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advice on Greece trip with family-some questions about Naxos.

I posted a few months ago and got some great advice that resulted in some rerouting of our trip next year (late May, early June). We have a group of six--myself and husband, three adult children and my daughter's husband (ages 21-31). We are going to fly into Athens and then fly directly to Santorini for 3 nights and then ferry to Naxos and stay four nights. Then four nights in Napflio and three in Athens before returning home. I have reserved houses for both Santorini (Oia) and Napflio through air bnb and vacation by owner sites. Now I am thinking about Naxos.

  1. Where to stay I am looking for three hotel rooms each in the 50 Euros range (two star hotels) in Naxos town. There aren't large enough accommodations centrally located for us to be together and also figure this will give us a break from togetherness. In reading previous posts, people seem to favor St. George area but we aren't particularly interested in swimming there. We are from South Florida and have urban beaches here so no novelty. We want to go to less crowded beaches like Plaka to swim, see the old town, and hike in the mountains. So not clear to me if there are other advantages to being in St. George area.

It seems there are three choices of areas and I would like to know advantages and disadvantages of each. The three areas I have identified from reading are 1) old town 2) in town 3) St. George beach area. Convenience to the bus station is important as we plan to use the bus to go to the beaches and to the mountain towns. So I am interested in where the bus station to go to the beaches is and where it is to go to the mountain towns (if those are different). Hotels located in very different places talk about bus stations so I am a bit confused. I have a list of top choices for each area but thought maybe it would be best to decide area and then hotel?

It seems to me that compared to other places we are going, there are multiple good choices so am just trying to figure out the advantages of general locations to help narrow down the choices.

  1. hiking

I have bought Walking on Naxos and have scoured the internet. We want to do the short hike to MT. Zas but not sure about another. There seems to be a fair amount of information from tourists on internet about finding route to Mt Zas but not much otherwise. I am concerned about getting lost. The book keeps talking about path finding skills! My husband and I hiked Path of the Gods on Amalfi Coast last summer but it was well trodden with only a few decisions about where to go (and I knew where from researching it). Two that seem to be recommended on trekking websites are Halki (Chalki) to Moni and Halki to Apano Kastro (upper castle). Has anyone done either of these or another that they would recommend both from what you see but also ease of figuring out? Or should we go with a trekking company? They are fairly expensive (50 euros a person from only one that answered my email) so would rather not unless necessary.

  1. flying

I was convinced that flying back to Athens rather than taking the ferry would be a good idea. But then I read a post of someone who talked about how everyone's luggage went by ferry because plane too heavy. Was this a weird freaky thing? It, of course, totally eliminates the advantage of time with flying.

Also, I signed up for Aegean's miles club in an attempt to find out about fare sales but have never got an email from them. Should I be concerned? US airlines send you stuff practically every other day once they get your email. I tried signing up again and system said it already had the email.

Thanks for any help you can provide.

Beth

Posted by
2873 posts

I haven't been to any of the islands you're going to, so I can't help you, but can I ask why you're doing Athens at the end, and not beginning of your trip? Because my single greatest regret from my last trip was that we did island first, Athens last. Athens is amazing, but hot and stressful (slightly less likely to be hot in late May than early June, though!) If I'd been able to with our timing, I would have spent 2-3 days in Athens, then gone to islands, which are less hot and stressful, then come back on the same day as the flight and/or stay one night near Athens airport if necessary due to timing.

Posted by
1099 posts

So your thinking is it would have been better to work first in Athens and then relax on the islands? I can see the logic of that. My thinking is that it will be easier to be on the islands and that with a large group that would be an advantage. Also, my youngest has never been abroad at all and I think Athens could be a bit overwhelming. My other two who have traveled in Europe are not that crazy about going to a major city. I honestly think they would skip Athens altogether if it were not for my husband and I wanting to visit.

So I am thinking that my family will be more acclimated to being in Greece by the time we go to Athens and that will maximize the chances of them appreciating it.

Beth

Posted by
6237 posts

I think your original plan to do Athens at the end is wise

Having Athens at the end simplifies your flight home logistics and also cuts out one time dealing with an airport.

Posted by
743 posts

Experienced Greece visitors generally suggest doing Athens at the end of the trip for several reasons. In particular people from North America are facing a very long transatlantic trip. It takes us a full 24 hours coming from the west coast before we arrive in Athens. Getting over jet lag in Athens is no fun. Getting over jet lag on an island truly is the way to go. Again from a north American standpoint Athens is hot dusty and chaotic and foreign. Getting adjusted to the Greek way of life on an island is a slow pace and allows visitors to be prepared for Athens. Lastly stuff can happen on a vacation and we have personally witnessed people who missed their connecting flight due to ferry and airplane delays.
Where to stay in Naxos. Given you are traveling late in the season I would suggest St George beach area. Agios Georgios. It is actually part of Naxos town. They flow into each other. The outer tourist areas have started to close down and the remaining tourists settle at St George. Greece can be noisy at night as the Greeks head out and are still active after midnight but St George is quiet at night. Its not the best beach but it is a good beach. We normally spend an hour or two on the beach but spend the rest of the day in town or on the bus out to the mountain villages. When we want a full beach day we take the bus to Plaka beach.

