Athens - Naxos - Santorini

I start with the words of appreciation to all people, who publish reviews about their trips, in particular to Andrey Grinyov (Anagr); the plan of our journey appeared owing to his story and photographs. And I also want to thank Katerina Bereti, our tour operator; this plan was carried out owing to her.

All photographs of our journey in overall size can be found here here.


Prehistory

The idea to visit Santorini came to me due to viewing of the changing wallpapers on the screen of the office computer. The view of uncommon houses and blue dome of church on the cliff above the sea did highly raise questions - where is that? and how to get there? The name of picture "Fira, Santorini, Cyclades Islands, Greece" gave me hope, indeed with Greece we connected plans for the future holiday, and it have become now clearly in what place in this country we will go.

We, my wife and I, have planned the trip to the second half of September of 2006. After long studying the question on the Internet I have communicated by e-mail with Katya from a travel agency in Crete, which was recommended in many reviews on the tourist forum. The initial plan was - 2 nights in Athens, 10 nights in Santorini; however, Katya convinced to visit also any another island along the way, because, according to her, there are nothing to do 10 days in Santorini (Id not agree). We chose Naxos, and the final plan became like this: 2 nights in Athens, 6 nights in Naxos, 5 nights in Santorini, passages between Athens and islands on the ferry boat, on the islands - transfer of hotels, in Athens - by ourselves.

In April we began correspondence, in May we already booked the hotels for September. We chose in Athens and Naxos at once that Katya has offered, though she had to work with Santorini, as our desires - caldera view and inexpensive price - were sufficiently difficult to achieve. However, everything was quickly resolved, place was found, and, anticipating, I have to tell, that we were not disappointed any hotel. At the same time in May Katya has reserved air tickets Moscow - Athens - Moscow, and we have sent her an advance payment for hotels (30 %).

In the beginning of September I received visas and insurances by means of the Moscow tour agency offered by Katya, took tickets in the office of "Olympic Airlines" and sent the remained moneyby a remittance . I have to note that the all organization of tour took place without seeing, without personal contacts, through e-mail and remittances.

     

Athens

So, a long-awaited day of departure has come. Greece began in the plane: all announcements were in Greek and English languages, all passengers were given headphones, in which some programs of Greek radio were broadcasted, a dinner was distributed with obligatory attribute - Greek salad.

After the arrival to Athens we came into the metro station, following the direction signs. However, on foot we passed not much, mostly passed on the lift and on a tape of moving sidewalk. The ticket from the airport up to any station of Athens costs for two persons - 10 euros, for one - 6. An interval between trains - half an hour (the most popular interval in Greece). In general it is not exactly the metro, but as though a suburban electric train, in a city boundaries turn into the metro. Inside Athens the price of the ticket and an interval is much less. Before landing an employee walked along the platform, talked to passengers, opened them a door and invited in the car. During a trip there passed ticket collectors, and it was an only time during our short stay in Athens.

The metro consists of three lines. The old line - ISAP - passes from Piraeus up to district Kifissiá, mostly on a surface and only in the center descends under the ground. The price of the ticket for trips on this line is 70 eurocents. Two other lines are actually METRO. The price of the ticket there, and also on trips with change on ISAP is 80 eurocents (exception - tickets to the airport). Before the entrance the automatic devices for punching in tickets are mounted , turnstiles are not present, so it is possible to pass, probably, without the ticket (we did not try). It is clean everywhere, there are lifts for invalids at stations, railroad cars are new and convenient.

So, we reached with one change "Metaxourgío" station, walked 200 metres and got the hotel.

Our hotel "King Jason" is worthy three stars. They gave us a room on a penultimate sixth floor so we were almost on the top. In fact Athens, in comparison with Moscow, for example - is a lower city, the highest buildings have 9 floors, nothing here should cover with itself the main thing - Acropolis. The view of the apartment houses of unusual architecture was opened from the small balcony. There were many buildings, in which 3-4 upper levels form stepped profile; a roof of the lower floor was a terrace on the upper. Directly under the windows of our room, on the roof of adjacent building there was a small house, where a family lived, their child sometimes played on this roof as in a courtyard - original penthouse. And in the distance there was Lykavittós hill, illuminated at night. According to one familiar Athenian, the place of our stay was once haunt of vice, red-light district, reconstructed and refined before Olympiad 2004.

Click the images to enlarge them.

Evening came; we had supper at the restaurant of hotel (32 euros) and have gone to walk across the evening Athens. We passed to the area of Omónia square; there was a brisk street trade by magazines, books, cassettes, and disks of all possible content. We sat on bench, drank beer. Life boils everywhere. Masses of tourists passed by, occupied hotels, came from excursions. But soon we came back in our room, tomorrow was going to be difficult, but interesting day.

