Tag Archives: athens

Vacation Around Greece


I recently returned from a 10 day romp through Greece, and I can’t wait to go back! The streets are lined with healthy lemon, orange, and olive trees. The smell of honeysuckle is in the air. You can feel the pulse of the city just walking down the street taking in all the sights.


April is the beginning of the tourism season so it wasn’t very crowded. This time of year the temperatures are venturing into the upper 60’s & lower 70’s. To be honest, it exhausts me to imagine vacationing when it’s any warmer over there. The sun can really take it out of you if you aren’t careful over when outside. There is a reason most homes have marble floors and huge roll-down shades on their balconies & windows.

Athens is a wonderful, thriving city! The view from downtown in any direction is full of hillsides crammed with houses & buildings, tightly packed together. On a typical day it may take you over an hour to get from one end of town to the other by car. Most citizens use public transportation to commute. Athens is the only city in Greece with a Metro System – It’s fairly cheap and easy to use, with color coded routes. Most major tourist destinations like the Acropolis are easy to travel to using the metro. If I can use the Metro System so can you.


Stores and banks close mid-afternoon for the day. Some of the chain stores may have extended hours. Restaurants and small shops may close between 12pm – 3pm for siesta, and then reopen for the dinner crowd. Credit cards are widely accepted at the museums & in most restaurants located within the tourist areas. That said, expect to pay cash euros if you shop for souvenirs in the Planka (market) at the foot of Acropolis hill. In general, the Greeks do not haggle on prices, but if you offer a lesser price they just may take it. If they don’t bite on your offer, just accept the originally stated price and enjoy your purchase. Haggling over prices is considered rude. The Planka area is known for is pickpockets. Be aware of your surroundings and you should be fine.


The Acropolis admission just increased from 12€ to 20€ per person. This pass includes entry to the Theatre of Dionysus, Ancient Agora, Roman Agora, Hadrian’s Library, Keramikos, and the Temple of Zeus within a 4 day validity period. Archeological sites tend to close at 3pm in the early season, but they may extend hours as late as 5pm during the high season. Early morning visits are recommended to avoid crowds and the midday sun. A trip to the Acropolis involves a lot of uphill walking even if you arrive via the Acropolis Metro stop. I was so glad I wore comfortable shoes with good tread. Take your time getting up there, and motivate yourself knowing there is a fruit slushy store across from the ticket booth at the entrance… no joke, it was the best 4.50€ I spent that day 😉


2.5 hours North West of Athens is the historic site of Delphi. This was a wonderful day trip that allowed me to see the Greek countryside as we ventured into the mountains. Again, it is advisable to set out early morning, and stop midway for a lite bite to eat. (Fruit or pastry with Greek coffee is a no brainer) We passed through a picturesque little town called Arachova right before we arrived in Delphi. This was a nice destination to stop on the return trip so we could treat ourselves to a nice big meal & some shopping.

A ticket to the Delphi Archeological Site run 6€ for students to 12€ for adults, and admission into the Delphi Museum located at the bottom of the hill next to the Archeological Site entrance is included. This site also closed at 3pm, but the museum was open until at 4pm. After the trek up the slippery stairs of the Archeological Site, past all the temples to the Gymnasium and Stadium, we were ready for a nice fruit slushy. Luckily they have them in about a dozen flavors at the Café located outside the Delphi Museum. I highly recommend a leisurely sip of watermelon flavored slushy before venturing into the Museum. You can breeze through the museum in less than an hour.


Aegina is a summer vacation hot-spot for Athenians that is known for 4 things: Beautiful Beaches, Pistachios, the temple ruins of Aphaia & the Monastery of Nektarios. We had the pleasure of vacationing there over the weekend. Ferry prices range from 8€ to 16€ depending on the type of vessel you take, and the ride is only about an hour. Once you arrive in Aegina’s port you can rent mopeds or quads to roam around the island. Both vehicles are street legal. Let’s take a guess at what we chose…


If you ever have the chance to visit Aegina, please load up on the pistachios because they are the BEST pistachios I’ve ever had. They are soaked in lemon as part of the roasting process. I miss them already! The Monastery of Nektarios is centrally located. It houses the tomb of Saint Nektarios, who was canonized by the Greek Orthodox Church during the 1960s. He is fondly known as the Walking Saint who grants miracles to the faithful. They say if you put your ear up to his tiny silver casket you will hear his footsteps. For the record I didn’t hear any footsteps, but we’ll see if my request gets granted. As for the temple ruins, they are located on the highest hill of the island. It was a fun drive getting up there on our quads. The temple has been rebuilt 3 times over the years and it is in good shape. Aphaia is a goddess compared to Athena. Local lore says this temple is the place to visit if you looking for a dose of fertility. Admission here was only 8€.

greek food

Greek food was a wonderful discovery. Forget all we Americans think we know about gyros here in the states. Over there, they serve gyros with either chicken or pork, no lamb. Meals come in 2 styles- shaved as we are used to, or cubed and grilled on sticks. Personally I prefer the sticks, and half of the fun is to fold the gyro in half and then pull the 2 sticks out, leaving the meat inside the gyro. Also expect french-fries in your gyros. If you opt for the chicken option, they will try to serve it with mayo instead of tzatziki sauce. Greek Salads are simply cut up tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, olives, feta and maybe capers drizzled in olive oil and salt and pepper. These salads are served with most meals and are quite enjoyable.