The bus depot is right at the ferry port. All buses start right there. Ticket are not sold on the buys so you have to buy two one way tickets.
The walk from St George to the bus station is no more than 10 to 15 minutes and its a lovely stroll along the waterfront path. We do that walk 2 or three times a day.

We have hiked the Chalki path. It is well marked and much of it is on flat stones. There are a few places where the path is overgrown and narrow and looks totally disused. Just keep forging ahead and you will find it improves. You should expect that to take up to 4 hours.
While we never hiked to Pano Kastro your apano Kastro from Chalki we have hiked up from the side of the road. Its a bit rough terrain but the view from up there is amazing, The Kastro is basically destroyed s not much of an attraction but its well worth the effort.
Images of the hike at Chalki are in this album
https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157656336387898
Naxos Town http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094558042/
Trip around Naxos http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157634605629689/

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1099 posts

Stanbr,

I am so excited to hear you have hiked the Chalki to Moni trail without any problems! Any hints on finding the trail? I had seen it would take about 4 hours so good to hear that is accurate. Do you take the bus to Chalki and then take the bus back to Naxos town from Moni? Or do you rent a car?

We will be in Naxos the very end of May and into June so I would think that would be beginning of the "season". Would you still recommend St. George's? Is that because it is quieter? It sounds like we would be in same league as you as far as swimming there. I was amazed by the pictures of the sunset! So beautiful! But part of me wants to stay in the old town, as it looks so charming. What are disadvantages of doing so?

It was your and others' posts that led me to rearrange our schedule to go straight to Santorini. I had never thought of doing that and I think doing so is much better for our group. So thank you again.

Beth

Posted by
2873 posts

Beth,

I see yours and the other posters points about doing Athens on the back end. I've only traveled to Greece twice and the first time we did city (Thessoloniki) first, then beach second, and this time we did islands (beach) first, Athens second, and we both agreed repeatedly that we really wish we'd done city then islands which is exactly what we're planning for our trip this September.

However we are coming from Germany, and not the US, so it's just 2+ hours flight without jet lag so I see the point about relaxing on an island to get over jet lag as opposed to in a busy city. On the other hand, I can't imagine dealing with Athens in the heat WITH jet lag, that sounds miserable to me!

I don't want to overstate the heat, we had highs of 33-39 while there, which is hot but not as hot as it CAN get, but we were really miserable due to the heat while sightseeing in Athens. I think the morale boost of knowing "Just hold on, in a day you'll be swimming in the cool Aegean sea" would have helped me personally, instead I'm thinking about the hot metro ride to the airport (and despite having AC on the metro it was still hot!), how to deal with our luggage, etc.

My plan for the next trip is we arrive late (9pm), stay in Athens, rental car/tour to Delphi, stay overnight, return car next day near the port, get to the island. Returning from the island, take metro directly to the airport for a late flight out (also 9pm). Since we've done the ferry and experienced the Athens airport I feel pretty confident in how much time we need to leave to get back in time for our flight. As always different people have different travel styles so you may not put as much importance on having the "relaxing" part of your trip at the end, but we do. No matter what I'm sure you'll have a great time!

Posted by
22 posts

Beth,

Have a great time. We're from North Florida and will be traveling to Greece in June or July 2018 depending on work schedules. I look forward to hearing about your trip.

Cheryl Petty

Posted by
201 posts

We are in Athens now at the end of our trip (teenage daughter who feels the same about Athens as your children). We flew to Santorini with a connecting flight in Athens (Agean). Most hotels or airbnb will send a driver to pick you up at Santorini airport and that was more economical than a taxi. We payed a bit extra and got flexi fare so we could check one bag free of charge. We stayed in an airbnb cave house in Oia and loved the unique experience (Maison Faros). Two nights in Santorini and then we ferried to Naxos. We stayed one night near St. George Beach at Korali Boutique hotel which was convenient and clean. This was our least favorite part of Naxos and it was very commercialized and busy Beach.
2nd night we moved to Agios Prokopios and loved it. Small beach village with great restaurants and good beach but still crowded. We stayed at Agios Prokopios Hotel. Great staff, pool, breakfast. We caught the bus to A.P. from right near st George beach and any hotel staff or shop owner can show you how to get it. Nice air conditioned bus (think US tour bus).
Then we moved to our favorite part of the trip and wishing we spent all nights there. We stayed near Alyko Beach at Faros Villa hotel. Small 7 room family run hotel right off he beach. Superb tavern/restaurant that we ate at every day and was very popular. This side of the island was more windy and kite surfing and sailing was fun to watch. Beaches were not crowded at all and the facility had an amazing pool. A foot path along the sea and aside a Cyoress forest took us to a string of about 5 other beaches that were beautiful and some were more secluded and less windy.

