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Greece- Peloponese & Islands- OCTOBER Plans

Hi. I will be signing up for a Rick Tour (2 weeks Peloponese) in October 2011. I must see the islands along with this trip. Rick has an early October trip (Oct. 3) and a mid-Oct trip (Oct 17).
Should I visit the island BEFORE or AFTER the Rick trip? The islands I am interested in are Santorini (with a day trip to Delos) and Crete. Of course, there are more, but I thought I'd ask for ideas and suggestions. I'm not looking to party; I love archeology, art, peace and great food! Since my plans are to see the islands as well, should I book the early Oct. or mid-Oct. Rick trip? Is it better to visit the islands BEFORE or AFTER the Rick 2-week Greece trip? Since, I am going in October, can I go without reservations, so I can play it by ear? Thank you for your time.

Posted by
2875 posts

Someone has misled you. It's not possible to take a daytrip to Delos from Santorini. For that you have to be on Mykonos, Paros or Naxos. Mykonos is closest, then Paros. And it's possible that by mid-October the excursions from Paros and Naxos will have ended for the year. You'll have to do some more research to determine that. I'm pretty sure excursions from Mykonos continue as long as the cruise ship season is active, which extends at least until the end of October. Weatherwise I think the beginning of October will be better for the islands. Yes, you can play it by ear in October. P.S. Delos is closed on Mondays.

Posted by
68 posts

I have never been to Greece. Thank you for your response regarding Delos. I will have to take that into consideration. Is there a special order to keep in mind when traveling the islands - North to South, etc? I will be traveling alone, any special concerns I should have? Also, should I save Crete for last, as I have heard it is still nice in early November? There were many islands that I wanted to visit, but being at the tail end of the season, I realized I must keep it to a minimum, esp. with the 2-week Pelop Rick trip.
This makes me consider Island hopping for the month of October and skipping the 2-week Rick Peloponese trip. Any opinions on this?

Posted by
1816 posts

Hi Carly,
How much time do you have available for this trip? And can you travel in September instead of/in addition to October? If you decide to skip the tour and island hop, September would be a much better time for that. Ferries start to reduce their service, and some of the islands start to "close down," in October. There are almost 200 populated Greek islands, so the order in which you visit them is much more complicated than just "north to south." In order to island hop, you would need to do some research on the various islands in order to decide which ones you want to visit. Here's a good website to get you started: http://www.greektravel.com/greekislands/ And here's a good ferry site: http://www.openseas.gr/OPENSEAS/index_en.vm To simplify your ferry connections, try to island hop within one island group. Santorini, Paros, Mykonos and Delos are all in the Cyclades group. People visiting these islands generally start in Santorini and work their way back to Athens. The decision on whether to take the RS tour or island hop depends on what you'd really rather see (islands or mainland sights) and how much time you have to research and plan. It's almost August already, so you'd have to make your decisions quickly. I've never taken the RS Pelopennese tour, but imagine it would give you a good introduction to Greece and would be much easier than trying to plan three or four weeks of island hopping. If you decide to do the RS tour, then Crete and Santorini, I might recommend the early October tour, followed by a few days on Crete and a few days on Santorini. The tour will give you an introduction to Greek culture and you'll likely be more comfortable when you arrive on the islands. Hope this helps!

Posted by
2875 posts

There's no right or wrong direction. It all depends on the islands you choose to visit. Pick them first then return here for help with routing.

Posted by
2875 posts

I forgot to mention that it might not be possible to get from Santorini, or any of the other islands in the Cyclades group, to Crete after October 31, which is the normal cutoff date for that ferry service. http://www.ferries.gr/hfd But if Sea Jets is still offering service they might be sailing beyond that date. Check here to see: http://www.gtp.gr You might have to wait a couple of months to see what's available then.

