View of Acropolis, Athens
The first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of Greece is aesthetics based on geometry. Greece caters to those expectations effortlessly. It is every bit the stunning land of legends you would expect it to be. Aesthetics are a part of daily lives and are not limited to world renowned ancient architectural structures and sculptures kept in museums. You can see beauty in simple everyday tasks such as hanging laundry on a clothesline for drying, seating arrangement in restaurants, interior decor and maintenance of gardens. No matter which city or town you go to, you would find beautiful works of arts displayed in art galleries- from beautifully handcrafted artifacts to exquisite jewelery to creative paintings. If art is not your cup of tea, you can immerse yourself in nature. Relax at the beach or hike through the beautiful flora. If you are lucky enough, an adorable fur ball might just join you on your hike which brings me to my next point. There are a lot of cats and dogs that you would see along the way and some will tag along. And after all that activity what could be better than some delicious Greek food and great wine. Did I mention that the people are really warm too.
  
Planning a trip on your own for the first time can be a bit daunting and I hope that my itinerary, expenses and experiences here, would enable you to plan a trip on your own.

Visa: I applied for my Schengen visa through vfs global. Follow the link below to know the requirements for applying for a Schengen visa through Greece 

If you are planning on visiting more than one country, apply for visa from the embassy of the country of longest stay and if the time of visit in all countries is same, apply through the embassy of the country where you would enter first.


You would need to have all your bookings, including a return flight ticket and accommodation bookings ready before you apply. You can make flexible bookings so that you may cancel without a penalty if you are apprehensive about visa issue. The visa fees is non-refundable. Just make sure that all your documents are in order and the file is well organized to increase the chances of approval.


Route:



I plotted Kardamili on the map on my own so it may not be the exact position but don’t worry because the bus will take you there. I have not encircled all the places that I went to neither did I stay in all the places encircled. Some places are just stopovers to change the bus. 


Weather: I visited towards the end of April in 2017  and stayed until the 2nd week of May. Some days were cloudy but for most part the weather was just perfect. Shoulder seasons are not as crowded as the peak season allowing for some room to breathe. I also did not have to buy tickets in advance for any of the sites because the peak season was yet to begin. If you visit during the peak season, you may have to queue up for up to two hours or even more unless you buy your ticket online or through an agent. Read more on how to avoid queues during the peak season in the link below:

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Expenses: Follow the link below to know all about expenses:

KTEL buses: To know more about buses in Greece, follow the link below:
http://www.trailmytraveltales.com/2018/06/ktel-bus-travel-in-greece/

Parthenon

1) Athens: I spent about five days in Athens and stayed in a hostel close to Plaka. Syntagma square, Monastiraki Square and Plaka are the best places to stay in if you want to stay close to the tourist places. The metro station and bus stops are close by so it is easy to get around.


Transportation: I used metro and buses as means of transportation apart from walking.

Tip: You can buy ticket beforehand and validate it before boarding the bus or metro to avoid being fined. There are validation machines before entry to the platform and you need to validate your tickets there before boarding. 

To know more about what to do in Athens, follow the link below:
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Accommodation: I booked a hostel through hostelworld and stayed in Plaka. Plaka is lively and beautiful and was one of my absolute favorites. Fortunately I got a room of my own. I stayed in Students and travellers Inn, booked through hostel world.


Side trips from Athens: There are some places that you can visit from Athens in a day and some which you cannot. Some islands are quite far and you would need at least 2 to 3 days to visit them. It is always a good idea to check online how far the island you are planning on visiting is from Athens. The one site that gives me a fairly good idea about time and mode and time of transportation between to places is Rome2Rio, the link is provided below:
I went on a one day conducted tour to Hydra, Poros and Aegina and I went to Delphi on my own on a one day trip.
A) Hydra, Poros and Aegina: There are a number of tour operators who would organize this island hopping tour for you. 

Hydra
Poros
Aegina
If you do not want to go with a conducted tour, you can take a ferry from Piraeus Port in Athens. The fast ferry takes about an hour and ten minutes to Hydra and about 40 minutes to Aegina.

