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50 replies
Greek Islands in may!!!
iredchick
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Can anyone give me some information on the Greek Islands? We are probably flying into Frankfurt and then making our way into Greece, does anyone have any suggestion on what would be the best and fastest way for us to do that…
thanks
inna

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I can’t tell you much, but my wife and I will be there around the same time!!!

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Chack out www.whichbudget.com to find cheap flights from Frankfurt (or if they’re not available, from other cities nearby) to Greece. Which islands are you going to? I’ve only been to eastern Crete for a week, so I don’t think I’ll be able to offer much help, though I can tell you Crete is a must if you like archaeology or scenery.

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Well I am not exactly sure as to which islands we want to go to and suggestions?? However I am just trying to find the best way to get from Frankfurt into Greece and I don’t really want to fly. Does anyone know how long it might take my train and also once in Greece how easy would it be to make it to the Islands?? Trying to do this all in one week so we can have time to get to Vienna and Prague and maybe even Amsterdam..

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My God, there are countless flights and airlines between Germany and Greece. Options range from state airlines, to private carriers, discount carriers, and charters. Most international scheduled flights arrive at Athens Elefthérios Venizélos (Spáta) Airport. Many others arrive at Thessaloníki Makedonía Airport, and a few scheduled flights from Gemrany also arrive at Kavála airport. Charters can take you directly to Corfu, Rhodes, Mykonos, etc, etc.

But you don’t want to fly.

If you plan to go from Frankfurt to Greece entirely by Eurail, your option is: Germany-Austria-Italy-Greece (Italy-Greece ferry crossing). www.greekferries.gr

Czech Republic is a little out of the way, but you can squeeze it in.

Other train options are from Austria through Hungary and then either Romania-Bulgaria or SerbiaMontenegro-RepublicMacedonia.

Then, there’s driving. Same routes.

Then, once you get to Greece, do you know where you’re going? Or are you looking for suggestions here too?


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iredchick
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Any suggestions you have on where do go would be greatly appriciated. I am just trying to plan everything out and I feel kinda lost. How long would it take to get to Italy from Frankfurt by eurorail, or maybe it would make more sence to fly in somewhere else. I also really wanted to visit Amsterdam..
Thanks
Inna

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I too am looking to going to Greece. I will be in Italy for 3 months, and before I start interning I was thinking of checking out Greece. I looked at the ferry options and those aren’t bad. 32 euros for round trip. But, what does "deck" mean—that was the cheapest option. Do I get a chair at least? Are there places to put your bags? So I have about a week and a half to play…thinking about heading to Rome then Naples, then Brindisi to catch the ferry to Corfu. How expensive is Greece though? Is it cheaper than Paris or Italy? Can I do Greece in about a week? I dont want to be by the beach all day, so island hopping isnt a big deal for me. I do want to hit some of the historic stuff, and check out the "must see" islands. If it’s too expensive then I might go with option B. London (1 day) and then Sweden.

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Fresa4mi:

The "must see" islands depend on your nationality, really. Santoríni and Mykonos are the most famous islands for Americans and Canadians. Corfu and Rhodes are very well-known to Britons. Germans also love Rhodes. Italians love Corfu. Dutch for Samos. And so on… There’s also different demographics of people. Every backpacker I’ve met has either been to or plans to visit Ios. Professors love Crete. Etc. Try doing a search. IMO, for a first timer to Greece, the bare-minimum "must-sees" of the islands are in no order:

Rhodes(1,2,3,4,5), Corfu(1,2,3,5), Mykonos(3,4,5), Santoríni(1,2,3,4).

1=scenery 2=historical monuments/ruins 3=architecture 4=nightlife 5=beaches (2 and 3 may overlap for certain sites)

Each of these islands is a major highlight of the country and epitomizes its respective island chain (although notice that the last two belong to the same island chain, but they are different and popular enough for me to include them both in the list). I did not include Crete, because it’s so big that it’s an entire region by itself. Crete is definitely worth checking out, though.

Cost. Greece is cheaper than Britain, Italy, and Sweden. However, the cost of living for both locals and tourists has risen tremendously in recent years. But it’s still cheaper than these other countries. Cost also varies from place to place. Mykonos is more expensive. Corfu is relatively cheap. Santoríni is between the two. And there’s ways to save money for the savvy traveler. Certain dilemmas, such as the current unfavorable exchange rate for trading US dollars for euros, will be a dillemma in any euro-sone country (as wel as the UK with the British pound).

Ferries: "deck" means that you will hang out either on the outdoor decks and swimming pool/tanning deck areas, as well as indoors in the lounges, bars, food courts…pretty much about the entire ferry. Many ferries also have a "first-class" deck option for a higher price, and you stay in a separate lounge with couches and fewer people (but these fill up too.) Being a "deck" passenger is pretty much like spending hours at a mall food court (with access to an outdoor swimming pool and observation deck). You’ll eventually get bored if you don’t have good company to play a game of poker with and if you don’t understand Greek well enough to watch TV on one of the many TVs located throughout the deck areas. And, if it’s the busy season, it may be hard finding a place to sit. (in the 1st class lounges, seating is less scarce although people do tend to spread out) Some ferry companies provide "airline seating" in a particular room for a ticket costing a little bit more than a deck ticket, but cheaper than a cabin. This is being phased out though, and in the major ferry companies, it has been replaced with the first-class deck lounge I just talked about.

Avoid Hellenic Mediterreanean Lines. Go with the ferry companies listed here: www.greekferries.gr

Places to leave your bags:

For safety measures, you are required to check in your heavier luggage items. Upon entering the ferry, you will be required to put it in a storage room provided by the ferry. Everyone places their own in a large storage room, and then it’s locked by an attendant. Thus bring any necessities you will need for the ferry trip, as well as valuables with you in a smaller bag. The Flying Dolphins (a smaller, faster ferry service) does not lock them in a room, but you are required to stack your luggage in an open closet within view of the passenger seats.

One week: Well, you want a combination of islands and history. I’d say do 2 of the 4 "must-see" islands I mentioned above, and include Athens. Athens has enough historical monuments (primarily from the 5th century BC to the 1st AD), as well as renovated 19th century old quarters, to suit the tastes of the 1st timer. Also, do not pick both Mykonos and Santoríni, since they are both in the same island chain and have a similar (but not the same) flavor. I’d say: 1. ferry to Patras and then head right away for Athens. Stay 2 days. 2. ferry to Mykonos or Santoríni (stay a few days). 3. Ferry back to Athens, bus to Corfu (stay a few days). 4. Ferry back to Italy.

