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Our September 2022 trip island hoping and Athens

Our September 2022 trip island hoping and Athens

Old Jun 19th, 2024, 11:40 AM
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Our September 2022 trip island hoping and Athens

*hopping

I know this is a couple of years late, but catching up while I have a minute.

For the first time in years, we had friends join us, so we were a group of 4. We had 10 nights to work with, never been to Greece. Wanted to do some island hopping and Athens, aiming to make it as logistically optimal as possible. We booked round trip to Athens. Originally we were going to spend a night or 2 in Athens first, and last, but took the advice of the experts in the forum, and booked a flight to Santorini, about 3 hours after out planned Athens arrival. I purchased a ticket that can be changed in the event our first flight was delayed. Granted, this was not a connected flight, so we had to get our bags and recheck. Again, taking advice from here, I checked in and printed the Santorini boarding passes in advance, and took out bags to the drop-off, avoiding the check-in line. Athens airports was not the busy, and everything went smoothly. We even had time to sit and have a little breakfast before flight to Santorini.

I read in this forum and other places as well that Oia is very touristy and crowded, especially during the day when the cruise ship crowd is there. Staying along the Caldera in one of the towns between Oia and Fira were recommended. That being said, there was one case where I didn’t listen to the experts. Despite being touristy and crowded I read Oia is stunning. My thought is that during the days, we’d be touring other areas, so will only be there in the morning and evening (the best times). I was determined to find a “deal” as hotels there are very pricey. About a minute walk off the beaten trail, I found this hotel https://www.dreamland-houses.com/ and was able to book the suite with panoramic views. Our friends booked after us and had a room with pool view. The price was about ˝ of most of the hotels in Oia, and has a lovely pool (which no one used, so it was like having a private pool).

Day 1

We had the hotel make arrangements for airport pickup. After checking in, in the late afternoon, and freshening up, we took a dip in the pool, then relaxed until dinner. The room had a complementary carafe of wine in the fridge.


Dreamland Houses


We booked in advance a nearby restaurant with sunset views, Oia Gefsus for dinner. The food was very good, with modern twists on traditional dishes. We quickly discovered that Greek portions are BIG, and very sharable. After dinner we strolled through the main area.


Oia

Oia

Day 2

We booked in a private 5 hour tour for day 2 for the 4 of us. The hotel gives you a list of breakfast options and times the days before. Breakfast was brought ot the room. Our friends joined us (had their breakfast brought to out room as well) because we had the nicer balcony.

We had a 9am pickup with our guide/driver Tassos. Tassos had originally made suggestions, we changed a few things in advance, as it was customizable for the 5 hours period. He explained much of the history of the area, took us to the highest point to take in the view, the charming town of Pyrgos, Profit Elias Monestary, Akrotiri ruins, Megalochori, Art Space Winery and various other smaller stops, to explain the geography and agriculture. We asked him to drop us off a nice restaurant for lunch where we can cab back to hotel after, as opposed to returning to the hotel. He took us to Mario Restaurant on Monolithos Beach. Once again we overate. The restaurant called for a cab back to Oia.


Art Space Winery

View of Oia

Pyrgos

Akrofiri

lunch at Mario Retsuarant

We made a dinner reservation, again with sunset views at Kyprida, also very good.
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Old Jun 19th, 2024, 12:17 PM
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Day 3

After breakfast we took the bus to Fira. The bus station was conevniently a short distance from the hotel. From Fira we headed back toward Oia along the caldera trail. We had lunch in Imerovigli then took a cab back to hotel to get ready for a sunset boat tour pickup.

Scenes from hike










We booked a small group sunset boat tour with Barbarossa Sailing from Ammoudi Bay. There was 1 other group of 3 on our tour. Mario, the captain, did pickup/dropoff at hotel. We made a first stop for a swim, then headed to the sulfur springs for a 2nd swim stop. After that swim we had dinner on the boat and headed out to the perfect sunset viewing spot. Just as the sun was setting Mario played the “Chariots of Fire” theme song, perfectly timed to the setting sun.


