Tips on Greece: 2005
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
Private Guide II
After reading my post I realize I forgot to give you "Paul, The Honest Taxi Driver's" website. It's www.greektaxi.gr.
Newcastle, CA USA Mon 11/28/2005
We were looking for a private guide to take us to the major ancient sites in Greece. The much reviewed "George, The Famous Taxi Driver" was busy so we tried "Paul, The Honest Taxi driver." It was actually his son, Jimmy, who picked us up at the airport and gave us a city tour of Athens on our second day. Jimmy's English is passable and he was very congenial. We enjoyed traveling with him and he tailor-made a tour for us since we had already seen the Acropolis by foot the first day. We rented a car for 3 days to travel to Meteora (recommended over a bus tour unless you cannot drive aggressively and learn new tricks). It would have been better, and less stressful to hire Paul for this but our budget was limited. Paul met us in Nafplion and took us on a two day tour of Peloponesia. That was the right choice because the 2-day tour would have taken me 3 or more days to drive on my own. Paul was fun to travel with. He speaks perfect English, doesn't smoke, is funny, and knows his Greek history. All in all, we heartily recommend him.
Newcastle, CA USA Mon 11/28/2005
Traveling Greece with Rick Steves Website Tips
Highlights of my Ocotber, 2005 Greek Odyssey,,, Traveling light as Rick Steves suggests is the best travel tip of many he gives you! I purchased his carry on suitcase/back pack that allows one to carry on your luggage instead of checking your bags at the airline front desk... Saved me so much time not having to go to baggage claim waiting for my luggage or possibly loosing it in all of my flight transfers!! Next time I am going to travel even lighter! I actually had two carry ons and all of the airlines I dealt with, Lufthansa, Olympic, and United, did not mind! My second carry on besides my Rick Steves Pack was my "day pack" that kept about half full with my toilet kit, travel materials, sweater, and other delicate breakables like reading glasses... I had incredible luck with finding excellent rooms with private baths usually between 35 to 45 Euros per night, including breakfast: Firostefani, Santorini Sunset Hotel. Clean, charming rooms, with spectacular community terrace to enjoy the unique panoramic view overlooking the sea! On premis massage by the beautiful wife of the hotel caretaker. E-mail me for more details about this very accomodating choice. Delphi, Mainland Greece Do Not Miss This Place!!! Such a beautiful break from the "big city "challenges of Athens! Alpine atmosphere in the air as well as powerful spiritual charm from the actual site of Delphi,(the spiritual and religous capitol of western civilization for a millenium! I happened on a Hotel called "Orpheas" in the town of Delphi. It has a great vantage point of being on a street near the top of town. The views looking down towards the Bay of Corinth are out of a Tolkien novel !!! Truely magical and mythological in feel!! Room #21 has an unforgettable view and the facility is impeccably clean and extremely friendly family staff... Dimitsana, Peloponessus This mountaintop town has a pension called "Tsiapas Rooms to Rent"... I so wish I had spent more time here... Again a very friendly family run pension with clean and charming rooms situated at the top of this quaint town! Beautiful retreat to experience the mountain atmosphere of the Peloponessus! Alot of neat day destinations from this town. Finikoundas Beach, Southwest corner of Peloponessus Hotel Korakakis has rooms on its 3rd floor that have views looking up the beach of this charming little fishing town, with a sandy beach of transparent aqua blue/green waters! Again, another accomodating family run business. You can walk up to their door in a wet bathing suit to ask for a cold beer to enjoy on the beach or sit on their outdoor seating on the ocean front!!! Great restaurants to walk to, including Dionyssos Restaurant by the harbor boats. Nafplio, Peloponessus Pension Bekas Situated overlooking the town of Nafplio with the Palamidi Fortress lit up at night! Clean, quaint rooms at really fair prices! Another one of those towns where one can walk everywhere! Great swimming beach walking distance behind the pension below the fortress! Top Line Car Rental in Athens I was very lucky to hook up with this local Athenian business run by Dimitris Mathiopoulos! Offered me a great price on a 4 door, 3 cylinder Fiat that drove me all over Greece beautifully!!! He gave me alot of personal time and advice that made the trauma of driving out of and back into Athens a breeze! For more details on my positive and negative experiences,(very few negatives if any), please feel free to e-mail me before you go to Greece! Have a blast! I did!!! Aloha from Tim, Maui, Hawaii
Kahana, Maui, hi USA Fri 11/04/2005
Greece in the off season
Greece is great and you can't go wrong with wherever you choose to go. Having just returned from a two week trip, I'm wishing it had been longer! That said for those who like to travel in the off season, be warned that islands shut down fast. We were on Mykonos the second last week of October. Even though the "season" is supposed to last until November, most things were closed. Half the hotels, restaurants and stores are closed or open very limited hours. They were already doing work like staining chairs and white washing buildings. It was the best time to visit Delos however, which was fabulous without the crowds of some of the other sites and the time to wander about freely. Note on Athens in the winter, beware that posted opening times are often a guideline and you may not be able to get to everything you had planned on. We wished we had another couple of days in Athens. Will just have to plan for a return!
Vancouver, BC Canada Wed 11/02/2005
We just returned from a three week trip to Greece and Egypt. Given the scope of this site, I'll focus on Greece with a few observations. One: the Greeks. I am of French background and am very comfortable with the formal politeness of the French but the Greeks are hard to criticize. My family has been to about 20 countries and the Greeks may be the friendliest, warmest people we have met. I do not really get the previous comments; we simply did not have a bad experience in 12 days of travel. Two, Athens hotel: We stayed at the Hotel Tempi, near the Plaka (www.travelling.gr/tempihotel). The owners are ever so polite but the trade off to getting a good deal in Athens is being in a very noisy place. Everytime someone flushed the toilet in the building, we knew it. Not the hotel's fault but it is beyond me why some guests come in late at night and make no attempts to be quite while going to their rooms - the sound carried pretty far in this place. Stay here for the great location, near Monastiraki, and good prices but be forewarned if you are a light sleeper. Three: Paul's taxi service. I forget his website but search for Greek taxis should turn him up - that is how I found him. This guy was so realiable and friendly. Spoke English as he used to live in the NJ. Took us on an excursion to the Pelopenese and a very early morning trip to the airport. Not as cheap as a rental car but highly efficient. Four: Santorini hotel. We stayed in Oia at Zoe-Aegeas Traditional Houses (www.zoe-aegeas.gr). Very reasonable rates (some of the quotes we got back from Oia establishments were over $1,000 per night!! - in the off season!!) for a family of four, in traditional cave apartments, with a kitchenette. Fantastic views of the caldera but the best part? - the owner, Fane. She was amazing. We have been fortunate to make some wonderful personal connections in our travels, including going to people's houses but she was the best. The kindest, sweetest person you could ever hope to meet. Brought us food, drink, did our laundry, always insisted we sit down and visit with her, made my daughters feel very cherished. Good grief, I feel bad I could not do more to return her kindness besides buying her some wine and beer. We did make excurions to Fira but that is a very different scene. Cruise boats empty their human contents their and it can get overrun (I don't mean that as negatively as it sounds, cruising is fine and dandy). Oia is much quiter, that's all. Be aware that Akrotiri is closed due to a bad accident and may not reopen for... well, I heard years. Too bad, as we wanted our homeschooled daughters to see Minoan ruins. Anyway, Greece is great. Four days around Athens and a week in Santorini was good but it makes me wonder about the rest of the mainland and other islands. Yea sus, or however you spell it in English.
