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GREECE

 

INTRODUCTIONgreece map2
A country with a thousand postcard images, Greece is one of beauty, history and culture. No matter how many times you’ve been to Greece, there is always something new to discover in the country which is in a constant journey of improvement while paying homage to the past. Visit the jewel of the Hellenic Empire, the Parthenon perched atop the mighty Acropolis, one of the world’s most recognisable symbols. Sample the fabulous variety of foods on offer in a typical taverna, plan some sightseeing to some of the most unbelievable sights in Europe or dance the night away in one of Mykonos’ famed nightclubs. Whatever experience is preferred, Greece will always deliver an unforgettable one!


POPULATION

Greece’s population was estimated to be almost 11 million in 2009.


TIME ZONE

Greece is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and daylight saving is during European Summer. Athens is 7 hours ahead of EST.


OFFICIAL LANGUAGE

Greek is the official language, but English is becoming more widely spoken, especially in the main cities and towns by the younger generations.


CURRENCY

The currency of Greece is the Euro (EU). Travellers cheques in Euros, Canadian, Australian and US Dollars are all accepted and Visa, MasterCard, Diners and American Express are all widely accepted.


VISAS

Canadian and US passport holders do not require a visa for Greece, only a valid passport is necessary with at least 6 months remaining validity.


CLIMATE

Greece experiences a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and warm dry summers. However this also varies between regions due to the sea. Light cotton clothing along with hats and sunglasses is recommended during the warmer months, while a warm jacket may be required during the cooler months. Best time to visit Greek islands is April to October. July and August are very busy with a large number of European tourists.


ELECTRICITY

Greece’s current electrical system is 240V. Two pronged cylindrical round adapter plugs are required.

FOOD

Greek cuisine has been considered a traditional aspect of Greek society throughout a period encompassing approx 4000 years of history. It is typical of Mediterranean cuisine, using the fresh produce grown in each region, including the widespread use of olives and olive oil and the fresh seafood of the coastal waters and islands. Most traditional tavernas in Athens are located in the Plaka (Old) district and this is a good place to enjoy a Yeros (a meat dish served with a sauce on pita bread) and Ouzo (the traditional drink made from Anise). There is food to suit all tastes, from vegetarians to meat eaters and seafood lovers. Visitors will quickly discover there is more to Greek Cuisine than meets the eye.

GETTING THERE
By Air:
Air Canada operates direct flights to Athens, while most major European carrier operated daily flights to Greece via European cities.

By Sea: Italy-Greece: There are daily overnight ferries from Bari and Ancona in Italy to Patra (200km west of Athens), as well as ferries from Brindisi and Venice, but these are not daily. There are no ferries from Italy to Athens. Turkey-Greece: There are daily ferries between the months of April to October from Kusadasi in Turkey to Samos Island, from Bodrum in Turkey to Kos Island and from Marmaris in Turkey to Rhodes Island. There is no direct service, Athens to Istanbul or vice versa. Athens-Greek islands: Most services by sea from Greek islands land at Piraeus Port, about 10km from Athens.


GETTING AROUND

Train services in Greece mainly run between Athens and Thessaloniki and are limited elsewhere. Buses connect main cities and villages on the mainland. Car hire is suitable to get around mainland Greece, but parking and navigation around main cities can be quite tricky at times. In terms of travel to the Greek Islands, there are limited ferry departures from mid-October to mid-April. During high season there are regular services from Piraeus Port to the main islands but there are not daily services connecting each island. Not all islands are connected by direct ferry. Local buses are available on most islands, but generally they only run between the main stops and not all hotels can be accessed by bus. Taxis are also very limited hence transfers are highly recommended. There are options of direct flights from Athens to main cities and islands, but there are very limited flight connections between the islands.