Posted by
687 posts

I would recommend islands first. - The ferry schedule does change.
- It is not difficult to travel in Greece, not sure what you've been hearing. I also second the recommendation for the RS tour. Aside from being a good tour, it is interesting to see the differences between the mainland and the islands. There are several scrapbooks for the tour, and feedback, in the Tours section of this website. My scrapbook is here: http://www.wilhelmswords.com/rsg2006/index.html

Posted by
31319 posts

Carly, I would most definitely recommend taking the RS "Athens & The Pelopponese" tour! I took that one last year and it was fantastic! I travelled to Naxos and Santorini after the tour ended, and that was also wonderful! I'd suggest taking the tour which starts on Oct. 3rd. As you noted, that time of year is getting close to the end of the season, so some of the tourist facilities on the island will be starting to shut down for the winter. If you have some flexibility in your travel dates, I'd travel to the islands before the RS tour, leaving Santorini as your last stop. Use Aegean Air for the trip from Santorini to Athens, and then join the tour. As some of the others have mentioned, it might be better to choose islands in the same "group" that are easily connected by Ferry (especially at that time of year). With that in mind, I might leave Crete for another visit. I also considered visiting Crete but I'd prefer to have the time to explore it in some depth. You may find it very helpful to have a look at Matt Barrett's Matt Barrett's Website covering travels in Greece. Happy travels! / Kaló taksídi!

Posted by
68 posts

Thank you for the very informative posts. Some people thought it was better to dothe trip after the Rick trip so as to have a better understanding of the 'way things work in Greece' prior to going it alone, and others - due to the shoulder season waning in October, suggest to do the islands before. I am realizing that all of the islands I would like to see (Crete, Santorini, Rhodes, Samos- Ephesus day trip, Lesvos -side trip to Troy with even a few others thrown in, like Skyros) may be too ambitious.
I was thinking a week on Crete and about the same on Santorini (top 2 island choices). IF I don't do the Rick trip, I could probably manage all of these islands; do you think that is possible? I am not opposed to flying from island to island and ferrying as well, but I don't want to overwhelm the vacation time trying to put too many destinations in it. Do I really only have time to do the Rick tour, and see 2 or 3 islands? Or can I just island hop? Thank you for all of your responses, you are really helping me out!

Posted by
2875 posts

Carly, you were asked how many days you have to explore Greece and you didn't answer. We can't effectively advise you without knowing your time limits. In general, unless you have a lot of time, you aren't being very realistic about your 'wish list' of destinations. For example, a side trip to Troy means spending at least a couple of days in Turkey. Think it through and you'll see that you need to be more realistic.

Posted by
68 posts

I apologize. I can travel from the very beginning of October until Thanksgiving.

Posted by
31319 posts

Carly, If you're concerned about making arrangements for travel to various islands, etc., you might consider using one of the Greek Travel Agents listed on the website link I provided earlier. I used one to set up my trip to Naxos and Santorini last year and the arrangements were all fantastic! They booked my Hotels and arranged transfers at each new location.

Posted by
68 posts

Ken- That is a great idea. That really takes the burden of all the tight planning off of me. That is really a great idea. What is the charge for their services ? To everyone who has sent me to links and websites- I couldn't be more thankful. I don't have friends or family that travel abroad, so you have been such a support for me - thank you very much! I think I'll definitely take the Rick trip, it's a great itinerary and all of the arrangments are made for you. Since, I'll only have two weeks until the very end of October after the Rick trip, how many islands realistically can I see? Should I just plan Santorinit and Crete? Or as another person suggested, save Crete for another time(although I don't know what my travel future looks like-I guess that is why I am trying to see everything). I want to relax, enjoy the history and sites (ancient Mediterranean sites are at the top of the list) on the islands, explore, eat well, and live the Mediterranean life. Other than Santorini and Crete, are there any others that any of you think I should consider if I have time for 1 or 2 more islands? Lastly, would you break the flight up to ease the time zones and flight time sitting?
For instance stop over in aother city or 2 (Paris-Venus de Milo, then chunnel to London- Elgin Marbles, etc.), or do you think I'll be too tired by then and should just take the most direct and longest flight home?

Posted by
687 posts

If you have the time I would definitely plan to spend it in Europe. I wouldn't worry too much about being tired of traveling after a month - my last trip was over six months, and I rather think I'm older than you.