MD USA Wed 11/02/2005
We have just returned from 15 amazing days in Greece. First of all, we left our American standards at home, where they belong, as we usually do when overseas. If you are uncomfortable beyond the drive-thru at McDonalds than don't travel to a country as relaxed and carefree as Greece. In planning our trip we used a website, discovered on this graffiti wall, ran by an American with extensive knowledge on Greece ( www.greektravel.com/). Through the website we made contact with an Athens travel agent, Fantasy Travel, and they helped us in creating an itinerary that was picture-postcard perfect. In addition to assisting us with hotel choices, they arranged the ferry transportation and transfers. It was great to come off the ferry, spot our last name on a sign and wade through the comotion to a waiting taxi. It was also very affordable. The hotels beautiful.
Athens- We stayed at Hotel Philippos. Lovely hotel with an awesome location in the city center, right at the foot of the Acropolis (south side)and below the Herodion theater. The "plaka" was a five minute walk. It is in a quiet residential area, surrounded by pre-WWII mansions. Dionissiou Areopagitou, which is the pedestrian friendly boulevard that borders the south side of the Acropolis, is a block away. The area around the hotel is one of the most peaceful and quiet spots in the city and yet it's situated just a 15 minute walk from the central square of Syntagma. Walking out the lobby door as the school bells rang and looking up at the Parthenon is a memory we will hold onto. We enjoyed Athens very much! Specifically: Rick's self guided walking tour, a great way to orient oneself, which we downloaded and took with us. Watching the lights of the Acropolis come on from the roof-top bar at the Hotel Attalos-best view! We found a great cafe, Kariatis, located in a park-like setting on Adrianou in the plaka; wonderful service, nice setting, great food with variety. Our favorite area was the Thissio, which we stumbled on by accident (an evening stroll). The area borders the northwest side of the Acropolis. Absolutely charming with a wide, tree-lined pedestrian boulevard, outdoor cafe's and awesome views of the temple. The area is a favorite with local Athenian's and is in stark contrast with the bustling and touristy plaka. Do not miss it! We took a guided tour to Sounion (Temple of Poseidon) with GO! tours. We would have enjoyed more time there. A remarkable setting.
Mykonos- We included Mykonos in our trip for the purpose of experiencing Delos, which is one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece. Most excursions to this sacred island depart Mykonos harbour, except Mondays when the island is closed. Arrange through Blue Star Ferries which has two offices on the quay. An amazing site and experience which should not be missed. Get a guidebook before you go as the museum sells out quickly. Climb Mt. Kythnos for the spectacular views of the surrounding Cycladic islands. Mykonos, to our surprise, was charming and entertaining. For all that is written about its excess, it is wonderfully balanced by the Cubist charms of a traditional Cycladic town. We spent hours exploring the labyrinthine streets and alleys. Great crepes and cappucino's at Verdi (try the Nutella with coconut) ran by a lovely lady. Our hotel was the Princess of Mykonos located above Agios Stefanos Beach. Beautiful hotel with the most gracious staff. Traditional Cycladic design with panoramic views of the Hora and harbour. Could not have afforded it without the assistance of Fantasy Travel. They secure great rates! Used the bus for transportation to town (E1.00)Taxis ran E5.00-7.00. On the beach at Agios Stefanos are three traditional Taverna's. The one on the far right, closest to the beach, name forgotten, is owned by the nicest Greek man. Great place to experience the sunset.
Naxos- A really delightful, unspoiled and tranquil island with a great mix of beautiful beaches (the Greek beaches you imagine), fun town and port, mountainous interior and quaint villages (Halki, Apiranthos and Apolon). We took a guided, day-long tour of the island and its interior arranged through Naxos Tours (E20.00). The guide was an unemployed Greek archaeologist (of which there are many) whose love of her island and all it has to offer was contagious. We spent a day on the beach at Agios Prokopios which gets our vote for the most beautiful beach-shining white sand and long enough to feel uncrowded. Walked down the beach to Agia Anna and enjoyed a late lunch at a quiet taverna, Palatia, located on the beach. Don't miss the sunset from the unfinished Temple of Apollo, Naxos' most famous landmark. It is located across a causeway on the Palatia Islet and offers incredible views of the hilltop Venetian Kastro and the waterfront. Hotels are a hit and miss depending on who you talk to. We stayed at the Naxos Palace. Brand new and beautiful, located between Naxos town and the beaches of Agia Anna and Prokopios. The hotel and setting were enjoyable but we felt isolated. The fact that there was only one other couple staying there added to the isolation. We followed the Eating recommendations noted in the LONELY PLANET GREEK ISLANDS guide and were never disappointed. The variety of restaraunts and cafes Naxos offered, especially those located in the narrow alleys that scramble up to the Kastro, were a pleasant change.
Santorini- And then came Oia. No words! A magical, unique place like no other. We were unsure if we would survive the taxi ride from the port but then we laid eyes on the village. Our hotel, the incredible Oia Mare Villas, is a traditional cave dwelling. It is a third of the way down the steps to the tiny harbour of Amoudi and it afforded us the sunsets, romance and serenity we sought. No matter where you stay, go to the market, grab some local Santorini wine, crackers, cheese and grapes and find a spot to enjoy the sunsets-a theatrical experience. Hike down the 300 steps to Amoudi. There is a taverna, yellow walls, blue trim, ran by Dimitri and Joy. You can sit at a table three feet from a clear green bay and watch the sun set. No crowds, no jostling for the perfect position to capture the moment. Just the sea and the sunset. Menu prices in Oia can run high, so shop around. We found some exceptions when off the main "street". One is appropriately named Sunsets. Run by three generations of a Greek family-incredibly gracious. The best pizza we have ever had. It affords awesome views of the caldera and sunset. Easy to miss as it sits above the walkway and is surrounded by shops. Near the bus turn around is Oia Restaraunt. Great salads and souvlaki. Authentic with nice service. Our server's English ended way before our Greek began so our few practiced phrases came in handy. We intended to visit Ancient Akrotiri but it had closed following an accident where one tourist was killed and several injured. We avoided Fira as we could see the many cruise ships in the caldera and knew the impact the crowds would have on our enjoyment. Oia was the perfect place to shed our tourist trappings and become locals. Being there in the shoulder season certainly benefited us. An amazing place that literally defies description.
Seattle, Wa USA Thu 10/27/2005
We just came back from Santorini where we stayed at a traditional cave home in Oia. It was Called Chelidonia House Traditional Villas. It was just unbelievable. The view breathtaking, and house superb, and host was wonderful. Also ate at the Taverna Lava on the beach in Perissa. This was possibly the best meal we have ever eaten, and it was inexpensive. A real find.
denver, co USA Tue 10/25/2005
Greece: Mykonos, Part 1
Sorry for the delay in posting, the realities of work have come back with a vengance, if the next trip wasn't so far off! Mykonos: On to the Islands. Initially, I had not much desire to visit Mykonos. I prefer out of the way places, and Mykonos, to me, threatened to be just too crowded, even in September. We planned it mainly for beach, and for a wine festival that is held the 2nd weekend of September. We called ahead a few hours for a room based on a "Let's Go" recommendation, and for €50 a night was able to get a room, right on the waterfront, with a balcony. The owner was an absolutely wonderful old lady, a real character, with a house filled with family antiques, but I can not in good faith recommend Hotel Apollon. Noise was a major problem…noise from the restaurants below until midnight, noise (distant) from the clubs until dawn (they were still going when we went for morning coffee). Certainly a room away from the front would have been better, and maybe just fine. Mykonos Town is certainly charming, you could spend days just wandering the streets, looking, shopping, nearly every corner reveals the perfect picture of a gate, a church, a flower, a windmill. The beaches are fantastic; we only made it as far as Paradise and Super Paradise, both are in wonderful coves, sheltered, and have a fine, light gravel, much better than pebbles, not as messy as sand. The water is crystal clear and warm. Both rank about the same as beach experience, with the edge going to Paradise. Paradise is easily accessible by bus, Super Paradise, by car or by boat from one of the other beaches. Both allow nudity, at Super Paradise it is more prevalent than Paradise. Both have beach clubs right there, the clubs at Paradise are much more reasonably priced than Super Paradise, beer is €2, a bottle of wine €6, plus a good selection of food for reasonable prices. As the sunning winds down for the day, the clubs turn up the music to try to get you to stay a little longer, sometimes offering free drinks to get up and dance. This is also grand people watching time as the extrovert starts to come out in people. We were happy just spending the day on the beach, one of the major goals of this trip
IA USA Sun 10/23/2005
Athens the wonderful!!!
