Getting overseas takes time and invariably, something can delay you getting there. Why gamble an expensive cruise by flying in the same day? Instead of doing an airport hotel or something uninteresting, why not add a city or two on the front end of your trip?
This is exactly what we did before a Crystal Cruise from Athens to Lisbon last summer. We had always wanted to try out a few Greek Islands, so we decided to spend a day each in Mykonos and Santorini, then make our way to Athens for a day before the cruise. We flew into Athens, then on to Mykonos.
After spending a day traveling I was happy we picked a comfortable hotel to wind down for the day. We spent the day relaxing at the pool and recharging our batteries. That evening, we made our way into the port area, had a wonderful dinner at one of the seaside restaurants, and spent some time shopping afterwards at what was a deceptively large shopping district directly behind the restaurants. We walked along several long streets of shop after shop of quaint interesting businesses.
This set us up for the next day trip to Santorini which I thought was truly amazing. Most every picture you see taken high up in a city tucked in the mountain overlooking the sea is usually Santorini, one of the most spectacular landscapes in Greece and in the world. The traditional villages of the island, built on tall cliffs, offer a breathtaking view over the submerged volcano. You will discover the famous submerged caldera, the volcano crater, which is situated today in the middle of a 32 square mile basin of water.
We picked a centrally located hotel set into the cliffs high above the sea. Get used to climbing a whole lot of steps to get to your hotel. It’s worth it. The view is amazing and breathtaking. I have some of the most spectacular sunset photos I have ever taken anywhere. If you have a complete day and are adventurous, rent a car. It will take a complete day to go from one end to the other stopping at some terrific locations. Ruins, vineyards, shopping, restaurants with incredible views, this island's got it all.
I hated to leave Santorini and know I'll be back some day. There are a few more islands there to see. After getting back to Athens, we had enough time to walk through the Plaka shopping district on our way to the Acropolis. Be prepared to spend the entire day walking, it's a decent hike getting there and on to the Acropolis.
That evening, we were treated to a pre cruise cocktail party at the Royal Penthouse Suite of the King George Palace. Wow! The view of the Parthenon lit up at night was spectacular from the open air top deck pool area outside the suite at the top of the hotel. We had enough time to get to the hotel earlier in the day, and went to the Acropolis to spend the day looking at the ruins and the Parthenon.
This pre-cruise trip was the perfect addition to a wonderful cruise on Crystal Cruises. If you have the time, why not take advantage of getting there a little early and enjoy a couple of days exploring the area. If we had just flown into Athens, it's highly unlikely we would have had the time to see the Acropolis.
I've always wanted to see some of the Greek Islands; this was the perfect way to add on to the trip when you're already there!
About the Authors
Sue and Charlie Shimkus are owners of Lake Zurich Travel & Cruise established in 1974.Sue has served on the travel advisory board for Alaska, Hawaii, & Ireland and executive board of the local chapter American Society of Travel Agents. Lake Zurich Travel & Cruise is a member of the Signature Travel Network. Visit Lake Zurich Travel for Expert Travel Advice and resources finding the Right Vacation for you!
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