1st, 2007, 04:58 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
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Congratulations on your anniversary. We were in Paros and Athens too last September. I really enjoyed your trip report and photos. Your report was most informative and easy to read. Your info on Naxos is helpful - this island for me next time! We too stayed in Firostefani, Santorini in 2002 and agree with you on its handy location. And the sunsets from our balcony there were as good as Oia. What is all the hoohah about Oia sunsets? I'm glad to read your comments on this issue. I note from your photos the Blue Dolphins Apartments is next to the Ira. Did you by any chance check these out? They look like good value and budget travellers on this forum (which includes me) would be interested in this cheaper option. Best wishes.
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Old Jan 1st, 2007, 05:20 PM
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Hi Worldinabag,

We did look into Blue Dolphins, and it was a tossup between Blue Dolphins and Hotel Ira, but Blue Dolphins could not accommodate us for the dates we would be in Santorini. Blue Dolphins is actually right up the hill from Hotel Ira; they use the same set of stairs. So if you're interested in one, you can check out the other while you're there. Another Greece expert here (stanbr maybe?) mentioned that Blue Dolphins makes fresh orange juice from their own orange trees.

Hotel Galini, also in Firostefani but a little closer to Fira, also made my final cut, and you might want to check them out as well. But it looks like their rates are a little higher than Blue Dolphins'.
sunny16 is offline  
Old Jan 1st, 2007, 07:09 PM
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Thanks again Sunny. You've been most helpful to me as well as other Fodorites I'm sure.
worldinabag is offline  
Old Jan 1st, 2007, 08:40 PM
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Hey Sunny. I was just thinking about you the other day and wondering when we would hear from you again. Your pre trip research was so extensive I knew you wouldn't let us down by not posting a report.
I am pleased you found my bakery in the old Market of Naxos town. The thought of that fresh hot bread from a wood fired oven makes me want to go back again.
Your pictures were great and thanks for sharing.
To Ihopp. The view at Grotta in Naxos is outstanding. Sunny had mentioned that she had no interest in beaches so Grotta is a great location for her. If beaches are the least important to you I would always recommend St George Beach area. It is a good beach right in Naxos Town so you get the fun of a beach location with a 10 minute walk to the action of Naxos Town and a very quiet sleep at night away from the noise of the town.
You had also asked about a food budget. On the Islands, Naxos in particular my budget was $50 Canadian daily. We shopped daily at the local markets and purchased eggs bacon bread onions and peppers and cooked in our studio apartment. Lunch was generally tzaki bread olives and wine, again purchased at the market and we had two to three hour dinners at the tavernas in the evening, including a litre of wine. If you dine out for three meals a day it will be more expensive.
You asked about Blue Dolphins in Santorini. It was delightful with as good a view of the Caldera anyone could hope for. It was a well appointed studio with kitchenette and was about the best value we could find for a family of four. It was about a kilometer from the center of Thira with a wonderful walk into town along the top of the cliff. After dinner I would recommend you take your full tummy home in a taxi, because it is all uphill back to the hotel.
It is also very quiet at night something you are not likely to find in Thira. By the way the sunset from Thira is outstanding.
stanbr is offline  
Old Jan 1st, 2007, 09:02 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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Thanks for writing your report!

We were in Santorini (Oia) and Athens this summer. I, too, enjoyed Santorini tremendously, while still knowing that it was 'touristy' (and I usually hate 'touristy' places).

We liked Athens more than we expected and should have spent another day or two there (we had 2 full days for touring). We went to a little souvlaki shop in Athens which was good. George and Athena's restaurant was great for lunch - home cooking where you walk into the kitchen and choose from the pots. But, we love Greek food, so it all made us happy. I could see how you could get tired of it and I don't recall seeing other ethnic restaurants around (but we weren't looking for them)...
travelgirl2 is offline  
Old Jan 1st, 2007, 09:56 PM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 152
Hello Sunny

Thank you for an entertaining trip report. I loved your photos - we visited most of the places that you describe on our trip to Greece in 2004.

