DH and I and some friends are thinking about going to Greece next year (end of August). We're leaning toward a nine day/eight night trip to Athens, Santorini and Mykonos. We're thinking of using a travel agency or tour operator (Gate 1 is the frontrunner right now) rather than booking everything ourselves. However, we don't necessarily need/want an escorted tour. Gate 1 has a package for ~$1200pp excluding airfare from the US. Has anyone taken a similar trip? Any suggestions? TIA.-Steph
I wouldn't go. Not now. The country is roiling.http://www.travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1127.ht...
I went about three years ago for three weeks from about the middle of September through very early October. This was before the financial problems started there. The weather was wonderful and it was not too hot or windy like I have heard it can be in August. Be sure to read up on the Meltemi wind, this could make the side of an island with less wind much more desirable than the other side of the island. We made all own reservations and we only had hotel reservations for a few of the hotels and we were able to make the rest of the hotel reservations a day or two ahead of time for the rest of the days. The ferry service between the islands can be a bit erratic so it is best to not have too fixed a schedule. The hotel prices drop sharply about the second week of September and outside of Athens we were able to get nice mid-range hotels for around $60 a night or less, often with a kitchenette. Some of these would go for a couple of hundred collars a night in August, and while they were nice they were not anything fancy.Here is an example of one we stayed at that was a block from a very nice beach;http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g805487-d299290-Revi...In Athens we were lucky and able to get a five star hotel for $85 a night on Hotwire. The room was nice but being a five star hotel the breakfast would have cost $50 each if we had gotten it there. It was mostly a business hotel that was a couple of miles from the tourist area but they had a free shuttle to the tourist area. If possible you might want to move you trip back a few weeks and stay longer even if your friends can't. It really doesn't have to cost that much more.When the 2013 version of this book come out you might consider getting it. http://www.amazon.com/Greek-Island-Hopping-Frewin-Poffley/dp...It has a lot of good information about the other islands that might convince you to change your itinerary. Specifically you might want to consider going some other place than Mykonos since people mainly go to Mykonos just because they have heard of it. One thing that you will find is that you will not be able to get good ferry schedules on the internet. This is just the way it is since they frequentely change the schedules. Do book your ferry tickets a day or two ahead of time since they can fill up in the busy season. In September there was not a problem with them filling up so we just bought ours ferry tickets the day before.Our itinerary was;Athens - Out flight arrived late so we spent two nights based in a hotel near the port so that we did not have to rush for a early ferry while still jet lagged.Naxos - Great beaches and inexpensive hotels a short bus ride out of town. The roads seems to get bad a ways out of town so renting a car there might not be a good idea. Getting lost in their old town with all the white washed building was fantastic since it was almost empty that time of year. This was similar to the over crowded town of Oia on Santorini, but without the crush of people at sunset. Day trip to Delos and Mykonos - Read up on the history of Delos before you go there. It is was amazing how much stuff was there but the ruins are so old that they are not as impressive as ruins in places like Italy where they are much newer. We were only in Mykonos for a few hours but it seemed overrated which matches what I have read.Santorini - Even in September it could be expensive and busy. It is spectacular and well worth seeing for a day or two though. It does not have good beaches compared to the other islands. Paros - The only place we rented a car was on Paros, the roads were good and there was not much traffic so it was a good place to rent a car. I would highly recommend driving around Paros to see the countryside for a change of pace. Athens - A full day in Athens to see the highlights is plenty unless you have some special interests there. Save your time in Athens for when you are on your way back, that way if there is a problem getting back from the islands you can still catch your flight. Do not plan on returning to Athens and flying out on the same day. Do not rent a motor scooter, a lot of people get hurt or killed on scooters each year and the medical care out on a Greek Island may not be great.
Bring riot gear.
My friends just returned from a Mediterranean cruise that included stops at many Greek islands and ended at Athens, where they spent two days before coming home. They didn't report anything negative. Loved the cruise and, at my suggestion, hired a private car to take them sightseeing.I thought it was a bad idea at first, but they had a great time.Chili
I agree with others that a day in Athens is plenty. Two at the most.When in Athens, we stayed in a hotel that was right next to a university. On the one hand, since police are generally not allowed on university campuses, there were a lot of sketchy and worse characters on campus. On the other hand, we felt pretty safe, because there were always police around, just outside the borders of said university.When were there (four years ago), in-country costs were pretty cheap. But airfare was relatively expensive. So the longer you can stay, the lower your average costs per vacation day should be.
I wouldn't be particularly frightened, but I would have contingency plans for unexpected strikes. You are also close enough to Turkey to combine the two. A Med-Black Sea cruise after spending three days in Athens (one to recover from the trip, one to sightsee, one to get to the cruise ship) would let you see the Greek isllands as well as some other cool places.Jeff
Skip Mykonos. It is way overrated and pretty pricey. The only thing Mykonos really has going for it is the big party at the beach. But the beaches themselves aren't particularly any better than elsewhere. Probably almost any other island would be more interesting.Or, on the mainland, the town of Nafplio and surrounding area is very charming and an easy drive from Athens. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nafplio
Thanks for the info. Though I must admit, I'm rethinking the whole trip now that I'm seeing increasing reports of violence in Greece. Non-Greeks are being targetted and while I'd like to believe that Americans would be exempt there's no way of knowing that.-Steph
Thanks for the info. Though I must admit, I'm rethinking the whole trip now that I'm seeing increasing reports of violence in Greece. Non-Greeks are being targetted and while I'd like to believe that Americans would be exempt there's no way of knowing that.I don't blame you. It is a big wide world, with lots of places to go see, so there's no need to seek out trouble. That said, Greece is wonderful, and certainly worth considering.
