Category Archives: Greece

Island of Paros

Standard
Island of Paros

After a short ferry journey from Naxos (45mins) we arrived at the much smaller island of Paros. On arrival it was noticeable that the strong winds that we had in Naxos had dropped, and it seemed much hotter,”although it was not at all cold on the other islands, just windy” After picking up our car we headed for our apartment for the next five days “or so we thought, more later”. On arrival at the Archipelago Studios, which are perched high on a hillside about 3km from Parika we were amazed at the stunning views over the bay. Our next four days on the island were just spent relaxing and exploring. Must visits are the villages of Naoussa, Lefkes, Aliki and Piso Livada which are all typical Greek villages, with there myriad of small cobbled streets, and there immaculately painted houses, to driving down the coast road taking in the views of the Aegean. There is not much in the way of sights on the island, its was just a nice place to chill after our busy times in Athens, Santorini and Naxos.

Our original intention was to stay on Paros for five nights, but it was cut short due to a strike by local air traffic controllers so our flight from Paros to Athens on our last day was cancelled at short notice. We didn’t  get notification until after the first Blue Star ferry of the day had already left, but luckily for us there was another at 19:15 arriving in Athens at 23:30 saving the day. So we had to book an impromptu night in Athens to enable us to get our connecting flight back to the UK.

Top Tip always be mindful when making travel plans and traveling with two different airlines on the same day, of cancellations, strikes and delays, etc, as it can catch you out, luckily we got away with it.

Notable Restaurant The Balcony in Aliki is a good fish restaurant and was recommended by the owner of Archipelago Apartments, and is in a nice setting overlooking the waterfront.

 

The Island of Naxos

Standard
The Island of Naxos

Well it’s time to move on from the very beautiful and very busy Santorini, to the island of Naxos. For the next two legs of our trip we will travel between the islands by ferry, Blue Star Ferries in fact, we booked our tickets back in the UK but discovered it would have been just as easy to book them at a local office in the departure port, they even do an iPhone app but this is not much use as it does not provide an eTicket wth a bar code for boarding.

Top Tip Make sure that you visit the local Blue Star office if you have booked online to get your tickets printed, at a cost  of€1. We only found this out by chance after enquiring about which dock to board the ferry from, it could have been disastrous if we had queued to board the ferry only to be turned back to get our tickets printed. Also if you are embarking on a lengthy journey I would recommend paying the little extra and travel business class, it’s much less manic and far more comfortable.

Our first day on Naxos was spent exploring the town of Naxos, or known locally as Hora, a typical Greek island town with lots of narrow streets, Tavernas shops and bars. We thought the prices might have calmed down after Santorini, but this was not the case, their were deals to be had as it was getting close to the end of the season, but you had to search them out. Our second day we decided to rent a car for a couple of days to explore of the island, visiting the villages of Filoti, Apiranthos which is a good spot to have some lunch. Also in our guide book it mentioned visiting some caves near to Filoti so we decided to give them a look. After driving up a steep twisty road we arrived. We started to follow the rockey path to the caves, and as usual we were not kitted  out for the situation as we were wearing only  flip flops. Luckily for us we met and English speaking couple who told us that it was around a twenty minute walk and was not very inspiring. Lucky escape I think.

Our second day was spent driving along the coast road from Vivlos to Pyragni. Take the drive along to Aliko beach, which is at the end of the peninsular, here you will find what can only be described as an abandoned hotel project, which if had been compleated would be stunning by the way. On the walls outside and inside you will find some amazing graffiti artwork (see photos)

Top Tip if you happen to own a Sat Nav covering Europe you will find it on Naxos when doing the beach route, as road signs are sometimes non existent and there are a lot of unmade roads. On your way back take a look at Plaka with its many beach side restaurants. Next stop Paros.

Santorini

Standard
Santorini

After a short flight from Athens we arrived in Santorini. Our journey from the airport Fira left us quite uninspired, but perhaps when I think about it no where around an airport is inspiring. As we were too early to check into our hotel we stopped to have a look around Fira (Thira) and have some breakfast. It was immediately noticeable how expensive things were, also how many tourists were still around, and this was supposedly getting to the end of the tourist season. After breakfast it was time to explore the myriad of small cobbled streets of Fira. Lots of shops and restaurants and pristine white painted houses and hotels, with magnificent views of the Caldera (bay) great for photography.

