Time to Share My Plans Again
With just less than a month to go before I head out to Greece for another extended trip, I thought it was about time to start a new series and set out my itinerary – or what I’ve planned so far anyway.
This Time I’m Actually Working (ish)
Before I go into details on the trip itself, I should say that I’m actually going to be working during my time in Greece this year. Not full-time, thankfully, but I’ll need to set aside a couple of hours each day during the week to allow my online IT work to continue. I’m hoping it will mostly subsidize my trip providing I manage to live on a similar budget to last year.
This had a slight impact on my plans in a couple of ways:
- I’m going to try and move islands at the weekend when I’m not working so that I’m available Monday-Friday if called upon by my clients to perform any urgent tasks.
- Partly due to the above, but also for budget reasons, I’m going to try and stay longer on most islands as ferry prices seem quite a bit higher this year and do add up when you’re regularly on the move.
Anyway, enough about work, let’s talk about the trip!
I’m Finally Visiting Mainland Greece!
Due to a happy coincidence in timings, I’m flying out to Greece on Sunday 19th June just one day after my good friend and regular Greece travel companion, Ed. He’d made plans to explore some of the Peloponnese regions of mainland Greece and when I told him I might be able to tag along, we decided to draft an itinerary together. Ed is only there for one week, but this is what we’re planning to fit in:
- I arrive Sunday 19th early afternoon, flying into Kalamata. Ed is picking up a hire car when he arrives the day before and will be collecting me from the airport and taking us to Hotel Fotini on the eastern edge of Kalamata. The hotel has a nice pool so we’ll probably chill out for a bit, then maybe explore Kalamata before heading out to dinner and no doubt a few drinks!
- The next morning we depart eastwards to Mystras, about 1 hour 15 minutes by car, where we’ve booked two nights at the Mystras Inn. We’ll have the day to explore Mystras and nearby Sparti.
- Ed’s rather ambitious plan for Tuesday 21st is climbing Mount Taygetus! Apparently, we can drive and park at a place called Manganiari Spring and from there it’s ‘only’ about 1500m of climbing to reach the summit… wish me luck!
- Assuming we survive yesterday’s hike, Wednesday sees us departing Mystras on a long-ish drive to the southeast coast to a place called Monemvasia. We’re only staying one night and not even at the same hotel (Ed managed to steal the last room at the hotel I’d shortlisted for us, so I had to book a slightly more expensive – but admittedly nicer looking – hotel down the road). We’ll spend the day exploring Monemvasia which is meant to be a lovely destination.
- Thursday 23rd, we leave Monemvasia on a slightly shorter drive further south to the island of Elafonisos. This requires a short ferry crossing, from which we’ll head to our hotel, Kontogoni Rooms. The day will be spent exploring the island on foot and hopefully catching some sun at a beach or two.
- Friday is our last full day. We’ll leave Elafonisos late morning and make the long drive back to Kalamata (nearly 4 hours), probably stopping along the way for lunch and some sightseeing. This time we’re staying at a different hotel closer to the centre of town – Hotel Haikos – for some last night drinks.
- Ed’s flight back to the UK departs at 13:10, so he’ll be heading off to the airport mid-late morning. Once we’ve said our goodbyes, I’m planning to catch the 10:30 bus from Kalamata to Athens to continue my journey (more on this below).
It’s a pretty busy itinerary but I’m quite excited about it as I’ve never spent time on the mainland before so it’s a few destinations ticked off the bucket list!
Next Stop: Paros
Talking of bucket list destinations, I decided it was about time I revisited Paros. Having spent just two nights there back in 2017, I didn’t really explore the island at all. Last year, I made the mistake of returning to Naxos when, in hindsight, I should’ve gone to Paros instead. Well, this is my chance to fix that mistake.
After leaving Ed to catch his flight home from Kalamata, my bus to Athens should get me into the capital at around 13:30. With a bit of detective work, I figured out that I’ll be arriving at the KTEL Kifisou station and from there I’ll either take a local bus, taxi or probably an Uber to Piraeus.
Blue Star Patmos departs Piraeus at 17:30, giving me (hopefully) ample time to make it down to the port and purchase my ticket for Paros. The crossing takes just over 4 hours, so it’s quite a long ride but I quite enjoy Greek ferries and as it’s a large ferry I’ll be able to sit out on the deck and relax.
More Company for Me
Far from being on my own on Paros, I actually have another friend visiting me for a week. She’s arriving by plane the day before and we’re both staying at the same place – Oasis Hotel – right opposite the port. When my ferry arrives, hopefully, she’ll be there to meet me and we’ll catch up for a drink or two once I’ve checked into my room.
The next day (Sunday) we’ll probably do lots of sightseeing, perhaps visiting Antiparos, as it’s the only day she’ll be there that I won’t have to work at all. For the remainder of the week, we’ll do some sightseeing but also just relax at the beach, swim and eat lots of nice food.
