Planning for my next adventure – how do I prep for two weeks in Greece?
Researching for a holiday is such fun, I start to get excited about the joy to come – the great places I’m going to see and food I’m going to eat. A bit of pre planning means I won’t miss out on any of the must-see sites or the lesser known treats off the tourist map.
Get the planning right and you can put your feet up once you’re on your hols.
I start with plotting where we want to go based on what we like to do. Greece is about relaxing, soaking up some sun (not between 11am and 3pm, I’m a pale English lady), taking in some of the atmosphere of the place and enjoying the best of the food and drink on offer. We’ll want to do some hiking and take in some ancient sites. We don’t want to spend too long in the car so will look for bases just far enough apart to allow for a different experience and view.
There are lots of beautiful island groupings, each with their own vibe. We love the Cyclades for their laid back vibe and charming little towns with mazes of alleyways, but this time we are off to the Ionian Islands for a different perspective. This means we can take in Athens and soon be out of the city and in the beautiful countryside and stunning coastline.
So, having decided it’s the Ionians for us, with Athens as the start and end point, we need to look for beautiful spots within a reasonable drive time. Research has led us to Lefkada with its traditional villages and beautiful beaches around 4 hours from Athens. And just a stones throw from there opens up Epirus, a region which has some stunning scenery and opportunities for hiking in the deepest gorge in the world – okay, now we’re getting somewhere.
Before we get too carried away, we need to know there are lovely places to stay in our chosen locations, so I’ll research the local area for Airbnb options, B&B’s and small hotels offering a little luxury and a good breakfast! We’re very happy with a mixture as we’re staying in three different locations. We’d love a pool but not keen to share it with loads of other people, very happy with a lovely Airbnb villa where we can come and go and enjoy the outdoor space, but we like to have it to ourselves, so we know it’ll be nice and quiet. We like to be near a nice beach with a nice taverna and a little town where we can get some water and wine and stop in on the way home from the beach for a beer and a people watch.
So, having researched lots of possible options, we’ve got a cool, 20 room boutique hotel in Athens, right in the centre of things as we’ve got lots to see in a short time and I really like a bit of buzz when in a city. We’ve gone for a small four apartment spot with a lovely pool and great views and an Airbnb house on a hill above a beach and lovely outdoor space where we can just hang out in peace. I’ve checked their reviews, locations, number of rooms, drive times, amenities and access to beaches and towns so feel confident in my choices.
Review sites are a mixed blessing, aren’t they? 10 ten best hotels in Athens – by whose criteria? I don’t want a big resort hotel with hundreds of rooms and 5 restaurants, even if it’s top of the review sites. My requirements aren’t the same as other peoples, any more than yours are – I want a little peace, a limited number of rooms, something with a distinct feel and vibe that is cooler than a chain hotel, preferably reflecting the location, I want to know I’m in Athens, not feel like I could be anywhere. And I’m going to eat out every night by choice, unless the hotel restaurant is billed as really spectacular – but I want a lovely breakfast. Not much to ask, is it!
You need to navigate these sites and pick your way through other user’s comments to ensure you pick up on the nuances that are often unsaid and make as informed a choice as possible. The number one restaurant on Trip Advisor is just as likely to be a pizza place or a bakery as it is a fine dining experience, depending on other people’s requirements and budgets. So, it’s time and research that sorts the wheat from the chaff, the splendid from the ordinary.
Okay, I’m happy with my accommodation so I know my search area for sites, restaurants, things to do and the magic dust – roof top bars with great views of the acropolis by night, cool music spots where the locals hang out, local markets with traditional delights – the particularly Greek fun that’s going to make this holiday memorable. For these elements, as with accommodation, it takes work to sort the great spots from the tourist traps. More research required.
Be sure to see the post when I get back from this adventure and hear if all that planning paid off.
I’ve created some planning checklists to help you plan your holiday and capture all the great finds in a format you can take with you and refer to when you’re looking for tonight’s dinner or tomorrows archaeological site.
If this doesn’t sound like fun to you, why not let me help you form the ideal holiday plan for your next trip. Whether its advice on a destination to fulfil all your holiday requirements, a full itinerary or a little ‘magic dust’, get in touch for some travelling plan assistance.