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Renting a Car in Athens / Driving to Nafplio

Renting a Car in Athens / Driving to Nafplio

Old Apr 2nd, 2009, 10:36 AM
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Renting a Car in Athens / Driving to Nafplio

Oh, great and helpful Fodorites (especially brotherleelove2004 and travelerjan)!

My next question, regarding our upcoming trip to Greece, has to do with renting a car.

Our Greek friend does not recommend this, but I am a glutton for adventure, so I still want to look into the idea of renting a car (in Athens) on the day we leave for Nafplio.

I realize that this will be Good Friday, and that many, MANY Athenians will also be leaving Athens for Easter. But still, I am at least CONSIDERING this adventure. I know we can take a bus or a train or a taxi, but we want to stop at the Corinth Canal, Ancient Corinth and possibly Ancient Nemea on our way to Nafplion.

After staying in Nauplion we plan to drive directly to the Athens airport and drop the car off there.

So my questions to you Great and All-Knowing Fodorites are:

1. Is this wise? (We live in the Los Angeles area, so we know about heavy traffic.)
2. Is there a better way to see the things we want to see on our way to Nafplio(n)?
3. Do you have any alternative suggestions?
4. Do you have any warnings about renting a car in Greece/driving in Greece, etc.?

Thanks, in advance, Oh Great Ones!

Bob
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Old Apr 2nd, 2009, 10:53 AM
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1) YES! If you are a competent driver you can certainly drive in Athens and in Greece! Ignore the naysayers!

2) NO! There is no better way than having a car allowing you to go where you want and when you want!

3) NO! You already have a good plan!

4) YES! You'll find drivers in Greece faster and more aggressive than in the US. I was doing 140 kph on the autoroute from Athens to Corinth and the only things I passed were trucks! Traffic was flying. So keep to the right and watch for traffic coming up behind... it's on top of you fater than you'd be used to. On secondary roads, be prepared to put 2 wheels onto the paved shoulder to let someone pass. it is expected and slower traffic will do this for you. Be especially vigilant at crests of hills and on bends!

Got a GPS? If so, take it with you loaded with a map for Greece. I used one in France last summer and they're great. I'm usually better prepared map wise but in Greece last spring I had only a very large scale Michelin map and free ones of Athens but we still made out fine.

Be sure to see Mycenae... it took me over 50 years but I finally got there and it was amazing. Stop at Tiryns... birthplace of Hercules.
In the first week of May last year we had it to ourselves.

Hardly a monument or world heritage site but a fun and interesting thing to see is the the sinking bridge at the south end of the Corinth Canal... worth a look if you have time. It's unique!

Rob
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Old Apr 2nd, 2009, 10:56 AM
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You could go out to the airport & rent from there, straight onto the National road, no worries about Athens traffic!
One point though, Good Friday's opening hours, most sites will be closing at noon. The good news is free entrance on Saturday 18th as it's National Monuments Day!
http://www.athensinfoguide.com/open.htm
Scroll to bottom of page for holiday opening times.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2009, 01:10 PM
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Thanks ParisAmsterdam and yiassas. Some excellent ideas! I like the avoid-the-Athens-traffic thing, yiassas! I think I'm gonna use your suggestions and do it!

Heck, I drove from Bergamo airport near Milano up to Lake Como, and up and down the lake on those tiny narrow roads to Bellagio and back. I can do THIS!

Do you (or any of you other GOFs -- "Gods of Fodor's") think we can make from Athens (via taxi) to the airport (rent the car) drive Ancient Corinth to Ancient Nemea and to Nafplio before dark? (Assuming we don't linger TOO long at the ancient sites.)

And let's say the museums at Corinth and Nemea are closed for Good Friday by the time we arrive. Do you think we would be able to view the sites on our own, or are they secured by fences, etc.

Thanks!

