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Greece and islands and onward

Have a Global Pass.
Arrive in Athens at midnight and will take train to station near ferries. Plan to go to Santorini early in the morning and then to Crete and back to Athens, spending one night on Crete or taking night ferry back to Athens. A morning in Athens and then to Bari on way to Rome to see friend. Two days later or on the way to Rome possibly Salerno/Capri. After Rome on to Cinque Terre, then Nice, Paris and Prague. Fly back home out of Vienna, where I will spend my last few days.

It looks like I have to do all this between April 5 and April 18, so any suggestions would be helpful. Yes, I'll try to add a few days at the end but not sure I can.

It's been difficult finding all the schedules to put this trip together. I think I may have to "wing it" when I get to Athens.

Thanks so much,
Karen

Posted by
21495 posts

Do you mean you're going to Crete for (at most) one night? It's a huge island. You are really wasting your time. Spend that day somewhere else--anywhere else.

Surely you don't mean you are trying to visit all those (12?) places in 13 days? That would make no sense even if someone else were paying you to do it. How could you expect to see anything at all? You'd be on a train, or bus, or ferry, or airplane just about every single minute.

Posted by
4 posts

Yes, I know. I'm trying to get more time, but do want to see everything. I'm worried about April weather as well. Your advice is mine as well. Will see what's possible. I was planning to do as many night trains as possible. I've done it before and it was amazing how it worked out.
Thanks for the advice!!

Posted by
21495 posts

But with that itinerary you're not going to see anything except the scenery out the bus/train window. You need to stop thinking about how many places you can go and start thinking about how you make every day the best it can be. Surely that doesn't mean spending many hours almost every day, checking in and out of hotels and moving to a new place? This trip is not going to be a pleasant memory for you.

In the amount of time you have, assuming you've already bought airline tickets into Athens and out of Vienna, you have time to see a bit of Greece, meet up with your friend in Rome and spend some time in Vienna. Trying to do more (unless it's a stop along the rail line between Rome and Vienna) will make the trip worse, not better. Since Greece is awkward/costly to get to, in your shoes I'd put as much time there as possible.

If you haven't laid out the transit times between each pair of destinations, you need to do that right away. The Deutsche Bahn website will probably cover all your rail legs. That will show you that you need to hack away at your itinerary.

Although I imagine the weather in Greece will be pleasant in April, I think you're ahead of the season and will not find as many ferries running as will be available in mid-summer. Even in peak season, you just don't move around Greece--with all its islands--the way you do most other European countries. You may need to stick to just one of the distant islands, Athens, and perhaps Aegina or a second mainland sight or city (everyone loves Nafplion). [edited]

Posted by
2961 posts

I hope you realize that the Santorini>Crete ferry arrives on Crete at around 7pm, and the next-day ferry to Athens leaves at 10 or 11 AM, depending on the company, so you aren't going to have much time to explore beyond your immediate surroundings. This assumes there is an next-day ferry when you plan to be there!

Check here with your travel dates: www.gtp.gr

Posted by
4 posts

You are very kind and concerned, but don't worry. I lived in Euope 26 years, including Vienna for many years; I've been to Greece couple of times, and am traveling alone and am presently handicapped , so my agenda won't look like that of most other folks. Looking out the train window, and sleeping on trains calculated to go long distances at night----even Crete is an overnight if you plan it that way---can be quite relaxing. I don't enjoy eating or staying in hotels alone, so this is a different kind of trip. I won't be able to walk around much and may rely on taxis. Yes, you will say "why bother", but I don't look at life that way. Much will depend on how quickly I can move around.........and how flexible I can be. Thanks again.

Posted by
91 posts

From Santorini to Crete in April you would go to Heraklion, then leave from there just a few hours later. You may possibly, if you're very lucky, get time for a fast tour round Knossos OR the archeological museum. Not both. That's not worth the long travel time.
In April you may encounter some stormy weather, so you do need to add at least a day's flexibility to any schedule requiring ferries.
In other words, forget Crete this time.

On arrival in Athens I'd suggest you stay in central Athens rather than Pireaus, it's so much nicer & feels safer, in my opinion.

Posted by
993 posts

Quality is more important than quantity. I think going to Crete for one day is a waste of time. In addition traveling from Point A to Point B eats up valuable holiday time.

I have no idea about your time in the other countries but it appears you'll be doing more time traveling than visiting.

