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Should I book ferry tickets stateside?

My family of 2 adults and 3 teenage girls leave for a Greece/Turkey cruise on July 9th. Because of the recent bombings in Istanbul, my ship is now returning to Athens instead of leaving us in Istanbul (thank goodness). Since we had planned to stay a few days in Istanbul, we will be back in Athens for 3 extra days on the tail end of our trip. Rick loves Hydra and so we have planned to go there for 2 nights. Should I go ahead and book the ferry tickets now before we leave or wait until we arrive at port on Saturday the 16th? I don't want to miss the morning hydrofoils but am not exactly sure what time we will be off of the cruise ship.

One little note, we contemplated renting a car and going to Nafpilo and the surrounds for our extra time instead of Hydra. If anyone has a strong reasons why they think this plan is better than 2 days on Hydra - please share.
Thanks!

Posted by
6950 posts

We were in Greece and Turkey last month. One day was enough for us in Athens, and by all means take a ferry elsewhere for the balance of your trip.
Why don't you just wait until you take your cruise to decide what island to visit? You might want to return to one of the islands you visited earlier on the cruise.

We were amazed at the number of cruise lines and fast ferries going to the islands out of Piraeus--every few minutes.

In talking with the shopkeepers in both Greece and Turkey, they're very concerned about their countries' tourism economies. One city we visited averaged 5 cruise ships, but they're now down to 2 cruise sh

Posted by
2893 posts

I for one would highly recommend the Nafplio area over Hydra, especially since you have 3 teens who will want the beach the beach the beach ... Hydra has almost no beach, a few places you can swim off the rocks, it's a pretty harbor, with donkeys no cars, but more of a day trip or 1 nighter. Girls will get bored and when teens are bored, everyone is miserable.

Nafplio is a 2 to 2.5 hour easy drive on Greece's most modern highway for 3/4th of the way ... 2lane each way, divided highway. Here is the best (and NONcommercial) website -- http://www.visitnafplio.com run by a Norwegian expat who lives there and knows Everything you need to know. I URGE you to click on every lilnk there -- especially BEACHES. There's a cute little "town beach" right on otherside of the Nafplio peninsula... stony on beach side, but excellent platform to swim off of... cafe & sunbeds. Two- 3 other beaches within a few mnutes drive -- Karathona, Asine (tiny cove, my fave), Tolo (a big tourist strip but nice sand)... all have beautiful blue = aqua water, clear & refreshing. By Day SO much to explore ... there's the huge Gibraltar like Rock, Palamidi, looming over the town, with 999 steps UP to the Venetian fortress (smart people drive UP the BACK... then the girls cn walk DOWN the steps, and you wait in the shady cafe at the foot of the steps to greet them). The Sunsets at the Nafplio seafront are spectacular and also civilized to enjoy. (you sit in cusshioned loveseate under canvas awnings and sip an adult beverage). The town square is marble-paved, and lit up at night, children ride tricycles under the moonlight. Nafplio is a favorite weekend getaway for savvy Athenians -- so the clothing shops are chic ... also many artistic shops for little bibelots. I never shop in Ahens, only here.
There's SO much to see & enjoy.... just 1 of many delighs is http://www.visitnafplio.com/volta.html -- amazing walk around the "foot" of the peninsula, where at the point u go thru a natural arch and are Surrounded by water!! A stunning photo-op.

Since you're startling late, I suggest you look at AirBnb for possible accommodations. Don't get hung up on finding deluxe dwelllings -- think location location location ... You can be in 2 separate adjoining units, do not need to have an apartment ... you could also look at booking.com and put in Nafplio area -- but look carefully at Google Map ... Nafplio Old town is the interesting part, and the "new town" is just a bunch of concrete apt. houses not near beach. Somthing near Karathona beach would be nice -- Tolo beach at the waterfront is crowdy & noisy but if willing to climb up to hills above beach, there are some v. nice places & views.

GETTING THERE -- since you say you can't count on when the ship will get back to port, best idea is getting a hotel room in Pireaus just for the night ... it's busy, trafficky and somewhat grimy town (it IS after all the busiest port in Greece), but you can get good sleep at a moderate-price hotel Like Piraeus Dream. Arrange for a car to be delivered at your hotel at 8 am, then scram outa town.... Once u get on the intercity highway, you don't have to turn or have a stoplight until way after the Corinth Canal. Here's an online map that shows the road all the way from Athens to Nafplio & Surroundings (click and it gets huuuuge... then you use bars at sides to move around) - http://euro-map.com/karty-grecii/peloponnes/podrobnaya-turisticheskaya-karta-peloponnesa.jpg -- as you can see on the map, Nafplio is at the base of the "thumb" of the Peloponnese... and the Big Green Road takes you almost there. When you turn off & head straight south on a "red road" (2-lane, not much traffic except Friday nights), you'll go thru rolling terrain, orange orchards & olive Groves all the way to the sea. If you are staying in Old Town... there's a wiiide paved dock area that is free parking, and then you just walk to your lodgings if its in the sea-level area.

Posted by
2893 posts

NAFPLIO --- Continued (Rick doesn't like long postings!)

SIGHTS around Town -- The Visit Nafplio website will tell you what's around to see ... I'm sure you will be "burnt-out" on ruins by then, so just relax & enjoy what the Greeks call the Most beautiful Old Town in their whole country ... in fact it's been called "the proposal capital of Greece," because so many men take their sweethearts there for a romantic place to pop the question. once you're there, you'll understand.

