Three day visit to Delphi and Meteora

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Jan 25th, 2012, 12:14 PM
  #1
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Three day visit to Delphi and Meteora

Hello Fodorites.
In May, my husband and I and another couple are planning a trip to Greece. We have been to Greece in 1984 at which time we visited Nafplio, Epidaros, Mycaene, and Delphi and had 4 nights in Athens. The other couple have never been to Greece. Since we have never been to Meteora, would this be a good choice for a trip into the countryside?
We will have 5 nights in mainland Greece before boarding our ship for a 7 day Island cruise which ends in Venice where we continue our European fun.
HERE ARE OUR TENTATIVE PLANS:
May 16 - Flight arrives at 5:00p.m. will transfer to Hotel Plaka. Explore Plaka area then bed.
May 17 - Explore Athens - sleep Athens
May 18 - (Friday) - Get car - Head to Delphi - see Delphi and Museum - sleep
Delphi
May 19 - (Saturday) Leave in a.m. for Meteora.(try to visit 1 or 2 monestaries that
p.m.
May 20 - (Sunday) - Morning visits to monestaries. Drive back to Athens and
sleep Athens (Plaka Hotel)
May 21 - Monday -sightsee more of Athens - get to Pireas by 2:00.

Questions:
Is this schedule crazy? Can one visit Delphi and Meteora in less time? Should we skip Delphi and just do Meteora?
If we do do this schedule, is visiting Delphi first the right sequence? Why? The above outline is pretty much the same as Fantasy Travel and also Key Tours.
How difficult is the drive? Will we have trouble getting in and out or Athens?
Are we shortchanging ourselves with the time allotted for Athens?
Hotel recs for Delphi and Meteora. Meteora really intrigues me so hope we can visit on this trip. Will NEVER get back to Greece. We are Seniors!
Thanks so much for any imput!
Mary Ann
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Jan 25th, 2012, 01:20 PM
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Hello Mary Ann

The schedule isn't crazy at all....
Driving from Delphi to Meteora would take 3-4 hours, you will have to study the directions well, so you won't get lost....
( nothing to be worried about though).
May in Mainland Greece will be wonderful, as it will be full
of flowers

Driving back to the Plaka hotel is not going to be easy with a car, it is impossible to park the car there, given the fact that it is a narrow street surrounded by pedestrianized streets... It would be better to return it to the city office and take a taxi from there. ( City offices are usually near Zeus Temple). Another idea would be to drive to the airport, which is very easy to find , as you will be coming from the north. From the airport you can either take a taxi or the metro, that will take you very near to the Plaka Hotel. ( 200 meters from Monastiraki station).

Please note that Fantasy Travel does not offer organized tours, Key Tours does. ( what you saw on Fantasy Travels website, is the program or either Key or Chat Tours.....
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Jan 25th, 2012, 03:21 PM
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Hi Clausar,
I think you were a huge help to me in planning our Switzerland trip in 2009. Did we join your study tour of Zurich? If so, we owe you a few Euros!

So, do you think we will have enough time for Athens? For the car return, we would return to the office closest to our hotel/ or easiest to get to when entering Athens and then take a taxi as you suggested. Will also have to make sure the rental car office will be open Sunday evening (or else go to the airport as you suggested).
I noticed that the Key Tours only take you to 2 Monasteries. Should we try to see more than that? Any other sights to see on the way going or returning?
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Jan 25th, 2012, 04:33 PM
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Also, is it worthwhile to detour to Osios Loukas Monastery enroute to Delphi?
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Jan 25th, 2012, 05:36 PM
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It sounds good to me. We visited two monasteries as part of a 4 day trip and while one or two more would have been good, more than that would have been unnecessary. It's quite a long drive back to Athens so allow time for that.

I like the idea of dropping the car off at thei airport. The traffic in Athens is crazy, as bad as Rome if not worse! The train system is good, you'll be fine.

Delphi is lovely and the archaeological sites are worth a visit (wear flat shoes). Go for a stroll in the evening. It's a very pretty town with views to the sea below.

In Athens I loved the National Archaeological Museum. If you are short of time, it's still worth a visit to the sculpture wing which is amazing! I loved all of Athens and would happily return, I hope you have a great time.

Just one more thing, I guess if you are joining a cruise you will have quite a lot of luggage. It would be worth asking Hotel Plaka if they can store the bulk of it while you head off on the road trip.
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Jan 26th, 2012, 02:39 AM
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On my experience, most foreign visitors cover Athens city center to Delphi area on 2 and a half hours non stop, Delphi to Meteora on 5 hours and Meteora to Athens on 4 to 5 hours. Allow a bit more time in case of taking a wrong turn here or there, and most importantly for rest/snack/toilet and of course photo stops : )
Osios Loukas Monastery is an UNESCO world heritage site too, and it is an interesting site, but it is up to each individual to judge how many monasteries he/she can take in on a trip lol
I find interesting combination of a visit to Osios Loukas with exploring the surrounding villages and maybe take the less used road to Delphi through Itea/Desfina. But this will add significant time on your already fast paced trip, so I guess you can visit Osios Loukas monastery and then get the "beaten track" through Arahova to Delphi : ) Very important point when planning this itenerary, is the varied timetables of the sites. Normally by May, Delphi should run on its summer shedule, so museum and upper site will most likely be open till 5PM and lower site till 7 PM or so. Due to financial issues, summer season was much sorter last year than it should be, so it worths checking on this closer to May. You have to take advantage of the long day light hours on a trip such as this!
Info on the Osios Loukas Monastery (check its very interesting history) :
http://osiosloukas.gr/osiosloukas/en...xml/index.html
Drive from Athens to Delphi is on highway till Thiva (Thebes) then smaller road till Delphi, somehow mountainous/twisty for last 30 klms of the route. Nothing extremely difficult, especially on May (on winter you could meet some snow)
Same twisty roads at start of route from Delphi to Meteora. Road is narrow at some points with some hairpin turns and needs caution because you may meet large tracks coming the opposite direction. There is a bauxite mine on the famous 51rst klm and by the way, a guided tour is availiable since some years ago. I am not sure about English speaking tours, site was only in Greek till some weeks ago, but I noticed now there is English version availiable,so maybe... :
http://www.vagonetto.gr/en/
Meteora needs carefull planning because of the varied timetables and "off" days of each monastery. This is a very informative site (check lower end of the page for timetables):
http://www.kalampaka.com/en/meteora/monasteries.asp
In general fast paced, but doable itenerary.
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Jan 26th, 2012, 03:05 PM
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Cathies,
Thank you for your mention of the National Archaeological Museum. I checked the opening times and it made me realize that we need to visit on Thursday or miss it entirely! It is indeed a great museum. also will leave part of our luggage at the Plaka Hotel.
Mariah:
The web sites you provided are very helpful! I have printed a copy of the opening times. Now I know to do Delphi first because Varlaam Monastery is closed on Friday.

