| Part 1: Introduction
This was our first trip to Greece. We were expecting to find lots of
historical sites and great beaches (because of all those tourist
brochures showing beatiful beaches in Greece). The historical sites
(from ancient Greece) were certainly impressive, although most of the
time not much was left of the ruins. The National Archaeological Museum
in Athens has some very impressive collections. The beaches turned out
to be less impressive as we had imagined them (the ones we saw were not
comparable to beaches in SE Asia). Surprisingly there are not so many
sand beaches in the Peloponnese.
Traffic on the streets is quite manageable, but the streets are overall
not very good (too many holes and bumps). Overall the infrastructure is
not bad, especially in Athens.
Prices in Greece are high, for hotels and food even higher than in
Germany, which is surprising considering that the salaries in Greece
are lower than in Germany.
The weather was surprisingly fresh, even cooler than in Germany.
The plan is to mix visits to archeological sites with relaxing stays on
beaches, doing a round trip over the Peloponnese:
||Visit Marathon, Delphi, arrive hotel in the
||Visit Olympia, Bassae
||Visit Mykene, Tyrins, Epidaurus, Nafplion?
||Porto heli - Athens Airport
Greece was more expensive than we had imagined, in any case
substantially more expensive than Portugal, an other southern European
destination. Hotels where we stayed cost between 50 and 85 Euro/night
for a double (without breakfast in some places). We used to spend
around 25-30 Euro for a meal for the three of us in restaurants
(Alissia didn't eat that much or used to share with Shirley). The car
cost 35 Euro/day (vs. 17 Euro/day in Portugal for a slightly smaller
Greek food seems to be heavy on grilled meat, fried stuff, cheese, high
on fats and low on vegetables. We tried initially to avoid this by
going to Chinese restaurants, but could not find any (there are not so
many). Pasta dishes in Greece are not good: the pasta is overcooked and
the sauce is way too greasy and they add a lot of cheese. Often when we
ordered a dish of grilled meat, the meat would be overgrilled and
partly burnt. Seafood is not too bad, but expensive and there is not so
much choice. The safest thing is to have a salad with some bread, but
even here it happened that they served a salad overloaded with
mayonnaise, cheese and ham cubes.
/ Exchange rate (February 2007)
1 Euro = 1.34 US $
(Greece uses the Euro)
the Universal Currency Converter.
ATMs are everywhere, so that you can easily get cash with a
Cirrus/Maestro ATM card. You won't need traveller cheques.
phones and prepaid cards
I'm sure they have prepaid cards for GSM phones in Greece, but we
arrived on a weekend in Athens and didn't manage to buy one there,
since all shops were closed. Then it was kind of not so easy to find a
mobile phone shop (there are not that many), so we didn't buy any
prepaid card and instead relied on roaming.
Internet cafes with fast ADSL lines are available, but not everywhere.
For instance there was no Internet cafe in Gialova, so you had to drive
to Pylos, the next town. Also in Kalamata, a major city in the southern
Peloponnese there were only a handful of Internet cafes. There seem to
be more in explicitely tourist areas, such as Athens or Nafplio. The
going rate is around 2.50 Euro/hour, with 1 Euro as the minimum charge.
A number of hotels in which we stayed had Internet access in the room
(WLAN), the hotel in Porto Heli charged 5 Euro/hour or 15 Euro for 5
hours for this.
Sunny most of the time, rain only on a couple of days. Mostly blue
skies, but occasionally overcast. Very windy in Gialova for the first
two days. Surprisingly cool in Greece: temperatures around 25°C
during daytime with only a few days with higher temperatures
None required for Greece.
VISA / Entry
Greece is part of the EU and there are no border controls if you travel
to Greece from another EU country.
No issues here, we didn't experience any problems. I also did not hear
stories of people who had been robbed or pickpocketed in Greece.
Athens has a good public transportation system with
the metro being the fastest option to get around. For the trip we
rented a car from the Pegasus ca rental (Athens), a Peugeot 307, paying
420 Euro for 12 days. The car was ok and the rental flexible enough to
bring the car to our hotel on May 29th in the morning. This fee
included an insurance with a CDW of 400 Euro (damages to the car being
covered from 400 Euro upwards).
The roads in Greece are in a not too good state, except for the area in
and around Athens. Lots of holes and bumps, even on motorways. The
terrain in the Peloponnese is mountainous, so that the roads have many
Greek drivers are ok, but they tend to disregard speed limits and
overtaking restrictions. Lots of drivers driving very fast on mountain