At the next morning we had breakfast at the hotel restaurant (buffet) and went on survey of sights, first of all the Acropolis - the huge flat rock towering above the city. We wanted to get the tourist bus 400 along the way, but did not find its stop, and the idea to pass on foot seemed good. Our way ran on the brisk street Tsaldári, then rise on the pedestrian streets of Hermes and Apostle Paul past several churches in the Byzantian style, and also past ruins of Keramikós, Thissío, and ancient Agorá.

At last, tired, we reached the entrance to Acropolis. At the ticket office there was a queue of tourists from the entire world. The ticket costs 12 euros, it permits to visit as well some other ancient monuments, but it was sufficed for us only the Acropolis. Above there are several constructions: the entrance itself Propylaia, Erechtheion with caryatids instead of the columns, and the most famous and most majestic - Parthenon. And from above there are remarkable views of Athens, including other ancient constructions: Herodeion, where concerts till now are spent; Dionysos theatre the most ancient theatre; Temple of Olympian Zeus, where gather the modern heathens .

After looking around and after making a mass of photographs, we went down to the metro and arrived at the hotel. The after-dinner survey of sights took place already in solitude; my wife remained to rest in the room. And I arrived at the station "Sýntagma" and passed to the House of Parliament to look the famous change of the guard of "evzons" at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The ceremony take place each half an hour. Slowly enough, as though specially posing for cameras, "evzons" converge from two sides along the wall, highly waving arms and legs, relieve one another, and take their stand near booths under a canopy. Next to them a policeman strolls, corrects their clothing and drives off too importunate tourists.

Near the House of Parliament there is the National Park, where I came, walked around, sat in a shadow of trees, the weariness from morning transition was felt. The real large trees, they dont suffice so much in this country, at least, in places where we were.

After reaching the Záppion palace, I turned to the right, passed the wide street of Amalia and came to Pláka district. Narrow streets, many taverns, souvenir stores, in one of which I bought, a little having bargained, a small amphora for 40 euros, on the bottom is written copy hand painted geometric by F. Karvela period 700 B.C. 215. On a way passing by ruins of Adrians library, I reached the metro station "Monastiráki" and went to the hotel.

For a supper we came to the tavern near "Monastiraki" station, noticed by me earlier. We occupied a little table outdoors; ordered suvlaki (local shish kebab) and a bottle of red wine (about 30 euros for all). Then walked around a little and have returned to hotel.

At the morning we rose half past five, gathered, had breakfast in the restaurant of hotel, handed over the keys and went by metro to Piraeus - the main port of Athens.

     

Aegean Sea

Our sea route

Our motor ship "Blue Star Naxos" of "Blue Star Ferries" company departed at 7.25 and went to Santorini with stops on Paros and Naxos. The capacious hold of vessel is filled up with cars and trailers; everyone may place his luggage here, near the wall, that many passengers did, and we too but not in this time, we have dragged a trunk upward this time, where three decks of the ship are located. On two lower decks inside there are separate cabins, places of 1 class, "aircraft type" places. Also there are open and half-open decks for the passengers of economy class (our case). For the passengers also the part of the upper deck is opened - a glazed verandah in the middle part of the vessel. In time of small occupation of the ship, the "economical" passengers may sit down on the "aircraft" places, there are not the views of surrounding landscapes, but the seats are comfortable and one can watch TV, especially as price of the tickets of these two classes was identical. Furthermore, there are several cafe and bars aboard.

And in general, the journey between Greek islands on the motor ship is the most interesting and cheap way. For the all 3 trips we paid 133,2 Euros for two. The ships are sufficiently large so that rolling was not felt. My spouse, for example, who is very subjected to seasickness, felt herself there quite comfortably.

We settled down at the table on the open deck at the left board. Beside a group of Greeks was located, all the road they briskly talked and drank frappe - cold coffee with milk. The sun began to rise and we left the port. We crossed the bay of Piraeus, filled by the various ships, including warships, and have come to the high sea. The land of Attica passed before us and met the sunrise.

After one and a half hours the continental part of Greece remained behind and Cycládes began. The sun rose in the cloudless sky, but the heat was not felt because of amplified wind. We passed near Kýthnos island with empty enough coast on which only white two-storey small houses occasionally happened. Then we passed by uninhabited Serifópoula islet, appeared from the sea in the form of almost correct rectangular triangle.

The first stop of our ferry was Páros island and its capital - Parikiá. Directly on the moorage is situated the white windmill with the straw roof the typical element of Cycladic landscape. Everywhere there are two-storey, sometimes the three-storey white houses with blue doors and windows, white churches with dark-blue domes - it is quite typical too. Only a Byzantian church in depth of the town not fits into the view, probably it is the Panagia Ekatontapyliani (Our Lady of a Hundred Doors), which is too old to be Cycladic. And still, looking through photos, I have noticed a plenty of trees in this town. Parikia, perhaps, is greener than any of towns and settlements in Naxos and, especially, in Santorini.

We stayed in Paros half an hour. All who need were unloaded and loaded, and our ship went further up to a following stop - Naxos.    Further...

     
Attribution-No Derivative Works (CC-BY-ND) by Andrey K.