Has anyone stayed at the Dellas Boutique Hotel in Kastraki, just outside Kalampaka? It is #1 on Trip Advisor but is not recommended in Frommers or Fodors or Eyewitness guide books.

Any other suggestions for Delphi hotel or Meteora area?
Thanks to all.
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Jan 26th, 2012, 03:42 PM
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I can't help with hotels sorry, we were on a tour and didn't have much control over that.
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Jan 26th, 2012, 04:07 PM
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Mary Ann
You have received excellent advice so far !!
regarding accommodation:

Dellas Hotel is an excellent choice !
It is a very good 3 star hotel, at a very reasonable price.

In Delphi i would recommend 2 hotels, both 3 stars :

Varonos Hotel or Parnassos Delphi Hotel.
On you way to Delphi, Osios Loukas Monastery would be a very interesting stop, the Delphi area is very beautiful and there are many beautiful places to see, i am afraid though that you won't have the time to see everything.

Driving from Delphi to Kalambaka you will see a very mountainous part of Greece that very much looks like Switzerland.... The drive till you meet the Athens-Thessaloniki highway is very scenic.

PS : Since i joined Fodor's last year, i am sure that we have never met virtually or physically before.....
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Jan 26th, 2012, 04:35 PM
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You do not mention what kind of hotel you are after...
I haven't visit Meteora for some time, so I can't comment on accomondation there. But about Delphi, note that most options are small family run B&B hotels, which have roons on the small side, but are clean and tidy, and absolutely fine. Varonos and Parnassos are good options, I would add Hotel Pan on the same price range and Syvilla a tad bit cheaper and slightly more spartan. Request rooms with valley views!
If you are looking for something more luxurious, there is an Amalia hotel in Delphi, a 15 minutes walk uphill from main street and somehow outside main town, but on a charmy location. It features larg-ish public areas, a bar/restaurant, swimming pool and nice views. As you have a car, you may want to consider this if you need to be outside the tourist action. Other alternative with a pool on the same area is Delphi Palace(ex-Xenia hotel). Created by famous Greek architect Pikionis, so some features can not be changed and this reflects on its general maintenance condition. Both hotels offer some parking spaces. They are not extremely impressive as those hotels are a few decades old and somehow dated, but still make for a decent one or two nights stay.
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Jan 27th, 2012, 03:04 PM
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Any good recommendations for car rental companies in Athens?

Thanks for the hotel tips. I am still check those out.
Mary Ann
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Mar 8th, 2012, 03:02 PM
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Hi,
we are also travelling to Meteora and Deplhi (plus Olympia) in May. As you haven't had any replies re the rental car companies I thought I'd forward who we are dealing with. Of course I don't have any experience with them yet other than they reply quickly to emails, are friendly and are the cheapest I have found through my searching. They also offer free escort out of Athens!
Sat Nav is EUR5/day
Swift Rentals:
www.greektravel.com/swift/
We have also been using michelin guide website for travel times and routes. It includes toll costs and estimated petrol costs! Have found it fantastic for planning, .... proof will be down the track.
www.viamichelin.com/
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Mar 8th, 2012, 10:35 PM
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Huia,

Having some experience in car rental, here is my advice :

Do not rent a car from unknown companies...
It is better to pay more, but have the safety of an international company witch cars that won't cause any problems.

Replying fast to emails, and being friendly might be customer friendly, but what if you have a problem with car somewhere in Kalambaka, and they have no one to send ?

Companies such as hertz, Europcar, Avis etc have a network all over Greece, and will help you promptly in the unwanted event of a problem.

Not saying that something will happen... but i think that it is better to stay on the safe side ny paying a bit more.
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Mar 9th, 2012, 12:08 AM
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Hmmm...another company recommended by Matt Barrett. #-o I hope they're more reliable than a certain tour guide (now retired) he used to promote! Swift may be a reputable company, I don't know, but quick email replies are not a good indicator. Were it me, I would go with clausar's advice and use an international company. If, when you return home and find a problem with your credit card bill, you have a better chance of resolution with Hertz, Avis, et al.
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Mar 17th, 2012, 12:56 PM
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We are renting through Auto Europe and the agency they are using for us is National Rent a Car.
I feel very secure with them and have rented in Europe before. Auto Europe is located in the USA.
Thanks to all who have posted. You have been a big help. We have booked the Delas Boutique Hotel for Meteora and the Varonos Hotel in Delphi.
Looking forward to a peaceful trip!
MA
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