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Old 05-27-2012, 11:48 AM   #31
nordkin
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Sorry I haven't posted for a few days and am catching up now. I will answer any questions you have to the best of my ability as this is an adults only trip. I see where people are saying who the guides will be on their trip. As I understand it they will be Chris and Vivian. Chris has two weeks off after our trip.

Day 4 – University, National Library, and Cape Sounion
We took the hotel shuttle to the center of the city and then walked to the University and National Library. We discovered neither of these is open to the public although the guide books said they were and it is a stop on the Hop on Hop off bus. The outside of the buildings are absolutely beautiful and worth looking at. We walked back to the center of the city and visited the local candy store we discovered that is two blocks up the street on the right of McDonalds. They sell everything from candy, nuts, and cookies by the kilo and the prices are very good. We ate lunch around the corner at a sandwich shop and again lunch for the two of us was around 5 Euro. We headed back to the hotel because we had booked a trip for 2:30 to go to the Temple of Poseidon in Cape Sounion. It was a beautiful drive to get there after the hour we spent going to different hotels to pick people up. You drive along the coast and it is beautiful. Once you get to Cape Sounion the only thing there is a gift shop, café, and the Temple. The views are gorgeous and the guide is not very informative about the temple. We learned more by reading the signs posted.

Day 5- National Archeological Museum and start of trip
The museum is well worth the visit and does a great job of showing the tomb stones from the cemetery as well the evolution of sculpture through the ages. They have a large bronze exhibit as well as an entire floor of vases. It was an interesting visit, but children will probably find it boring.
The welcome reception was at 6 in a private room in Café Zoe. After the introductions and general information, the lanyards were given out. The guides are Chris from California and Vivian from Athens. We moved from the private room to the dining room for dinner which was a buffet. It was very good and a little bit of everything from pasta to veal and lamb as well as a good salad bar and desert bar.

Day 6 – We left the hotel at 8AM and went to the Olympic Stadium first. We were the only ones inside the stadium and Vivian did a wonderful job explaining the history. I do not want to ruin what events are done at the stadium so I will just say you will see things that will have significance to everyone and there are activities for people to participate in. We left there and went to the Acropolis. You use whisperers so if you are more comfortable with your own headphones bring them. There is a lot of climbing at the Acropolis and it is very busy. It is hot at the top and you need water and sunscreen. Your guides will have both. Vivian is very knowledgeable and explains everything very well. We had the afternoon on our own after Vivian and Chris led us down to the Platka area and gave us about 90 minutes on our own before the bus was available to take us back to the hotel. There are several restaurants to in the area and a lot of shopping. We returned to the hotel to rest and get ready for dinner. We left for dinner at 6PM and returned to the Platka area. The meal was cucumber and tomato salad, an appetizer of sausage, cheese pie, and spinach pie, and a main course of chicken or pork souvlaki with rice, peas, carrots, and potatoes, and desert of ice cream. There is also a dance show.
Day 7 – Delphi
We again left at 8AM for the 3 hour drive to Delphi. We stopped after 90 minutes for a bathroom break and arrived in Delphi around 11. Again there is a lot of climbing, but it is well worth it. Vivian again did a very good job of explaining everything. Well worth the visit although we had 4 people who chose to stay in Athens and not take the trip. There is also a museum there that Vivian took us through and explained what we were seeing so we understood it. Lunch was in the town of Delphi and there is no way I can explain everything we had to eat because there was so much. The trip back to Athens was uneventful and we had rain so most people opted to stay at the hotel to eat although they did drop two people of in the Plaka area on the way back to the hotel.
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Old 05-27-2012, 11:55 AM   #32
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Wow! Thanks for the update!! This makes it all the more exciting! Looking for more updates!!!
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Old 05-27-2012, 02:32 PM   #33
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We fly to Santorini in the morning leaving at 8AM for a 10:30 flight. We are going straight to the Volcanic Winery from the airport. Will post later tomorrow night about the day.
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Old 05-28-2012, 10:42 AM   #34
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thanks for the tip re the National Library! We were going to get off the HOHO there to see it--but I believe I read the buses run every 30 min so I think that time would be better spent at the National Arch. Museum! Did you buy a multiple museum pass or just use HOHO discounts for the museums? Really looking forward to your trip reports--and tips, like bringing your own headphones! I know that ABD does a number of pre-tour tours, but it must be exciting to be on the first official one--I imagine the guide energy levels are way up!
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Old 05-28-2012, 02:46 PM   #35
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thanks for the tip re the National Library! We were going to get off the HOHO there to see it--but I believe I read the buses run every 30 min so I think that time would be better spent at the National Arch. Museum! Did you buy a multiple museum pass or just use HOHO discounts for the museums? Really looking forward to your trip reports--and tips, like bringing your own headphones! I know that ABD does a number of pre-tour tours, but it must be exciting to be on the first official one--I imagine the guide energy levels are way up!
We just bought tickets to the places we wanted to go because it was cheaper for us. The day you go to the Acropolis ABD does get you the all in one ticket for 12 Euro and is good for 4 days.

