Underated Greece

Old Sep 26th, 2004, 05:09 PM
  #21  
 
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A little worried about the smoggy and gray Athens thing, because my first thought was to spend most of our time staying in Athens with daytrips to other sights. I don't want to rent a car, and we will be going in March, so I don't know if it's the best time to stay on the islands or in the countryside. Any suggestions for how to split up a trip of around eight nights between Athens and some of the more scenic parts of the country in March?
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Old Sep 26th, 2004, 07:28 PM
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Athens wasn't smoggy and grey a year ago in June. It was clear with bright blue skies and HOT! Don't worry; it's a neat city.
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Old Sep 26th, 2004, 08:54 PM
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Nikki-

You may want to start a separate thread for specific questions, may get more responses.

Eight nights is not a whole lot of time, but you may want to consider 2 or 3 nights in Nafplio/Nauflio.

Nafplio is a very pretty, smaller, seaside town in Peloponessus about 2-3 hrs from Athens, with none of Athens' "grayness" or "smog".

Although a good destination in itself, Nafplio also makes a very good home base for easy (30-40 minute drive) to Mycenae and Epidaurus.

Once you get out of the Athens urban center, driving a car is not especailly aggravating, so you may want to keep that option open. Eg, either drive directly to Nafplio, or take public transport to Nafplio and rent a car there.

And a trip to Greece would hardly be complete without a trip to the stunning natural and archaeological site of Delphi/Delfi! Although this could be done with a very long 1-day organized bus tour, it would be much more relaxing as an on-your-own overnight stay.

Another easy-to-do, yet completely different option, is a side trip from Athens to the nearby island of Hydra/Idra. It's less than 2 hours away by high speed Flying Dolphin hyrdrofoil. While it can be done as a daytrip, an overnight stay adds immeasureably to the experience!

Another easy day trip (60-90 minutes 1-way) from Athens is Cape Sounion, where a classic temple ruin sits atop a promontory jutting into the Aegean. Best experienced in late afternoon/ dusk , and the CHAT or KEY bus tours are pretty good for this.

All IMHO, of course ...

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Old Sep 27th, 2004, 12:06 AM
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cmt, this is for you: I think you are thinking of the village named Olympos when you talk about traditional Karpathos. And you are right, it is a very traditional one (and in a very different way). They didn't have a road up till some 20 years (?) ago, so they lived in sort of isolation in the mountains (you can see the isolation when you see the women's eyebrows). The women still wear their traditional clothes (although they also do wear jeans). It was extraordinary to see old women doing field work in their head scarfs and baggy pants and hand-made boots. The Sunday-wear is decorative with so much gold coins that it would make me fall just because of the weight. And they still use the village's old bread owen to bake their bread. Every family has its own emblem, so they know whose bread it is.

I don't know about festivities, I stayed in Olympos only one night. The views are stunning.

There is also a speciality in Karpathos: It is a matriarchaite. The oldest daughter inherits everything, and at least in Olympos it is the women who order. Often men are sent abroad to earn money, and women rule the village and give the orders. They really seemed to be very strong, determined women.

What did I do? The usual things I do when on a quick one week long holiday catching some late autumn sun: swimming, hiking and sampling the local kitchen. Nothing special.

cmt, it is easy to visit Karpathos. If you don't have direct flights, fly to Rhodes and take a ferry. Karpathos may not be what you are thinking, but it has character of its own, and nowadays also has all the tourist infrastructure you may need. But it certainly is not yet Rhodes or Santorini (And I hope it will not be for a long time).

I have not been to Basilicata, but in Karpathos you get away at least with English and German. There are package tours also from all Scandinavian countries, so maybe Swedish is nowadays also on the language list. It is twenty times easier to manage with English only on Karpathos than it is anywhere on the Spanish countryside.
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Old Sep 27th, 2004, 03:15 AM
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Thanks, tom h, I will probably ask questions on another thread, but this just seemed like a natural continuation of this one.

