I am Pallavi.
This is my first attempt at travel blog all thanks to Lynn’s kind encouragement. We visited Greece for one week in month of September 2016. It was out first international trip. We were naive and anxious. The opportunity to visit Greece was too good to miss. We were hoping to rely on travel company for sightseeing. The best deal through well known tour company was approximately 1.5-2lakh per person for one week Greek. Unfortunately tour schedule was fixed and it did not accommodate out needs. (Omkar, my partner had his professional commitments in Athens).
So we planed the whole Journey. After lot of googling, tips from frequent flyers we decided to pack light (1 bag weighing less than 12kg per person) we packed pair of walking shoes and planned an itinerary of 6 nights and 7 days as follows:
Day 1: Mumbai to Athens, Etihad flight, domestic transit flight from Mumbai to Delhi, layover of few hrs in Delhi, Eithad international flight to Athens with layover/transit in Abu Dhabi.
Night1 (Day2): Santorini/Kamari
Night 2 & 3 (Day3, 4): Athens.
Night4 (Day 5): Delphi
Night 5 & 6: Athens.
Our total budget was 1.8lakh (including air tickets, stay, daily travel, food, other expenses such tickets for museum/attractions)
Let me start with Day 0 – Mumbai to Day 1, night 1: Athens – Santorini leg
Here we go through each day:
Day 0, we left from Mumbai after work around 5pm for 8pm flight. As beginners luck, we were stuck in snail paced traffic of western express. As the clock started ticking, panic got better of us. I called the airport office, the call centre fella started pushing his “reschedule the flights agenda”. Somehow our taxi driver kicked into action and we made it to the boarding gate. Turns out our domestic leg was Jet airways flight to Delhi. Phew!! Little did we know that this was exactly how our trip would be!
There was no hassle of immigration at Mumbai and we were happy puppies for next 2.5hrs. Till our flight landed in Delhi. Our real international Etihad flight to Athens was from Delhi Terminal 2. Here we were greeted by the grumpiest constipated faces at the immigration clearance.
Delhi T2 waiting area as above. We clicked hundred pictures of all the duty free display – cars, bikes, chocolates alcohol, you name it
I was pleasantly surprised with this mosaic take on Traditional Warli art. Pakka Maharashtrian in me was delighted.
After rushed and disorienting transit through Abu-Dhabi, we made it. The landscape was anything we had ever seen. We quickly found a MacDonalds for our quick coffee/snack break. We had booked a domestic flight to Santorini and we decided to wait for our 5pm flight. We had to while away some 3hrs at Athens airport.
Athens airport has nothing much to offer unless you are member of elite lounges etc. We tried to utilize free Wi-Fi and catch up with social media. As the clock started ticking we learned the meaning of “It’s Greek to Me”. We could not understand the boarding announcements,nor could we decode the digital tickers for Santorini flight. The help desk lady spoke broken English and we could not get any confirmation about flight. Alarm bells started ringing in my head – “You have been duped by online portal, there is no flight, your money is gone”
Thankfully we met a chap at another help desk who assured that our flight is very much on schedule. We checked in our luggage, and we were handed the complimentary coupons for special lounge access. We relaxed for some time, filled our tummy with muffins, cake, coffee (freeloader alert). We dutifully reached boarding gate, only to realize that Omkar forgot his hand luggage in the lounge.
So I rushed and retrieved this hand luggage and we made it just in time.
Our little flight to Thira
Caerus, Greek God for luck was finally on our side. We flew across Aegean Sea, with splendid view of setting Sun. The Blue Aegean sea changes colours from deep ink blue to firy Orange and molten gold.
Whole of Santorini island is called Thira and town centre is called Fira. As per Baba Google a bus was scheduled every 30minutes, from airport to Fira. The seasoned travellers quickly hopped on taxis and left whole lot of newbies like us waiting for the bus. The bus that did not show up for an hour. The temperature dropped from pleasant 20’s to below 10degree after sunset. Our Indian bones couldn’t take it. We had packed light aka we packed no warm layers barring a shawl. There was long queue of very patient and smiling taxi drivers across the bus stop. It seems non existent bus was an open trade secret. Surprisingly there was no scam, our host had informed us regarding standard taxi rate and driver charged us same rate, 20Euros.
