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Thread: Greece & UK

  1. #1
    Forum Member haraya's Avatar
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    Greece & UK

    Hello! Seeking your wisdom, o Bihnions. We will be in Greece and the UK later this summer. We fly in and out of London, and have a house for a week near Athens, but the rest of the time (3.5 weeks total) is still somewhat unstructured. Looking for somewhat high-level suggestions...

    UK:

    Kids have expressed interest in seeing some of Scotland (probably just Edinburgh) in addition to London. Kids are 11 and 15. If we have ten days in the UK, how much time would you spend in London vs. Edinburgh or driving around? (We have friends in London, Canterbury, Cornwall but don't necessarily need to stop and see all of them.) I'm thinking 2-3 days in each city and maybe the balance spent driving north in a leisurely fashion. Does that sound right? Or skip the slow drive and maximize time in the cities?

    Greece:

    I'm thinking we fly to Athens, spend 2-3 days in the city, then a week at the house (on the mainland, about an hour from Athens), and possibly take a short ferry to an island? (House rental is already booked, meeting family there; rest of time is fluid.) I don't much like boats - is it worth it to take the ferry to Santorini or Mykonos? (I don't love crowds but with that said, a few years ago when we were in Italy we drove to Venice at the height of tourist season - spent just 19 hours there, but even with all the traffic and the hordes it was worth it to show the kids that magical city.). But would be open to alternatives that might be off the beaten path. We *have* been to the beach this summer already, so am thinking more marketplace/scenery/history rather than straight-up sun-and-sand time.

    Thanks for any thoughts!

  2. #2
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    UK: I loved driving through the countryside, but there's also something to be said for maximizing city time. I think that's up to you and how your family operates on a trip- I was with my parents for the countryside drive, but on my solo return trips I'm very much a "go-go-go" type. There is so much to do in London that I'd spend no less than 3 days there (at least), and since your kids want to see Scotland, maybe a few days in Edinburgh. Maybe do most of the countryside drives in Scotland so your kids stay interested? Not sure their ages so that might be moot. Train is another option- good way to see the countryside while still kind of maximizing city time.

    Greece: I feel bad giving this advice since you don't like boats, but I would 100% spend time on an island or two. I liked Santorini and Mykonos but I was there many years ago and wouldn't go back now- crowds have only gotten worse. I loved the small island of Patmos, so maybe look into that and see if it appeals. There is some history there too (I think a monastery of some sort), so that might be good if you want more than just a beach. Maybe google for a list of quieter Greek islands- you will not be disappointed no matter where you end up. That beautiful water will be just as nice on a small island than on Mykonos (maybe more, without crowds!). Enjoy!! I'd love to go back to Greece sometime- very envious of your amazing family trip!

  3. #3
    Forum Member RosemaryOrchard's Avatar
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    If you look now you can get advance train tickets which will be fairly cheap (or at least cheaper), from London to Edinburgh. Personally I'd do that over driving - there's only so many fields you can see from the motorway before you get bored!


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  4. #4
    Forum Member haraya's Avatar
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    Thank you runningtravels and RosemaryOrchard for the suggestions!

    I think that's up to you and how your family operates on a trip
    there's only so many fields you can see from the motorway
    True, though we've done both kinds of trips - leisurely and whirlwind so that doesn't necessarily narrow things down. It might come down to the cost of the train up to Scotland, vs. renting a car. Both DH and I have been to London so we aren't that worried about checking off the main attractions, plus the kids have a low tolerance for museums so we'll maybe get one or two in at most. Anyway, I love people-watching and eating in new places about as much as anything on a trip! And that we can do just about anywhere.

    island of Patmos
    quieter Greek islands- you will not be disappointed no matter where you end up
    Sounds great to me! Also the isle of Patmos makes me think of the Tintin books (St. John, the Eagle of Patmos, features in "Red Rackham's Treasure". )


    Enjoy!! I'd love to go back to Greece sometime- very envious of your amazing family trip!
    Thank you! We are celebrating a family member's milestone birthday so it's a special trip indeed!!

  5. #5
    Forum Member haraya's Avatar
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    Additional question: has anyone used an AirBnB/VRBO-type accommodation in Athens?

  6. #6
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    @haraya wow what a fun trip!

    Trains can be very expensive here, and if you've got a wide-open itinerary, your options will be somewhat limited. Expect to pay £200+ for the train from London to Scotland.

