Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Greece Winter Travel 2018 | Athens, Elatochori, Delphi, Santorini (Part 1)


Yassou!!!

It has been about 2 months since I came back from my Greece trip and i've yet to upload most of my photos. Been so swarmed with work lately! But i thought i would pen my thoughts/journey down bit by bit to share more on my travel itinerary with you guys.

It's my first time visiting Greece, and prior to setting off, I did very extensive research on places to go/where to eat/where is a good place to stay etc. I found it very helpful to prep yourself before the trip as I was kind of an (over)planner for our trip. Here's a breakdown of where we went in Greece & costs included.. I hope my post will be beneficial for those who may plan to visit Greece in the future :)

Overall Expenses (Per Pax, based on 4pax travelling)
Total number of days spent: 11 Days
Accommodation: S$250
Flights: S$802 (Scoot + Ryan Air)
Food & Beverage: S$300
Car Rental: S$35
Tours/Attraction: S$125
Transportation: S$36
Petrol/Tolls: S$80
Misc.: S$30

You may take the above expenses as an indication of how much you may need to set aside/change for your trip. We traveled as a group of 4 adults, stayed in a mixture of AirBnb & hotels (not 4/5 stars though), drove on our own throughout, and ate at regular cafes/eateries/restaurant/street food.


We flew via Scoot to Athens, paid about $700 (after adding baggage + booking fee) and it took 12 hours for the direct flight. I think there are other better flights/airline offering rates that were pretty close to what we paid for, but i guess you'll probably have to stalk the website to catch their promos/cheap fares. If i'm not wrong, emirates, Qatar, Turkish Airlines do fly direct at about the same rate. However, it depends on the month that you're visiting. Nov - March is a quiet season as it is winter in Greece. There are considerably lesser things to do there as compared to visiting in summer, but prices are at least 50% cheaper & less crowded. It does get cold in Greece, especially in winter so do prepare jackets if you're visiting during this period. Summer on the other hand is really beautiful and lively, but it is super crowded and prices are way higher.


Athens
We spent the first 3 days in Athens (which is the capital of Greece), and stayed in an Airbnb. I do find that there are abundance of airbnbs in athens, and they all look amazing and are affordable too. Our 2br Airbnb cost us S$200 for 3 nights in total.

Next, getting your SIM card. We all can't live without the internet right? When doing my research, i came across many people who claimed they got good deals on the streets near Syntagma Square. The main service providers in Greece are Vodafone, Cosmote, WIND and CYTA. I came across many vendors selling vodafone and cosmote, which is why i went with vodafone. You could get your SIM card at the airport (i'm not too sure of their charges), or a safer choice would be to get to an actual vodafone/cosmote store in town and get your SIM card there and validated as well. When we arrived at Syntagma square, the street right infront, which is Ermou Street, was filled with people selling SIM cards. We went ahead to try and bought a 6GB data + 100min talking time SIM card for 10. Well, it was kind of tempting and we were late for our free walking tour anyway. The ladies validated them and we thought all was great. It was only halfway through our trip that we realized that the 6GB data isn't actually 6; it was only 2GB that was given. No wonder my phone kept ringing with text messages saying it was low on data and i had to top up if not i can't continue using it. fyi, everything was in greek. We ignored it until a point where we couldn't receive any data then we asked a local to translate for us.


We didn't drive in Athens as it's not encouraged. Traffic is crazy in town, parking can be a hassle too. You could park along the roadside for free, but not every place/street allows that. Since we were doing the famous Acropolis tour, we figured we could walk to all of the attractions and take our time to see everything. The acropolis tour is self-guided, you can choose to get just the acropolis tickets which allows you to enter the acropolis and see the parthenon, north/south slopes. There is a winter reduced price for entrance tickets, but it is only applicable for the acropolis entry. If you want to see more of the archaeological sites like, Ancient Agora, Temple of Olympian Zeus, Roman Agora, Hadrian's Library etc, you will have to get their package which is a flat rate of 30 throughout the year. The map below shows all the 7 sites which are included in the 30 package, all of which are within walking distance from one another.