I find it funny when GreekAmericans post there comments regarding the negative aspects of Greece! It just seems that they are the toughest critics of them all! I find that sometimes they have no clue! But everyone is entitled to there own opinions! I am married to a Greek and I have nothing but good things to say about Greece and the Greek people! I consider Athens my second home!
Regarding the Greek people, for the most part they are very hospitable! They aren't typically very cheery types of people but pls find someone within Europe who really is that cheery? Have you visited Rome lately? Same type of people, same attitudes, same demeanor. I guess it is a meditarranean thing?!
Athens has changed a lot! Just ask anybody who visited 10 yrs ago and they will tell you just how much! The Olympics did wonders for this city's reputation imo (it also provided much needed infrastructural changes and upgrades, pedestrian friendly streets, cleaner air, etc.). Just visit the Athens metro one of the cleanest and nicest metros in all of Europe or even the world. Athens or "Athina" as the natives call it is constantly transforming!
The archaeological sites are some of the best to see in the world and I find that the museums are plentiful and world class! The Benaki Museum, The Museum of Cycladic Art, the War Museum and the Athens archeaological museum or Acropolis museum are must sees. One that was not mentioned was the National Art Gallery across from the Athens Hilton hotel! A must see housing works from various famous Greek and other famous artists! On a side note, there is a new, modern, world class Acropolis museum being built at the foot of the Acropolis. It isn't scheduled to open until 2006 or 2007 I believe! But the designs look impressive! The Greek government is hoping that once the museum is built that the British Museum will have to return the Elgin or Parthenon marbles! This is something many Greeks and non Greeks are advocating! Hopefully it will soon become a reality! The marbles really do belong at the Parthenon!
Regarding the Greek cuisine I find that it is very tasty and you will find that it is typically a healthy meditarranean type food. For the most part it consists of fresh seasfood including fish, kalamari, shrimp, meat, fresh vegeatables and let's not forget the famous Greek sald or "Horiatiki salata" as the natives call it! And although the Souvlaki is considered the Greek fast food and can pack on a pound or too (it is irresistible to the palate). There are number of restaurants to choose form in Athens, something for everyone, from fast food joints like McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut and Dominos etc. to take out Chinese food, Indian food, Italian and Mexican, etc.
Regarding the Night Life, Athens can compete with other major European cities on this front. I would recommend clubs around the city center in or around "Thisio" and another district called "Gazi". The affluent areas of Glyfada (a Southern suburb of Athens) and Kifisia (a Northern suburb of Athens) all boast trendy clubs, bars and cafes, hotels and shopping centers and stores! "Kolonaki" near the Parliament building is a trendy shopping district also great for drinking an ice coffee or frappe at the wonderful cafes like "Jacksons" which is also excellent for just lounging around reading a newspaper or for people watching too! And Ermou street is also a wonderful pedestrian friendly shopping district (located right across from Syntagam or Constitution Square!
Athens also boasts wonderful theatre and music festivals! You should check the local listings upon arrival!
Kelley Nicholson - Andrianos
Tampa, FL USA Fri 10/07/2005
Greece, Part 4, Meteora
Kalambaka and the Meteora : From Delphi we headed to North-Central Greece to see the Monasteries at Meteora. James Bond fans may recognize the area from "For Your Eyes Only" as the lair of the bad guy, but the group of monasteries perched on pinnacles of rock are absolutely stunning. Most are open for tours, I took the KTEL bus up to Grand Meteora and walked the road (a 3 km hike or so) back down, past 3 or 4 of the other monasteries. To see all of the monasteries would require your own transportation, or an organized tour. Even the method I used, required a pretty good hike. At the very least, each monastery involves a number of steps, which could be argued is better than what the Monks had to do, either climb a cliff or hoisted on a rope. Kalambaka serves as the main base for the area, We stayed at Elena's rooms, straight uphill from the Bus Station about a 5 minute walk. There are two other recommended places in the same area, Koko Roko and Also's House, Elena's Rooms are a little nicer, our room was a double with bath for €45 and was one of the nicer rooms we stayed in on the trip, the two other places had rooms in the €30 to €40 range. The area is close to city center, but far enough away that it is quiet. There are plenty of restaurants and souvlaki joints along the main road, some of the places on the squares looked to be overpriced though. We were coming from Delphi, so the bus journey involved a number of changes (Delphi to Amphissa to Lamia to Trikala to Kalambaka) but easy to navigate. We opted for the cheaper, faster, more comfortable train back to Athens. It did involve a change at a station in the middle of nowhere (Paleofarsalios) where the Kalambaka line meets the Thessoloniki line, we did run into one problem in that the second train into Athens was packed, in fact I had no seat the whole trip. The Meteora would best be done with two nights, leaving an entire day to explore the monasteries.
IA USA Fri 10/07/2005
This is a wonderful article written on Greece: (for the full article go to):
Photo: Cyan Eyes The ancient city Gallery Helena Smith "In many ways Athens is like an ugly woman but like so many ugly women she has lots of charm," Melina Mercouri, late actress and former culture minister.
I love Athens because it is the only city that is truly haunted by its history; a kaleidoscope of ages and eras that tells the story of us all. Because it is here, taking in the outrageous beauty of the Acropolis, that you can begin to marvel and dare to dream. Because Athena, as she is known in Greek, has a myriad hidden worlds (prehistoric, classical, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman) and a myriad hidden pleasures, and is the one place that will teach you the meaning of time.
Because Athenian air has a magical quality and inspired the likes of Byron to write and weep for Greece and in any season, on any day, circulates the world's most azure, most celestial skies. Because in Athens you will learn the value of patience and the charms of the late-night taverna and (when it comes to tackling taxi drivers) survival skills you never knew you had. Because Athena is at once everything that is familiar and everything that is foreign and, even when you think you know her, never ceases to surprise.
Because in Athens you'll discover the delights of nearby isles, open-air cinemas, oriental traditions and the inimitable scent of honeysuckle and thyme. And see that Athens is not what it is made out to be: polluted, perpetually congested and ugly. And because not that long ago, Athens was a forgotten, malaria-ridden outpost on the fringes of the Ottoman Empire but, now, is one of the most fun, uplifting towns.
