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PLANNING FOR SLOW TRAVEL IN GREECE – PLEASE HELP

PLANNING FOR SLOW TRAVEL IN GREECE – PLEASE HELP

Apr 3rd, 2017, 05:55 AM
  #1  
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PLANNING FOR SLOW TRAVEL IN GREECE – PLEASE HELP

DD and I would like to go to Greece in July. Two years ago, we spent a month in Paris (home exchange), and last year I rented an apartment in New York City for 31 days. Both these trips were stunning, giving us time for day trips, but also to discover ‘our’ butcher and baker and special place in the park. We have never been to Greece before. I started out thinking about a month in Athens with day trips to nearby places. From reading TRs and comments, it seems as if a month in Athens may be 3 weeks too long. Am I wrong?
I prefer not to rent a car, so would like places where public transport works well.
We enjoy good food, small old churches, art, long walks, quaint villages, narrow streets, a nice taverna or two, some ruins, good museums, beautiful views, fragrant herbs growing against a mountain-side ...
For this trip, I will avoid the more touristed places like Santorini or Mykonos – although I do hope I can return to it in a quieter season.
I hope to rent an apartment / small house within walking distance of our daily needs.
It seems best to break our month into two or three parts, ending in Athens.
I have scanned travel sites and Trip Reports, but at the moment places are starting to blur a bit.

My questions are:
Can you recommend an island / town that would fit the above?
What is the situation with companies like Airbnb in Greece? Last year in NYC I was very nearly swindled by an illegal apartment rental.

All recommendations and suggestions will be highly appreciated!
kovsie is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2017, 06:13 AM
  #2  
 
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I will leave many of your questions to the Greek experts who go every year, but since I go almost every year (lol) I'll try to answer some...

I would not spend a month in Athens. I actually love Athens now, but I think three-five days at the end of your trip is enough to explore and enjoy it.

I would not rent an apartment without a specific referral from the Greek experts on this site.

There are SO many small hotels on most islands. However, since you're going in July, which is high season in Greece, you need to firm this up ASAP.

I recommend renting a car. The only downside is summer traffic. You will find yourself quite limited without one, even on the smaller islands.

Our favorite island is Paros, (particularly like the port town of Nauossa) which has everything you're looking for. Again, it's a bit late to book, but check some booking sites to see what's available for your dates.

And don't rule out spending some time on the mainland, particularly if you enjoy museums and ruins! Good luck!

An
Weadles is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2017, 06:58 AM
  #3  
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Thanks An! Yes, I know it is quite late to start planning for summer. Life happened.

Small hotels can be good, but for a longer trip it is nice to have a kitchen.

The car issue: I would so prefer not renting car. I read somewhere in a TR that somebody paid a driver and a car for a day here and there, and it worked out cheaper than renting a car. But I think that was in Spain! Would that be a possibillity in Greece?
kovsie is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2017, 07:12 AM
  #4  
 
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I also would not spend a month in Athens in July. Not even the suburbs or beach resorts.

I'd find an island or place on the mainland that is traditional and still has some of the old way of Greek living; that might be Crete or somewhere in the Peloponnese, Pelion etc.

I would recommend renting a car, otherwise the quaint villages etc become difficult to visit.
Odin is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2017, 07:26 AM
  #5  
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Thanks Odin.
Just for further clarification: we do not really do beaches / beach resorts.
Looks like we will go to Athens for five days at the end of the trip then.

I did look at Crete, but was afraid that it would be very busy in summer. Do you have a favourite place in Crete?
kovsie is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2017, 08:25 AM
  #6  
 
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My impression of Airbnb on the islands, rightly or wrongly, is that these are the same places that list on other booking websites. The nice thing about the islands for people like you and me who prefer not to rent cars, is that public transport (bus service) is usually very good, and you can't travel very far without getting on a ferry.

For the mainland, a car would be an advantage, but KTEL bus service to larger towns is good. To visit smaller villages and archeological sites you may need a driver, or look for a tour in the local travel agencies. Nafplio in the Peloponnese would be a good place to base yourself for a week.