Bob

PS Aslo, since we are in Nauplion for three nights, including Easter, do you think we can sightsee around Nafplion AND make side trip to Mycenae on Saturday? I think they're pretty close to each other.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2009, 02:06 PM
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Cheryl & Bob --
You seem to have posted at least SIX threads, so I guess you think that we all have memorized your itinerary, becuse you don't repeat it at all. Maybe we could give some better advice if you woulld remind us briefly ... i.e., Myknos 3 days santorini xxx days, atthens xxx nafplioxxx.

About leaving during the Athens mad dash on Good Friday ... I would advise you to leave by taxi for the airport at 6:30 AM, with car reserved for 7:30 ... that way you could stop at Corinth & Nemea, and still get to Nafplio by early afternoon. No you cannot see stuff through the fences.

I would advise you to try to do Mycenae on Saturday morning EARLY (opens 8:30), then go to Epidaurus by 11:30 ... take a sandwich & picnic on the grounds. Since you are going to be in Nafplio on Easter Sunday, why not do your city strolling on that day?? Are you going to be around on Monday? you had better check to see if some things, like the museum will be closed. It is hard to advise you when we do not hae your itinerary in hand.

If you are trying to do all this, on the Greeks' BIGGEST holiday weekend, maybe you have to re-think stuff a little bit.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2009, 02:19 PM
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Mycenae is only about 20 km from Nafplion.
You'll pass Tiryns on the way... it's almost walkable from Nafplion.

Unless you stop to turn over every rock when you stop you'll have plenty of time to reach Nafplion before dark... ;^) If you leave Athens first thing in the morning you'll have time for lots of sightseeing before 3 o'clock.

My take on the airport pickup is this... from downtown Athens it takes about an hour to get there and it's in the wrong direction. Once you jump into your car the first 20 minutes or half hour of driving is again retracing your steps because you've come the wrong way to get the car...

Assuming you're staying in downtown Athens see if you can pick up a car at a rental agency on Queen Amalias or Syngrou Ave. I picked up an Avis car there and am pretty sure there's a Budget office nearby as well. Avis was handy right opposite the Temple of Olympian Zeus. You drive right down Queen Amalias/Syngrou, which are broad avenues, and continue down to the coast where you turn right onto the motorway ... after a mile you go right in the direction of Lamia and will then see a turning to Corinth. You'll be out of town before you would have got to the airport! Really.

Why there are always dire warnings about driving in places like Athens and Paris is beyond me. Driving around all day and finding parking would not be fun... getting out of town is no problem at all.

Rob
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Old Apr 2nd, 2009, 02:37 PM
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Can you flip your itinerary so that you aren't dealing with Good Friday traffic leaving Athens? Are traveling their on Greek Easter weekend or the western Easter observed in the US?
It was easy drive to Napflion, stop at Tiryns, Nemea on your way there. Then,spend one day out in Mycenae and Edipdavros. You can fit the sites in Napflion in around those. Napflion is my Athenian friends favorite weekend get away so if it is Greek Easter I assume it will be crowded.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2009, 04:54 PM
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travlerjan,

My question was about renting a car in Athens and driving it from Athens to Nafplio, and about places between Athens and Nafplio. Sorry, but I thought I made this clear enough. If not, I apologize.

Our full itinerary seems unnecessary to point out in this thread. I didn't think anyone would want to know about our stops in Mykonos and Santorini and how many days we are there. Am I wrong? Am I missing something?

Yes, I have several threads going. And whereas they are all related to our upcoming trip, the questions pop up (as we finalize our plans) at different times and often are unrelated to each other. For example, gifts for teenagers vs. half-day tours vs. what to wear to a Greek church for Easter vs. driving a rental car from Athens to Nafplio and so on.

I have tried to make them specific to the topic and not too general so as to confuse or bore people. I have TRIED to be concise and not put too much information here. I have TRIED to get to the point and in my humble opinion, our full itinerary doesn't seem to be pertinent to each and ever topic thread.

