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......!).