Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

With Gratitude for a Glorious Solo Month in Greece

With Gratitude for a Glorious Solo Month in Greece

Old Jul 28th, 2017, 06:26 PM
  #1  
kja
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 22,983
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
With Gratitude for a Glorious Solo Month in Greece

My month in glorious Greece was, well, glorious! And my trip was infinitely better than it might have been because of the invaluable insights that so many of you generously shared with me.

My plan for this trip report is to
- provide a bit of context and outline my final itinerary;
- summarize what I liked best and least about my experiences in Greece; and then
- offer a more detailed description of what I saw and did.
Questions are welcome at any time!

Before I do any of that, I want to express my gratitude to ALL of you who helped me plan this trip. I learned a great deal from the many trip reports and planning threads I read, and I benefitted enormously from the responses that SOooo many Fodorites generously provided on my planning threads:
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-in-greece.cfm
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-in-greece.cfm
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-santorini.cfm
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-in-greece.cfm
I can’t say I took full advantage of the information that any of you gave, but I am confident that my trip was far better because of your input. Fodorites ROCK!

I’m not going to try to thank all of you for each and every thing you said on these various planning threads. Instead, I’m going to try to thank each of you explicitly for just ONE way in which your input made a difference – no matter how much advice you gave (and some of you were invaluable sources of information on multiple aspects of my planning). Sometimes, several people mentioned the same thing; and in these cases, although I only note one person’s recommendation, I hope you realize that I’m thanking all of you who mentioned that thing. And please understand that my gratitude goes far beyond these limited acknowledgements!

Turning to each of you in alphabetical order….

ANUJ: for your encouragement to visit awesome Akrotiri.

artsnletters: for you enthusiastic encouragement to visit Delos – such a moving place!

billbarr: for recommending a visit to Tiryns – the Mycenaeans were truly outstanding builders, weren’t they?

brotherleelove2004: for helping me find the perfect place to stay on Santorini – “my” view was absolutely perfect for watching the sunset!

cherie2125: for encouraging me to visit Vergina – I found the Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai truly awe-inspiring.

clausar: among other things, for ensuring that I ate extremely well while in Greece, as I did (for example) at Athinaikon in Athens – what a wonderful recommendation!

colduphere: for recommending the Pension Dafni in Nafplio – delightful! And BTW, please come back!

Crazyh: for your enthusiastic encouragement of exploring Greece’s markets, and not just it’s produce markets, but also its fascinating meat and seafood markets.

Dogeared: for recommending that I indulge in Horiatiko Psomi (country bread) if found – and I did find it! I happened upon it by chance at the Taverna Aravanes in Thronos. Delicious!

Dreamon: for your confirmation that May/June would be a good time for my trip. As you predicted, the weather was nearly perfect, and OMG, the wildflowers were glorious!

FuryFluffy: for telling me about the outdoor cinema at Thision. Unfortunately, I didn’t find time to attend a screening there, but I loved knowing that it was an option. I did see it one evening from a distance and of course, thought of you.

Gertie3751: for your enthusiastic endorsement of Cretan cuisine – as you said, it was a treat!

HappyTrvlr: for your recommendation to visit the poignant Arkadi Monastery – I found it very powerful.

Heimdall: among so many other things, for the wisdom of suggesting that I begin my trip in Crete – it made my route much more reasonable, and also meant that I began with the Minoans, which made a lot of sense, even if that wasn’t your rationale!

internetwiz: for encouraging me to focus on western Crete – it is amazing, isn’t it?

isabel: for your incredibly helpful comments on the islands you visited – your insights helped me make some very difficult decisions about which ones to visit.

joannyc: for all the times I raised a glass at sunset – and OMG, I found many delightful opportunities to do that , including at breathtaking Meteora.

justineparis: for making sure I knew to try Naxos potatoes – I must admit that I had wondered just how “special” they could be – after all, they are potatoes. OMG, they are tasty!

margarethewitt: for your encouragement to fly from Thessaloniki to Athens – that really was the best solution for me.

mr_go: for making sure I knew to sample ouzo and raki and various homemade concoctions – life can be good!

Odin: for making sure I knew how to tell people that my food had been delicious or that I thought something was wonderful, and I definitely had reason to say both “bara boli nostimo" and “bara boli oreo” many times each day! Efcharisto bara boli, Odin!

progol: for encouraging me to see both Knossos and Phaistos – both are amazing, and as you suggested, seeing the contrasts between the two gave a much better appreciation of each.

