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Christmas Itinary four weeks
trankt
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finaly, I came up with the itinary plan after much research.  Please take a look and let me know if it is good time plan in each location? would Christmas in Krakow be good?
 
Athen  from 12/13 to 12/19/07
fly to Warsaw on 12/20 stay until 12/23
train to Krakow 12/24 stay until 12/27
train to Berlin 12/28 stay until 12/30
fly to instanbul on 12/30 stay until 1/5.
fly home 1/6
thanks for your inputs

oldlady
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I think you’ll find that virtually everything but church is closed on Christmas day anywhere in Europe, so you’ll need to do some planning to make sure you’ve got some place to stay, something to eat and won’t need to use public transportation.  I’d think about a day less in Athens or Warsaw and one more in Krakow to make up for that.

What are your plans for Greece?  Six days would be way too long in Athens for me, but with the very limited ferry schedule in the winter it will be hard to work out the logistics of getting to the islands.  You’ll want to check on accomodations on the islands as tourist activity on some of them is seasonal.

Are you planning on just staying in Istanbul or are you going elsewhere in Turkey?

trankt
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I would like to ferry to the island Mykonos or Santorini if they operate.. but since it ‘s winter, I don’t know if it is doable.. that ‘s why I have Athen for 6 days.. if not may be day trip to Delphi or Meteores?  In Instanbul I will just stay in Instanbul for all six days.  Is it too long?  do you have any sugestion for day trip in instanbul?  thanks

oldlady
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http://www.greekferr… has links to the various ferry companies so you can check schedules.  Both Mykonos and Santorini are tourist destinations, so I’d find your accomodations in advance.

For Istanbul, try a Bosphorus cruise for 1 day — some go as far as the Black Sea.  Also look into a trip to Ephesus.  I consider Ephesus  (long day trip or possibly overnight trip) a must — the Greek ruins there are more impressive and generally “better” in terms of preservation and presentation than anything I saw in Greece.  The sights in Istanbul (Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Sulamani Mosque, underground cistern, Topaki palace) will keep you busy for 2 or 3 days.  My sister said the “whirling devishes” show was very interesting — not the hokey tourist thing she expected. 
BTW, while food and lodging are cheap in Istanbul, admission fees (Mosques are free) and charges for guides are high — right up there with the most expensive European cities.

Even if you’re not a shopper you’ll want to spend time in a couple of bazaars, viisit a rug shop, jewelry shop, take the trams and generally enjoy the very different vibe.

trankt
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thank for your inputs,  we are traveling with kids, so we will go at a slower pace than regular backpacker.. But probably I will reduce time in Warsaw and add another day for Krakow.  I would like to go to Auswiz concentration camp while stay at krakow but my kids are 10 and 11, would it be too young for them to go there?

luv_the_beach
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Trankt,
 
Yes, the ferries operate in the winter.  The locals need to get around their own country too, when the tourists are gone.
 
However, ferry schedules are reduced because of less traffic plus delays and cancellations when the seas are rough (fairly common in winter)…thus inconvenient for someone who only has 6 days in Greece.  You’re better off flying.  And unless you really want to visit the Cyclades I advise either seeing the mainland (I think Meteora, Kastoria, and Thessaloniki to the north of Athens are perfect for winter time, or you can check out classic sites in southern Greece such as Delphi, plus the Peloponnese region) or visiting a more populated island like Rhodes, Crete, or Corfu…instead of Mykonos/Santorini.


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oldlady
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There was lots of discussion about younger kids an Auschwitz a year or so ago….
http://eurotrip.com/forum/tm.aspx?m=107722&mpage=

A search on “auschwitz” will give you lots of other experiences and reactions.

trankt
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luv_the_beach,
if we get lucky with good weather to ferry to these islands , but if not, our second option will be the main land cities.  Btw, what is the best transportation in the main land between these cities? Athen to Delphi, Meteora?  will rent a car  be a good idea  when we have family of four?  thanks 

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Quote:
ORIGINAL: trankt

luv_the_beach,
if we get lucky with good weather to ferry to these islands , but if not, our second option will be the main land cities.  Btw, what is the best transportation in the main land between these cities? Athen to Delphi, Meteora?  will rent a car  be a good idea  when we have family of four?  thanks 


I love driving through Greece, and I recommend renting a car for some itineraries.  In your case, it won’t be fun driving during Christmas season where just as in the US it’s a heavy traveling season.   Let alone that Athens is a large city.  Now, if you were to spend, say, a week in the Peloponnese in the summer, or 2-3 days on an island, then I’d recommend a car.  But not for your itinerary, as I don’t think you need it.

What you can do is use the national netowork of intercity buses, the KTEL.  This is a good option to get to Delphi.  And if you’d like you can make 2-3 days out of it, staying in the nearby charming town of Arachova, which is alive in the winter with skiiers headed for Mt. Parnassós.  Metéora-Kalambáka can be reached by bus or train.  Both Delphi/Arachova/Parnassós and Metéora-Kalambáka are gorgeous in winter time, so it’s guaranteed you’ll have an amazing experience should you be “stuck” on the mainland.  Another option, would be if you can find a small travel agency (ask your hotel/hostel in Athens) that gives coach-bus tours in the southern and central mainland.  If you can find one that includes Delphi and Metéora, that would be awesome; such tours also usually include the northern Peloponnese: the city of Nafplio, and the ancient sites of Olympia, Mycenae, and Epidaurus. 