Posted by
31319 posts

Carly, You'll still have to do some planning. The Travel Agency can only make arrangements based on the dates and choices that you specify. I don't recall there was any charge for their services. I suspect their fees were built into the bookings that I made? There are two good Travel Agencies listed on Matt Barrett's website, and I used Fantasy Travel to arrange my visits to the islands following my tour. It's great to hear that you've decided to take the RS Greece tour! You're in for a treat! The islands will probably be somewhat "quiet" in the latter part of October, and Ferry runs may not be as frequent so transportation will have to be carefully planned. You would probably have time for three islands in a two week period. Check Matt Barrett's website to get an idea on the "character" of each of the islands and see which appeals to you most. Choosing islands that are easily accessible will minimize your transportation times. At that time of year, stopping in Paris and London on the way home would absolutely be a good idea if you have the time and money. You could book a flight from the last island to Paris (via Athens) and be there in a few hours. It probably won't help much with the time zones, as Greece is only one hour different from Paris and two hours from London. When in Paris, don't forget the Mona Lisa which is in the Denon wing of the Louvre. Venus di Milo is still in the Sully wing as I recall. Don't try and see all of the Louvre, as it's HUGE! Be sure to wear a Money Belt in Paris, as there are pickpockets there (and many other places in Europe). Cheers!

Posted by
31319 posts

Carly, Just to clarify, the time difference between London and Greece is two hours. The time difference between London and Paris OR Paris and Greece is one hour. Paris is in a different time zone than London. If you do a flight search on This Website, you can easily see the flight duration. Simply click on the "bar" of the flight you're interested in, and a small window will pop-up showing the duration, layover time(s) and other information. Cheers!

Posted by
68 posts

Thank you Ken, and Kathy! I think I've got a pretty close idea as to the itinerary now. I dont' believe there is room for Troy :( so that will have to wait, I suppose. Since I can't travel until the 1st of October and the Rick trip is Oct. 3- Oct. 16, I'll have until what I suspect Oct. 31 to complete Greek island travel. I was hoping to push into the beginning of November with Crete (although I'm secretly hoping I still can), but since I haven't heard otherwise from anyone in the post I'll plan to finish in the Agean by Oct. 31. I didn't realize the time change between London & Greece was only an hour. I suppose I was thrown off by the flight durations listed on the airline sites. I'm not quite sure how to figure out how long (actual flight hours) will be in the air, since they must be factoring in the time zone change on 'flight duration'. This still has me a bit perplexed.??? It is seeming as if Santorini, Naxos or Tinos (to get to Delos) & Crete are the planned stops for the last 2 weeks in Greece. Any ideas on the order of the islands that works best?
Also, Naxos or Tinos?

Posted by
687 posts

If you use kayak.com you will see the actual flying time in faint type to the right of the flight details. Sites like expedia and travelocity usually show flying time, too. But if you do a google search you'll find lots of sites happy to show you the time zones.

Posted by
68 posts

Kayak and the other website were really helpful. Was it easy to sleep on the overnight flight? PLAN: Rick's trip (2-week Pelops) Naxos-Delos Santorini
Crete Does anyone have suggestions for the town stays on these island ? For Santorini- Oia, Fira, or Imergvoli? Crete - Chania or Rheythmno or ? Naxos? I want to be near 'what's going on' but I don't want to be right up in it; I love quiet when relaxing at hotel/pension. Should I need to rent a car on any of these islands?

Posted by
687 posts

I rarely sleep in economy class - I need to get horizontal. My method for dealing with US-to-Europe jet lag is to spend the afternoon I arrive in bed. I get up around 4:00 or 5:00 pm. and then eat dinner and go to bed when every one else does. I'm synced by the morning. I know that's not what Rick advises, but it works for me. I preferred Chania as a base over Rethymno, partly because it was more convenient for hiking the Samaria Gorge. I can recommend this hotel: http://www.portodelcolombo.com/

Posted by
21336 posts

Keep in the mind as Lee mentioned the islands begin to shut down by mid October. We were in Santorini two years ago on the 17th of Oct and that was the last week that our hotel was going to be open. And found some of the transportation schedules were changing to min service. Just not a lot of tourist action at that time so the need to double check schedules and hours is critical.

Posted by
687 posts

Could you switch to the Oct 10th tour? That would give you a week to ten days on the islands beforehand, and maybe a week for Crete afterwards.

