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Road trip Greece postponed once

I had planned a trip for last June but for health reason had to cancel, now I am redoing the trip, approximately 3 weeks and wonder if it is too much?
This is how it goes, fly in and drive to Nemea stay over night do wine tour see ancient sight, this the only place that has my money to stay from old reservation. On to Nafplion for 3 nights, drive the coast road for 2 nights in Monemvasia, Mystra on the way to Kardamlli for 3 nights (beach time), Messeni on the way to Olympia for 2 nights, Delphi for 2 nights, Hosias louka on way to Meteora for 2 nights,then back to athens airport to get rid of car and into Athens for 3-4 nights.
We are older and I do like to drive but did not want to have a timed schedule from place to place. I dont want to feel rushed especially if we need to stretch our backs. I am a Rick Steves follower I use his books to plan my trips but We are not into any particular things except but good food, wine, people watching, and see the world.
Are there any of the sights not worth the stop, although my husband is interested in the ancient world and the Gods?
I hope to hear from some of you that comment frequently on Greece. Suzanne

Posted by
816 posts

You are covering a lot of ground but your plan appears to be quite sound. You are leaving enough time to get it done.
Here is a couple of thoughts. While in Nemia you are actually going to be very close to Corinth. Take the opportunity to also visit Ancient Corinth. It is a compact site with a good museum. You might also stop at the Corinth Canal. The Gulf of Corinth side has a sinking bridge. If there is a ship in the canal its worth the time to find the bridge.
Nafplio is a great location for a base to explore some of the nearby ancient sites. Nafplio itself is a lovely sea side town with an old town area and two Venetian era fortresses.

We drove to Monemvassia via the inland route and stopped at Mystras on the way. We did drive the coastal route on our way back and it was an adventure. Switchbacks, narrow roads mountains and great sea views. Take you time.
You will see all of this in this album.
Nafplio and Peloponnese http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094108982/

On the way to Olympia you might want to explore the area around Pylos, Methoni and Koroni. There are Venetian and Turkish castles all around that area.
Peloponnese Battle Castles https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157645468134284/

It is quite a drive to Delphi from Olympia but it certainly is worth the effort. We arrived Delphi in the early evening and had time to enjoy the village and the museum. Next morning got up early and were at teh site first thing. We were virtually alone there until eh tour buses started to arrive at 10. By that time we were way up at the top of the site and that gave us another hour before the crowds arrive. We left and drove to Meteora. Again we timed our arrival for early evening. By that time there is virtually no one around so we had opportunities to study the monasteries for great vantage points. Next day when the tour buses arrive those views were totally obstructed by buses and people. We spend the next day visiting then that night regaining our strength before the drive back to Athens the next day. You didn't say where you are planning to stay but I highly recommend you stay in Kastraki. Its a small village nestled in at the foot of the mountains. That gives you about a 20 minute advantage before everyone staying in Kalambaka arrives.
Olympia Delphi Meteora https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157645469717811/

Sounds like a great trip.

Posted by
18746 posts

Will you be OK driving for close to 2 hours after an overnight flight from the US? I wouldn't, but I don't usually sleep on planes.

Posted by
816 posts

We did the overnight flight to Athens but arrived around 10:30 am. We were full of adrenaline and loaded up with coffee and drove an hour to Nemia spent an hour at the site and then drove the second hour to Nafplio. We were there around 1:30pm and had a gentle withdraw from jet lag. If the international flight arrived in the late afternoon we would not have attempted the drive. Suzanne when does your flight get into Athens.

Posted by
5 posts

Stan, so glad you responded I have followed your comments and pictures on this forum.. We will arrive at about 915 am, get the car and head to Nemea. We are staying at a winery there and I don't think that will be to much for a day. As you said if we are feeling good stop at Corinth on the way.

My husband has some severe allergies and although we have never had any problems travelling do you know anything about their health care system? I am hoping to hear from Janet too, or anyone else who has driven that route. We did have reservation in Kastraki and I am pleased that was your suggestion .Suzanne

Posted by
18746 posts

Your husband is unlikely to need medical treatment, but if he does, I'm sure you'll easily find a doctor who speaks English. My mother (who had a chronic respiratory condition) developed a bad cough while in Greece 20 years ago. I stopped at the tourist office--where I knew they spoke English--and asked how to find an English-speaking doctor. I did the same thing when she later became quite ill and needed more emergency attention. In talking about it later, we agreed that we had a lot of confidence in the doctors' skill, but that the nurses we encountered on the ward seemed much less well trained that their US equivalents. The Athens ICU where my mother ended up looked like the US ICUs I've seen on TV--very modern. The wards, however, were very lightly staffed and it was common for local patients to have a family member with them during all daylight hours.

My mother was billed for services rendered (but not for the military plane that airlifted her from Chios to Athens) and paid the charges with her credit card. She filed for reimbursement from her insurance company upon returning home. She was still working at the time and covered by a policy at work. If she had been on Medicare, I think she would have been stuck absorbing all the costs herself. They were, as you might imagine, far lower than costs in the US for equivalent treatment.