——-

iredchick:

For Greece suggestions, see my reponse above to Fresa4mi. How long will you be in Greece if you plan to go?

I’ve never taken a train from Frankfurt to Italy. Transalpine trains are probably overnight. I’m sure the frequency is more than that, though (like day-time trains). Either way, check timetables, and plan to give it a day.

If you want to visit Vienna, keep in mind, that it is a little out of the way of a direct Germany-Italy trip. There is a narrow strip of Austria between Germany and Italy (the Tirol region). Then, there’s a bulky part of Austria to the east, and that’s where Vienna is (at the eastern extreme). Plan accordingly if you decide to visit Vienna. Salzburg is a very pleasant Austrian city to visit that’s a lot closer to a Germany-Italy path. Switzerland is another option. (Vienna is perfect if you plan to do a Germany-Austria-Hungary-Romania-Bulgaria-Greece route…which will take a very long time). Or you can just cross directly from Germany to Italy without stopping.

Going back to trains: there’s an option of high-speed transalpine trains that cross Switerland connecting northern Italy with southern Germany, so check it out. The train is called the Cisalpino:

http://www.raileurop…
http://www.cisalpino…

It is not covered by Eurail.


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Luv the beach—this is totally awesome! Thanks a bunch for all the info! So I’ve looked at exactly how many days I have to play (11 days)and my plan is to from from DC to London. Stay in London for a day, fly to Athens (easyjet has some decent prices), go to Athens, do the whole Greece thing, then fly back to London, fetch all my stuff and then fly to italy the day before I start interning. I would just go to Greece and back to Italy, but I will be bringing my laptop and I REALLY do not want to lug that around in my backpack. But do you know of any cheap airlines that fly from Athens to Milan? I saw Aegean airlines and it was about 90 euros one way! (too expensive for me). If you know of any other…I have a question (sorry if it sounds stupid) but isn’t Corfu and island? How are buses from Athens going there? dont you need to take ferries, or is there a bridge that connects? Also I looked at the weather in late April, the average temperture is only 70F, how’s the water during that time?

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Okay, this is what I’m thinking…go to Athens, spend 2-3 days there, take the bus to Corfu…then how do I get to Santorini??? I looked at that greekferries website and it doesnt even mention Santorini on there. After Santorini, go back to Athens, fly back to London.

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Fresa4mi,

The website I provided you is only for Italy-Greece ferries. That’s why you couldn’t find any info on Santoríni. Here’s a more inclusive and thorough (but less user-friendly) website about all ferries to, from, and within Greece: www.ferries.gr

How to get to Santoríni: Santoríni and Corfu are located on opposite sides of the mainland. Try looking at a map of Greece to get a sense of where you’ll be going. I almost always suggest Corfu to people who are traveling between Greece and Italy by ferry, because it’s on the way. If you plan to fly into and out of Greece, and have limited time, it just may be in your interests to stay in the Aegean Sea (drop Corfu, and add Rhodes, another great place to visit). Or, you can fly into Athens, take the ferry to Santoríni, ferry back to Athens, bus to Corfu, and head directly for Italy from Corfu by ferry. This is where the website www.greekferries.gr can help. Or, you can ferry to Santoríni, then ferry back to Athens, then bus to Corfu, then bus back to Athens. Also, Corfu, Santoríni, and Rhodes, all have airports with several daily scheduled flights to/from Athens.

As for Italy-Greece flights: Olympic Airlines and Alitalia will probably have the same prices as Aegean Airlines. You might want to check out Italian discount airline Alpi Eagles. The airline is based at Venice Marco Polo airport, and offers service between Athens and Venice. They don’t fly to Milan, however, so when you arrive at Venice, you’ll have to take the train to Milan.

Bus to Corfu: Yes, Corfu is an island. It is an island that is very close to the mainland. All such islands (islands very close to the mainland) have bus service to various mainland cities including Athens. Included in the bus ride is a ferry crossing between the island and the closest mainland port. (The bus gets on the ferry and parks in the ferry’s garage floor, along with the cars of the other passngers. For safety reasons, the bus’s passengers are required to get off the bus and hang out with the other ferry pasngers on the decks upstairs. These ferries are short [and fun!], about 15 minutes to 45 minutes.) The ferry crossing to the mainland is included in the price of the bus ticket. So, all you need to worry about is buying your Corfu-Athens bus ticket (or Athens-Corfu).

Water temperatures: the weather in Athens in April will average 70F, that includes nighttime lows, so in the midday sun, it’ll usually peak at 75F, sometimes a little warmer (sometimes cooler). It’ll be very pleasant in the daytime, but it can get cold at night. Rain will be possible, but mid-April is when the rains usually stop and a 6-month period of near constant sunshine begins. The sea will be very cold, however. But this time of the year is really worth visiting the country. If you will be there the last week of April, be ware that this is Holy Week (on some years, including 2005, the Greek Orthodox Church observes Holy week and Easter on a later date than the Protestant and Catholic Churches). There are celebrations and festivals througout the country (and many of them feature regional customs), but at the same time, it’s a time of year when many city people go on vacation at the same time…so roads and freeways will carry more traffic, ferries will be more crowded, and domestic flights booked a little more in advance. It’s a lot like Thanksgiving weekend in the USA. Either plan accordingly, or avoid this week altogether.


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Aren’t all the islands pretty much beautiful though? And you were right, that ferries.gr website is not working. I was trying to see how much a ferry from athens to rodos would be and it wouldn’t give me anything. But, how much do you think it would be? And how long does it take from athens to Rodos? I looked on the map and Rhodes is WAY out there.

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Well, Ródos (Rhodes) is "way out there" but the distance isn’t that big. The ferry from Athens (Piraeus) to Ródos is overnight, so that saves you a night’s hotel/hostel fare, plus it saves you plenty of daylight hours. So, yeah it’s a long ferry ride, but it doesn’t take that long if you plan to sleep for 8 hours of the ride. Plus, again, there’s swimming pools (although they will probably be inaccessible in April), restaurants, lounges, some ferries have casinos, maybe a movie theater, all sorts of stuff. If you can, I’d try to plan my budget for a cabin, unless you want the "backpacking experience" without cabin (hey, you can meet other deck passengers.)