I do truly appreciate the time you and the others take to read and answer my questions. This forum is a hugely valuable resource, and it's experienced travelers like you that make it so. So, I have tried to keep extraneous information out of my posts. Except for this one, that is.

Regarding the "Greeks' BIGGEST holiday weekend," we are going to Nafplio on Good Friday, as I said at the beginning. I am fully aware that it is a huge weekend, which is why I made the reference to Good Friday and Athenians leaving town. As we are going to Nafplio for a reason we are not going to change our itinerary at this point. I was not asking for suggestions about when to see these places.

I was merely asking if people thought my plan was wise. I asked if there was a better way to see the things we want to see on our way to Nafplio. And if someone had an alternative suggestions? (Perhaps this was the one that confused you.) I asked if anyone had "warnings about renting a car in Greece/driving in Greece, etc."

And as a follow-up I was asking about seeing places from our base in Nafplio on Saturday, etc. I did not mean to imply that I wanted someone to make suggestions about changing our itinerary. I am only looking for suggestions on how to make the most of what we can do and see within the constraints of where are, where we are going, and when we will be there.

I am sorry you are bothered by A) our missing intinerary information, B) the dates we have chosen to be in Greece.

Funny, but ParisAmsterdam and yaissas seemed to understand EXACTLY what I was looking for.

No. We are not going to "re-think" our itinerary. However, I may rethink posting here again. I am truly thankful to all who take time to reply. Your posts, to me and to others, are especially insightful and useful. I don't, however, need to be scolded again in this kind of forum, so perhaps I will simply stop asking.

Best regards,

Bob
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Old Apr 2nd, 2009, 04:57 PM
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HappyTrvlr.

No, we can't flip our itinerary. We will fit in whatever we can. We will be there for Greek Easter weekend. Yes, I expect it to be crowded.

Thank you.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2009, 05:09 PM
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We have made this drive several times and always have rented from the airport. The first time we rented I posted here with a question "am I crazy to rent a car in Athens?" and the answers were unanimous rent from the airport!
The drive along the National road is easy and the traffic signs are in English. It is wise to have a second pair of eyes looking out for the signs.
The traffic is very fast and you have to be aware of what is happening behind you as well as what is in front of you because it is customary for slow traffic to get way over to the right to let fast traffic pass. In small rental cars we tourists tend to be the slow movers.
Bring coin as this is a toll road. It will probably take about 6 or 7 euro.
Given this is Easter weekend you had better make sure you have a reservation in Nauplion because it will be full of Athenians on a weekend get away.
I have been working on an Eastern Peloponnese album which isn't quite finished yet as the locations are not on the pictures however the first pictures are Ancient Corinth then Nemia, Mycenae Tiryns and Nauplion.
Let us know how your trip went.
http://travel.webshots.com/album/570747214TsFWOw
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Old Apr 2nd, 2009, 05:15 PM
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Thanks for the input, stanbr. Especially the part about the tolls!

Yeah, we have reservations for three nights. Not a problem.

Thanks for the photo link. They look great. Will go over them in greater detail with the missus later tonight.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2009, 05:19 PM
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Rob,

Our hotel, The Athens Gate, is right on Syngrou,so I guess finding a car will be easy, and heading outta town will be too.

Thanks again.

Bob
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Old Apr 2nd, 2009, 06:17 PM
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Cheryl I didn't mean to get you all upset... I was not upset by the dates you have chosen to be in Greece. I am sorry if you drew that conclusion.

What I was trying to figure out were the Athens dates vs. the projected Nafplio dates because I wondered -- just as someone else ALSO wondered, right after me -- whether it would be better to "flip" your stays to be in Athens during the easter time and Nafplio before. Why did I worry about this? Because it wasn't clear that you already had in hand your reservations in Nafplio., and i know how hard they are to come by during Easter week and Easter weekend. It was not clear whether you were just in the process of looking for those... and I did not want you to be disappointed. That's all.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2009, 06:21 PM
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This may be one of those urban legends but I heard that 80% of all rental cars in Athens are returned in the first hour. Since it appears you are going to be brave and rent downtown please let us know how it went.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2009, 05:22 AM
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LOLOL!

