Trip to Greece - advice?

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Paul Derouda
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Trip to Greece - advice?

Post by Paul Derouda » Sun Sep 01, 2019 3:24 pm

So we're going to Greece for one week with my family (my wife and two kids) in mid-October. It will be the third visit for me. We'll take the plane to Athens, where we intend to spend a couple of days. After that, I suppose we'll rent a car at some stage and drive around and stay in different places (or rather, my wife will drive, because I don't have a license). Seeing antiquities will certainly be an important part of the program, but it's (also) a family trip and I'm not supposed to bore the others to death with my old rocks - therefore, we need to have other things in the program to balance! Good seafood works wonders for my wife, for example. So I'm asking for advice from all you knowledgeable folks on what we should do! Any suggestions that might make these destinations even more interesting (good addresses, sights we shouldn't miss, something kids like etc.), or alternative destinations, are welcome. (e.g.: "if you liked Nauplion, try X this time for a change..."). Also, tell me if something is definitely not worth it or might be difficult.

What I've thought about:
-We will of course see the most important sights in Athens: the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum as well as the Archaeological Museum.
-We've been to Nauplion once before and liked it a lot, so we might go there again. If we go there, a visit to Mycenae (and perhaps even Tiryns) will be in the program.
-A "Herodotean" destination might be in order. I though about Delphi. At the same time, we might have look at Thermopylae or whatever parking lot is left of it.
-11 years ago on my first visit to Greece with my friend we took a ship to Santorini and from there to Crete. That seems too long now, but a shorter trip might be nice. Perhaps Aegina?

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Re: Trip to Greece - advice?

Post by Aetos » Sun Sep 01, 2019 10:37 pm

It's been a long time, but my wife liked Aigina. It's a nice day trip; you could actually go there for dinner (well, maybe a late lunch) and be back the same evening. She says it's beautiful. I know you've been reading Herodotus, so if you've read Book 5, you know there's a bit of history between the Αἰγινήται and the Ἀθηναῖοι (5.82) You've probably already done Monastiraki, but if there's something you think you could find at a flea market, it's worth checking out (I'm thinking books...?There must be books!)Although you can dicker at just about every shop in Greece, you could probably "negotiate" even better prices at the market. Καλό ταξίδι!

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Re: Trip to Greece - advice?

Post by Scribo » Mon Sep 02, 2019 4:33 pm

Ha, I'm not sure what you're into, but I'll give it a go.

I'm not really a fan of seafood, but Athiri in Athens is a fantastic restaurant for those who are. Sounio also has some decent places nearby.

As for islands, it depends how long a journey you can stand. I have never been a fan of Aegina. Close to Athens, also in the Saronic gulf, are both Idra and Spetses. Similarish. The latter doesn't allow cars and is quite small, also famous for being the home of Laskarina Bouboulina. The former is slightly larger, also lovely, but usually full of annoying super rich tourists.

Poros has a lovely museum and a temple of Poseidon. It's easy to get to from Athens and you can see the Peloponnese from there.

I agree that Nafplio is lovely. It's not too far to the excellent site of Mycenae from there.
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Re: Trip to Greece - advice?

Post by Paul Derouda » Mon Sep 02, 2019 8:35 pm

Thanks for your tips. Keep them coming! I'm really open to all sorts of ideas, the point is to have a nice holiday for adults and kids alike.

Last time I was asking for tips was before going to London - I got many great tips, it's really a shame we had so little time, just one long weekend, and we could try out only a fraction of the great things you suggested. Now we have a full week!

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Re: Trip to Greece - advice?

Post by truks » Thu Sep 05, 2019 7:42 am

Two years ago, my partner and I flew to Athens and spent some time there before travelling on by car to Delphi. Be sure to check out the Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia down below which was open free of charge when we were there. We also took a picnic and ate it in an orchard nearby.

From there, we drove to Olympia and then on to the Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae (well worth a visit IMO).