 

ACCOMMODATION
Accommodation in Greece is diverse allowing for the provision of services to any taste or budget, from luxury to backpacker. Generally it is essential to pre-book accommodation for a hassle free holiday as many hours can be spent searching during high season. In most popular locations during summer, only limited accommodation is available. We recommend pre booking to secure accommodation in a good location and affordable price to avoid disappointment.


NATIONAL HOLIDAYS 2010

1 Jan – New Year’s Day

6 Jan – Epiphany

15 Feb – Orthodox Shrove Monday

25 Mar – Greek National Day (Independence)

2 Apr – Orthodox Good Friday

4 Apr – Orthodox Easter Sunday

5 Apr – Orthodox Easter Monday

1 May – Labour Day

15 Aug – Assumption

28 Oct – Greek Óhi Day

25 Dec – Christmas Day

26 Dec – Boxing Day

31 Dec – New Year’s Eve


SHOPPING

For dedicated shoppers and souvenir hunters, Greece is widely considered a favourite destination. There are many bargains to find, particularly for gold and silver jewellery and handicrafts such as lace and embroidery, ceramics and alabaster. Shopping and trading hours vary from location and season, but generally Monday to Friday 9am to 2:30pm with Tuesday, Thursday and Friday open also from 5:30 to 8:30pm and Saturday 9am to 5pm.


TIPPING

Tipping within Greece is similar to those done elsewhere in the Western World. Generally, a service fee is
included onto the bill. Drivers and guides usually appreciate tips as well as restaurant staff.


THINGS TO DO

Athens:
The Capital city and site of the 2004 Olympics, Athens is a vibrant bustling metropolis. The Acropolis stands proud and tall, dominating the centre of Athens and encompassing the Parthenon, Erechtheion and Temple of Athena Nike. For history buffs; the ancient treasures of Greece through the ages can also be found in the Archeological Museum, as well as Hadrian’s Arch and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. The Plaka District has always been a favourite with many tourists due to its old world charm and marbled buildings. Other sites around Athens include Constitution Square in Syntagma, which is the city’s main square surrounded by offices, cafes, shopping and the House of Parliament (formally the Royal Palace), watch the changing of the Guards as well as visiting the Monument of the Unknown Soldier.

Mainland Greece: Favoured sites for travellers include: Corinth, Mycenae, Epidaurus (famous theatre), Nafplion, Olympia (birthplace of the Olympic Games), Delphi (mountain home of the Oracle), and Kalambaka (the magnificent Meteora Monasteries).

Islands: The Greek Islands are separated into groups: The Saronics: A small group of islands located close to Athens. Aegina, Poros and Hydra are the most popular of this group of Islands. Hydra is most favoured due to its distinctive architecture, its ruggedness and the various colours in the landscapes. Cyclades: The most popular group of Islands, most famous for the white washed buildings and their beaches. Mykonos, Paros, Naxos, Ios and Santorini are the most visited islands within this particular group. Santorini is perhaps one of the most famous of all of the Greek Islands, mostly for its romantic sunsets over the volcano and the narrow streets and famous restaurants. Mykonos is generally known for its beautiful windmills, but it also boasts the charm of many nightclubs, tiny roadside chapels, and breathtaking views from all over the island. Crete: Heraklion, the Capital of Crete is best known for its close proximity to the famous ruins of Knossos; the mythical Labyrinth palace of the Minoan ruler King Minos. Dodecanese: The easternmost of the Greek islands, comprise of twelve main islands. Rhodes is the most popular due to the constant sunshine, stunning beaches and fascinating history. Kos, best known as the birthplace of Hippocrates and Patmos is famous for its rocky cliffs and as the place where St John spent his time in exile, most particularly, it is the place in which he wrote his book, “Apocalypse”. It also holds an awe-inspiring monastery at the very top of the Island. Ionian: These islands are on the western side of Greece, the main islands of which include Corfu, Paxi, Lefkas, Cefalonia, Ithaca and Zakinthos. Sporades: These islands lie in between the Saronics and the Cyclades and mainly include Skiathos, Skopelos, Allonissos and Skyros. These islands are accessible by air when flying Athens to Skiathos. The 2008 hit movie Mamma Mia was filmed on Skopelos.



