The Perfect (and hassle-free) Greek Experience
Greece | May 4 - May 17, 2024

Kendall S.
Aspen Hill, MD | Reviewed on May 24, 2024

We just returned from the most wonderful, stress-free two week vacation throughout Greece (May 4-17, visiting Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, Chania, Heraklion) which was made entirely possible through the assistance of the team at Be a Greek operating within the kimkim interface.

For general context, we are a married, American couple traveling without children. We entered the country May 4th and departed May 17th. Before booking our trip, we had a general understanding of some of the highlights and quote unquote “must-see” spots to visit, but wanted to get an insider’s perspective on how we could transform a simple tourist trip into a once in a lifetime, authentic Greece experience.

Months before we even left, we had two face-to-face sessions with our main contact person, Dimitrios. Dimitrios was a wealth of knowledge on all things Greece and a great communicator throughout the entire process. After discussing the basics such as; what time our flight was arriving, had we traveled to Greece before, what our budget was, and what our “need to see or do” checklist items were; he then dived deep, asking many questions regarding the kind of couple we are and what we like to do for fun. After our first conversation, he generated a mock itinerary comprised of; days spent in each location, travel options between each destination, and the daily plan or “event(s) of the day” so to speak. He then scheduled a follow up meeting where he provided more context for each of the proposed experiences and hotels, asked for our thoughts, and discussed what we thought needed to be added or subtracted. As an example, we originally did not plan on going to Crete, but after discussion with Dimitrios we decided we could not miss it. And those days ended up being some our favorite of the trip!

After finalizing the itinerary, we set up a payment plan for the total to be paid in chunks over the next couple months. Dimitrios then said, “do not worry, we will take care of the rest”. And we took that to heart! In fact, the weeks leading up to our trip coincided with some the busiest portions of our work schedules and we did not even finish packing our suitcase until the moment before leaving for the airport, let alone try to coordinate inter-Greece travel. And our faith was completely rewarded.

Before we delve into the trip itself, a quick aside regarding the ease of travel. As mentioned above, we started in Athens before traveling to Mykonos, Santorini, then Crete (3 days in Chania, 1 day in Heraklion). Upon arrival at each destination we were personally greeted by a driver holding up a sign with our names written out then promptly delivered to our place of lodging. All of our in-country flights and ferries were booked beforehand on our behalf. The Be A Greek team set up a WhatsApp group chat with us before leaving our home and while traveling, they would send us our flight/ferry tickets the day before, along with the next day’s full itinerary (pick up times, helpful info, etc). All of this was entirely seamless without any major delay, allowing us to enjoy spending more time at each destination.

Now delving in to the particulars of the travel days themselves.

We arrived in Athens after a long international flight and were greeted by our personal driver who quickly delivered us to our hotel. In Athens we stayed at the Oniro City. The Oniro had impeccable service staff, great breakfast, and was centrally located to allow us to easily walk to each destination.

That first evening in Athens we were moderately jet lagged and, after exploring a bit, fell asleep rather early and rather quickly. Our first full day we went on the Exclusive Myths and Philosophers Private Guided Walking Tour with Giannis. This was the perfect way to first experience Athens. Giannis was extremely knowledgeable about Greek history and showed us the major highlights of the city, stopping at strategic locations to provide more information and context about what we were seeing. The fun, overarching theme of the tour was the emphasis on the titans of Greek philosophy, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and how their ideas not only shaped the political landscape of Ancient Greece but also their impact on the Greece we were seeing that day. And on a personal note, Giannis was a really great guy and we thoroughly enjoyed chatting with him about all things Greece, from ancient history to the Greek basketball team’s chances in the upcoming summer Olympics.

The next day was The Acropolis & Acropolis Museum Private Guided Tour with Katerina. Katerina must have given that same tour thousands of time based on her deep knowledge and ability to answer all our obscure, miscellaneous questions, yet she still presented the information with the fascination and wonder of somebody seeing the true marvel that is the Acropolis for the first time. The Acropolis and the Parthenon live up to the hype! The museum is also a great excuse to get out of the sun and is filled with many fascinating artifacts that help provide more context for what we had just seen up on the hill. We had scheduled free time that evening which we used to re-visit some of our favorite spots Giannis showed us our first day.

