Tips on Greece: 2004
If you have any tips on Greek hotels, B&Bs, restaurants, fun activities or creative angles on enjoying the art and culture (especially in Athens and the Peloponnesian Peninsula), we'd love your help. Thanks! Rick
Hi Rick, glad to help...watch your show and use your guides all the time...My girlfriend and I went to Greece (Athens and Pellponnisos from Dec.2 to Dec 10, 2004). A fit couple in their early 50's, two backpacks with no reservations (1st Class RT on frequent flyer miles:)! We located a new hotel near the Plaka that opened up in Oct.'04. We paid 80E for a new air conditioned, fire protected room (sprinkler system, hey, I'm a fireman) with a view of the Acropolis(breakfast included). It's the ARION Athens Hotel, 18, Agiou Dimitriou, Tel (+30)210 32 40 415, WWW.arionhotel.gr. The shower water pressure was delightful!
Also, for train lovers, there is a old narrow gauge rack and pinon train built in the 1890's by train builders from Italy in the Peloponnisos Mountains. Board from the town of Diakofto east of Patras (Chris-Paul Hotel for 50E). An hour ride each way for 4E First Class. The train has two cars with the motor in the middle, a great out of the way place to climb the mountains in luxury!
Also if visiting Nafplia, there is a NEW section of the town that has NEW moderm hotels that are mostly empty off season. We paid 50E at the Hotel ELENA, 27520-23888,23217,21021-thats on their card and I don't know what it means. We stayed at the 4Star Olympia Palace in Olympia for 60E, nice!No rain at all, temperature from 40F at night to 70F in the daytime. We rented a car (from Athens) and took the new bridge from Peloponnisos to Delfi-get an automaitc, it's worth it! Bmprnaol
Miami, Fl USA Wed 12/29/2004
Mexican Food in Santorini Greece
When I was in Santorini, my girlfriend and I ate at a Mexican restaurant named Senor Zorba. I was very impressed with the food, let me tell you about our experience. I am a Mexican-american from Los Angeles California and I love Mexican food. One of my favorite meals is enchiladas with sour cream on top of them, beans with cheese melted on top, rice, and a good tasting spicy salsa. What I just described to you is exactly what I ordered at Senor Zorba's. Here at home when enchiladas are made they are rolled up and look like little burritos, at Senor Zorba's they resembled a quesadilla, with the tortilla folded in half with the cheese melted in the middle. The enchililads were very good, the only bad thing was instead of sour cream I was served yogurt, apparently in Greece when you order sour cream you get yogurt. This was just a little detail, it did not ruin my meal. The rice tasted very good and mixded well with the salsa. The salsa wasn't spicy the way I like it, but it had a good taste to it and was very enjoyable. In my opinion the way a restaurant makes it beans tells me if the restaunt is good or not, and to my surprise the beans were excellent! My girfriend ordered chicken fajitas, rice and beans. The fajitas were not the best i have tasted but they were good. On a scale from one to ten, one being the worst and ten being the best, I would have to give Senor Zorba's a seven. The owner of the place lived in Colorado here in the States, and visited Mexico a couple of times, he was exposed and influenced by the Mexican culture he came in contact with, and took what he learned back to Santorini. Before We left the restaurant I told the cook "I am a Mexican from Los Angeles and I think your food was excellent," we thanked the employees and left. The restaurant is on top of a hill and has a long staircase to the top. Inside it is decorated with Mexican paraphenilia, like sombreros, acoustic guitars mariachis' use, beer bottles from Mexico, etc.. I highly recommend Senor Zorba's to anyone who is craving Mexican food and is in Santorini. If anyone is interested, the web-site is senor-zorba.gr. See the world and travel safely.
Alhambra, Ca USA Wed 12/22/2004
Mycenae and the Peloponnese
I was in Greece for a couple of weeks in late June, 2004. The Cyclades are fantastic, as everyone knows or can find out from any guidebook. The Peloponnese, however, seems to be the real treasure. Nafplion is a small but semi-busy tourist shopping town that is cute but not too interesting. Get elsewhere, such as Mycenae, which is twice as old as most of the other ancient sites you see in Greece (such as in Athens, Olympia, etc.) and almost eerily quiet, vacant, and mystifying. I was wondering around the site, talking to archeologists who were working there, almost by myself. Though not as old as the ancient sites on Crete, it is more natural (many of the Cretan sites were tampered with). The town of Mycenae was equally vacant, except for the handful of locals who were all eager to stop, talk, tell me stories, or help me on my way (through broken english and big smiles). The Hotel Belle Helena is the most famous place in town. My grandfather was there 25 years earlier and told me the matresses had bedbugs. They still do today. I think I was the only tourist staying in town that night.
Berkeley, CA USA Thu 12/16/2004
Greece Guidebook for 2005
I went to Greece as a six year old back in the '60s. I'll be taking my family there in October 2005. Even almost 40 years later, I remember the great pastries & I lived in France at the time, so they must have been fantastic. I thought Rick was putting out a Greece guidebook in February 2005 but this may not be the case. Too bad - we love his insights.
HdG, MD USA Mon 12/13/2004
Toured Greece from Dec 1 to Dec 10, 2004. My girlfriend and I ate on less than 10E a day...Car rental from a USA wholesaler (automatic) was a dream come true...Drove 1100Km...Hotels (3 and 4 Star) averaged 60E a day including breakfast...NOT a day of rain...Avg. Temp. was 65 in the day and 50 at night...
Hightlights:other than the historical sights...cira 1900 narrow gauge train near Patras..many new hotels not noted in Travel Mags. and eager for your business...We went with NO hotel reservations and saved much!!!Bmprn/aol
Miami, Fl USA Sun 12/12/2004
Greek Bus Trip
Another highlight of our trip was totally unexpected. We took the bus from Nafplion to Olympia. Olympia is a great sight, great museum, one of those places where there is a major site, but almost no one stays in the town. We did have a very pleasant night in Olympia before moving on, but the star attraction of the day was the bus trip to Olympia. From Nafplion, you change buses at Tripolis, but first you have to get over the mountain range on the coast, it seems like you go up and up, back and forth, finally getting over. That is nothing compared to the route from Tripolis to Olympia.
