A little put off by the smell of cigarettes inside Athens airport (and everywhere else in Greece), but we were excited to start exploring the city. It's our first time in Greece and being an explore traveler, I wanted to see as many places as possible. However, it's a completely different ball game when you're traveling with a three year old toddler. Up to this point, we haven't really been much of those who would stay in one place or let our feet rest while on vacation. Thanks to the little one, we were able to slowly take in the street culture especially the open-air and sidewalk cafes and savor every kebab and youvetski that Greece offers. We wanted the little prince to enjoy and be as comfortable as possible.
With Kai coming along on our travels, we have become much more sufficient as travelers. We plan better, we pack lighter, and we travel wiser. In Greece, you automatically belong to the priority group when you're pushing around a stroller.
1. Best to travel in September after Labor Day.
2. We booked our trip 3 months in advance. Plan it out as early as you can. We were also hedging dollars against Euros and took advantage of the foreign exchange rate when it was $1.10 per Euro. By the time we traveled, it was about $1.20. We booked our flight to Santorini and ferries between Naxos and Santorini islands ahead of time. We also booked our tour to Kalambaka in advance. However I don't recommend signing up for any tours because moving around on your own in Greece is fairly easy even with a toddler.
3. I used Booking to book all of our accommodations. We have been getting great experiences with renting an apartment instead of a hotel room. We did Maui over a decade ago (before I started blogging) and Playa Del Carmen, Mexico recently this way and were pleased with both occasions. We tried the same concept in Greece and it was even better. We were able to get beautiful clean spacious apartments with free parking in Santorini and Naxos. We also had access to a washer/dryer and a full equipped kitchen everywhere in Greece. This is icing on the cake when you are traveling with small children. This is also one way to get a peek into the local way of life and avoid the tourist areas.
4. While in Athens, we used taxis mostly because it's quick and convenient. Minimum fare is 3 euros per trip and it's metered. We tend to splurge on transportation just because we don't have much time and patience to take public transportation. I heard Hop On Hop Off is a great way to get the highlights of Athens. Rent a car if you want to visit the Meteora in Kalambaka. Uber is also available in Athens.
5. There are soooo many restaurants and small cafes that offer everything from authentic lamb stew to cheeseburgers in Greece. But believe it or not, searching for one that has American grilled cheese or mac'n'cheese or chicken tenders was like searching for a needle in a haystack. There is a McDonald in Syntagma Square but "basic" kids food in normal restaurants only consists of spaghetti and meatballs.
6. For more Americanized types of food, go to Plaka or Syntagma. For authentic Greek, head to Monastikari Square.
7. Carseats aren't required in Greece but do bring along the stroller.
8. Make sure your phone is unlocked for international usage and get a sim card. The basic data plan is 3G for 15 Euros. Wifi is normally free and works fantastically at our apartments.
9. Don't forget to pack a couple of power converters and adapters or get one that does both and multiple devices simultaneously.
10. Pack extra memory cards and batteries for your camera.
11. Keep in mind that kid friendly doesn't always mean the same in different countries. Chain smoking in Greece is still fairly common (almost 40% people over the age of 15 smoke!).
12. If you plan to drive in Greece, do apply for an international drivers license. Some rental car companies require that you have one.
13. You have gotta try the grilled fish and the grilled octopus!
Until next time,
Bonus: Our itinerary
Fly to Santorini
3 nights in Santorini: visit Black Sandy Beach, Perissa beach, Kamari beach, Fira town, Firastefani town, Oia town, Ammoudi Bay.
Ferry to Naxos
Ferry to Athens
1 night in Athens
1 night, 2-day tour to Kalambaka to see the Meteora
1 night in Athens: visit Syntagma Square