My friend flies back home (via an internal flight to Athens) the following Saturday, 2nd July. I decided to stay in Paros another week, so I’ll be there until the 9th of July. During that week, I’m hoping to find a local gym to keep up my fitness routine, as well as a bit more sightseeing and just generally enjoying the summer lifestyle in Greece.
A New Island: Astypalea
Despite finding myself, once again, in the Cyclades, I was keen to explore some new islands. I wanted to see Donoussa, Schinoussa and Iraklia, but reluctantly decided that this wasn’t the time to do it. I’m meeting another friend on Kos later in July, so instead, I wanted to find an island I could reach from Paros that would allow me to get to Kos. Astypalea proved to be the best option and also ticked another new Greek island off my list!
I’m staying 4 nights at the Viva Mare Studios, just south of Astypalea town where the main port is located. I’m expecting it to be fairly quiet, though not as much as Sikinos last year, as I know it’s popular with Greeks for their holidays and the fact it has an airport means it’s more accessible to tourists.
I haven’t planned much of an itinerary yet, so watch this space for further updates during the trip!
If you’ve read any of my posts from the 2021 trip, you’ll know I ended up spending over three weeks on Kos rather unexpectedly. I loved it, though, and was quite happy to find an excuse to go back again this year. Another friend wanted to come and visit me (I must be popular…!) and flights to Kos turned out to be the cheapest and most practical for her to book. What a shame, I thought, I’ll have to go back!
To make sure I’m there to meet her off the plane, I’m arriving in Kos on Wednesday 13th July even though she doesn’t get there until the following Sunday. I’ve allowed these few days in case of any ferry cancellations to give me some contingency plans.
Once again, I’ll be staying in Kos Town. Firstly at the Astron Hotel which has a great location right on the harbour front. I’m then moving to my favourite Hotel Sonia when my friend arrives for a week, before returning to Astron for my final 5 nights on the island. If this sounds like a faff, I would’ve stayed at Sonia the entire time but it was a little more expensive and I’m trying to stick to a more strict budget this year, plus the Astron has its own pool which I figured would be nice for while I’m on my own – somewhere to cool off after a hard day’s work!! (Yes, that’s a joke, two hours of work definitely isn’t hard!)
Next Stop: Amorgos
Moving on from Kos, I did have some options on where to travel next. Heading south wasn’t likely as I visited Rhodes and Karpathos last year. North was more of a possibility as I’ve not spent any time on islands in that direction (Kalimnos, Leros, Samos etc). Ultimately, though, I felt the call of the Cyclades beckoning me back, and I knew from last year that I could catch the Blue Star 2 Saturday ferry from Kos to Amorgos.
Much like last year, I’m only going to stay one night on Amorgos. Not because I don’t like it, but because I’ve seen most of the sights already and it’s become quite an expensive island to stay on in the summer months due to its popularity and somewhat limited accommodation.
Ios: My Spiritual Home?
So, where next after Amorgos? Imagine my surprise when I was looking at onward ferry routes and spotted the little Express Skopelitis winding its way towards… Ios! Okay, you’ve convinced me I should probably pay it another visit.
I first stayed on Ios back in 2017 on my first island-hopping trip. I’d only booked two nights not knowing what to expect and being slightly scared of its ‘party island’ reputation (which I didn’t find out until after I’d booked, honest). I had a great time, though, and as a result, I returned in 2021 for 6 nights so I could really explore the island. This cemented its status as a fantastic destination and made it hard to resist going back again.
On my previous two visits, I’ve stayed in the main beach resort of Mylopotas, but towards the back of the resort up quite a steep hill. This time I’ve booked an entire week to stay at the Deep Blue Rooms & Apartments right on the beach. The accommodation gets excellent reviews and I’m super excited about it!
Next Stop: Crete…
My time on Ios is at the beginning of August, in other words, the peak holiday season in Greece. Due to a lot of pent-up demand from Covid travel restrictions, 2022 is looking extremely popular for tourism in Greece – great for their economy, not so great for finding cheap places to stay!
I’ve spent quite a lot of time looking at onward destinations for after Ios, but most if not all Cycladic islands are coming up very expensive and with limited availability. This gave me the idea (or lack of alternatives, shall we say) of catching a ferry south all the way to Crete. Though I’ve visited Crete many times before, its large size means no shortage of accommodation and more reasonable prices.
At the time of writing this, I haven’t booked any accommodation and I can’t decide whether I will pre-book anything until much closer to my arrival time. Once again, watch this space for further updates.
The Final Leg
Despite not having finalised my itinerary for August, I do know what the last leg of my trip looks like: I’m meeting the same Kos friend again in September. She arrives at Athens airport on Tuesday 6th, so I’m meeting her there and we’ll be catching a ferry from Piraeus to… Sifnos! Yes, where else could I finish my 2022 Greece summer but my favourite island.
Due to ferry timings, we’re staying overnight in Piraeus and catching an early boat on Wednesday 7th. My parents are also returning to Sifnos and arriving the following day, so it’ll be a great end to the trip. We then fly back to England on Monday the 12th.