The www.ferries.gr website seems to be working fine, but I realized it’s a good idea to look at the individual websites for different ferry companies as well (since ferries.gr belongs to some traveling agency). You can also check out the route maps of each ferry company through their website. Here are some:

Anek Lines www.anek.gr (click on the UK flag for English)
Minoan Lines www.minoan.gr
Superfast Ferries www.superfast.com
Blue Star Ferries www.bluestarferries….
Lane Lines www.lane.gr
Hellas Flying Dolphins www.dolphins.gr (fast ferries to the Cyclades)

Some of these ferry companies don’t serve Rhodes, but you can check their prices to other islands.

Blue Star advertises its round-trip "economy" (deck) ticket to Ródos (from Athens) as €41.20. The cheapest cabin is €86.60.

Lane Lines proposes lower fares, alomst half, but the site is not very helpful, and does not specify what seasons these prices are for.

quote:Aren’t all the islands pretty much beautiful though?

Yes, but keep in mind that different islands are different, and different island chains are different. My aim when gving advice is to give people a diversified itinerary so that they don’t visit two islands that are identical. Architecture, landscape, even climate varies from one island chain to the next, and sometimes between neighboring islands. Mykonos, for example, has the cute little white box houses that for many people represent Greece (in actuality, this is specific to a certain part of Greece: the Cyclades island chain). Santoríni has the pretty little domed churches overlooking the sea from a cliff (on many postcards). Corfu is filled with baroque architecture, very surprising if the tourist expects all the islands to look like Mykonos. Rhodes has all sorts of influences. There is one charming town (Líndos) that resembles a Cycladic town, but other towns are drastically different. The old quarter of the main town (also called Rhodes/Ródos) is a fascinating walled medieval city, with very well preserved gothic architecture and palace on the inside. On the outside, there’s buildings from later eras. Then there’s islands like Skopelos where traditional houses resemble the mainland: the stereotypically Mediterranean red tiled roofs. Islands that were prosperous and influential in the 19th century usually sport neoclassical architecture (Syros). Then, there’s climate/landscape. Most Cycladic islands tend to be very dry. The Ionian Islands, as well as northern and some eastern Aegean Islands are very green. Others are in-between. Some have great beaches. Some don’t. Some have good nightlife, some don’t. Some are quiet, some are busy. Some are very cosmopolitan, others are "untouched." Etc.


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luv the beach,
Great info like always. I am cutting and pasting everything that you’ve mentioned onto my Greece stuff. Okay, I’m getting a little worried that this is going to be expensive. How much should I budget for when I actually get there (only counting ferries, food, and lodging)? So Santorini sounds really cool—how many days can I spend on there (without getting too bored) if I cut out Corfu? Also, how come you know so much about Greece?

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P.S. I’m just worried about budgeting since I will be living in Italy for 3 months, not getting paid to be an intern and on the weekends I plan to do quite a bit of traveling, so I need to save up for other countries. I just really wanted to do Greece because it’s either the end of April or the first week of August and I really dont want to be there during heavy tourist season with all the loud Americans (even though I am one). Smile I’d rather be in Greece during Holy Week with other natives.

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I would just like to say thank you to luv_the_beach I see so many people asking questions on this forum and well travel people writing rude and mean things to them for no reason. You really took the time to help out a fellow traveler. I think that is great.

I am leaving from New York with $2000 for 19 days
Warsaw, Kraków, Lviv, Suceava, Bacău, Focşani, Bucharest, Helsinki
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quote:I’m getting a little worried that this is going to be expensive. How much should I budget for when I actually get there (only counting ferries, food, and lodging)?

Fresa,

How long will you be in Greece? To be on the safe side, estimate about $40 each ferry ride, $30 a night lodging. Restaurants range from cheap to expensive. Most are moderately cheap (except in certain areas), maybe $10 a day for other transportation (buses, metro, etc), $30 for any long distance buses (I really don’t remember the prices here, this is an estimation). I may have over- or underestimate on some things. Basically for a week’s trip, we’re looking at around $500? It’ll probably be less than that. Definitely less if you eat out of supermarkets, it’ll probably shave a good $100 off this figure.

Trouble is, I have a hard time estimating a tourist’s budget in Greece (and all of Europe), because almost everytime I go there I have personal matters to do, therefore I have higher budgets (and stay for much longer time spans), and a hard time telling people what to bring!! The beauty of it is that ATM machines are everywhere in Greece.

quote: So Santorini sounds really cool—how many days can I spend on there (without getting too bored)

Without a car, relying on public transpotration to move about within the island, you may get "bored" sooner. But it is a fantastic island, and I’m glad you’re going. I’d say (if you’ll be in Greece 7-8 days total) then 3 days is perfect, maybe 3 days 2 nights? If you wanna cram more places in your itinerary, make it 2 days 2 nights.

quote:Also, how come you know so much about Greece?

My family and I lived in a suburb of Athens for a little over a year during my childhood I have since gone back quite a few times. I also spent a summer in a Greek beach town when I was 17, returned to the States, became a Eurotrip member, and chose the alias luv_the_beach. I understand the language and the whole shpiel. I’ve also lived in Paris I feel perfectly at home in Europe.

quote:I just really wanted to do Greece because it’s either the end of April or the first week of August and I really dont want to be there during heavy tourist season with all the loud Americans (even though I am one). Smile I’d rather be in Greece during Holy Week with other natives.

That’s awesome!!

BTW, you’ll encounter far more loud Britons than loud Americans. Of the 14 million people that visit Greece every year, roughly only 5% are Americans, according to EOT, the country’s national tourism bureau. The largest nationalities that visit Greece are (in this order): Britons, Germans, Italians, Swedes, Dutch. There’s also quite a few Norwegians, and Austrians, and recently there’s been a growing number of French, Poles, Hungarians, Czechs, Russians, Israelis, and Ukrainians. Basically, over 90% of tourists come from Europe. Americans tend to concentrate in certain areas (you guessed it: Mykonos-Santoríni-Athens), and the Pink Palace (a very famous hostel in Corfu). There’s also quite a few Americans and Canadians in Athens and Thessaloníki on study-abroad programs.