Don’t get caught

in the World Wide Web

 

We have all heard the stories from some people who

claim to have “saved a fortune” by booking direct on the

Internet. While we doubt that this is true, what about

the countless stories of people being ripped off, not

getting the services that they thought they paid for,

or indeed being stuck in a foreign country with heavy

suitcases and no accommodation at all?

If you wouldn’t give a total stranger a blank cheque, why would you provide

your credit card details over the internet to who knows whom?

Fraudulent websites can mean that you get nothing at all except for a hefty

swipe on your credit card as well as the possible inconvenience of having

to cancel your card and have a new one issued.

In the event that there are any disputes there is very little if anything that

you can do by way of getting your money back.

That is where Greece and Mediterranean Travel Centre and our travel

agency partners come into the picture.

We are here to assist with the complicated ferry system in Greece

where the timetable is usually more of a wish list than reality. If the

ferry service should go out on strike or weather issues prevail, our

local representative will assist in arranging an alternative form of

transportation or amend your ferry and hotel booking. It is important

for you to know that there are both reliable and unreliable sources of

information on the web with regards to Greek ferries and hydrofoils.

The trick is to know which is which, and that is not easy to do. If you

insist on booking and paying for a ferry based on timetable information

provided by unreliable sources, we can only wish you the best of luck!

We are here to recommend hotels that suit your need in a location we

know that you would want. Imagine booking a hotel on the internet

and not being aware that it is still being built or undergoing renovations

and that you might be in the midst of a building site or worse. Choosing

a hotel based on what you hope is an accurate description of the hotel,

it’s location and facilities is a recipe for disaster.

We are here to tell you about the differences between the various

hotels and which ones we believe would be best suited to your need.

Pictures can be deceiving! What looks fantastic on the web might well

be an enhanced photo that has no reality compared to what you will

be getting. The old saying “never judge a book by its cover” is very true

when it comes to certain unreliable websites.

We are here because, if anything should go wrong while you are

travelling, our representatives are right on the spot in both Greece and

Turkey to ensure that your problems are resolved.

We are here to rearrange your transfer should you let us know that your

flight is cancelled or delayed.

We are here to recommend the best product that is most suitable for

your individual needs.

We are here because we know what you need to know such as: where

to stay, what to see, where to eat, what to do, what time of the year in

which to do it, what it costs and why it’s interesting.

We are here because we know about fares, fare rules, visas, currency,

climate, customs, festivals, dress codes, tipping, the best types of rooms,

cabins, car types, ferry routes, tours and transfers.

We are here to ensure that you get what you paid for and not the worst

room in the hotel just because you bought via the Internet and “they”

know that “they” will never see you again.

We are here to arrange the best guides for you, so that the holiday

you have saved and waited for is everything that you always hoped it

would be.

We are here to ensure that your coach is air conditioned and of good

quality so that you can see and enjoy the sights of Greece and Turkey in

safety and comfort with an English speaking guide.

We are here to save you time, effort and money.

We are here to maximise your time and minimise your cost.

We are here because we have a superb name and reputation to

uphold.

We are here because we rely on repeat business and the only way of

doing this is by ensuring that you get a great product as well as superb

service at a fair and reasonable price.

We are here because we know that if we delight you in Greece and

Turkey then you will return to holiday with is in the future at our

numerous other destinations such as Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Dubai, Abu

Dhabi, Italy, Spain, Croatia and Cyprus.

We are here because we are the renowned experts in the Eastern

Mediterranean, the only area in which we specialise.

We are here because we intend being here for the long term, and we

know that our name and reputation means everything both to you and

to us.

We are here because of all of the above reasons and yet at a very

competitive price and we even accept payment by means of Visa and

MasterCard at no surcharge for land arrangements.

We are here because.....

Why would you want to go any other way?