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trip Report: Athens, Spetses, Santorini

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Here's my trip report for two week honeymoon to Greece from the beginning of August.

I'm not Greek and had never been before. My husband is Greek American and speaks fluent Greek. He had been to Athens and other islands, but not Spetses or Santorini.

Itinerary:
3 days Athens
2 days Spetses
3 days Santorini

We flew British Airways from Philly to London to Athens. Besides the long trip everything went well (our trip was just 2 weeks after the London bombings). For our trip we did not use a travel agent we used my husband's family and one cousin in particular to help us book things. This was a great help, mostly because we were so busy with the wedding, but also because she was able to speak directly with the hotels and buy all of our ferry and flight tickets ahead of time.

In Athens we stayed at the Athens Atrium, which is actually in Nea Smyrni (sp?), I believe it's like a suburb of Athens. We stayed there for proximity to family, but we took taxi's everywhere - taxi from the airport was 30 E, taxi to Parthenon was like 5 E. I didn't feel any restrictions not being directly in the city. I would highly recommend the Athens Atrium. We had a jr suite with a whirlpool bathtub, just a really nice room. They have private balconies, free breakfast. I think we paid 150 E a night which wasn't too bad. And the best food I had the entire trip was at a small souvlaki place just down the street. It had no sign, just a little restaurant with some outside tables. Best lamb gyro and french fries I've ever had. I would go back to Athens just to eat there again. In Athens we only had one day for sightseeing. We saw the Parthenon, Plaka, Monastriki (sp), and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. All beautiful. I¡¦ll just say that the Parthenon was pretty expensive ¡V 12 E each to get in, 2 cokes cost us 8E, and I had to pay .50 E to use the ladies room!

After 2 days of visiting family in Athens we took a ferry to Spetses. The ferry was 3 hours long on very choppy waters. We went to Spetses solely on the recommendation of my husband's cousin and everyone in Athens told us that they loved Spetses and we would have a great time. I don't know what they're talking about because we didn't really like Spetses at all.

We stayed at Valia's Hotel, which I do believe was the farthest hotel away from the port! We were shocked when we checked into the hotel. We could not believe that our cousin had stayed here and then recommended it to us! Especially on our honeymoon. The room was very sparse with the tiniest little bathroom with a shower that I was afraid to step in barefoot (flip flops are always a good thing). When we were given the room it had no toilet paper, no hand soap, and only 2 out of 6 lights had light bulbs! Do not stay at Valia¡¦s Hotel.

Our other problem on Spetses was transportation. On Spetses you can walk, rent a moped, or take a horse and carriage ride. Because our hotel was up on the hill the horses wouldn¡¦t go up there. We tried to rent a moped, but we¡¦ve never driven them before and after trying it out we knew we would hurt ourselves or others if we got out on the road. So we walked. Now really, the walking wasn¡¦t too bad once we got used to it. The only problem was that you had to decide what you were going to do for the day because if you walked into town you didn¡¦t want to have to walk back to the hotel before dinner and then walk back to town, then back to the hotel after dinner. We were also very disappointed with the beaches (I know Greece is not known for its beaches, but everyone told us how nice the beaches on Spetses were). We were also disappointed with the restaurants. One of Nick¡¦s relatives gave us two restaurant recommendations for seafood. We were in Spetses for 2 nights so we went to both restaurants. At neither was the food any good and all the seafood was frozen! Nothing was fresh. It was just odd.

I think we would not have been so disappointed with Spetses if we hadn¡¦t been led to believe that it was such a great place by all of Nick¡¦s relatives. Actually, I finally realized something. It seems Spetses is where all the Athenians go for their weekend trips. Well, here in the Philadelphia area everyone goes to the New Jersey shore for the weekends. If you asked me about the Jersey shore I would tell you how much I loved it and how great it was and all these wonderful restaurants you can go to. But, if you were on your honeymoon you would think the Jersey shore sucked and would wonder why I love it so much. Spetses is their Jersey. ƒº

After 2 nights on Spetses we gladly got back on the ferry and went back to Athens. We then flew from Athens to Santorini. I highly recommend flying to Santorini if you have limited time. The tickets weren¡¦t that much, the flight was 30 minutes with no problems.

On Santorini we stayed in Oia at the Oia Mare Villas. Wonderful. Everything a honeymoon should be. We loved Oia so much we cannot wait to go back. We were there for 3 full days. 2 days we just lounged around Oia. One day we took the excursion from Ammoudi beach to the volcano and hot springs. In the morning we walked down the stairs to the boat. When we returned (after having climbed the volcano and swam in the hot springs) we took the donkeys up the stairs. That was probably the best thing we ever did. Our donkeys wound up racing up the cliff (ok, just a little terrifying!) but we made it up in no time.

We considered taking the bus to the ruins and possibly the red beach, but since it was our honeymoon we just decided to relax. We ate at 1800 and Ambrosia. 1800 was my favorite for the food. Ambrosia had a better view ¡V wow, what a view ¡V but at 1800 the food was just delicious! Make sure you make reservations anywhere you want to go for dinner in Oia. We had reservations for 1800 and Ambrosia, but just thought we¡¦d wing it our last night. We had to walk quite a ways and have about a 20 minute wait to get into any restaurant (this was about 9pm).

We then flew back to Athens and spent our last night at the airport Sofitel since our flight left at 8 am. Wow! The Sofitel was the best hotel we stayed in the entire trip. It was a vacation by itself. My husband said that finally he saw one thing that Athens had improved for the Olympics!

All in all we had a wonderful time in Greece and can't wait to go back!

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