Posted by
5 posts

I still work and do cover my husband on my insurance but understand that the only thing covered is thru an ER visit .
And I find all those travel insurance plans confusing. I still need to do alot of research on that. I am a little more confident after hearing acraven's story but would like to know of other experience's or a good hospital in Athens just in case.
I really never gave this much thought in our other travel in Europe! I think some of it is due to this being a road trip and not having a home base as we have done in other countries. Suzanne

Posted by
18746 posts

Suzanne, my information is 20 years old, so it may not be terribly useful. I mainly wanted to reassure you that you should be able to communicate with doctors just fine. Yours is an all-mainland itinerary, so you're not going to be stuck on an under-equipped island, waiting for a life-saving airlift. But I think you could be in a position of having to pay for medical expenses up-front and file for reimbursement later.

I've never bought travel medical insurance but am now at an age (65) when I probably should look at medical evacuation policies. I do have a government-retiree policy in addition to Medicare, so I don't feel that I'm at risk of huge bills aside from evacuation.

Edited to add: My mother was treated in Evangelismos Hospital in Athens. Either there was no ICU space at the private hospitals or it was felt that the Evangelismos ICU was better equipped to handle such a critical patient. I know that somewhere along the way, I was told that there were no beds at the private hospitals; that's why my mother ended up on a ward at Evangelismos for about a week after being stepped down from the ICU. That ward was not the same as a US semi-private room, for sure.

What I should have done, but did not due to not initially grasping how seriously ill my mother was, was call the US embassy in Athens for advice. I doubt that anything different would have happened, but it would have been the smart thing to do.

Posted by
816 posts

Suzanne fortunately our need for medical service has been pretty minimal in Greece. On one trip my wife came down with a horrible eye infection while we were on Antiparos. We went to a pharmacy and the pharmacist said you have to have a prescription to treat that. We asked where the nearest doctor was and he said Paros. That meant a 15 minute water taxi plus however long to find the doctor. He then said I know what he is gong to say and this is what he will prescribe and he gave us a tiny bottle of antibiotices and charged us 2 euros. Now that service.

I recall reading on Tripadviser a few years ago about an American woman who reported she was riding a bicycle and fell and had a bad cut on her face. When she reached the emergency department of she demanded a plastic surgeon and was told, not possible. The emergency doctor sowed her up in about 5 minutes and when she got her bill she was charged 5 euros. She subsequently reported the stitching job was so good that the scar was almost invisible.
From being on the forums for many years the overall impression I have of the Greek health care system is that it is pretty good.

Posted by
18746 posts

My mother's entire 1996 hospital bill (3 days in the ICU, 7 or so days on the ward, respiratory therapy, drugs, doctors) was about $1000. As I mentioned before, she was not charged for the military airlift, during which she was intubated. I also don't think she was charged at all for her 2+ days in the clinic on Chios, which wasn't a full-fledged hospital but did have a ward for patients who needed to stay overnight.

One other thing: It would be good for travelers to know whether their insurance requires that medical invoices be translated into English. My Blue Cross/Blue Shield policy does not, but my mother's policy did. I was glad to know that before we left Greece, because it certainly cost far less to have the translation done there than it would have at home. For minor expenses, I assume the US cost for translation would exceed the insurance reimbursement.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you for your feedback.
I am still hoping to hear from more of you on your experiences that did the road trip but that reminds me as I read your comment on the scenic route to Monemvasia what kind of car did you have?
Matt Barrett likes a SUV, but when we were in France we felt our car was too big so in Italy we went smaller and felt better getting around the small road ways and towns. I am thinking compact.
In Greece it appears that a small SUV might have a higher clearance off the road if their condition is not great and I am not talking of "offroading". !
My husband is not a good manual driver, (thats according to me) I do drive a manual now but we will get automatic but what size?
Thanks suzanne

Posted by
816 posts

The smaller the better. I generally get the second least expensive class. It really comes down to the size of the motor. The cheapest class tend to be under powered. Example the Chev Maitz is certainly under powered. The Fiat Panda Kia Rio and Hundai Elantra are all small but with sufficient power to do the hills. We rented an Elantra automatic from Athens Care Rental ACR but booked it at least 6 months in advance because it was an automatic. They are scarce in Greece so if you can find one book it.
Absolutely no need for a SUV unless you are bringing too many big bags. That is a whole different discussion. Travel light.

Posted by
31271 posts

suzanne,

For driving in Greece, note that each driver listed on the rental form must have the compulsory International Driver's Permit, which is used in conjunction with your home D.L. These are easily obtained at any AAA office for a small fee, and are valid for one year. If in the unlikely event you're ever involved in a traffic incident in Greece and can't produce an I.D.P., you may find yourselves in a world of misery which will not be a pleasant holiday memory.

Regardless of whether travel medical insurance policies are "confusing", I would very strongly recommend that you don't leave home without a good policy. Given the fact that you are both "older", that's even more reason to have good coverage. While you may have no problems and no need to claim on the policy, if there is a problem, you'll be really thankful that you have it (trust me on that).