The next morning we departed for Mykonos by ferry. Upon arrival we were picked up in the port by a personal driver and delivered to our hotel. We stayed at the Argo Hotel, located a 1 minute walk from the pristine beach of Platis Gialos. The Argo was perfectly located and our room was very unique, appearing as if carved out of a giant limestone slab. While staying there, we briefly misplaced a sun hat and after looking all over we turned in desperation towards the employees, asking them to keep an eye out. At this point we assume an entire battalion was sent searching, because the hat was blessedly found at a restaurant near the beach in less than 30 minutes and hand delivered to our room.

The first night and next full day were scheduled free time. We took the advice provided in our Be a Greek itinerary and divided our time lounging at the beach and traveling over to the main town to experience the delightful limestone houses and the charming Little Venice.

The next morning we set off for the Concierge-Class Small-group Sailing Cruise to Delos & Rhenia islands. As always, we were picked up in an already coordinated shuttle from our hotel. We boarded the sailboat with 6 total passengers (us included). I wish I could remember the names of our crew because they were all absolutely fabulous. They had tons of refreshments on board and continued to generously refill our wine glasses while sailing. Our first stop was the small island of Delos where Katerina (our tour guide) gave us a personal tour of the remarkably preserved ruins found on the island while providing many interesting tidbits and asides throughout. After the (~100 minute long) tour we were given half an hour to; explore the rest of the island, climb up Mount Kynthos, and re-visit some of our favorite spots. Once back on board we had a short sail over to a bay nearby the island of Rhenia. While anchored in the most breathtakingly blue water either of us had ever seen, we were given about 2 and a half hours to swim, mingle, and finished our time off with a very tasty, traditional Greek lunch (the Greek salad in particular was incredible). We sailed back and arrived on shore around 4 in the afternoon where our shuttle was waiting to take us back to the hotel.

The next morning we were shuttled to the port and boarded a ferry to Santorini. Upon arrival, our driver (who remained our driver throughout the entirety of our stay in Santorini and was a really great guy) greeted us with a sign bearing our name then drove us to our lodging.

We stayed at the Christou Estate in Pyrgos, a complex made up of individual, secluded villas on a lot filled with well-kept olive trees, overlooking a vast vineyard. We were specifically in the Kota (chicken) Villa. We truly cannot say enough great things about the Christou Estate and the staff working there. After being dropped off, we were greeted at the door by one of the managers who provided us with a map of the island, locations of nearby shops and grocery stores, and recommended several restaurants and things to do/see nearby. Each morning, a vast breakfast filled with delectable Greek staples was personally delivered down to our villa, allowing us to start our day with great food, great coffee, and a remarkable view. During that first conversation with the aforementioned hotel employee, we asked if he could help direct us to where we could do some laundry nearby. He instead asked us to leave everything we wanted to be washed on the bed, then coordinated with the housekeeper to have all our dirty clothes cleaned and folded by the time we came back at the end of the day. The second day, we absent-mindedly left some of our dirty clothes from the day before near the bed before leaving for the day, and returned with these having been cleaned and folded as well. Without any prompting! It honestly felt like staying in our own personal paradise, we did not see another guest our entire time there.

Regarding our activities while on Santorini, our first full day we went on the Santorini Island Discovery Small-group Tour led by Maria (maybe Irene? Sorry we aren’t the best with names). Along with one other couple, we were driven around some of the quaint, small villages scattered across the Santorini countryside and even stopped at several for a closer look at various points of interest, all of which were wonderfully elucidated upon by our tour guide. We were also dropped off at the Akrotiri prehistoric town and were given the opportunity to stroll through the ancient civilization, remarkably preserved following the Minoan volcanic eruption back in ~1600 BC. We finished the tour by stopping at a combination winery/museum/art gallery where we enjoyed a thorough description of the techniques used to make wine in Santorini across the generations while perusing unique and stunning art pieces adorning the walls throughout. This was followed by a Santorini wine tasting led by one of the sommelier’s employed there. Not only was the wine incredible, the sommelier’s passion for both the wine itself and the history of wine-making across Santorini was very evident. This whole morning was a true highlight amongst highlights for us, one of our favorite memories.