Posted by HelenaSmith August 1 2005
new york, ny USA Thu 10/06/2005
Greece, Part 3
Delphi: We chose to travel to the Delphi area immediately on arrival in Athens, and had two nights planned for Athens at the end of the trip. Delphi is easily reachable by bus, however even though an Express Bus goes to the Bus Stations from the Airport (there are two KTEL stations, A and B) we never did figure out the stop for Bus station B, and it certainly does not stop directly at the station. We wound up at Bus Station A and had to take a Taxi to "B". For Delphi, we stayed in a small town just before Delphi, Arahova. Arahova is actually a Winter destination, so it is reverse of most towns in Greece, with some Hotels and Restaurants closed during the summer. It was the perfect place for a first couple nights in Greece, Quiet, not crowded, an array of good restaurants, and enough shops to making a walk interesting. The town is perched on the side of a mountain, so the view is dramatic. Transportation to Delphi and back from Arahova is on the same Athens/Delphi bus route. Delphi and it's museum are certainly a Class A stop for any history buff. In Arahova, we stayed at the Hotel Parnassos, right on the main road for €29 a night for a double. The restaurants specialize in grilled meats and casserole dishes, had a wonderful meal at Taverna Oietpos, a small family place, and another at Taverna Karathanassi. Both meals for two ran less than €25 for entrees, salad, and wine. Since we arrived late in the day, we stayed two nights, it is possible with an early arrival to cut it to one night and see the sights, for a very short trip, you could take a day tour from Athens to see Delphi, but a night in Arahova is better than Athens in my book.
IA USA Tue 10/04/2005
Greece, Part 2
I have noticed a number of comments below discussing "rude" Greeks...my take: Yes, I did notice instances where I took a persons actions to be rude, or even aggressive, but I can put it into perspective by the following: First,The determination of "rude" means that you have some standard to judge it by. I am not foolish enough to expect that others, particularly of another culture follow the same rules as I. What I consider rude (say a belch) may be considered a complement in other cultures. Second: The language barrier (see previous post) leads to a lot of misconception. In Santorini, I saw many frustrated Americans wondering around the bus station asking drivers (In English) what bus? What time?, etc. The drivers ignored them and walked away. Rude? If I had several hundred foriegners jabbering at me all day long, I probably would tune them out as well, than go to lengths to point out that I don't understand them. There were schedules posted and the buses showed the destinations when they loaded. Thirdly: Maybe a misperception on my part, but Greeks for the most part are not a "Hello, Please, Thank You, Good Bye" type country (like the French or the Brits), especially with strangers. "mera" is the typical greeting, rarely any word of parting, not even sure if I ever figured out what "Please" might be in Greek. Again probably not being rude, just not a big thing. Lastly, The Greeks do everything with passion. They talk loud, with their hands, seem to debate everything, and, because nearly every word is multi-syllabic, at a fast pace. I swear, a Greek can be telling his wife she looks good and he loves her and you would think by appearance they are headed for divorce. Again, Americans tend to be much more subdued, reserving passion for argument. There are other things as well, Greeks do not have the passion for "queues" like the Brits or even Americans, leaving timid people forever at the end of a line; tend to do as they please (No smoking signs are pretty much meaningless); again, not out of rudeness, just normal life. We ran into many, many wonderful, warm Greeks and overlooked any instances that we might of judged as "Rude"
IA USA Tue 09/27/2005
Greece, Sept. 2005, Part 1
Greece September 2005, Pt. 1 First let me say something about my traveling style to put the posts in context. We travel light, few if any reservations, stay in moderately cheap places (50 Euro or less hopefully), Eat well, but in smaller out of the way places, and try to use local transportation as much as possible. Not quite backpackers and hostelers, but pretty close. Some of my recommendations may not meet most peoples standards for comfort and ease…but hey…I'm not trying to please you. That said, we found Greece on this second trip (We did Athens and the Peloponnese almost 5 years ago) to be as enchanting (and at times hectic) as we had hoped. It was kind to the budget (our last trip was in the UK, ouch!) and did offer us plenty of planned beach time. Some comments in general. Language barrier: We encountered no real problems, but did notice more problems than in other Western European countries. The Greek language is indeed difficult to understand in spoken form, as well as in written form (Hey, the language has all of those characters I had only encountered in Physics and Advanced Math!) I probably used fewer native words this trip than any, but still always found shelter, food, and transport. People associated with the travel business generally knew enough English to help, the exception being Bus and Train personnel. Street signs (if there were any), outside of Athens, usually only included the Greek language name, making navigating challenging while I phonetically sounded it out or had a guide or map with only the "Non-Greek"? translation. Going in September, I can say that we had no real problems with crowds, always found a room (if not on the first try, the second), were seated at restaurants immediately, got on ferries and buses with ease, and the weather and water were perfect…save for three days of winds, where we found plenty of other things to do. I highly, highly recommend September as Greek travel time, with May also being a good time (The timing of our last trip there), but the water maybe not as warm. More later!
IA USA Tue 09/27/2005
Greece, Sept. 2005
Not much time to post right now, but just returned from 3 weeks in Greece, some mainland, but mostly the Cyclades and Crete. I hope to post a series of entries covering some of my observations, trip costs, and info on ezch site we stayed. We hit Delphi, the Meteora, Mykonos, Koufonisia, Santorini, and Iraklion, Hania, Samaria Gorge, and Matala, all on Crete. Overall, had a great time, went with no reservations or tickets (save our Airline tickets and an air leg back to Athens from Crete) and had no troubles except for the normal transportation delays. I always enable the e-mail option...so if you have a specific question, please feel free to e-mail as linked below...otherwise, hope all find the posts useful
IA USA Tue 09/27/2005
My wife and I just returned from 10 days in Greece. It was our first trip there, and We had a terrific time! Here is a synopsis of our trip and some suggestions.
We reserved the first half of our trip and left the end open-ended. It worked out well, though it did prove tough to find a room in Athens near the acropolis in mid September.
We rented several cars and a scooter during our trip. Driving in Greece is intense, with all sort of vehicles moving at all sorts of speeds and passing anywhere possible.
The price differences vary not only from town to town, but also from shop to shop on the same street! Perhaps many set prices with expectations of haggling, but this also applied to groceries and liquor stores. I think the Greece national slogan should be "discount for cash", as we heard this english phrase more than other on our trip.
Athens demanded more of our time than we expected, and we ultimatley spent additional time there before returning home. Stayed at Jason Inn Hotel on the front end. It is in the Psiri dirstict, a short walk from Monistiraki and Plaka. Not exceptional, but a quaint hotel with a nice rooftop restaurant. At the end of our trip, we stayed at the Dorian Inn Hotel near Ommonia square. The hotel was very nice, though the Ommonia area feels more like a big city - not as attractive or quiet as the area closer to the Acropolis.
We arranged a day trip to Delphi through "George the Famous Taxi Driver" and were driven by his colleaugue Mike. Mike was great, but we were a little disappointed that the trip didn't include a guided tour of the site. In past travels, "tours" have always included a knowledgeable guide accompanying us throughout the destination. For anyone considering this, just keep in mind that it is transportation and conversation alone.
We highly reccommend the highspeed ferries for travel to and from the Cyclades. Worth a little extra to get you there twice as fast. The Rafina port near Athens does not have subway service, so you will need to use a taxi or bus. Piraeus port is easier to reach from Athens, if you have an option.
We stayed at Cavo Tagoo in Mykonos, a beautiful hotel just a 10 minute walk from Mykonos town on the coastal road.
Oia in Santorini is the most beautiful place we have ever been! We stayed in the Atrina traditional houses, with spectacular cliff-side views of the caldera. Morning breakfast (included everywhere we stayed in Greece) is delivered to your patio when requested each morning.
We spent a night in beautiful Napflion at the Pension Mariana. We would have liked to stay several nights at this quaint place, but could only book a single night stay as they were booked. We did make the hike up to the Palladi (sp?) Fortress, but would recommend anyone with a car driving up the other side instead of taking the exhausting stairs.
The town of Olympia seems to be strictly a tourist destination and lacks much of the character of the rest of Greece. The seemingly elegant Olympic Hotel was fully booked, and the other 3 hotels we evaluated were all out-of-date with a generally dingy appearance. Ancient Olympia was an amazing site, but be prepared to deal with busses full of tour groups.