Acropolis & Archaeological sites



I would recommend setting aside an entire day or even two (if u're visiting during winter) to cover all of the 7 sites. Winter hours are shorter, most attractions close at 3pm. We spent the morning half solely at Acropolis, covering the Parthenon & Slopes before leaving to find lunch (superb meal, read to the end to find out!). You'll find HEAPS of people around, there isn't simply a time where you can take a photo with just you inside. Bear in mind this is winter month, and there's still a considerable amount of people around. :(



The other archaeological sites are really near each other, you would probably have walked past them whilst walking around monastiraki. We covered all of the sites on the next day (until 2pm) and towards the end everyone was getting a little bored of seeing "stones" and reading all about the history... I'd recommend going the full package only if u're a huge history fan, if not, just do the Acropolis & Slopes. 



More photos on my Facebook


Panathinaiko Stadium

Dubbed as the first ever Olympic Stadium in Greece, it is on a must-see list for many. Same for us too, but when we were there, it kinda felt like a waste of money for us to pay 5 Euros just to stand on the track. You could see everything from the outside.... We took a photo and left, saving us 20 euros to spend on dinner! 


Museum
Since we did the acropolis tour, we decided to go for the National Archaeological Museum as compared to Acropolis Museum. The national museum is gigantic, filled with lots of relics and history ruins; probably took us 2 hours or so to complete. Well, museums are museums, you'd know what to expect... 

Mount Lycabettus
The best bird's eye view of Athens is no doubt here at Mount Lycabettus. To get up the mountain/hill, you could take a 30min hike up while enjoying the scenery, or take the Teleferik cable car up for a fuss free 3min ride. One is completely free, and the other cost you 7 Euros per pax. Yes, it is quite pricey but we couldn't possibly hike up with my parents trudging behind. 




It's super windy at the top too, so be prepared to have your hair smacking everyone's faces. Nothing much at the top except for a restaurant (obviously with pricey food), and a small church. Bear in mind that the cable car goes every 30min, so you'll have to spend at least 30min at the top before heading down.


FOOOOODDDD!

Forget about those standard cafe places (brand name type of cafes) and go explore local greek food! I find that food at Plaka is alrighhhht, quite touristy and slightly pricey, but it's the most accessible street in Athens and most people head there for food. 

Here are some food places we stumbled upon by chance which are SUPERB!!! (superb i mean tasty and friendly on the wallet)

This quaint place just opposite Kerameikos Cemetery serves absolutely juicy and yummy meats! I dont know the name in English (obviously everything is in greek), but I got the address and a photo of the restaurant from outside. It's located at Thessalonikis 7, Athina 118 51, Greece (8G95XPG8+QC). We had our lunch there on the 2nd day, and only ordered the meat platter which cost us 20 Euros and Greek salad at 7 Euros. We nearly couldn't finish the entire meat platter even though there were 4 of us (2 big guys and 2 ladies). It is super super worth your money!! 



Oh and don't forget to eat lots of gyro and souvlaki when in greece! It's everywhere and they're generally nice to eat. I was really confused with the difference between gyro and a souvlaki. Nearing the end of my trip, i think i figured the difference out. Correct me if i'm wrong; Gyro is served in a pita bread with sliced/shaved meat from the big chunk whereas souvlaki is served same in a pita bread but with meat grilled on skewer sticks...

That was my conclusion at the end of my trip. haha! but it doesn't really make a difference to me since they all taste super good!!!! It is served wrapped with meat, french fries, vegs, sauce. Gyros/souvlaki are super affordable too! Check out the menu below which i took from various souvlaki joints around Athens..



Alright folks, this is the end of the main Athens stretch of my Greece trip. In my next post, i will be blogging about the other parts of my trip, consisting of Santorini, Elatochori and Delphi. Stay tuned to read on more! Meanwhile, if you want to see more photos of my trip, hop over to my Facebook page or Instagram!


xoxo,
Chye


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