Captain Mario

Scenes from the boat

Sunset





Ammoudi Bay
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Old Jun 19th, 2024, 02:21 PM
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Your photos of Santorini are gorgeous! We loved Santorini despite the tourism. We stayed 3 nights and rented a car for a day to sightsee around the island. How many nights were you here? What is the rest of your itinerary?
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Old Jun 19th, 2024, 02:40 PM
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we did 3 nights santorini, 3 Naxos, 2 Paros, 2 Athens. I'm still working on the rest of this.
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Old Jun 19th, 2024, 02:56 PM
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We visited Santorini, Naxos, Nafplio, and Athens. Didn’t visit Paros but was seriously considering it. How would you compare Naxos to Paros?
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Old Jun 19th, 2024, 03:01 PM
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Naxos was my favorite overall. The 3 were a good combo for different atmospheres. We did 2nd Greece trip a year later to Crete, Nafplio and back to Athens (I'd go back to Athens any time).
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Old Jun 19th, 2024, 03:55 PM
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Day 4

Arranged car service to ferry port (bought both ferry tickets in advance). It was a bit chaotic (we were warned it would be). We had reserved seats on this ferry to Naxos. We purchased some food on the boat for lunch. Our Naxos hotel was https://www.hotelgrotta.gr/, and I can’t say enough about it. Just perfect. The hotel offered freepickup/dropoff from ferry port. We were greeted at hotel by Nicoletta (owner) and Sofia, along with a glass of wine. The hotel has a view of the gate of the Temple of Apollo. After settling in, we talk a walk around the town and walked to the Temple.

The room also had a bottle of wine in the frdge, in addition, we never drank the wine from Oia, so put it in water bottles. After getting ready for dinner, we took some of our wine to the outdoor deck and watched the sun set over Apollo’s gate. For dinner we didn’t have anything planned,but gort recs from Nicoletta, so wandered back into town, ended up eating at Apostolis.


Naxos Chora as seen from Templeof Apollo

Naxos Chora

Naxos Chora





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Old Jun 19th, 2024, 04:06 PM
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Day 5

We had an incredible breakfast at the hotel. The amount and variety of food was incredible. We booked a car rental from Autotour (near the port). Our reservation was for an automatic. Not only did they not have an automatic, they didn’t have a car! They had a recipricol agreement with Matha car rental, which happened to be very close to our hotel. They brought a car, which wasn’t automatic, but luckily 2 of our drivers can handle manual so we just took it and got going.

A sampling of Hotel Grotta breakfast.

Our first stop was Church of Panagia Drosiani. When we arrived it was closed. There was a lady there selling linens. She mad a call to have someone come and unlock it. While waiting, a tour group showed up, so not only did we get inside, we listened in to the tour.




Church of Panagia Drosiani



We then headed toward Chalkio, then Apiranthos, the marble town, where he had a huge lunch. We drove through Filoti and could see Mt. Zues in the distance.. We then headed to the Temple of Demeter, which unfortunately was closed (I didn’t check in advance for hours), but took a peek from the entrance area.


Scenic drive




We then drove to the Limpertas Manolis Pottery Workshop, not only did we buy some pottery (at very inexpensiv prices), we were entertained. This has been in the family for generations. The potter, who spoke little English,but was charming. Threw 2 pots while we were there, with his pert chicken sitting under the potter’s wheel. There was another small group of people there who were Greek Americans, so helped with translating a conversation.




We also stops at the hotel ruins at Alyko beach. I am a fan of street art, so really wanted to see the murals. It was worth the detour.





We returned to the hotel,once again took our gifted wine and watched the sun set, then headed into town for dinner. We looked for Doukato (couldn't find it the night before), which was highly recommended by Nicoletta. It had no room, but we were able to make reservation for the next night. We ended up eating at Metaxi Mas which was very good.
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Old Jun 21st, 2024, 02:20 PM
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Day 6

We decided to head to the beach. The people we had met the day before at pottery workshop recommended a restaurant across from Maragas beach, Paradiso Taverna, so we decided to go that beach and have lunch at the taverna. The hotel gave us towels and umbrellas for the beach. We parked near the restaurant, the men went to use the rest room, while my friend and I set out to find a beach spot. We followed a boardwalk, little did we know, it led to a naturalist beach. That wasn’t in our plan, so we headed back to the other area of the beach, away from the boardwalk, hoping it was clothed, and it was! Afterwards we had a nice lunch at the Taverna.






