In search of a perfect trip to Greece?
Apr 22 - May 16, 2023
This was altogether an extraordinary one month-long trip planned with great detail by our local specialist, Cristos, and his amazing, caring, and flexible Team 12! Cristos worked tirelessly until every detail was worked out to meet our needs for hotels and tours. All of our transfers were preplanned; at no time did we have to wait for guides or drivers to provide needed transfers. We had ample down time when we reached each destination with suggestions for self-guided tours before beginning with private tours. Our trip began in Thessaloniki (4 nights) where we stayed at the Electra Palace, a gem of a hotel centrally located. Our guide and driver were ready with suggestions for restaurants, points of interest, and were flexible when the focus of our tour required a change to cover the Jewish monuments and history of Thessaloniki. Our tour of this area of Macedonia included Pella and Vergina, ancient historical sites most worthwhile to visit. I am looking forward to exploring more of Macedonia on my next trip.
From Thessaloniki, we continued our trip on the mainland of Greece to Athens where we stayed in a large 3-bedroom suite apartment, Four Streets Athens (5 nights), centrally located in the Plaka district with a view of the Acropolis. Again we had time to wander about the Plaka and Kolonaki areas before beginning our private tours on the succeeding days: the Acropolis and museum, a food tour, and trips away from Athens (Epidaurus, Nafplio, Mycenae, Corinth Canal). Other very worthwhile tours included the Cycladic Museum and the Benake Museum.
From Athens, we flew to Mykonos to begin our trip to three of the Cycladic Islands plus Crete. Unfortunately, as May turned out to be a rather unseasonably cool month, we were unable to enjoy beach/swimming opportunities; however, we happily exchanged this weather for fewer crowds, especially appreciated when we got to Santorini!! Mykonos with its iconic windmills was lovely and quiet for this time of the year. We checked into the Mykonos Theoxenia Boutique, an elegant setting on the water, a few steps from town, with staff who couldn't do enough for their guests. From Mykonos we took a boat tour to Delos, an archeological site not to be missed. Our only disappointment was that we were included in a large group tour which made it difficult to understand the narrative.
On to Naxos, quite a contrast to Mykonos and then Santorini. The island's lush vegetation creates a rich farming and culinary tradition with some of the best produce in Greece, particularly famed for potatoes, cheeses, and olive oils. We stayed at the Montana Villa Naxos (4 nights), some distance from the town; however, having a driver and an excellent restaurant in walking distance (Kavos), this proved to be no problem. In in exchange, we had a beautiful view over the Aegean Sea. The grounds and pool of the villa were amazing but the weather was too cool to take a dip! The house lends itself well to a family; however, we three women experienced disappointing showering facilities (no shower curtain, high bath tubs to negotiate), but I would welcome a summer stay in spite of this detail. Our stay in Naxos included a private food and culture tour (olive oil, Greek liquor, cheeses, and lunch) as well as a private hike through the mountains with many varied sites and villages. Both opportunities not to be missed!! As our weather did not allow for beach time, we explored the many interesting shops and ruins of Naxos Hora and enjoyed a beach walk with lunch.
From Naxos, we continued on to the famed island of Santorini, much enjoyed because of the lesser crowds. Can't imagine what it must be like in summer: crowds plus the heat!! We stayed at the Volcano View Hotel (3 nights) with gorgeous pool areas and views of the caldera, just far away enough from the very busy center of Santorini. Interesting tours were arranged for us which included walks through Fira and quieter Oia. We also visited a lovely situated winery (Santorini is famous for its white wines). We had a great sail on a catamaran in the caldera from where we could get amazing views of the caldera's varied volcanic layers. The crew was professional and had a great sense of humor, hospitality and cooking skills. Great experience not to be missed. Before we left Santorini, we treated ourselves to a multi-coursed dinner at the famous restaurant, Solene. Fabulous experience, food, and service.
And so onto our last island, Crete, a famous culinary experience according to many a waiter and guide we encountered on our trip. We arrived first in Heraklion, site of Palace of Knossos. After a detailed tour of that site, we were ready to move on to Chania at the other end of the island. The old town of Heraklion has some interesting, upcoming restaurants; one day/evening is enough for this city. (We stayed at the Aquila Atlantis Hotel (2 nights), adequate for a short stay.) Chania is most charming by comparison. Our hotel, the 1400's Scala de Faro (4 nights), was right on the water (some rooms have beautiful views). The staff was most amazing and could fix any problem a guest might face. The town behind the hotel is great for wandering and shopping. As with the other islands, the Venetian influence is everywhere. So here is where our trip got 'interesting.' We were supposed to travel from Greece to Israel, but given the political situation, we were forced to look at options. Cristos sprung into action, and in no time had an itinerary for us to return to the mainland and further explore areas we had not seen (eg Hydra) or wanted to revisit (Nafplio). Furthermore, I had a bad fall on one of the beaches; our driver sensed the emergency and in no time drove me to a private clinic in Chania. All went well, transportation was provided to and from the clinic for two days. I received excellent medical care. Here is where being under the care of a caring responsible travel company and personnel was so very important!! The rest of the trip went without a hitch with Cristos finding us a charming hotel in Nafplio, Residenza di Fedralia, for four days until we were transported to Athens for our trip home.
So all in all, I can't say enough about Kimkim. Cristos planned a wonderful trip for us with a perfect balance of guided and self-guided tours. Suggestions were made for restaurants, but we enjoyed doing our own research in this category. We had very responsive support from his Team 12 &MAMAKITA) whenever needed, every question or request answered immediately. Looking forward to my next trip with Kimkim!!
Excellent hotel, centrally located. Enjoyed the breakfast.
Fabulous hotel with all the amenities one could wish for. Beautifully updated. Staff couldn't be more friendly, caring, and helpful.
Gorgeous setting. Somewhat far from Naxos Hora. Great for a family.....lots of room.
Fabulous hotel; excellent breakfast; amazing views and pool areas. Away from the really busy town of Santorini but a bus is available to get into town.
Heraklion seems like more of an industrial town and so the hotel exemplifies that description. The hotel, however, is adequate for a quick visit to the Palace of Knossos with its museum in walking distance. Excellent breakfast.
Such an amazing hotel with excellent amenities. Updated/modern fixtures without disturbing its authenticity. Good breakfast. Great views over the water.