Wednesday, June 28, 2017

2017 - Greece Summary (Crete)

Duration: 3.5 days (Wednesday afternoon to Sunday morning)

Highlights

Samaria Gorge was a definite highlight. I know that we don't normally go hiking much, but this experience was definitely worth it and highly suggested.



Monastery of Arkadi was a nice stop since we were driving to Chania for Samaria Gorge. I can't say that it is worth a visit if you aren't in the area though since there isn't much else nearby.


Venetian Harbour (either in Chania, Heraklion, or Rethymo) are worth visiting for the nice views. They are all a bit different, but all are very nice to look and be at.




Lowlights

Nothing disappointed me in Crete.

Food Suggestions

Central Park Cafe has a very large menu and the food that we ordered was great.



Paralia which is by the water serves fresh seafood



Ippokampos also by the water and serves fresh seafood.



Tips

Our first time driving here and we noticed that if you are slow, you should drive on the shoulder to allow other cars to pass. The same applies for when you drive behind a slow car, they will usually drive on the shoulder which means they are allowing you to pass. I noticed that the solid line rule did not really apply here.

Final Thoughts

Crete is significantly larger than Santorini and I can see why people say that even one week would not be enough depending on what you like to see and do. I think we had a good taste of what Crete had to offer and if we could rejig some days, Crete would have gotten some more time.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

2017 - Greece Summary (Santorini)

Duration: 4 days (Saturday afternoon to Wednesday afternoon)

Highlights

Volcano tour - I know that a lot of people won't like tours, but I thought that the volcano tour was a very good way of covering a number of spots while at Santorini and I don't believe you can visit these places on your own.



Fira to Oia hike - Again, probably not for everyone, but I thought it was very enjoyable, although do note that there is no shade available during the entire hike. Plan accordingly.



Lowlights

Nothing disappointed me here. I did find Santorini very resort-like so it seemed a bit unnaturally friendly and clean depending on where you visit.

Food Suggestions

Lucky's souvlaki - not quite sure why we liked this place so much, but we did end up here a number of times. The souvlaki tastes very good and is very inexpensive.


Trani Taverna - very good food and if you luck out, a nice view to boot.



Tips

I think our duration was a bit long based on what we did. You may like to relax a bit more, but based on the things we did, I would suggest the following:

Day 1: Rent an ATV and drive the southern half of Santorini
Day 2: Do the volcano tour
Day 3: Do the fira to oia hike

That was sufficient for us in terms of things to see and do there. There are more things to do there, but that was enough based on our experiences.

Final Thoughts

Your duration is based on your interests. If you want to just relax, I would suggest a nice hotel with a view, otherwise, I think 3 days is a good amount of time to spend here.

Monday, June 26, 2017

2017 - Greece - Day 15 [Athens]

Today is our last day in Greece before we head back to home to Toronto and our goal today was to look for graffiti art. Since we fly out I'll write about our experience flying out as well in this post.

Athen's graffiti
Breakfast was the same as usual, no change at Athens Center Square Hotel.

Breakfast
We wandered to the Gazi area by foot in search of some graffiti, since it was early in the day, we didn't really worry about anything (we were told to be a bit careful when it is dark). I think overall, we never felt worried while being here at all. As long as you are in the tourist areas you'll be okay.

Athen's graffiti
Athen's graffiti
Athen's graffiti
Athen's graffiti
Athen's graffiti (look closely, you'll see half of it on on a brick wall, the other half is on the side of a different wall)
Ended up finding some graffiti, but it wasn't as crazy as expected. My opinion on this is based on my desire to find graffiti that looks like art and not fancy tags (graffiti which is just words).

Kebap on the left, cheese on top, souvlaki on the right
With that done, we ended up back at Thansis for lunch and we ordered the chicken souvlaki, kebap, saganaki today which came out to 24 euros. The saganaki I would avoid, I think it is just an overall salty cheese and it seems a bit disappointing compared to the Halumi we had the other day.

Central Market
Central Market
Central Market
Central Market
Central Market
Central Market
Visited the Central Market by our hotel and it is well worth a visit for those who don't know markets, or those who like them. Imagine if you walked into a grocery store, but your usual areas like meats, veggies, fish, as all operated with different owners, but they all more or less sell the same thing.

