Athens, Greece

Athens, the capital of Greece. The birthplace of civilization and democracy.

For more info:

http://www.greece-athens.com

GREECE One of the world’s top tourist destinations rich in history and culture.

First view of Athens as the plane descended.

Where we stayed:

Hotel Intercontinental Athenaeum

http://athenaeumintercontinentalathens.com/en/

A nice place to stay. Service is great from the moment we stepped out of the cab. Rooms and bathrooms are clean. There are rooms available with a view of Acropolis for a higher rate. There’s also a shuttle that leaves every 30 minutes to take guests to and from the Parliament building and Plaka area. See the concierge if you want to take day tours of places around the area or other islands.


ACROPOLIS

Derived from the Greek word ‘Akro’ meaning high, extreme, or edge and ‘Polis’ meaning city. The city on high hill.

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/404


The Parthenon, the focus of the Acropolis complex built between 447-432 BCE.

http://ancient-greece.org/architecture/parthenon.html


The Coastline

Take the Hop-On/Hop-Off tour along the coastline. It costs 29 euros per person but it’s good for two days around the city including the beach route. Take the beach tour to the end of the line then stop at B7 (stops are numbered on a map) on the way back. Walk along the coastline for breath taking panoramic views. You can also get drinks or eat fresh seafood from one of the many restaurants. Get back on the bus when you get close to B11 or B12. https://www.citysightseeing.gr/

This is what you can expect to see:


The Greek Parliament House

https://www.greeka.com/attica/athens/athens-excursions/athens-parliament.htm


The Plaka (stores, restaurants, souvenirs and more). The most beautiful place of Athens under the Acropolis.

For more info:

https://www.athensguide.org/athens-plaka.html

Places to eat:

Makriyanni 3, a cafe right outside the exit of Acropolis. Good place to have breakfast or brunch. Don’t forget to try the Greek coffee.


Ciao, an Italian restaurant walking distance from the Hotel Intercontinental. Delicious food and great coffee. Try the espresso Freddo.


A few helpful information for your visit:

  • 2-3 days is a good amount of time to spend in Athens. The Acropolis and Plaka can be seen in one day. Book some day tours (Delphi and Hydra are excellent places to visit).
  • Save the other days of your visit for places like Santorini or Crete which will require more days than Athens.
  • Get to Acropolis early if you want to get good pictures without the crowd. It opens at 0800 (summer) and 0830 (winter). More info: http://www.athensinfoguide.com/open.htm
  • Eat breakfast before going to Acropolis early. The store near the entrance to Acropolis sells food and drinks but it’s a bit expensive. An alternative would be to eat brunch at one of the cafes after exiting Acropolis.

  • You cannot bring food and drinks (except) water inside the Acropolis.
  • The Hop-on/Hop-off bus tour is an excellent way to see the city. Take the whole tour and then go back to the places you want to spend more time in. It also saves you from spending money on costly cab fares. For more info: https://www.citysightseeing.gr/

  • For less expensive plane fares and hotel accommodations try to visit before May and the summer months.

  • A flat rate of 38 euros will get you from the airport to your hotel.

  • Things you’ll need for your stay: light jacket, hat, backpack (for souvenirs and your things), portable phone charger, sunscreen.
  • Buy bottled water and snacks for your hotel room so you don’t have to order room service.
  • Compare prices at the Plaka stores. Some have cheaper prices than others. You can even barter in some places if you pay cash.


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Santorini, Greece (Day 3 Of 3)

It’s our final day in Santorini. We took a last walk around Imerovigli where our apartment is located. Santorini is easily on our top five favorite destinations.