RubyTwins: for your encouragement to get off the “main drag” – whether for dining or otherwise, I did a bit of that, and while it meant getting incredibly lost on more than one occasion, it also made for some great memories.

scrb11: for your encouragement to stay in a place with a vew of the harbor while in Chania – my room looked out on the harbor and the lighthouse, and oh, how I loved that view at any time of day!

stanbr: among your many generously shared insights, for your encouragement to visit Gortyna and to walk around the area a bit – as you said, it’s quite amazing to see Roman statuary scattered throughout the area, peaking out from under ancient olive trees.

TexasAggie: for making sure I tasted some Nemean red wines – oooh, they were lovely! I kept looking for a bad one, trying one bottle after the other…. ;-)

thursdaysd: for helping me think through some very difficult decisions about what to see and what to skip – and for me, that’s the hardest part of planning a trip.

travelerjan: among so many other contributions, for making sure I knew how to manage a hike of the Imbros Gorge – as you said, park at the top and pay someone at the bottom to drive me back up. Worked like a charm!

Weadles: for your recommendations for Cape Sounio – I loved the view of the night-lit Temple of Poseidon from my balcony at the Aegeon Beach and from the Elias Fish Restaurant.

WoinParis: for encouraging a stop at the Corinthian Canal. I understand that some people might think of it as just a big ditch, but OMG, what a feat of engineering! I’m very glad I saw it.

yiassas: among so many other helpful comments, for bringing the Arcadian Gate by ancient Messina to my attention. Amazing! The road I took actually went through it, which was quite a surprise.

Efcharistó poli, one and all! (If I left any of you out, please forgive me and let me know!)

Next up: Context and trip overview
kja is offline  
Old Jul 28th, 2017, 06:35 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,234
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I'm looking forward to reading this report, kja!
Kathie is offline  
Old Jul 28th, 2017, 06:59 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 2,451
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Greece fascinates me for its rich history although I have yet to personally visit. Looking forward to experiencing some of it through you.
tripplanner001 is offline  
Old Jul 28th, 2017, 07:05 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 26,001
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
Looking forward to reading about how all that careful planning worked out.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Jul 28th, 2017, 07:29 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 4,167
Likes: 0
Received 12 Likes on 1 Post
Thanks for the thanks, kja!

So looking forward to the details of your trip! Very glad that you had a great time!!!
joannyc is offline  
Old Jul 28th, 2017, 07:31 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 6,742
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Very thoughtful of you. Glad you had such a good experience!
brotherleelove2004 is offline  
Old Jul 28th, 2017, 08:19 PM
  #7  
kja
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 22,983
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Welcome aboard, one and all!

@ Kathie: Thanks for joining me once again!

@ trippplanner: I think you will enjoy Greece if you ever choose to go, and hope that my report either entices you to do so or provides a bit of a vicarious alternative.

@ thursdaysd: As usual, my plans hit a few snags, but not too many. All in all, I’’m pleased to report that my planning worked extremely well.

@ joannyc: Of course! And as you might imagine, I’m glad that I had a great time, too!

@ brotherleelove: It was thoughtful of YOU to help me with so many aspects of my brief time in Santorini. But warning: I hit a few snags there….
kja is offline  
Old Jul 28th, 2017, 10:25 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 1,118
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Have been waiting patiently for this!!!
sundriedtopepo is offline  
Old Jul 28th, 2017, 10:33 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,926
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Glad you had a great time. I'm currently finishing up my five week trip to Northern Spain and was just thinking about helpful you were in planning this trip. Yes fodorites really do help each other. So much better information than possible to get from guidebooks.
isabel is offline  
Old Jul 29th, 2017, 05:14 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 99
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Patiently waiting for your trip report as we leave in 7 weeks.
lancer11 is offline  
Old Jul 29th, 2017, 05:20 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 794
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
kja

I'm delighted you had a glorious month in Greece and that during your trip you visited wonderful Tyrins.

Looking forward to your journal!

bill
billbarr is offline  
Old Jul 29th, 2017, 06:59 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,982
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I enjoyed helping you with your planning. Thanks for coming back with this follow-up!
Heimdall is online now  
Old Jul 29th, 2017, 08:11 AM
  #13  
kja
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 22,983
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Welcome to more of my Fodorite friends!

