On May 1997 I went to Greece
with my wife. We don't like arranged travels and we prefer
to travel on our own, because we think is the only way you can get in touch with the real
country and its people. This way of travelling is harder and more expensive than others,
but also more pleasant, relaxing and, that's the best, gives you a different point of view
on the culture and way of life.
After my experience here you have my advice if you
plan to travel on your own to Greece. You have to understand that
this is MY PERSONAL POINT OF VIEW and that it is not my intention to
criticize the people or culture of Greece. You also must take into
account that these observations are from year 1997. Things might have
changed (either in the right or in the wrong way) since then.
(Click on the
icons to find hotels in that city or area)
If you plan to go in spring or summer do wear light dressing. The weather is
pretty hot, specially if you are walking up and down all the day (as a tourist is supposed
Don't try to find any supermarket, grocery or any other shop selling food in
Athens . There are only some supermakets in the suburbs, many Kms. away from the center.
Anyway you can still buy water, bread, fruit and vegetables (but nothing else) in many
kiosks along the streets in Plaka (The old town). Eat it at your own risk....
Don't get crazy wondering where the dogs are. Greeks don't like dogs (in general,
of course). The only dogs you will see are rovers and those owned by foreigners.
Do go by foot to anywhere in Athens . The traffic is so dense and distances not so
long that the best is to move around walking.
If you need to go somewhere too far away for going by foot, do take a taxi. They
are quit cheap, but you are likely to share your taxi with someone else..!! Yes, taxis are
picking up different passengers going in the same direction more or less and the driver
decides whether or not he wants to carry you. If you find out how do they manage to
calculate the price for each passenger please let me know, I still can't make it out.....
Don't try greek food if you have an ulcer or some other stomach trouble. Mousaka,
souvlaki and other typicall dishes are very tasty but they are prepared with many spices
and are really hard.
If you want to buy a good hand-made chess game, made of bronze, do visit the Poseidon Workshop in Athens. They
have beautiful thinks at afordable prices.
Renting cars in Greece is quite expensive. I suggest you do rent a car from the
national company "Kosmos". They offer you good cars, very friendly attention,
all support you need and reasonable prices.
have a very bad price/quality rate. I really suggest you don't try to go
to hotels of categories "B", "C" and so on. Only in categories
"A" and "Luxury" most of the hotels are "acceptable". Anyway
this clasification is not clear at all, and you had better have a look at the room
before booking in. Always avoid making reservations by telephone before knowing the actual
conditions of the Hotel. Otherwise you can be sadly surprised...I know it from experiece!.
Always do haggle over the price of the room when making the reservation. You can
save up to a 20-25% of the initial price. Greeks like to haggle, and hotels are not an
Do go to Meteora monasteries. These are a group a monasteries placed on
top of isolated rocks in a wonderful environment. I suggest you spend at least one day or
two visiting Meteora and Kalambaka (The town at the foot of Meteora) YOU MUST NOT MISS
IT!. If you like photography and want to take some breath-taking shots do make a quick
tour along the road that goes to the monasteries just before the sunset. The rocks
become red and a wonderful world of lights and shadows will show up in the viewfinder of
your camera. I personally took serveral dozens of slides that I hope to publish here as
soon as I get an slide scanner.
If you go to Kalambaka, do eat in the restaurant ("estiatorio"
in greek) KENTRIKON, in the Central Square. It is owned by Family Themis Tolis, a
lovely greek old man that will serve you the best "mousaka" in Greece, cooked by
his wife. Don't take care about how the place looks like, it is not exactly
"Maxim's", but it's worth to go there if you want to have a very good and cheap
typical greek food. On the wall you will possibly see a post card from Palma de Mallorca
sent by my wife (Trinidad Grau) when we came back to Palma.
If you want a sleep in a restful hotel, a few Kms. from Kalambaka do spend the night
at hotel Amalia. It is not cheap, but if you take into account the
very bad price/quality rate of the hotels in greece is possible the best alternative in
If you are so odd tourist that decide to go to Kastoria, an small town near a lake quite
outside the usual touristic routes and famous for its bizantine churches, do not spend
the night at Hotel Xenia du Lac. Although this hotel is classified in category
"A" it is much worse than the worst guest-house I have seen in my life. It
possibly was an "acceptable" hotel in the 60's, but no change or improvement has
been made since then (and very little times it has been cleaned, by the way). You will be
lucky if, as we did, leave this bad dream and do rest in one of the suites of hotel
Tsamis, just on the shore of the lake. The decoration of the suites is
"curious" but they have been completly rebuild and everything is new. Apart from
that, you will enjoy a worderful view on the lake from the terrace of your room. (Remember
to negotiate the price......!).
