We went to Greece in March 2015 and stayed there for 15 days. Our flight out of London took three hours and we step foot in Athens – the land of ancient Gods. The spoken and official language is Greek and only one in a few can hold a conversation in English, so go prepared to use lots of mimes and gestures.
From the Eleftherios Venizelos (Athens International Airport) we took a bus to Plaka, central area of the city, where our accommodation was. The neighborhood is the old part of the town and considered the most attractive and colorful area of the Greek capital.
Due to exceptional location, we opted for Student and Travellers Inn hostel where we had a very small private room and shared bathroom. The place is within walking distance to the historic Acropolis and there are thousands of little shops and restaurants around. We stayed 3 nights in Athens and seen the main sights, Temple of Zeus, Olympic Stadium, the Acropolis, Lycabettus Hill, Pandrossou Street Market and Greek Parliament, where we watched change of guards. We also walked around, enjoyed drinks and street food in trendy Plaka.
It is possible to see Athens as a tourist in 4 days. As one would expect from a Greek capital, the city is full of unique joyful rush of people. Prices, as in any big city, are not the most attractive, but do not hurt the pocket. For expenses click here.
After Athens we took a car, which we were to collect at the airport. We did not provide the flight number, as we did not arrive by plane, but with a bus from the city center. To our surprise the agent was not at the airport waiting for us. This is because the rental company made a foolish assumption, that the only reason you would rent a car at the airport is if you would arrive by flight that same day. To avoid chasing your rental and wasting time like we did, confirm everything with the rental company before your trip. We left for Meteora. The drive takes around 4 hours and roads are really great. There maybe few road works resulting in narrow lanes and a slight raise of adrenaline, but nothing we could not handle.
In Meteora we chose to stay at very cozy, family run Ziogas Rooms which just opened newly added rooms, with a beautiful view of the monolithic pillars and hills. 6 monasteries remained opened of 24 which were build on top of these pillars in late 1400s and 20 monks and 4 nuns are still calling them home today. For a small fee, you may visit all 6, but be aware that they may be close on certain days of the week, so research ahead of you trip. Men need to be using long pants and women wearing long skirts, if you do not have a skirt, the monastery itself can “rent” one. We reached the monasteries by car and only got inside one of them. To learn more about Meteora and Monasteries, just click here.
We stayed for one night only and could easily see the all the monasteries, but if you want to know the culture of the place thoroughly, I suggest at least 4 days – there are guided tours on offer. We proceeded to the port of Kyllini. The trip lasted about 5 and a half hours and from there we took the ferry to Zakinthos. This is the location of the famous Navagio Beach, where the carcass of a ship are stranded on the sand – beautiful! The crossing takes 1h30, we got there around 22:00, and we drove to the hotel. The roads are extremely narrow, so be careful. We stayed only 2 nights in Zakinthos at the hotel Brigitta Apartments. The first morning we headed towards the famous beach, it was a little tricky to find, the boat tours were not operating in March, so we could not get to the the beach and only seen it from the top of a cliff. Tours and activities start to run from April, so our trip in March was disappointing.
We returned to Kyllini, drove back to Athens airport to return the car and took the bus to the port of Rafina, from where we would sail to Mykonos. Again the weather did us no favours, the ferry was canceled and so we decided to change course and head to Naxos. We had to take a bus to the port of Pireaus, from where the trip takes about seven hours.We rented a car in Naxos to reach various beaches. From Naxos embarked for Paros, which is a little smaller, but still beautiful. We stayed in “Rooms Mike” within walking distance from the port. After 2 nights in Paros, we went to so dreamed Santorini, the journey is long. We chose the Blue Sky Hotel & Spa, whose owners have two different hotels and because the wi-fi and the air conditioning at the first location was not working, we changed to one that was more luxurious . In Santorini, we visited the red beach, remains of city of an ancient civilization, the volcano with hot water pool called hot springs and, of course, watched the famous sunset in Oia, which was the most amazing I have ever seen in my life.
Santorini was our last stop before returning to cold Edinburgh. These short 15 days in Greece cover only a fraction of what can be done in this beautiful country. There are many other islands and places in mainland Greece to be explored. In different posts I will detail each of the islands and cities through which we passed. Come back!