Need help with Greece/Turkey itinerary

Nov 25th, 2009, 01:05 PM
  #21  
 
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Les, if you can extend your stay on Naxos to four or five days, then I agree it would be a good alternative. M/S Alexandros leaves Naxos at 0845, and returns at 1845, so that's a ten hour excursion. Out of those ten hours you will spend 2hrs 55min on Delos, and 3hrs 30 min on Mykonos. The other excursion boat, Naxos Star, is the same length as Alexandros, but narrower in beam, so would suffer more roll in rough weather.

I really do urge you to do a search on bill barr's posts, though. He brings out the magic of Mykonos, lost on those who know the island less well than he.

BTW, if there is one island over-hyped on this board, it is Naxos. ;-)
Heimdall is online now  
Nov 25th, 2009, 01:35 PM
  #22  
 
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You don't have to cruise INTO Istanbul to see it from the water. There are plenty of ferry options when you get there - up the Bosphorus, up the Golden Horn, and to the Princes' Islands.
thursdaysd is offline  
Nov 25th, 2009, 04:23 PM
  #23  
 
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Of course Heimdall (AND Les), it's perfectly fine to do the 4 days on Naxos, then go on to Mykonos for a day and stay overnight. That way Les could stay on Delos longer than 3 hrs. He actually could stay longer than 3 hours anyway... just not take the excursion boat from Delos to Myk, but take one of the Regular ferries... they run until 3 pm, which would give him up to 5 hours on Delos. In my experience, that's certainly enough. Staying over,maybe take in one of those after-midnight club-fests, and go on the next day via ferry to Samos... it will all depend on the ferry schedules, which will be out in late Spring.

And BTW, Heimdall, I've been to Mykonos 3 times, I have an artist friend who has a B & B there, right behind Hotel Despotika ... Angela has kindly taken me to several art-oriented events, she's part of the community that developed there BEFORE Jackie O and the Euro-glam crowd discovred Mykonos ... Bill Barr has told me of some lovely events that take place there not having to do with tourists ... one of them takes place in late spring in the town's outdoor amphitheatre, not visited by tourists.The schoolchildren give a Traditional Dances Recital, as part of passing their (required) school classes in Greek Dances. Would that OUR kids had to master such things! I've also been in Mykonos on "holy Spirit" Pentecost weekend when all the Gilded Youth of Athens turn up to air-kiss and zoom around on motorbikes... was amusing to watch, anyway. And yes, I know that Bill Barr has found the magic of Mykonos more than most of us... but he's been going there for 30 years, has become part of a family there, sorta speaks greek by now -- doesn't have the same experiences as most people visiting only for 2-3 days. When one does not have the time to integrate deeply into island life, I feel that in Mykonos, for most of us, it's hard to get beyond the touristic "bubble" -- and all those richy-rich shops just bug me a little.

Les, yes on both Naxos and Mykonos, you can readily rent scooters OR motorcycles and with the latter, you could truly explore the mountains, and tiny villages up there. Mykonos is smaller and flatter and a scooter would take you most everywhere. I mentioned beaches because MOST travelers to the isles are Very interested in them, and you previously gave us no information about where you were from.

Bill B, I'd like to trade opinions on Syros... I went there this last June because I'd always meant to, and have a mixed feeling; yes it's Greek, and also very business-oriented .. I missed an artistic flair which I seem to have found on so many other isles. but that's for another thread - pardon my digression. About Tinos, hmm, depends on one's religion interests I think, and also interests in handicrafts. Well, my post is too long already...
travelerjan is online now  
Nov 26th, 2009, 01:40 AM
  #24  
 
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Good morning Jan

Tinos is a wonderful island but you need to move away from its port. I actually enjoy the town but the island’s beauty, in my mind, is found when you travel up into the hills and then to its deserted northern beaches, in particular. This really is the island of dovecots.

‘Syros is not for tourists’ was said to me a long time ago and although I wish more folks would visit, it doesn’t cater well for them. That said, it is a real working island, the capital of the Cyclades and visitors seem hard to find. Perhaps that’s why I like it? I don’t know for sure. Ermoupoli I do enjoy very much especially the classical buildings and WW2 historical exhibits/information etc which greatly interest me. The folks on the island suffered hugely during the German occupation and there are reminders of that bad time. I was fortunate enough to be taken to the west and southern coast of the island which are very beautiful and, like Tinos, deserted. Maybe some time in the future when you have more time, think of adding a few extra days to explore.

Les, apologies for hijacking your thread.

Bill
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Dec 2nd, 2009, 07:04 PM
  #25  
Les
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Hi, again. Sorry I took so long to get back, but we went back to square 1 on the re-plan, based on the helpful comments received here.

