Plans are now well under way for my month long visit to Greece this Summer – which I have decided to call my “Grand Tour of Greece”, which makes it sound much more exciting than it really is.
Actually, that’s probably not true. Exciting, it will be. Grand? With all the traveling I’ll be doing, it might not be – and I’m certainly not going to be staying in the most luxurious accommodation.
There are essentially 4 parts Grand Tour, which will take place between July 1st and August 10th. And using the booking.com website, using the ‘Book now, Pay later, Free cancellation’ option, I can reserve accommodation, pay for it when I get there, and if my plans change I can change or cancel bookings without charge until about the middle of June.
My journey will start with an EasyJet flight from Gatwick to Athens. Isn’t it lucky my Aunt gave me an Athens guide book for my birthday last month! That will be useful! Once in Athens, the hotel I’ve chosen isn’t in the most affluent area – if you know the area around the main railway station in Athens, you’ll know what I mean!
The Neos Olympos Hotel is about 200 meters from Metaxourgeio Metro Station, and 200 meters from Athens-Larissis Station, the main railway station in Athens.
Basically, it’s not an affluent area of Athens, but the hotel has good reviews online, and from Metaxourgeio Metro Station I’m only 3 stops from Syntagma, and 4 stops from the Acropolis, with good connections to the Airport (changing to the Blue Line at Syntagma) and Pireaus (changing to the Green Line at Omonia). And, statistically speaking, Greece is still the safest country in Europe. So a “rough” area of Athens won’t really be that bad!
My time in Athens will be filled by getting out and about, speaking to people in Greek – and maybe going on one of the Athens Walking Tours, which would include a visit to the Acropolis (students and journalists get in free….), a visit to the Houses of Parliament and watching the Changing of the Guard!
I might also venture out of the city one day and find a beach – South of Athens there are some good ones, I just take the Metro to Elliniko and then get on a bus. Alternatively, a day trip on the ferry to Aegina wouldn’t be out of the question.
After a week in Athens I’ll be heading to Levadia, where I’ll be doing some volunteering with a Greek family in return for accommodation/food etc. It’s an opportunity I found on the Workaway website. Should be quite good, but I don’t really know what to expect.
After 2 weeks in Levadia it gets complicated. My original plan was to go up to Thessaloniki and spend a week there. However, I think I’ve found a way of squeezing a couple of nights on Syros in to my trip.
My current plan is go back to Athens for a night, and then take the ferry to Syros. It’s about a 4 hour journey, but I’ll be there in time for lunch, and once there I know my way around, I know the people, and I know the bus timetable. I’ve managed to reserve a room at Peter & Tony Rooms in Galissas: the little café where we sometimes ate lunch last Summer.
The penalty for going to Syros, is that doesn’t give me much time to Thessaloniki – it’s a long way! Thessaloniki is as far from Athens as Carlisle is from London… the difference is that Greek trains don’t go very fast.
My plan is to something I wouldn’t normally do – but it would be quite cheap and would save spending another night in Athens. There is an overnight (slow) train from Athens to Thessaloniki. That would leave Athens at 23:55 and arrive in Thessaloniki at 07:00, just in time for breakfast. A long, tiring journey – but at least I’d have about 3 hours between my ferry arriving in Pireaus and the train leaving Athens, so I’d be able to get something to eat.
This then gives me 3 nights in Thessaloniki, before I go and meet Mum, Dad and Corrie at Thessaloniki Airport, from where we will drive to Thassos for our normal 2 week holiday, before we all return to the UK together in the middle of August.
My itinerary may yet change – but at the moment, I’ve got an interesting and varied trip planned, and I’m looking forward to it. I will be going in to Greece with the aim of not speaking much English at all. It might take me a couple of days to tune in to the Greek language, but the more Greek I speak, the better.
I think I may be about to spend the final 6 months of my degree wishing July 1st would hurry up!
Now… Where’s the ‘Fast Forward to July’ button?