Having spent several weeks every year for the last 15 years on the mainland and a few of the islands, after driving down with my own car from the UK, I cannot agree with the initial statement.
Athens is like most big cities, I t does have an excellent subway system and the public transport is well integrated.
Buy a ticket you can use all day its not expensive.
The Greeks are are a naturally friendly people, they will treat you the same as you treat them, especially when you get out in to the country. Look for tavernas used by Greeks , not the tourists, in fact if you want to see the real Greece stay away from the tourist hot spots.
Unfortunately dont bother to use the Greek repeater system which is linked ,unless you speak fluent greek, I've never had an answer :)
#3 - greek -
10/Feb/2012 - 22:54
oh! and almost forgot: Don't expect drivers to stop for you to cross the street or anything THAT kind. I can reassure you we're not THAT evil in our lives. but with the steering wheel we get transformed :P
when driving, always be careful and don't assume that the other driver will respect priority/speed limit/etc. If you want to ride a bike be careful of doors opening at parking lines, pedestrians assuming you will stop for them and drivers taking turns in front of you...
#2 - greek -
10/Feb/2012 - 22:42
hey, just came here randomly, I actually live in Greece. I read the article by curiosity and I must say it is not that accurate, maybe because it's been so many years since 1997. So here is some of my advise:
1) Prefer the supermarkets and not the street kiosks. They have significantly better prices, and actually there are many of them.
2) Bakery stores can provide you with good quality breakfast, you can tell the better ones mostly by the smell ;)
3) Definately try the local cuisine, it is one of the richest cuisines worldwide and it's not just moussaka and souvlaki. Go where the locals go, restaurants targetting tourists don't have the best quality and charge more. Ask the locals for recommendations, don't go to the first tavern in sight. Also you can find top quality fruit with good prices at street markets, if you happen to find yourself at one.
4) DON'T take a cab, unless you really have to. Cab fares are way TOO expensive and most drivers will try to overcharge you, considering you don't know the place and prices. In urban areas public transportation will serve you well, in rural areas you'll have to ask a lot to find bus stops and timetables. Prefer bus to train, it tends to be cheaper.
5) Most prices are fixed and you cannot really negociate at a store, but you should try of course. Definately negociate prices with street vendors, most of them will make you a better price or something...
6) Greek people don't have the best sense of time. So don't be surprised if someone comes late at a rendez-vous or serves you slow. You could always complain to avoid repetition, but there's no real use... :P
7) Greece actually has a nightlife, especially during the summer. And thank God it's not all about those pathetic nightclubs advertised. There are PLENTY of bars for every taste where you can enjoy a drink at night, many of them have live music without extra charge some days of the week/month. But the best part is that many people enjoy their beer in public, at squares, parks, beaches... Such "gathering" spots are the best places to meet locals and interact, or you can just sit and observe (in a poetic way), even "do your thing" like practice your hobby, dance...
8) I have no idea about hotels... But if you're into camping know that free camping is illegal. There are places where you can set your colony (:P) but mostly locals know the "out of sight", cool camping places. Also there are a few unofficial free-camping friendly places, but don't expect to find them on a tourist guide. Google it or ask, I don't know... Organised camp sites are not a sure thing, some of them are really nice, some of them are shitty, try to find recommendations before booking, and don't trust the website photos...
GOD I could write a whole guide with cool places not in guides, plus advise, but that was intended to be a brief "update" to the initial post.
See you around, well informed!
#1 - demetrius -
09/Mar/2010 - 16:24
Was 1997 and we have 2010. I agree with the gentleman. My advice is to be in atention because of criminality that we have in greece last years and cams by the big number of ilegal immigrants. My advice is to not travel alone in greece. Always with company or group. Before you travel beter know the place that you want visit and have informations. Thats it.
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