So, here's our new (proposed) itinerary:

We decided to go to Turkey first, then on to Greece, and to extend our time in Greece by a week (total of 5 weeks for the trip).
We spoke with friends that have been to Turkey, and read a lot of books, and decided that the most practical way to see what we wanted to in a reasonable amount of time would be to go with a tour.
We found a nice two-week tour of Turkey that hits almost all of the spots that we want to see (ref. the itinerary in my first post). There are a couple of things that are not included, so we'll pick them up after the tour.

So here goes...

We fly into Istanbul from Denver on the 16th of April (arrive on the 17th), and hook up with the tour that evening. Since we're flying into Istanbul and returning from Athens 5 weeks later, we opted out of the air transportation normally included with the tour, and will handle that on our own. The tour operator had no problem with this, and deducted the cost of the air from the cost of the tour.
I won't go into the details of the tour; it seems pretty thorough, with adequate time and free time to see most of what we want. Eventually, it ends in Istanbul on April 30th, and we start the independent part of our trip.

From Istanbul, we plan to fly back down to the Fethiye area (Dalaman airport?), and spend a day or so touring the Lycian tombs. These were not well covered on the tour.
Flight info and hotel recommendations are solicited.

Then, we plan to take a ferry to Rhodes (from Marmaris?), where we'll begin the Greek Island part of our trip.
Which is as follows:
Rhodes: 3 nights
Santorini: 3 nights
Mykonos: 3 nights (including a day trip to Delos)
Patmos: 1 night
I realize that this choice of islands is not what many of you recommended, but my wife researched all of the potential islands, including those that were suggested here, and felt that these were the ones that would provide the most satisfying experience for her on a first visit.

So the obvious questions, once again:

Did we leave adequate time on these islands?

Best way to get between the islands (ferry, air?)

Given the time of year (early May), where, if at all, do we need to make advance hotel or ferry reservations?
We hope to remain pretty flexible on the Greece portion
of the trip, and would only reserve in advance if there would be a problem getting accommodations.

Hotel (or villa) suggestions? We prefer nice (but not exhorbitant) hotels (3-star or higher, if those ratings mean anything in Greece). On Santorini, we'd like to stay in the main town (Thira?), high, with a view of the crater.
On Mykonos, near the center of things (restaurants, etc.) We'll explore the outlying areas, but would prefer to stay in town.


Okay, moving on.
From Patmos, we go to Athens (best way to get there?).
We'll spend a few days in Athens, then rent a car and tour the mainland, including the Peloponnese, then return to Athens for a flight home. Our driving itinerary is totally flexible, but we'll heed yiassas' suggestions as much as possible. We're planning on 10 days for the Athens/driving portion of the trip. Is this reasonable?

Looking forward (once again) to your comments.
Thanks.
Les is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2009, 08:21 PM
  #26  
 
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Be advised that the ferries between Rhodes and Santorini do not run on a daily basis, so you'll have to plan carefully if you don't want to digress from your itinerary.

Go to: Clik on http://www.bluestarferries.com/site/...?sel=624&loc=2 (Piraeus-Patmos-Leros-Kos-Rhodes & Syros-Santorini-Amorgos (Katapola)

Clik on "02/02/2010-14/06/2010" and you'll see which days are open for travel, Mon, Wed. & Fri.

Depending on what they're offering, you might also be able to fly direct to Santorini from Rhodes on http://www.skyexpress.gr but take note of their strict baggage allowances.

As far as Patmos is concerned you'd use the same ferry as the one going to Santorini, so it would be best if you go there right after Rhodes, just before going to Santorini. Again, look at the schedule and you'll see why.

After Santorini you can go to Mykonos on the Hellenic Seaways Highspeed Catamaran, the FC4, and then back to Athens from Mykonos either by another ferry or by plane.

Cheap domestic airfares can be found if you sign up for the Aegean Airlines email newsletter notification. For April you should be notified sometime in January or February. http://en.aegeanair.com/newslettersubscription.aspx
brotherleelove2004 is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2009, 08:33 PM
  #27  
Les
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Thanks, brotherleelove, for the good (and practical) advice. Since this part of the itinerary is flexible, we won't have a problem making your suggested modifications. I'll check the links you provided tomorrow (getting a bit late here tonight).

One thing I still need info on; visas.
I know that the Turkish visa is best purchased upon arrival, but what about the Greek visa. Can that be gotten on arrival, or on the internet? Either would be preferable to sending our passports somewhere.

Thanks.
Les is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2009, 10:49 PM
  #28  
 
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Be sure to bring USD $20 for each person for the Turkish Visa.

