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Car rental for 3 days in the Peloponnese - Gold Car Rental?

I am planning the last leg of an 11 day trip July 1-11 ( Athens -3, Santorini- 4 then this 3 day whirlwind before one last night somewhere nearish the airport ) I have been corresponding with Athens car rental but they have been unable to conform anything yet so i have contacted others including Gold Car Rental- does anyone have any experience with this company ( good or bad) ? Any other recommendations?
Also any driving tips/ advice on an itinerary would be welcome .I am travelling with my adult daughter , we would like to see Olympia so I thought we would drive there on the first day stay the night (sat ),then make our way back seeing the sights around Nafplio, stay for a night (Sun) maybe Monday as well then back to the airport to drop the car (Tues). I still need to plan Tuesday night, there is a morning flight on Wednesday so I don't want to stray too far.
Any thoughts would be appreciated,
joanne

Posted by stanbr
Nanaimo, BC, Canada
414 posts

I have seen this car company on Tripdviser reviews. Overwhelmingly the reviews are bad. Overcharging, forced insurance charges on credit cards and charges for scratches that may people thought were on the car when they rented it. Just google Gold Cars reviews
There are some good reviews but they appear to be written by the same person. Not sure what the delay with Athens Cars is but they have a good reputation and we have used them in the past. I have seen some good reviews with Swift Avanti but I have had no experience with them.

Posted by Joanne OP
Ottawa
30 posts

Well, Athens car rental has now infirmed me they have no cars so back to the drawing board. Any recommendations?

Posted by stanbr
Nanaimo, BC, Canada
414 posts

Just don't go with Gold Car. As I mentioned I have seen some good reports about Swift/Avanti but have no experience. Auto Europe also has a good reputation. Here is a post from one of Rick Steves people. Auto Europe, pre-paid before leaving home, and have not had a problem with the local agent accepting my reserved rental voucher. I believe that the source they booked me through was Avis. Our book researchers also routinely book cars through Auto Europe.

For you plan I assume you are flying to Athens from Santorini so rent the car from the airport. That has the advantage of being on a major highway and you don't need to drive in Athens. At the end of the trip just return the car to the airport. There is only one hotel at the airport the Sofital. If you have one of those awful 6am flights its worth paying the extra money to stay right at the airport. If you have a mid morning flight I can recommend Peris hotel. Its about 15 minutes from the airport but they offer a free shuttle service. We have used them in the past and have a room booked this September. Our AC Rouge flight leaves at 11 so we can have a leisurely breakfast and take the shuttle to the airport.

Driving in Greece is different than here. The Greeks drive very fast and little rental cars max out around 120 km while the Greeks cruise around 150. You must drive on the right hand lane and often will be expected to have your right wheel on the shoulder. Trucks have to drive this way so you may find yourself having to pass a large truck. I recall checking my rear view mirror saw nothing behind me, I looked at the truck again and started to pull out and a car passed me at a very high speed. You have to be very aware of what is going on behind you. On secondary roads which can be narrow and hilly the excitement comes from drivers who pass on blind curves. I kid you not. Greeks have some crazy gene that makes them wild on curves. Having said that on the secondary roads speeds are much slower so everyone has time to get out of the way. I said all that to say, the driver has to be concentrating on nothing but driving. The passenger has to be the navigator and be responsible with the map (even with GPS a map is a good thing to have because there are many places with the same names but in a different region) We programmed our GPS wrong a few times because we entered the wrong co ordinates. We now have a map with us.

As for your plan. Its a 5 hour drive to Olympia then a 5 hour drive back again. So you are spending essentially two days of your trip on Olympia. Thats fine however after doing that trip I will offer a possible alternative which will allow you to see more with far less driving.

From the airport you will end up at Corinth( Korinthos) You can stop and see the canal, then stop at Ancient Corinth the Roman era ruins then just west of Corinth you will find Ancient Nemia. It has sister games to Olympia and still has its stadium plus a partially restored temple and a good museum. No its not Olympia but these three sites in Corinth will take you about 3 hours total as compared to the 5 hour drive to Olympia. From Nemia turn south and drive through the rolling hills of Nemia wine country to Nafplio. You can easily spend your three days in Nafplio and the surrounding area is full of antiquities.

For fun this is what I am proposing
Nafplio and Peloponnese http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094108982/

Posted by Joanne OP
Ottawa
30 posts

This is super advice and just what I was looking for, I would like to drive less not more esp with the description of the other drivers! I am not using gold car- very bad reviews all around so will go with a known company - prob enterprise as they have an automatic available. I really appreciate the trip advice and hotel at the end. I am NOT driving in Athens ! I was wondering if there is anything to do east of the airport for half day after returning the car or somewhere to leave bags and bus back into Athens for the afternoon?

Posted by stanbr
Nanaimo, BC, Canada
414 posts

I forgot to mention you will need an International Drivers Permit. You can get one from CAA even if you are not a member. Fines are huge if you are stopped and don't have one.
There is a luggage storage place at the airport. Its on arrivals level. Once you enter the terminal on arrivals turn right and walk to the end of the terminal and you will find it. We used it last year it was inexpensive and convenient.
Watch out for pickpockets on the Metro. There are a lot of them and they are very good.

Posted by janet
Philadelphia, PA, USA
1753 posts

Joanne - if you have an early flight on Wednesday, you need to say how early. If it's 9 am you have lots of options, if it's 7 am, you need to be there in check-in line by 5 am. if you're returning car at noon, you may want to have a cooling swim at a beach ... Hotel Avra at Rafina port http://www.hotelavra.gr has free shuttle-bus both ways starting at 3 AM -- http://www.hotelavra.gr/uploads/editorfiles/files/avra_hotel_shuttle_bus.pdf . It's right on/near beach, relaxed way to end your trip.

Posted by Joanne OP
Ottawa
30 posts

Thanks- just what I wanted to know! My flight is not that early at all (11) but my daughter is returning to Manchester at 8:30 so we can easily do the beach swim even in early evening if we return the car to the airport at noon and go into Athens for a few hours. We start the trip there but really have only2 days - of course that’s not enough - but hopefully we will get a taste and see if we would like the extra afternoon. I’m hoping to survive driving, I’m going to get the international permit this weekend- nowhere else has ever even asked to see it but I’ll have it for the Greeks. I looked at the flicker pictures- are they all around Nafplio? Very lovely!

Posted by Joanne OP
Ottawa
30 posts

The trip is finally all planned! We have decided to skip Delphi and go to Olympia ( 4.5 hours- not too bad) , check out the site museum in the late afternoon when we arrive, then the site the first thing in the morning. Drive over to Nafplio ( 2.5 hours?) and spend 2 nights ( 2 full days) there before bringing the car to the Athens airport and heading to Rafina. All booked- some first choices were not available but generally happy with Leto Nuevo in Nafplio and Kronio in Olympia. The suggestion of Hotel Avra was super , thanks! looking forward to those 999 steps and the theatre in Evipdavros. Has anyone seen a play there? Would you recommend it? If so, Did you take a bus from Nafplio or drive yourself? I am not keen on driving in the dark...
You have been really helpful, this trip was not planned well in advance 9 not my usual style) as it came up as a way to meet my daughter who has been studying in England at the end of her term when her other travelling companions bowed out....
Next- download all those podcasts/walks ect...
Joanne

Posted by goodorf
210 posts

We were at Epidaurus in May so there were no plays running yet (only July and August) but I think it would be a really neat thing to do. I would get there ahead of time so you can look around ect. I wouldn't drive back in the dark (although did during the day) but my impression was there are special buses that go back and forth from Nafplio to Epidaurus.

Beth