Continuing through Arcadia, we stopped at two mountain villages along the way, Καρίταινα and Δημητσάνα, both with great views and hiking.

We then spent two days in Corinth, which I can also recommend – lots of 'old rocks' but plenty of excellent seafood, too. :)

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Re: Trip to Greece - advice?

Post by seneca2008 » Fri Sep 06, 2019 6:37 pm

There is so much to see the difficulty is how to prevent a holiday turning into a route march, fine if one is on one’s own or with like minded friends not so acceptable with family.

Sounion was magical when I saw it in the evening but this is a long time ago and I don’t know how much more built up it has been around there.

Delphi will take a big chunk of time out of your trip but in a car you should also visit the nearby Hosios Loukas. I had to take a taxi. The journey is very attractive and the surroundings to the monastery are beautiful with wonderful views. Delphi is overwhelming.

As aetos says Aegina is attractive. You can eat at the port and drive (I took the bus) to the beautiful temple of Aphaea and there are good views over the sea. I doubt there will be many people to disturb your peace. I seem to remember that the nearby Ag. Marina is attractive but I went there on my first visit which was many years ago, Eheu fugaces, Posthume, Posthume...

Nauplion you know. Apart from Mycenae there is also Nemea an attractive site, and the evocative Argive Heraion which whilst not much remains is evocative. You can indulge your passion for Herodotus imagining this was the temple in which Kleobis and Biton fell asleep. Epidaurus Is not far from Nauplion and would I imagine be popular with children. You can tell stories about sleeping in the enkoimeteria in order to be cured.

A longer trip would be to Monemvasia. This might make a good base if you wanted an alternative to Nauplion allowing you to explore Sparta and Mystras and Laconia generally.

How the possibilities expand! For several years I used to spend a month travelling in Greece. They were some of the happiest holidays I have had.

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Re: Trip to Greece - advice?

Post by mwh » Sat Sep 07, 2019 4:59 am

My first trip to Greece was on a school trip. We yelled “Peasants!” out of the train windows at the people working in the fields (I’m not proud of that) and clambered all over the lion gate at Mycenae, with nothing and no-one to stop us. My second trip was as a first-year undergraduate, with a new girlfriend. We were dirt poor, and sleeping rough, but somehow we got to Delphi (hitch-hiking?, bus?), and marveled. There were no off-limits parts then, just as there were none on the Athenian acropolis. That remains perhaps my strongest memory of Greece (even more than the sex). That was also the closest I’ve come to film stardom. Down the road at Arachova we were roped in as extras for a film called The Day the Fish Came Out. (Look it up.) Free food! Everyone was given futuristic costumes to wear, but I was deemed to be already futuristic enough in my trendy bright blue bellbottoms. That trip was also my first time in Nafplion, eating grilled garides, another unforgettable experience. And we bummed a ride on a small boat to Mykonos, at least that was the idea, but we were asleep on the deck at night and heard the anchor chain clanking, and disembarked. It wasn’t till next morning we discovered we were on Tinos.

I vowed I would not go back to Greece until the colonels were out of power and democracy restored. It was a hard vow to keep, but I did. I’ve been to Greece a good number of times since, but those earlier memories are still my most treasured ones. But not quite so many years ago an Athenian friend recommended a restaurant in the Piraeus to me and my wife. On the outside it seemed to be just another ordinary private home up a side street, with nothing to indicate it was a restaurant; we thought it must be the wrong address. But we were welcomed by the host, sat down at the table (no menu), and dishes were brought out to us, one after another, in seemingly endless succession, each more delicious than the last. And there were dozens of them. We lost count of the courses, and by the end were more stuffed than I thought possible. Well, if I could remember just where it was (I’ve looked for it since and failed to find it), I’d recommend it, but I can’t. And no doubt it has gone now. Everything in Greece is so much changed, infinitely busier and more developed. I was very lucky to see it when I did.

Forgive the ramblings. I don’t quite know what brought that on.

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Re: Trip to Greece - advice?