IA USA Sat 12/11/2004
Nafplion, Part 2
My wife especially loved the shopping, ranged from touristy stuff to some very nice local crafts and items. Nafplion is a major tourist town, but it doesn't necessarily feel that way (In late May anyway) mostly British and German tourists, very few Americans. We did enjoy talking to the owner of a wine store "The Wine Shop" on Amalias street, he told us quite a bit about Greek wine and made a number of recommendations...al good.
We also had the best Gelato of the trip in Nafplion (and we followed this with 2 weeks in Italy) I wish I could remember the name of the place, but it is between Symtagmatos square and the harbor. It is run by an Italian who truly loves the art of making Gelato. We found it only on our last night, at about 10:00, or I would have more info. We spent 3 days in Nafplion, one more than planned, and later in the trip, probably 2 days less than we should have. Yes, we will hit a few islands next trip, but will be back in Nafplion for sure.
IA USA Sat 12/11/2004
Nafplion, Part 1
I look forward to a book on Greece, planning a trip to there in September of next year, hope it is available by then. On a previous trip, we were mainly in the Peloponnese, and fell in love with the area. An absolute must is Nafplion. Beutiful old city, waterfront, forts, everything you could ask for. Ideal base for seeing Epidaurus and Mycenae.
We stayed at the Hotel Epidaurus, very nice at 45 Euro in 2002. We tended to stay away from the waterfront restaurants, had great, cheap meals at several restaurants along Staikopoulou street. My wife still talks about the seafood pasta dish we had at Paleo Arhontiko near the hotel. We took the strategy of taking the first bus each day to a site, then spent the afternoon on the beach. If you walk along the coast, on well established trails, you can find pebble coves for your own private (or near so) beach.
IA USA Sat 12/11/2004
Hello again, when my girlfriend and I were planing out trip to Greece we used a site made by this guy named Matt. He lived in Greece for a couple of years and traveled around the mainland and the islands. He has a large amount of information that is very useful. The site has hotel listing and brief summaries of different locations in Greece. Everything I wanted to know I learned on his site.
Other sites I looked at that are also very helpful are hotelsofgreece.com and greecetravel.com, these sites are accessible from the main site which is Matt's site, his site is greektravel.com. I found Dolphin Hellas, a very good travel agency. My travel agent was a very friendly and helpful woman named Uli, she helped us plan out our trip. I highly recommend visiting these sites because they are very helpful. Take care and travel safely.
Alhambra, ca USA Wed 10/27/2004
Crete and Greece
Rick,I lived in Crete, Greece from 1997 through 2001. Given the lame coverage of Crete in your books, I always assumed that Rick had either never been to Crete or had been there, knew how special it was, and didn't want to share it! I am glad to hear Rick will write a new book on Greece.
Crete gets many tourists, but you can avoid most of them if you know where to go. Generally, the mountain villages are the best place to meet local Cretans and see the culture.
Also, smaller places on the South Coast. Balos lagoon on the NW tip is the best remote beach. Fallasarna is the best beach, although it can be crowded and can also be windy. Sougia is the best place on the west side of the south coast. If you hike the Samaria Gorge, plan to spend the night in Agia Roumeli. Stay at the Agia Roumeli hotel. Chania and Rethymno are the best larger cities. Even the Greeks know Chania is the best city in Greece. Rethymno has a fantastic Carnival parade in February. Preveli beach is a must see. The eastern end is more rugged, but all of Crete is mountainous. The soul of Crete is Anogia...the highest city, on the way to Mt. Psiloritis, the highest point of Crete and home of Zeus's cave.I could go on forever...living there was the greatest experience of my life. I'd be happy to correspond with anyone planning a trip.patrick
bad durkheim, germany Sat 10/23/2004
In June my girlfriend and myself were in Greece for one month. We were in Athens for five days, and then we hit the islands, we visited Paros, Naxos, Santorini, and Crete. In Athens we had rooms at the Jason inn, it is located walking distance from the acropolis and the plaka. The Jason inn is a very friendly and clean place, Niko works the front desk and makes everyone feel welcomed. On the roof there is an out door restaraunt/bar that closes at 2 a.m. in the morning, I highly recomend the pork chops they are served with green beans and potatoes, very tasty. The best part about the Jason inn is the bartender on the roof that works till closing time, his name is Mike, we spent many nights drinking ouzo and conversating with him teach one another slang words and phrases from each other's countries. Mike taught us some of the Greek language and knowledge we would need while traveling in Greece. He was by far the most friendliest and fun individual we met on our trip, this is a big compliment because all of the Greeks we met were good people. I will come back and write about the rest of my trip.
Alhambra, Ca USA Tue 10/19/2004
Free admission on Sundays
Sunday, (this was in March 2004) the Acropolis, the Agora, etc. are all free! You don't have to pay a fee to get in. It's a great way to save money for other things. Like a gyros at Savaas!
Silver Spring, MD USA Thu 10/14/2004
Tram in Athens
We spent three weeks in Athens during the Olympics because our son was playing for the US in Water Polo..they were AMAZING--helpful, lots of guides, etc.! Only transportation problem was the tram along the coastline--WAY too slow--not on time--actually stopped without service many times, etc. Everything else was great. Only and best advice--avoid the tram; from Faliro to Glyfada was usually two hours! Could have been only summer and Olympic crowd but be advised--a taxi is the way to go from Agios Dimitrios south if doing public transport
Coronado, CA USA Mon 10/11/2004
agree with the august 2003 couple athens is beautiful and should not be underrated.
boston, ma USA Sun 10/10/2004
Greek Island Backdoor
When I discovered the cost of lodging in Athens for the Olympics, my patience waiting for my volunteer assignment from the Athen Olympic Committee evaporated. However, I still wanted to see the opening ceremony in Greece.I wanted to cruise the Greek Islands but couldn't get a cruise to the popular Cyclades to work out without a nights stay in Athens. Thank God!