In Greece, it’s British tourists not Americans that have a negative rowdy reputation (Americans are actually seen very favorably…except for their government). Things got really ugly in the summer of 2003 when British tourists (as well as Britons living in Greece) were arrested and charged for all sorts of things from battery (against locals as well as against other tourists) to having oral sex in public (in broad daylight. yes this happened!). But these cases were few….the vast majority of the bad tourists got excessively drunk in public and causing some troubles and making locals as well as other tourists feel uncomfortable. Keep in mind that these bad apples do not represent the 2.5 million British tourists; but these problems are far more common from this nationality than from the others (By contrast, German and Italian tourists are seen very favourably). These cases were all reported in the media, leading to a nation-wide discussion about tourism, bad tourists, and tourism’s place in the nation’s economy. And the the term "choúliggan-torismos" ("hooligan tourism&quotWink became a new word in the Greek vocabulary that year.

The British media itself (including the BBC) also picked up on the stories, and attributed the problems to a culture clash: what young British men do in Rhodes, is no different than what they do in Manchester on a Saturday night. By contrast, public drunkenness is rare (and frowned upon) in Greece, that’s why locals were shocked. Add to that the fact the bars, clubs, and restaurants close very late in Greece, exaggerating the problem. So the theory goes. Quite a few things happened, pretty much, putting a strain on tourism-local relations. The way the Greeks interpret it is like this: Britons are so proper at home, and everything closes early in Britain; they don’t have any proper nightlife. Thus when they come to Greece they let loose, and they go overboard, knowing that they’re in a foreign country and no one knows them here.

We don’t know the scope of hooligan tourism in 2004, because the Olympic Games and Euro2004 drowned out pretty much everything else in the news.

quote:I would just like to say thank you to luv_the_beach I see so many people asking questions on this forum and well travel people writing rude and mean things to them for no reason. You really took the time to help out a fellow traveler. I think that is great.

Thanks John!


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Luv the playa,
I finally got one of the greek ferry sites to work and it’s not too bad. I am mos. def. going to be spending less than $500, hopefully less than $400. There are cheap hostels there for less than $10 a night. And I did see the hostel in Corfu, the pink palace, but I think I will skip that. I don’t want this vacation to be like an MTV spring break edition. I’ll be in Greec for 9 days. Leave on April 22nd and get back on the 30th, so almost a week and a half. I am SOOOO jealous that you got to live in Paris. It is absolutly my favorite city in the whole world. I’ve been quite the world traveler since last year, but Paris is just the greatest. There’s a saying (I think by Mark Twain) "America is my country, but Paris is my hometown". It almost feels like my 2nd home, maybe because I went there twice last year. And that is great information on the tourist that are in Greece. I had no idea that the Brits were that bad, even though I know it’s a small minority of them. I just like to try to blend—but it’s a little hard, being Cambodian-American and EVERYONE thinks your chinese. My favorite line was from this french man who i was talking to in Venice and he asked me "So when are you going back to Japan?" FYI for everyone out there…there are other countries in Asia other than Japan and China. And it’s amazing to me…Italians are everywhere! When I was in Prague I swear I heard/saw more Italians than Czech! It was alright though, the italian men are better looking then the czech men anyways. Smile Anyways, Sanitori is def in. I’m not looking forward to the LONG ferry ride, but it’ll be cool. And is the public transportation not reliable? Do they not have a metro system on the island?!! (just kidding). It’s cheap though, right?

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quote: I am mos. def. going to be spending less than $500, hopefully less than $400. There are cheap hostels there for less than $10 a night. And I did see the hostel in Corfu, the pink palace, but I think I will skip that.

Glad I can help you make an informed decision!! Keep in mind, though, that if you do decide to visit Corfu, you don’t necessarily have to stay at the Pink Palace. Also, the Pink Palace ain’t that bad. Just avoid the cheeeeeeesy stuuuupid nightlife that they provide (their pink-toga plate-smashing parties are kind of degrading to Greek Civlization/Culture. The hostel is run by a "Dr. George," an Anglocized Greek-Australian who does everything possible to misrepresent his culture, and I’ve been told by one poster that he’s racist). The hostel itself has really nice amenities and services for a good price, and they even provide their own bus to/from Athens (and they also rent cars -be sure to have an int’l driving permit from AAA, as well as your US drivers license). Promise me, however, that if you do stay there, that you’ll manage to sightsee the island. The hostel is located in a beautiful setting, but it’s far from the main town (a real gem of a city) and the island’s other historical and natural sites.

quote: I am SOOOO jealous that you got to live in Paris. It is absolutly my favorite city in the whole world.

Yeah I know. I feel like it’s the center of the world. I love it.

quote:FYI for everyone out there…there are other countries in Asia other than Japan and China.

LOL. I have a Thai-American friend, and everyone assumes he’s of Filipino descent. To add to your misery, Fresa, Greece has a sizeable Filipino community. Many people will either think you’re Japanese/Korean/Chinese tourist or a Filipino living in Greece! You’ll live.

quote:Anyways, Sanitori is def in. I’m not looking forward to the LONG ferry ride, but it’ll be cool. And is the public transportation not reliable? Do they not have a metro system on the island?!! (just kidding). It’s cheap though, right?

You know a metro system would be very convenient. but seriously, the public transportation within the island, and within any island is reliable. The thing is, when I’m in a big city like Athens, Paris, Barcleona, Chicago, DC, etc, I love public transportation, especially metro systems…they’re so convenient. But in non-urban areas, it’s the automobile that is more convenient than public transportation. The reason for this is because you have to schedule your day around a bus schedule. Rest assured, however, that within any given island in Greece, or any mainland region, all the towns are interconnected by inter-city buses. Larger towns, and busy touristy towns, have more frequent service between them. On Santoríni, you’ll be staying in the main town of Firá, so everything you need will be within walkable reach. But to explre the island (or any island) you’ll rely on buses. Also, your hostel/hotel can always call a cab for you. Trouble is, finding a cab on your way back. I was able to do this with success in Corfu (from the main town back to the Pink Palace), but had trouble in Santoríni. Apparently, on Santoríni, there was a specific place where we had to go to hail a cab (I was in Firá). Just ask around, ask the locals (shopkeepers, etc) for directions and help (yes, English is widely understood). The public transportation is generally cheap.


