Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, March 2, 2019

MVNews this week:  Page A:8



Mountain Views-News Saturday, March 2, 2019 

TABLE FOR TWO by Peter Dills


Thomas Wolfe wrote a book titled ‘You Can’t Go 
Home Again’ but throughout the years there have been 
different variations of that familiar title. Ah but this man 
lived in an era that didn’t include airbuses now did he? 
It has been some 40 years that I departed Greek Soil. I 
recently returned to Greece and am excited to share my 
experience with you. If it is history that you seek, there 
is plenty of that to enjoy, if you are looking for relaxation 
then this is your spot, how about superior cuisine? I will 
attest that the worst meal of the trip wasn’t really all that 
bad. Yes, Greece has something for everyone.

Getting There: It’s a long flight, with choices of airlines 
and layovers in Toronto, Washington and New York. We 
traveled on Air Canada and had a layover in Toronto. As 
a beer drinker, a few Molson’s at the airport restaurant 
helped make the time go by fast. One warning though, 
if you are using dollars they will give you back Canadian 
currency, so my suggestion is to use your credit card. 
Unless you want to have a couple of dollars as a 
keepsake. Once you make it to Athens, you’ll have the 
choice of a taxi, renting a car, or if you are on a tour like 
we were then someone will greet you at the terminal. 
My suggestion is that if this is your first trip a taxi or 
hotel shuttle would be prudent. However, if you are on 
the islands, renting a car is safe and easy.

Where to stay: In Athens there is a list of five star, four 
star and three star hotels. We stayed at the Metropolitan 
just outside of Athens, and while the hotel was clean 
and a great view of the port, I wouldn’t say it was five 
star. But I liked that it had a view and was away from 
downtown Athens that is congested and a bit dirty with 
graffiti and scooters everywhere. Once in Santorini and 
Mykonos, the accommodations are very nice, in fact 
while our hotel in Santorini El Greco, wasn’t on the 
beach it reminded me of staying in a storybook village: 
very upscale and with four different pools. In Mykonos 
there are many small/boutique hotels very close to the 
beach, while our accommodations were close to being 
cramped, I will call it cozy. 

To tour or not: If you have traveled to Athens or any 
other surrounding Islands before, I don’t see any need 
to sign up for a tour. We did and I am glad we did, but 
it was the consensus of our group that if any of us were 
to return, that you could easily do it on your own. We 
agreed that once if you have seen the ruins and the 
stadium, that none of us would spend much time in 

Getting Around: Big difference in getting around in 
Athens and getting around in Greece. First of all it’s 
much hotter in Athens then it is in the islands, and as 
I mention in when to go July and August have is severe 
heat. My mother to this day reminds me of the 100+ 
day in July when I was born on a US Army base. The 
buses in Athens are usually filled with locals and would 
opt for taking a taxi or even the tram. On the Islands I 
do recommend the buses, many of them are new, air-
conditioned and dependable, a bus ride is about $1.40 
euro. On the islands you can rent a scooter by the day, 
it looks fun, but I was warned that many a kid has seen 
the hospital by crashing into the wall on a narrow road. 
Getting from island to island is done by Ferry, a boat 
that costs about $45 euro. There are airplanes that do 
fly from the Athens Airport to Santorini/Mykonos, and 
when I return I will take advantage of them, but for your 
first visit it adds to the fun of the trip. Bring a book or a 
crossword puzzle. If you aren’t on a guided tour tickets 
can easily be purchased at the port.

When to go: Athens is hot, I mean temperature hot, 
in fact many workers and vendors take off August to 
visit friends and families elsewhere. If you are there 
to relax and get a tan, then by all means July would be 
OK, however just visiting the Acropolis in June we were 
overheated and water was our best friend, I couldn’t 
imagine a July tour of Athens. My suggestion is early 
June or late September.

Dollar v. Euro: Those looking for bargains, we found that 
even though Greece is in a financial crisis, they haven’t 
put out the distress flag yet, when shopping you can 
always ask for the best price. I was warned that dinners 
can easily run $60 euro, while I did see that price tag, 
it was very few and in between. I did notice that the 
restaurants closest to the water were pricier. A tip is to 
go to supermarkets, not the markets and buy beer, water 
and fruit and have it in your hotel refrigerator. The fruit 
there is some of the best I’ve had. The beer and sodas at 
the hotel can be twice or three times as much as getting 
them at the market or a Kiosk.