    I don't drive and so I take the train all over, however, having a car will afford you stops in beautiful places like the Peak District (hilly countryside between Sheffield and Manchester) and then once you're in Scotland you can noodle around and visit some out of the way places.

    What sort of things do you like to do as a family? What sort of things do you have where you live (and therefore don't need on holiday)? For example: if you live near somewhere like Fort Lauderdale, Cape Cod, or Seattle, I'm never going to tell you to visit a cold, windy, rocky British beach, but if you are from a landlocked place then I might suggest a little seaside detour.

    Are you interested in countryside or would you prefer cities?

    Re: Scotland, both Edinburgh and Glasgow have lots to offer, I am going to come back later on this one.

  7. #7
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    I spent four weeks in the Greek Islands in 2002, so my knowledge might be old.

    You definitely want to spend some time on a Greek Island. My question then is, how short is this short ferry ride? Even a day trip to Hydra may be an hour each way by ferry. Piraeus to Santorini can be 4.5 to 7.5 hours one-way. Flights do become a better option if you want to get somewhere like Crete or Rhodes, or you can save a night of hotel and do an overnight ferry.

    The other consideration is when you want to go. July and August are peak season with people everywhere and prices to match. Past October 1 it gets progressively tougher because everything starts to close up for the winter.

    Assuming you want a ~1/2 day trip one-way via ferry youíre going to be either in the islands close to Athens, or somewhere in the Cyclades. Santorini really is a canít-miss but it will be crowded. Mykonos was the expensive luxury island even when I was there. Ios was the party-all-night island and travel guides warned not to go there unless you wanted to drink a huge chunk of your vacation away.

    If a smaller, calmer island is what you want, consider Naxos and Paros. Naxos is a large island but pretty green from what I remember. I met a few people that said Paros wasnít too crazy either. I would definitely recommend a look at the budget with a map to see whatís possible for your itinerary; boats can be really slow unless you spend for the fast catamarans.

    Hope this helps, at least for the Greece trip.

  8. #8
    Forum Member haraya's Avatar
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    Thank you for the suggestions!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Cristina View Post
    having a car will afford you stops in beautiful places like the Peak District (hilly countryside between Sheffield and Manchester) and then once you're in Scotland you can noodle around and visit some out of the way places.
    We still haven't hammered out if we're flying or driving to Scotland. #indecisive I love the idea of some spur-of-the-moment adventuring, though!

    What sort of things do you like to do as a family? What sort of things do you have where you live (and therefore don't need on holiday)? For example: if you live near somewhere like Fort Lauderdale, Cape Cod, or Seattle, I'm never going to tell you to visit a cold, windy, rocky British beach, but if you are from a landlocked place then I might suggest a little seaside detour.

    Are you interested in countryside or would you prefer cities?
    Great angle! We live in a city, and are not super-outdoorsy, though we're happy to walk around as part of sightseeing. We've been to the beach already this summer and will of course have some time by the pool when we are in Greece, so I don't have a strong need to see the British beaches, except that it would be fun to see the Jurassic coast (we loved Broadchurch, haha). Our 15yo has expressed interest in studying abroad so we would be willing to drive to/through a campus or two. Kids would probably enjoy a bit of history and outdoor exploring - e.g. a castle, a scenic overlook. I love shops and markets (bookstores, local artisans), some local food, a bit of people-watching, city strolls. I think I can probably convince everyone to do at least one museum-type experience in each location.

    Re: Scotland, both Edinburgh and Glasgow have lots to offer, I am going to come back later on this one.
    Super - I'm all ears! (well, eyes in this case I guess )
    Last edited by haraya; 07-11-2019 at 07:24 AM.

  9. #9
    Forum Member haraya's Avatar
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    Thank you for taking the time to share!

    Quote Originally Posted by allanorn View Post
    I spent four weeks in the Greek Islands in 2002, so my knowledge might be old.

    You definitely want to spend some time on a Greek Island. My question then is, how short is this short ferry ride? Even a day trip to Hydra may be an hour each way by ferry. Piraeus to Santorini can be 4.5 to 7.5 hours one-way. Flights do become a better option if you want to get somewhere like Crete or Rhodes, or you can save a night of hotel and do an overnight ferry.