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Luvthebeach,
Oooohhh…I’m getting nervous. So r/t from London to Athens is $156 by Easyjet. Thats not a bad deal—but do you think it will go up?! I dont know that much about Easyjet.I know more about Ryanair and how they have amazing deals depending on when you can catch them. So with the r/t ferry to Santorini it will be a little over $200 dollars already. Aagghh!!! So many things to decide! Why oh why did they decide on PINK for the hostel?! I love pink, but not for a toga. Cool! There are Phillipinos there! I get mistaken so much more for Phillipino than Cambodian anyways (where’s Cambodia?!) But, that’s much better since it’s closer and besides, I can’t be Japanese or Chinese, they travel in like packs of 50—I’m going solo. I’m debating if I should pay $13 for a single bedroom for myself or the same amount to share a mixed room. I know, stupid question, but I will get bored by myself I already know it. Besides, meeting people from all over the world is one of the highlights of backpacking! Can’t believe we are keeping this posting alive! Where the heck is Reunion Island anyways? Are you American or no? Ciao!

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Fresa,

Those prices sound great.

However, I thought that the trip to/from Greece was not going to be included in $400-$500 budget that we came up with. If it is included, you’ll need to step up your budget a tad. Including airfare, it may be $600. Remember the living expenses while you’re there (such as food). I’m trying to over estimate a little, so that you’re not stranded without money. The prices that you’re finding are great, and I would definitely share a room, that’s how you meet people. I’ve become best friends with hostel roommates and ended up backpacking with them for weeks.

Now, why did they decide on PINK for that particular hostel? Actually, if you visit Corfu you’ll see why. The color blends perfectly with the traditional actrhicture of that particular island (and of that whole region of Greece: Ionian Coast/Islands). Of course, the colors of the houses on Corfu are softer pastel colors. The Pink Palace has a shade of pink that’s a little too bold, but it does not clash with its surroundings (it conforms to the local architecure and blends in nicely, despite being a relatively large complex). They then made the color &quotink" as the focus of everything: pink toga parties. They serve pink oúzo. (Oúzo is a Greek apertif. It’s a strong alcohol which is supposed to be diluted in water and sipped slowly. The Pink Palace gives it a pink food coloring, and [wrongly] serves it as shots….yaaaghh). A pink building would never fly in Mykonos though. The strict zoning laws there require all buildings to conform to their local traditional architecture (white). Each island is different! On Santoríni, you’ll notice that pastel colors are the norm in the towns of Oía (Ia) and Firá, although there are plenty white buildings too.


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Hello all!
This info was very helpful to me…I will be in Greece this May; and would like to go from Athens to Santorini for a couple of days. The only problem…I checked on all of the Greek ferry sites and was unable to get an itinerary for the dates in May…is it because they don’t schedule them this far out or perhaps I was doing something wrong? Also, is Pireaus the closest port to Athens? What is the best way to get to that port from the city? Any help would be much appreciated!

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quote:
I checked on all of the Greek ferry sites and was unable to get an itinerary for the dates in May…is it because they don’t schedule them this far out or perhaps I was doing something wrong?

Either you were doing something wrong or the websites you were checking did not provide that information. Most ferry companies should have their shcedules set up all the way up to autumn 2005. Check the individual website for Blue Star Ferries www.bluestarferries…. (Click on the welcome image to begin). At the menu on the top, point to "Domestic Lines" then point to "Cyclades" (that’s the island chain you’re traveling to) and click on "itineraries." Underneath the map of that island chain, you’ll see 6 itineraries listed. Click on any one that inclides Santoríni. When the new window pops up, look at the menu on the top, and click on the time of the year you’re looking for (remember that in Europe, the date goes first, then month, then year. 01/03/2005 means March 1st, 2005)

quote: Also, is Pireaus the closest port to Athens? What is the best way to get to that port from the city? Any help would be much appreciated!

Piraeus is a city that lies within the Athens metropolitan area. It’s not a distant city. Between the two cities (Athens and Piraeus), it’s a continuous built-up area (not countryside), just like Los Angeles/Long Beach or New York/Newark (yes I know, there’s a river in between, but it’s still a continuous urban area). Piraeus’ port is reachable from the city of Athens by metro line 1. There’s another port in Attica (the Athens area) on the east coast of the Attica peninsula, quite far from the city, and reachable by bus. Its name is Rafina. But ferries from Rafina only go to islands that are nearest to Attica (like Mykonos, Andros, Tínos); I don’t think there’s any ferries for Santoríni from Rafina.


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Thanks!
I went back to the blue star ferry site and got all the info I needed…appreciate the help!

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Hey, I’m trying to make a reservation for April 26 to Santorini from Pireus and come back on the 29th, but it the furthest it goes to is March 31st. So, I’m thinking they don’t go past March yet? And just reading about the beaches in Greece with the pastel colors makes me SO excited! Wow! I can’t wait!!!! For living expenses it’ll be less than $100 for the whole week. I’ve budgeted how much I am going to spend for hostels and transportation, but food is always iffy. I just don’t really know how much it’ll be I mean…can I get a decent meal for $5? I know in Paris that would be one pastry, but Greece is cheaper. Anyways, worse comes to worse…there is a McDonalds right? Smile

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Yes, Greece has a cheaper cost of living than France (and is among the cheaper of the older EU 15 countries), but that doesn’t mean everything in Greece is cheaper than in France. Real estate and rent, for example, are certainly cheaper in Greece (and Portugal, Spain) than in France. Light manufactured items, however (like computers, processed foods, and clothes) are about the same; if not more sometimes because of Greece’s higher sales tax (Greece has a high sales tax, which explains why if you go for a example to a Zara in Athens, and you look at the price tag, it might say: 35 Euros for Austria, 35 Euros for Belgium, 37.50 for Greece).