We were then dropped off at our hotel and had free time that afternoon. Per the suggestion of our villa manager, we decided to walk all the way from Pyrgos to Oia, traveling along the Fira-Oia walking path. The path wound its way atop the caldera cliffs and through various villages along the 9 mile trek (14.5 kilometers). This is the activity we would probably recommend to future visitors of Santorini above all else. Several hours of absolutely indescribable cliff-top views capped off by watching the sun set over the beautiful blue-topped domes of Oia felt like a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The next morning, after enjoying another outstanding breakfast only slightly bested by the aforementioned gorgeous views from our villa, we hiked up to Mount Profitis Ilias to see the entirety of the island from the highest point and revel in the architecture of the monastery built up there. Later that afternoon, we were picked up from our villa for the Santorini Caldera Small-group Sunset Cruise with BBQ on board and Open Bar. We were onboard with 10 people, 5 couples (including ourselves). Perhaps even better than the delicious Greek dinner served on board or the incredible views of the island as seen from the caldera, was the phenomenal staff! Led by the catamaran’s captain, Giannis, the entire crew was comprised of wonderful individuals, whom through their insights on various points of interest along our sailing route and general conversation, made the night unforgettable. The unlimited drinks and stunning view of the sunset from the boat didn’t hurt either. We arrived ashore around 8:30 pm and were driven back to our hotel.

The next morning we were picked up from the villa and driven to the Santorini airport for our flight to Chania, connecting through Athens. Perhaps the only slightly negative part of the trip due to bulk of the day being devoted to travel and a prolonged Athens layover, though we are unsure whether earlier flights would have been feasible given our departure time from Santorini. We were picked up at 6 AM and our the flight out of Santorini left around 8 AM. After the ~30 minute flight to Athens we had a ~5 hour layover in the airport. We landed in Chania around 3 PM and were thus unable to make it to our planned event that evening, which was scheduled to begin at 3:45 PM. That being said, we alerted the Be a Greek team when we landed that we would likely not be able to make the event via the WhatsApp group text and within minutes we were offered the same experience for the next evening. This is just one example of how attentive and expeditiously the team handled any minor inconvenience we had throughout our travel.

We stayed at the Mossa Well Being Hotel while in Chania. This wellness themed hotel had so many fun activities available to us, from guided group yoga and even dancing classes, Unfortunately, we were unable to partake in any due to already scheduled conflicting activities. Additionally, we would like to mention another positive interaction regarding the hotel staff at Mossa. We had a scheduled free day planned for our 2nd full day in Chania and, after consulting the “recommended activities on free days” portion of our Be a Greek itinerary, decided we wanted to book a hike through the Samaria gorge. As we were getting ready to leave the hotel to visit Old Chania our first morning there, we offhandedly mentioned our intent to book a hike through the gorge to the front desk staff. They quickly and graciously offered to coordinate the entire experience for us, even arranging for hotel curbside pick up early the next morning and providing us breakfast boxes to take on the bus so that we would not have to buy food on the drive up to the trailhead..

Regarding our time in Chania; after rescheduling our first night’s event, we had a free first evening. We used the time to eat at a taverna with traditional Cretan food nearby our hotel (we ate about two entrees too many!) then strolled along the beach and enjoyed the marvelous sunset. As mentioned above, we also had a free morning in Chania the next day and decided to visit the old city of Chania. The old city was incredibly beautiful and we thoroughly enjoyed walking around down there.

Later that afternoon we were picked up for The Authentic Cretan Cooking Small Group Experience nearby our hotel by Giannis. This experience was shared with 10 other people (12 including us). We are maybe contradicting our earlier claims (it’s hard to pick just one favorite after all), but the evening spent learning about Cretan history and being instructed on how to prepare traditional Cretan dishes was perhaps the absolute highlight of the trip. The class took place in the shadow of the White Mountains outside of a centuries old home in a vast orchard of olive trees. Giannis has lived in Crete for nearly his entire life and his passion for the island and Greece as a whole was infectious. From the moment we stepped on board his van around 3:45 PM to when we begrudgingly had to say our goodbyes around 9:30 PM, he was engaging, informative, and incredibly congenial. He stood by us throughout the entire experience; providing further context of the ingredients we were using, sharing Cretan wines with us, and detailing customs and cultural idiosyncrasies that make Crete such a special place. Giannis ended the evening with a discussion about the history of Crete spanning 50 million years; starting with the shifting of the tectonic plates that precipitated Crete’s emergence from the sea, then swooping through prehistoric civilizations, the Minoans, and the Iron Age, before touching on the Hellenistic, Byzantine, Venetian, and Ottoman eras, and finally detailing the progression of modern Crete up to today. Beyond informative, his words were inspiring and powerful. Furthermore, the women who directed us throughout the cooking class elegantly wove instructions in how to properly prepare the ingredients sitting in front of us with stories detailing the traditions and culture of the island, leaving us with a truly authentic sense of the people who inhabited this place we were so fortunate to be visiting. We will never forget that evening and also just how much olive oil goes into essentially everything consumed on Crete.

