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Orthodox Easter ('21) - need ideas where to experience

Greek Gods willing - we plan to finish a week cruise in Athens on May 1st. Orthodox Easter in Sunday May 2nd. We have 5 nights to spend in Greece before we start the next portion of a 10 week exploration (hopefully - Portugal, France & back to Greece).

We are 2 seniors - pretty active - love to relax, people watch, wander historic spots/sites, "do" museums and really love all food Greek! We have learned that 3 to 4 nights is a wonderful amount of time to get to be comfortable in a town/area and try to avoid 1 night stands. Have already done most of the major checklist locations near Athens (done a "port day", 12 day mainland group tour, and 3 other multi day visits). Later, mid June, we will return with our nephew (& wife + 2 teenage girls) for 2+ weeks. Their first international trip - and the girls chose Greece over Paris. I see lots of family trips in their future.

SO - I'm looking for somewhere a bit away from the normal US tourist locations - accessible from Piraeus port (where cruise ends) to spend 4 nights (5th probably near airport). Train, ferry or bus transport are fine. We might rent a car for local exploration but would rather not drive from the port.
?? is - where might be a good, laid back location to have a feel for this important holiday ?? My ideas are possibly - Aegina, Andros or Chalkida (huge island - not certain where to stay on).

Any input would be great (locations - hotels - tavernas) !!

All will give me something to do with all my spare research time. It has been so interesting to read back through the forum for ideas to start the "book learning" and route planning.

Posted by
1447 posts

Orthodox Easter is a great holiday in Greece, make sure to go out at midnight Saturday to the church. You'd probably be better off in one of the larger towns as everyone shows up for a midnight ceremony (you can look it up online for more info), not sure how many Greeks will really show up on the islands as there are too many tourists and a lot of foreigners live there.

Posted by
2908 posts

We were in Chania, Crete for Orthodox Easter in 2017. We had a great stay at Porto Veneziano Hotel and the staff there helped us plan the best things to do for the (several days long) Easter Celebration (Good Friday Procession, Holy Saturday Night, and Easter Sunday, etc.) They made reservations for us to attend a traditional Easter dinner celebration (roasted lamb straight off the spit) at a nearby village and we rented a car for the day. It was a memorable time to be there!

Posted by
200 posts

Pascha is on Sunday, May 2nd but services in most churches start Saturday night. Plan on being there for a long time and mostly standing. If you aren't Orthodox you can't receive Communion but are more than welcome to come forward and receive a blessing (fold your arms right over left across your chest, bow your head). In some churches there is bread (antidoron) that is on the table right after Communion/blessing and is for everyone. The antidoron is part of the Communion bread that has been blessed and joins everyone in a communal meal. Women should dress modestly and have some type of head covering if you are going to attend in a traditional parish. Also in more traditional parishes the men might be on one side and the women on the other.

Enjoy!

Posted by
4 posts

If you are thinking of the islands in the Ionian Sea, then Corfu is the ‘must’ place to be for Easter. On the morning of Holy Saturday, watch the unique custom of “botides” in the Old Town of Corfu.

However, to take the ferry, you would have to get from Athens to Patra, involving at least a 2-3 hour train or bus ride, followed by a ferry ride.

Posted by
44 posts

Thanks for the ideas! They look great. Hadn't thought of Crete - and we have loved our few short days on Corfu.
Keep those thoughts coming.

I was hoping for somewhere a bit closer to Athens - that I might not need to fly to. My ideas were - Aegina, Andros or Chalkida (huge island - not certain where to stay on).

To lessen the missing - am doing a big Greek style salad for dinner- thanks to our large Greek community have lots of great supplies.

Posted by
11112 posts

Orthodox Easter in Sunday May 1st.

I think you mean Sunday, May 2nd (2021)??

I attended Orthodox Christmas in a chapel on Red Square some years ago. A pretty illuminating and profound experience. I hope you find the same.

Posted by
44 posts

You are correct. Ship docks on Saturday (1st). So much for typing late at night and not carefully proofing.

It appears that many "celebrations" occur on Saturday night near midnight. I hope we can get to our chosen location by early evening. And - that there are a few restaurants/tavernas open on Sunday - sometime.

