Trip to Greece - May 13 - May 23, 2019
Wow! I have so much to write. My trip was amazing and so was KimKim. I actually met a couple while on a tour that had also used KimKim. Small world! About half of my tours ended up being just me instead of a group, which ended up being completely fine, but was unexpected at first.
Athens Mythology tour through Alternative Athens: Very interesting! Loved my tour guide (I can't remember her name exactly, Demetria maybe?). She was interesting, kept us engaged and very knowledgeable. She clearly loves what she does. I would definitely recommend this tour.
The ferry I took to Tinos was nice. It was on time and the staff helped me carry my way too heavy luggage up the stairs and were very accommodating if I had questions. The announcements were mostly clear. Unfortunately, I do not remember this ferry's name but it was NOT the blue star, it was the smaller one.
Favie Suzanne Hotel: I had to look for the hotel name on the vans in the parking lot but was able to find my ride pretty quickly. The van that picks you up is pretty run down but the brothers who drive you and run the front desk are amazing! So helpful and kind in planning out days and any other questions I had. The room was very comfortable and breakfast was sufficient.
The island of Tinos: Small very quiet island. The shops and restaurants along the port are nice to see and delicious to eat at but other than that, there is not much else to do within walking distance. I was a bit bored on my free day and ended up taking the bus to various villages. Because I went in what is technically off season, the bus did not run very often and therefore I was at the liberty of their schedule. I took cabs in between villages and then in order to see another village after the last bus, I had to find my own cab. Thank goodness for the kindness of Greece because I found probably the only cafe tucked away in the middle of houses to help me call a cab. People could not have been nicer. Depending on the village, there was not much to do besides walk the streets and look at the views and houses. My second full day (technically third and also the day I left) there was much better. I had my Tinian culinary workshop with Aldo and his wife Katia. Some of the nicest most welcoming people I have ever met in my life. I wish I had met them the day before because not only did we make a delicious meal together, they offered to take me around just a bit to see some things I haven't seen before. The weather was pretty chilly so I did not go to the beach and there was interspersed rainfall but it did not last long.
Ferry to Naxos was very late, which I guess is to be expected. Luckily the restaurants were near by and I was able to have a delicious ice cream and use wifi to entertain myself while waiting. Again, this smaller ferry helped me with luggage.
Arrival in Naxos: All my drivers except in Tinos had a sign with my name on it and were all ready and waiting for me. Since I arrived so late in Naxos, I went straight to the hotel, Nastasia Village Hotel, which was very very cute. It was traditional and almost cottage like. It was however, very noisy in the mornings and very cold at night. Great central location though! There was so much to do in Naxos and the vibe was completely different from Tinos. I found it very difficult however, to get to the places I wanted to see as the signs were not the clearest on/around the attractions. Asking for help is definitely your best bet as people are so kind! I was disappointed about the miscommunication for my biking tour with Naxos Bikes. My tour was scheduled for the morning but he was unable to take me until late afternoon. I did not go on the cycling tour because I spent the entire day walking around and was exhausted with old injuries acting up that would have made the tour less than enjoyable.
Ferry to Santorini: I don't remember much about this one. I think it was late and I believe it was a bigger ferry, which had an escalator to take the baggage up but NOT down. I did not know this and was definitely not expecting it. The fellow tourists were not the nicest as I tried to maneuver my bags down a lot of steep steps without falling to my demise. I am certain there is an elevator somewhere that I should have used.
Santorini: My driver, Costas with Agyros Tours, was awesome. So friendly and helpful with bags. There was a group of us he picked up and took to our respective hotels.
Makris Hotel was probably my favorite because of Vasiliki, the evening receptionist and also the view. I could literally hear and see the ocean from my room as well as the black beach and a mountain. Vasiliki went above and beyond for me multiple times during my stay. She was seriously the best!!! I ended up booking a tour with Kamari Tours because I did not have a way to see the Volcano or hot springs otherwise. I would not recommend this company. They were very unorganized once we got to the port and they were very late getting back, which resulted in me being late for my afternoon tour I scheduled with KimKim. The Kamri Tour with Jason Boats was a 4 hour tour to the hot springs and up the volcano. The trip description and items to bring need to be adjusted as well as more time for delays. Additionally, my tour guide was nice but not very engaging and I didn't feel like I learned as much as I should/could have. Christos from KimKim came to my rescue here as I was a bit frantic because I got back too late to make it to my hotel to be picked up for my Argyros Tour. We found a new place for me to join the tour and all was well.
Santorini Highlights and Wine Tour: I went with 4 other people in my group and the guide, Paris (I am not sure of the correct spelling). This tour was not exactly what I expected but overall I think I would recommend it. A couple did not make it so we got a late start. We adjusted the route a bit, and all the stops were enjoyable but very quick. No time to really take it all in or shopping if that was your plan. Definitely eat before as there isn't really time to stop for food. We were literally chasing the sunset so every stop was more and more rushed. The winery we went to, we were there for literally 20-25 minutes. There were 3 wines, cheese, pretzel type sticks, meat, and a paste, with a quick explanation. Inside the building was really cool but there was no explanation or tour for that whole area, which was really disappointing. The view was pretty but not spectacular and again, it was all very rushed. I didn't particularly enjoy any of the wines either. Only one white wine was just ok. Their dessert wine was terrible. The location we ended up at for the sunset was great though. Beautiful and not the normally crowded area. If only it hadn't been overcast.
My last day in Santorini I spent the morning sight seeing and then got picked up with my luggage to be taken to Fira. 5 hours in Fira was way to long for me and it was cold and I was exhausted and just wanted to rest. If I could do it again, I would have taken an earlier ferry to Athens.
Ferry to Athens: This one was giant and one time. It was overnight and the cabin was a necessity as I was completely exhausted. We got in about 30 minutes early and my hotel was not ready, which was torture because I was very hungry and very tired. I did go sight see for a few hours and then came back to the hotel. My room was not ready until about 2pm. This hotel, Pi Athens was also nice and in a central location. The pillows were incredibly lumpy but everything else was great. They even made sure I had breakfast because I was checking out so early. So appreciated!! My driver in Athens, Lampros, was always on time, very nice and helpful and took the time to take the scenic routes for me when time allowed.
Food tour with Alternative Athens: Great and delicious!!! I made the mistake of eating breakfast before hand, which was not necessary because even though it was just a taste at each stop, it was all delicious and filling! Maria was an awesome guide!
Sorry this is so long but I wanted it to be thorough. I hope this helps someone! Greece is SPECTACULAR!