I found a great little sailboat cruise in the Dodecanese. We stopped at little islands such as Arki and Agathonissi which you are lucky to find mentioned in a guide book. Islands that have more sheep then people. Islands that only offer a handful of dining options and even less for lodging!
Patmos and Leros were the larger islands with fabulous architecture and other interesting sites. As a born shopper, it was hard finding a days worth of shopping even on these larger islands, but having to sit in the sun and soak up atmosphere was a much better deal!! Sailing between the islands on that lapis blue water tops the list for relaxation while on vacation. It was a great way to begin each day before discovering the everyday rhythm of life on these islands.
Starbuck, MN USA Sat 10/09/2004
Athens, Santorini, Paros
Visited Athens and the Greek islands for 9 days in late Sept 2004 (so why didn't I run into Rick?). The weather was still warm if not downright hot. Athens had definitely cleaned itself up for the Olympics and Paralympics (new metro lines, renovated town squares...it remains to be seen how long this will keep), and had its own ancient charm in spite of its sprawling choatic layout. I stayed at the Jason Inn Hotel (5-min walk from Plaka), which was perfectly acceptable (but overpriced like all others during the Olympics). Having dinner under the flood-lit Acropolis is great. The new Olympic stadium complex was impressive (expensive 'official' souvenirs). Note: Metro Line 3 does run to the airport now, but not all trains go as far (only one every half hour does). Leave plenty of time for your trip to the airport.
The Greek islands, which were the focus of my trip, were an absolute delight. Santorini was spectacular just like the postcards. I stayed at the Aegeas Houses in Oia by the main church square; excellent location and 180-degree caldera views. Definitely stay in Oia vs Fira. From Oia, hike down to Ammouni Bay and take a swim--it has the clearest water I've ever seen. The public bus system in Santorini was adequate; be aware that each bus might look different so keep your eyes peeled or you might let a legitimate public bus go by (they all display the KTEL logo.)
Paros was quieter (and much cheaper); stayed in the scenic fishing village of Naoussa, at Manis Inn (nicely furnished, with swimming pool). Prices on the island were very soft since it was already shoulder season. If you visit the village of Lefkes in the middle of the island, try restaurant Lefkianos whose friendly owner might even cook a custom meal for you.On most islands it's easy to go beach-hopping by bus. Just learn the bus schedule and have faith.
Finally, I stopped for a half a day at Mykonos. I found it snobbish, touristy and undisciplined; one shop refused to serve me because I had apparently browsed around too long before deciding on a purchase. But the windmills and Little Venice were cute. (Also stopped by Paradise Beach, which doesn't require further introduction--I just wonder what the party scene must have been in peak season.)
Inter-island Greek ferries were nice; Blue Star was very high quality. As well-documented, schedules are definitely subject to change, so be prepared to modify itineraries on short notice. (The general mindset when traveling in Greece should be to leave lots of time between stops and accept delays as just an excuse to see a town in more detail.) If in a hurry, also consider flying to and from the islands; Aegean Air (but not Olympic Air) supports e-tickets.
In general, I found the Greek islands simply charming...people were more friendly, cheerful, and less commercially aggressive than their Athenian counterparts, and the island scenery and ambience was more captivating anyway. Do concentrate on the islands when visiting Greece.
San Jose, CA USA Sat 10/09/2004
Sept. 26, 2004 We just returned from a vacation in Athens, and Crete, Greece. After reading a posting on the Graffiti Wall, we contacted George the Greek Taxi driver for a tour of Athens. He is expanding business and sent his friend Paul to pick us up. His son Dennis also drives for him. It was a great experience, as Paul picked us up at the airport and delivered us to our hotel. The next morning he drove us to all the sites one wants to see in Athens, and we accomplished the tour in what is considered a half day: 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. It was expensive, but there were only two of us in his taxi and he was knowlegeable about the sites. We had all the time we wanted in each location. We were very happy we decided not to rent a car and drive in Athens, as the rules of the road are used only as loose guidelines to the Greeks. If you drive on Crete, as we did, know that you are expected to drive on the shoulder of the road, and that the lanes are used to pass. If you don't you risk being in a head-on collision, and they drive with reckless abandon. In Athens we enjoyed seeing the Changing of the Guard at the old Palace, and the Arheological museum is a must see. We would have loved to have had one of Rick's wonderful guide books on the art and history as we went through it. We felt safe and secure in Athens and Crete and would encourage anyone who wants to travel there to do so. The Greeks were very nice to us.
Encinitas, CA USA Sun 09/26/2004
Greek Islands - July 2003
My wife and I went for our honeymoon last July - Santonrini, Folegandros, Ios, Naxos, and Athens. Here are some notes:
Santorini - We started here. First couple nights in Kamari Beach. Neat little place, a little touristy, but we enjoyed ourselves. We are glad we went here before Oia, becuase our expectations would have been too high. Oia.... walking out to the caldera for the first time is one of those "take your breath away" moments you will always remember. So cool... We stayed at Esperas, a little procey for our budget (~130 Euros), but DEFINATELY worth it. The balconies at the rooms here are the best seats in town. Restaurant-wise Blue Sky: inexpensive, and the best greek food we had on the trip. I would save Santorini for last, as it kinda blows you away.
Folegandros - This is my submission for backdoor location in the greek islands. Very light on the touristy side, we were probably 2 of the 10 americans on this island. Good beaches, beautiful main town, on the cliff side with 3 interconnected vine covered squares.
Ios- stopped over one night due to ferries. Fun time, lotsa young partiers. Great beach - Millipotas?
Naxos- it was fun. Highlight was navigating the roads on the island. Naxos town ( and Agios Georges) has gotten crowded and touristy since I was here last (~1990). Rent a car and stay out of town, to the South on one of those beaches.
Athens - only spent one night here. It is a big city, and it feels that way. Enjoyed the Plaka district though.