Posted by
45 posts

Maybe it would be helpful to others if you gave an outline of how you see this playing out. If you cut Crete and stayed to see Athens upon your flight arrival, you wouldn't have to double back after Santorini and could try to fly from there to Rome. Probably cut Bari as well as transportation is probably a little more limited. Capri would be impossible to get to and from given your time limitations. Rome to Cinque Terre by train is about 5 hours and another 5 hours from there to Nice - these can't be done as overnight journeys because you have to change trains probably at La Spezia and Milan - respectively. Nice to Paris another 6 hours - you may be able to do an overnight train between these two destinations and Paris to Prague. Do you intend to spend a night at each place or are you just wanting to see the Cinque Terre as your train rolls by and not stop? Are you trying to see any sights in Athens, Rome, Paris? Even just one of the major sights in each place would take at least 3 hours and if you have limited mobility probably more like 4 hours.

Posted by
16883 posts

There are very few overnight services available along your route. You can take the Superfast brand overnight ferry from Patras to Bari, base fare covered by your rail pass, tax and cabin extra. Other Greek ferries are not covered but may have a small discount.

You can technically take an overnight train between Rome and the Cinque Terre, but it departs Rome at midnight and arrives at La Spezia at 4:25 a.m. (or sleep until Genova at 6:00 and double back).

Paris-Prague has good budget flight options; trains take 10-17 hours with 2 connections. An overnight portion of that route could be done between Strasbourg and Berlin. See the earlier referenced schedule links.

Posted by
21495 posts

I understand a bit better now. I, myself, have quite often hopped on a bus to an outlying village and ridden it roundtrip, just to see the scenery. It gives the bus drivers a giggle, I think, but it works for me.

I've take a few overnight ferries and slept perfectly well in a tiny cabin. My one recent experience on an overnight train, in southern Italy, was utterly miserable and sleepless because of the constant left-to-right jerking of the carriage. I hope and suspect that the rails are in better shape in other parts of Europe, but I wonder whether you're going to get much sleep on the overnight trains and hope that you never try them on back-to-back nights.

I believe the Cinque Terre is an unfortunate choice of destination for someone with limited mobility since there's a lot of uphill/downhill walking and--I suspect--a lack of taxis. This is worth some extra research (if you haven't already done it) before you commit to a stop there. The train line runs through a tunnel a good bit of the way, with just periodic window-like cut-outs giving a glimpse of the ocean. I'm not sure you'll be able to see much there.

If it would help to have suggestions for lovely smaller towns that are basically flat, I can offer Ravenna and Vicenza, though you'd probably want a taxi from the train station to the historic center of Vicenza.

Or perhaps a lake with flattish shore towns and opportunities for boat trips? I think Stresa might work, but I don't believe the Borromeans Isles are flat, and they are pretty much the reason to go to Stresa in might view.

Orvieto, despite being a hill town, might work if you cobbled together all the available forms of transportation: train from Rome (just over an hour) to the base of the town, funicular up to the historic area, and bus to the (basically flat) center of the historic district.

Posted by
116 posts

This is suicide. I'm sorry but this looks unpleasant.
Shall I assume you're flying in to Athens on April 5 and out of Vienna on April 18? And you have to be in Rome on April 9?
At most you have 14 nights (and possibly only 13 if you're landing in Athens on April 6). Let's say 14. Santorini - Crete - Athens - Rome - Salerno - Nice - Paris - Prague - Vienna. 9 destinations in 14 nights that are all very far from each other? Not good. These places all take a very long time to get to. It sounds like only Rome and Vienna are places you must be. You could do a fun little connect-the-dots kind of trip from Rome to Vienna only. That'd be a blast. Glorious Italian cities and towns, the Alps, and more. Or, Athens alone, fly to Rome (the ferry / train thing takes close to 24 hours by itself - it's grueling), 4 or 5 days in Rome with friend and extend with day-trips (though Sorrento, for example, is nearly 4 hours on the train and Cinque Terre takes even longer). Then, 5 or 6 days to get to Vienna via any number of terrific places like Siena, Florence, Venice, Balogna, Padua, Venice, the Alps, Graz, or Vienna itself. The train from Rome to Vienna goes to all of these places; you can hop-on / hop-off. I would have to think Paris and Prague are not practical on this trip.

Posted by
4 posts

Goodness, I've seen all the cities but those of Cinque Terre and minimal visit to Prague with my little ones ages ago, so they are my priorities. I'm now traveling three weeks in May. I've spent a good deal of time in Athens but not all the islands. Vienna was my home for many years. Spent time in Nice and Paris.......My son was born in France, my daughter in Berlin. Sorry I have bothered everyone. This is my third or fourth Eurrail trip, and always seems to work. It helps to speak German and French and smatterings of Italian and to be flexible, but I am always ready for helpful enthusiastic advice.

Thanks again,
Karen