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Trip Report: Greece, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Italy

Trip Report: Greece, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Italy

Old Jun 27th, 2007, 02:29 PM
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Trip Report: Greece, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Italy


We just returned from our vacation and I wanted to attempt to write a trip report. That being said, I'm nervous, what can I really post that would help that much. I didn't spend that much time in any one location. Nevertheless, I feel indebted to the folks on this board that have helped me plan our wonderful vacation. So here is my attempt at saying "Thank You!"

My husband and I took our children Joshua (18), and Brittany (15), on a wonderful cruise to Greece, Turkey, Israel, Egypt and Italy. We also brought along dear family friends, Ginny (18), and David (15).

Our teens studied World History extensively last year, so we thought that this would be the perfect trip for them. Though I dreaded spending so little time at each destination, this trip was absolutely perfect for teens desiring to get a taste of different lands. This itinerary did not disappoint any of us.


Wow, twelve hours of travel time, twenty-four hours without sleep upon arrival.

Lesson Number One: Pay whatever, and I mean whatever, it takes to avoid three connections when you fly to Europe.

Unfortunately, we were officially dead upon arrival.

Day One: Athens, Greece

Arriving at the hotel, InterCONTINENTAL ATHENAEM, around 3:00, we were met by our helpful cruise-line associate. They helped us check in, they carried our luggage and handed out helpful maps, all, I believe, to butter us up before they dropped the bomb on us. Meanwhile, we were discussing how we would quickly shower, avoid naps, make every minute count, because the ship departs tomorrow evening at 10:00 p.m., and we don't have much time! We must hurry tonight so that we can squeeze a day and a half of exploring in Athens!

THE BOMB: Our cruise-line representative let us know that we would be transferred to the ship the next morning at 11:00 am. What?!? The ship does not even depart until 10:00 p.m.! We paid around $1500.00 to enjoy Athens till 11:00 am the next morning? We expressed our dismay and the representative told us that with our early transfer that we would, and I quote, "have the privilege of being the first to sign up for the specialty restaurants and spa treatments." What?!? We did not pay $1,500.00 extra to be able to be the first in line to reserve spa treatments and restaurant dates. We paid to spend time in Athens!!

We were dizzy with jet-lag, our children were weary as well. I think we were too tired to make right decisions at that point. We were too caught up in the shock of it all to slow down and just think. Arrange your own ride to the ship. Think, you invested $1,500.00 to enjoy a day and a half in Athens, just find out how much it costs to get your own ride to the ship which was only an hour away.

We reluctantly signed up for the cruise-line three hour long excursion for our "big speck of a day in Athens."

In spite of the cruise-line rip-off, (not to mention our own stupidity) we made the most of our evening and morning in Athens.

The weather was wonderful as we walked to Plaka, Athens' famous shopping district. We weren't happy that the cruise-line representative told us that it was a fifteen minute stroll. In fact, it was a forty-five minute walk, with not a single lovely thing in sight along the way. This was a great loss of time for us, considering that we had so little time to spend in Athens. Finally, Plaka! with it's cobbled pedestrian lanes, lined with shops, boutiques, souvenir stands, jewellery stores and flea market stalls, what a pleasure!

Ginny, our eighteen year old friend we brought along with us, has family in Greece. We met with her Aunt and Uncle in Plaka for dinner. Wow! What a great opportunity for our teens, and us. We learned so much, first hand, about the Greeks and their culture. We enjoyed their company so much. The meal was simply fantastic. Now we understood that with them being greek, they would likely try to pay the bill for the eight of us. So, we let them know up front, when they phoned us to make arrangements to meet us for dinner, that we would love to have dinner with then if they would let us treat. I figured, if they resisted our paying, my dh will have no problem controlling the situation, he is a master in these situations. Well, I'm not sure I've ever seen my husband loose a battle for a bill, maybe he's had to split a bill, but I'm not sure I've seen him so totally loose a "bill battle" like he did in Athens that night. Ginny's uncle was not to be stopped. He was a man on a mission and was not leaving that restaurant without paying, in full, our entire bill. Ouch!!

All is not lost though. They are coming to Florida, possibly in October, and we shall get them back. We plan to have them over to our place in Pine Island (near Sanibel FL) with Ginny and her parents, and show them a wonderful time. We will wine and dine them, so to speak, and pay for everything ourselves. Actually, it won't be a payback. It will simply be our pleasure, because they were so wonderful to our family.


Okay, three hours only. How could we have such a great time in just three hours? For one thing, we set our minds to not fret that we only had three hours that day. I tell you, that was really hard, but I am so glad we did.