Burlington, VT USA Wed 07/28/2004
Kefalonia is a beautiful island. Friendly people, cheap food and drink. Myrtos beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. No buildings are the island are allowed to be higher than three stories so it stays unspoilt by development. Skala is a good place to stay - plenty of tavernas and restaurants but still small enough to have a 'village' feel about it. Try Metaxa - a Greek brandy styel drink - it comes in 3, 5 or 7 star with 7 star the best. I will certainly go back to Kefalonia.
Liverpol England, UK Sun 07/25/2004
Crete and the best places
Crete is so amazing and so Big! I really want to share the usefulness of the CreteTravel.com website and their hotels booking selection (www.crete-hotels-rooms.com ). We planned our trip with their help and it was soooo informed and knoelwedgeable. We stayed at their Elya inn and also on the south coast in Paleohora. The guysa at CreteTravel gave us endless suggestions, listened to what we wanted and, well just help us pick these marvellous places to stay.
We stayed at Elya outside Chania and the secnery was magnificent, not too too far from the ocean and we had a car so Chania was about half an hour away.
The island is enormous, I understand it takes 5 or 6 hours to drive from one end to the other, but in some places from the north to the south coast took less than an hour and the contrast is worth the trip.
Don't spend all your time on the coast because the really great villages and setllements are up in the hills and mountains.
I'm going back next year for sure.
Prescott, AZ USA Sat 07/24/2004
I just got back from a few days in Santorini and LOVED our visit! We also visited Antiparos (highly recommended) and went out in Ios. By default we found a fantastic and affordable hotel in Santorini called Hotel Paradise (www.hotelparadise.gr). The family owned hotel is immaculate, well run and very pleasant to stay in! We paid $50 for a double room with sea view and balcony. All hotels have a/c, phone, in-room bathroom, fridge and safe. This hotel is located in Akrotini, 7km from the main town of Fira. It was nice staying here and going out at night in Fira - the pool is pleasant and you are in a great location for sightseeing, beaches (Red Beach is awesome) and sunsets. Make sure to stop by the lighthouse for a sunset... comparable to sunset at Ia! Beware of Hotel Mathios - the owner is not nice and after messing up our reservation he never apoliogized but actually yelled at us! Hotel Paradise is down the street, more afforable, nicer rooms and the owners are the nicest Greek family we have met!
Chicago, IL USA Sun 07/11/2004
Recently went to Greece in February. It was a great time to go, not many tourists, but definitely enough to do. I split time between Athens, Santorini, Iraklion and Chania.
Of all the places I saw, Chania and Athens were my favorite. Santorini was nice, but not much to do in February. Iraklion was interesting, but very dirty. Knossos was excellent.
Chania is a great, little, quiet town with a beautiful harbor.
And despite what most people say of Athens, I loved it! I loved that I could go around a corner, and be slapped in the face with some sort of ancient history.
We stayed in the following hotels, and found all of them to be fantastic:
Vancouver, BC Canada Wed 07/07/2004
Visit Athens, it's beautiful!
Went to Greece in August 2003. We spent about 4 days in Athens, then went to Nafplio, Sparta, Olympia, Delphi, and Kalambaka/Meteora.
First, don't let anyone discourage you from going to Athens. It is Amazing!!!!! My husband and I loved Athens so much that we didn't go to sleep the night before we had to fly out so we could enjoy the city up until the last second. Maybe it's because we're young (both 24), but we didn't think Athens was all that dirty or crowded and we even drove there. Of course maybe it didn't seem dirty compared to downtown Los Angeles where we both work.
We basically rented a car and drove all around the Peloponnese. In our opinion, this is the best way to see and enjoy Greece. We drove through small hillside towns where people rode donkeys and herded goats!
I would definitely recommend seeing the monasteries in Meteora. It's a long drive from Athens, but well worth it. They were some of the most amazing buildings you've ever seen.
Oh, and don't miss the beautiful, quaint, tourist-friendly town of Nafplio (The First Capital of Greece-as they are so proud to say). There is free and safe parking by the harbor and it is like no other town you'll ever visit.
One last shout out for Athens. This city is gorgeous and completely underrated. I mean, it isn't Florence or Paris, but honestly we enjoyed it more than both of those cities. And stay at the Attalos Hotel. It's cheap, clean, and in a perfect location. And the garden bar offers an awesome view of the Acropolis (which is magnificent during a lighting storm!).
Hollywood, CA USA Mon 06/28/2004
MYKONOS, SANTORINI, ATHENS
I visited Greece in June of 2004. I stayed on the islands of Mykonos and Santorini as well as a night in Athens. Believe it or not, the weather was very cold and very windy on Mykonos. I hadn't expected that in June. I wish I had brought a coat with a hood along. The locals told me that it was definitely unusual weather. Fortunately, while I was in Mykonos I stayed at the Kolovas House (near Agios Ioannis). The owner (who, by the way, built the very charming inn by hand) gave me his jacket to wear for the duration of my stay. I was very disappointed that my ferry to Delos was cancelled due to high winds. Be aware that this is a possibility and don't wait until your last day to attempt to venture to that island full of archaeological treasures.
I found the best way to see the islands was with a rental car. The roads were not very congested and, even though it was my first time driving a car in another country, it was surprisingly easy to get the hang of things.
I fell in love with all of the foods I tried on the islands, but the yogurt with honey and walnuts was my absolute favorite.
While on Santorini, I stayed at a hotel in Kamari. There was a lot of evidence that this area was a poor one and I can't say that much of it was aesthetically pleasing. However, the Alexandra Beach Hotel where I stayed was clean and safe. The staff were friendly as well. Again, I highly recommend a car to see the island. My favorite town was Oia. What a beautiful area! Absolutely what I came to Greece to see! I recommend eating at Aktheon in Fira. It has very high quality authentic Greek cuisine for fairly reasonable prices. Ancient Thira is definitely worth the time for those interested in ancient ruins.