All in all, Greece should be in the plans for people of all ages and interests. There truly is something for everyone!
Denver, CO USA Thu 09/22/2005
There is a wonderful new book about the "new Athens" called
TIME OUT ATHENS which recently came out and describes all the changes in the city since the olympics. It states: Athens is the definitive guide to one of Europe's most exciting, fast changing cities-and its ancient heritage. It provides (the book) informed coverage of the icons left by a culture that shaped the world, then ventures into the heart of today's city: its pacy nightlife, expanding restaurant scene and diverse music and art worlds"
This is highly recommended for anyone going to Athens
boston, ma USA Thu 09/22/2005
Re: Greek hospitality
Renee, never let something you might read like that keep you from traveling to a country. Our last trip to Greece was wonderful, never noticed a problem. When people do have problems, they are often as to blame as the person they encounter, they just have no clue as to why. Nothing has ever deterred me from traveling...in fact, I am now just killing time until I board my flight to Greece for 3 weeks! Hope yo share tips with everyone during and on my return.
IA USA Sat 09/03/2005
Jen - I'm glad to read your post about your experience with the Greek people and Athens. After reading some of the other posts here, hubby and I were about to re-think our Fall 2007 trip to Greece! I hope others will weigh in with experiences as well so we can make a decision. We are very open minded RS travelers and have enjoyed all our trips to Europe so far. We're ready for a new adventure and of the places we haven't been yet Greece is a front runner right now, with Spain/Portugal a close second and Ireland a distant third. Convince me...anyone??
CO USA Mon 08/29/2005
Touring With George
My wife are going on the Sept 17-30 Turkey tour, and plan to then travel in Greece for about a week. Will be in Athens & area approx. 10/4-8, and would like to share a "George Tour" with another couple/pair. Dates, details, actual tour, etc. are quite negotiable. Thanks!!
woodinville, Wa USA Sat 08/27/2005
Warm, friendly Greeks!
My husband and I have been to Greece three times, most recently last year for the Olymics. We just love it! Athens has been cleaned up and made very "user-friendly" with easy public transportation and pedestrian-only streets. The one thing I can say is that the people are lovely, warm and friendly. We have learned basic greetings and important phrases and have practiced the pronounciation over and over! It amazes us how saying "kalispera" (good evening) and thank you in Greek, which sounds like "ef-har-ist-o", can make people smile and try to be friendly. They obviously know we're tourists, but showing and effort seems to really helps. Sometimes a person appears shocked when we greet them in Greek! Have fun!
Jacksonville, Florida USA Sat 08/27/2005
I just read through some posts about Greeks being rude. After my fifth visit, I can say that yes, many people seem rude and pushy. However, it's one thing to be rude, pushy and arrogant and it's another to seem this way without realizing that you are being these things. Overall, I don't think that it's a Greek thing to be rude, but it's just the way they are. They don't mean to offend, it's just seems that way because of their stong personalities and language barriers. I have Greek friends living in Santorini and I always joke about the ATTITUDE thing with them. They laugh and when they say something rude, and I point it out, they don't understand why it's rude. My Australian friend is married to a Greek and she agrees that they may do rude things, without even knowing that it's rude. Please don't let this stop you from visiting Greece. Greece is a beautiful county with sites you will never see anywhere else. When in Greece, do as the Greeks do... trust me, it will make you feel better. Many people asked me if I was Greek? I told them not a drop, but my ATTITUDE is Greek! So many Greeks found it to be funny. They know they have strong personalities and are known for it. On a final note, every time I leave Greece, my Greek friends, along with their whole families, are so upset when we leave. The women and men, many of them old, actually shed tears when we leave. Deep down inside, they are very warm, emotional people. Of course, there are rude ones, but rude people live everywhere!
NJ USA Thu 08/25/2005
Just got back from Santorini- Villa Mathios and restaurants
Just got back from my fifth visit to Santorini. My friend and I decided to stay in a hotel with a pool, due to recent knee surgery. We stayed at Villa Mathios in Akrotiri. We always stay in Akrotiri because of it's rustic village charm. I was warned about Villa Mathios by Arianna's post but since we already paid, there was no way we could cancel. Even though the hotel is decent, for European standards, the hotel managment is very harsh and unprofessional. The rooms were tiny, the pool was ok but needed to be cleaned more, the showers were 2ftx2 ft, and the hostiliy by the management was a real downer. I had such a problem with the shower. It was so small. I am not too tall, average size, and found it very difficult to take a relaxing shower. This family operated business doesn't give you a "Mom and Pop" feeling. You know that feeling you get when you see that dysfunctional side of your family, well that's how it feels at Villa Mathios. All they care about is making money without any regard to how your vacation is going. After all, they require every one to pay in full 2 weeks to your stay. They also require to hold on to one passport or credit card for the whole stay. This is ridiculous!!! You are better off staying at another hotel with friendlier staff. GREAT RESTAURANTS.. AKROTIRI- MELINA'S TAVERNA OIA- AMBROSIA AND NECTAR.. TRY THE BAKED FETA IN PHYLLO WITH HONEY... DELICIOUS! oUTSIDE OF FIRA: SENOR ZORBAS.... ALWAYS A GREAT CHOICE... SAY HELLO TO "MARY"
Santorini is still as beautiful as ever, but I would recommend staying as far away from Fira as possible. It's really a tourist trap, filled with party going kids. I would recommend going to Akrotiri, the lighthouse (tip of Santorini), Oia, Imeroglivi, Kamari is a bit shady, but fun nonetheless.
NJ USA Thu 08/25/2005
Crete, Santorini, & Athens
My husband and I just spent 10 days in Greece, here are our tips.
Crete - We stayed in Hania (which we loved) at the Porto del Colombo hotel (ask for a room with a view) for about 70 euros. If you go to Hania stay in the old part of town near the harbor. The town is wonderful, and it had our favorite restaurant of our whole trip called Tamam (we were in Hania 3 nights and ate here every night). There are nice beaches near by. The highlight of our Greece trip was hiking the Samaria Gorge, it is beautiful, and if you like to hike it is a must. Leave on the earliest bus, hike the gorge, than go to the beach while you wait for the ferry. After a long hike we though paying 6 euros to rent a lounge chair on the beach was a good investment!
Santorini - We stayed at the Artemis Village, which was a nice place near Fira with super cheap rooms (40 euros for a double). We ended up renting at ATV so that we could get to town whenever we wanted. The ancient village of Thira was really interesting (you can drive to the top, so don't pay to take a van). The other archeological site (Agora, I think) was under construction, and didn't really have any signs explaining what you were looking at. Our favorite restaurant in Fira was Naussa (ate there 2 of 3 nights, and should have eaten there the third night). Beware of how much change you should get back. The first night the guy gave us incorrect change, when we asked he corrected it. We wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, but the second night the same guy gave us incorrect change again! There are boat trips to the volcano and the hot springs the 3-hour trip was enough for us. It was fun and interesting, but not completely exhausting. The caldera is absolutely beautiful, especially at sunset. There are many good viewing sites without being in an overly priced restaurant. The only thing Santorini didn't have (or at least we never found it) was a really good beach, but it is worth a trip for all the other neat things you get to see!
Athens - Wow, if they cleaned Athens up for the Olympics, it must have been a complete dump before. I have traveled a lot in Europe, and I would classify it as the dirtiest European city I have visited. With that said, there are still nice pockets of the city, and if you are in Greece you must go to see the sites. One of my favorite neighborhoods is Thisio (spelling?). There was a lot of good restaurants in the area and great views of the Acropolis. They have an outdoor movie theater, which was a fun evening activity for us (most movies are in English with Greek subtitles, make sure you ask before you buy a ticket). Rick Steves has a great walking tour of Athens, we printed it from this website, but it will probably be in his book when that comes out. The 3 must-sees for me in Athens would be: the Acropolis, the National Archeological Museum, and Rick Steves Athens walk.
