TRAVEL TIPS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING GREECE
If you are following my blog, you know that my favorite place to go before turning the big ’40’ is the paradise on earth called Oia for locals in Greece and Santorini for the rest of us that knows the pristine white buildings with blue domes that we all saw or comes across calendars or screensaver of/from friends. See images below…
But for now, I wanted to give you the 411 on what we did to prepare for our Greece trip. Chances are you are likely be flying into Athens. We spend 3 days in Athens, Greece. Then we flew to Santorini instead of taking a ferry between islands to save time and get to enjoy the beauty of Santorini and Athens while we’re there. Plus the food, the people and the rich history. All this combination makes for a wonderful vacation in the beautiful island of Greece. Before travelling to Greece here are the things we considered
- Ferry vs Plane ~ in our case, I personally wanted to see Santorini (name originally is Oia/Thira, they changed it to Santorini way back when Venetians came in the 13th century and reference the island to Saint Irene or Santo Rini, hence, Santorini). Santorini is a caldera (a large cauldron-like volcano craters formed by either an explosive volcanic eruption or a collapse of surface rock into an empty magma chamber. So deciding to go to this beautiful, rich of geological history is just a no-brainer for me and hubby. Time is of the essence for us, so no question plane only takes 45min from Athens to Santorini, cost during our trip round-trip for two $260 vs ferry will take you 5hrs (high-speed) or more depending on speed (the slowest can take up to 10hrs) $175 round-trip for two (everything is already converted from Euro to Dollars). Ferries can be bumpy too. We value time so we picked flying. So in this case we choose to fly. Plus before you can go to the airport you have to take either a taxi or a bus so make sure to keep that in mind. You can also ask the front desk what transportation they can recommend to get to either the airport or port. Driving is also an option, so make sure you carry your driver’s license or get an international driver’s license permit. Check Skiplagged similar to Skyscanner to see how much flights cost. For ferries and timetables, click the link and it will break it down for better idea and planning.
- European adapter ~ make sure to bring a converter since all of their voltage in European countries are 220volts. You don’t want your phone, camera or other gadget to carry on weight and not to be of any use when it comes to taking and noting or blogging in my case when the time comes. So go to stores such as Marshalls or Nordstrom or any electronic place maybe even Target.
- Cash vs Debit or Credit card ~ most places accepted credit card (highly recommended, so if there is fraud, it’s easier to dispute and get back compared to a debit card), we brought euros that we got when we landed in París, France and used the ATM in the airport (safer and don’t have to worry about the exchange rate, its like withdrawing dollars, the only difference is its euros). We also made some exchange before we left from our local bank, €400 to be exact in case local ATMs does not work.
- Decide the month you will be going ~ although Summer is the peak of going to Euro countries and quite pricey, that is the date for us. Since our kids have no school and thankfully we are blessed to have families that can look after them when we are out and about. Btw, this is the longest that we are apart from our kids and our family but it’s a great education for us and our kids that they can do and have the freedom if means are there and not to see them (vice versa) as an hindrance in pursuing new things in life and bring as many inspiring story and gifts back home once were done with our exploration. Mainly bring food, drinks, delicacy and clothes. Price to drop significantly during those times off peak. Since we plan so early in the game, we were able to get great air prices as well. So key, plan when and decide to get the best offer out there.
- Light clothes and comfortable shoes ~ since we did not have the kids, we are able to bring a backpack instead of a luggage. So no checked-in luggage required. It’s one thing to be in a different country but to loose your luggage, that will be a hairy situation all together which friends of ours shared and that we won’t want to be in. So our backpack is always with us and all we do is wash our clothes and hang them dry, Athens is pretty hot, so all we do is hang our clothes outside the verandah and come home to a dry and smell great clothes. I personally asked the advice of my friend on what color will go great in Santorini and she recommended bright yellow. So imagine, blue white and bright yellow. Brought a bathing suit with us as well in case we decide to have a deep in Santorini’s black sand beach (beautiful), under my bright yellow dress (shown image above)! For shoes, I brought my foldable ballet shoes and my converse (slip-on, no lacing up necessary) and a slipper. Very light packing.
- Addressing or emailing Greeks ~ If you’re emailing or addressing someone for the first time (mostly in a business context), it’s customary to use Mr. or Mrs. and their last name at first. Sign of respect and they will do the same.
- Tipping is typically rounded up ~ tipping is not required in other European countries we visited but we tipped 10-15% for our meals, hospitality workers, etc. Due to the economic situation of Greece, I did and the people are so lovely, the food is the best, the best kebab I have eaten in my life and I’ve eaten a lot, since we pretty much kebabs everywhere in Glendale, CA way back when. Freshest produce, meat such as lamb and beef (I personally don’t eat pork but hubby swears by it as well, he got gyros) and chicken in skewers, heaven! So 10% is a good standard to stick to.
- Cellphone or sim card so have your phone unlock/open before travelling ~ Websites very often do not get updated so it’s definitely worth getting a cell phone plan from your service provider and making the call or even in our case free text in and out (you an message me to know which one I have)! Also, make sure if you are going to purchase a prepaid SIM card that there’s different sizes of SIM card. There’s the mini, micro and NANO SIM card. There’s this museum we went in Santorini which is part of our private tour that I surely appreciate and love, historical sites that are well worth a visit. Also the only way to find out is by calling when you are in land or if there is any change with your flight. our private tour guide Panos is the best! He was there in the airport waiting for us with a sign of our name! Changes was communicated via email and phone call. so he was there bright and early at 6:00AM and took us to the beautiful blue and white building, the great thing was, there were no tourist yet. everyone are still sleeping so perfect time to take photos.
- If you’re offered turkish raki/greek ouzo or homemade Greek wine ~ you absolutely must have a shot glass of it. Very insulting if you don’t! That’s what the answer I got from Panos when I asked that our taxi driver offered to give us a gift of homemade wine. He said to accept it! It’s typically offered in Crete as a symbol of hospitality and once you get used to the slight burn, you actually enjoy it. Ouzo has a similar taste to aniseseed and shown on the very few image above.
- Tour guide private vs group ~ we personally love, love Kivotos and the option to have a private tour guide. The time is relaxed, they had an option for a price to pick us up at the airport and do the travelling as early as we want. Then when everything is completed to drop us off to the airport. Lovely, Antigone and Panos from Kivotos are great people to work and transact with. Make sure to take advantage of their service.
- Food and drinks ~ Absolutely everything is great like what I’ve mentioned above. Just everything. Their Greek cheese, meat, some says olive and bread. Best food you’ll ever have, from their wine made from the smallest grapes to their produce like tomatoes that grow so small due to the volcanic soil that it grows upon but taste oh so good and juicy!
Next topic will be focusing on Paris, France! Please leave us a comment or suggestions, we love to hear from you!
SEIZE the DAY!
Live your life to the fullest!
Santorini, Greece! Athens, Greece!
Enjoy what life can offer!
Stop complaining and START LIVING!