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To Crete and Beyond

Melbourne, Florida
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To Crete and Beyond

We are in the early, early stages of planning a Spring 2015 trip---looking for any and all suggestions----sooo many islands----soooo little time!!

Here is our first imaginary "schedule"

Arrive in Athens---connect to Crete

3+ Days exploring around Hania

Ferry to Santorini--spend 2 days

Ferry to Mykonos--spend 2 days---yes I've read pros/cons about this stop but???? husband wants to cross it off his "bucket list"---unless I can cross it off for a different stop!!

Possibly 2 days in Hydra--if schedule allows

Finish up back in Athens---for 2-3 days then POOF back to USA

We love walking and exploring all areas - soaking up the history--food--wine!! and culture--and would love to try and stay in local/small homes-hotels

Will have 14 days- including flight time to plan

Planning for the end of April or first part of May---thinking this time of the year, will not be too crowded BUT will the ferry/flying dolphin schedules be limited??

Sorry this is so long, but just trying to get an early "mind wrap" of how to squeeze it all in!!

Thank you for all your help!!

Pat

Crete, Greece
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1. Re: To Crete and Beyond

Hi!

All the places you have chosen are wonderful! I would probably skip Hydra, though. Its a beautiful island but I think it would be better (and less tiring) to spend more days in the other islands. I would stay at least 5 days in Chania (there are alot of things to see and do), 2 to Santorini and maybe 3 in Mykonos and another 3 in Athens. If you are interested in history, perhaps you would like to visit Delos, in a one day trip from Mykonos.

In early may usually there are a lot of ferries, so dont worry!

Melbourne, Florida
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2. Re: To Crete and Beyond

Thank you sooooooooooo very much--just the info I am looking for!!

If you don't mind, as the time and schedule gets closer , I will proably be asking you for more help and advice!!!

Thanks,

Pat

Swansea, United...
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3. Re: To Crete and Beyond

Be aware though that no ferry exists from Chania to Santorini you will have to go across the island to Heraklion and either fly to Santorini or get one of the 2 catamarans that run this route, see Seajets & Hellenic Seaways

Melbourne, Florida
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4. Re: To Crete and Beyond

OOOOOOOOOOOOOO Thank you--very valuable info. that I would never thought of!!!

This is another reason why I love TA so very much---every one is always willing to help!!

Thanks,

Pat

New York City, New...
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5. Re: To Crete and Beyond

Hey and welcome Pat:-) Firstly, see if you can incorporate both weekends on either end of the 2 weeks to make it 16 days.. that way you will actually get the full 2 weeks (14 days) since you loose that first day in transit.. so when plotting out an itinerary, you actually arrive on 'Day 2';-) So if you can fly out on a Saturday (arriving Sunday), you can fly back 2 weeks later on a Sunday giving you the full 2 weeks.. of course, this works with any day(s) of the week.. just the principle in getting the most out of your precious time;-) Having said that, would also look more into early May as opposed to late April.. when the Season gets going.. yet still on the quiet side.. no mobs as of yet;-)

www.olympicair.com/ www.aegeanair.com/ are in the process of merging so who knows what will happen by 2015.. nonetheless, would look into booking a direct flight straight out to Chania upon arrival in Athens off the long haul! You'll be at the airport anyway.. isle flights are all under an hour.. great start to vaca with no backtracking;-) Keeping the itinerary running consecutively is a huge time saver.. saving Athens as a finale which also ensures the return flight(s) home;-)

As mentioned, you need to get to Heraklion for the approx. 2 hour ferry over to Santorini.. believe the bus run takes approx. 2.5-3 hours from Chania.. am sure someone will kick in and verify.. but would look into spending at least a night in Heraklion.. you can visit Knossos while there which a highlight in area as well;-) To get an idea of ferry schedules between the isles (and to/from the mainland from Piraeus, etc), keep an eye out at www.gtp.gr/ www.openseas.gr/

For specifics on places to stay, etc., best to post in each isle's/destination's dedicated forum for better exposure.. and for those in the know to find you;-) Also in planning, bear in mind that to get 2 full days anywhere, you need to allot 3 nights.. so if you're planning on spending 2 nights anywhere, you're basically talking 1 full day;-) You've got plenty of time to plan out a great adventure.. and again, you're coming the distance so try and get the full 2 weeks in, if possible;-) Happy planning.. Happy New Year.. and EnJOY!

Montreal, Canada
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6. Re: To Crete and Beyond

Hi Pat, and welcome to TA! I recently came back from a 3wk trip to Greece, and have learned some very valuable lessons and tips in these travels that I'd love to share (and, being of Cretan decent, tips = rules haha!)

1) Very smart to keep Athens to the end. You can use the extra days as a buffer to connect to your home flights I say "buffer" because Athens airport goes on strike quite regularly, although don't worry, this very rarely escalates into a worrisome problem)

2) 3 days in Chania is definitely not enough (especially since the first day will be a write-off because you will be so tired from flying in; side note: i would recommend scheduling your flight from home to athens to arrive at around 1 or 2PM, so that you can catch the Aegean Airlines 4:05PM flight to Chania - also, Aegean beats Olympic airlines any day!). I could have spent my entire 3 weeks there! If you can, I would recommend a solid 5 days in Chania. This will allow you to visit beaches like the Balos Lagoon (1.5hrs away) and Elafonisi (2hrs away - careful! very winding roads if you take the west-coast drive, although quite a beautiful drive at that!), as well as the Samaria Gorge (longest and deepest in Europe, with fantastic wildlife and scenery - bring good, closed-toe shoes!), as well as a day to explore Chania Old Town itself (my favourite restaurant: the Kalderimi at the corner of Aggelou street, best food and service I received in Greece, for one of the cheapest bills!).