All the places mentioned sound good. My question is whether these are all good destinations in March, especially in the islands. For example, are things open in March on Hydra? I had heard that on the islands many things are closed during the off season.
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Old Sep 27th, 2004, 08:33 AM
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Nikki-
With the possible exception of Hydra, all the sites/destinations I mentioned are normally accessible year-round.

I don't have any first-hand info on how lively Hydra would be in off season (I visited in summer).

As an exmpl, I just did check at http://www.bratserahotel.com/ , the hotel I stayed at, and they state they are open "11 months per year". But they didn't state what their closed month is.
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Old Sep 27th, 2004, 11:22 AM
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tom h, the Bratsera Hotel looks nice, would you recommend it? Any other hotel recommendations in the areas you mentioned?
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Old Sep 27th, 2004, 11:15 PM
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Nikki-

The Bratsera Hotel on Hydra was lovely and felt like a serene oasis in what is already a pretty quiet island (because of no motor vehicles). It's about a 7 minute walk from the Hydra harbor. Because none of the narrow streets/alleys are particularly well marked, I hired a donkey driver to carry the luggage, mainly just to find the Bratsera, but otherwise the walk was not difficult (unless you're travelling with multiple, giant steamer trunks!). The donkey taxi cost something like US$10, I wouldn't pay much more than that, but I don't know what the going rate is nowadays.

If it's within your budget, I would heartily recommend the Bratsera. I would certainly stay there again. I was last there in 2001 (or was it 2000 ?!).

Other locations, everyone's got their favorite accomodations but here's mine--

In Nafplio, Hotel Byron. Charming, renovated, family run hotel in the "old town". And, rates were very moderate, around $80-90 for a double. I would stay there again. Much of the fun of being in Nafplio, is staying in the old quarter. It's a much cleaner, more authentic, less touristy, and less tawdry version of Athens Plaka (regardless, Plaka is still great fun).
Web site: http://www.byronhotel.gr/


While visiting Delfi, I actually stayed in the nearby village of Arahova, at the Hotel Anemolia. The Anemolia sucked and I would NOT stay there again! Arahova itself was pleasant. Next time I would consider the Amalia Hotel in Delfi.

The Amalias are a small Greek chain of modern, upscale hotels, but they tend to be at the outskirts of the towns, not really within walking distances. Exmpl, there's an Amalia in Nafplio but it's a 10 minute drive from the Old Town.
But in Delfi it might be a good tradeoff.
Web site: http://www.amalia.gr/

In Athens I stayed at the Electra Palace in Plaka, an upscale-ish property. Surprisingly quiet, easy walking distance to many of the main archaelogical sites, and of course to all the Plaka ouzerias, tavernas, and activity. They did major refurbishment for the Olympics, and the hotel looks great inside and out. But the prices have now increased quite a bit. From what I understand, the Olympics plus Euro conversion have increased prices all over Athens. For a September 2004 trip (which I unfortunately had to cancel), Electra Palace quoted me a rate of 186 Euro for a double and 218 Euro for a "superior double" with balcony and Acropolis view. But if it's within budget, I would still stay there again.
Web site: http://www.electrahotels.gr/english/english.html

