Friday, June 6, 2014

Back from Greece: How did it Go?

We are back from Greece! We had an awesome trip and we can't wait to share the details in upcoming posts. In this post, we'll tell you how some of the choices we made (Outlined in our Planning for Greece series) panned-out. No detail trip report or photo essays today, just the results of our research and itinerary.

Planning for the Greek Islands: Part One: In this post we talked about knowing that we wanted to go to The Greek Islands but did not know where to go. Eventually we chose the top touristed islands of Mykonos and Santorini. Both islands were great and offered a chance to do anything from shopping, sailing, beach-hopping, dining, and sight-seeing. Each location had plenty to do (if you choose to). 4 nights in each location worked out well.

Planning for the Greek Islands: Part Two: we had a crazy flight path with short connections. We went overnight Chicago to Dusseldorf, (1:50 layover) Dusseldorf to Vienna, (1:05 layover), Vienna to Santorini. The next morning we ferried to Mykonos for four night. After Mykonos we flew back to Santorini. A few days later we reversed our flight back to the US with the exception of staying overnight in Vienna before taking a 6:30 AM flight to Dusseldorf.

This is where it could have broken bad, and it didn't. One thing that helped us immensely: all carry-on and no checked luggage for the 11 night trip. It took us 20 minutes to cross terminals in Dusseldorf and clear immigration. Our check-in at the German Border was it - no other passport stations to cross in the EU. We had time to browse duty free and buy a tiny coffee for $4. Our Vienna flight landed next to the gate that our Santorini flight was leaving from. Big score!

Planning for the Greek Islands: Part Three: in this post we reviewed how we chose our hotels. All three choices were perfect.

Our first stay was one night in the Anteliz Suites in Thira. The room itself was small, but very well appointed and full of modern amenities. We opened our shutters to a view of the Aegean and The Caldera. The center of town was a very close few minute walk.

In Mykonos we stayed at the Mykonos Grand. Everything about this location screamed 5-star luxury. That included the food and drink prices. The pool was great, our room large and well appointed, and the beach was very nice. We had walking access to two beach restaurants and town was ten minutes away by cab, bus, or hotel shuttle.

In Oia we stayed at Ikies Traditional House. Great property, fantastic staff, and killer views of town and the Caldera. At first we were disappointed because the map on Tripadvisor plotted this hotel in town with access to all that offers. We were actually on the other side of town and had a 15 minute walk before hitting any dining options. While first upset about this, we soon figured out Ikies was the optimal place to stay:

In Planning (or lack of) for the Greek Islands: Part Four we mentioned some activities we were planning on doing:
  • Through Hotel Ikies we booked a sunset cruise in Santorini. We did this!
  • We plan to go to Delos, an island with some significant ruins next to Mykonos. We can take a plain public ferry over so no further planning required. We did this, but booked a tour guide package.
  • We will probably book a rental car in each location. In Santorini we will use it to visit Akrotini (a site preserved like Pompeii was after a volcano eruption) and the Santorini Brewing Company. In Mykonos we may use the car for a day of beach hopping. We did not do this.
From a planning and research standpoint everything went well. Phew! We'll have more details about the trip in the next few weeks.

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