3) I agree with previous posts about the ferry to Santorini. You will have to go through Heraklion (careful! when you plan your trip, there is a very tempting 9:45AM ferry that is often chosen over the earlier 8:20AM ferry, but the 9:45 doesn't depart on Wednesdays for some reason, so make sure you read the fine print)

4) We did 1 day in Heraklion (drove from Chania in the morning, spent the day, slept overnight, and caught the early-morning ferry the next day). I would recommend Knossos ONLY if you read up beforehand. Otherwise, it will just look like a bunch of ruins (careful for pickpockets!)

5) Santorini: 3 days would be enough. Spend the extra money, stay in Oia. The pictures you see on the internet of Santorini are (mostly) all Oia. Don't be "cheap" and then regret the decision.

6) Mykonos: Meh... Another Santorini, with nicer beaches and a VERY youthful nightlife (although, if it is on the bucket list, then a 3-day stop would be sufficient to cross it off).

7) Athens: 2 days + a travel day would be enough (bringing your trip to 15 days including travel). Don't be disappointed when I say this, but unless you have taken an art history and a Greek Mythology course, Athens will likely be the least favourite part of your stay, just by virtue of now being a commercialized city.

Very sorry for the long list, but I hope I've helped you a little bit. Greece is a spectacular country that everyone should visit (especially Chania!). I agree with a previous writer in that Hydra should be skipped. Not THAT unique compared to other areas.

Finally (and I think this is my most important point), PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE rent a car on every island you go to. Yes, this will be an added expense, but you will only be in Greece for 14 days. The time that you will spend on a bus commuting is an expense by itself. Keep in mind that European rental companies (read carefully: NOT the US companies like Hertz, Budget, etc., but the small mom-and-pop shops) are completely legitimate and offer car rentals for as little as €12 a day ($16-$20US). If your credit card offers car rental insurance for free, then you can decline the insurance the car rental company will try to offer you (yes, it is legit, I have unfortunately had to use the credit card insurance in the past). Keep in mind you will need to know how to drive standard.

Also, yes, Greek drivers are crazy, but if you're not, then you won't have a problem. I'm Canadian and have now mastered Cretan driving :P

A car rental in Santorini and Mykonos would also be strongly recommended (although not necessary in Athens, at all.)

Hope this helps! Feel free to message me if you have any more questions.

Mike

P.S. Rick Steeves' "Europe through the Back Door" is a great European-travel-skills book that taught me a sh*t load of things I would never have thought of... Food for thought. :)

Enjoy your travels!

Montreal, Canada
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7. Re: To Crete and Beyond

In case you're interested, we used http://www.rent-a-car-crete-greece.com for our Crete rental car. Good, professional service.

*Make sure they fill out the damage form before you get into the vehicle. And yes, you can leave this at the port of Heraklion with the doors unlocked and the keys under the driver floor mat (not typical in the US or CAN, but very common in Europe, especially Greece).

Washingon DC area
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8. Re: To Crete and Beyond

Traveling at the end of April/beginning of May gives you total flexibility over your itinerary. You could just see how you like Chania and stay as many days as you like; be sure to rent a car and drive down to Chora Sfakia for a day. Visit the ancient site of Aptera and then the Akrotiri peninsula - Agia Triada monastery produces some excellent wine and olive oil. If you find yourself enamored of Chania, then stay longer; if not then head to Heraklion and ferry on to Santorini.

While many visitors love Mykonos, I wasn't too impressed with it during my one visit 30+ years ago. It was nice, but I enjoyed Sitia on Crete more, and other than Delos there wasn't much that I was interested in.

I liked Hydra. I did it as a daytrip from Poros and was glad I did. But it was at the end of a 5 week trip, and I wouldn't take time off Crete just to see it.

Melbourne, Florida
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9. Re: To Crete and Beyond

YOU GUYS ROCK!!!!!!

Thanks Litsa--I hope to maximize our time as much as possible with the flights and island hopping!!

I'll start cking into flights toward the end of this yr.

eagermike93 - yes saving Athens for the tail end was recommended a while ago due to everything you mention!!! Iam still on the fence about Mykonos???? SInce Crete is sooo large, we may end up staying longer. I have a lot of homework ahead of me "investigating" the island and all it has to offer.

If we spend more time on Crete I agree about the car rental and love the freedom it will offer !!!Hopefully they provide a map, altho my husband has the gift of "built in GPS"!!! Love the drop off feature--good luck doing that in the US---NOT!!

Will definately ck out Oia---

Thanks zakrosian--yes will probably lean more toward early/middle of May and the more I read about Mykonos,it may be replaced w/more time on Crete!!!

When should I start looking at places to stay?????

I dont want "cheap" but not looking to bust the bank either!!! This will be our 20th Anniversary trip and altho we're looking for memories , I've seen places running hundreds of dollars per nite YIKES!!.

I'am trying to plan this on our own, without a travel agency/agent---we are DEFINATELY not group travellers following little flags for the group pre-arranged trips UGH.

Hopefully with all the wonderful help from TA and the time I have to plan--we'll be able to make all the arrangements!!

THANKS

Pat

New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for Skopelos
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10. Re: To Crete and Beyond

Our pleasure Pat:-) You'll be happy to hear you can usually find places on the isles for about 30-40E per night in either simple mom/pop establishments and/or self-serve studios that many times even offer kitchenettes;-) Certainly true for Crete.. although a bit more difficult for the more popular isles of Mykonos and Santorini but more doable when off peak season and certainly doable below $200;-) For specifics.. best to post in each isle/destination's dedicated forum here.. better exposure to those in the know that will be able to help out;-) Keep us posted.. keep enjoyin'!!