You made me smile with your description to Mount Za on Naxos. My husband and I had a very similar experience - I made him stop the car and pull over to the side of the road to because that crazy narrow road was creeping me out! I added at least a kilometre more than necessary to the hike as we trudged up the side of the road. I too did not make it to the cave - athletic sandals were definitely not cutting it. My husband did make it up to the top and took a photo of the cave.

What I will always remember of that moment, though, was the utter silence we were walking through broken only by the whirring of insects, the smell of the herbs growing wild and the wonderful beauty that we were observing.

Thanks so much for reviving a good memory!
PurpleNeon is offline  
Old Jan 2nd, 2007, 05:30 AM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 15
Hi Sunny,
My Husband and 2yr old sun are going to Naxos this July and I was wondering what your thoughts were on Mikri Vigla. Is it a child friendly beach? Would you recommend staying there for a couple of nights? What else is around? Also did you make it to Kastraki?
Traveling_Mum is offline  
Old Jan 2nd, 2007, 08:46 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 626
Hi Traveling_Mum,

Since I was there late in the season and in the evening, I didn't see too many people around, so I couldn't say if Mikri Vigla is child-friendly, but we did see a couple with a child there. Maybe others could chime on this. We didn't go to Kastraki. There wasn't much at Mikri Vigla besides a lot of lodging. I know that for myself I wouldn't stay overnight there, but that's just me.
sunny16 is offline  
Old Jan 2nd, 2007, 09:03 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,525
Very nice report and lovely photos Sunny. Since you seem to like Greek cats, here are 2 from my " Faces" gallery that you may like. The Santorini cat was at Katrinas Taverna in Amoudi--did you make it there?
bobthenavigator is offline  
Old Jan 2nd, 2007, 11:25 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 234
What a nice and informative trip report. I'm an animal person too and I love how you have pictures of the cute dogs and cats you met on your trip.
maureencol is offline  
Old Jan 3rd, 2007, 02:53 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 626
PurpleNeon and maureencol, glad you enjoyed my report! Bobthenavigator, I liked your cat photos! We didn't make it to Amoudi, unforunately. I really wanted to because I saw that one waterfront restaurant on Passport to Europe, but maybe we'll make it there next time.
sunny16 is offline  
Old Jan 4th, 2007, 05:43 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 559
Sunny, your report is very helpful. I'm planning a similar trip for mid-Sept. Your photos are gorgeous.

Is 5 days too long on Naxos?
Were 3 days enough on Santorini?
travginny is offline  
Old Jan 4th, 2007, 06:42 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 2,488
I am enjoying your report, sunny16. I am planning a trip in late June/July to Athens (the only place I have been, twice, in Greece)for a couple of nights to meet up with my travel companions, and then to the islands.

We have a week in Paros and a week in Crete (friend's timeshare points) with three nights in between to fill. I definitely want to see Santorini, summer crowds be damned, but wonder if it would be better to visit there from Paros than to spend our three nights there before Crete. To echo the above poster, was 3 nights on Santorini too much or just right?

Thanks for the good tips!
annabelle2 is offline  
Old Jan 5th, 2007, 03:38 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 626
Hi travginny and annabelle2,

5 days turned out to be a day too long for us on Naxos, but that certainly wouldn't be true of everyone. I had worked in two days for driving around the island, and we only ended up driving one day. By day 5, we needed laundry, which turned out to be a pain. Our hotel in Santorini provided laundry service, which would have made things easier if we'd gotten there a day early. But these are the things you can never forsee. I don't regret a minute of it and just chalk it up to experience.

I thought 3 days in Santorini was perfect (for us) for an introduction, although we didn't want to leave when it was time. Now we know what we want to see and do when we return.

Annabelle2, your trip sounds great! Where are you staying in Crete? That is high on our list of places to visit.
sunny16 is offline  

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