What all this means is that transportation (like the cost of a metro ticket in Athens, or a cab fare, or a bus ride on Santoríni), or accomodation (hostel, hotel) will be cheaper in Greece than in France or Britain or Italy, but the cost of sandwhich meat/cheese, coffee, a microwaveable dinner, or shampoo will probably cost the same (toileteries should cost the same in Greece as in France/Italy/Britain). Even farm items at the grocery store may cost quite a bit because Greece imports a lot of food (perhaps even most of its food…the country’s relatively large agricultural sector is industrialized and produces mostly things for mass export, like olive oil, tobacco, raisins, grapes, wine, etc…not staple foods). To make matters worse, prices at farmers markets (laïkí in Greek) have skyrocketed since the introduction of the euro in January 2002, and that pretty much sums it up for the overall cost of living which had already been rising at a fast pace in the past 20 years, but took a real hike after the euro came into circulation. It’s been reported in the media than Athens has a more expensive cup of coffee than any other EU capital. (Never checked on my own).

In summary, expect transportation to be relatively cheaper than France/Britain/Italy (trains should especially be dirt cheap. Ferries and flights are pretty costly), expect accomodation to be somewhat cheaper as well (and really cheap if you go off the beaten track, but expect places like Santoríni to be not-so-cheap), but food from the grocery store will probably cost the same (but it will still save you money from eating out). Eating out should be cheaper than Italy/Britain/France, but it is still an expensive habit if you do it everyday.

McDonald’s does exist. In 1995 there was one in the entire country. In 2005, there’s one on every corner. I’m not kidding. There are also two local fast-food chains that are bringing really good (and really tasty) competition for McDonalds. The first one is Goody’s (really yummy, they ahve all these different kinds of yummy burgers…their salads are a ripoff, though) and the other one is Everst (looks yummy, but I’ve never eaten there). There’s also another one called Flocafé, but I don’t know if its a chain of restaurants or just cafes. And then, there’s mom-and-pop fast food joints. Go here if you want to try gyros (tastes 100 times better in Greece than in the USA, but it’s a lot smaller, about the size of a hot dog), because you won’t find it at any other type of restaurant…gyros is regarded as junk food and is only sold at fast-food joints (never at traditional restaurants, unless it’s a restaurant that caters to tourists who demand it). There’s also confusion among the locals of what a "gyros" truly is (remember, it’s not really Greek, it’s actually an imported dish…unbeknownst to North Americans), so don’t be surprised at the different things that each fast-food place will call a "gyros" (but they all taste good). There’s also Pizza Hut, and I’ve seen Sbarro at Athens and Corfu airports in 2001 (but I didn’t see it at Athens airport in 2004).


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Luvthebeach,
Hey, what about Paros? Is that a cool place? I am thinking Athens, Paros, Santorini, and then back to Athens. This is all within 6 days or so. What is on Paros anyways?

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More legendary posting from Luv the Beach! I have lived and worked in the travel industry in Greece off and on for the past 20 years and IMHO his posts are informed, accurate and interesting. Keep em coming LTB!

What can I add except that I favour N W Corfu up around Arillas and Ag Stefanos, (Great Beach). More low key and laid back than the other resorts. There should be plenty of acomodation in both villages. Check out George at the Malibu Bar in Arillas for a fun evening and cheap rooms.

May even see you there myself.

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Firstly I would just like to commend luv_the_beach for your patience, knowledge and willingness to contribute about greece and the culture. I have learnt a lot from your posts on this topic and will be there myself in late april.
There is just one question I have, and that is your opinion on hostels in athens. As it will be my first stop and first time in hostels I want to book ahead to have somewhere to go. After some time researching certain websites and guidebooks I have found five main hostels mentioned:
1. Aphrodite hostel
2. Pagration Youth Hostel
3. Victor Hugo international youth hostel
4. Zorba’s hotel
5. Zeus hostel

If you have any info or incite into these places or any others, you or anyone recommends I am more than willing to hear about it.

By the way I did post this is the hostels forum but with no replies yet.

Thankyou very much in advance.

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Kimke,
Which islands are you going to? I know Corfu is probably amazing, but I just don’t really want to travel that far. Do you know anything about Paros and Naxos? Santorini is already a def. in my itinerary. Looks like Luvthebeach is a little MIA, she’s usually ready to jump and help anyone out when it comes to Greece questions…Luvthebeach..where are you?!

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hi fresa4mi..
we are going to two islands. Corfu is a definate becuase I’ve heard good report plus my mum went there and has made me promise to go, plus it is on our way to italy (only a 9 hour ferry to brindisi). But the other island we are not 100% certain which one yet. We want to see historical/culture/architecture, but the beaches part is just a bonus becuase we both live on the beach here at home so not too fused although I’m sure the water being its perfect colour will be beautiful and we’ll want to stay longer. So we are tossing up between Mykinos, Santorini and Rhodes. However Rhodes is a fair way from the mainland and corfu so I’m not sure if it would be worth going over there.
But we’ve decided that we can make that decision a little later, as long as we have the general drift of where we want to go, and once we get there and get our feet and get orientated within the country I guessthe decision can be made.

But yeah would love to hear from luv the beach or anyone that has an input into my hostel questions!

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Hello luv the beach
I am traveling to Greece for 5 – 7 days at the end of may into june. I would love to see Athens and now Corfu and either Santorini or Mykonos. I am on a budget so I am looking for cheap but clean places to stay. Also what should i budget for while there? If anyone else could help taht would be great

des

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Firstly, decide where you want to go. From LTB’s excellent advice, you will know that Corfu is up in the North West, a few miles off the mainland of Greece. Santorini, by contrast, is a 10 hour boat ride south of Athens, with a good chunk of mainland Greece in between. As such, it may not be possible to fit in both islands and Athens. After all, you only have 7days tops.

If coming by ferry rom Italy, I would suggest Corfu with a side trip to beautiful Paxos island a few miles to the south.

Paxos is a microcosm of Corfu…as it was 30-50 years ago. It does get touristy, but is well worth the visit. Do it in a day from Lefkimmi or St George South. Boats leave around 8.30 AM. Alternatively, longer conventional ferry trip from Corfu Town.

For cheap acomodation on the East Coast, try Spiro Vradis at the Hideaway Bar in Ipsos. It is 20 mts from the town hall. Out west, try the hilltop town of Pelekas or head up to the North West. From Ag Stefanos, you can also take a boat to the Diapontian islets of Ericossa, Mathraki and Othoni. Great for seekers of peace and quiet, but only the odd taverna, limited supplies and dare I say, the chance to sleep out on the beach. Be discrete!