For islands, all are within an hour's flying time from Athens, so you could easily fly to Rhodes or Crete. Many of us focus on the Cyclades Islands, which are closer to Athens and have good ferry connections. Basing yourself on one island in the Cyclades isn't really necessary, because you can spend a few nights on one and move on to the next. Paros and Naxos both have day trips to smaller nearby islands, Antiparos from Paros being my favourite.

You don't say how old DD is, but you and she may enjoy an Antiparos round island trip if you stay on Paros.
http://captainbenantiparos.com/
Heimdall is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2017, 09:08 AM
  #7  
 
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There are numerous Greek Islands that could meet your needs. However, the smaller, less touristed ones have limited public transportation so a car rental would be essential if you really want to explore an island. Even the larger ones with better transportation can be better enjoyed with a car. You'll have far more options and freedom going to places the bus does not.

Some of my favorite islands include Amorgos, Sifnos, Astypalea, Tinos, Naxos, Milos, some with airports but all with ports for ferrys.

Crete is a very large island and could be quite nice, especially the western end of the island. Decent public transportation, but again a car will take you to more traditional areas.

I've never used airbnb and always have booked studios with kitchenette, bedroom, balcony with views at very reasonable prices from regular pensions/hotels. All have been clean, safe, and centrally located and are very well priced.

Deal directly with the accommodations rather than a third-party site like booking.com. You can use a third-party site to find something then go to the accommodation's website for possibly better prices and customer service.

Picking an island can be subjective, based on needs, budget, time of year, what to do & see, etc.

Check out Matt's Greek Guide for islands and more info:

http://www.greektravel.com/greekislands/
crazyh is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2017, 09:19 AM
  #8  
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Oh thank you Heimdall, for setting my mind more at rest about the transport issue. I will follow up on all of the above.
DD is a 23 y/o student - quite adult and a great travel companion. We do sometimes go our own independant ways, then meet up again with stories to tell.
If I find nice accommodation, I will prefer staying put - it takes time and energy to move every few days.

Do I understand correctly - short term rentals are legal in Greece, and could be found on booking.com or other sites? I do hope somebody here could recommend the perfect place!

Can you perhaps ellaborate on how to find a driver for a day or two?

Thanks again!
kovsie is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2017, 09:20 AM
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Not wanting to drive does create a bit of a problem. For example, I can suggest a property that might be ideal for what you want in terms of the apartments themselves but it's a 5-10 minute walk to a bus stop and maybe 15 minute walk into the village for groceries etc.

It is possible and not even difficult to hire a taxi and driver for a full day or perhaps arrange for a local with their own car to take you around but how many times and at what cost would be the question.

Here is the property I would suggest on the island of Rhodes.
http://www.nikihotelapartments.gr/new/

This is a small, family run complex which really is more like living there than a beach hotel type environment. I would phone them directly to ask for a price for a longer stay. I know they will give you a price for a month's stay vs. per night which is all their website will show. How well do I know it? I lived there for 5+ years.

The island of Rhodes has more than enough to satisfy anyone's interests and is ideal for someone who embraces 'slow travel' of which I myself am a believer.
Dogeared is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2017, 09:26 AM
  #10  
 
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I should have added that I am quite sure the Iakatsikas family at Niki Apartments would be quite capable and happy to help you arrange for day trips around the island with a car and driver if that is what you want.

I really don't see that as a problem regardless of where you go, it's only a question of cost.
Dogeared is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2017, 10:01 AM
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Home rentals are not all that common on the Greek islands. Mostly there are small family run hotels. We always look for a studio which will have a fridge, cook top and dishes pots and pans. We do breakfast and snack in the studio and eat out for dinner.

From your description of your needs I would recommend Naxos or Crete. Probably Crete because it is so large that you can spend three weeks there and just barley see one section of it.

So consider flying to Chania Crete. There is a beach resort area about 4km west if you like that sort of thing. There is good and frequent bus transportation.

I would choose to stay in Chania old town area. There are lots of studio apartments in this area,
The Venetian port and old town back alleys will keep you busy for days. There are day trips by bus to Places like balos gramovossa boat excursion, Elafonnisi beach and Rethymnon.