To read more, follow the blog post below:

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B) Delphi: There are limited number of buses to Delphi. I took the KTEL bus at 10:30AM from KTEL Bus Station B. To reach the bus station, you need to take a metro to Attiki and a bus to KTEL Bus station. I took a taxi from Attiki to the bus stop. Be sure to reach the bus stop at least an hour before departure to ensure a seat. The seats sell out and you would be forced to wait for another bus. I took the afternoon bus back from Delphi. You have to buy the return ticket for the particular bus you wish to take back from Athens. 

Site at Delphi

To read more about Delphi, click on the link below:

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2)Peloponnese Peninsula: Peloponnese Peninsula is separated from the central part by the isthmus of Corinth and the Gulf of Corinth.
Follow the link below to read more about places listed below:

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A) Nafplios: You can take a KTEL bus from Stathmós Kiffisós bus station Terminal A in Athens. You can either take a cab or a metro and bus to reach the Kiffisos Terminal A. Nafplios is a beautiful harbour town and I recommend spending at least 2 days there, more if you have time. Nafplios can also be your base to explore the ancient site of Epidavros and Mikines/Mycenae.
Nafplios

Accommodation: I booked an Airbnb stay, Cosy Loft, a little way away from the city centre. I liked it a lot.

Transportation: I walked. You can also rent a bicycle.


Day trip to Epidavros and Mikines: You can take a bus to the sites and the bus prices are quite reasonable. I had to take a cab because it was May 1, Labour day and hence KTEL office was closed. The taxi cost me 100 Euros.

There are fewer buses on Sunday.
Museums are included in the ticket price. 
Site at Epidavros

Human figurines discovered from the site of Mikines

B) Olympia: I took a bus from Nafplios to Tripoli and from Tripoli to Olympia. 

Hermes carrying the infant Dionysus

Accommodation: I booked a room in Leonidaion guesthouse through Airbnb. A bit on the pricier side but I highly recommend it. You can also find an accommodation after reaching there.

Transportation: Olympia can be covered on foot.
While you are in Olympia, do keep a few hours aside to visit the Archimides museum. Entry is free and there are working models of Archimides’ work.


C) Kalamata: I took a bus from Olympia to Pyrgos and Pyrgos to kalamata. 

Sidewalk along the sea shore

Accommodation: I booked a room with Central Sunny Studio through Airbnb. The room was located in a very convenient location and was well equipped with a cooking gas and refrigerator. I got some groceries from the local market and stored the food in refrigerator. I highly recommend this.

Transportation: I walked or used bus to walk around the city.

Day trip to Kardamili: I took a bus from Kalamata at 7:00AM. There is an old fortress and a beautiful black sand beach. I joined some tourists on a trek up the hill to one of the old Byzantine churches. This place is really pleasant and you can easily spend a few days here if you are looking for a place to relax. 


View from the top
3) Santorini: This is the only island that I visited on this trip to Greece. You can either take a ferry or a flight to Santorini. I took a flight because it took lesser time. the flights can be delayed depending upon the weather conditions. Some ferries are included with EU Rail pass.
To know more about EU rail pass, follow the link below:
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Oia on a cloudy a day
Accommodation: I booked a room  through Airbnb in a guesthouse in Karterados. I found the location convenient. 

Transportation: Fira/Thira, the capital of Santorini was about 20 min walk away and the bus stop was 5-10 min walk away from my location. There were several tour agencies offering different tours. I stayed 3 days in Santorini and felt that the time was not enough. Apart from black, red and white sand beaches , Oia, stuff postcards are made of, there is the 5000 year old site of Minoan state, a volcano and hot springs and Santo wineyards. There are a number of art galleries exhibiting picturesque paintings which would give you an opportunity to view the island with a completely different perspective.


To read more about Santorini. follow the link below:

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Safety: I traveled on my own and felt safe at all times. Irrespective of which place you are visiting, never give up on the basic precautions and be aware at all times.






8 thoughts on “Greece- The Cradle of Western Civilization”

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