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Travel Story by Richard Weinbaum and Shana Grummitt

  Greek island hopping in the Cyclades
Greece
 


Santorini

SANTORINI

My favourite of all the Cyclades islands and probably the best island in the world I have visited. If you get the opportunity to go there then share your thoughts with me.

Santorini is one of the world’s natural wonders; there are superb views from the towns of Fira and Oia on the cliff’s edge. Don't miss out on visiting Oia as it has the best vantage point where you can see stunning sunsets. If you are lucky enough you may even see a wedding there too. There are steep steps down the cliff to the harbour. If you are too tired to make the return journey on foot there are donkeys for hire. There are many expensive designer shops in both Fira and Oia so bring plenty of money if you plan to buy any jewellery or art souvenirs. These are open from 10am till midnight. There are excellent and frequent bus services from Fira (the main station) that you can use to visit places around the island.

One place that we recommend is a pretty cobbled village called Pyrgos, especially for their lovely homemade wine!

It is worth taking a day trip by boat to visit the volcano crater and hot springs near Santorini.

There are direct charter flights to Santorini from the UK. I have been there twice, in 1989 and 2006, and would definitely return again.

MYKONOS

This is my second favourite island after Santorini. The streets in Mykonos town are like a maze of white buildings with a blue or pink background, i.e. sea, sky and chairs. Mykonos also gives you another opportunity to splash out money at the usual designer shops. Beaches on the south coast have their own beach club style and one beach allows nudism. The island is well known for being gay-friendly. It also has frequent bus services around the island and there are two bus stations in Mykonos town.

Big pelicans walk around the islands and it’s easy to watch them for hours and take photos with them.

Take a day trip by boat to the nearby island of Delos and visit the ruins there. If the sea is too rough then the taxi-boat services will be cancelled. Delos is a vast open-air archaeological site, with settlements and sculptures from both the Greek and Roman periods.

You can take a direct charter flight to Mykonos from the UK.

NAXOS

A nice town with a large harbour and little shops surrounding the medieval castle tower. This is situated on a little hilltop that overlooks the harbour. You cannot miss the massive Kouros statue on the north side of the island. You can spend several pleasant days sightseeing in the mountains and visiting the local villages and churches. If you get the opportunity try and drink Naxian citron liqueur and visit the distillery where it is produced.

CRETE

The largest Greek island. I would recommend visiting Chania - it is very pretty and there is an enjoyable walk along the waterfront where you can experience its ‘little Venice’ character with shops lining the alleys. If you are a boat lover, you can sit down and watch hundreds of boats arriving or leaving the harbour. Rethymno is a nice town, a bit similar to Chania but with a large beach resort and hotels just like Brighton. Malia is popular with young Brits – you could almost be in Blackpool! The capital of Crete, Heraklion, is okay for half a day’s sightseeing.

WHEN TO GO

Hotels are open from April to October. July and August are the hottest months when the beaches are crowded and the hotels are more expensive. June and September are much quieter due to the children being at school. The winter season (between October to April) can be extremely quiet and there’s a lack of atmosphere as many of the shops are closed.

HOW TO GET THERE

There are several different options and these depend on your budget and how much time you have available. These are as follows:

1) Fly direct to Mykonos or Santorini from the UK then go island hopping via catamaran or ferry.
2) Fly direct to Athens then get the Athens metro to the famous port of Pireaus. From there either get the catamaran or ferry to the islands you want to visit.
3) Fly direct to Athens, catch a charter flight with Aegean Airlines to Crete, Santorini or Mykonos and then go island hopping using the catamaran or ferry.

CATAMARAN OR FERRY?

The new catamarans (speedboats) also known as the ‘Flying Cats’ can be twice as fast as the ferry. But they are more expensive although very comfortable. If the sea is rough, you may get seasick! Catamarans and ferries run frequent services to many islands daily and you can book tickets at most travel agencies. During the peak season, it’s advised to book your ticket at least a couple of hours before departure.

SUMMARY OF OUR TRIP

We flew with Easyjet from Gatwick to Athens (3hrs) then spent half a day in Athens before flying to Chania, Crete with Aegean Airlines (1hr). There is an excellent bus service, which we used to visit the towns on the island of Crete. After a week there we caught the catamaran from Heraklion to Santorini (2hrs) where we spent 5 nights before going to Naxos, an hour away, for 3 nights. Next was Mykonos (1hr) for 6 nights and the last two nights at Athens, our final destination. Our return flight was to Luton, again with Easyjet. Everything went smoothly without any problems.


Click on photo to enlarge


Just resting!  Marching soldiers  One of the locals


Date Submitted: 22 Nov 2006


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