Of course, other travellers will have their own favorites.
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Old Sep 28th, 2004, 03:45 AM
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Thanks, tom h, great info.
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Old Sep 30th, 2004, 01:21 PM
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I love Greece ! Been to Crete this year, Rhodes last, Kefalonia yr b4 plus Skiathos and Corfu. Probably off to the Pelopennese 2005.
Crete was absolutely fabulous - we loved it. Coming from the UK you can find out quite easily where the drunken louts hang out - you just go where they DO NOT hang out. We stayed in the west of Crete where we never saw any suspect behaviour. In fact we met a lot of other European nationalities in our hotel which made for a very pleasant holiday. We hired a car for a week and there is stunning scenery to be seen - in fact we could go back to Crete because we still feel there is more to see.
If you do your homework you should easily be able to plan a fabulous holiday to Greece. Maybe us Brits have lower expectations than you Americans and are easier to please. We stayed in a 5* hotel which we all loved but the American lady in the next room was not impressed (not sure what she was not impressed with - just 'not impressed')
GO to Greece - you won't be sorry !!!!!!!!
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Old Sep 30th, 2004, 01:35 PM
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..I think the Greek Islands are beautiful but I also agree there has been some unfortunate development..rows of illsuited high rise hotels in Kos for example (..some of the same type of development seen in parts of the Costa del Sol)..but these can be avoided..these are often set up with half board so people can stay for a week, relax, swim and not move from their compound. I dont think people who go to these should be criticised..some people want a week away with sun and alcohol and really dont care where (some of the tourists in Shirley Valentine spring to mind)..but North americans do the same..some pick a beach resort "anywhere" in the Carribean or Mexico for a week of complete collapse..so just carefully pick your spot and your Greek Island and enjoy.
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Old Oct 1st, 2004, 11:38 AM
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It's so refreshing to hear and talk to others who are like-minded about travel. Those who like to go and experience the place and the culture, and not just stay in some fancy hotel and eat from the room service menu for a week.

Thanks to everyone who has responded here and to some of my other requests for information. It has been so helpful.

Rick in Maryland
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Old Oct 11th, 2004, 10:51 PM
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Flanneruk,
How wrong can you be?. It appears you have visited Greece but I wonder if you too were on one of those self imposed stupors you talk of [ too many good clarets old chap ].
The turpentine you refer to is Retsina. An acquired taste I grant you but so are many wines, even some clarets you appear to be fond of take some acquiring. Have you tried the plethora of Greek wines available? I doubt it as if you had you would be extolling their vitues.
Also it appears it has escaped your knowledge that the Greeks, inter alia, introduced the Vine and winemaking to France.
You rubbish Greek History at ease , yet it is apparent you are grossly ignorant of many aspects of the glorious greek past.
As to artefacts and buildings you ignore many a fine museums in Greece spanning the breadth of Greek History, you completely ignore Byzantium why? The non Greek Museums you mention , I agree Are exceptional, no less because of their Greek antiquities, eg The Parthenon Marbles in the British Museum , The Winged victory of Samothrace and the Venus de Milo[ Aphrodite of Milos] .
What about Knossos in Crete? Or Akrotiri in Santorini? Have you visited the majestic temple at Lindos or the ancient city of Kamiros in Rhodes? You conveniently ignore the many Castles and fortresses scattered all over Greece, Naupactus or the Old town or the Grand Masters Palace in Rhodes[ world Heritage listed}. The awe inspiring Meterora, what about the monastries of Mt Athos? To name only afew.
As to History have you heard of Drama? Art?Architecture?Literature?Science?Mathematics?Ph ilosophy? How about Sophocles, Homer, Archimedes, Alexander the Great, Aristotle, Aeschylus, Who is any culture can compare ?
So what if there are magnificent Greek monuments outside current Greece. Is not that the case of Rome? Does that make the splenfder of Rome any less important? No of course not. It is not a competition. The quetion posed by me was not to compare cultures and see which is better[ whatever that subjective notion can be ] but to indicate the many beauties on offer in Greece . Beauties which you so readilly rubbish.
It is unfortunate that indeed some drunken louts visit Greece, yet Spain. Italy France , England and many other European countries have such loutish visitors, although in Greece there is very little crime and it is much safer than the rest of Europe.
As to an artistic desert I recommend you acquaint yourself with Domenico Theotocopoulos{ aka El Greco} or Cavafy, or Seferis, or Theodorakis.
As to Greek Food ..well.. without it there would be no French or Italian cuisine. The variety, Health and taste of Greek cooking is clearly anathema to you and it is at your loss.
You unfortunately exhibit the very arrogant[yet ignorant], imperialistic and rascist traites which my original thread intended to weeed out. Putting down one culture by applying the supposed higher culture's attitudes.Thankfully, your patronising attitudes are slowly diminishing in this world. It might be best for people like you not to travel, stay at home in your perfect world, with your perfect food and culture.


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