Help with transportation in Greece!

Old Jul 4th, 2005, 10:31 AM
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Help with transportation in Greece!

Hi all,

Me and 2 other guys are going to greece in early oct. for 2 weeks and was wondering on how people got around. We'll be in Mykonos for 1 day, Crete for 2-3 and Athens for 7. I know for the city athens itself we can walk, everything impt. is within walking distance - but my quesiton is for our out of city excursions.

We will be going to Delphi, Corinth, Mycenae, meteora for the mainland and for Mykonos it's delos and Crete it's Knosssos Phaestos and Malia.

I dont' want to drive myself as it's a foreign country and i've read other posts here that said the mountainous/rocky terrain is dangerous. We would like to have some sort of tour bus take us to our destinations but we want the freedom/flexability to change days and spend as much time as we wish.

Some posts said hire "taxi" that will shuttle us, others are using CHAT or Key tours (again i'm apprehensive about tours as they rush you - i don't want to fly/layover for >35 hrs. to greece to be rushed). Does anyone have rough prices??? Any feedback and reveiws of tours would be great. thanks.

watch11 is offline  
Old Jul 7th, 2005, 02:30 PM
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In May we took a couple of tours out of Athens, one to Delphi and one to Argolis (Mycenae, etc.) Hated them. Haven't taken any big bus tours for eons, just mini van or 15 passenger buses when I couldn't manage any other way. Won't do it again, either. Rushed - at Delphi we had an hour for the ruins, which meant no time to go down the hill to the Temple of Athena, etc. But always time for a stop at a store on the way back that the tour company has an agreement (read "commission on sales") with. Also one day a bunch of drunken businessmen who spread all over the bus and made so much noise you couldn't hear the tour guide. (Can't figure why they bothered since they never looked at anything when the bus stopped, just went to the refreshment stand for more beer and drank till we were ready to leave again.) The tour we planned to take - 2 days to Delphi and Meteora - was cancelled by both companies who went the days we needed to go. I suspect the same sort of thing is likely in Oct. or other months out of peak times. So your plans might change without your approval.

We priced a taxi for a 2-day Meteora/Delphi trip and the best price we could get was 500 euros. You might do better in Oct., but it will still be expensive.

We didn't want to drive, either, but we knew we'd pretty well have to on Crete. After maneuvering the pristine new car (would rather have had a banged-up one in Greece) out of the narrow alleys with cars and cycles parked on sidewalks and blocking much of the width of the streets, getting out of Heraklion wasn't as bad as we expected. Driving is "eventful" because roads and highways have neither names nor numbers and you have to count on signs pointing to a town near where you want to go. And those signs might not always be there. Or might be in Greek only when you have a map in "English". Mountain driving is also pretty tiring. You have to be a bit more laid back about it than I would have been even 5 years ago. But after I got over my initial anger that we were on a worse road and a longer route that I planned to take, I decided to just enjoy the scenery since my only other option was to rage and fume.

And guess what? We're going back next May and we're planning to take about 7 days to drive to Nafplio, then on to Epirus and Thessaly (for Meteora). And via the infamous Katara Pass road that Fodor's refers to as "dramatic". I'm sure there are going to be parts that I won't enjoy - what with the white knuckles and all - but I'd rather die than go on a tour bus. Don't expect snow up there in early May and I wouldn't think it would be a problem in Oct., either.

My husband and I are in our 60s, haven't driven manual transmission since we traded in the Mazda in '78, and don't get much chance for mountain driving practice in FL. (Though we do get some practice at Yellowstone, other western parks, every year or two - but with automatics.) So our daredevil days are over - and they weren't too daredevil 30 or 40 years ago, for that matter. I'd rather do this some other way, but driving beats the alternatives for me.

If you can afford to hire a taxi and driver, do that. If not, what I'd consider if I were you is scheduling the mainland for the end of your trip, planning to drive but also making some other contingency plans - but no unchangeable reservations, which you probably shouldn't have to do in Oct. anyway. Then rent a car on Crete, where traffic is lighter, and see how you do. Plan not to drive at night and remember that Greek protocol is to drive halfway on the shoulder so the speedy locals can pass easily. (They will pass anyway, but you won't be as nervous about the "fallout" if they have a little more room.) If Crete driving doesn't prove as terrible as you think, then try it when you get back to the mainland.