At the very end of my trip I spent a night in Athens. I really wish I had done Athens first. I had become accustomed to the charm of the islands and Athens was much different. Much of it appeared to be dirty, poor, and crowded. Whereas I had not seen any homeless people on the islands, I saw plenty in Athens. The city itself is not very attractive in my opinion, but the Acropolis is a must-see. My hotel room in Athens did not have nearly the charm, space, or cleanliness of my rooms on the islands. However, the breakfast was very good. The subway system in Athens is clean, easy to use, and efficient. I highly recommend it. My hotel was near Larissa station. I had no problems with any crime during my entire stay in Greece, including Athens. The locals were friendly everwhere I went, but this was especially true on the islands.
Anyone who has ever wanted to go to Greece should definitely visit. The people and the architecture make for wonderful memories!
Edmond, OK USA Sat 06/26/2004
When staying in Halkidiki go to Sani beach, its worth the 17 euro's in a taxi, the waters are so clear and the beaches are quiet and its just the best place! I love it there!
bham, UK Tue 06/22/2004
Thessaloniki and Northern Greece
Living in Skopje, Macedonia, I have criss-crossed northern Greece. I like Thessaloniki--it's smaller than Athens but has a nice waterfront and a great Byzantine museum. In fact, for those interested in the Byzantine era, this is the area to explore.
Kastoria is lovely, Meteora is quite stunning although the town, Kalambaka, is nothing special. Halkidiki is the beach area that is the closest for those of us living in a landlocked country, but there are much nicer beaches elsewhere. The landscape in between some of these places may not be inspiring but northwestern Greece is very pretty. The problem is that mountains equal slow driving on the curves so places are further than they appear on a map. As a timid American driver I have had no problems driving through Greece.
Skopje, MK Thu 06/17/2004
By all means see Athens and then head to the islands. We have been three times and are in love with the islands. Our favourites include Paros where we stayed in the village of Naoussa and walked to great restaurants in the evenings and ate by the water or with a view of Naxos across the way. There are amazing sandy beaches with very clear water and very friendly people. Prices are very reasonable. We found Santorini beautiful, but a little too touristy and the hotel we stayed at did not treat as nearly so well as the other one. They charged us more than double a taxi cost to pick us up and take us to the hotel and later to the airport. Beware if it gets too windy the small planes from Athens can't fly and you will need to take a ferry. Might as well just do that to begin with.
Last summer, we went to Cephalonia where Captain Corelli's Mandolin was set and filmed and loved it. Great restaurants, people, wine and beaches with beautiful flowers and more an Italian style of buildings. Marco Polo was supposedly born on this island. We also visited the nearby island of Zakynthos which has the most amazing scenerey but is British Package tourism run amok. Chips with even Moussaka at some restaurants but if you went to some of the smaller restaurants it was amazing and the views are incredible. There are great very cheap deals out of London on packages, it was cheap enough to leave our hotel empty on Zakynthos for 6 nights while we went to Cephallonia. The water was great and we had lovely fresh fish, huge shrimp, local cheeses and the best walnut cake with icecream flavoured with mastic. We will be back next year.
Calgary, cad Thu 06/10/2004
Greece is the Word
Greece is just the absolute best. You will never meet nicer people (even nice to Americans). There is just so much to see and do. We've been back several times, and liked some of the less-touristed islands the most. Our favourites would be Patmos, Lesvos, Samos, and even tiny Lipsi. We didn't like Mykonos as much, just too touristy and reminded us too much of spring break. Santorini is so beautiful, but so crowded.
Athens is worth a few days for the Acropolis and the many other archeological treasures, but I think you'll find the islands are your best bet. Food is universally incredible, lots of seafood and delicious grilled items. Vegetables (such as tomatoes in Greek salads) are second to none. Also, very inexpensive. If you're reading this board thinking about a reason to go to Greece, just go! You'll be so happy you did!
A Wandering Soul
NYC, NY USA Thu 06/10/2004
We stayed at Hotel Tempi in Athens--great location, view of the Acropolis from our room and a good price.
The metro is still under construction, but should be fully done by the olympics. Currently, I think all the stops are running at least one way, but you may have to go a stop further and backtrack to get to the stop you want. When it is finished, it will be beautiful.
A green light at a crosswalk doesn't mean go--it means look first to see if you are going to get run over if you step into the street. When in doubt, watch the locals.
In Nafplio, we stayed at Demetri Bekas. A bit of a hike, but a steal and great view.
Stayton, OR USA Tue 06/08/2004
Forgot to mention what to do about strays in Greece - nothing. I know it may sound terrible, but think of the animals. They get fed table scraps from tourists - what happens when the tourists leave? The cats and dogs will have to fend for themselves. If you make it easier for them to find a meal and procreate - there will be more strays.
Stockholm, SW Mon 05/24/2004
My wife and I have been to Mykonos and Karpathos and have yet to discover all that Greece has to offer. Take some time to wind down and relax - that way you can best appreciate the somewhat slower pace of life on the islands. I humbly submit some tips for travelers to Greece:
- Sunscreen/cover up. The sun will ruin your vacation if you let it. Limit your sun time in the beginning, drink plenty of (bottled) water and try not to drink alcohol in the sun.
- Try local dishes. Don't be afraid to ask the wait staff for suggestions. Yes, moussaka is good, but there's a lot more to Greek cuisine than that. Order a carafe of the house wine - it's cheaper and most often better than a bottle.
- Use cash. Seems unimportant, but it may be difficult to find a cash machine just anywhere. The crime rate in Greece is relatively low so don't be paranoid. Just use common sense.
- Make it a point to see something other than the beach. I can recommend a trip to Delos (Mykonos) and the village of Olympos (Karpathos). You won't have time to see everything, so do some research first and keep a couple of days open for sightseeing.
- Learn a few phrases in Greek. The Greeks won't mind a clumsy attempt at hello or thank you - it will more likely be rewarded with a smile.
- Try not to use certain hand gestures (ex. thumbs up) since it may be misconstrued by local inhabitants on some islands. A simple 'thank you' will suffice.