The following morning was our Samaria Gorge hike booked through the Mossa hotel. We were picked up by a bus at 6:15 AM and arrived at the trailhead by 7:45 AM. Beginning the trek surrounded by snow capped peaks before descending through a colossal gorge and finally emerging from the mountains to be greeted by a deep-blue ocean view felt like a singularly unique Cretan experience. Basking in the grandeur of this incredibly varied topography within a relatively short 5 hour excursion highlighted the inherent climate diversity which has made Crete such a bastion of civilization for over 100,000 years. After the hike we ate lunch, enjoyed a beer, and toasted to our accomplishment with some much deserved Raki. As Agia Roumeli (the town at the exit point of the gorge) does not have roads which reach its limits, we had to board a ferry to nearby Sougia, where we were then loaded back onto our bus and returned to the hotel.

The next morning we were picked up by our personal driver around 11 AM for a cross-island drive from Chania to Heraklion. We stopped in the small port city of Rethymno along the way to stretch our legs and walk through the old Venetian streets. We arrived in Heraklion around 3 PM. Our driver for the afternoon (we believe his name was Manolis, though not positive) was a funny guy and kept conversation going throughout the bulk of the drive, pausing intermittently to point out worthwhile sights viewable through car windows.

We checked into our final hotel, the Legacy Gastro Suites upon arrival in Heraklion. The hotel was very nice and had a beautiful window view of the port and plateia eleftherias. We had an early check out the next morning after only one night and they graciously supplied breakfast boxes before we left.

Not long after our arrival, we were picked up for the Knossos Palace Small-group Mythological Tour with Katerina. During the winter months, Katerina works as an archeologist uncovering nearby ruins, and as such, she was a wealth of knowledge regarding both the labyrinth itself and the ancient Minoan and eventual Mycenaean inhabitants. After the ~90 minute tour we were driven back to our hotel to begin our final night in Greece.

We were picked up at 7 AM the next morning and driven to the Heraklion airport for our last Be a Greek booked event; that being a flight to Athens. Shortly thereafter we boarded our return flight home.

We cannot express just how much this trip meant to us and it would not have been possible with the efforts of the Be a Greek team. We cannot recommend Dimitrios and his entire staff highly enough. Thank you for making our dream of an authentic Greek experience a reality.


Kendall and Michael

Local specialist: Dimitrios Moutafidis
Dimitrios Moutafidis
Local specialist in Athens, Greece | Replied on May 27, 2024
Wow, Kendall and Michael! Your detailed review paints a vivid and enchanting picture of your Greek adventure, and we are absolutely thrilled to have been a part of it. 🌟 From the bustling streets of Athens to the serene beaches of Mykonos, the breathtaking sunsets in Santorini, the rich history of Crete, and every delightful moment in between, it sounds like your journey was nothing short of magical. The Be a Greek team and I are overjoyed to know that our personalized touches and seamless... Read more

Wow, Kendall and Michael! Your detailed review paints a vivid and enchanting picture of your Greek adventure, and we are absolutely thrilled to have been a part of it. 🌟

From the bustling streets of Athens to the serene beaches of Mykonos, the breathtaking sunsets in Santorini, the rich history of Crete, and every delightful moment in between, it sounds like your journey was nothing short of magical. The Be a Greek team and I are overjoyed to know that our personalized touches and seamless coordination helped turn your vacation into a stress-free and unforgettable experience.

Your kind words about our guides—Giannis, Katerina, and Maria—bring smiles to our faces. It's wonderful to hear how their knowledge and passion enriched your travels. We’re especially glad that the decision to visit Crete added such memorable highlights to your trip. Your experiences, from cooking classes under the shadow of the White Mountains to walking the caldera cliffs of Santorini, truly reflect the authentic and immersive Greek adventure we strive to offer.

Thank you for trusting us with your dream vacation and for taking the time to share such a comprehensive and glowing review. We look forward to helping you create more unforgettable memories on your future travels.

Efcharistó!! 🌞🍇🏛️

Warmest regards,
for the Be a Greek Team,