On leaving Corfu, you could always take a to Patras, explore the W Peloponnese for a day or two, then on to Athens. That would give you 2 islands and some great beaches with low key resorts and cheap acomodation in the Tholo and Kipirassia area of the Peloponnese. (Served by train from Patras).

If flying into Athens, Santorini is easily accesed by boat or plane. Try the excellent Hostel Anna at Perissa. If you need to stay in town, there is a hostel in Fira, which I personally find unfriendly, cramped, airless and expensive.

As an alternative, what about the Argo-Saronic islands of Hydra, Poros and Spetses. These can be a little more expensive, but are easily reached from Athens by ferry or fast catamaran. From Poros, it is a 5 minute ferry to the mainland with much cheaper prices. Similarly, there is a short ferry hop from Spetses to Kranidi on the mainland. Bus from there to Napflio with a train connection back to Athens

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I think out of the islands in the south, the Cyclades, Santorini seems to be the cheapest when it comes to hostels. I am going by myself and I can get a hostel for $7! Other places like Naxos, you can get cheap ones for $6—thats if you are traveling with a group of 5 or something. Besides, its ALL about the beach! Mykonos sounds cool but from what my guide book brief, it sounds like one big party island. Corfu I heard was amazing…I’m sad I wont be going there, but Santorini just looks absolutly beautiful from all the pictures I’ve seen! I’ve decided on going to Paros, Naxos and Santorini. Happy travels!

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Are any of you guys thinking about going to Ios? Because our plan was go to to Santorini then Ios. Should we rethink that and hit up another Island instead??

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I enjoyed IOS. I was there in late may early june and the island was fairly quiet. The weather was warm , warm enough to swim in the ocean and enjoy the day on the beach. This island does attract the younger crowd and the nightlife is great. I found going out for a few beers and relaxing on the beach all day very relaxing. I imagine it gets crazy in peak season

check out this link for places to stay. I never stayed there just had a few drinks at the pool but it seemed the most popular with the rest of the backpackers.

http://www.faroutclub.com/

Fresa4mi

I spent some time in Naxos and personally found this to be my favorite. It’s the largest of the Cyclades. Has some great beaches, great scenery and very friendly. You can spend several days just exploring and hiking around this island or just relax on the many beaches. I found transportation was easy. I rented a scooter and explored the island myself for less than 20 euro, if i remember i think it cost me 16 euro total including gas and insurance. I paid 15 euro/night for accom but i’m sure the hostel will be cheaper.
I’ve attached a link that might give you more of an idea what Naxos offers.

http://www.naxos-greece.net/

luv_the_beach you provide great responses and info. It’s truly appreciated. It was this forum and posts like yours that made my trip to Greece that much more enjoyable

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although i dont post much, ive been looking on this board for a few months, and like others i find luv_ to be very informative and i thank him for all his advice. My question is a little bit weird but its coming from a poor, just graduated, student. I am wondering if you can buy one ferry ticket from patras to bari and have a 3 night lay-over in corfu. I have emailed a few ferry lines and have not recieved an answer just yet. So with all the more experienced travelers maybie somebody here would have the answer. Again thank you Luv_ and everybody else who contributes nice info to all of us new backpackers.

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Jrenton, no, you can’t "layover in Corfu" on a ferry ride. If your ticket is from Patras to Bari, that’s the route you’ll travel. If you want to go to Corfu, you’ll need to arrange to get there yourself. (If your goal is to party and you want to stay at the Pink Palace, they offer a bus/ferry route from Athens, but that’s up to you).

People asking about the Cyclades – I’ve been to Mykonos twice, Ios, Paros briefly, and Santorini. Everyone’s preferences vary. Personally, I fell in love with Mykonos and it’s an ongoing love affair. Yes, the island is very &quotarty". Yes, it attracts a lot of tourists, especially a jet-set kind of crowd. Yes, it’s pricier than the other islands in the area. But I didn’t care – the beauty and charm of the town and beaches won me over and I haven’t looked back. Please don’t let the stuff that seems bad on paper put you off from a visit to Mykonos, because it’s highly worthwhile.

Ios is a party island with a completely different atmosphere from Mykonos. While Mykonos partying is hardcore, Ios partying is more laid-back. Mykonos attracts a lot of European and package travellers and groups; Ios is virtually entirely independent backpackers from English-speaking countries. I doubt I heard more than 10 words of Greek while on Ios. If it’s culture you’re seeking, you won’t find much on Ios. If you’re looking for a place to meet fellow travellers, get extremely drunk, and party till the sun comes up every night in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere, Ios is the place for you. The partying wasn’t really the hard-core clubbing type, but more the relaxed pub/bar type. It’s pretty unique among places I’ve been to and I recommend a couple of days there, just for the experience, even if you’re not normally a party person. Nice beaches too. I recommend staying in town and bussing to the beach, instead of the opposite. Francesco’s is an amazing hostel and the bar/veranda there is fabulous for meeting people.

Santorini I was less impressed with, which makes me a minority among travellers to the Cyclades I think. Maybe after my great times in Mykonos and Ios, it would’ve been hard to beat them. The volcano is an awesome sight, but the black-sand beaches sound cool but in reality are just super-hot. I found Santorini to be much more of a "couples" environment (and I’m not just talking about Oia, honeymoon central, but even the main town of Fira or the backpacker beach of Perissa). As a solo backpacker, it was harder to meet people than on the other islands, I found, because it’s a bit bigger and more spread out. Accommodations were cheap, though.

All this is just my opinion. Yours will probably be very different. But for what it’s worth, those were my impressions.

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This has turned out to be a pretty informative thread, thanks to segacs, malakka, ltb…etc. Hopefully I’ll be as far as the greek islands by the 1st of june but trying to pick and choose among these islands has been the most frustrating part of this prep, though I’m enjoying it just the same.

I found this site on the Islands for anyone interested. It’s a little disorganized but once you get a little ways in it’s pretty detailed. http://www.harrys-60-greek-islands-guide.com/ Have fun everybody, can’t wait to hit the sun myself.