Feel free to e-mail me if you have questions!
Seattle, WA USA Thu 08/18/2005
Tips on Greece - long
We have lived in Greece for 1 yr, and have another to go. Suggested itineraries for South Greece:
1 DAY - Athens Acropolis in AM (get there before it's hot), Areopagus on way down. Then walk back way (away from Acropoli Metro stop) down the hill and past some charming streets (if you ignore the grafitti) to Monastiraki for shopping in PM. For lunch, there is a large cafe under shade with fans overhead with reasonable food and prices about 200m before you get to the Roman Agora enroute to Monastiraki.
Biggest Monastiraki shopping hint - offer to pay cash. You'll be amazed at the price difference. Prices in winter are better than summer, by the way.
If shopping for Gold, visit George at Aphrodite Jewelers (from McDonald's - unfortunately an easy landmark - go past metro stop and take first right. Travel about 250m, he'll be on left) or Tom at Old Orient (73 Pandrossou Str - from McD's door, look across the Plaka to the umbrella-covered cafes. Take the alley on the right of the cafes. He's about 200m on the right and has furs hanging at the door next to the jewelry). George has a wonderful selection of very inexpensive sterling silver upstairs for gifts for those back home (Great "Greek Key" rings and bracelets from 5-15Euro each). Tom also sells furs and watches at good prices. A common souvenir seems to be the semiprecious stone globes - either Tom or George can get you one for much less than other shops will haggle for. Both of them and their shops speak very good English.
If pottery replicas are your souvenirs of choice, wait until you get to Ancient Corinth. If you can't, there are plenty of places in Monastiraki that sell it, so you should be able to haggle hard.
Keep an eye out for pickpockets in Monastiraki - On our last visit, I confronted a guy who was stalking my camera as well (gently and with humor - making a point to secure it, and giving him a "You gotta be kidding me" smile) as another who offered to sell me a stolen digital video camera (by announcing loudly, "Hey, that's stolen!"). Both guys fled the scene, but it's a busy area that makes theft easy.
There are some great places to eat for not too lousy prices near the water clock at the Roman Agora. Hunt around to find one with a good view of the Acropolis and be rewarded by the sight of it when it lights up. Another good place to eat and watch is across from the lower Ancient Agora entrance.
Hotels in Athens - Hotel King Jason*** is a nice option with a good breakfast and friendly staff. Reserve through a travel agency like www.cybertravelnetwork.com and you can get very good prices (we paid 70 Euro/night for a quad). For a bit upscale, the Grecotel Athens Imperial**** (think Holiday-Inn level) has an incredible view of the city and acropolis from its rooftop pool. Doubles can be had for 80Euro/night through an agent. Ask for Acropolis view on 8th floor. Awesome breakfast.
2 DAYS - Add Ancient Agora and Museum (Roman Agora if you have time - you can get a good tour in maybe 30 minutes) - they're included on the same ticket.
3 OR 4 DAYS - Spend 1 or 2 nights at Nafplio, visiting ancient Corinth on the way. Hotel Agammemnon has reasonable prices right on the waterfront across from the Executioner's Castle. Note: AC gets turned off at around 1am - leave window open.
Best views for dinner or a drink are on the waterfront for sunset. But best food is in the beautiful back pedestrian streets. Our call - have a drink for sunset at the waterfront, then dinner in the streets. 2 awesome Italian gelato shops are a MUST visit - from the waterside walk, facing the castle, turn right and walk to the end of the walkway (by a Pizza restaurant - Romana Napoli?). Hang a right and walk up the street - you should see the sign for the first on the left side, with the second just a bit further on the right
5 DAYS - Add Delphi. Hotel Iniohos (***) has fabulous view of Itea and olive groves below, and live piano music in restaurant. Hotel KING Iniohos (****) has amazingly friendly staff, and more comfortable rooms (don't expect 4 star US standards, but 4 star South Europe), but breakfast is pretty sparse for a 4-star. Return via road to Lamia (1.5hrs) and visit Thermopylae, the famous battle site of 480BC.
More time - Meteora is well out of the way, but well worth it. We've gone 3 times, and leave tomorrow for our 4th (but it's only 45 minutes from us). Saloniki is a charming city.
Trains are OK - get a schedule before you arrive on the OSE site (ose.gr?) because you're unlikely to find English help. 2nd Class Trains will be smokey. 1st class gets you a seat reservation in non-smoking, but be advised that the attached bar gets very smoke-filled, so be firm about the glass door between it and the cabin being closed.
Strikes are common. If depending on public transportation, give yourself a free day in case they're shut down. The airlines and airports/air traffic control often participate. Show up with a good supply of Euros, or get them ASAP when you land - the banks go on strike too, and the ATMs empty rapidly. Dollars are accepted at markets often, but at bad exchange rates.
If you have Internet access during your trip, keep abreast of http://www.ekathimerini.com/ , the English language website of one of the major newspapers. It will let you know lots of good info, including when the strikes are.
The majority of flat surfaces are covered in Graffitti, usually obscene. It's also usually aimed at competing football (soccer) teams. Keep abreast of anything - graffiti or banners - signed by the KKE or KNE (communist party) as they often advertise very xenophobic rallies you'll want to avoid as a foreigner. The dates are easy to translate if you work at it.
Questions? My family does a lot of travelling, much of it in the "Rick Steves" philosophy. You can ask me and I'm happy to give you my admittedly biased views and assistance. I check my e-mail quite infrequently, so give me some time to respond.
Larissa, Thessaly Greece Fri 07/29/2005
When flying on Olympic Air be very carefull. Please read up on them for your own good. Be very knowledgable before you make that reservation. We were inconvenienced for 2 1/2 days in England due to their company strike. Read up and find that this really is not that uncommon. Plenty more to this story, but I will conclude by saying customer service really takes a back seat with them!
Wauwatosa, WI USA Tue 07/19/2005
Picture taking in Greece
I just returned from Greece. At all of the major monuments and museums I saw iconic signs for NO taking pictures artifacts with people. At museums, docents were quick to intervene and stop anyone taking this kind of picture.
The docents were quick to blow a whisle and make a big deal of anyone trying to take any picture with a person and an artifact.
Reno, NV USA Sun 07/17/2005
APOLAYSI the best restaurant in KALYMNOS
It can be really hard finding a decent place to eat when your an out of towner, so we were really lucky to find a wonderful little place called APOLAYSI on our visit to KALYMNOS. Kalymnos is a less touristy Island in the dodecanese. But Its completey worth a visit! when we got there we were clueless to where to eat we asked a local and they sent us to a place we weren't exactly thrilled with. So the next day we were a little hesitant to go out to eat. But as we were walking across the harbor in an area called POTHIA in KALYMNOS we got hungry and notice a small family restaurant before going in we read the menu posted out side. They had every thing from the freshest seafood and homemade Greek food to American and English dishes that we would never have thought to see. Every thing was wonder full, The family that own the restaurant spoke fluent English and we became friends very quickly. Every meal at APOLAFSI a grat price and very tasty we recomend KALYMNOS as a beautiful place to visit and eat and drink at APOLAFSI, you won't regret it! Its the first restaurant after the harbor and right next to the coast guard.