A visa is not required to enter Greece, just present your passport upon arrival and you'll get a stamp, simple as that.
brotherleelove2004 is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2009, 01:35 AM
  #29  
 
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ttt
Denise is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2009, 01:58 PM
  #30  
 
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hello Les

I'm happy to give you some Mykonos town hotel recommendations but it would help greatly if you could give me an idea of your lodging budget per night. I take it you'll want a twin/double room only?

Can you also give me the approximate date(s) you will be on the island? I can contact a friend there who may already know when the students that Heimdall helpfully mentioned are expected to arrive on Mykonos.

Bill
billbarr is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2009, 07:58 PM
  #31  
Les
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Bill, thanks for your offer.
Based upon brotherleelove2004's recommendation, assuming that we go from Rhodes to Patmos to Santorini to Mykonos (not at all cast in concrete yet - still examining the options), my best guess is that we'll be in Mykonos for May 8, 9, and 10. This is based upon the length of stay that I mentioned earlier, but since this part of the trip is flexible, and assuming that advance reservations won't be required at that time of year, these dates could shift slightly.
As for budget, I'm afraid that this trip has already blown any budget that I might have had in mind. Let's just say that anything reasonable will be given consideration.
As I mentioned earlier, we prefer nice (I'm guessing 3-star, without knowing what the ratings mean in Greece), clean accommodations, with some amenities such as air conditioning, TV, phone, some sort of restaurant/terrace bar where we can get breakfast or dinner, located near the town's offerings. Nothing extravagant.

So far, this is what we've finalized for the trip:

We've already booked the Turkey tour, starting in Istanbul on April 17, and returning there on April 30th. We're in the process of booking our flights from Denver to Istanbul (leaving 15 April), and from Athens to Denver (leaving 24 May). So from the beginning of May to the 24th of May, the trip will be only loosely structured (if at all), to provide us some flexibility.
As I mentioned earlier, from Istanbul we may fly back to Dalaman for a day or so and take in the Lycian tombs, but that's only if our tour doesn't give us time to see them adequately.
From there, to Rhodes, Patmos, Santorini, Mykonos (for the approximate times listed earlier), then on to Athens.
After 3 or so days in Athens (this should put us at approximately May 13), we'll rent a car and spend the rest of the time (approximately 10 days) driving around the mainland and Pelopponese, then back to Athens for the flight home.

Things are starting to come together. My main concern is that we get reservations where absolutely required, such as our hotel in Athens, our rental car, maybe hotels on Santorini and Mykonos if it's a normally busy time of year, and any ferries or flights that might be difficult to book at the time. I'm counting on the experience in this forum to tell us what reservations are required, and if our proposed time on each island needs to be modified.

Thanks again for your offer of assistance.
Les is offline  
Dec 4th, 2009, 02:38 PM
  #32  
 
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Hi Les

Here are some suggestions for town hotels. I worked to a budget of 100e per night and most of the rates include breakfast. Some have sea views some not.

Petasos Town Hotel (100e per night for double room).
The same owners of the Mykonos Grand, one of the best and most expensive hotels on the island. This small hotel will be quiet when you intend to the visit the island and well worth considering:

http://www.petasos.gr/petasos_town/home.htm

Rochari Hotel (90e per night for double room).
Owned by the Kousathanas family. That same family and their relatives own a good number of hotels on the island. At the beginning of May this is a very good place to lodge. Quiet and family orientated at that time of year (with some of the best town views) but crazy in mid-summer months.

http://www.rochari.com

Poseidon Hotel (99e per night for superior double room).
Like the first two, this hotel is in a very good town location with sea view rooms facing the windmills. Is known for many return visitors.

http://www.poseidonhotel-mykonos.com/

Hotel Carbonaki (66e per night per room)
A small and more traditional hotel in superb town location (but no sea views). It's a little gem of a place run by a husband and wife team (the Rousounelos's). Very much a family operation! The hotel is built into an old Mykonian town house and extended behind.

http://www.carbonaki.gr/

Matoyianni Hotel (100e per night for double room)
I've been in this hotel but not lodged there. It looked very nice and the rooms were not a bad size. You couldn’t get closer to the bars and restaurants but that may mean some noise. Mind, in May that is unlikely.

http://mykonos-accommodation.com/matogianni-hotel.htm

The beginning of May is a great time to visit the island. It is relaxed, no summer crowds, everything is fresh and the colours wonderful.

Bill
billbarr is offline  
Dec 4th, 2009, 02:53 PM
  #33  
 
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Les

I apologise but I should also have asked that you use Trip Advisor and read the reviews of each hotel. Personal recommendations are good but sometimes previous guest comments may give more of an insight and can be a bit more independent.