A few info if you’re planning a trip here:

  • Plan to stay a minimum of 3 to 4 days in Santorini.
  • It’s less expensive and less crowded if you visit before May (April is perfect). The owner of the place we stayed at recommends October and November too (but it’s colder).
  • Imerovigli is a a good place to find a hotel/apartment to stay at (short walk to Firostefani and Fira).
  • A ferry ride (like Blue Star) is an affordable way to get there from other islands. It takes a few hours longer than a high speed ferry but there is more room to roam. You can bring as many luggage as you want without the extra charge. It’s also half the price of a plane ticket without the taxi ride to the airport and the 2 hour wait prior to the flight.
  • A high speed ferry is a faster option than the big regular ferries but a little more expensive. Book it early in the summer months. There’s no smoking on this type of ferry. There is no going outside. There are assigned seats and it’s comfortable enough for the trip. There’s also a snack bar inside.
  • Buy drinks and snacks prior to the ferry rides. Eat a meal prior to boarding to avoid mediocre and expensive meals onboard.
  • Take the local bus to get to different towns if you have time to spare (it’s easy and economical).
  • Ride the cable car down to the dock in Fira.
  • Don’t miss the sunset!

Imerovigli


Place to stay:

Langas Villas Apartments in Imerovigli

http://m.langasvillas-santorini.com/

Reasons to stay here:

  • Family owned business
  • Affordable
  • Clean room and bathroom
  • Small but charming room (you can get bigger ones)
  • Nice view from the room and rooftop.
  • Great service
  • Breakfast is delivered to your room everyday
  • They provide rides to your destination for the day (for a fee)

Continue reading “Santorini, Greece (Day 3 Of 3)”

Santorini, Greece (Day 2 Of 3)

Santorini, known for its blue and white colored buildings and breath-taking scenery. Churches are plenty and the people are friendly.

Day 2 of our trip here. We kick off the day with a fresh and delicious breakfast. Nick (the owner) of Langas Villas apartments personally delivered it to our room.

http://m.langasvillas-santorini.com/

Upon check in, we were asked what we wanted for breakfast and what time we wanted to have it. It was delivered on the dot. We opted for fresh bread, fruits, eggs, croissant, strawberry and apricot marmalade, ham and cheese, orange juice, warm cinnamon cake, Greek yogurt with honey, and Greek coffee (boiled coffee that is strong and rich but not bitter). We also paid a small fee to have scrambled eggs and bacon. Great breakfast to give us energy for our sight-seeing trip today.

First stop is Monolithos beach. It’s a family friendly beach. The black sand is soft and kids love the shallow waters. Langas Villas offers a ride to and from the beach for 25 euros each way. This is more convenient than taking 2 bus rides. It will also save you some time. Monolithos beach is about a 15 minute car ride from our apartment.

Tip: In the summer, leave for the beach early if you want to beat the crowd.

There’s a small wooden shack for changing clothes and a little outdoor shower. There’s also a store across the beach if you need to grab some water, snacks, hat or beach towel.

We were picked up by Anna (owner of Langas Villas) and taken back to the apartment for a quick rinse and change.

Next stop is the town of Oia (pronounced “ee-yah”). A town lined with souvenir shops, art stores, and restaurants.

We are taking the bus there. It’s a short walk from Langas Villas to the bus stop. The fare is only 1.20 euros per person per way. The bus comes every 30 minutes. Just wait near the sign and get on the bus. There will be someone collecting the fare during the trip.

It’s a little past lunch by the time we arrived in Oia so we decided to get something to eat before walking around town. We’ve been eating Greek cuisine since arriving in Athens six days ago. We decided to grab something different instead.

A burger place called Foodsteps is a few steps away from the bus station and on the way to the shopping district.

I love the simplicity of the menu.

We ordered the bacon cheeseburger, and fries with cheddar and bacon. The fries were crispy and the cheddar on top was creamy and tasty (unfortunately, my family got to it before I could take a picture). The burger was mouth-watering and delicious. It was juicy and cooked perfectly. It was served in a box instead of a plate. I thought that was different and cool. We each received a piece of apple tart for free. Service was quick and the waitress was friendly.

Foodsteps is a newly opened burger joint. They serve burgers, breakfast, and brunch. I would definitely come back again.

All the shops are only a short walk up the hill from here.