Western Crete http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr5...7632115757899/
Chania http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr5...7632117917828/


When you decide to move on head south to the Libyan sea villages of Paleochora or even better little Sougia. There are incredible mountain and sea vistas on this coast. There are 5 villages on this coast with Ferry connections along the coast. You can easily spend a week to 10 days here.

Ferry trip Libyan Sea https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr...57653434073393
Crete Libyan Sea villages https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr...7645487373222/


Continue down the coast and if you want an urban setting Rethymnon is a mini Chania and Heraklion has Knossos and Venetian port plus old town central area. We generally spend about 4 days in Plakias for its blue flag beach and all the surrounding beaches. This whole west part of Crete is easily to get around by bus and will give you lots to do.
Plakias Crete https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr...57665045541263


I recommened Naxos as well. It is actually very similar to Crete but much smaller. We normally spend 10 days to two weeks on Naxos but three weeks on Crete will leave you wanting to return for more.
Naxos Town http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr5...7632094558042/
Trip around Naxos http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr5...7634605629689/
stanbr is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2017, 10:04 AM
  #12  
 
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Accommodation on the islands is typically rooms, studios, apartments and small hotels. You can certainly find them on booking(dot)com, which is a useful resource for locating rooms, but I prefer to find the hotel's own website and deal directly with them.

Some people own apartments or villas on the islands, and rent them out by the week through an agent when they aren't there. You might find one on booking(dot)com using the 'property type' filter.

A one-bedroom apartment with a studio couch in the living room would have a WC/shower, small kitchenette, and a balcony or terrace. Rooms typically have twin beds, and a studio will also have a small food preparation area.

As Dogeared wrote, you can easily find a driver. There will be ticket agencies in towns that arrange private tours, and most taxi drivers will be happy to get a fare for a whole day.
Heimdall is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2017, 10:40 AM
  #13  
 
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Maybe we should start with your budget. That might dictate what you can or can't do in terms of private driver, etc. It can be very costly to go out for a whole day with a driver. And you may have to arrange the days you need a driver ahead since in our experience, there are not that many taxis available in the summer months.

About accommodations: Lots of small hotels offer kitchenettes and sometimes full kitchens. I still think you're better off as a first-time visitor booking with a small establishment/hotel in case you run into any kind of problems.

Lastly, about Crete: We really enjoyed our time in Chania, as mentioned above. When we visited, there was decent bus service between Chania and Heraklion, where you can catch the ferry for Santorini-Mykonos-Naxos-Paros.
Weadles is offline  
Apr 4th, 2017, 06:22 AM
  #14  
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Thank you everybody, for thoughtful and comprehensive replies!
I will do some research and come back with more questions.

CAR: I can see that I may have to rethink the car issue. I just find that I miss so much when I drive. And the added stress of finding parking and summer traffic and possible fines and narrow streets!

ACCOMMODATION: I will now look for a studio in a small hotel, with basic kitchen facilities.

PLACES: I initially thought to start in either Rhodes or Crete and end in Athens, with a week or so on the mainland - perhaps in the Peloppenese area. Meteora also looks interesting. However, Greece is a big country, and spending hours on the road or in another airport seems a bit of a waste. So ... perhaps I should just stay on Crete, then go to Athens for the last bit.

Thanks again for helping me clarify my thoughts.
kovsie is offline  
Apr 4th, 2017, 08:05 AM
  #15  
 
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I'm not sure where you are getting the idea of, "the added stress of finding parking and summer traffic and possible fines and narrow streets!"

While some that does exist in towns like Heraklion on Crete or Rhodes Town on Rhodes, you can spend your entire time on either island without having to deal with that at all.

I certainly never think about traffic on any Greek island as being an issue. Athens, yes but that's like any other major city.

As for missing things when you drive, I understand what you are saying, but I don't think you will find you see much more from one side of a public bus either. Nor can you stop when you do see something that interests you. A bus is fine to get from A to B, it is not about what is in between A and B.

For places to stay, search for 'self-catering' and the place name you are interested in. That is the term Brits use for a room with a kitchenette and is the common term used in Greece.