Greeks aren’t very big on processed sugar, so they drink lots of water, coffee, tea, and juices. My host didn’t even have sugar in her house?! Tap water is ok to drink unless you are on the islands. Baklava and other sweets are a rare treat to the standard diet. A Greek would have a spinach pie for breakfast for example, and look at you oddly for ordering a piece of baklava for yourself. Greece also has several alcohols in addition to Ouzo you should try: Retsina is pine sap wine made popular in recent years. It tastes similar to a chardonnay even though it contains no grapes. Rakomelo is a honey flavored mixed drink made in Crete. It tastes like bourbon, but the aftertaste is all baklava. I just love this stuff! Aegina has Pistachio liquor that is wonderful mixed with other spirits.


It would be fair to say I will always carry a little piece of Greece with me. It touched my heart in a way I find hard to describe without getting all cheesy. My new Greek friends now consider themselves family… and I gotta admit, I feel the love in return. If you ever journey to Greece be sure to relax and enjoy it! Take part in the hospitality offered. Share some kind words with a fellow traveler or local Greek. Try new foods & beverages. Dip your bread in the olive oil on the Greek Salad plate. Shop at the weekly street markets, and browse the locals produce and meats. Soak up the afternoon sun. You’ll never forget your journey.


Hotel Grande Bretagne – Exclusive Upgrades

With breathtaking views of the famed Acropolis and Parthenon, regal Constitution Square and the Parliament, lush Lycabettus Hill, or the original Olympic Stadium, the Hotel Grande Bretagne offers unrivaled perspectives of Athens’ mythical history.

In addition to the unrivaled expertise and in-depth local knowledge of The Luxury Collection Concierge team, the Hotel Grande Bretagne offers a range of deluxe services and amenities designed to enrich our guests’ stay on every level. From valet parking to High Speed Internet Access to sumptuous In-room Dining to a multi-lingual staff—your comfort and enjoyment are our foremost priorities.

Showcasing exquisite cuisine in a myriad of magical settings, the Hotel Grande Bretagne entices with some of the most extraordinary and enjoyable gastronomic experiences in Athens.

From the spectacular GB Roof Garden with views of the majestic Acropolis to the perennially glamorous GB Corner restaurant to our magnificent Cellar and its astonishing 3,000 bottles of wine—the choices are inspiring, indulgent, and incomparable.

Virtuoso Exclusive Amenities:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily buffet breakfast for up to two in-room guests, in The GB Roof Garden with views of the Acropolis
  • One 50 Euro food and beverage credit per room per stay
  • 4 pm late check-out, subject to availability

For more details, please contact Traveline at 1-888-700-TRIP.



Arion Resort & Spa – Exclusive Specials

Welcome to Greece! Starwood Hotels & Resorts Greece offers a trove of treasures from cities with ancient ruins to idyllic isles with white-washed villages. In Athens, consider a stay at Arion Resort & Spa with its stunning gulf views or Hotel Grande Bretagne, located within walking distance of the Acropolis. For sheer relaxation and drop-dead-gorgeous vistas, head to the Blue Palace on Crete or Vedema on Santorini.

Arion, A Luxury Collection Resort & Spa. Set within the Astir Palace complex.• Spectacular views of the Saronic Gulf • Private swimming pool, beaches and gourmet restaurants • Lavish spa with sea views • Choice of guestrooms, suites and renovated bungalows.

Available through December 31, 2012

Virtuoso Exclusive Experience Includes:

Breakfast daily
15% discount on spa services
Indigenous amenity
Complimentary Wi-Fi access during stay in public areas
Tax and service

Virtuoso rates from $326 per night, double occupancy

Contact Traveline at 1-888-700-TRIP for more details.

Compagnie du Ponant Cruise Discounts

Spirit of yacht cruising

For over 20 years now, COMPAGNIE DU PONANT has embodied the art of YACHT CRUISES, combining a sophisticated à la française lifestyle on board with exploration and discovery.

Whether or not this is your first cruise, Compagnie du Ponant wishes to make your experience a magical and unforgettable one.

Welcome Aboard Compagnie du Ponant!