Posted by
200 posts

And - that there are a few restaurants/tavernas open on Sunday - sometime.

Most parishes will have a meal after services that everyone is invited to. However if you are in a more touristy area that may not happen.

Posted by
11112 posts

I am curious because the Christmas mass was an all day, unbroken, event in which people sort of came for a while, left and often returned. I guess I spent close to 3 hours in wonderment.

Posted by
337 posts

As to ideas where to experience this important religious holiday in a way it's sort of designed to be experienced - I'd suggest Mt.Athos.

Obviously doesn't work with your trip schedule, but maybe something to consider for a future visit, if you're interested in the spiritual component of Orthodoxy.

Disclaimer - I've never been, but I have several friends who have. You need a special visa, women are not allowed :-)

Posted by
3340 posts

Haven’t yet been to the 3 places you're considering, quilter17, but was your previous Mainland group tour just on the land mass that includes Athens, and parts north of the Peloponnese, or was any of it on the Peloponnese peninsula?

In April 2018, from Athens we headed to the island of Hydra, then onto the Peloponnese for just over a week, which included Orthodox Easter. After taking the ferry from Hydra, we landed at Ermioni and rented a car there, using it to get to our base at Napflio, and to ancient sights around it over 3 days. We then drove west and south over that week, staying the Thursday and Friday leading up to Easter in Aeropolis, and having a stirring Saturday night with a mass of people on the square in Kalamata. We headed north towards Archaea Olympia on Easter Sunday, and had lamb dinner at a small-town taverna with no other tourists, just locals.

If you’re not looking for a lot of driving, Kalamata might be too far to go, but Napflio would be a great location. I can’t guarantee exactly what happens there for Easter itself, but it was wonderful the week before Easter, and based on our experience in other parts of the Peloponnese, that part of Greece was a treat.

Posted by
44 posts

Thanks all - any ideas are good ideas to sort through. Fun to see where everyone has been and would like to go back to.

Mt Athos is a good idea for another visit - we have been wanting to get to the north and Thessaloniki. Maybe in '22.

Cyn: We generally travel on our own - but that year I was into visiting new to us areas - so did a land tour (EF Go Ahead) hit the main highlights of mainland... a bit in Athens, Delphi, Meteora, Corfu, Olympic games sites, Mycenae etc and a day in Nafplio. {Loved not having to do the "planning" or transport and all the info from the great guides... but wished for more time at many sites and would have liked to stay in smaller hotels closer to the locals. The group was not huge (26) but .. comfort sometimes trumps locale for a group. } Then we stayed on our own and flew/ferry'd to Mykonos, Naxos & Santorini and more time in Athens (@ a month all together)... WE were now hooked on Greece. That was Sept 18.. Headed back for a bit in May 19.

Were supposed to take family this June.. duh !! So now will be June '21. Have a day in Nafplion planned. But now I have huge amounts of time to over think our upcoming visits. This 5 days is bonus time just for us.

Posted by
3340 posts

Glad you’ve been to many parts, including on that group tour. If by any chance you’d wind up taking the nephew, niece-in-law, and grandnieces to places you’ve been, while the ancient site of Delphi was enchanting, the town next door was less endearing. We spent one night there, with loud, late night partying noise outside and down the street from our thin-windowed hotel, then moved the next day to Galaxidi, just down the coast. What a difference! The town, and the fantastic Archontiko Art Hotel, make Galaxidi a place to which we want to return.

Also, if you haven’t been to Monemvasia, a walled-in village on an island (walk or drive to it via the causeway), beneath the ruins of the old castle at the top of the hill - worth a climb to see it - maybe add it to an East Peloponnese trip. Even at Eastertime, expect to have dinner outside, and expect to have cats overlooking your table from the sidelines. It’s called the “Gibraltar of Greece,” and worth considering some time.

Posted by
44 posts

Thanks to all!

I believe we will stay in Aegina - since we will already be at Piraeus Port. Maybe we'll even get a day trip in to Hydra.
Cannot wait for our return visit. "Lord willing' and the creek not rising!"

Posted by
2908 posts

That sounds good - it’s nice to have a plan and a trip to look forward to!