For example but with no recommendation, only as an example: http://www.lefka-apartments.gr/

Regarding places, you are now veering away from 'slow travel' towards spending more days moving from place to place. That will also affect your costs.
Dogeared is offline  
Apr 4th, 2017, 09:55 AM
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Take a look at Chania on Crete. We rented a small house there for several weeks. We had a car but there are buses. Rent within walking distance of the old town.
It is much less of a city than Athens but offers more than the smaller islands.
I was going to recommend Napflion too but it may be more difficult to explore the areas outside of town without a car. Perhaps others can give you info on public transportation there.
HappyTrvlr is online now  
Apr 4th, 2017, 10:27 AM
  #17  
 
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Nafplio is very easy to enjoy without a car, when you have the gift of time. Numerous LOCAL busses go to almost all the major attractions -- Mycenae, Epidaurus, Tiryns, Asine, Tolo, even Ancient Nemea and Ancient Corinth -- tho the last 2 require taking a bus to Isthmus & changing to a 2nd bus, ie. https://www.rome2rio.com/s/Nafplion/Ancient-Corinth You can readily find bus info just by Googling "Nafplio Public Transit to _____". Furthermore, when one arrives in Nafplio on the intercity KTEL bus, the station can provide info (and for some, printed timetables) on routes to many destinations.

The drawback is that you really can do only one place per day; for instance, there's a bus to Epidaurus around 9, and a return bus around 1:30, so you cannot then visit Mycenae the same day. However,in July heat, you probably want to go to the handy town beach for the afternoon anyway. This superb NONcommercial site http://www.visitnafplio.com has THE best quick info on sightseeing (the links at top of page one), complete w. maps & pix.
travelerjan is online now  
Apr 4th, 2017, 08:49 PM
  #18  
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Dogeared: thanks again for good information. I do not really want to move away from slow travel - I am thinking about two or three places in a month. The last of these will be Athens, for 5 days. So the elusive two places ... one on an island (Crete I think) and one on the mainland (Nafplio?). BUT perhaps, for this trip, only Crete and Athens. I will sit down today and make up my mind.
Thanks also for the feedback about driving ... I will rethink this.

HappyT: did you find the small house on Booking(dot)com or on a site like vbro? Could you perhaps give more info?

Travelerjan: thanks for the great link. Nafplio certainly seems interesting.

However ... DD is now agitating for a week in Rome. Oh my ...
kovsie is offline  
Apr 5th, 2017, 06:55 AM
  #19  
 
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You use that term DD which I assume means Dear Daughter (BTW, that type of somewhat-twee abbreviation has been phasing out on Fodors, it got over-the-top with DSIL etc). My question is: who's paying for the trip? Im guessing you. Think about what would make YOU happiest. She will have decades ahead in which to wallow in Rome if she wishes (& can save up for).

Nafplio is THE ideal base to experience the most historical and in many ways the most beautiful section of the Peloponnese, the Argolid. Everywhere you turn, something that makes you say Ohhh. To mention just one -- Its small & splendid Arch. Mus, in the (marble-paved) town square has the World's ONLY surviving suit of armor from the ILIAD era - excavated nearby -- the outfit Achilles wore (!!!). Stanbr gave his sage advice & wonderful photos for Crete and Naxos -- Here's his album of Nafplio & surrounding Argolid sights - https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr...7632094108982/

PS: You can stick to your public-transit plan for Athens-Nafplio & back (it's a 2+ easy ride on Modern bus, w great scenes en route -- see that website for complete info). Then after you've explored the city, you can rent a car THERE for a couple days to see surrounding sites ... off the main intercity highway, traffic is much less, area is in a valley, no twisty mountain roads, so no driving stress.
travelerjan is online now  
Apr 5th, 2017, 10:48 AM
  #20  
 
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We booked our rental house for two weeks through Diktynna Travel in Chania, Crete. They are very well regarded and make reservations for travel agents around the world for their Greece bound clients. However, you can deal directly with them. The place we rented isn't available anymore but check out their website, www.diktynna-travel.gr
Good luck. With Chania and Napflion you have chosen two of the prettiest small. I ties in Greece. Have a wonderful trip.
HappyTrvlr is online now  

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