As for the islands: if you must do Mykonos and Santorini, some people love the Cycladic Islands in the winter, and Santorini is an absolutely stunning island (if you can only choose between Santorini and Mykonos, go with Santorini).  But the weather in winter time is hit or miss; it can be sunny, or quite often cold and rainy, and that can dampen your day.  Whereas more heavily populated islands like Rhodes and Corfu have larger main towns, and lots to see and do (both Rhodes and Corfu towns have UNESCO World Heritage status.)


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luv_the_beach,
seem like driving in Greece is not that crazy and dangerous in the winter?  we drove in Italy , would in greece be similar? since we are going with two kids, driving seems to be a better option for us… with all the luggageand stuffs in the car will be easier.  Traveling by bus and transfering seems inconvenient with kids and luggages.   If we drive, would this path look good: 
Athen – Corinthe – Tripolis Olympie  (night rest some where here)
Patras – Delpes (one night here) –
Lamia – Trikala – Meteores (one night here) -
then back to Athen. 
how are these route sound?  is it too much driving for three days?  are these route driveable in the winter around 12/16-12/19 ?  it is not Christmas peak yet..Smile  hopefully not much traffic?
any input? thanks

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Road conditions are generally very good.  The only road conditions that may be problematic would be local roads in mountainous/high altitude areas that are susceptible to road closures because of heavy snowfall.  The only area where this may affect you would be around Delphi; but his shouldn’t be a problem as the Delphi-Parnassós-Aráchova area is a popular ski area.  Greece should pretty much be the same as Italy (the terrain is identical), with the exception that Italy has a denser multilane freeway network (the autstrade); but the local roads are the same (in good condition in both countries).  Greece is rapidly expanding its own freeway network, so you may run into road construction, and definitely make sure you have the most updated road map of Greece.  Drivers tend to drive a little more agressively than what you’re used to in the States, so just be aware of that.  Various government policies have aimed with some success to tame drivers; there was a recent major spike in traffic fines.  Radar enforcement is quite common.  Make sure you have an International Driver’s Permit, which you can obtain from the AAA.  (I think you had stated before that you’re American?)

The only reason I was advising against driving is because within Athens there’s traffic and shortage of parking spaces, and the city itself is large and sprawling.  And because Christmas season is a heavy travel season in Greece, just as Christmas/Thanksgiving are in the United States…Christmas and Easter times are heavy travel seasons in Greece, with freeways in/out of Athens and Thessaloníki pretty frequently jammed with holiday travelers.  But I think you should be fine with the dates you’ve chosen.


Quote:
ORIGINAL: trankt

 If we drive, would this path look good: 
Athen – Corinthe – Tripolis Olympie  (night rest some where here)
Patras – Delpes (one night here) –
Lamia – Trikala – Meteores (one night here) -
then back to Athen. 

 
I like the route.  Tripoli is a charming little city.  Not much to see, but a very charming city that’s on your way.  I say:
 
1 Athens
2 Nafplio and possibly Mycenae and Epidaurus
3 Tripoli, stay overnight
4 get up at the crack of dawn, and head for Olympia
5 Delphi via Pátra and Río (E55 to 48 to 3), maybe stay overnight in Aráchova
6 take E65 via Amfissa, then E75 via Lamía and Larisa, then E92 towards Metéora-Kalambáka
 
Do you have Google Earth or a current road map of Greece?
 
 
 
Then:
 
 


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trankt
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After more researching and checking , here is my hopefully final schedude.. can you guys take a look at it and please let me know your opinion.  is it too many overnight train?  since overnight train save one day on transporation, then we can use the next day for sight seeing..
 
12/13/07  -Fly to Athen
12/17/07 -Drive to Delphi
12/18/07  -Drive to Meteora
12/19/07  -Drive to Thessalonniki
12/21/07  -Overnight train to Instanbul
12/26/07  -Fly to Zurich,
12/27/07   -Overnight train to Vienna
12/28/07 -Overnight train to Krakow
12/31/07 -Day train to Warsaw
1/2/08  -Over night train to Prague
1/4/08 – Train back to Zurich
1/8/08 – Fly home from Zurich
 
is it doable?  thanks
 
 
 
 
 
 

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12/21/07  -Overnight train to Instanbul
12/26/07  -Fly to Zurich,
12/27/07   -Overnight train to Vienna
12/28/07 -Overnight train to Krakow
12/31/07 -Day train to Warsaw
1/2/08  -Over night train to Prague
1/4/08 – Train back to Zurich
1/8/08 – Fly home from Zurich


I’m very confused – You’re spending about 2.5 days to get to Krakow from Istanbul?  Via Zurich and Vienna?  Why? If you can’t fly to Krakow directly, why not fly to Vienna first?  Check Pegasus Air.  Or fly into Berlin and take the train (about 6 hours) into Warsaw; see Warsaw first, then head south by train to Krakow and Prague from there.

Zurich isn’t terribly interesting in my opinion.  I’m not sure why you’re going there or flying out of there.  You would probably enjoy Vienna more.

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Quote:
ORIGINAL: trankt

12/13/07  -Fly to Athen
12/17/07 -Drive to Delphi
12/18/07  -Drive to Meteora
12/19/07  -Drive to Thessalonniki


I would either take a day off of Athens or use one of those days for a day-trip, or overnight trip, to Nafplio.  Or subtract a day from Athens and make Nafplio a full-blown destination on your itinerary between Athens and Delphi. 

Quote:
ORIGINAL: tranktc
12/21/07  -Overnight train to Instanbul


If you’re interested, you can also fly from Thessaloniki to Istanbul. 


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