Currency: Euro (.80 Euro = 1USD)
Mousaka (a lasagna like dish with eggplant, feta cheese, onions); Gyros with pita bread, pork, onions and tomatoes; Greek salads.
Cost of Goods and Services
Mid class triple room with bath in Athens: 60.00, includes breakfast
Double studio room with bath and kitchenette and refrigerator on Naxos: 29.00USD in low season.
Ferry ride from Santorini to Athens: 28USD, kids under 12 half price
Internet throughout Greece: 4-6 USD per hour
Coffee or chai: 2.50 USD
Ave. dinner for family of 4 was 35.00USD. We rarely ate lunch at a restaurant. We would just by fresh bread, feta cheese, peanuts, fruit,etc. Also, most of the rooms we rented were studios with cooking facilities, which allowed us to most dinners, lunches and breakfast for about 15USD per day. If we ate out for all meals, the average daily expenses for a family of 4 would be around 65.00USD and this is the low season.
Reflections of Greece
The beaches south of Naxos town were deserted, sandy and with crystal clear water. However, the water was cold; thinking about living on a Greek island; the inland areas of Naxos and hiking through ancient lands with stone houses and crumbling fences; spring flowers were blooming all over the hillsides of the interior; the white church built into the rocky mountain overlooking Naxos town; our family watching football in a local bar; being able to sleep in the cafeteria on the overnight ferry from Naxos to Santorini; the numerous caldera views of Santorini; the 13 km hike from Fira to Oia and getting major blisters; having morning coffee on the rim of Santorini and just marveling at this most unique natural and human landscape has developed over the millennium; after months of cheap accommodations, Athens was our first introduction into the REAL costs of being in Europe; seeing the Acropolis for the first time and the magnificent nighttime lighting of this centerpiece rock; great gyros with pita bread; our unending search for cheap accommodations; the incredible mountain setting of the ruins of Delphi.
Getting from Turkey to Greece We took the ferry from Kusadasi, Turkey to the island of Samos, Greece for 30USD, including bus from hotel in Selcuk. We traveled in April and the full schedule of ferry options was not available. Also, make sure to ask for discounts for children 12 and under for 50% off. We were considering connecting to Crete from Samos, but this was not possible at this time. Other ferry options from Turkey are Marmais to Rhodes ($50USD) and Boldrum to Kos ($25USD, which during the main season provides the most options and the least cost for getting to Greece). The higher ferry costs are from having Turkish departures taxes as part of the ferry ticket.
Greece to Italy
After two days of walking tours in Athens, we took the bus to Delphi to explore these ruins of immense beauty and importance. From Delphi, there is a bus straight to Patras to catch the ferry to Brindisi, Italy. If you catch the early morning bus from Delphi, you should catch the overnight ferry to Italy. We heard much about an area called Meteroa, an area with monasteries built atop large rock pinnacles, but we are now in a time crunch to get to Portugal by May 27.
Naxos and the Greek islands
Reading about and seeing all the amazing pictures of the Greek islands, we wanted to see them all. However, time is somewhat limited and ferry costs needed to be considered as we entered the final phases of our global trip. Therefore, we decided to stay 10 days on Naxos to relax, pursue the numerous hiking and beach options and participate in the week long Greek Easter festival. This decision, even though visiting Crete was something were really wanted to do, was the right decision. We found a studio apartment next to the beach with a kitchen to house us all for $40USD per night. From here we had easy access to the beach, we cooked many meals to save money, were next to Naxos town for all the festivities and staying longer allowed us to become friends with the townspeople. As advertised, Naxos is a family oriented town with many activities in an energetic Greek atmosphere. Each day we would either hike along the coast to a beach, great beaches are only 6km away and walkable from Naxos, or go into the interior of the island and go on a day hike. Be sure to pick up a copy of the Best hikes of Naxos. You will find this book everywhere. There is nothing like sitting on top of a mountain pass surrounded by spring flowers, eating lunch and overlooking a valley with ancient stone houses and fences and imaging what life was like hundreds of years ago. Also, the best mode of transportation into the interior of the island is to rent a car for a family, which is less then the bus back and forth and provides better access to the many hiking trips throughout the island.
Santorini was a 5 hour ferry ride from Naxos, which both are part of the Cyclades island chain in the Greek islands. Approaching the island of Santorini, there is great anticipation, while most of the passengers make there way to the left side of the boat for the first glimpse of the caldera. Seeing Santorini and the buildings clinging atop the vertical cliffs of the caldera that plunge into the ocean is truly an amazing sight. Santorini is one of those unique places in which I constantly find myself just gazing out from numerous locations on the rim to view this amazing natural and human-built landscape. Pictures do not do this place justice. We found a small studio with a kitchen about 3 kilometers outside of Fira overlooking the caldera. It was a small place tucked within many 4 star hotels with an excellent view. From here, we walked to Oia at one end and did several walks along the rim during the 3 days we were at Santorini. Walking, followed by buses, are the best mode of transportation for exploration of the island.
We had heard many stories about the high cost of Athens compared to the islands and Turkey, of course, this was nothing compared to Italy, and most travelers are able to hit the key spots in one full day. Of course, the Acropolis was on our agenda, but Therese found a great walking tour guide of the city in one day. We took an overnight ferry from Santorini, which arrived in Athens around 7:00AM. However, after seeing the costs of hotels and hostels, finding a hotel took most of the day. We stayed away from the main tourist area of town and found a “cheap” hostel room for 5 near the train station for 65 euros. We spent a long day doing the walking tour, which was well worth the effort. We also decided to take a late afternoon bus to Delphi in order to see more of Athens and its amazing history.
The 4 hour bus ride from downtown Athens took us along the Straights of Corinth, into rural Greece and ended in the spectacular mountain town of Delphi. There are numerous hotels, hostels and restaurants to choose from. However, be quick, because Delphi is a major tourist destination and in the high season, housing is very difficult to come by. We ventured several blocks up the hill and away from the main tourist area to secure a great place that offered a full breakfast and plenty of information. The town is small, but a great place to hang around in and the scenery is great. Plus, the town of Delphi is within walking distance of the grand ruins of Delphi, where the great Oracle lived proclaiming vision and wisdom. Of all the ruins in Greece, these are my favorite. The mountain setting is awe-inspiring and is very understandable why Delphi was the seat of the Oracle and the center of wisdom and vision for the Greeks. Walking around these well preserved ruins and reading the history is a great experience that should not be missed.Greece