HIGHLAND, IN USA Sat 07/02/2005
Picture taking in Greece
I live and work in Athens, have visited numerous ruins in and around Athens and have had photos taken of Greek ruins with myself, my wife, or the both of us. I doubt there is a law that says you can't be photographed along side a Greek temple, stadium, theater, etc. I've done it too many times with visitors and have seen hundreds of others do it as well - even in front of staff. It must have been something about the doll. However, on another note, don't pick up even a small rock at the Acropolis. Earlier this year there was much press about an over-eager staff member getting a 15-year-old student on a school tour arrested because she picked up a marble rock about the size of a penny. There are strange people working everywhere!
USA Thu 06/30/2005
Santorini, Mykonos & Naxos
Just got back from Greece and came upon a new restaurant in Mykonos. My daughter and I were walking from Ornos to the town of Mykonos and stumbled upon a brand new Italian/Greek restaurant (it had just opened up 3 days before). Not only was Soulatsa Trattoria's decor gorgeous, but the food unique and delicious. The owner of the restaurant happened to be our waiter and we didn't know until we left! There is no view though, but we had plenty of meals previously with lovely ocean views.
Thanks to Rick Steve's posting on Senor Zorba's on Santorini - yummy and authentic Mexican food. We actually had the best sunset views out of any of the entire trip here(even better than Oia).
The taxi drivers are all crazy on the islands; don't be afraid to take the public buses. They are only 1 Euro and comfortable, air conditioned buses! And, they are much bigger and safer on the road than the taxis.
Also, we enjoyed the dinner at Eva's Garden in the town of Mykonos. Beautiful garden setting and Eva has been cooking there for over 20 years.
In Naxos we felt like we were in a completely different country - most of the tourists were Scandanavian - lots of lovely blondes everywhere. Enjoy the Greek islands - we felt completely safe and loved exploring everywhere walking whenever we could! (by the way, our favorite was Santorini - the coast line was just indescribable)
Culver City, CA USA Tue 06/28/2005
Pictures taking in Greece
The reason many why many of the sites in Greece have a "You can't be in the picture with ruins or artifacts" sign up is because of the crude pictures people have taken in the past.
I'm sure you have seen the pictures of people holding up the Leaning tower of Pisa. The Greeks don't want their temple columns to be a man's penis. (Can't say I blame them, it was/is a place of worship for them.) Hence the policy - No pictures of the ruins with people in them. It's their country, abide by their rules.
Now a days, you can use Photoshop to add people into pictures.
Orinda, CA USA Sun 06/26/2005
Last summer I took my children (8-months & 3 yrs) to Greece for a week before backpacking the rest of Europe for another 3wks. We went to Athens, Santorini and Crete. In Athens we did a day long walking tour with a guide from our hostel. It was great, and cheap. The tour guide even offered to helped me push my stroller. In Crete we stayed mostly in Hania, which I loved. If you need a beach day, there are lots nearby, but I recommend taking the bus to Elafonisos for the day. If you survive the bus ride on the narrow winding roads, it's quite a ride. I though it was one of the most beautiful beaches I've ever been to, and it's very shallow so it's great for kids. Bring your own food though, there's not much nearby. I stayed in Hania at Lefka Studio Apartments. Clean, quiet, reasonably priced, and the staff were awesome. A husband/wife team runs the place, and when they found out I was traveling alone with my children they even picked me up at the bus station! The studios have a/c and kitchenettes, and there is a grocery store across the street.
Vancouver, BC Canada Wed 06/22/2005
Loding on Mykonos
Just got back from 2 weeks in Italy and Greece. We stayed 4 days on the island of Mykonos and had a blast. We stayed at Minas Hotel and really enjoyed it!! For only 60 Euros a night for 4 people we got a small kitchen, two patios, our own shower and bathroom and two rooms!!! She even did our laundry for us and told us everything we needed to know about the island! Mina made our stay a great one in Mykonos and I would truly recommend not just her rooms but also her if you are going to Mykonos!! Also, rent the scooters on the island, for only 10 euros a day you can scooter everywhere you go!
Tucson, AZ USA Tue 06/21/2005
We just returned from a 10 day stay in Greece and must say it was fantastic. We went to Corfu (Kerkuria) which was magnificent! Rented a villa for 4 days...then flew to Athens and stayed at the St. George Hotel in Kolonaki--a nice hotel--built on a hill, quite a steep walk back up!! We enjoyed Athens very much, its a wonderful city and needs more than a few days to explore...then took a two day tour to Delphi and Meteora, words cannot describle these two places. Overall, it was an incredible holiday, just wished we could have spent a couple more days exploring Athens, oh well will have to wait for our next trip to Greece
ny, ny USA Mon 06/13/2005
Heraklion Museum hours have changed
Heraklion Archeaology Museum is now only open until 3pm. Sign changed on the museum over the old hours. We arrived at 4 and were disappointed. All websites and guide books said it was open Tues-Sun 8:30-8pm.
Lakeville, MN USA Thu 06/09/2005
Lil - what you can photograph
To Lil Moore,
The reason for not allowing the paper doll or brochure in the photo may have to do with publication rights. At one site I do remember seeing a sign referring to the publication of photos without permission from the site. So, I would guess that by seeing you hold up an object they assumed that the photo was to be published and that you do not hold the rights to publish a photo of the temple in the photo. You can take the photo for personal use only. I remember that a few sculptures in the National Museum had not been published, so you were not allowed to take their photo when I was in school there seven years ago.
Minneapolis, MN USA Mon 06/06/2005
Heraklion and Athens
I just returned from Greece. Stayed in Crete (El Greco Hotel Heraklion) and rented a car. I would not recommend this hotel. On a main road, non-stop traffice noise all night. Bathroom smelled of sewer most of the time. But it was clean and breakfast buffet had good selection for a budget hotel. Rented car through AutoEurope. Was a good value for 3 days. You must be agressive to drive on this island. Timid drivers will not survive. Very curvy, mountain roads. Pavement leaves alot to be desired. Locals drive fast and wide on even blind corners. I had only one problem driving, no highway number markers. My map had them, but the highway did not. Had to really pay attention to town names on the road signs to get around. Very different from other countries I have driven in. But we eventually made it to our destinations. Crete was beautiful. The people were friendly, even when I was not able to communicate well in Greek. My English only speaking friends had no troubles. Just point and smile. Anogia and Margarites are nice villages and a good place to buy weavings and ceramics. Preveli Monestery was wonderful, and the drive was great. In Athens we stayed at the Acropolis House Hotel on Koudrou Street near the Plaka. Great budget hotel. Very clean, airconditioning in the room, refrigerator in the hall for guests, and very friendly and helpful staff. The street was quiet, so noise not an issue here. I will stay there again on future trips. Only a few blocks from the Metro station, Acropolis, Plaka, and a great roof top movie theater. I do recommend more than a couple days in Athens. So much to see there and it is fun just strolling the Plaka area.
Minneapolis, MN USA Mon 06/06/2005
I have been to Greece a number of times as I have family there. I do not speak Greek (yet!) though, and am shocked at some of the negative comments I've read. I would say that with the way Athens is cleaning up now, and of course its historical sites, it would be a shame not to visit Athens. All together I have spent months in the city, and never had a negative experience.
Also, I went to Naxos in the summer of 2002. It was lovely, the accomodation at the Alkyoni Beach Hotel was clean and comfortable, and the staff very friendly. At the time, for the first week of July, a double room cost 50 euro with attractive ammenities, and the property is right on Agios Giorogos and a short walk into the Chora (main town) along the boardwalk. Naxos itself is a lovely island, and there is not too much partying going on. It is the most fertile in the Cyclades and has some of the top rated beaches of the Cyclades as well (Agia Plaka, voted one of the best, is very close to town).