Posted by
68 posts

Ken, Kathy & Frank- Great information and ideas! Kathy, changing the tour to the 10th would seem to solve some of the timing issues-great idea! I checked out the hotel In Chania and it looks nice, were the owners helpful to you and kind?
Im glad you mentioned it being a good springboard for the Samarias Gorge-I do want the hike. If I wanted to spend some time on the south coast of Crete as well, is it easy to get to from the north coast? I was thinking Santorini would be good until the end of the month, but thank goodness Frank mentioned that some places shut down mid-October. I didn't think that would happen on Santorini b/c it's so popular, but I'm glad you told of your experience. I'm glad for the plane/sleeping tip. I just cant imagine lasting that long in a seated postition. The longest plane ride for me was 3 1/2 hours in econmy seating and it was pretty bad - my back was killing me and it was just getting worse. I've got some real medical issues with my spine, so I'm quite worried about the plane time. So, for transatlantic flights, the seats don't recline well for sleeping...oh boy. Any tips for breaking up the flight time? Should I look for more connecting flights for more on and off time and movement, or am I just asking for delays?

Posted by
31319 posts

Carly, Regarding sleeping during flights, everyone seems to have a different method for dealing with that. Although I always try to sleep, I've never been too successful for a variety of reasons. I usually get an aisle seat, which is a problem as other passengers and of course the food cart are often "bumping" my legs on a regular basis. The person in the window seat occasionally has to get by, so that's another interruption. I usually watch a movie or two, and then "doze" as much as I can. I wouldn't advise booking more connecting flights to minimize your back problems. Your best bet is to get there are quickly as possible! Note that you can get up and walk around a bit when the seat belt light isn't "on". I'd mention the back issues to the flight crew. Regarding places to stay in the islands. > Naxos - I'd recommend Hotel Grotta in Naxos town. It's not right on the main street but an easy five minute walk. Incredible views, comfortable rooms, wonderful staff and awesome breakfasts! > Santorini - I'd recommend Nissos Thira. Be sure to request a room at the back though. The Hotel is right on the main street through town, and the traffic noise can be a problem (especially those @#$% Quads!). One other important point to mention regarding the Greek Islands. Be prepared to buy bottled water, as the tap water is dreadful (and in some cases unsafe). Another important point. After you've booked the RS Greece tour, you'll receive the official Guidebook. Be sure to note the "rules" for using bathrooms in Greece (specifically relating to bath tissue). It's actually not that difficult to get used to.

Posted by
687 posts

Continental definitely has international flights -I'm flying them to Helsinki next month. I think it's a code share, but that makes no difference to FF miles. If your back is that bad, are you sure you should be doing the Samaria Gorge? It is a serious hike.You might be better off taking the bus and just doing the mini hike in and out
from the south side.

Posted by
68 posts

Kathy- that sounds better. the mini hike.
The seated position is the worst, though.

Posted by
31319 posts

Carly, Regarding my previous comments about drinking bottled water (especially on the islands), here's a few specific examples. > Hydra (which you'll visit on the RS tour): the water DOES taste dreadful! It's delivered by Barge and had a definite "diesel" flavour. The group was advised by the Guide not to drink it. The bottled water is also delivered by a "Landing Craft" by the case, so that's used by residents too. > Naxos: When I checked into the Hotel, I was told not to drink the water. It tasted fine but apparently much of the plumbing consists of old lead pipes, so not a good idea. There was a "safe" tap just outside the front door of the Hotel where water bottles could be refilled, and a convenience store on the way to the Hotel for buying bottled water. > Santorini: again, the water tastes terrible! There was a convenience store and vending machines for bottled water right across the street from the Hotel. I could provide other examples. Perhaps some Hotels have water treatment facilities, but that didn't seem to be the case in the places I was using. I'd rather be "safe than sorry". If this might be a matter of concern, you could always contact the RS Tour department for their advice.

Posted by
687 posts

Carly, yes, the hotel owners were friendly. If you do the Samaria Gorge hike you wind up on the south coast, maybe you could leave your bigger bag with the hotel and hike through with a day pack and a change of clothes? Otherwise there are buses. More info on my hike here: http://wilhelmswords.com/eur2006/index.html - Idling Through the Islands. I usually pick the window seat in economy, as you get a bit more shoulder room and can lean against the side of the plane. If you are REALLY lucky and the plane isn't full you might score a full center section to lie down, but the last time I did that the seats still dug into me. The only good methods are to fly business class (make sure it has lie-flat seats - see seatguru.com ) or go by boat (Cunard still does the New York- Southampton run). Or fly in the day time.

