Greece || Tours, Road Trips, and British Airway
Before it was time to board the plane to Greece, I wasn’t ready for this trip. 1. I just came back from a trip halfway around the world. 2. I haven’t even fully unpacked. 3. I was still catching up with some work. 4. Days before our actual trip began, I started to think about the amount we were paying for this trip (via a travel agent) versus what they told us we were getting.
We (Andrew, Lauren, Kyle, and myself) booked a tour through Asimina Tours. It was an 8-day trip around Greece, starting from Athens and finishing in Santorini, with two guided local tours. Our trip costed us about $2500 per person, without international plane tickets, food, and gas for our car rental, and then whatever amount of money we’ll be spending on ourselves. So it was pretty much the hotels, two guided tours (out of our entire 8 days in Greece), domestic flights (Athens - Santorini round trip), car rental (without gas and GPS), and a five-hour catamaran ride. Sounds a tad too expensive, no?
But….. I guess I was wrong! :)
We flew with British Airways to Athens. And can I say? It was one of the most horrendous traveling experiences I’ve ever had! First of all, on our first flight from JKF to Heathrow, the plane was so hot! So so hot that the four of us were sweating! And I’m usually always cold. So that was quite extreme. And the stewardesses were soooooper cranky.
Then came meal time. They skipped our entire row. -_-
Spilled drinks on Andrew and didn't even realize that they missed our row. After they were done giving food to everyone, they rolled their trolley back and only then did they realize that we were just there, sitting quietly, without any food on our table. HOWEVER, they pretty much ran out of food options. Thank goodness they only had the one that we were going to choose anyway.
We landed at Heathrow in the morning. Aaaand came another drama. Having only one hour of layover, we raaaaaaaaannnnn as fast as we could. As we scanned our boarding passes to go through the gate for our connecting flights, our boarding passes were denied. Eeeek! We went to the counter, and APPARENTLY! We were late by 1 minute! One flippin’ minute!!!!!!!!! I’d have to say though, they were pretty responsible with this entire missing-our-flight thing. We explained the entire situation to the person on the counter; our plane left JFK late, and there were delays on Heathrow when we landed. They were so helpful in putting us on the next flight and even gave us a decent amount of meal vouchers. If it were Indonesia, they would only give us small bread and a small cup of water.
I didn't really take pictures of our plane ride or our layovers. We were pretty tired and upset about our journey that taking out the camera wasn't even a thought.
After a long journey, we finally arrived in Athens! All of us sighed a pleasing ahhhh.
Our hotel, Athens Gate, is located in a historic district of Athens, right across the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Right around the corner is the Plaka District, a neighborhood of shops and restaurants, so getting food was not at all a problem! :D
The next day, we were picked up at our hotel for a guided tour around Athens. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I loved the tour! We were told stories about Ancient Athens, visiting the Acropolis, viewing the ruins of the Parthenon.
We were given iPads, where we could view 3D renderings of what the buildings used to look like inside and out.
From above, we could see the city of Athens.
It wasn’t like what I had pictured, honestly. I did not expect Athens to be such a busy city.
We continued our tour of Ancient Athens at the New Acropolis Museum, where findings from the Acropolis are displayed. Too bad we couldn’t take pictures at most parts of the museum.
We needed a break from all the walking and the stairs. :p So we took a little coffee break before walking for lunch. I tried Greek coffee. It was pretty much like Turkish coffee, but not as strong. They pretty much boiled the coffee, so the grounds were still sitting at the bottom of the cup.
After lunch, we ventured to the Ancient Agora, where the Temple of Hephaestus stands.
Our day ended with touring around the city of Athens with a car, viewing other important landmarks and stopping to see the changing of guards at the Parliament House.
Day 2. Or technically 3. We began our road trip around Greece. We drove (Andrew drove) from Athens to Nafplio, the first capital of Greece. It was about a 2 - 3-hour trip
We stayed at Nafsimedon Hotel. It was a beautiful classic hotel, located close to Nafplio old town where all the restaurants are located. Of course, we ventured around the old town.
In the comment of one of my Instagram photos that said that I was going to Nafplio, @lousi73 recommended me to go to a bakery called Pergamonto and try their Loukoumades. OH!MY!GOD! Crispy little balls of heaven drizzled in warm velvety chocolate, and sprinkled with finely chopped unicorn horns.
Just kidding. They were chopped up hazelnuts. :) But might as well be. The combination of the crispy loukoumades covered in a hot melted chocolate and the cold vanilla ice cream was like a symphony in our mouths. The crunch from the hazelnuts added a tad more texture, the texture of perfection! It kind of reminded me of Ferrero Rocher. Pure yum!
Right across Pergamonto is a gelateria, Antica Gelateria di Roma (again, recommended by @lousi73), where you can sample the flavors.
Somewhere amongst the alley of Nafplio old town, there is a pathway that leads to a tunnel-looking place, then an elevator that brings you to the Nafplio Palace Hotel. There, you can view the magical sunset.
The next day, on our way from Nafplio to Olympia, we stopped at Palamidi Fortress. It was huuuuuge! And a lot of stairs. Be sure to bring water with you.
Ancient Olympia was where the Olympic Games were first held.
We visited the ruins of the stadium, and near it, there is the Museum of Olympia, where you can see the artifacts found in the archeological sites.
Delphi was kind of like an overnight layover for us. We arrived in the late afternoon and had to leave early in the morning. So we didn’t really get to see much.
Did you notice that there weren't a lot of food pictures? We were pretty much famished every time we decided to have our meals. :p But! You definitely have to try gyros and souvlaki! Don't forget those tzatziki sauce too! Also, stuffed tomatoes! You'd be amazed at how simple the dish is, but the mixture offlavor! Deeeeeelish! I'd have to say though, be very careful if you're on a low-sodium diet. Most, or probably almost all, of the food in Greece are extremely salty! We were guessing it was because of the Aegean Sea, one of the saltiest seas in the world.
Stay tuned for part 2. The most exciting part of the trip!!! :D