- If you're walking at night, keep an ear open for approaching cars/mopeds/motorcycles. It can be dark on certain stretches of road and the Greeks have a tendency to drive fast.
Other than that - enjoy every minute of your trip.
Stockholm, SW Mon 05/24/2004
Greece and its islands
I travelled to Greece exactly three years ago but I still remember it fondly like it was yesterday.
Athens: I have read complaints below about how it is crowded, congested and dirty in certain places, but, being from New York, I found Athens, more of a large town rather than a city, to be laid back and quiet, so it's all relative to what you usually deal with. Plaka is a great place to shop or just browse around, and there are some nice restaurants around there. The people were very kind and helpful, they will make good hosts for the Olympics this summer.
Santorini: We stayed at a hotel near Perissa which is on the southeast side of the island. This leaves you with a little distance from the attractions at Ia and Fira, but we were close to the beaches, especially the one with the black sand. Santorini is as pretty as they come. Go to Ia and see the famous sunset. You might even catch a couple getting hitched like we did. Fira is great for shopping and the bars.
Mykonos: Paradise Beach is a nonstop party machine, and, although we didn't go, we heard Super Paradise is even crazier. Go to the Skandy Bar if dancing is your thing and you also cannot go wrong with any of the restaurants along Little Venice.
A few other pointers:
New York, NY USA Wed 05/12/2004
WOW,,,I am so glad someone eles has been to Amorgos and thinks it is purely as wonderful as I do (Jeff - lower on the page) I came across it 10 years ago after seeing the movie the "Big Blue", I stayed 3 months the first time 6 months the second time and never wanted to leave. I am glad it is still not over run and still is a great deal, I was worried the next time going that prices and tourist would make it not the same,,,I can't wait to go back. If you are looking for a slower place but still having exciting things to do,,,Amorgos is an island you want to see.
Lubbock, TX USA Tue 05/11/2004
Greece in May
We will be in Athens area for 4 days beginning May 16. We didn't think about posting for riders to share the cost of George's limo. We are having him pick us up at the Athens airport and take us to the hotel. But we decided to rent a car for 3 days and drive ourselves to Delphi and Meteora rather than paying George the 280 per day (our rental car is only 145 for all 3 days). I would rather have George do the driving for us, but we decided to save that money.
Please post when you return how the day with George was.
Dallas, TX USA Fri 05/07/2004
Greece in May
My husband and I will be in Greece later this month and have booked George the famous taxi driver (google, george the taxi driver)for a day trip excursion on May 26th to Mycenae; Nafplio area, from Athens in his air conditioned Mercedes. We are looking for another couple (or person/persons) who would like to share the trip? He is highly recommended. It is $280 euros for the whole day so we could split it at $140.
SF, CA USA Thu 05/06/2004
What ever you do, do not spend your whole itinerary on the mainland. I have been to Greece twice. On my first trip we only had a day in the islands... that's when I realized that I had to return on an island hopping excursion. It was wonderful. We did Mykonos, Santorini, but my favorite (and it has to be a backdoor favorite) Amorgos. Amorgos has yet to be spoiled by mass tourism and a wonderful hotel called Aegialis (ask for an oceanview room) Take a walk to the upper villages and don't forget to visit the local cliffside monastary (proper attire required).
Los Angeles, CA USA Sat 04/24/2004
If you go out and look...you will find. Leave the tourist areas and explore!
If you are not near Athens, you may think about Thessalonikki (sp?) which is the second largest to Athens. They were discovering a city right under downtown. I would recomend getting a cheap little rental car while you are there. There are some out of the way places that would be a shame to miss. I stayed on the "finger" of Kassandra in a town called Hanioti in Halkadiki (sometimes spelled Chalkadiki). It was a beautiful small resort town yet still quaint. My hotel was about 150 meters from the beach, everything was well in walking distance. A MUST-SEE place to visit is at the bas of Olympus, in Dion. There is an excavation site that they were still uncovering that was very elaborate and still very much in tact. The mosaic tile floors in the baths, the walls of rooms, the ballroom again with full-color mosiac tile floors. The roads made of large stone slabs still have grooves from the charriots.
Another must-see or do is to take a day cruise over to Mt. Athos. Unfortunately, only males can actually visit. It is nothing but very old and nice monastaries. Fortunately you can see the majority of them from the water. They have their own calander, government and even their own time/clock system.
Take your time, enjoy the history and soak in the sun.
Remeber between 1 pm and about 4 pm, most shops and resaurants close down. That shouldn't stop you from going out and discovering the world around you.
St. Petersburg, FL USA Mon 04/19/2004
Athens. Most everyone I talk to says do Athens, get out of there. I agree to a point. It is crowded, dirty, congested, but alot of good things to do. The Acropolis and Archeology Museum are musts; The Plaka a fun diversion. The Olympics may change (improve or worsen?) the situation. Hotel: Stayed at the Hotel Tempi, Eolou 29. Great location, good staff, paid 42 Euro Dbl in 2002. The Plaka is out the door to the right, to the left is several blocks of modern pedestrian shopping mall and easy walking distance to the Archeology Museum. Eating: Hard to get away from the touristy Moussaka and Souvlaki places, but found Ouzeri Kouklis, Tripodon 14. They serve only appetizers (Mezedes) but bring around a large tray, you pick what you want, pay by the dish...like Greek Dim Sum. Absolutely wonderful with a couple carafes of wine. You will get to Athens Mid to late day from the US, so plan on at least two nights, giving you a very full day for the sites. You could make it 3 nights and not be dissapointed. One travel note to make very clear in a guide...toilet paper is not for flushing in many cities in Greece. Sewers are apparently very bad. If you see a wastepaper basket next to the stool, it is for the used paper, it is not to be flushed.
IA USA Thu 04/15/2004
I promised more information on the Oia restaurant with the great dessert crepes and outstanding moussaka. It is Pelekanos and it is located along the pedestrian walkway closest to the rim of the caldera. It has a nice outside seating area with a great view and a very nice bar. At least on weekends, they are open until 3 am. Simos in Fira had outstanding Greek salads and chicken souvlaki.