Posted by
68 posts

Okay - Got it - do not extend the flight time. Ive looked into first class tickets and my eyes popped out of my head! Is there a way to upgrade to business or first class as the trip draws nearer? Do airlines offer upgrades to a better class at cheaper prices to fill those seats closer to the travel date?
If so, please let me in on the secret b/c I cannot do upright seated position for that period of time. The accomodations suggested were great and very helpful! Bottled water planned and toilet tissue in daypack a must-check. Knowing that I can use Chania & the gorge to springboard to the south of Crete is so useful in my planning. I plan to be traveling with a backpack only w/use of a daypack. Is Rethymno a necessary stop for any reason? I realize a stop in Iraklion is necessary for Knossos and the archeological museum. If I head to the south of Crete, is it more scenic and best to head down the east or west coast of Crete? Again, I can't thank you all enough for your help!

Posted by
31319 posts

Carly, Just to clarify, I wasn't referring to carrying bath tissue in your Daypack, although that's also a good idea. I was referring more to the method of disposing of "used" bath tissue. In many of the countries in that part of the world, tissue is disposed of in a wastebasket which is placed next to the toilet. Paper plugs the small plumbing and those who forget the rules could be dealing with angry staff! Cheers!

Posted by
687 posts

BTW, I disagree about bottled water. Greece counts as Western Europe, and I always drink tap water in Western Europe (except when the occasional restaurant refuses). I have not heard that the water isn't safe on any of the islands. Business class is cheaper than first, and is fine. I think there's an all business class airline flying to Europe, but I don't remember the name. Otherwise your best bet is haunting the discount sites or using frequent flyer miles.

Posted by
1816 posts

Hi Carly
I also disagree about needing bottled water in Greece. I haven't had a problem drinking tap water on any of the 15 islands I've visited. If you're planning to visit Naxos specifically for the day trip to Delos, make sure that trip is still running when you plan to be there. Lots of tourist excursions end in September. I would suspect you'd have better luck getting from Mykonos to Delos in late September/early October. Don't let Mykonos' party reputation dissuade you ... it's a very pretty island and should be quiet at that time of year. Sounds like your trip is coming together nicely! Are you going to try to tack on Istanbul>Troy>Ephesus to the end of it??

Posted by
68 posts

Did you rent a car while on the islands or Crete? Okay, I'll check some business class flights and see what they are-they may be worth it. I know I have some frequent flyer miles, but they are with Continental. I thought Continental only had national routes. Although, recently I've heard they are merging with United and I believe United may have itnernational flights. I'll check it out today. To see Delos, I'd have to stay on Naxos, Mykynos, Paros, and TInos has some trips to Delos.
I was planning Naxos, is there a good reason to stay on one of the other Cycladic Islands instead?

Posted by
68 posts

Hi, I have found some good flights. Some stopover in Paris, London or Frankfurt. Is one of these airport easier to navigate and user friendly than the others? Also, which of the two options would be the best itinerary: 1. SANTORINI - RS Peloponnese trip(oct 10-24) - CRETE or 2. RS Pelop (oct 3-17)- CRETE- SANTORINI Is it possible to see Crete in early November (first week of)? Can travel from Oct 1- November 10. Thank you very much for your guidance and advice.

Posted by
68 posts

Sample Itinerary for both: oct 1 - fly out oct 2- arrive Athens, onto Santorini oct 6-ferry to Mykynos oct 7 - daytrip to Delos oct 9 - back to Athens oct 10 - RS Pelopp Tour Begins oct 24 - Tour Ends, Fly to Crete oct 31 - fly to Athens/Home (Would like to extend Crete into Nov. as I feel I am rushing that visit, or, I could take out Mykonos/Delos) or oct 1 - fly out oct 2 - arrive Athens oct 3 -RS Pelopp Tour Begins oct 17 -Tour ends, to Crete oct 25 - to Santorini oct 30 - back to Athens (ferry/fly?)
oct 31- fly home If you have any other ideas that may work better, please let me know, if not, which of these seems to be the best at this time of year.

Posted by
1816 posts

Hi Carly --
To answer your first question, I would personally avoid London Heathrow. I've had no experience connecting through Paris, although I'm doing that in a couple of weeks. I've connected through Frankfurt numerous times with no problems (allowing at least an hour between flights). As to your two itineraries, I'd pick the first one -- giving you Santorini, Mykonos & Delos before the tour, Crete after.