The owner transported us from Agios Prokopios and then back to the port for our ferry to Piraeus (20 euros) and then back to Athens. They will rent you a car or ATV and really make any arrangements you need. There were lots of repeat guests there who had been coming back year after year.
Now we are spending 2 days in Athens to appease me but wishing we were back in Naxos! Have a great trip!

Posted by
1099 posts

Dana--

I looked at Faros Villa near Alyko Beach and it looks incredible! I can see how Athens could be a bit much after that. Perhaps Sarah has a point about Athens first.

With our group, I am sure that Naxos town is the best place--my husband, for example, is not that fond of going to the beach. But if we do rent a car, this area would be an interesting one for at least some of us to explore.

Thanks for sharing.

Beth

Posted by
743 posts

Oh goodorf we actually did the hike around Chalki not the part up to Moni. We did start to do that section but it was too steep for us. The other problem we realized was once we got to the top we would have to walk back down. Our 4 hours was spent just on the round Chalki section.
By all means if you want to stay right in Naxos town thats fine. I would find a hotel high up just outside the kastro walls for the best views. Also that will put you further from the waterfront promenade which can be noisy.

We are getting older and the walk back up the hills after dinner is a bit too hard especially after one gets a taste for the complimentary raki after dinner. That makes St George the best option for us.

Posted by
2416 posts

Beth, listen to Stanbr (and to me). He & his wife have visited Naxos 12+ times, as have I.... and especially in the time period when you are going. On her first visit to Naxos, it sounds as if Dana had a wonderful time at an outer beach and she provided very useful information. However there are several different factors at work for you:

• They went in HIGH season, hottest time large crowds, when St. George beach is busiest. Your time End of May-early June is FAR different.. St. G. beach pleasantly populated but not crowded. And note: ALL Naxos beaches are clean, top-quality water.
• They were a couple w. a teen -- you are SIX Grown-ups, all with different agendas. If you stay at a far beach, you'd need at least 1 rental car, maybe 2 (cars legally only hold 5). If someone wants to spend his/her time climbing Mt. Zas or finding an ancient statue in an orchard, and another person wants to browse the winding mazes in Old Town... coordination headaches ahead! By contrast, from St. George, it's a 10-15 minute easy walk into town seafront promenade ... Busses (starting there) go frequently all day long and far into night, to the farther beaches. For all the variety of Naxos, go back & click on stanbr's wonderful photo albums!

• On at least 6 of my Naxos visits, I was accompanied by 3-4 "travel pals" all with lively & differing interests. Staying in St. George made it a breeze. A couple would rent a scooter and zip out to Plaka or Alyko beach. Another may wander the town, museums, etc. I once spent a morning sketching in a hillside olive grove. At night, we re-grouped, strolled into port for a seafront sunset meal. We had separate units in same building, ideal combo of privacy & togetherness.
PS on LOCATION -- I have also stayed IN town, up in the Kastro at Hotel Panorama, and on the Other side of town uphill from the port at Hotel Grotta. While both have lovely views, I switched to the beach for reasons: • It's a looong climb to Kastro lodgings with a view, and of course no cars... just tiny lanes. • Grotta is also a climb up a steep hill, which is also dark at night.

About Athens last -- several things to consider when reading Sarah's comment: She was in midst of Heat Wave, you won't be. Also, Sarah lives in Europe (may be American, I don't know) and from other threads appears to have been to Greece a number of times (lucky her!!) On the other hand, all of you are "newbies." It takes awhile to "get the hang of " any new country -- especially one with a completely different alphabet, and a language very different from Spanish-French-Italian u may have studied (altho most Greeks today under 40 are quiet fluent in English). How much easier to get acclimated, learn about menus and timetables and customs, in an island. After a few days, you'll feel very comfortable, and able to make the most of a lively & busy world capital, Athens which has such a wealth of highlights to experience.