After lunch we drove to the Agios Georgios Beach area just to walk around and check out that beach. On the way back to hotel we stopped at the Olive Press Museum (owned by same family as Hotel Grotta). We had a tour (just 1 small space) by Nicoletta’s son, and did some sampling. We then returned the car (very near hotel). It was our last day in Naxos. We walked up to the Venetian Castle before heading back to watch another sunset. That evening we had another great meal, this time at Doutkato


Agios Georgios

Agios Georgios

Olive Press Museum

Doukato

Venetian Castle

Last edited by MFNYC; Jun 21st, 2024 at 02:50 PM.
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Old Jun 21st, 2024, 02:33 PM
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The taverna on the beach looks like a great place for lunch!

Your photos make me want to return to Greece!
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Old Jun 21st, 2024, 04:21 PM
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Day 7

Off to Paros right after breakfast. By day # 3 in Naxos we felt like family at the Grotta, so left with a hug from Nicoletta. Again, Grotta arranged ride to ferry port for free. Another confusing ferry scene. This time no assigned seats, so sat at tables in an outdoor area. Arranged pickup with our Paros Hotel, Irene Studios, 10E per couple. This is a simple hotel with very nice location near Parikia, across from a beach. Our 2 previous hotels had such a welcoming staff, that we were a bit taken aback by the lack of warmth from the staff here. That being said, everything was fine, but just didn’t have that welcoming experience.

Line at Ferry in Naxos

Studio Irene terrace

Studio Irene

When we arrived our rooms weren’t ready so we left out bags, and walked to Panagia Ekatontapiliani, the church with 100 gates. After touring the church we headed back to hotel. We stopped for lunch at a pizza restaurant, Cavo D’Oro, just for a change of pace. Our room had a terrace facing the sea, which was lovely and peaceful. We spent sometime on at the beach across the street. We then once again,sat and watched the sun set with a bottle of wine, we had bought at the Art Space Winery.


Panagia Ekatontapiliani

Panagia Ekatontapiliani

Panagia Ekatontapiliani

Panagia Ekatontapiliani


Paros Sunset


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Old Jun 22nd, 2024, 11:58 AM
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Picked up coffee down the street and had breakfast on our balcony with the baked goods and fruit purchased last night in town. After breakfast we headed to the bus station, to take bus to Naoussa. We each purchased a couple of tickets figuring we'll be taking more than 1 ride. The bus was full, the ride about 20 minutes. Naoussa is a charming seaside town. Lots of fishing boats in the harbor along with Venetian ruins.


Naoussa

Naoussa

Naoussa

We then took to bus to Lefkes, another charming town, up in the mountains. Walked around and had lunch there. After lunch we stopped for a little gelato and asked if they could call a taxi for us to go back to Parikia. The taxi was 25E.


Lefkes

Lefkes

Lefkes

Lefkes

We spent some time back on the beach before dinner. For dinner I found a very nearby place called Parea Cuisine Paros, an excellent family run place, a bit off the beaten path from the main town area.


Beach across from Irene Studios


Last edited by MFNYC; Jun 22nd, 2024 at 12:00 PM.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2024, 04:47 PM
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Thanks for sharing your photos. I'm enjoying reading your report, lots of wonderful memories of being there with my husband.

Just an aside, I did a great guided walking tour on street art in London recently. It was through walks.com
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Old Jun 24th, 2024, 11:15 AM
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Day 9

Took taxi to Paros airport for flight to Athens. Went to taxi line at Athens airport to grab a cab to the hotel InnAthens, 40E fixed fare. Our hotel was fairy new and modern, nice courtyard for breakfast, but no special views. At check in the welcome you with a bottle of water and a chocolate treat. We asked the hotel for a dinner rec with view of the Acropolis. They recommended Sin Athina. I was able to make a reservation on line.