We had booked a 3star hotel near Kamari beach for 50 euro per night, breakfast included. We had planned to rent a quad bike or a small car to roam around Thira/Fira/Oia/Caldera. Unfortunately, we were caught unaware about international driving license. So we had to abandon that plan. We quickly dropped our luggage, freshened up and got on local bus around 8pm to visit Fira. (base fare of 2euro per head)
The night was young, pleasant Mediterranean music was playing everywhere. One of the terrace had “Roman Holiday” being projected on whitewashed walls. The famous blue white steps and lanes were glistening in moonlight.
We walked around this Caldera promenade till midnight. The roads were filled with youngsters, the atmosphere was charming to say the least. By laws of nature, jet lagged kicked in and we retired for the night.
Next morning i.e. Day in Santorini, Kamari was equally exciting.
We were not staying at this fancy place but there was no harm in taking pictures
This was the hotel Cafe,where we had our breakfast and lunch on day 1.
Look at all the cars, we could not rent
Kamari beach was stones throw away from our hotel. And we took longest possible detour.
From the beach one can see the flights landing at Thira airport.
Kamari beach has black volcanic sand.
On our way to beach we were greeted with calls for tikka/kabab
As we had to abandon visits to Volcano island, Oia and Caldera. We just enjoyed the day at Kamari beach.
We clearly missed the memo but thankfully nobody banned us from the beach for this dress code violation
Next destination being Athens, we visited local tourist office and booked economy tickers for Athens ferry. 40euro per head ticket covered transport to the port. We shared this short journey with an enthusiastic Geologist couple.
This jumbo ferry transports people and cargo. It has common economy outdoor and indoor lounges, Sleeper cabins, suites, family rooms, all of this on top levels with windows. Whereas bottom cargo holds pets, luggages, 2-whleelers, 4-wheelers and luxury buses for port hopping day trips.
The geologist lady strongly recommended Greek coffee. So dutifully we ordered this jumbo iced drink worth some 10euros. Facial expressions of Omkar are enough to describe our tryst.
The journey from Santorini port to Athens Piraeus port was 7-8hrs long. We spent it admiring the deep blue shades of Aegean sea.
On our way to Athens we passed the Paros, Naxos and Los ports. This is port of Paros.
*Bollywood trivia – Salman, Katrina movie song “swag se swaagat” was reportedly shot here
We reached Athens around 8pm. We booked a cab from Piraeus port to our hotel near central Syntagma square. It cost us 24Euro and we retired for second night in Greece.
That’s it for today folks.
Day 2 & 3 (Night 3 & 4)
We stayed at a hotel closer to central Syntagma square.Our hotel charges were approx 70euro per night(breakfast included). As our trip was in 2016, peak Syrian refugee crisis, we were cautioned by too many people about pick-pockets/mugging.
P. S. We did not experience any.
Athens is full of history, museums and easy to walk around.
There are no food pics as we follow big breakfast and one meal kind of schedule when travelling. We stocked juicy fruits (grapes/apple/oranges/melons) from nearest supermarket for munching on the go.
September was reasonable time to visit Greece. Day time temperature was pleasant 15-20 degree, rapid fall after sunset to 10degree. European peak holiday season was over. By September schools reopen and that gives you breathing space at popular attractions.
We used metro for sight seeing on day 1.
Syntagma Metro Station!
This main Metro Station is located just below the presidential palace and next to syntagama square
The presidential guards just outside the place – at the tomb of unknown soldier!
President palace, one can pose with the guard if you honor the rules and do not disrespect the guard
Metro Stations can easily pass off as mini museums.This is ancient Greek loom near the Metro Station for Acropolis and Parthenon.
Beautiful art deco, can someone help me with name of this pretty actress?
We had a long list of places but with time constraints, we had to zero down on most vital locations. We purchased an inclusive ticket for Acropolis + Parthenon + plaka (ancient agora i.e. market grounds near Acropolis). Spent one whole day there.
Theatre of Dionysus at base of Acropolis overlooks the Acropolis museum and the city.