If looking for the best Athens locations, Choose Easily walkable to Acropolis & nearby sites. Use google maps on AirbnB or Booking.com to zero in. Here's a FAB map of Central Athens http://www.orangesmile.com/destinations/img/athens-map-big.jpg (click & it gets huuuge). If you want convenience yet less traffic, more greenery/serenity -- I like area just South of Acropolis -- called Makrigianni and Koukaki ... #24 on map is Acrop Museum, right by Acrop. Metro station ... no big highways, a pedestrian-only promenade all along the area, of an evening, Greek families w baby carriages make their stroll, there's a balloon vendor, it looks like a postcard! Plaka area of course OK, busier, Monastiraki Square I find awfully noisy for hotel stay, too many motorcycles.

Finally that post about plane luggage by ferry -- What airline? One of those fly-by- night EuroLines that you wouldn't use anyway.

Posted by
1099 posts

Stanbr--walking around Chalki seems to be another option then. I saw your pictures of the path which was pretty well trodden.

Janet--I do not know the airline but if you have never heard of such a thing, I will not worry about it. When do May/June 2018 flights become available on Olympic/Aegean? And is it unusual to never receive an email from them after signing up?

Also, thanks for the suggestions for areas to stay in Athens. I had just seen some things on Koukaki yesterday and today when I put Makrigianno into vacation by owner search engine, a flat I had looked at and liked came up! Plaka is the other area we have looked at which I know is more touristy but convenient too.

Janet & Stanbr,

For other the reasons you laid out Janet, we will stay in Naxos town and go last to Athens. If nothing else, my husband is not a big beach person so being at a beach resort would not be his idea of a good time!

But where is the question. I take it from both of you that there are lots of steps or hill to climb to get those nice views. Let me tell you the two places I have been considering, which are not very close to each other, and see what you think. One is Nikes Verikokos Studios and the other is Hotel Sofi. I like Nikes Verikokos because it has a roof deck and seems closer to the center of town than Hotel Sofi. I love the Castle views though from Hotel Sofi. Is Nikes Verikokos located too close to the waterfront promenade to be quiet? And when you say you have to climb a lot to get there can you do anything without climbing steps?

We stayed in Positano, Italy last summer and had to climb steps down to the hotel which had a lovely view. That was fine but once there could not do anything without ascending and descending steps. That I must admit, did get old. Is old town like that? Or is it that you have to climb but then once you are there you can go to historical sites and shops and restaurants?

Thanks so much for sharing all your experience.

Beth

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2416 posts

Hi AGain Beth--- when you talk about "nice views" I am not quite sure what you mean ... do you mean port view from above?? I think I explained that the very high area (just by the Kastro walls) is toilsome because of all the up & down ... after being revived by a swim, you get all weary climbing back to hotel. Same deal for Hotel Grotta. This hotel map is outdated/very incomplete list -- but clarifies locations. http://www.naxos-greece.net/site/gfx/chora_naxos_hotels_map.jpg It is very easy to enjoy port views just by going to dinner at To Kastro restaurant or Typographico, which are a bit up on the the higher part of Naxos Town.

As for Nikos, I would not recommend it because it's in center of active Naxos Town, surrounded by shops, cafes --- AND night clubs. If you'll look at booking.com's "google map" that shows the location, One May, friend & I booked ONE night at Nearby Hotel Coronis (#16 on above map) because so close to Pier. However, it was ALSO close to 2 nightclubs, with a heavy Bass speakers, boom-boom boom until 4 pm. And Hotel Sofi is not convenient to anything ... it's BEHIND the Kastro, so you do not see the port, and it's Waaay far from the beach (Grotta is not a beach, it is just stone steps on the causeway, so sunning, just people take a quick dip) ... If you want to be on that side of town, I would suggest rather going to Iliada studios on the top of the Grotta Bluff. But you have to walk down to seafront of port for any good tavernas, and I gotta tell you walking up that steep hill path at night is dark and tiring.

Beth are you trying to get all your info just hopping around the internet, not looking at any guidebooks? You seem to have trouble getting a fix on Naxos Town terrain. This "SKY MAP" http://www.skymap.gr/apps/site/viewmap/?mapid=29&cid=305 will give some idea. If you make it a bit smaller, so you can see all of Naxos town, you will clearly see that the elevated part is a green circle surrounded by the medieval walls, and circling streets around it go gradually down. IF you can find the Seafront Shop that says PRIME, then go 2 lanes inland, to where there's a flight of steps. Just at the top of stair is a wide "plaza" -- that is where the taverna
To Kastro is, with a truly lovely view down over harbor. A further use of the skymap -- if you move toward the RIGHT, you clearly see the relationship of St. George beach to the port town. It is literally "just around the corner" -- when you get to TOWN HALL (see map) the far side, a lane leads down to the beach about 200 yards.