If it is so hard to drive in Athens why are there so many people driving there?

LOLOL

If you're at the Athens Gate you've got it made vis a vis getting out of town! You'll only be a few steps down the street from the Avis office. You might want to get moving on the car rental asap... might be a shortage of cars over a holiday weekend?

Regarding cars... go up a class or 2 from the cheapest. For not much more money you'll have a more comfortable and better performing ride.

Rob
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Old Apr 3rd, 2009, 06:10 AM
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Stanbr,

Well, I was 'brave' and lived to tell the tale!

I wish I could understand the paranoia
so many people seem to have about driving in Athens. Using a car there on a daily basis would be a pain... I spent 2 weeks in Athens in my VW van back in the 70s when traffic would have been lighter so I know.

But driving in or out of town? No big deal. Especially leaving from Syngrou...

Last May I had a car while based in Athens for 3 days... it just worked out easier to stay at the hotel there for trips to Nafplion and Delphi. I even found overnight parking in a garage between Syntagma and the Plaka for 15 euros a night... less than half of what I've been charged in Toronto in the past.

If Cheryl and Bob are from LA they won't have any problems. Heck, I've been living in rural Ontario on a road that might see a dozen cars a day and I didn't have a problem! ;^)

Rob
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Old Apr 3rd, 2009, 07:45 AM
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Hey Rob it is good to hear positive experience. There is a guy from Ottawa on Trip Adviser who says the same thing you do. It will be good to hear back from Cheryl and Bob for further confirmation.
Perhaps next year I too can think about being brave and renting downtown.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2009, 09:29 AM
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Renting a car in central Athens is *not* such a terrible thing, and it is the best, most flexible way to get to Naufplio and the other sites.

Cars rented at airports often have hefty surcharges & taxes -- I'm unsure of ATH airport. At US cities these extra rental fees can be as high as 15-20%.

When I've rented on Syngrou Street, I've rolled my luggage to
the car rental agency & departed directly from there -- else trying to find parking near your hotel could be quite difficult.

The issue with central Athens streets isn't so much the heavy traffic -- although it *is* chaotic -- as the maze of 1-way streets & inadequate signage. LA drivers are also more predictable & patient, by comparison. Ask the car rental clerk for suggestions on best route out, and a 2nd person as navigator can be quite helpful.

Once out of town, and especially secondary roads, the signage won't be up to USA/LA standards ... be alert ... sometimes by the time you see the sign, you're already past the turn-off.

The best, most accurate, and detailed maps, are published by the greek company 'Road Editions'. These maps are hard to find in US, but you can web order in advance, or buy them when you arrive.
http://www.road.gr/road_en/index/default.htm

Road Editions has a good overall map of Peloponesses, as well as detailed maps of the Argolid/Naufplion and other regions.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2009, 09:39 AM
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Also, people are divided on need for an International Driver permit, but I would get one ... around $20 from any AAA office and you don't need to be an AAA member.

The large rental agencies will ask for it, but seems doubtful they'd deny a rental for lack of the permit.

I was once pulled over by an Athens traffic cop for some illegal turn, and he *did* ask to see the permit, but he finally waved me on ... I think having the permit, potentially saved me from a lot more aggravation, or worse.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2009, 09:46 AM
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More than likely you can find a rental car without one, but if you get in an accident you will be in trouble with the police, your insurance will be invalidated and you might even be detained until you come up with the cash to pay the over-inflated repair costs that will be imposed on you. DO NOT rely on your credit card company's so-called "automatic" insurance. It has too may exclusions and loopholes. Take out full-coverage insurance at the time you pick up the car.
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