Seattle, WA USA Thu 04/15/2004
Athens and Greece Land tour The first day and a half we spent with ?George ? the best taxi driver in Greece? who speaks very good English and has mastered all the Greek history. He took us to the Acropolis, the old (not oldest) Olympic stadium, and a number of other famous spots in Athens. George also took us to the Peloponnese, southern Greece peninsula, where we visited Ancient Corinth with many remains of the city and places where St. Paul preached against the Corinthians ?luxurious sensuality? and wrote many of the Biblical letters to the Corinthians when he was jailed. Part of our trip followed Paul?s travels and we ran into several church groups who were following Paul?s travels in Greece and Turkey. Corinth excavations weren?t done until 1886 with the Temple of Apollo. We also visited the modern Corinth Canal. This was completed in the 1800s and joins two seas. George also took us to the ruins at Mycenae, which included the Acropolis of Mycenae enclosed by Cyclopean walls. We bought some pottery that shows lots of the battles fought in this area. We also visited Epidaurus where there is a huge acoustically perfect theatre. We saw more Greek ruins in Nauplia. We stayed in Athens two more days on our own and spent a lot of time around the Plaka, the old part of Athens with narrow alleys and lots of shops and restaurants. Each time we thought we were going to the same area, we ended up in a different area with different restaurants and shops. We also went to the two new Olympics? sites in Athens. They are quite a long ways from completion. It will be interesting to see if they get them done by August. We walked around the north Olympics area and took pictures until a policeman told us to stop. I hope their security gets better.
The metro (subway) system is new and they are still adding to it for the Olympics. It is beautiful and almost like a museum with large murals, sculptures and artifacts they dug up as they were building it. Because the metro is not complete where the Olympic areas are, some of the stations are blocked off. We got lost a couple of times because of it. An Athens woman told us ?it has been hell for the last two years? because they never know if they can get where they need to go and then get back. Most Greeks are rather defensive about the Olympics since so much has been written about it being behind schedule. They simply say ?It will be done.?
Topeka, KS USA Wed 04/14/2004
Another Comment on the buses. First, personal opinion, but even with a Eurail Pass, trains are almost non-existant in Greece compared to the rest of Europe and may not be worth the effort. The down side to buses, compared to Europes train system, is that schedules run mainly (only?) during the day, making "Whirlwind" tours impractible. Many of the smaller towns may be served only once or twice a day. Terrain can be rough, and the roads...interesting. (Look for all of the small shrines placed along the road commemorating loved ones lost to accidents) Do NOT plan on hitting Epidaurus and Mycenae one day, Olympia the next, then Delphi, Then the Meteora...and so on. Due to schedules, plan a travel day...then a sight...a travel day, and so on. Occasionally you may be able to compress things, but more likely not. Greece runs on it's own schedule...you need to slow down to it.
IA USA Tue 04/13/2004
I look forward to a Greece book. Spent a week or so in Athens and the Peloponnese before heading to Italy. I probably will have several posts, but some general comments: Spelling. I am used to variations in town names based on language, but in Greece and on maps, you will see up to 3 variations, including the Greek Alphabet. On top of that, many towns have similar names. Make very sure you are clear where you are going and the local spelling, or you may wind up someplace completely different. (Which can be not that bad) Buses are the way to go in Greece. Cheap, go everywhere, good routes to the major sights. The Greek bus system now has a great website with timetables. (www.ktel.org) You will need a map in hand to use it, as you need to know the region that the town is in. If your plans include a ferry to Italy, you may want to consider flying instead. It can be cheaper, obviously much faster, and unless you spring for a dorm bed or private room, don't plan on sleeping much on the ferry. Overall, we enjoyed Greece very much. Cheaper than Italy, less touristy (We got out of Athens and did not go to the Islands), and great food and wine.
IA USA Tue 04/13/2004
I just returned from a fabulous trip to Greece, mostly spent on Santorini, where I rented a spacious and very comfortable 3 bedroom-3 bathroom villa, perched right on the caldera, through www.vrbo.com (#22796) for only 1,000 euros a week (slightly more in July and August).
Arriving in Athens, we had six hours before our flight to Santorini, so we hired a private guide to show us the city. She was wonderful. it was like being met and taken around by a close friend or family member. She was very knowledgeable about the city, its attractions, and, very importantly, how to avoid traffic jams. She delivered us back to the airport and hovered over us until she was assured that we and our bags were checked in for the next flight. The cost was the same as for a regular city tour, but instead we got to go where we wanted, see what we wanted and spend as much or as little time as we wanted. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oia on Santorini was our favorite village, followed perhaps by Nauossa on Paros. Some favorite restaurants include, in Oia, Anemomilos--very traditional non-touristy. Try the tomato balls: I became addicted. Simos and Naoussa in Fira. The very stylish Pomegranate Cafe along the harbor in Parikia where we had both wonderful crepes and a very good breakfast. Good hotel bets include the Hermes in Parikia--a five minute walk from the harbor. Clean and well run with very accomodating owners, and also the Hermes Hotel in Athens. It is right on the edge of the Plaka and has fabulous brand new marble bathrooms. The Pension Matina on Mykonos was a ten or more minute walk straight up the hill from the harbor--not for the faint of heart or body. It also has new bathrooms and a nice pool area and beautiful view, but the proprietor was the only really rude person we met on all our travels. Maybe she was just having a bad day.
In sum, it was one of the best vacations I have ever had. The people, food and scenery were fabulous! We encountered NO anti-Americanism. On the contrary, people went out of their way to be friendly.
Seattle, WA USA Tue 04/13/2004
Hotel Tempi in Athens is just a few blocks from Monastariki metro and Plaka but is located on a pedestrian only street across from a church so is very quiet at night. The hotel is a bit run down but the extremely pleasant and caring owners and staff more than make up for that, as well as a top floor room that has incredible views of the Parthenon. There is a kitchen, lending library, luggage storage and tour desk as well as a 24 hour front desk which is a nice security feature.
