Trip to Greece - May 29 - Jun 6, 2019
Our trip to Greece exceeded my expectations. From the first interactions with kimkim I was very pleased as I was having difficulty finding a good balance between relaxation, luxury and adventure from one source. The initial survey made me feel I finally found a source that understood that there was more than a single goal in vacation planning. With limited time available, Dimitris with Personality Journeys was able to fit all three goals into a 9-day tip with a one-month lead time. With the added bonus of being thousands of dollars less than another quote I received from a travel specialist I've used before.
The interaction through the website was seamless. Being able to reliably communicate online is important to me with a busy full-time job and the time difference using a local expert. Knowing that Dimitris was local made me feel at ease with his recommendations. I also found it very refreshing that he was not pushing for the most expensive options and was considerate of value vs. convenience. Having never been to Greece, Dimitris was patient with my requests, changes and need for clarification prior to the trip. Throughout the entire trip Dimitris was available through Whatsapp to answer questions or communicate any changes.
Together we planned 9-days full of rest as well as adventure in 3 very different locations in Greece: Athens, Naxos and Santorini, Naxos being a recommendation and my favorite of the 3. The New Hotel in Athens was artisitic, beautiful and the provided the top service from the security greeting at the front door, through check-in and everything in between. Warm, friendly and highly professional. It was in walking distance of many of the tourist spots but far enough that I didn't feel overwhelmed and crowded leaving the hotel. With only two days in Athens the pre-arranged activity was a tour of Acropolis Hill and Acropolis museum. Our guide was well versed and patient with our group. However, completely from personal preference, while I very much enjoyed visiting the locations I would have preferred a private guide. The group was larger than expected, it took long for the tour to begin and with a group of several families the guide needed to cover a lot of detail to cater to the different interests. I prefer more personal interaction.
We transferred to Naxos via ferry (the Greek Ferry system is very impressive and efficient) and made our way to Naxos Rock Villas which was simply stunning! I had never heard of Naxos prior to Dimitris' recommendation and it was our favorite fr the laid back island atmosphere. I specifically asked for a balcony and private pool and was pleasantly surprised with a completely private Villa with not only the requested but full kitchen and two baths. I fell in love with these accommodations. We were briefed by the owner on the Villa and the island. "Breakfast included" referred to a stocked fridge which was a very nice change of pace to prepare our own meal. Local snacks, wine and beer were also stocked for our enjoyment. The Rock Villas took our breath away as did the day of sailing that Dimitris arranged for us. Naxos Yachting Giannis and his crew were friendly, professional and engaging. The home cooked meal, the stop at Paros and 2 swim spots were out of a dream. I've traveled around the world but if I ever run away you'll find me here. I would have loved to stay longer. The only change I would make our next visit is to rent a car as the Villas are hillside away from the heart of the town and taxis are not cheap in Greece.
Finally, on Santorini, we were located at Del Sol. Del Sol is about a 30-minute walk from the tourist heart of Santorini or a 5-minute cab ride. Our room was somewhat "stand alone" which we prefer. The rooms were well appointed and the restaurant staff was very friendly and accommodating. The front desk staff was friendly and quick to help us when asked. We also managed to squeeze in a visit to the spa, a last minute request that I am glad we made. In Santorini our acitivities included a wine tour of Argyros Estate winery, sea kayaking and a hike. The winery was very modern but steeped in history. The tour was brief but the tasting was wonderful, including pairings with local fare, rich and plentiful. Our guide gave us a lot of input and suggestions as well as time alone to enjoy the experience and eachother company in private. The best of many wine tastings that I have experienced in my lifetime.
Our second adventure in Santorini was sea kayaking with Adonis. Due to weather conditions, we had to be re-routed. I was a little disappointed as I was very interested in the original route but was happy that the guide made safety the number one priority. The tour was a little late to start but we felt well supported throughout the activity and we were happy that they could accommodate and not have to cancel per previous days. They took a lot of pictures that were e-mailed to us a week later so we could focus on being in the moment. They were very open to feedback and Adonis was very entertaining while explaining the history of Greece and the islands.
Tied with sailing as our favorite activity was the hike from Santorini to Oia our last day in Santorini. It is not to be missed. Intimidated at first looking at the distance we were about to cover, we were in complete awe! Our guides Thanos and Mariana were absolutely wonderful. They were so knowledgeable and yet had the enthusiasm as if they were seeing it for the first time with us. The picnic they prepared of local favorites was perfect. By the end of the experience they felt like friends spending the day with us. While many people were completing the hike independently, I was so happy to have experienced it with our guides. This was the perfect way to end our adventures.
Outside of all the scheduled activities, the itinerary allowed for plenty of relaxation and independent exploration. Our trip couldn't have been more perfect.