The road ends at the top so we chose turn right ➑️

Time to go before the bus loads of other tourists get here.

Tip: leave before 5 p.m. in early April or a few hours before sunset in the summer months. The crowd multiplies right before sunset.

Oia is a nice town. The view is stunning and the shops are picture worthy. The souvenirs are a little expensive. Small items seems reasonable enough but wait until you get to other towns like Fira to buy your mementos.

The bus stop (pic below) is where we take the bus to Fira. The bus comes every 30 minutes. There’s also ATMs for your shopping convenience and in case you need cash for bus fare.

Next stop, Fira.

Finally Fira!

After getting off the bus, make a right, then another right at the end of the street (where the bus is turning) to get to the main square where all the stores and restaurants are located.

If you go straight instead of making a right, this is what you’ll see.

If see this structure (pic above), you’re at the end of the road, go back down the street and turn left.

You should end up on this road (pic below)

The road splits so we chose to go right

If you need a little pampering and your feet hurts from all the walking, get your feet cleaned by little fishes.

My husband and daughter thought it would be fun to have their feet chewed on by tiny fishes. It’s a different experience to help remember the trip.

I chose to get a pedicure on the second floor instead. I could hear my family laughing all the way from the first floor. My daughter couldn’t stop bragging how soft her feet felt afterwards.

Now we’re ready to put our feet to work again.

We decided to take the cable car down to the little dock below the town. It costs 5 euros per person one way.

Down at the dock

We decided to ride the donkeys up the hill. It costs 7 euros per person. Another unique experience that made the trip memorable. We just followed the signs.

The whole family enjoyed the donkey ride.

Follow the blue numbered steps to get back to the shops and restaurants.

If you’re in Fira close to sunset, have a drink or an early dinner at one of the restaurants with a great view. There’s usually a separate area for diners who just want drinks and those who want to have a meal. We chose Niki restaurant. It had a nice view from the rooftop.

We chose fried calamaretti fritti and cozze al vapore. We also ordered daiquiri and mojito. The food was decent but the drinks were good. I only recommend this place for the view and the drinks. Save your money for a meal at a different place.

It’s hard not to have a good time when you have a view like this.

Santorini, Greece (Day 1 Of 3)

Santorini, a unique island halfway between Crete and Athens in Greece. It is known for its white-washed structures, astounding panoramic views, and romantic sunsets. It’s truly one of a kind. This is what comes to mind when I hear the word Greece.

There will be three parts to my Santorini blog. We will be staying here 3 days and 2 nights. I want to make you feel like you’re on this journey with me so you will see pictures as I take them throughout the day.

Our family came to Santorini by ferry. We booked this trip through one of the travel agencies in Athens. It’s an affordable way to travel. The trip took approximately 8 hours. There are options to get a package with a room (if you want to get some 😴). I suggest getting that package before your trip. There will no rooms available after sailing.

We boarded the Blue Star ferry before 7 a.m. We reached Santorini around 3:30 p.m. There are snack bars, a gift shop and a restaurant. All the passengers were excited to get the first glimpse of the island.

Debarkation took about 20 minutes. People were lined up and ready for the gigantic metal hatches to open. Kids started chanting loudly “Santorini! Santorini!”

Finally it opened.

First steps off the ferry.

The weather is nice and hot, not humid. My phone says 63 degrees Fahrenheit but it felt more like mid 70’s to low 80’s. The bus ride to the Langas Villas took about 20 minutes. I’m sure it would’ve been faster but there is only road going up to the towns and going back down to the port.

The place we chose to stay at, Langas Villas apartments sent someone to pick us up. Langas Villas is a family owned business. We were greeted by Nick (the owner) as soon as we stepped off the bus.

http://m.langasvillas-santorini.com/

He took our luggage and showed us to the apartment. He gave us a quick tour and a few instructions for the AC.

The room is small but charming. There are two beds, a small eating area, and a bathroom with a small shower. There is also a small terrace outside our room with a fantastic view! The most important part is the room and bathroom are clean.