Non-Greeks are being targetted and while I'd like to believe that Americans would be exempt there's no way of knowing that.Probably better to assume the reverse, actually. Being American is NOT beneficial in most parts of the world. I have encountered many times the advice that if you are backpacking overseas you should have a Canadian flag on your pack, NOT an American one. People seem to like Canadians. They don't like us. (And, in many cases, I can't say as I blame them.)
Probably better to assume the reverse, actually. Being American is NOT beneficial in most parts of the world. I have encountered many times the advice that if you are backpacking overseas you should have a Canadian flag on your pack, NOT an American one. People seem to like Canadians. They don't like us. (And, in many cases, I can't say as I blame them.)I haven't experienced that. Granted I haven't been to Pakistan or anything. The Greeks seemed to be genuinely puzzled about George Bush, but I never felt any animosity at all. If I may paint with a broad brush, the Germans seem to be the rudest when it comes to Americans, but only outside Germany. And I'd say that's true general sense as well. In you are in the host country, people tend to be nice.
I haven't experienced that. Granted I haven't been to Pakistan or anything. The Greeks seemed to be genuinely puzzled about George Bush, but I never felt any animosity at all. If I may paint with a broad brush, the Germans seem to be the rudest when it comes to Americans, but only outside Germany. And I'd say that's true general sense as well. In you are in the host country, people tend to be nice. I second that. I haven't seen/experienced any anti-American sentiment anywhere I've been. In general I've found that people either don't care or are solicitous (sp?) because they want the tourist business. I am always amused when people assume I'm NOT American though (this has happened in Paris, Fiji and Argentina).-Steph
I haven't seen/experienced any anti-American sentiment anywhere I've been.Neither have I. I've "heard tell", but my one trip to Europe was very nice. Of course I didn't get much opportunity to interact with the locals. They were busy with their daily lives. And, as you say, the ones who depended on people like me (tourists) were solicitous. There was a German lady on our train to Austria (from Munich) who was going on and on about how horrible the EU was, especially for German people (because of how the mark was valued vs the euro). She was upset, but not with us.But the few people I've known who did backpacking trips to Europe (granted, at least 20 years ago) all said they had Canadian flags sewn onto the packs. One even remarked that they encountered an actual Canadian backpacker who sort of complained to them about it. :-)Perhaps the legacy of the "ugly American" has faded. No more "why can't you people speak English?!" and such. Fortunately, no one really bothered us about Bush either (our trip was early Oct 2008). :-) I still do my best not to advertise my American-ness. Blending is better.**1poorguy**Not so difficult in Europe, but impossible when 1poorlady goes back to the Philippines...I really stand out there.
no one really bothered us about Bush eitherAnd last month nobody in the Czech Republic bothered us about Obama throwing them under the bus to cozy up to Putin (with regard to missile defense).--fleg
I was in the Mideast many years ago (1997ish) and there was a crowd of people outside my hotel and I wandered downstairs to see what was going on. I saw a security guard and he told me it was Sunday (with travel and work sometimes you lose track of the days) and the people were manly Indians out and about (I guess shopping) after attending church.The guard was from Egypt and we chatted a bit and he said he liked Americans just not their government. I told him "Well a lot of Americans often disagree with their own government" (which is true regardless of who is in charge). He started to laugh and I moved on.If you act like a fool people will get annoyed with you and every country has their share of fools. Personally I would try to avoid hotspots since, as someone else mentioned, the world is a big place and there are plenty of places to explore.Rich
And last month nobody in the Czech Republic bothered us about Obama throwing them under the bus to cozy up to Putin (with regard to missile defense).In case you've lost track, this is the Travel Board, not PA.Christina
Probably better to assume the reverse, actually. Being American is NOT beneficial in most parts of the world. I have encountered many times the advice that if you are backpacking overseas you should have a Canadian flag on your pack, NOT an American one. People seem to like Canadians. They don't like us. (And, in many cases, I can't say as I blame them.)I've been to over 40 countries in the past 10 years, including Egypt, Oman, Pakistan, and Turkey (3 times). I didn't have any problems. I had more problem being a woman than I did being an American. Most people I interacted with differentiated between me and my government.That being said, I also tried not to be an Ugly American, and I would definitely be more careful given the various economic issues in the world. I have a feeling Americans are more likely to be collateral damage rather then targeted victims.BB
When I took a trip to Europe several years ago, I didn't have many problems with my being American. I always spoke to the locals in their language first, at least making an attempt. I didn't have problems with Spanish in Barcelona....mine's passable, and was able to speak to most there. And in Paris, my only ammunition then was the French phrase I had memorized for the situation. After which I had to ask them whether they spoke English. Most did. I think if you make the attempt to speak their language, most are very nice.I had a very interesting conversation with a taxi driver in Barcelona. Spoke in Spanish. We actually spoke about George Bush, and of course, he didn't like him; however, he made the distinction b/w the gov't and people. What was really interesting is that we somehow got into the conversation about guns. Of course, in America, we have more freedom with guns than they do. I didn't follow all his Spanish, but I got the gist of what he was saying. He mentioned how very closely authorities would keep track of his gun and even record and track the bullets he had used....and they'd get questioned on how many bullets had been fired and for what reason. I guess they get regular visits if you own a gun?? I think he mentioned he lived in a more rural area.
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