@ sundriedtopepo: You have been very patient, indeed, and I appreciate it! I hope you are not disappointed.

@ isabel: If you have been enjoying your time in northern Spain even half as much as I enjoyed my time there, then you are having a terrific time! I hope so, and am glad to know that I was helpful as you planned your time there.

@ lancer11: You are in for a wonderful trip! I hope my report proves useful to you.

@ billbarr: I’m glad, too, and very glad that I included sme Mycenaen sites along the way.

@ Heimdall: You helped immensely! It’s nice to be able to give back a bit to the Fodors community.
kja is offline  
Old Jul 29th, 2017, 08:40 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 3,928
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Looking forward to your report, am so glad that your queries prompted billbarr to contribute, his voice too seldom heard, and he's given me much joy over the years with his anecdotes -- I too love Tiryns and have had magic moments there. On my first visit, I spent half an hour watching a team working to restore one of those Cyclopean Boulders (size of a Volkswagen Beetle) that had fallen from the front ramparts ... there was the operator of a huge crane, a head engineer, and an archeologist. The latter 2 were arguing about correct placement, the crane guy just keeping the monster rock swinging 100 feet in the air!
travelerjan is offline  
Old Jul 29th, 2017, 08:50 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,134
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Ah, another kja trip report! Can't wait!
Mara is offline  
Old Jul 29th, 2017, 03:15 PM
  #16  
kja
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 22,983
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
@ Travelerjan: What a great story! Those stones at Tiryns are massive, aren’t they? And SOOOoooo precisely placed and fit!

@ Mara: Thanks for joining in for the ride!

...

Context and Trip Overview

Before I get to what I liked most and least and some details of my experiences, I’ll repeat some information from my planning threads for context. 


• This was a month-long trip in May/June during which I rented a car four times for a total of about 16 days.

• I’m a reasonably experienced solo independent female traveler.

• I had not been to any part of Greece before, although I had previously seen some wonderful Greek ruins in Sicily, Paestum, and western Turkey.

• I planned this trip with an eye to including as many of Greece's gems as feasible while maximizing the diversity of my experiences. My tastes are fairly eclectic, but not entirely indiscriminate: I typically enjoy art, architecture, museums, ancient ruins, religious sanctuaries, parks and gardens, natural scenery, markets (for their atmosphere, not for shopping), picturesque villages, folk traditions, delicious foods and wines, and the chance to see and experience other parts of the world. Unlike many (I suspect most!) travelers to Greece, I was not looking to spend more than an hour or so on a beach. And unlike many (most?) travelers to just about anywhere, I am willing to utterly exhaust myself on my trips – and I often do! I spent many delightful moments relaxing over a meal, but I wanted to make full use of every possible moment I had to see and experience this glorious country.

• In addition to Fodor’s wonderful community, I used the following guidebooks when planning my trip: Frommer’s, Insight Guides, Lonely Planet, the Michelin Green Guide, the National Geographic Traveler, and the Rough Guide. I found the Rough Guide and Lonely Planet particularly useful. And I used various on-line resources, too.

• I learned a smattering of Greek – not much and not well, and with a focus on civilities, but a bit more than that. I also learned to transliterate from Greek to Roman letters (or, I should say, I learned well enough to generally manage), and that proved invaluable.

• At the time I left for Greece, I was still recovering from a serious thigh injury that I suffered more than a year before, and I was far from confident that I would be able to visit, or enjoy, many of the places on my itinerary. (When I committed to this trip, I had assumed that I would recover more quickly than I did.) Sigh. Instead, even weeks before my trip began, I had trouble walking 3 miles a day, and I could only climb about 40 steps at a time without needing to pause to recover. How would I manage??? As well as I could, I told myself, and if I can’t do or see everything, well I’m sure I’ll do and see some amazing things nonetheless. To jump to the end on this point, I’m pleased to report that my injury did NOT restrict my travels unnecessarily -- woohoo! Seeing some things may have taken longer than when I was a young mountain goat, but I made it to everything I wanted to see, and -- bonus! -- I came back much fitter than when I left.