Oh, and drive the Katara Pass and report back on this forum when you get back. I'm gathering as much information as I can before I go.
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Old Jul 8th, 2005, 08:04 AM
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Polly229- we spent 13 days this may driving 1200 miles in a clockwise loop around mainland greece. we rented an automatic car from thrifty in athens for no more cost than a manual from other companies. there is no problem driving the katara pass. it is very beautiful and there is very litte traffic. if i can answer any other questions, feel free to ask.
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Old Jul 8th, 2005, 08:21 AM
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I'd suggest you should read some guide books. From Mikonos to Delos, for instance, there's no point in looking for a taxi or bus because Delos is an island, which can only be reached by boat - there are excursion boats every day. Other places you mention can be reached by regular buses.
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Old Jul 8th, 2005, 11:27 AM
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I don't have exactly relevant information for you on these locations, but rather a strong feeling about this issue. I have often read warnings in guidebooks about driving in various places. My guidebook warned of driving on the hilly roads of Corfu (Paleokastritsa). I almost decided against renting cars in several locations because these books made it sound so perilous. However, some of the best days I've spent on vacation were exploring places in our rent-a-car and some of the worst were being stuck on boring bus tours. We rented cars in Corfu and Santorini and had a blast. We stopped in little towns, at beaches, at restaurants and shops and went all over the islands with no problems. Our rental cars were 30-35 Euros per day including insurance. I make sure that there is full coverage and no deductible and make sure it is in writing. These rent-a-car places didn't even require credit cards or deposits. That being said, there are places that I wouldn't drive -- in busy cities like Naples, or perhaps Athens -- where the traffic is heavy and where people are driving like maniacs. However, I've driven many a mountain road in Greece and the Caribbean and have had no problems.
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Old Jul 8th, 2005, 11:50 AM
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There really is no issue with driving in Crete apart from the b. awful roadworks round Iraklion.

I might be wrong but I don't think you'll get a tour that does Malia and Phaestos. A car with a driver will do, whether or not that's a taxi. My guess would be about €100.

If you ask on Explorecrete.com, you may get another answer.
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Old Jul 8th, 2005, 12:30 PM
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Watch11 I would suggest the rental car. I just got back from Greece on Tuesday and we had a car the whole time. We rented a Hyundai Accent from Thrifty I think it was 25 euro a day and there was four of us with luggage and we fit fine. We drove from Athens to Kosta to catch a water taxi to Spetses and then we drove from Kosta to Meterora with a stop at Epidavros and lunch in Corinth. The drive from Athens up to Meteora was really easy mostly on new wide roads and not much for twisty turny mountain roads. From Meteora we went to Metsovo, I didn't find the Katera Pass to be too difficult at all (Mt.Tygetos between Kalamata and Sparta was tougher). After Metsovo we went to Igomenitsa to catch a ferry to Corfu where we also took the car. After a few days we headed down to Patras and then back to Athens. The car allows so much more freedom and flexabilty and if you can split it three ways it's quite cheap. Have youn thought about giving yourself a little more time on the islands to relax because it looks like you have a lot to see.
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Old Jul 8th, 2005, 04:41 PM
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I too have just returned from Greece and rented a car for 7 days. We drove to Nafplion, Sparti (Mystras,) Monemvassia, Gythion, the Mani and back to Athens. Away from the National Road, which is a very good divided highway, there are some very winding mountain roads, narrow and certainly challanging, but everything is done at a fairly low speed and is actually a lot of fun. Having the freedom of going where you want to and for how long you want to, beats a bus tour any time. I say this because we have also taken a bus tour and frankly the guide wasn't very helpful and this year after retracing the same route as the bus took, we found several very neat places to visit that the bus just drove right past. Live a little. Rent the car and have fun.
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Old Jul 8th, 2005, 06:49 PM
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Glad to see more replies that suggest renting a car. Makes me feel better about what I had already decided we'd do. I did see your trip report, lovetotravel, and that was somewhat influential in my decision for next year. I had thought I would send out a query later in the year, after the summer and early fall travelers get back, and I hoped you'd elaborate on the pass driving then. But good to know about Thrifty. We generally avoid them based on some previous past experiences and usually get the best rates (and upgrades) from Avis and Hertz because of commercial rates with the company my husband works for. But I suspect we'd bite the bullet and rent a Thrifty to avoid manual transmission. (Granted there is a fair amount of downshifting in the mts. but at least it doesn't involve a clutch.)
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Old Dec 4th, 2006, 09:49 AM
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I just read something about Key Tours. One of the "worst" tours of my life was with Key Tours. They forgot to pick us up at the airport and cut our tour a day short. The name "Key" raises my blood pressure! Don't be taken-in by this company.
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