Stanbr's album, NAXOS TOWN - https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094558042/ (link already provided-- did you look at it?) clearly shows topography. Only central "ring" is higher. You get a SUPERVIew just walking out on the Causeway to the ARCH - https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/8221631325/in/album-72157632094558042/ is Stanbr's shot at sunset. Believe me, you can get lovely views at St. George

HIKING - BTW, there's a great website on walks http://www.cycladen.be/NaxosEng.htm by a nutty belgian who has photo'd & described hikes/walks on every Cycladic isle, and he says "Naxos interior is a paradise for hikers." His #15 is a favorite of mine ... not strenuous, goes right UP from the port along the Grotta, and to the high high Monastery (flanked by MULBERRY trees!!!) , takes about 40 minutes, great at sunset, works up an appetite then you trot back down to a taverna for roast lamb... yummmm.

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1099 posts

Janet,

That 3d map is really nice. It really helped. I have only been looking on the internet because I really haven't found a guidebook with much on Naxos. What would you suggest? I have a couple guidebooks on Greece, including Rick Steve's, but Naxos is not in it. I have a guide book on the Greek islands but very little on any single one. I tried looking on Amazon for Cyclades islands thinking that might have more on each island but couldn't find anything in print (found something for a Kindle which I do not have). I bought a book on walking Naxos but that doesn't really help too much with anything else.

I had found the website you mentioned but it is really helpful to know what hike you took. The list on the website is so long which is both good and bad.

I saw that Kymata which is one of the hotels I had on my short list for St. George area is very close to the town center. (others are Studio Naxos, Galasia Studios, Zas studios, and Hotel Palatia) So no, I really did not have the layout figured out. I had noted that there were more reasonably priced but good looking choices on St. George's than in other parts of town.

I had wondered about noise at Nikos Verikokos studios because I had seen comments about some other hotels not too far away a about a night club. But didn't know if there was one or many of them.

Thanks so much for all your help.

Beth

Posted by
2416 posts

About Guidebooks -- RS doesn't really cover islands ... except Hydra, and that one only because some of his tours go there. He is good on Athens stuff & Nafplio, but nada on islands (to be frank, I think he likes Turkey better than Greece, which is a shame because of the way Turkey is acting now, esp. towards women).

My Go-To guidebook is ROUGH GUIDE -- I have shelves full, but this is the most useful. RG actually PAYS writers to go in person to destinations (unlike another series that got into a scandal for writing everything never leaving NY). RG gives GREAT detail & background, good maps. You don't even need to buy the newest edition (altho it's really nice), you could get the next-edition back, used, for under $10 on Amazon. Go look at RG in your local library & decide. The GREAT part about RG is you don't have to take along the big heavy book. The sections are designed individually... So you can carefully carefully pull the sections you'll use OFF the Packing, put ONE careful staple, then use Duct Tape for a Spine and Voila! a pocket-size Guidette. You can take along sections on Athens, Cyclades Islands, Greek History (VERY good & succinct), Food & Drink, Language & Phrase list (terrific), Landscape, Wildlife, etc Great to read on ferries, balconies & beaches.

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2416 posts

RE St. G Hotels --- you cannot find which ones are available next May because it's too early. Here's an easy way to see what's around, and what the prices might be.

• On Google, put in "booking.com St. George Beach Naxos" When the list comes up, it will includ a booking.com heading something like "30 best hotels in St. GEorge beach" Clilck on that.
• When it comes up, put in "1 room 2 adults" (don't put in all 6 of you, or you won't see the full range). And put in a "Dummy" stay-date for 4 nights" -- I suggest Sept 18 thru 21 -- that's because after Sept 15, prices are similar to late May-Early June.
• Then you'll see a smaller # of Hotel names, usually organized as "our top recommendations".

• Click on the first hotel, even if you don't want it -- this is just to bring up a standard page, which has a GOOGLE MAP of AREA.
• Click on Google map, and it will show all the St. G beach hotels handled by Booking.com. -- shown as balloons. Balloons w. RED centers mean fully booked. Balloons w white centers have availability. When u touch each baloon it gives the price for 4 nights for 1 room. Many of these are not just "rooms" but "studio units" that in additon to balcony & fridge, also have kitchenette ell or nook. If you wanted to have one Unit BIGGER, so you could have a gathering place for the 6 of you, you can look for one 1-BR unit. This will have a BR usually double bed, then main room w kitchennette ell, w. table & chairs & 2 daybeds, Balcony also w. table. Just a thought.
• The Google map is SO useful because often a hotel describes itself as "right by the beach when it is quite far away. The best locations are 10 feet from the sands, or back from the sands no more than 50 yards. Ones right on the beach include Studios Kalergis, Hotel Asteria, Studios Thomais (but only the top floor, because the patio floor & 1st floor usually have families w. toddlers). Hotel Kymata is back about 50 yard but the top 2 floors have good beach views from balconies. Also look at Lefka Studios and Diogenes Studios. At the other end of the beach, a somewhat more upscale place which is Super is Villa Naxia. It also has a variety of units, so you could book a single room, and an apt w. 2 BR. It fills up fast, but since you are thinking ahead 9 mos., you can check them in a few months.