The view from our terrace.

Time to go sight seeing. The manager told us how to get to Fira. It’s a 20-30 minutes walk depending on our pace. The scenic route is just to the right of our room.

Head right to follow the path to Fira

A short path is coming up heading to stores and restaurants. I love seeing the mustard color moss (I think) on the boulders that make up the wall along each side of the path.

shops and food places ahead

We’re halfway to Fira. We are at Firostefani. I don’t think we’ll make it to Fira today. We’re about to stop for an early dinner so we can head back to catch the famous Sunset of Santorini at our hotel.

Remvi Restaurant in Firostefani

https://remvirestaurant.gr/

We’re trying the white wine of Santorini to start our dining experience.

Appetizers: Pita bread and red pepper dip to begin our meal. Constantino, our main waiter recommends the Shrimp Saganaki and Bruschetta with marinated olives and onions.

Main entree: Salmon and White fish (fresh catch of the day).

The food was delicious. I’ve never tasted a sauce like the one on the Shrimp Saganaki. The anchovies and onions on the bruschetta was mild and sweet. The Salmon and white fish tasted fresh. I’m not a foodie so I can only tell you if it’s good, bad, or great. This meal was great. The wine was ok. Our meal felt light and non-greasy. The ambiance was calm and relaxing. The service was terrific!

Thanks Constantino (older gentleman in pic) and colleagues for a wonderful dining experience!

Time to head out and catch some pics of the sunset.

Heading back to our apartment.

Below is a familiar structure you’ll see in the paintings they sell here. I saw it on one of the paintings in the store and wondered what the wheel looking object was. I thought they might have tried to portray the sunset… until I came across an actual place with the actual object (windmill).

More walking and pics…

Pics of sunset on the way back to our place.

We made it back just in time.

To the rooftop for the best view.

Today was a great day! See you tomorrow.

Hydra, Poros, and Aegina in Greece

Hydra, Poros, and Aegina are three beautiful islands in Greece with crystal clear waters. These islands are usually included together in a one day cruise trip package.

We decided to stay in Athens for 4 days. That was too long. It only took 2 days to see most of the places like Acropolis and the beach towns. It helps to fill in the days with cruises or bus tours. The concierge at our hotel recommended the cruise to the three islands. We originally booked it with our hotel but found a better price at a travel agency. The tour company usually picks up guests at their hotel and takes them to the pier. They also drop them off at the end of the day. Tip: Wake up a little earlier to get breakfast before you leave.

The travel agency offered us a regular pass or a VIP pass. We opted for the regular. Lunch is included in the package. Tip: if you’re not on a budget, I recommend getting the VIP (it’s like the fast-pass at Disneyland). We had problems getting seats inside the ship (it can be chilly on a ship in early April). We sat outside on the top deck for three hours. I think it’s cheaper if you purchase the VIP package before your cruise. We wanted to upgrade after getting onboard but it costs 120 euros per person. We quickly learned how to fix the problem. We came back a little earlier than everyone else after each port visit to beat the crowd and get seats inside.

Things you’ll need for the cruise:

A hat, bottled water and snacks (if you don’t want to buy them on the ship), sunscreen, a light to medium jacket (depends how tolerant you are to cold winds), back pack (to keep all your things in and to carry souvenirs), euros, portable phone charger, good walking shoes or sandals.

Optional items: sunglasses, bathing suit (some passengers went for a swim), and a scarf (I often use it to cover my head and neck or drape it on my shoulders or legs).

Off we go! It’s a three hour boat ride to get to Hydra. The ship offers breakfast if you forgot to eat before you left. They also offer guided tours once you reach the islands.

First stop, Hydra.

Hydra is a romantic place with cobble-stoned streets, traditional stoned mansions, and lots of donkeys. This is the only island where cars and public transportation are banned (donkeys are used instead).

This picturesque town offers many restaurants with fresh seafood and streets lined with souvenir shops.

Tip: you can barter for lower prices on souvenirs.