Post by Paul Derouda » Sat Sep 07, 2019 10:46 am

Thanks! Some of the places you mention I have already visited - our last visit with family friends in 2010 concentrated on the Peloponnese. On two consecutive days, we split company. First the ladies stayed with the kids while we guys drove to Monemvasia, and the next day we guys were left with the kids and the ladies went to Olympia. We had our base (if I remember correctly that is, the chronology of the trip is fading from my memory...) in a small village called Andritsaina in the middle of the Peloponnese in a huge but fearsomely empty 1950's hotel we thought was haunted. I think it had been built at a time when there were no decent roads to nearby Bassae; I think the idea was that tourists used to stay in that hotel and ride donkeys to Bassae. Anyway, since the tourists who want to visit the temple at Bassae no longer need to stay in Andritsaina, the place has been left with close to zero visitors and this colossal hotel that had somehow managed to survive at least until 2010. (We didn't see the temple though, for whatever reason!)
seneca2008 wrote:
Fri Sep 06, 2019 6:37 pm
There is so much to see the difficulty is how to prevent a holiday turning into a route march, fine if one is on one’s own or with like minded friends not so acceptable with family.
Exactly... Perhaps the best idea is to have a number of options open and see how things develop when we're there. It's good to have a number of alternative plans, for which I am grateful. I don't think it's high season, so there's no need to reserve in advance, except perhaps Athens. But the Greek scenery is beautiful most of the time, so sitting in car for a few hours is not too bad. However, sleeping in the Argive Heraion is not recommended, if Herodotus is to be believed.

Reading a "rambling" story like mwh's is almost like making the trip myself, so thanks for that! If only we could take the time machine... And yes, that's just the sort of restaurant I'd love visit, if you didn't dream it.

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Re: Trip to Greece - advice?

Post by jamesrothering » Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:03 pm

Hi, I took my family there this January -- so I'm fairly recent. Everyone enjoyed Delphi, and I would highly recommend it. They have a museum there as well as the ruins themselves, and both are worth spending time in, if your family are museum visitors. The "Charioteer of Delphi" is there in the museum -- one of a handful of surviving bronzes. We also did Meteora, which is a strange place where the monks built monasteries in the mountaintops. It's quite picturesque. There are guided tours via bus to both, which we employed because the land is far more mountainous than I expected, and there was significant snow to deal with. But that was in January.

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Re: Trip to Greece - advice?

Post by cb » Sun Sep 15, 2019 11:30 am

Hi, it depends on how young your kids are, but mine liked e.g. the National Gardens (it has a zoo, a playground etc.) If they're a bit older, something I liked, a little off the tourist trail, was climbing Mount Zas in Naxos (tallest mountain in the Cyclades, and has a cave of Zeus). It's worth sticking to the trail: when someone else I met climbing the mountain decided it would be a good idea to leave the trail and cut straight across the mountain to the cave of Zeus, we got kind of stuck in an area hard to get out of, in a field of sharp-leaved plants, no other humans in sight, with ominous birds of prey circling ahead. Otherwise great! I did something similar in Athens actually, wandering out of the hotel one afternoon to find Plato's Academy without my phone or a guide, getting lost, and then asking for directions in a mixture of modern and ancient Greek, which worked (surprisingly).

If you don't want to drive, it's pretty easy to organise a taxi service to take you on a day trip out to Delphi for a few hours and then Thermopylae on the way back. I think it's called George's Taxi or something like that.

One other thing that kids usually like is dessert. I loved the Ekmek Kataifi—I can't remember exactly where I had it in Athens, but I think it was at Chatzis near Syntagma Square.

Can't really go wrong in Greece!

Cheers, Chad

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Re: Trip to Greece - advice?