Because I LOVE to plan my trips, I developed a very detailed itinerary, which I viewed it as a “roadmap,” rather than a schedule. I skipped things or (less commonly) added things or switched things around as each day unfolded. Although I generally remained aware of the time, I did not let the time dictate my actions unless there was something absolutely time critical at issue: If I decided to visit something, I visited it to the extent that it met my interests.

My final itinerary (take a breath – as already noted, I packed in a lot!) was:

Day 0: Depart US; overnight flight
Day 1: Arrive in Chania and begin exploring, 1st of 2 nights in Chania
Day 2: Explore a bit of Chania; pick up rental car and hike the Imbros Gorge
Day 3: Explore more of Chania and then move on to Rethymno; 1 night in Rethymno
Day 4: Explore more of Rethymno, then vist the Arkadhi Monastery, Thronos, and Spili; overnight in Agia Galini
Day 5: Visit Phaestos and Gortyna before going to Heraklion; return car; 1st of 3 nights in Heraklion
Day 6: Explore Heraklion and visit Knossos
Day 7: Explore Heraklion and visit Archanes
Day 8: Morning flight to Santorini – visit a bit of Fira, Akrotiri, and other parts of the island; 1 night in Firostefani
Day 9: Mid-day ferry to Naxos; explore Chora, 1st of 3 nights in Chora
Day 10: Day trip to Delos and Mykonos; explore more of Chora
Day 11: Rent a car to visit various parts of Naxos Island
Day 12: Explore more of Naxos, flight to Athens, pick up rental car, 1 night at Cape Sounio
Day 13: Visit the Temple of Poseidon, drive over the Corinth Canal to Acrocorinth and then Mycenae; 1st of 3 nights in Nafplio.
Day 14: Visit a bit of Nafplio and also Tiryns and Epidaurus
Day 15: Visit a bit of Nafplio and Nemea
Day 16: After a stop at the House of the Tiles in Lerna, visit Mystras; 1 night in Limeni (near Areopoli)
Day 17: Visit the Diros Cave, Areopoli, and Kalamata; 1 night in Mavromati
Day 18: Visit ancient Messina, Karytaina, and a bit of the Lousios Gorge; 1 night in Dimitsana
Day 19: Visit an outdoor museum in Dimitsana; then the Temple of Apollo in Bassae; drive on to Delphi for the 1st of 2 nights there
Day 20: Explore Delphi and Archova
Day 21: Visit Hosios Loukas and then drive to Meteora; 1st of 2 nights in Meteora
Day 22: Explore Meteora; have a much needed massage
Day 23: Visit Veroia and Vergina en route to Thessaloniki; return car; 1st of 3 nights in Thessaloniki
Day 24: Explore Thessaloniki
Day 25: Explore Thessaloniki
Day 26: Explore a bit more of Thessaloniki; flight to Athens; 1st of 5 nights in Athens
Day 27: Explore Athens
Day 28: Explore Athens
Day 29: Explore Athens
Day 30: Explore Athens
Day 31: Fly home

To be clear, I would not recommend my itinerary to anyone else: This was a plan very specifically tailored to my interests and travel style. It was certainly not an itinerary geared toward relaxation or leisurely exploration! That said, it certainly gave me a nice sample of different parts of Greece. I came home exhausted, but happily so.

Next up: What I liked most.
kja is offline  
Old Jul 29th, 2017, 03:57 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 2,451
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Sounds like we have very similar interests and travel styles, although I do try to limit the number of 1 and 2 night stays wherever practical to do so. I was going to ask you what your recommendations would be if I thought about a 2-week trip, but perhaps your next installment covers some aspects of it.
tripplanner001 is offline  
Old Jul 29th, 2017, 04:14 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,234
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Wow! You were busy!
Kathie is offline  
Old Jul 29th, 2017, 05:10 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 3,928
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Is this the Itinerary you planned, or the one you actually executed? I know on my 1st trip, of 29 days, I managed 7 islands (including 6 days in Crete) and about 4-5 mainland places ... but missed more, because along the way I couldn't bear to leave certain places and also, only had car 4 days, in Crete. I certainly look forward to the "play by play."
travelerjan is offline  
Old Jul 29th, 2017, 05:36 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,082
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I've rarely been on this board lately, and I missed all your planning. I always enjoy your trip reports, and use then heavily when planning our trips. So many great places and ideas, even though we usually travel slower and for shorter periods of time. Can't wait to hear more about your trip!
xyz99 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:35 PM.