Tip: Eat lunch now because if you didn’t pay for the upgrade, you might not eat until after the second stop… around 2 p.m.

Beautiful wild flowers and pops of red from the poppies cover the side of the hill as you stroll along the path.

Time to head back. We only had an hour and fifty minutes on this island but it was enough time to enjoy it.

The donkeys are used to transport things and goods on the island.

Time to say goodbye to the lovely island of Hydra.

Next stop, Poros.

Poros is a smaller island compared to Hydra although the architecture looks similar. We were only given 30 minutes to walk around. The temple of Poseidon is located here. They have a museum as well. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough time to see them.

Last stop, Aegina.

The Temple Of Aphaia can be found here as well as the archaeological site of Kolona (bus tours are offered). There is also a beach close to the dock. We didn’t book the bus tour on this island because we wanted to return early and get seats inside (it will be colder going back and we wanted to catch the show). We were given 2 hours to sight-see but we went back to the ship after only one hour.

The island is known for pistachios. You’ll see pistachio stands in each corner. We tried the home-made pistachio flavored gelato from one of the gelaterias. Let’s just say it’s an acquired taste. It was more salty than sweet.

The waters are so clear that you can schools of fishes swimming below.

Time to see some shops

Time to go

I recommend not getting the three-island package. Hydra was the nicest out of the three. Just book a ferry ride to Hydra alone if you can. The other two islands were not as impressive.

Tip: Get something to eat here if you don’t want the overpriced mediocre food on the ship.

Another 3 hour trip home. Estimated time of arrival is around 7:30 p.m.

Luckily, the entertainment on the ship made the trip home go a little faster. Opa!

Delphi, Greece

Considered by ancient Greeks to be the center of the world. Delphi boasts of the Oracle and the temple of Apollo. The archaeological site is considered as a UNESCO world heritage site.

We stayed in one of the hotels near the Acropolis in Athens. I highly recommend taking a tour of Delphi. It can be booked through the hotel or a travel agency. We chose the latter since we purchased other day trips through their company. The tour guide picked us up around 7:45 in the morning and will drop us off at the end of the tour. Delphi is a three hour bus ride from Acropolis. I suggest waking up a little earlier to grab some breakfast. It’s also a good time to empty your bladder before you leave.

It’s the beginning of April so the weather is not too hot nor too cold. The weather is around 60 a 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Here’s a list of a few items you will need if you visit around this time of the year:

A hat, good hiking/walking shoes, bottled water, sunscreen, a portable phone charger (free wi-fi available on tour bus), a light jacket, a book or something to entertain you during the trip, allergy meds (if you need it), Epi-pen if needed (bees are everywhere), backpack, snacks, and toilet paper (some restrooms may not have them).

Scenery on the way to Delphi:

One rest stop before getting to Delphi. It was nearly two hours after we got picked up. I suggest using the restroom here. Bring some TP just in case. A couple of stalls didn’t have any.

Finally here! The entrance fee is 12 euros. It was included in our day trip.

Our family decided to walk separate from our group. If you like the tour guide and want to hear more history, stick with the group. We walked ahead so we can take more pics.

Coming up: The temple of Apollo

More climbing to get to the Delphi Theatre

We’re here!

And more climbing…but the view from the top is nicer.

The Delphi stadium

Time to head back down. The images tend to change from where you stand so take pics going to and from places.

Off to the museum! Once you exit the main gate, turn right and it’s a short walk from here.

The restroom (WC) is next to the cafe, before the museum.

The Delphi Museum

Meet back with your group here. You don’t have to stay with them inside but make sure you catch them outside before they get back on the bus.

Inside the museum

Great trip to the archeological site. Lunch can be included in the price of a day trip if you want it. I recommend skipping it and just ordering from wherever you stop to eat. We stopped at a restaurant (didn’t catch the name). Food was mediocre but the view around the place was nice.

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped to see the temple of Athena. Perfect way to end the day!

(There’s also a restroom at the first overlook if you need to go before the long trip back)