CAR RENTAL -- Many Rental Agencies have offices right there near the ferry docks, and certainly can deliver to a hotel. Typically you also can do a drop-off at an Athens hotel, or the rental agency's Central Athens office OR at the airport, without an added fee. If you hve a "deal with Avis or Hertz or other international firm, you may want to book thru them, otherwise you may get a b etter deal from an Athens-based agency. This one -- http://www.athens-carrental.com -- has repeatedly received raves from people who rent year after year. There are 2 important things to know and act on promptly: (1) INTERNATIONAL DRIVERS PERMIT (IDP) is required of all non-EU drivers in order to rent. This is NOT a "test" item, just a permit, you get it in 15 minutes by stopping by your closest AAA office with your driver license; costs $20 including photo. (2) if you can drive stick-shift you'll get a lower rate; most of the fleet cars are this; so DO book in advance if you require an automatic. With your 3 teens, you'll plrobably need something like a Honda Accord size (or its equivalent in a Hyundai, the most common fleet car in Greece, or Volkswagaen equiv model). You will not need anything superpowered, its mainly level-driving, no mountains.

HIGHLIGHTS EN ROUTE --

(1) NEMEA -- Quick stop on OUTBOUND trip --- about 15 miles (10 Km?) after crossing Corinth Canal, JUST at the point where the Southbound road to Argos/Nafplio shows up ... there is also a brown signpost for ANCIENT NEMEA, about 3-4 miles NORTH of the big Green Road... and this is an unvisited GEM your teens will love. Nemea is the Sacred Games Site that was "runner-up" to Olympia. It was unexplored, almost totally buried until about 50 years ago, UCal BErkeley teams excavated, restored - & it's a quick thrill, with no tour crowds! Temple, ruins, SUPER stadium where girls can march thru athlete "hero tunnel" and race each other on ancient track lanes. Nemea now presents every 4 years the Revived Nemea Games --Here's a great video for your girls - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXnuoKb2dQ8 - of the 2012 event, which drew more than 1,000 competing, from 50 different countries. You have just missed the 2016 Games (in mid-June) but your girls can run and imagine cheering crowds! This stop can take you under an hour & you can zip on to Nafplio.
(2) STOP on INBOUND trip -- EPIDAURUS. Instead of taking same route back, cross the "thumb" to ANCIENT EPIDAURUS... this is a big ruins site... but you can skp everything but the the wonderful THEATRE ... a world-famous theatre, buried for 1500 years & only rediscovered in the 1880s... seating 15,000, with the worlds BEST Acoustics. Every day people climb to the topmost row, and can hear someone whispering from the stage. A real "dont-miss" ... and takes less than 1 hour if you skip all the rest of the site.
(3) INBOUND or OUTBOUND -- the CORINTH CANAL If you stick on the Big Green Highway, you can't even see this amazing canal (soooo deep! soooo narrow!!). So either going or coming, whichever you choose, keep eyes peeled for the turnoff sign to "ISTHMIA" or "ISTHMUS" ... the little town right at the crossing... a couple blocks off the Big Intercity is the lttle old bridge you can stand on & look down... with luck, there will be a super-skinny boat sliding thru, almost touching on either side. GREAT photo-op!

Posted by
2893 posts

ADDENDUM to ABOVE -- I don't know if you even are considering Nafplio, but I did become wrapped up in your query -- and saw that (aside from July 16 night in Piraeus), you'd want 3 nights wherever you go ... so I googled 2 rooms/5 people Nafplio -- and saw that my FAVE beach-area place has for your dates 2 units garden view...about 300 yards from Asine beach! VILLA CHRISTINA -- on booking.com, with FREE Cancellation before July 10. A NO-RISK booking opportunity... but it won't last.

Posted by
6 posts

Dear @Janet. WOW! Thank you for your wonderful suggestions. We actually have decided to take your advice and go to the Nafpilo area instead and might take a day cruise to Hydra if we are so inclined. So I am now switching gears and looking at lodging in Nafpilo. There are TWO Villa Christinas so I wanted to verify which one you are referring to in your posts. Villa Christina
Tolou Drepanoy 105, Asíni, 21100, Greece and Villa Christina Apartments Nafplio, T.K 21100 Greece. I think it is the Asini one you were referring to.

Also, trying to decide if "out of town closer to a beach" or "right in the middle of Old Town Nafpilo" is a better choice. What do you think?

Posted by
2893 posts

Glad to hear my idea works. Yes the Villa Asini is the one I meant. As for In the midst vs. near the beach, actually it's 50-50. The BAD choice is a place that's not in Old Town and Also not near a beach. If you can find a place in Old Town with the right accoms. for you and your teens. I just now looked at Booking.com specifiying accoms for 5 adults/2 br... and I find that almost everything except the top luxe things are booked... however there is One very attractive possibility... Pension Isioni. It's actually a split-level house arrangment w. several rooms, breakfast included for 600$ for 3 nights... 3 br ... it's very well located on a no-cars lane ... and is an easy walk to the "town beach" on the other side of the peninsula -- and then u can also Drive to other beaches. It has good reviews, and again it's a no-risk cancellation w.o. penalty. It might actually be the best choice, since if you & spouse want to just hang out, and the girls are restless, in town you can just let them wander (TOTALLY safe), and the 2 of you can relax in a cafe.

BTW, if you visit Asini beach, it's useful to have "water shoes" or "swim shoes" ... when beachs are pebbly it's hard to walk on them. If you have flipflops that will get u to water's edge, but then it's pebbly, rocky for first few feet thus it's its ouch ouch ouch, and easy to fall. The "town beach" is pebbly but one can get in from a concrete platform.