Studios Naxos is my spot have been there 4-5 times, it's quite a budget place... nobody at the desk, but you can call the owner on cellphone any time. Since I've praised it so often, it fills up. The top floor Unit #1 (they call it 2nd floor, we call it 3rd) has balcony w great sea view from BR, 2 single beds separated by a doorway, the inner room has kitchenette, table, & a day-bedalcove. THe next floor down, (unit #3)below the top floor unit has balcony facing water, with sitting room next, inner room has double bed. Across the landing is Unit #2 (Mine) ... twin beds, kitchenette alcove, SIDE balcony under a tree, partial water view. This is just my budgeteer fave but with your group, you'd be better off with some of the others have more amenities & public spaces, useful.

Posted by
2416 posts

Forgot to say -- when you've given your 4 "dummy booking" days & click on a hotel, even tho you've just selected one room... they will show you all the rooms, with descriptions. Some of them may say "Too late for this! booked Yesterday" but you don't care, you just want to see the descriptions. ALL the rooms will have availability for early june!

A final note: Sometimes hotels won't respond in late fall about a June 2018 booking request because they hven't yet set their prices. And sometimes in December-January, e-mails go unanswered... because that's when hard-working family hoteliers take a break!

OH, and about Aegean. Girl, don't just wonder and ask us why they don't send y ou alerts! Find the Aegean e-mail on the website and write a note asking THEM -- say that you specifically want to receive all the weekly notices of special offers (you will receive a lot of irrelevant ones, for trips to Germany etc, but just delete them).

Posted by
1099 posts

Janet,

I ordered to Rough Guide to the Greek Islands from Amazon based on your advice.

I emailed Aegean customer service this morning. I didn't expect anyone to figure it out--just wanted to know if it was typical. Afterwards, I saw a box for getting email about specials so I clicked on it. Perhaps the miles club doesn't automatically give you the emails.

I have been playing with booking.com. I am leaning towards Kymata right now but will look at some of those you say are right near the beach with a view. I agree a lobby or other common space would be good with a group like ours.

Thanks again.

Beth

Posted by
743 posts

I have been away for several days so just getting caught up. I see you say you are from south Florida so swimming at St Geporge beach doesn't interest you. If you are expecting a beach like Daytona with lots of white sand and a view of nothing but water all the way to the horizon thats not what St Goerge is like. Its a big bay with headlands and views up Naxos coast and across to nearby Paros. I got bored of the beach at New Smyrna because it was allways the same scene. Except the day Hurricane Sandy blew by. St George changes every minute.

I just noticed your budget. St George has heavy competition among the hotels so prices are lower than Naxos town. To get that price range you really are going to need to book early and at St George. Everything is so close that you could all book at different hotels and not have to walk more than two minutes to all get together.

I have visited Kymata which is lovely all marble interiors. Studios Naxos is the ultimate in do it yourself economy, Palatia is just around the corner and is nicely appointed and Diogenes is a favourite with all rooms with sea views. It has a little taverna bar are the front and we spend an hour a day having a drink and just watching all the activity.
I don't think I provided you the links ot my St George beach and hotels album. Perhaps this will help you decide.
St George Beach Hotels Naxos http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632162394787/
St George Beach Naxos http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632113170279/

Also I don't believe signing up for Aegeans club gets you the e mail blasts. I think the last thing you mentioned will start that process.
I think you guys are going to have a great time.

Posted by
2873 posts

"About Athens last -- several things to consider when reading Sarah's comment: She was in midst of Heat Wave, you won't be. Also, Sarah lives in Europe (may be American, I don't know) and from other threads appears to have been to Greece a number of times (lucky her!!) On the other hand, all of you are "newbies." It takes awhile to "get the hang of " any new country -- especially one with a completely different alphabet, and a language very different from Spanish-French-Italian u may have studied (altho most Greeks today under 40 are quiet fluent in English). How much easier to get acclimated, learn about menus and timetables and customs, in an island. After a few days, you'll feel very comfortable, and able to make the most of a lively & busy world capital, Athens which has such a wealth of highlights to experience."

