Four days in Athens and 7 days on a Greek Isle cruise. Greece left us speechless! I’m going to be completely honest right now, Greece was never on my bucket list to visit. Cara wanted to go, she’s always loved it since growing up watching Mamma Mia a million times. So, the opportunity came up and we took it!
I will say this, we will be going back! We enjoyed it that much! There is ancient history, biblical history, Ottoman Empire history, Venetian history, Roman history, medieval history, and even WWII history. You can go from ancient ruins to the top club destination in the Mediterranean in a matter of hours! The beaches, the water, the people! All spectacular!! We heard stories. We saw traditions. We ate all the food. I still can’t believe how we fit this much into such a short period of time.
For my review, I’m going to do an overall (which is this one) and then I’ll do a review of each day. We did so much, you would have to read a book for me to get it all in one review! So buckle up and get ready to travel halfway around the world to a land of Gods, Goddesses, Royalty, History, and beaches!
We are lucky to live in Atlanta, because we had a direct flight from Atlanta to Athens. This ensures your bag is on the trip with you, you don’t have to wake up (if you fall asleep) to change planes and you get your travel over with faster. We flew Delta Airlines and our experience was overall very good. Were there hiccups? Yes, of course there were. We were flying during the re-opening of many of the countries in Europe post pandemic shut downs.
Our flights were incident free, covid on the other hand was a little stressful. Luckily, the Greek government has streamlined one requirement so it’s not so unknown at take off. Understand that right now, covid restrictions are per country and change quite frequently. Having a travel agent is key to keeping up with all of this because it can and does change daily.
We had to fill out a form entering Greece, that confirmation was emailed to us while in flight in the form of a QR code. We were asked for this code when we landed and were able to go right through the line. You either have been fully vaccinated or take a quick covid test that is negative. You’ll show your proof of that and on you go. Honestly, I’ve flown within the U.S. and had more questions than I did when we landed in Greece!
The cruise line, all are different, required we have a negative PCR test which means we had to schedule one no further out than 72 hours before we boarded the ship. We had to make sure with time changes and possible boarding times that our test was in compliance. Luckily, because our flight was 4 hours late leaving Atlanta, our test was rescheduled for 8:00pm that night. So no worries!!
I mean, who doesn’t like Greek food??? If you don’t, I’m not sure we can be friends. HAHA, I joke. But, both of my children grew up on gyros so, I knew we’d be just fine in Greece.
Gyros, every single person said you have to have street vendor gyros. I’m here to tell you something about that. One, that was the only way we found gyros. Second, they didn’t use lamb! Most of the time it was chicken or pork. WHAT!?!? Still yummy, but yeah, not what we are used to.
Greek salads are not a salad with greens. They have cucumbers, onions and tomatoes. Some include olives. But none, have lettuce or leafy greens at all. Which was fine, I ate my weight in it!!!
Food is widely available and you can find something on just about every menu that you can eat. Their version of restaurants or cafe’s are called Tavernas. They are everywhere! Each taverna has a specialty and you can check their menu out before going inside. Now, two things, first, if a person is trying to pull you into the restaurant on the street with “the best” of any type of food, keep looking. Chances are really good it’s touristy and mediocre at best. Second, there is very little air conditioning and most Greeks eat outside. If you are like me and need constant A.C., carry a table top fan! I’ll be sharing my brand and pictures in future reviews, but it saved my life again in Europe!
You will not get bored in Greece! From world class beaches to ancient history you will find something that catches your attention. We enjoyed our private tour the first day in Athens because it was us and one other mother/daughter that we knew and our driver took very good care of us. He gave us hints and tips for our entire stay and we learned so much just talking with him while driving in the Peloponnese region of Greece.
There are hundreds if not thousands of options for tours in your destination. I stuck with ones that gave us the most in the time we would be there. Now, this is a great idea, but you need to be physically ready for that and maybe not when it’s over 100 degrees! We kept up just fine, but we did take a sleep-in break one day on the cruise.
The cruise line has their excursions and I’ll be breaking those down in future articles, but I would recommend talking to your agent before just booking what the cruise line offers. We had no problems whatsoever, but there are many options and splurging here and there might mean a much more in depth experience just where you want it most.
Greece is all uphill! I swear it is!! There are many many stairs, hills and walks that just might be the one to cause you to re-think the next day’s activities. Our cruise line was great in that we were right in the port most days and could do our tour, then head out on our own. This isn’t always the case with American cruise lines because they have bigger ships and don’t stop in the smaller ports. Definitely stay tuned for more on that because I’m going to be giving you the pros and cons of both!
I’ve been to many amazing places. I always try to meet locals and talk with them about life and tourism and how we can be better tourists in their hometown. Greek people are very proud of their history. They are very proud of their heritage and want to share it with as many people as they can. It doesn’t feel like they do it for the money, they do it because they truly do want to share their culture with all who come.
We didn’t find a place where language was a problem. Sure, we had moments where the accent was thick and it was asking over and over, huh?! But in the end, we were able to communicate and felt completely safe with our new Greek friends. This includes in Athens and on the cruise. Sure, there are places in any city that are undesirable and Athens is no different. But, we stayed within the neighborhoods we were told were safe and never felt threatened in any way.
The stories! Greek people are natural storytellers. Everywhere we went, we heard fabulous stories of old and new. How a farmer handles their sheep or cows when they roam away from their farm. How children attend school and what they learn and do while there. We heard stories of love and romance from days gone by. We learned that George Clooney was on Mykonos when we were, we didn’t run into him, but didn’t try either. We saw where Jackie O’ loved to vacation when she visited Mykonos. So many stories! I can’t wait to tell you all about them all!!
Greece is fabulous. I cannot say enough how amazing the entire experience was. We cannot wait to go back. Our plan is 2023 and we are inviting our friends to go along with us. You really should see Greece and since we are planning so far out, deposit is low and payments can be applied. Now, that doesn’t mean if you want to go before then we can’t do that! We most certainly can!!
You can click HERE to get your Greek Cruise quote started! Don’t forget we can also book land only trips and can help you build the perfect itinerary. Each island has a different “taste” and knowing which ones you want to see is what we do. A cruise gives you an overall vision of the country and then we can plan your second trip back to visit specific spots more in depth!