Bill
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Dec 4th, 2009, 07:41 PM
  #34  
Les
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Bill, thank you for the hotel suggestions. I'll definitely check out all of them (including on Trip Advisor).
You mention that things are fairly quiet in early to mid May. Does this mean that advance reservations may not be necessary? That would be nice, as it allows us more flexibility, should we arrive earlier or later than planned.

Progress to date:
We have our Turkish tour booked, which will include all but a day or two of our accommodations in Turkey.
We've also booked our flights to and from Denver.

What remains is to book our Athens accommodations (which will obviously determine the end date for our island explorations), and our rental car. Any suggestions for these?

Also, since my wife is especially looking forward to Santorini, will it be necessary to book in advance to ensure a nice hotel overlooking the crater?

Thanks again to all of you for the suggestions - this is shaping up to be a fabulous trip (after which, I plan to retire to the poorhouse).
Les is offline  
Dec 5th, 2009, 07:00 AM
  #35  
 
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It is hard to know what you mean by "nice" ... it would be helpful if you gave a price range in Euros ... Brotherleelove usually requests this before giving his recommendations for Oia, and I second the motion. Here is the currency-conversion link, for you to track the rate. http://www.xe.com/ucc/ Right now, 1 € = $1.50 Please also give a budget range for what you are willing to spend in Athens. Otherwise people will take time and effort to suggest places that are not what you want.

Previously I had suggested staying in Firostephani, which is quiet, yet is in easy walking distance of attractions in Fira Town -- shopping, Prehistoric Museum, Nokimos Conference Center (latter has stunning exhibits on the closed Akrotiri excavation). Two with caldera views AND pools are Hotel Ilias, in Firostephani and Anteliz Hotel, which is just over the edge into Fira Town, but is NoRth of Nokimos, right on the rim path, and nicely quiet. Both have websites and TA reviews.
travelerjan is online now  
Dec 5th, 2009, 08:55 AM
  #36  
 
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With the world economy in such a mess there will be a lot of empty hotel rooms on Santorini in May but if you find a hotel that strongly appeals to you I do suggest making a reservation to be sure you get what you want. The villages with a caldera view are Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli and Oia. I can help you narrow down the choices if I know what your maximum daily room budget will be.
brotherleelove2004 is offline  
Dec 5th, 2009, 12:08 PM
  #37  
Les
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travelerjan, it's difficult for me to give a price range when I have no idea what a given price buys in the way of hotel rooms. But a definition of "nice" is easier. For example, when I went to the website for the Petasos hotel (one of Bill's suggestions), the hotel looks very nice, with pleasant rooms, amenities, and location. However, when I followed up on Travel Advisor, several posters mentioned extremely small bathrooms (to the point of being almost unusable). This is a deal breaker for me.
But otherwise, that type/price range of hotel is fine.
By the way, I am not looking only at Bill's recommendations. I intend to follow up on your (and others') suggestions, and really appreciate your inputs.

brotherleelove2004, I agree that it would be best to reserve in advance on Santorini if I find a particularly appealing hotel. My problem is that I can't pin down the exact dates that I'll be there, but I'm working on it.
Les is offline  
Dec 5th, 2009, 12:17 PM
  #38  
 
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If and when you make that determination I suggest you create a new posting to ask for hotel recommendations for your chosen destinations on those dates.
brotherleelove2004 is offline  
Dec 5th, 2009, 12:27 PM
  #39  
Les
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brotherleelove2004, good idea - this thread is getting pretty long.
For now, it looks like I'll only need advance reservations in Santorini (maybe) and Athens (definitely). The response to my e-mail to the Petasos hotel on Mykonos indicated that there should be no problem getting a room without a reservation in May, but Santorini might be different.
In any case, I've already got a lot of good recommendations that I'm in the process of sorting through. But I'm going to New York City next week (just for 5 days, to visit my old home town during the holiday season), so it may be a while before I get through them all.
Les is offline  
Dec 5th, 2009, 03:51 PM
  #40  
 
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Les

I agree with what both jan and brotherleelove advise. It's worth mentioning too that the price range I chose i.e. 100e was simply because, taking into account your specifications, there's hardly anything else available for less!

You could be lucky in waiting until you arrive on the island as the beginning May is most certainly a quiet time. I'd caution you though not to expect a better deal from the hotels I mention. One young couple estimated they would save about 50% of their lodging budget on Mykonos in late April by just 'turning up' and not making a firm booking. They didn't and had to leave the island a few days earlier than planned. I’ve been looking for that thread for you but so far I can’t find it.

Of course, locals will be at the port trying to sell accommodation and that is a way to find places at a better rate. Your specs may not be met though.

Bill
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