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Greek Easter

We will be spending 13 days in Greece and were hoping for a few pointers for those who have been there.
We hare spending a few days and Athens and are well prepared for that portion of the trip. My main questions involve travel outside the city.
We are taking a Ferry to Hydra for 5 days/4 nights. When should we buy our ferry tickets? Is that a "day of when you get to the port" or something we could save by buying while still home?

After our Hydra trip we were hoping to take a train tour for a few days, but we keep getting conflicting information about train travel in Greece. Our grand plan in hopefully getting a 5 day rail pass and taking the train to Thessaloniki, but stopping for a half day in Lamia and overnight in Larissa. As I said, we keep getting conflicting information as to the routes, dependability and what pass we should actually buy.

One trip we want to also take is to Delphi OR Olympia, but neither my husband or I drive. Is there a way to get to one or the other that is reliable and not overpriced? We have been pondering a treat your self moment of a private guide who could drive us, but that depends on over all budget. I don't need to do both, but would like to do one or the other (suggestions on which one would make both happy for an art/theatre lover and a sports and mythology lover is appreciated in this decision!)

FINALLY, We will be in Thessaloniki for Orthodox Easter. I am aware of the closings, etc that we will be subject to, but I was hoping to find out if anyone had any recommendations for Easter celebrations we might enjoy? Neither of us are of any particular faith, but we do live in a Greek Orthdox community here in the States and I know we have some mighty fun times at Easter!

I really appreciate any guide that can be given! We are prepared for 2 weeks of walking til our legs fall off, eating too much food and for me, all the Greek coffee I can handle every day!

Posted by
3 posts

Someone suggested I give our current itinerary, so this is our rough timeline

Day 1- Arrive in Athens 7 pm. Easy night to eat a good meal and get our sleep cycle back in sync.
Day 2- Athens. Staying in the Plaka, doing the usual sites.
Day 3- Athens in the morning, finish up we felt we may have missed the day before. Ferry to the island in the early afternoon, if possible.
Day 3-7- Hydra time.
Day 7- Ferry back to Athens, hoping to begin our train excursion that day. If not, we are looking for another neighborhood to spend 2 days 1 night at before beginning our train journey
This is where it all falls apart, depending on train travel, ability to go to Delphi or Olympia, etc. We are pretty laid back and open to what happens, but we would like a general idea, if we decide to hit the rails, that we will enjoy it and get where we want to be.

Posted by
2901 posts

I know that R Steves forever promotes Hydra (about the only island he ever mentions) but truly there isn''t that much to it... I think it's mainly promoted because it's a feasible day-trip from Piraeus. It has a nice waterfront, a no-cars port and then -- ???? No historic landmarks of note, major landscape, and off-season, cold weather .. ???? I have another suggestion for your days 3-7 .... NAFPLIO!

I've found it the BEST destination ever, for nondriver OR driver (I've been to greece 12x, rent a car when with others but on 4 trips solo, used ONLY public transit). NAFPLIO is just 2.5 hours away by intercity bus, on the nation's best highway. Acclaimed as THE most beautiful Old Town in Greece, it's on a peninsula surrounded by water, so it FEELS like an island town, yet its a vision of golden VEnetian architecture. This map (click to enlarge)http://www.esperides.gr/images/peloponissos_esperides.jpg shows the BIG Green highway going over the Corinth Canal, and Nafplio is on the inside of the "thumb" of the Peloponnese "hand."

Nafplio is ALL history (it was the first capital of Modern Greece, in 1828), and is surrounded by more ancient landmarks/sites than any other area in the country. Its history goes back 4000 years (Its museum has the only "ililad-era" suit of armor ever discvoered). Its central square is paved in MARBLE, surrounded by cafes, and a waterfront row of cafes looks out on the most stunning sunset in Greece. This website (noncommercial)http://www.visitnafplio.com shows its highlights (explore everything on menu!) ... and here -- https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094108982/ -- is a photo album of just a few visual treats. AND in case you may think it's only lovely in summer, this video https://vimeo.com/9186703 shows how nice it is in February.

Because this is a favorite getaway for Savvy Athenians, it's busy all winter, and for the days preceding Easter I would urge you to look at booking a hotel room NOW. The maker of that website (a Norwegian I know) gives as HER top hotel choice (MODERATE), Hotel Agamemmnon, http://www.nafplioagamemnon.gr/en/ Ideally located, on an open plaza with balconies with sea view. If that's filled, Omorfo Poli is a darling small pension nearby, and Hotel Athena http://hotelathenanafplio.gr/photo-ξενοδοχείου/?lang=en is right on the town Square.

PLenty for both sport AND theatre lover. Local bus to Mycenae (fortress of Agamemmnon) and/or to Epidaurus, with ancient amphitheatre, most acoustically perfect in world. Since you'd be saving on a tour, you could splurge & hire a taxi to NEMEA -- which is the "runner up" of Sacred Games sites ... authentically excavated/restored by experts from U/Cal Berkeley. Temples, RUins, Museum, stadium where u can stand on the actual starting line! (And right nearby, not a 5 hour bus trip to Olympia). In Nafplio Old Town itself, chic shops & cafe, plenty to do indoors if there's a rainy day.

To get there, taxi (€11-12) from Athens Plaka-area hotel to Kissifou KTEL (Intercity) station. Busses go 8 AM, 9:30 then hourly & return bus is hourly on the hour. Comfy upholstered numbered seats; outbound ask for seats on LH side for sea view much of the way.

On return to ATH, instead of Hydra, I'd choose a day-trip to AEGINA -- much closer, more to see, do. 45 mins on Hydrofoil (but those are closed in); instead take 1 hour on regular ferry... sheltered open deck to view all the water traffic (cruise ships, ferries, small private craft) enroute. Temple of Aphaia, on high central hill, gives 360° view of Saronic bay you'll never forget.

Re Easter & THessaloniki -- that's a BIG city, not necessarily easy to find celebration; beforehand, inquire from prospective hotels before booking, on how outsiders can share in Easter celebrations. Best of Luck!!!

Posted by
16883 posts

The Greek railway website at http://www.trainose.gr/en/ seems to be working better now than it often has. You'll find that there are several trains per day between Athens and Thessaloniki, which stop at Lianokladion (to connect to Lamia) and at Larissa. Train ticket costs about $50 one way in 2nd class or $60 in 1st, but a bit more if you break it with stops along the way.

What would the extra rail pass travel days be for? The price of the Greece rail pass is not bad, starting from $97 per person for 3 travel days, but you'll also need seat reservations at a few euros each, making it closer to a break-even value if you roundtrip on the route above.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks for the pointers! Hydra is actually pretty big for us, there are family connections to the island as well as a visit to Dokos in those days of being lazy that we have planned.
We thought the 5 day rail pass was possibly our best value. We still have 5 full days to fill with travel and rail seems to be the way to go. I wasn't sure, if we decided to do a few smaller side trips , such as Lamia, Edessa from Thessaloniki, etc. I don't know how I hadn't managed to get directed to the train website in all the clicking around I have done, but now I can't stop! Now I see how easy it would be to visit Larissa then overnight in Kalabaka before heading back out to Larissa then finally Thessaloniki. The 5 day just felt like, with all the small side trips, that it may be a slightly better value.