Dining in Greece: 
Originally I was going 
to give a few reviews 
of the restaurants that 
I visited, and after 
collecting business 
cards of places that 
I dined, I came up 
with this conclusion, 
where ever you go, you 
really can’t go wrong. 
You want affordable 
dining? They have 
it. Want to dine on 
or near the beach? 
Yes, fish and chicken 
are the most popular 
items that we came 
across both in Athens 
and in Santorini and 
Mykonos. The items on the menus at each restaurant 
are very similar. You won’t find too many steaks or 
burgers, yes, they are available but there are no beef 
cattle being raised in Greece. We enjoyed the Greek 
Salad and the Rocket Salad pretty much with every 
meal. You’ll find that the Greek Salad has no lettuce, 
and is made up of cucumbers, olives, tomatoes and Feta 
Cheese. Something I found odd, the extra charges on 
the bill, first when they ask if you want bread, we always 
say yes, there is an additional charge of 2 to 3 euro. Plus 
sit down restaurants have a cover charge, no not the 
night club admission, this is a sitting charge, this charge 
gives you the privilege of sitting at your table for as long 
as you want, I think this was initiated more for the locals 
that like to sit for hours and conversing over cigarettes 
and espresso. Note.. everyone smokes, even while they 
are working. One spot that did stand out in Athens, near 
our hotel was Restaurant Kalypso. The food was above 
average and the waiter even assisted us with our Greek 
language lessons. We returned there while waiting for 
our flight home.

Tipping: This isn’t as big of a deal that it is in the states. 
Workers are working for what is called a “living wage”, 
don’t ask me to explain a living wage, I am restaurant 
reviewer not workers rights lawyer, however you won’t 
get the typical service that you’d expect from the waiters, 
it’s not bad, it’s “are you ready to order” your food is 
brought and you might not see your server again, at 
least until you flag them down/ and I did a lot of flagging 
down. My suggestion is 10 to 12 % tip. Taxi Cab drivers 
same thing, a couple of euro are sufficient. As with any 
trip leaving the chambermaid and if you are on a tour, a 
tip is suggested.

Sightseeing: The first day is full of sight seeing, visit 
the Acropolis, Zeus Statue, Temple of Poseidon, and 
the Stadium, an afternoon at the beach in Athens is 
also a pleasant way to end your day in Athens, a day in 
Athens? Yes, ! I found Athens to be hot, congested and 
plain dirty. If you want to see the ruins, I took a boat 
trip to the Island of Delos. There is a small admission 
charge once you get there, but you will get a sense of 
the history of Greece. One of the highlights of the trip 
was our seven-mile hike on The Santorini; we started at 
Fira and ended our walk in OIA, beautiful walk looking 
the cliffs and sights of the Volcano’s and the Aegean Sea. 
Two other musts while we are on Mykonos we took a 
small boat along the shore and you have your choice 
of five beaches, a beach for everyone, a party beach, 
a topless beach, we opted for Elia, plenty of sand and 
chairs to enjoy a relaxing day sun bathing. Santoroni 
has been voted top ten sunsets in the entire world. We 
took the Sunset Cruise that was quite relaxing and is a 
must; another bonus is the boat stop briefly at one of the 
volcanic hot springs, hot? No, but quite warm. 

Is Greece Safe? : Yes!! On our first day on our vacation 
we stayed just a few miles from downtown, it wasn’t till 
we went to downtown did we see any police presence, 

you are more likely to be hit by a scooter then witness 
any crime that goes for the Islands of Santorini and 
Mykonos as well.. In fact on the Islands we noticed no 
police at all, I mean none. I was surprised by the text 
messages and facebook postings asking me if I was OK? 
Just like Los Angeles, some areas are better then others, 
if you are looking for a demonstration I am sure if you 
wait long enough you can find one.

Opal!!! Pack your bags save your money and head to the 
Islands of Greece. The locals are waiting for you with 
open arms and a glass of Ouzo.

Listen every Sunday Morning on GO Country 105 to 
me radio show at 8 AM

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