Portofino’s Discovery
Nice (France) – Nice (France)
From 24 April to 26 April 2012
3 days / 2 nights on board

Lisbon – Honfleur
Lisbon (Portugal) – Honfleur (France)
From 16 April to 23 April 2012
8 days / 7 nights

Nice (France) – Athens (Greece)
Nice (France) – Athens (Greece)
From 30 April to 9 May 2012
10 days / 9 nights on board

Nice – Nice
Nice (France) – Nice (France)
From 26 April to 30 April 2012
5 days / 4 nights on board

7th Sea Lyric Festival Et Vogue l’Opéra

Suez (Egypt) – Itea / Athens (Greece)
From 10 May to 16 May 2012
7 days / 6 nights

Golf: Mediterranean Tee Time
Nice (France) – Nice (France)
From 6 May to 13 May 2012
8 days / 7 nights on board
LE From*
* Fares listed are per person, based on double occupancy, excluding taxes and fees, flights, transfers and gratuities. Ponant Bonus Fares are the lowest available rate at the time of purchase, and are subject to increase or withdrawal at any time without notice as the ship fills. Other restrictions may apply.
FL Seller of Travel Ref No ST37706 / CA Seller of Travel Ref No 2106116-40

Exclusive Events in Greece and Malta

With exclusive Virtuoso Voyager Club events on the following Seabourn cruises, you’ll be treated to a behind the scenes look at the Mediterranean, along with expert guidance, insider connections and the peace-of-mind that every detail will be handled with confidence. Contact us today at 1-888-700-TRIP!

Dalmation Coast & Greek Isles
Seabourn Odyssey

7 Days • Departs September 22 & October 20, 2012

Venice, Italy • Sibenik, Croatia • Kotor, Montenegro • Scenic Cruising Bay of Kotor • Kerkira, Corfu, Greece • Argostoli, Greece • Pylos, Greece • Nafplion, Greece; Piraeus (Athens), Greece

Virtuoso Suite fares from $2,999 per person

Complimentary Virtuoso Voyager Club® Exclusive:
Virtuoso Voyager Club host, welcome reception and exclusive shore event in Corfu

Mediterranean Hideaways
Seabourn Pride

14 Days • Departs October 13, 2012

Barcelona, Spain • Ibiza, Spain • Palma de Mallorca, Spain • Mahon, Spain • Trapani, Italy • Xlendi (Victoria), Gozo, Malta • Valletta, Malta overnight • Messina, Italy • Naples, Italy • Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy • Scenic Cruising the Calanques • Monte Carlo, Monaco • Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Italy

Virtuoso Suite fares from $4,499 per person

Complimentary Virtuoso Voyager Club Exclusive:
Virtuoso Voyager Club host, welcome reception and exclusive shore event in Valletta

Seabourn style

  • Dine on inspired gourmet cuisine in the ship’s many restaurants, from foie gras to filet mignon
  • Indulge the body and mind with spa treatments designed to restore your sense of wellness
  • Relax in an oasis of comfort and luxury in your well-appointed, spacious suite
  • Enjoy the intuitive, gracious service from the ship’s staff who are ready to accommodate your every whim

Timeless treasures

  • Explore the ancient Acropolis and magnificent museums throughout Athens
  • Wander through the beautiful collection of work from Trapanese coral artisans in Trapani’s Pepoli Museum
  • Learn the history behind Ibiza’s Moorish rule and see a delightful combination of Medieval and 19th century architecture
  • Discover the eternal city of Rome and its legendary landmarks such as the Colosseum and Trevi Fountain

Romantic rendezvous

  • Float along Venice’s legendary canals, soaking up the dreamy ambiance as you go by
  • Stroll the stunning streets of Livorno, which once served as the inspiration for Michelangelo and da Vinci
  • Walk hand-in-hand through the rolling acres of olive gloves and lemon and orange trees while in Corfu
  • Spend an afternoon sampling rare and delicious vintages in Bordeaux’s wine country

All fares are in U.S. dollars, cruise-only, for new bookings only, per guest, double occupancy, subject to availability, and valid only for residents of the Americas. Fares based on Odyssey 10/20/12, Pride 10/13/12, promo RH. Some suite categories may not be available. Government Fees and Taxes of $95-$208 per person are not included. Fares may vary by sailing date, are capacity controlled, and are subject to change without prior notice. Seabourn reserves the right to charge a fuel supplement for all guests, without prior notice, if the NYMEX oil price exceeds $70.00 USD per barrel, and may collect such a supplement even if the cruise fare has been paid in full. Shipboard credit is based on double occupancy for 1st and 2nd passengers only. Information herein is accurate at time of printing. Seabourn reserves the right to correct errors. Ships’ registry: Bahamas. ©2012 Seabourn. Fares, schedules, Virtuoso exclusives, events and amenities are subject to availability and blackout dates and may change without notice. Unless otherwise stated, prices are in U.S. dollars, per person and based on double occupancy. Restrictions may apply. See your Virtuoso travel advisor for more details and applicable restrictions. Virtuoso is not responsible for any errors in pricing. The trademarks VIRTUOSO, the Globe Swirl Logo, SPECIALISTS IN THE ART OF TRAVEL and WE ORCHESTRATE DREAMS are registered trademarks of Virtuoso, Ltd. Virtuoso, Ltd. has a U.S. copyright registration for the Globe Swirl Logo, ©2000. All rights reserved. Virtuoso CST#2069091-50 360055 03/12