Post by Aetos » Sun Sep 15, 2019 2:12 pm

cb wrote:
Sun Sep 15, 2019 11:30 am
One other thing that kids usually like is dessert. I loved the Ekmek Kataifi
My wife makes this for us from time to time and it has to be my favourite dessert ever!! She starts with a base of kataifi, then drizzles sugar-honey syrup, then adds a layer of vanilla pudding, tops with whipped cream, then adds sliced fruit (strawberries, kiwi, blackberries)and crushed walnuts or pistachios. You definitely have to try it!

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Re: Trip to Greece - advice?

Post by Paul Derouda » Mon Sep 16, 2019 8:21 pm

Everybody seems to say that Delphi is good idea, with different things to do in the area. Well then...! I suppose we'll take a tour there. Any tips if we want to stay for the night in the region?

The cave of Zeus in Naxos sounds nice, but I think it's a bit too far from Athens. But I'll keep that in mind - I hope some day, some other time, I'll manage to go island hopping in the Cyclades. I see what you mean with the sharp-leaved plants on a mountainside – I still remember twenty years ago in Southern France, when we decided to take a so-called short-cut with a friend...

Ekmek Kataifi. I've never tasted that (I think), but it looks yummy. That's precisely the sort of thing I need to bribe my family with after I've indulged in my old rocks for too long. There's no way we'll leave the country without tasting that (repeatedly, probably).

My kids are (almost) 8 and 10, but they're used to exercise and even like it (especially if I bri... reward them). This summer we cycled 53 km one day; for my son it was nothing, but my daughter was complaining a bit near the end; luckily, however, there are few things that an extra ice cream can't fix (you bet that one, or two, ice cream stops were not enough to cover that distance!). Any cave of Zeus (or similar) to hike to that is not as far as Naxos?

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Re: Trip to Greece - advice?

Post by mwh » Tue Sep 17, 2019 2:48 am

You might try Arachova (ancient Karyai, fascinating history), just a few kilometers from Delphi itself. It’s gone upscale since I was first there in the midsixties. And you don’t need to go to Naxos for a cave. There’s one right there, the Corycian cave, extremely old and famous. Pausanias gave it a rave review. It’s a bit of a trek up to it, but should be doable for you guys. And from there you could hike further up to the top of Parnassus, home of the Muses (Hesiod’s Theogony!), where today I expect there’s more than a guy selling Fix from a cooler. Fantastic views, quite magical. It’s all ski slopes now, mind.

From Arachova you could go down to the coast. That’s where most of Michael Cacoyannis’ The Day the Fish Came Out was shot. (He wrote, directed, and produced it, not to mention designing the costumes!) It didn’t have the success of Zorba the Greek but it starred Tom Courtenay before he learnt to act and also a very fetching young Candice Bergen. And if you watch it you might even catch sight of me!

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Re: Trip to Greece - advice?

Post by cb » Tue Sep 17, 2019 3:53 am

Many thanks all, I'm taking notes too for my next trip!

Still just focusing on the kids angle, keep in mind that visiting Delphi, as well as being awe-inspiring (and, if you're like me, involves vainly looking around for broken rocks that may have once borne the famous sayings inscribed there long ago), is basically a continuous walk up a steep slope. Visiting the museum afterwards makes it a good mix.

The best site for kids in Athens I thought was the agora: not just stone foundations with labels, lots of places to explore, the Stoa museum makes it a nice mix, and lots of historical sites you can point out: (if they've heard of Socrates) this is the cell where Socrates probably spent his last day (people have guessed that it's the cell in the Poros building adjacent to the one in which they found what could be a washing vessel, and so this could be the washing room referred to in Plato's Phaedo—although that is quite a sequence of 'could's), this is the Stoa of Zeus where he used to walk and talk (actually, I think I was just thinking that to myself: the kids had gone off exploring), etc.

There are also little niches and mini caves to explore on the Peripatos around the Acropolis, which was usually empty when I visited.

The nicest old bookstore I found is one near the agora entrance closest to the Stoa of Zeus. I think it may be the one that features at the beginning of the documentary Aristotle's Lagoon (I'm not sure, but it looked familiar).

Cheers, Chad

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