One thing to take note of is that Sanorini is probably the jewel in the Greek islands crown attracting so many tourists, with  many flights arriving daily (we counted four flights when we were at the airport between 5am and 8am) along with the three to four cruise ships ariving daily depositing up to 10,000 visitors per day, so you can imagine it’s gets extremely busy. Add this to the constant stream of large coaches ferrying all these people around, it was not as idyllic as we imagined. All that said it is a stunning island with its pristine white painted towns and blue topped churches, cobbled streets and stunning views, but all this comes at a price. A simple gyros (chicken kebab) with a small side salad and a bottle of water for two was €25 and with no view. If you want the view expect to pay more, example coffee €3 to €5 euro’s beer €4.5 to 7 euro’s, and a bottle of not particularly great wine between €18 to €35.  In fact the whole island is in my opinion, at times extortionate. Our first full day we visited the main town called Oia (prounouced ee-ah) which is the one you will see in all the images you find on Google of Santorini. We thought things were expensive in Fira but they were even higher here, but it is beautiful and this is why it is such a draw. Another thing that Oia is famed for is its world famous sunset, it attracts, as we found out the majority of the islands tourists in the evening. With lines of coaches, cars and ATV’s (Rental Quad bikes) arriving in there droves it gets very manic. We battled our way through the crowds to find a spot with a view and luckily found a bar which was relatively empty, it was probably to do with the price of a bottle of beer €7, and watched the sun go down which after all that quite frankly was not as magnificent as I expected. I have been fortunate enough to see some stunning sunsets around the world, but I’m sorry to say this was not one of them, but at least I can strike this one off my to do list.

Places to visit & Top Tips

Oia, is the main attraction and town on the island, but get there early before the coaches arrive from the cruise ships. Rent a car, suggest arranging one online before you go to get the best deal. We booked with Santorini Easy, we had a nice car, were met at airport. Dropped off the car at the port where we were getting the ferry to Naxos. Four days cost €115 all in, some of the companies around town were qouting €35 per day.

Perissa and Kamari which are both coastal resorts are worth a visit, Kamari being the much nicer in my opinion. Also visit the small villages of Megalochori and Pyrgos which are really picturesque.

Athens, Greece

Standard
Athens, Greece

We decided to travel to Greece for this trip as its a place I visited very much, in fact I have only been here on one previous occasion and that was to the island of Kos. So this time I decided to explore more. So the itinerary for the trip is Athens, and then onto the islands of Santorini, Naxos and Paros. Consisting of a flight to Athens, then a flight to SantoriniI took this option as it was in fact cheaper than the ferry. Then onto Naxos, then Paros by ferry then a flight to Athens, then onward to home.

We arrived in Athens around 08:00 which gave a full day of sightseeing. I bought a €18 ticket which lasts for 72 hours and includes a return trip to and from the airport and bus and metro transportation whilst in Athens, a great deal in my book.

Top Tip. Just remember to vlidate your ticket at the airport by inserting into one of the validations machines, and once again when you take your return trip to the airport, either by the bus or taking the metro. I’m sure they loose a lot of money on the transportation system as I never had to show my ticket once to any official.

Our first full day in Athens we decided to visit the Acopolis, it was amazing to see it in the real, so to speak instead of in image form. One thing to note is that in our 2016 Lonely Planet guide book it states that you can get a €12 combined ticket. Which entitles you to visit the Acropolis and numerous attractions in Athens, but this must have recently changed as the charges now are €20 for Acropolis entrance and €30 if you want the combined ticket, which in my book is still good value considering the restoration work going on at the Acropolis.

Top Tip. Get to the Acropolis early before the cruise ships disenbark as the crowds can be quite manic. Also we went in the entrance nearest the Acropolis metro station as there was no queues unlike the main entrance, which was very busy indeed.

Next stop after a nice long walk was the Panathenaic Olympic Stadium, well worth the €4 entrance fee, which includes a very good audio guide and the Olympic torch room, where you can see Olympic torches from the various games in years gone by.

Other sites to see in my opinion are Ancient Agora, Roman Agora and the Temple of the Olympian, which are all included in the Acropolis combined ticket. Other attractions are the changing of the guards at the Parliment building, which an be quite amusing as it looks like a scene from a John Cleese sketch (ministry of silly walks) the ancient Turkish baths €2. Monastraki square and the small narrow streets around it. Then when its time for a nice cold beer, take a short walk from Monastraki square to Plateia Iroon with lots of nice small bars and restaurants. One to mention is Beer Time, which if you are into different beers they have a good selection, they also have “Happy Hour” from 4pm to 7pm where ther is two for one on the draft beers.