Oh yea, in case LTB should wander back here or anyone else in the know, what’s the situation with sleeping on the beach? I’ve heard its allowed on some islands as long as you’re not pitching a tent. I’m especially interested for Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes, Naxos, Ios.
Thanks, Nadz

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everyone on this thread rocks my world. From the discussions I’ve found that I should be able to plan on spending a couple days in athens, santorini, and rhodes and be able to take advantage of most of what each place has to offer. Thanks to everyone who contributed, especially the two who started this thread. without both of your great questions and answers it wouldn’t have been so great!

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Sleeping on the beach… why bother? Most of the islands have very cheap camping or hostel facilities – cheaper than the rest of Western Europe anyway – and at least you have access to stuff like showers.

One other thing: ferry service within an island chain is frequent in the summer months and easy. If you get to an island and don’t enjoy it, just go to the port and get the next boat to another island.

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Segacs,
Im not looking for an alternative to hostels or trying to squeeze a few dollars, but I want to relax a bit during this segment of my trip and I can definetly see myself lying on the beach one night with a bottle or two of wine and watching the sun go down…….so I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to get bothered for spending a night out.

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Everyone lies on the beach with a bottle or two… or maybe seven. Drinking outdoors is fine in the islands. The sunsets are gorgeous.

In Ios, I vaguely remember spending all night in town partying and ending up on the beach around 6am for the sunrise. I can’t remember for the life of me how we got there (I guess we stumbled down the road) but a couple of the guys decided to go skinny-dipping.

So no, nobody will bother you if you want to lounge around on the beach at weird hours. Not on the party islands at least.

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Kimke,

Re: hostels in Athens

I’ve only visited the Aphrodite, haven’t stayed there. The location is okay. I don’t know about the other hostels…but personally, I would judge them by their location. Let me know where they’re lcoated, if you know what district of Athens they’re in, or if you have their addresses, post them, and I’ll tell you if it’s worth it.


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Re: drinking on the beach.

No, this won’t be a problem. Greece has lenient laws on alcohol, because public drunkenness is not a problem here. At least until recently. After the summer of 2003 (read my previous posts), they may have started cracking down on rowdy tourists. (After that summer, locals were starting to demand increased police presence in touristy areas). But I’m not aware of any laws restricting drinking on beach. Just don’t ask stupid.

And please don’t pollute. Round up your bottles and toss them in a bin. Treat the country and its people with respect.


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Most beach-side bars run waiter/ess services to the beach for drinks and snax. If bringing your own, the biggest problem is likely to be keeping it cold.

Re Hostels, I have stayed at the Aphrodite. It’s well run and clean. The location is great with a nearby Metro at Viktoria Square. Search around for neighbourhood bars and grill houses, or hang out at Viktoria Square for some genuine Athenian atmosphere, away from the tourist honeypots.

I also used to run the desk at the Festos Hostel on Fillellenon St in the Plaka area. Back in those days (1990), the place was a mecca for travellers, with great bar and food facilities and lively social scene.

I was there again (for a night) in 2002.. It was run down, dirty, expensive and had minimal drinks and food on offer.

If you want to stay in the Plaka area, I quite like the Student Inn on Kidatheneon St, (same team as the Aphrodite). The down side is a lack of bar and thus social centre, but you do have Monastiraki Square just a short hike away.

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Ahhh, those beach bars and beach-side lounges. Damn…one of the best things about Greece. Awesome places to hang out at on those summer nights. Eat your heart out, California.

I can’t believe I forgot about these.


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well I found a cheap flight into Rhodes but I’m having a tough time finding ferries out of there to the Cyclades, specifically Santorini. Every site seems to only list the same route through the Dodecanese with no other stops in the cyclades until Syros. Is there no other way to ferry between Rhodes and Santorini or do the ferries stick to specific routes among each island chain?

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Wow. If only I’d discovered this website and seen this thread before. I left. Happily settled in Tolo now, love Greece, the only one thing I’m struggling to get used to is the liberal attitudes to sex over here – the older men are worse than the young ones too, one was peering through my apartment window last night while I was sitting relaxing in my smalls – totally freaked me out! Others just won’t tke no for an answer… any advice on how to handle them? Is monogamy really such a preposterous idea in Greece? Am I as well shelving any thoughts about finding faithful Greek boyfriend?? Sorry if this is offensive to anyone, I don’t mean to generalise but I can only go on my experience….

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You are generalizing, and what you’re describing sounds very similar to where I live as well: the United States. I don’t know about Britain. Then again, according to a fairly recent study, the United States is the most "liberal" country sexually, followed by Greece at #2. (Kind of surprising for both of these countries. You’d think by stereotype that it would be Denmark and Sweden.) Britain was somewhere up there as well. But as I was saying: I think that the fact you’re in a foreign country is making you more likely to generalize, whereas similar occurances in your home country are easy to write off as "isolated occurences." We all tend to do this, and judging by my British friends I hardly think that the UK is much different. Don’t worry though, none of these guys is threatening.

I’m a guy and I also get attention in Greece, from the women. My close Greek buddy’s girlfriend was telling him in front of me that she likes my body and that he should try to look more like me. (He’s a personal trainer, but he has a very thin runner’s body; barely any muscle mass.) Kind of an awkward situation. Or girls telling me "if you lived here, you’d be a player." [I HAVE lived there, but it was the wrong time. I was only nine, Gosh Dammit!] So, yeah, to answer your question, they’re very open, at least verbally. Take it as a compliment. If you were chubby i>and young then people would be telling you that you need to loose weight ("should you be eating that gyros?&quotWink and they’d call you fat -in a polite way. I can’t complain about the attention. For a guy, this female attention is awesome. As for as actual extramarital affairs, I hardly think it’s more prevalent than in other European countries. And in reference to the generational differences in Greece: yes, there is a huge generation gap.

The verbal openness will take some getting used to. Someone peeping at you is the worse that can possibly happen, though. This is one of the safest countries in the world. And again, as I’ve said in many other threads, don’t assume that everyone you encounter is a native of that country. To ward off unwelcome attention, just ignore them.


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quote:
well I found a cheap flight into Rhodes but I’m having a tough time finding ferries out of there to the Cyclades, specifically Santorini. Every site seems to only list the same route through the Dodecanese with no other stops in the cyclades until Syros. Is there no other way to ferry between Rhodes and Santorini or do the ferries stick to specific routes among each island chain?

Hmm…different ferry companies offer different routes. Which websites have you checked? Let me know.


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