The energy level of the entire group is pretty high. Be prepared for heat during the day and right now the evenings are cool enough for a jacket.

About the bread charge, there is no way to avoid it. The guides told us it is like a cover charge.
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Old 05-30-2012, 03:46 PM   #36
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Hi nordkin! I hope your absence from the forum the last couple of days only means you are having a blast and ABD is keeping you busy... which are good!!

Anyway, quick question. Were you able to go to Akrotiri? I read they closed it in 2005 due to an accident which killed a tourist. I also found out that they reopened the site last April and it looked like it's a very interesting place. The guide book they sent us had a notation that it might be closed and we will be directed to a different attraction.

Thanks!
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Old 06-01-2012, 10:23 AM   #37
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Hi nordkin! I hope your absence from the forum the last couple of days only means you are having a blast and ABD is keeping you busy... which are good!!

Anyway, quick question. Were you able to go to Akrotiri? I read they closed it in 2005 due to an accident which killed a tourist. I also found out that they reopened the site last April and it looked like it's a very interesting place. The guide book they sent us had a notation that it might be closed and we will be directed to a different attraction.

Thanks!
Yes we are having a blast and are exhausted every night. Yes we went to Akrotiri.
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Old 06-01-2012, 10:26 AM   #38
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We have been very busy and tired everynight, but this post will catch you up through last night.

Day 8 – Santorini
We left the hotel at 8:30 for a 10:30 flight to Santorini. It was confusing when we arrived at the airport because although we had our boarding passes we had to check in with our luggage, but Aegean Air had a special line for us. At this point if you are a member of a star alliance frequent flyer program you can give them your number and receive 136 frequent flyer miles. Security was slow and all electronics must be removed from your bag. If you have a DSLR they will also check all your lenses. Upon arrival in Santorini we went directly to the Volcan Winery. The wine tasting was first, then grape stomping, then lunch, and then a few minutes of free time. The group suggested lunch should have been first and then the wine tasting. I must admit I was very bored during the wine tasting as I do not drink and could care less about wine. The grape stomping was fun and lunch was pretty good. The museum has old animated figures and can be a bit scary for children. We arrived at the hotel in Santorini and were assigned rooms. The rooms on the road side of the hotel have a view of the sea right out their window and from their balcony. The other side of the building also has sea views, but in the distance. The hotel is two stories with no elevator. The rooms are typical European hotel rooms that are smaller than the typical US hotel. There is free internet and the town is about a 10 minute walk as you turn right out of the hotel. There are ATM machines in town and one about a 5 minute walk if you turn left out of the hotel. The guides will tell you to make sure you have Euros because many shops do not take credit cards and there are none available on Crete. We had dinner as a group that night and I would suggest you bring a jacket. The food was OK for what it was.

Day 9 – Santorini – Cruising the Caldera
After breakfast we left to start our sail on a private sailboat. They took us to the volcano for a climb first that took about 90 minutes. My knee was bothering me so I did not go on the hike and stayed on the boat with another couple. Following the hike we sailed to an area to swim and what was put on the itinerary as hot springs, but is actually just a spring. The water is very cold and took your breath away when you jumped in. Everyone enjoyed the hour or so, even those that did not get in the water. It was a fun time watching the reactions of those that did get in the water. We then sailed to have lunch at Captain John’s Taverna. I am not going to go over every meal, just realize you will not have beef on this trip, but a lot of pork, chicken, and salad. After lunch we sailed to Oia where you had the choice to take a bus to a meeting point, walk up 200 or so stairs, or ride mules up the stairs. I must warn you the mules run up the stairs and it is very difficult to hang on. We really got a work out just staying on the mule. The town is beautiful and is nothing more than restaurants and stores. There is a church in the square that is open to visitors. We stayed an hour or so and returned to the hotel. Dinner is on your own this night and there are several nice places in town.