NY USA Sun 05/22/2005
Two of my friends and I visited Greece in May of 2003. We spent time in Athens, Santorini, Ios and Mykonos. We had a fabulous experience. I would love to pass along lodging information. In Santorini we stayed at place called Sunny Villas. It was around $150 euros a night, split by 3, but we had a clean, large room with bathroom, our own balcony overlooking the sea and help from the locals on where to eat, catch a taxi and ferry information. In Mykonos, we stayed at Apartments Nina near the boats that ferry you to the beaches. Not only did they shuttle us from the ferry area, but they gave us a quick tour of the area with information on boats - bus schedules, etc, set us up in a large room with water and soda and explained how to survive financially on the island. We each paid around 30 euro a night, but was so worth it. When we left, they gave us a ride to the ferry, had a friend of their's hold our luggage and showed us where to get a bite to eat before we boarded our ferry to Athens. I would reccommend both of these places for future accomodations.
Sacramento, CA USA Wed 05/11/2005
Beware Villa Mathios-Santorini !!
I noticed an earlier post re: Villa Mathios in Santorini...having had the experience of staying at this property I can honestly say that the hotel is clean and decent BUT the family run self proclaimed "dictator" who runs this business with an iron hand is the real problem. He is a macho control freak who yells at customers who dare to perhaps question in any manner or form...mostly women who run away from the front desk in tears. As for this man's professionalism...his running comments regarding neighboring relatives,and businesses are (and I quote) "they are all garbage"...while the hotel has charm as does his mother, father, brother George, etc...the man in charge Kostas is really a HUGE negative to stay away from this hotel. People travel to Santorini for the views, the sunsets, the beauty. Do not mar your visit by supporting the most negative man on the island. There are FAR nicer owners and staff on the beautiful island of Santorini that will enhance your vacation and NOT poison it as this man is so capable of doing....give your money to people who really deserve it.
Sarasota, FL USA Sun 05/08/2005
Greece: the good, the bad, the ugly...
My wife and I, Greek American, just spent two weeks in Greece, April 23 to May 7th. The good, the revitalization of downtown Athens; you wouldn't recognize it if you were here 10 years ago! Much cleaned up, GREAT metro, mostly pedestrian zone around the Plaka. All the ancient sites are accessible, and marvelous! A million photographs can't convey the feeling you get standing at the Parthenon. The town of Naphlion, and the Peloponesse peninsula, like Rick says, is beautifull! Thye citrus blossoms were all perfuming the air so wonderfull!
The island of Hyda, a jewel, close in to mainland Greece, yet a world of it's own. We stayed at Neokosmidis apartments, it had a bed room living room, full kitchen, full bath, remote control airconditioner, and a clothes washer! Anyone who has been travelling for a while and is down to their last pair of underwear can appreciate thatIt was so nice to shop at the local markets and cook our own food!
The bad: Surly, unfriendly Greeks! My wife speaks Greek fluently, yet they were rude to her and me, not all the time, but enough to be unpleasant. The food, mostly over cooked and served luke warm. My wife and I are gourmet home cooks from Sonoma California, we know good food and wine when we experience it. We were taken by her Greek relatives to a restaurant in the Kolonaki distrist of Athens, the city's best neighborhood, a restaurant only known as #17. Nothing but Greeks in there, including an ex-prime minister of Greece and some shipping magnates. It was very expensive, thank goodness they were paying!, and mediocre at best. My dinner was three pieces of overcooked chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy; I've had better meals at kentucky fried chicken!Stick to the Souvlaki and Gyros, they seem to do that best.
The jewelry sales women in the Plaka, and the restaurant owners, were the most aggressive sales people I've met in my life, and I've travelled quite a lot. The European Union did a study recently about what country has the fattest people in Europe; the Greeks were first, then the Germans. I've never seen such fat women and men outside of the American mid-west! Add in the fact that they are also the heaviest smokers, and you've got quite a combination!
The ugly: Greek drivers! Against my better wishes, we had to rent a car to get to my wife's grandmother's home for Greek Easter. The town of Stomion, on the gulf of Korinth, was a two hour drive from our base in Naphlion. I thought we weregoing to die! Mostly Greek men driving, very aggressively, speeding, tailgating, and changing lanes very dangerously. No matter how fast I was driving over the limit, it wa never enough! Sometimes doing 75kmph in a 50kmph zone, they still tailgated and passed me! So up I went to 100kmpf, more tailgating and passing! They never stop for a stop sign, traffic light, or god forbid you pull out way in front of them to merge onto the motorway, they honk, sneerr, and pass you like you just insulted theur masculinity! I have an idea how the Greek goverment can pay off their imense debts from the Olympics construction: ticked ever speeder, scofflaw, and reckless driver! They could pay off their euro debts in one month!
Robert C. Harvey
petaluma, ca USA Fri 05/06/2005
The Greek National Tourist Organization (http://www.gnto.gr/?langID=2) publishes free maps and brochures. The maps of Greece and Athens are excellent, and easier to consult than a Michelin. The brochure on the Peloponnese was good.
Portland, OR USA Wed 04/06/2005
RE: Temple Photograph
Lil, I am Greek and have been to Greece many times. What you experienced does not surprise me at all. I cannot honestly say why that happened, but I do know that most encounters I and my non-Greek wife had in Athens have helped us make our decision never to travel to that city again. From the begining we experienced rude and arrogant treatment and witnessed the same treatment of other tourists, American or not. I've never had such an experience anywhere else in the world, and I am fluent in Greek! If you do receive an explanation of the incident, I'd be curious to here the reasoning behind it. The rest of the country is actually quite wonderful and pleasant.
Chicago, IL USA Mon 04/04/2005
Hopefully someone can answer this question. Recently, while at the Acropolis, I was taking a photo of my daughter with her holding Flat Stacey (a paper figure for her school project) in front of the Temple. A lady worker ran up to her while I was taking her photo and violently grabbed it out of her hand. I notice a few months later that she did the same thing to another tourist who happened to be holding a brochure in her hand when the photo was taken. We are assuming that there is some religious significance in not being allowed to hold paper while having your photo taken. Does anyone know anything about this. Please e-mail me at Stefania@aol.com if you know anything about this. thanks.
Orlando, fl USA Tue 03/29/2005
Share George's taxi to Delphi
We would like to share George's taxi with two other travelers for a one-day trip to Delphi on May 21, 2005. The cost is 140 Euro per couple. His Mercedes accommodates four. George comes highly recommended (For more info on him, go to www.greektravel.com)
Littleriver, CA USA Sat 03/26/2005
My husband and I traveled to Greece last April. We stayed two days in Athens, which was long enough. We then took the ferry to Myconos, Paros, and finally Santorini. I wished we had spent more time in Santorini and less in Myconos, the views and sunset were amazing. The most memorable experience we had was at a Mexican restaurant named..are you ready for this.. SENOR ZORBAS The food was supberb. Better then any I have here in Calif. What a Great surprise. I had the shrimp fajitas they were to die for. My husband had the BBQ ribs they were huge done just right with a home made BBQ sauce. The food, Margarittas, and view was so amazing we ate there 2 out 3 nights we were there.
Los Angeles, Ca USA Fri 02/18/2005
George the Taxi Driver
Greece in MayMy husband and I will be in Greece later this month and have booked George the famous taxi driver (google, george the taxi driver)for the day on May 22nd. We are going to do 1/2 day of Athens and then the afternoon in Souion.George does not smoke and has an 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. Thanks! Sharon
Toronto, ON Canada Thu 02/10/2005
For 4 days in Greece I would spend 2 in Nafplia (lovely town within driving distance of several sites and beaches) and 2 days in Athens.
Somerville, MA USA Thu 02/03/2005