It was an amazing morning! I'm humbled that we were able to show our teens so much in just three hours! The Parthenon, the Propylaea, the Erechtheum with its Porch of Maidens, and the Temple of Athena Nike. The beautifully preserved Theseum, Roman Temple of Zeus, Theater of Dionysus, and the Agora where Socrates taught. Vistas of the Royal Palace, government buildings, and elegant homes in the modern city (a striking contrast to the remains of a glorious past). Can I say Wow! again? I can't help it, it was so amazing.

To be continued...

FLNan is offline  
Old Jun 27th, 2007, 03:37 PM
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Great trip report so far! I am looking forward to the rest!

Very sorry to hear about the cruise line and them only giving you 3 hours in Athens... have you considered contacting the company for a refund? That seems so wrong that you paid that much extra for only a few hours of sightseeing. Athens has so many rich sights to see and explore.

For future reference, the metro line runs out to Piraeus where the cruise ships dock.
TexasAggie is offline  
Old Jun 27th, 2007, 04:37 PM
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I can't wait to hear more, we are doing those same ports next June. I always wondered about the ship transfer, now I know, book your own. Thanks
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Old Jun 27th, 2007, 04:52 PM
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Thanks for the report so far. Re the cruise. What cruise line was it? Why did they change the times? Can they do this?
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Old Jun 27th, 2007, 05:21 PM
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Why didn't you take the Intercontinental's shuttle to Syngama Sq. instead of walking 45-minutes to the Plaka? You should have talked to the front desk clerks instead of relying on a cruise-ship rep.

You need to do some homework before you travel. $1,500.00 for a $30 cab ride to Pireus? You just fell off of the cabbage truck, sweetie.

I am looking forward to the rest of your report. I will be in Greece on July 9, also staying at the Intercontinental.

The Great and Powerful Thingorjus
marginal_margiela is offline  
Old Jun 27th, 2007, 06:39 PM
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TexasAggie- I have contacted them for a refund. I'll hear back from them within eight weeks. Thanks for the metro line tip.

Worldinabag- The cruise-line did not disclose the time of the transfer. When I called from the states to ask when I needed to arrange for the transfer from the hotel to the port, they told me that I would be about an hour from the port (if I remember correctly) and that I'd want to plan to be at the hotel an hour and a half or two, early. The cruise-line representatives taking calls in the states don't know that the transfers are not negotiable. They are fixed in order to accomodate a group. The cruise-line is Princess. I hesitated to disclose that. I know that this is a new itinerary for them and that they may refund our money and change some things.

Marginal_Margiela- We missed the shuttle by one minute. So we were advised by the cruise-line rep. to walk. I think it runs hourly.

I wish I never relied on the cruise-line rep. for anything!

I paid $1,500.00 for a pre-cruise package that included three hotel rooms and a transfer for our group of six. I knew we were paying more to book the package through Princess but my husband wanted us to do the pre and post cruise hotel bookings through the cruise-line.

I researched and I knew every place we needed to see. I just rely on others to drive. Rome, Santorini, Patmos and Athens were the only places that I did not have a private guide picking us up at the ship. I planned to get around on my own in Sanrtorini and Patmos, but I did not research how to get around in Rome and Athens (only how far the sites were from each other. I knew that I'd book a tour. I never dreamed that I would have so little time. Now I regret that I did not researched how to get around myself!


We arrived at the port, rode the nearby cable car (in Fira) up to the town. We walked the short twenty minute walk to the town bus station and crammed on a bus, much like sardines, and traveled for around 25 minutes to the north west tip of the island to Oia. Said to be the most picturesque part of Santorini.

Oia is truly breathtaking. You expect to be amazed with the villages, what I did not expect, was how beautiful it was to look down, over the housetops toward the mountains. Also, another shock was how beautiful it was to look down, over the housetops toward the beautiful blue water. They were the perfect frame for these white cubes, perched impossibly high on cliffs.

We explored Oia with its narrow pebble paved streets, the white houses with arches and vaults, small blue windows, the traditional cycladic churches with their domed light blue cupolas, sun-bathed verandas, cafes, and other shops. I didn't expect our teens to get much of a thrill out of it. I was wrong. It seemed as if they were taking pictures every few seconds!


If you must return to a cruise ship, don't wait until the last minute to take the cable car down to the port. It is safer to travel down an hour or an hour and a half before the cable car closes down for the day. You don't want to wait in an hour long line, or worse, miss the ship.

Also, take time to look at pictures of your destination of choice. Santorini is a wonderful picture taking opportunity. I kept frantically looking for a better spot to get pictures. Finally we stopped at a shop with all kinds of beautiful photos and paintings of Oia. It was then that I realized that I had taken pictures of the most photographed sites in all of Oia. I also noted how beautiful obscure things can be. Pictures of rod iron doors opening up to small courtyards overlooking the water, pictures of the light blue domed cupolas framed only by the blue water in the background.

Do not settle for dinning without a view.

FLNan is offline  
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