Day 10 – Santorini in the Morning Sailing to Crete in the evening
We departed for the Pompeii of at 11, spent about an hour inside and then left for Kamari Beach and had lunch on our own. The ruins are inside a building and can be very boring as there is not much description and you have to listen to the guide to understand what you are seeing. At Kamari Beach you have just enough time for lunch on your own with maybe 15 minutes to spare before you head back to the hotel for the remainder of the afternoon before you leave for the ferry to Crete at 5. You will be given box meals with a ham and cheese sandwich and a salmon sandwich, chips, fruit, and water. The ferry ride is 2 hours and if you have any chance of motion sickness I suggest you take something before you leave because the ferry ride can be rough and the 90 minute ride to the hotel is on a very windy road. We arrived at the hotel around 9:15. It was mass confusion getting our rooms, but the rooms are very nice. The views are fantastic and it is definitely a 5 star resort. The internet is only wireless in the lobby and the beach bar. In the rooms you have to use an ethernet cable so Ipads and Iphones do not work in the rooms unless your room is very close to the lobby.

Day 11- Cretan Coastline
Those that wanted to sea kayak left the hotel at 9:30 the others at 10:30. I did not do the sea kayaking, but those that did said it took upper body strength and the water was a bit warmer than Santorini. We then toured the island of Spinalonga. It is an interesting island with a long history, including as a leper colony. We stayed about 90 minutes, took the boat back to shore, and had lunch on our own before returning to the hotel for an afternoon to enjoy the resort. You need reservations at the restaurants and are provided a voucher to pay for your meals. We ate at the Old Mill and I must say it is perfect for couples and those that appreciate exquisite settings with background piano music, beautiful scenery, and food worthy of 5 stars. Definitely not for kids or those that want a loud or boisterous environment. I will not forget this meal for a very long time, if ever.
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Old 06-01-2012, 10:42 AM   #39
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Thanks for the update!

More questions! Is Aegean Air strict about the size of carry-ons and weight? I was reading their baggage allowance and they said the carry-ons should weigh no more than 8 kg, which is roughly 18 lbs. when you say they check DSLR lenses, do they take it apart, separate it from the camera?

Thanks again!
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Old 06-01-2012, 10:55 AM   #40
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Thanks for the update!

More questions! Is Aegean Air strict about the size of carry-ons and weight? I was reading their baggage allowance and they said the carry-ons should weigh no more than 8 kg, which is roughly 18 lbs. when you say they check DSLR lenses, do they take it apart, separate it from the camera?

Thanks again!
Disney picked up any baggage charges there were for the flight and they really did not check our carry ons at all. For my DSLR I had to take a picture with the lens on the camera and show it to them and they looked through the lens in my bag. The same thing happened to me in the Munich airport last year.
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Old 06-01-2012, 12:26 PM   #41
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Oh, all right. That is not so bad.

Are shorts all right to wear most of the time? How cool does it get at night? I am monitoring the weather there and it says the low is in the low 60s. Is that about right?
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Old 06-01-2012, 02:28 PM   #42
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Great report! Very helpful--and thanks for paving the way!
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Old 06-02-2012, 10:42 AM   #43
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Oh, all right. That is not so bad.

Are shorts all right to wear most of the time? How cool does it get at night? I am monitoring the weather there and it says the low is in the low 60s. Is that about right?
Shorts are fine and once you leave Athens it is quite breezy at night. We needed a jacket at night.
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Old 06-02-2012, 02:20 PM   #44
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This is the first time we will have a guide twice. We had Chris in Southwest Splendors too AND we bumped into him in Peru, and if he won't back out in the Greece one, we will see each other in three continents!!! I just find that mind- blowing. He is a great guide and he told us he was supposed to do most of the Egypt ABDs, don't know if he did or still will. He is featured in the ABD ad on the Disney cruise (the one they show before the movie in the theater) and his footages were all in Egypt. Now we booked the Egypt ABD for next year, and if he is still doing Egypt, that would be the 4th continent we will see him!

I don't know the other guide and not sure if I got the name right.
Considering ABD for first time. I'm assuming that the guide (e.g., Chris) just handles the tour administrative stuff and that there is also a guide from the country or area visited that actually imparts all the history and information.
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Old 06-02-2012, 03:52 PM   #45
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Considering ABD for first time. I'm assuming that the guide (e.g., Chris) just handles the tour administrative stuff and that there is also a guide from the country or area visited that actually imparts all the history and information.
Actually, both ABD Guides know a great deal about the places they Guide for, and share all the duties, both administrative and guiding. But it seems they usually do try to have at least one ABD Guide who is from or really familiar with the area. Besides the two ABD Guides, they will also have local "step on" Guides, who will actually lead parts of the tour in specific locales (such as museums or historical sites).

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