I'm female, in my late 40s and travelled solo throughout Greece for 3 1/2 weeks last year - never felt unsafe or harrassed at all. I spent Greek Easter in Athens and it was incredible - street processions with all the church bells tolling throughout the city - absolutely an unforgettable experience.
As for the Peloponnese, it's much more laid back and relaxing than hectic Athens. I stayed in Nafplio and it was a good base for seeing Mycanae, Epidauros and Tiryns. Corinth is another not to be missed trip and for a back door experience, head to tiny Methana on the east coast - I got there by mistake because I didn't get off the Aegina ferry fast enough and Methana was the next stop. Just a one street town along the waterfront with a few tavernas. The beach was ok and there was a small harbour at the end of town where people with canoes and kayaks shared space with small, colorful fishing boats. In my opinion, the best back door experience is the Pelion, small very traditional villages scattered along Mount Pelion near Volos. Some are touristy like Makrinitsa but still worth a visit. My favourite was Zagora, the largest village but one of the least touristed. The bus ride from Volos was along a narrow, mountain hugging road with fabulous views of the water and some very nice beaches below. Zagora's main industry is agriculture - apple orchards so in spring it was all abloom and gorgeous. No internet cafe but a computer school let me use their computer for free and even had one of the teenage students show me how to change it from Greek to English. English wasn't widely spoken but a few basic Greek phrases and a smile will get you through just about any situation. About 5 miles downhill was the beach town of Horefto - more of a party atmosphere but still worth a visit. A bus makes the trip from Zagora a couple times a day but it's very common for drivers to offer rides to anyone walking up or down the hill and believe me, up is a major climb. This is small town Greece at its best - not only did an old couple stop to give me a ride up the hill but she presented me some flowers from her garden. This was my fourth trip to Greece and the most memorable because of the friendly and welcoming people....can't wait to go back.
Abbotsford, Canada Mon 04/12/2004
Athens March 2004
Just returned from 10 days in Greece. Stayed at the Attalos in Athens twice. It's near the Monastiraki station in the Central Market area, which might be considered rundown. But, we are in our 60's and never felt unsafe walking the streets there and in the Plaka at any hour. Not much English spoken at the hotel, but they helped us get where we needed to go, on time. They held our luggage while we took a tour of the Peloponnese. The island of Hydra is overrun with cats and garbage, and smells like cat urine from the time you get off the ferry. We paid for tours at Olympia and Delphi and found them well worth the money. Greek is a difficult language for me, but like anywhere else, just a few phrases (please, thank you, how much?, hello, etc) go a long way in giving the Greeks a laugh and making situations better. We tried to always walk out a few blocks away from the main streets of the towns we were in and go into stores and tavernas that did not have English signs or menus posted. And---don't plan on driving in Athens. And you cannot rent bicycles in Athens. I think it's illegal. That tells you something about the traffic.
Denver, CO USA Sun 04/11/2004
I spent five months living on Santorini, and I have a few tips:
- For lodging, if you don't mind being away from the nightlife, you might try Firostifani or Pyrgos. Firostifani is close to Thira, the main town, but you can find a much nicer and cheaper room, and you'll still be pretty central located for touring the island. Pyrgos is much further from Thira and the beaches (reachable by bus), but it's a village with its own special atmosphere. There are some nice little hotels and pensions and several good restaurants. There are some great Venetian ruins (and interesting Venetian buildings) in Pyrgos, and it's very relaxing. I felt a part of the village when I stayed there, and people were very friendly. (The hotel I stayed at served me a huge plate of pomegranate seeds with honey for breakfast, which was wonderful!)
- Oia is more expensive than other parts of the island, but it's worth it if you can stay in one of the "cave homes." Thira is fine if you want a central location, but Oia is really a magical place.
- In May and June, even early July, Santorini is very pleasant and peaceful, and it's easy to meet and talk to Santorini residents. But starting in mid-July and continuing through August, the tourists pour in (mostly Europeans but also Americans), and it does become hellish. Prices skyrocket and the residents get very testy. September and October, everything quiets down and the Greeks become much more relaxed (and sated, because they've made their money for the season). This is maybe the best time -- the weather is balmy and you can get to know the residents of the island (hopefully they will invite you to little known, family-run tavernas on quiet beaches, where you'll have wonderfully fresh baked fish). At the beginning of November, the weather turns very quickly, and sometimes there are gale-like winds that make the ferry crossings difficult. Also, as others have mentioned, Greece has a problem with stray animals, and packs of hungry dogs roam the island when all the tourists have gone.
WI USA Thu 04/08/2004
THE PINK PALACE the other side of the coin.I have been to THE PINK in 20 and 02 and found the place great value.I had my own ocean view room and breakfast and dinner all I could eat if not gourmet damn good!Iam an old bastard but young of heart at 51 so I would not be subjected to the abuse that is claimed but from what I saw the plase is well run and very professsional and the DR.is a character but thats not a crime.
USA Tue 04/06/2004
Greek's a fascinating language; it's unconceivably old and it once used to be the "international" language of the Roman Empire, with latin as a close follower, but only in Atlantic Europe. The greeks, i experimented (i'm italian, by the way), turn nicely kind if you pronounce their words correctly. Like all european languages (with the major exception of english and, to a small extent, italian), a written word has only one possible pronunciation in greek, which makes learning them extremely easy.
For example, the correct pronunciations of two words i found in a post here is: M?konos and Eli? (not Mykonos and ?lia). By the way, M?konos in general can-t really compare to islands such as Ski?thos.
Roma (rome), IT Italy Mon 04/05/2004
Ferry schedules in Greece
Rick's office referred me to the Greek National Tourist Board, which will actually show the times and companies traveling between the islands! I found it to be great, especially for traveling outside the peak season. For example, be sure to check if your ferry is running on Easter, 11 April 2004. The ferries from Santorini to Paros and to Mykinos where not running that day.
Bremerton, WA USA Wed 02/25/2004