We are not sure if these are drain hole
Temple of Athena
Athena temple restored at Acropolis museum
These are reconstructed Facades of the Acropolis in museum!
Roman agora at the foothill of Acropolis
Can’t recollect if it was the Hadrian library complex
Panathenaic stadium, built in 300BC, rebuilt in 144 and venue of several Olympic Games.We did not buy ticket to enter this stadium and enjoyed the free view.
This chap wanted 5euro for picture with him. Freeloaders settle with best deal, such as this
1924 summer Olympics, art competition gold medal winner statue of a Finnish disc thrower by Bulgarian-Greek sculptor Costas/Constantin Dimitriadis outside the Athens Olympic stadium
A sculptor by Costas Christos, 30ft tall runner near Hilton Athens
Greek churches everywhere
Nighttime stroll in Monastiraki, Acropolis in background
That was it for day 2.
We walked around Athens further more and visited the Temple of Zeus complex
Zeus temple complex
(National gallery) we did not visit
Acropolis museum, we spent a whole day here
Also, this gentleman did his bits
And that’s it for Monday folks.
Next stop was Delphi, and Sunion.
Will update final leg tomorrow..
Till then stay safe
The final leg
We booked a bus to Delphi instead of booking an all day tour worth 150-200euro per person. We booked 2 tickets for evening bus to Delphi worth 16Euro per person. The overnight stay was a hotel overlooking Gulf of Corinth. The AC bus journey was comfortable. Bus reached Delphi in 3hrs. Delphi was on wish list for obvious Greek mythology connection. We passed the other major tourist attraction I.e. ski resort Parnassus on our way to Delphi.
Gulf of Corinth as seen from hotel room (50Euro, Breakfast included)
Lovely little cafe in Delphi.
Delphi was a revelation. The UNESCO world heritage site is good uphill hike. We had an advantage of staying in Delphi. We were the early birds, and explored the vista before busloads of day visitors poured in.
Tholos – sanctury of Athena Pronia
Gymnasium is a 586BC historic site. 4 yearly panhellnic games were held here. Modern Olympics precursor event.
The Umbilical cord connecting mother Earth “Gia” to the Heaven
The pillar next to alter for famed Oracles
Massive Roman stone theatre
And the divine play of shadow and light
The Sun rays piercing clouds, this photo does not justify the spectacle.
The scenario kept changing and it was mesmerising site
If there is one image to depict how awestruck we were
Clear skys in no time. As usual we tried to find the Indian flag.
Delphi itself is a cutest little village. This was a school, introducing us to the world of Greek alphabets.
Delphi is situated on mountain slopes, the village has 2 main roads cutting it in 3 levels and interconnected walkways add charm
We contemplated sliding down this slope
The interesting use of steps for outdoor cafe
Still can’t read
Delphi stole our heart. We instantly planned to settle in Delphi after retirement to grow the vineyards
Delphi museum is huge and wonder fatigue easily sets in after 4-5hrs
With heavy heart we left Delphi and returned to Athens.
Omkar got busy with academic activities.
I am a huge fan of author Gauri Deshpande. In one of her books she describes Ionian sea and Corfu in great details. We had a tough decision to make “how to squeeze in another Greek island” Mind you, there are 300 Greek islands!
Once again, Gauri helped us. She describes Sunset at Cape Sunion as most romantic one!
Our mind was made. .
Cape Sunion was our last trip.
We hoped to visit the Temple of Poseidon. The ticket was alright, 8euro per head and bus journey was most scenic. We passed picture perfect beach resorts on our way to Sunion. It was 2hr journey
The winding coastal route along with beach towns/Resorts
And this was the sunset we could catch.
Of course we missed it from vantage point of Cape Sunion. We reached just around sunset, the Poseidon temple closes at sunset.
Our little greek adventure from sweet (20)16 comes to an end here.
We bought some souvenirs in Delphi (key chains, wallets) and some Greek robes for kids in family. Unfortunately no pics to share.
Another ubiquitous souvenir. And evil eye charms
The welcome at Mumbai from immigration queues is something all of us know too well.
And that’s it of our Greek Holiday!
Pallavi V Dhakne
shared her Greek Holiday story on the Let’s Travel whatsapp group on 16th June 2020.
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