I am American but have lived in Europe for many years. What I don't understand about this argument is that it will somehow be more "easy" to become acclimated to Greece elsewhere than Athens. Frankly, it's a culture shock no matter where you are, but far more people spoke better English in Athens than anywhere else we've been in Greece. The downside is that it's a big chaotic city. (And hot - and it wasn't a heatwave, my understanding is that temps above 30 are pretty typical for summer, it hit highs above 40 after left, I can't even imagine!) but regardless I remain steadfast in my opinion that city THEN relax makes more sense than relax then city, regardless of where the trip is exactly. The former is more likely to not feeling like you need to take a "vacation from your vacation" and you have more energy. Athens is difficult in it's way, but it's not hard for non-seasoned travelers to deal with because it is so accustomed to tourists. We certainly had easier communication in Athens than we did in Thessoniki, Pelion, and Agistri.

I realize I'm shouting into the wind here and OP is not likely to take my advice since everyone else here is so experienced with the specific islands she's visiting, but I will say again: if your kids are not super into Athens, get it out of the way at the beginning, because travel takes a toll and people are always grumpier at the end then they are at the beginning. Throw in hot temps and a busy city where no one wants to be because you're wishing you were back on that magical island and I'm just saying...

Posted by
2416 posts

Sarah, I know you only want the best for this party of newbies, but please re-read Beth's various posts on this thread and consider the difference between your experience, and what theirs is more likely to be:
• You apparently were in Athens when it was hot hot hot ... In 11 of my 12 trips I've been in Greece when they plan to go, late May-early June and most times the top afternoon temps are around 25-28°C, 77-80°F.
• As for travel time I hope you never have as long a trip as Stanbr (24 hrs), and even my trip from East coast US is 13 hours cramped in Economy torture seat (+7 hr time change); i never get jetlag but am totally exhausted and need recovery time on an island before tackling the Acropolis
• Beth's party will NOT have problems finding English speakers In Naxos or Nafplio, and certainly not Santorini
• About worrying whether the "kids" will be grumpy ... altho Beth always refers to "children," they are young adults 21-31, not 6-year-olds who will have a melt-down if they need a nap.

Posted by
1099 posts

Sarah--

A bit hard to know the best thing to do--I saw the post where the family was all wishing they were back in Naxos once they were in Athens which favors your perspective. After we will leave Naxos, we will go to Nafplio which will hopefully make the contrast to Athens less severe.

I have told my children they can skip Athens, if they want, and return to the states (they will be 21-32 years old so can travel alone). No takers yet. It is more efficient traveling for us to go directly to an island which one of my prime motivations. I would like all of us to enjoy Athens so am trying to find a place to stay that will work for a group (central location, enough space, a/c, ).

Stan--
Thanks for the photos. I couldn't get them to work tonight but hopefully tomorrow.

Beth

Posted by
201 posts

It was just me and my teen and she ended up loving Athens. We stayed at an Airbnb in the Koukaki area and it was a great location! Only a 5-10 minute walk to the Acropolis metro stop, Acropolis ruins & Acropolis Museum. Homer was the airbnb owner and he has two apartments right next to each other. It was about $44 per night and we had a whole, small, city apartment with one bedroom and sleeping space on the couch in the living room. He also provided a driver from the port and to the airport at a very economical price. The Koukaki area was not touristy, had grocery stores, pastry shops, and several streets of restaurants & bars.

My daughter's lack of enthusiasm initially about Athens was b/c we had a heavy first part of our trip teaching in the Czech Republic. We did a private tour of Athens arranged by the airbnb owner & the tour ended up being SO GREAT b/c the guide took us through all of the great areas, to Parliament to see the changing of the guards, to the markets and quaint vendors/restaurants, to the first Olympic Stadium, the royal gardens, etc. It was $25 for me and $10 for my teen for over 3 hour tour. Our guide was Marleen from A Gem called Athens at info@agemcalledathens.com

Also - Naxos town was great too and we saw so many of the hotels Stan recommended and they all looked fantastic and convenient. The beaches were no more crowded than any in FL and we could always find a spot. Plenty of cute restaurants right on the beach too. Look at Stan's pics - amazing! It wasn't necessarily because it was our first trip, why we chose what we did to do & where to stay in Naxos. We just were more in to the R&R since it was at the end of an exhausting first part of trip and nearing 3 weeks of travel at that point. Just the right fit for us. All of the other posts look like they have great recommendations for what you're looking for! You will have a great time no matter what.

Posted by
1099 posts

Dana,

So glad to hear your daughter enjoyed Athens. My 24 year old son is home for a few days and we watched the National Geographic special "The Greeks". My husband and I have watched the whole thing and found that the third one "Chasing Greatness" was the easiest to follow--and starts with the ultra marathon to Sparta (my son is a runner). Then it is better to watch the other two. Anyway, afterwards, my son said "now I want to go to Athens!"

You might enjoy it after your trip.