    The other consideration is when you want to go. July and August are peak season with people everywhere and prices to match. Past October 1 it gets progressively tougher because everything starts to close up for the winter.
    We don't have a lot of flexibility with the dates, as we are meeting extended family for a week in August (house already booked, not by us). But, we won't let the perfect get in the way of the good! I get the sense that Santorini needs 2-3 days, not counting travel days. Am trying to figure out if very close-in islands like the Saronic isles (say, Spetses or Poros) will really give that "island" experience. It might just be that we will have the mainland experience this time around, and come back another time for the islands. Is that crazy?

    Assuming you want a ~1/2 day trip one-way via ferry you’re going to be either in the islands close to Athens, or somewhere in the Cyclades. Santorini really is a can’t-miss but it will be crowded. Mykonos was the expensive luxury island even when I was there. Ios was the party-all-night island and travel guides warned not to go there unless you wanted to drink a huge chunk of your vacation away.

    If a smaller, calmer island is what you want, consider Naxos and Paros. Naxos is a large island but pretty green from what I remember. I met a few people that said Paros wasn’t too crazy either. I would definitely recommend a look at the budget with a map to see what’s possible for your itinerary; boats can be really slow unless you spend for the fast catamarans.

    Hope this helps, at least for the Greece trip.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by haraya View Post
    Thank you for taking the time to share!



    We don't have a lot of flexibility with the dates, as we are meeting extended family for a week in August (house already booked, not by us). But, we won't let the perfect get in the way of the good! I get the sense that Santorini needs 2-3 days, not counting travel days. Am trying to figure out if very close-in islands like the Saronic isles (say, Spetses or Poros) will really give that "island" experience. It might just be that we will have the mainland experience this time around, and come back another time for the islands. Is that crazy?
    Itís not crazy, but even the Saronic Islands are islands! I just donít have the experience of them.

    One thought for the UK: how about the Caledonian sleeper to/from Edinburgh, which is an overnight train? It might save a hotel night.

  11. #11
    Forum Member haraya's Avatar
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    Follow-up question: how important is it to bring adapters/converters? None of us use hair dryers.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by haraya View Post
    Follow-up question: how important is it to bring adapters/converters? None of us use hair dryers.
    For small electronics (camera, phone, etc.), just an adapter is fine- most electronics work up to the European voltage of 240 (just double check on anything that's a "must"). Anything more, and you probably need a converter.

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    Greetings from London.... Of course there is an amazing amount to see in London and the surrounding areas. Canterbury is an easy day trip. Cornwall is a 5- 6 hour drive and in the opposite direction to Scotland.

    Edinburgh is interesting but the key to Scotland is the Highlands. Fortunately, while enjoying the scenery, there are castles everywhere to visit.

    If you want to base in Edinburgh or Glasgow and don't want to drive, you can take the train or day trips. I have taken day trips with Rabbies and they are very good.

    Remember, the plug adapters in the UK are different than the ones in Greece.

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  14. #14
    Forum Member haraya's Avatar
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    Thank you!! Yes, I think we will likely skip Cornwall (alas for the Jurassic Coast) on this trip, unless everyone gets Stendhalismo and we flee the city. I also secretly want to stop in Oxford and see the pub where Tolkien and the Inklings gathered.... is it realistic to think we'd be able to stop there, have lunch, and then continue driving towards Scotland? What is traffic like on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Friday? (we have considered driving one way and flying the other way)

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank II View Post
    Greetings from London.... Of course there is an amazing amount to see in London and the surrounding areas. Canterbury is an easy day trip. Cornwall is a 5- 6 hour drive and in the opposite direction to Scotland.

    Edinburgh is interesting but the key to Scotland is the Highlands. Fortunately, while enjoying the scenery, there are castles everywhere to visit.

    If you want to base in Edinburgh or Glasgow and don't want to drive, you can take the train or day trips. I have taken day trips with Rabbies and they are very good.
    I think we will only spend 3-4 days in Edinburgh so that seems like all city exploring, but if you were to add one day trip, what would you suggest?

  15. #15
    Forum Member haraya's Avatar
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    Thanks, good thought! Looked it up and it's quite expensive...maybe because we are booking last-minute? But what a great way to travel!

    Quote Originally Posted by allanorn View Post
    It’s not crazy, but even the Saronic Islands are islands! I just don’t have the experience of them.

    One thought for the UK: how about the Caledonian sleeper to/from Edinburgh, which is an overnight train? It might save a hotel night.

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