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Greece Trip Summary and Travel Information

This is the report I filed following my 2005 trip to Greece.

The trip lasted two-and-a-half weeks, covering a wide area between Meteora in the north, Athens, and on to the Aegean with stops in Crete (where we spent a week) and Santorini.

This was a great trip, and I thought it would be useful to pass along some notes about how we managed the trip and what some of our favorite spots were to visit. I’ve also provided contact information for some outstanding hotels (rated as such mainly due to the kind people who run them).

Hopefully, some of this information will help you plan your next Greece trip!

Trip Highlights

This was the longest trip I’d taken in over 7 years. While we probably only fit in about half of the things we wanted to see in Greece, the duration felt about right for this sort of trip. Keep in mind, we traveled in early October, when the crowds had thinned but the weather was still nice (and the ferries were still running pretty consistently). Here’s what stood out:

Meteora

Meteora MonasteryThis was the one “must see” on my list, as I had heard about the giant rock formations and the monasteries built upon them long ago (and of course, seen the Bond film). It was a bit out of the way for us. Taking two days to travel north when everything else on the itinerary was south wasn’t convenient, but it was worth it. Hiking up to the majestic rock towers and visiting the quaint buildings perched atop the cliffs made for a perfect day.

Samaria Gorge

Crete’s famous gorge is a hiking hot spot. It doesn’t disappoint. The natural beauty of this area is breathtaking. It’s more than just high rock walls surrounding you. Quiet forests, babbling brooks, and even an ancient stone village at the center. Oh, and it’s all downhill (though the rocky terrain is hard on the joints).

Oia

Santorini’s cute little town is the perfect place to finish off a trip. Get a room with a balcony overlooking the mighty caldera (okay, that’s nearly every room) and soak in the constantly sun and blue waters. Whitewashed buildings with a splash of color paint a pretty picture, and alleyways can be explored for days. At the end of each of those days, walk to the edge of town with everyone else and witness one of the prettiest sunsets on earth.

Greek Salads & Gyros

Some variation of a greek salad–tomato, cucumber, feta, olive oil–makes for a nice refreshing meal on a hot day, and offsets all the meat dishes you’re likely to find. Gyros “to go” may vary in quality and taste, but are a cost-effective treat in what’s becoming a fairly expensive country (especially in Athens).

See More Greece Photos

Caryatids on the AcropolisMore photos from Greece will be available soon.

Lodging

Run by a delightful mother-son team who used to live in Australia, Koka Roka lies directly beneath the giants of Meteora. A great starting point for a hike to the monastaries. If you have questions about your trip, your hosts will be happy to answer them while they grill up something tasty on the dining room fire. Oh, and on a hot day try the local fizzy lemon drink. It blows Fanta away.

Email: kokaroka@yahoo.com
Tel: 0030-04320-24554

A great place to stay when you arrive on Crete. These apartments are located a couple miles from Hania’s “Old Town,” but it’s a quick bus ride away, and the isolation has its benefits. Spacious, affordable rooms and a nice pool offer a nice opportunity to relax. Best of all though are your hosts. Andreas, the bartender, can hook you up with nearly anything. If you need information, advice or just a drink, Andreas either comes through for you, or he “makes a phone call,” and gets what you’re looking for. We even ended up with free booze. (Open April – October)

Web: http://www.lefka-apartments.gr/
Email: info@lefka-apartments.gr
Tel: 0030-28210-33855

An affordable choice among Oia’s high-priced caldera-view hotels. The rooms are quaint, clean and give you a balcony with a perfect view of the blue waters of Santorini. Sima, who helps run the place, is friendly and helpful and speaks Greek, Russian and some English.

Web: http://www.delfinihotel.net/
Email: info@delfinihotel.net
Tel: 0030-22860-71600

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What We Packed

Two of us (one male, one female) were traveling all over Greece for 2.5 weeks. We managed to carry all of our gear in one Eagle Creek travel pack, a zip-on day pack and a Mountainsmith waist pack. That’s it! This included all of our clothing, camera gear, other miscellaneous items (toiletries, books, etc.). One of the secrets? Packing clothes in vacuum-sealed compressor bags we picked up at REI. These allowed us to fit all of our clothes (a little over a week’s worth) in one pack. Warmer weather certainly helped, eliminating the need for heavy clothing or extra shoes (we had teva-like sandals to accompany our hiking shoes).

Recommended Photo Gear

Nearly all of my equipment fit in the waist pack I mention in the packing section. The two main lenses were attached to the pack’s waist straps in their cases. Chargers and the media storage device were carried in our packs. Note: if using a waist-type pack to tote gear or any valuables, always carry the pack in front (on your tummy) in urban settings. This isn’t entirely comfortable for one’s back, but it’s the best way to avoid giving thieves easy access to your stuff. A small combination lock on the main compartment works well as an added precaution.