Saturday, July 16, 2016

Greece Turkey Trip

A long overdue long-trip... We haven't had a long trip since our 9 day Kerala trip in 2012. The thought of this long trip was triggered by a mandatory week off in office. Sitting at home for one week was absolute not an option.
First choice for the travel was a Europe trip to Paris, Swiss, Italy. However, I had roughly 10 days for the travel and the Europe trip didn't look a good fit for that duration. Next options for this 10 day trip were Russia and Greece. Russia was interesting at this time particularly for White Nights of Saint Petersburg. However, it could not beat the lure of Santorini and we decided to finalize on Greece-Turkey trip.

At high level, the itinerary was like this. The site has been tremendous help in planning the itinerary. If you are planning a multi-city trip (or even a small trip I guess), this site can be really handy. [I don't get any commission from inspirock if you click on the link - I am just a happy customer :)]

Following are the hotels I used at each location and some quick tips based on my travel experience -


Hotel: Athens Cypria Hotel - My review - Decent hotel, excellent location

I personally prefer hotels at central locations in the city. You may end up paying a little extra but overall you can stroll around the main attraction any time of the day and save precious time by reducing your commute across the city. Athens Cypria was at perfect location in Athens with quite a few attractions nearby. Hop-On-Hop-Off is a good way to view the city. 


Blue Waves Hotel - My Review - Decent hotel, location not bad

Santorini was the highlight of Greece trip. It has superb locations. Fira is the central point in Santorini. You can go to different places of Santorini from here using public transport (local buses). Another way is to hire an ATV or a scooter. While it can be fun to ride scooter/ATV, it can get really hot in the afternoon so we hired it only for one day. Rest of the the days, buses were good enough.

Our hotel was at Kamari beach and it was an excellent hotel but If I travel to Santorini again, I would rather prefer staying in Fira.


Hotel: Galini Hotel - My Review - Decent hotel, excellent location
    We spent just one night in Mykonos. While Mykonos is beautiful, it is a small town and one or two days are more than enough for this place. Again, our hotel was right in the city center - at perfect location to stroll around Mykonos.

    Athens - Night stopover

    Hotel: Mare Nostrum - My Review - Not good

    From Mykonos, we took a flight to Athens, spent a night at hotel Mare Nostrum and took a flight to Istanbul next day morning. This hotel in Athens was probably the lowest point of the trip. The hotel is advertised as a hotel just 5 km away from airport, it turned out to be more than 20 km away, in a secluded area. Due to its location, not many cab drivers will agree to go to this hotel. I normally look at reviews before booking the hotel but this being just a night stopover, I didn't check much. More than the distance, waste of time is bigger problem. We slept hardly 4-5 hours due to the distance and hassle with finding the cab.


    Hotel: Great Fortune Hotel - My Review - Decent hotel, excellent location

    Istanbul was an awesome experience. 3 days are just not good enough for this place. It's unfortunate that this place is not one of the safest places to travel anymore.
    In fact, I was at this place at right time (or wrong time!) - just about a week before my stay, there was an attack at Ataturk airport of Istanbul and exactly one week after my travel, there was millitary coup in Turkey.

    Due to excellent location of my hotel, I didn't have to use hop-on-hop-off at Istanbul. Most of the main attractions - Sultanahmet Square, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Suleymaniye mosque, Spice Bazaar, Grand Bazaar etc. were nearby or just few stops away by tram. You must not miss traditional Turkish food and Turkish delights.

    This is definitely a place that I would like to visit again someday.

    Summary of my itinerary

    Planned Route
    Thu, Jun 30  Mon, Jul 11
    Singapore, Singapore
     9​h 30​min /9051 kms
    Athens, Greece
     — 2 days
    Fly + bus:
     3​h 45​min /256 kms
    Fira, Greece
     — 3 days
     2​h 45​min /156 kms
    Mykonos Town, Greece
     — 2 days
    Fly + subway:
     2​h 30​min /168 kms
    Athens, Greece
     — Few hours
     4​h 45​min /591 kms
    Istanbul, Turkey
     — 2 days
     14​h 30​min /8645 kms
    Singapore, Singapore

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