Beth

Posted by
2416 posts

goodorf -- Glad to hear that visuals can arouse the interest of 20-somethings! I do know that age-level as a group seems to be averse to the written word (a hard pill to swallow for a career wordsmith like myself). Therefore, you'll be happy to know that almost everywhere you're going to go, there are visuals that will make Ancient Greece "come alive" for your "children." Examples:
• In the Nafplio central Square, the historic Greek Arsenal-turned-Museum has a SUPERB video 20 mins or so, that gives complete background on Argolid area, the Iliad-era heroes & happenings, which then makes it thrilling to go thru the small but impressive exhibits including world's OLD authentic iliad-era suit of armor, 2500+years old, amazingly preserved.
• In ATHENS, the New Acropolis Museum, on top floor, has a terrific 20-minute video combining photos & animation to give complete history of Parthenon, what it survived, who damaged it, how it's being lovingly authentically repaired.
• Also in ATHENS, you can do the Nat. Arch. Museum without exhaustion or "artifact fatigue" by downloading the FREE audio step-by-step from R Steves, on the "10 must-sees" -- just the Biggies, no boring coins or vases.
• Also in Athens - the Cycladic Museum TOP FLOOR has amazing video using actual costumed Greek children & parents to explain the vital "rites of passage" and public/private customs of Ancient Greek society.
• FINALLY, since u have runners in the family, take a look at this website http://nemeangames.org - about the Nemean Games Revival -- telling how thousands of enthusiasts take part every 4 years in re-enactment of Sacred games here. Since ANcient Nemea is just about 5 miles off the big Intercity highway to Nafplio, your guys might want to do a quick stop -- they can race each other using the ACTUAL starter-blocks from 2400 years ago, excavated in place.

Posted by
1099 posts

Janet,

Thanks for all the tips. I will say that I would recommend the National Geographic series on Greece even for those who love to read books. They really do a good job of weaving a story about Greece together in a way that history that seems almost like fiction.

Do you think it would be good to go to the Acropolis museum before visiting the Acropolis? I was thinking after but your post made me wonder.

Beth

Posted by
2416 posts

No beth, do Acropollis first -- and the 2 times to do it are either (1) get to ticket office 8 AM go in directly, have wonderful time uncrowded until the large tour groups arrive about 9:30. ... or,(2), if you arrive in Athens mid-day or so, go up around 4-5 pm, all the crowds have left, the western sunlight turns it all to Gold. If u go in the AM,if u hve t ime and interest, on the way down go through the Ancient Agora ... The R STeve book has step-by-step guide thru Acropolis AND Agora (or u you download FREE audio from his website). The wonderful Stoa of Attalos is authentically built according to detailed ancient drawings(!). The columned porch is a TOP photo op -- inside is exhibit of all the treasures that were excavated when the Ancient agora was FINALLY cleared & excavated in 20th C. My big thrill -- u know that Athenians annually voted on whom they'd like to exile, their "ballots" were broken pieces of pottery, potsherds, their word was Oistrakh (thus: ostracize). In a glass box, potsherds with SOCRATES and ARISTOPHANES scratched on. Shiver! THEN go to the Museum... have a bite to eat in the lovely terrace cafe looking straight UP at Parthenon. The museum has "docents", people w. lapel badges, and if you aren't on a tour, and you have questions bout a statue, just ask one of them. The Top floor is the big show (with that video)... and an exact replica of the TOP of the Parthenon, with the remaining sculptures above you AND plaster replicas of the ones that were Grabbed by the British & in the British Museum & will not give them back.

As for what to do first, a Greek friend says, if you're going to visit a friend who has built an amazing new house, and also has a fine picture collection, you will usually look at the house before you go in to see the pictures on the wall.

What will surprise you, after having seen the Parthenon all your life on posters & postage stamps??? When you go through the Propyleaum (the entry arch), it just hits you -- the thing is JUST SO BIG.

Posted by
11432 posts

Re Athens .

My first and only visit there was in 1985 . My friend and I had been backpacking around Europe for almost three months and Greece was our last 2.5 weeks . We flew into Athens from Paris and stayed there for three days before we left for the rest of the time on the islands ( at that time Paris and Mykonos )

Out of all the cities we had visited in that 2.5 months of backpacking through Europe , Athens was absolutely our least favourite .

We loved Mykonos , but after our visit t there last year , we would never go back . This time we added Naxos ( and loved it )

Honestly I don't think it matters where exactly one stayed in Naxos town , we walked ALL over it , it's not that big , we only rented a car to drive around the island .

The heat when we went last year was not an issue ( May 18-27 ) it was lovely and warm but not hot !

Posted by
2416 posts

Glad to hear you enjoyed Naxos, Pat, and as a recent experience it is valid. However, there is no point in sharing your opinion of ONE 3-day visit to Athens 32 years ago ... I would advise all newcomers to ignore it. Pat, would you like to be judged on a 3-day acquaintance with YOU, in 1985?