Courtyard at InnAthens

After dropping off bags, we headed out for a quick lunch nearby. Then took cab to National Archeology Museum. We had purchased entry tickets in advance, and download the free Rick Steve audio guide. This is a big museum. It’s easily a 2 hour visit. This was all we had scheduled for arrival day so no rushing. After finished at the museum, we went to grab a cab at the entrance area. There were several, but beware, they charge a fixed price instead of meter. Out metered cab there was 4E, their fixed price was 18E! Needless to say we walked across the street and grabbed a metered cab. We also wandered a bit along the Plaka area.


National Archeology Museum

National Archeology Museum

Plaka area

Plaka Area

After settling in the room and freshening up, we headed to dinner. It was about a 20 minute walk. Google took us from the main streets to a dirt road, that ran alongside Ancient Agora. My husband was convinced google mess up, but we ended up on Apostolou Pavlou, a pedestrian street lined with shops, restaurants, street vendors and some street performers. The restaurant had a rooftop deck with a good view of the Acropolis and the setting sun. Once again, big portions, but we finally adjusted our ordering to not overdo it.


Walking by Agora

Sunset

Acropolis View from Sin Athina rooftop

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Old Jun 24th, 2024, 07:31 PM
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That sunset photo is amazing! And the illuminated Acropolis at night. Wow!
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Old Jun 25th, 2024, 12:42 PM
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Day 10

Breakfast at InnAthens is excellent, eggs, smoothies and coffee made to order. Lots of other options at buffet. There’s indoor and outdoor courtyard seating. It's set back off the street so very peaceful. This hotel is a few blocks form the Plaka area, in a quieter location, walkable to many other areas.

We had a 9am walking group tour of the Acropolis with Athen Walks Tours. We met at their location, a few blocks from the hotel. We walked from there to the Acropolis. Our guide Theodora was great. The 2 hour tour ended up being close to 2 ˝ hours. We picked a morning tour to beat the heat, but found out that’s also when the cruise ship crowds arrive, so may be less crowded in the afternoon.


Walking up to Acropolis

Views from Acropolis

Acropolis

Acropolis

Parthenon

After tour was over we headed to the Acropolis Museum. We first had lunch nearby. There’s a strip of restaurants across from the museum. They were all busy I think with others who had the same plan as us. The one we ate in was nothing special and over-priced. I’m guessing this strip has the “tourist traps”.

We had purchased and downloaded an audio tour for this museum from Headout. We also had purchased entry tickets in advance. Some kind of tour is once again necessary. The museum is a great complement to the site, so seeing both on the same day was perfect.


Acropolis Museum

Acropolis Museum

We had originally planned to go to Ancient Agora after the museum, but we were all pretty beat, and wanted to take it a bit easy before dinner. We were hoping that the church, Holy Church of the Holy Trinity - Soteira Lykodemos, across from the hotel, may be open so we could take a peak, but unfortunately it wasn’t.


Church of the Holy Trinity

In our wanderings around the Plaka, we noted some restaurants that had outdoor seating with views. We ended up booking Anefoni with roofop seating and live music.



Plaka restaurant


Dinner view from Anefoni rooftop

Dinner view




Last edited by MFNYC; Jun 25th, 2024 at 12:46 PM.
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Old Jun 25th, 2024, 02:56 PM
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You were smart in purchasing the audio tour for the Acropolis Museum. We didn’t do that because I assumed we could rent audioguides at the Museum, but that wasn’t possible.
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Old Jun 29th, 2024, 08:52 AM
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Day 11 (our last day)

Before checking out, we took a stroll through the National Gardens, just down the block from our hotel. On one end there’s the Temple of Olympian Zues and panathenaic stadium, on the other end is Syntagma Square and the Benaki Museum. We didn’t have time to visit those sites, but did enjoy strolling through the park. There are lovely gardens throughout.

National Gardens

Building in National Gardens

National Gardens

Temple of Olympian Zues

On our cab ride back to the airport, we caught a glimpse of the changing of the guards at Syntagma Square.
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Old Jun 29th, 2024, 09:03 AM
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I happen to be a bit of a cat person, so of course I had to stop, photo and talk to every cat. Here's some of my furry friends.

This sweet furbaby is a spitting image of one of my cats.





Last edited by MFNYC; Jun 29th, 2024 at 09:23 AM.
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