Central Market
Central Market
You will see stall upon stall that sells meats in one section, an area that sells fish, and then outside it was fruits and veggies. Very neat place. Not, if you don't like looking at dead meat/fish, you might want to avoid this.

National Archeological Museum
National Archeological Museum
National Archeological Museum
National Archeological Museum
National Archeological Museum
National Archeological Museum was next and we walked there from our hotel, it wasn't too long of a walk and we ended up being there from 2:30pm to 4:30pm at a cost of 10 euros per person. This museum has a lot of things to see and it is a bit confusing in terms of layout in my mind. Your stay depends on what you like and you may not even be interested anyways. Unfortunately, it is a bit outside of the usual tourist area, it just happened to be near our hotel, so we paid them a visit.

Oddly, our hotel staff told us to just take the metro to the museum, we did opt to walk there and was a bit confused by the suggestion. Maybe tourists don't like to walk? We weren't really sure.

Aspro Alogo Greek Salad
Aspro Alogo Calamari
Aspro Alogo Anchovies
Dinner was at Aspro Alogo again where we ordered the calamari, anchovies, and greek salad for 20 euros.

So concludes our trip to Greece! Overall, a lovely country with lots of history to explore.

The next day, we walked to the nearby metro station which had a train to the airport. We noticed that is cost 10 euros to 1 person, 18 euros for 2 people, and 24 euros for 3 people. So it is actually to your advantage to have more people! Similar to our experience with the trams in Germany.

There was plenty of signage to get to the airport, so, no worries there. Note, the station that we were at has trains that operate on the same station, even though they are on different lines. In our case, we were at Monastiraki station and we needed to wait for the blue line and not the green line. There is a sign board at the station in case you get lost. In our case, we just followed the people that looked like they were going to the airport. Note, the train took 40 minutes from our station and the train itself comes every 30 minute, so check the schedule before heading out.

Once we made it to the airport stop, again, just follow everyone. It seemed like there we plenty of people going so you probably won't need to worry. The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful.

Over the next few posts, I'll cover the summary of the areas that we visited in Greece.

Friday, June 23, 2017

2017 - Greece - Day 14 [Athens]

Today, we visit the Acropolis.

Athens Center Square Hotel, which is a part of the same group of hotels that Hermes Hotel was part of meant that the breakfast is exactly the same, a bit disappointing, but we will live with it.

Athens Center Square Hotel Breakfast
Athens Center Square Hotel Breakfast
We woke up early to make it to the Acropolis near when they open and we walked there and made it there at 8:30am and we spent two hours there. It is a bit unfortunate that the site is under renovation, but nonetheless, it is still a very impressive site. Well worth visiting, especially since it does cost 20 euros just to visit this one site.

Acropolis
Acropolis
Acropolis
Make sure that you visit the Acropolis either really early (aim to go before 9:00am) or you can try to visit later in the day. Since it is out in the open, it is very hot. Through the two hours, we basically walked the entire site.

Ancient Agora
Ancient Agora
Ancient Agora was next and we got there from the Acropolis in roughly half an hour and spent an hour there (from 11:00am to 12:00pm). We did the two main buildings (Stoa and the Temple of Hephaestus) and wandered around for a bit. Neat site, but you can see a lot of reconstruction which makes you wonder how it would have looked in the past.

Thansis pork souvlaki on the left, kebap on the right
Thansis is where we went for lunch where we ordered the Thansis kebap and pork souvlaki which came out to 21 euros. The food was really good, especially the kebap. Both items were very moist, makes me wonder how they made it.

Hadrian's library was next and we were there for about 20 minutes. There isn't too much to see outside of what you see from behind the gates. It did seem a bit weird that the historical sites are surrounded by wrought iron fencing that you can see through. Why would you pay if you can basically see the entire site outside of it?

Athenkion Halumi cheese
Athenkion grilled vegetables
Due to the heat, we ended up going back to the hotel and resting. When we got up, we went to the Plaka District and wandered around town. We ended up at Athenkion for dinner where we ordered the Halumi cheese, grilled vegetables, moussaka, and meatballs. The starters were very nice, however, the mains were a bit disappointing with an overall cost of 36 euros.

Athenkion Meatballs
Athenkion Moussaka
Athenkion free dessert
Wandered a bit more and went back to the hotel. Tomorrow, we go graffiti hunting and visit some museums.