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Greece feedback


Original Post
Kyle McPheeters · · Chattanooga, TN · Joined Nov 2013 · Points: 1

Hey everyone,

trying to get a Greece travel/climb trip figured out. Hoping for May, all we've got so far is fly into Athens, spend 2-3 days there doing tourist stuff...Kalymnos and Santorini are on the short list, along with Crete, as it all looks relatively accessible (cheapish flights between mainland/islands). The trip will likely be 2 weeks or so. Any feedback on cool places to visit, climbing and otherwise? We'll be staying in hostels probably, so if you've got any you'd recommend let me know!

Thanks!!

James Witowsky · · Bend, OR · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 106
Kyle McPheeters wrote: Hey everyone,

trying to get a Greece travel/climb trip figured out. Hoping for May, all we've got so far is fly into Athens, spend 2-3 days there doing tourist stuff...Kalymnos and Santorini are on the short list, along with Crete, as it all looks relatively accessible (cheapish flights between mainland/islands). The trip will likely be 2 weeks or so. Any feedback on cool places to visit, climbing and otherwise? We'll be staying in hostels probably, so if you've got any you'd recommend let me know!

Thanks!!

I've not been to Athens but would love to go.  I think 2 weeks might be too short to cover all you have listed.  My wife and I spent a shade over a week in Kalymnos and just scratched the surface of the amazing climbing there.  We first flew into Istanbul and spent a few weeks wandering around Turkey before heading over to Greece because,... well why not?

May was a little warm but the island is so scenic and the shade is wonderful.  Tip 1: Rent a scooter and see the island  Tip 2: At least one day, take the shuttle boat from Misouri to the island of Telendos and ask the captain to drop you off at the "Climbers drop off". He'll charge you an extra euro or two but it shortens the approach to the crags by over an hour.

Santorini looks like a great place to relax and therefore, you probably don't want to be in a rush.

James
David Bruneau · · St. John · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 1,488

Spend less time in Athens if you only have two weeks.

Curly kN · · Minneapolis, MN · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 20

I second what David said. You can see all the touristy stuff in Athens in 1 day. Once you move on to the islands you will realize your time is much better spent there climbing and relaxing. I cannot recommend Crete highly enough for culture, landscape, beaches, etc. Must visit.

Brian in SLC · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Oct 2003 · Points: 15,387

A week on Crete, a week on Kalymnos, couple nights in Athens.  Easy!

Late in May could be kinda warm.

I thought two nights in Athens worked pretty well.  Acropolis one day, museum one day.  Olympic Stadium.  Fill in with whatever you have the motivation for.

We had three weeks and did the above but also with a week in Meteora and a drive back through Delphi en route back to Athens.  You could do Delphi pretty easily as a day trip from Athens too, if its something you'd want to see (was amazing to me, but, I go for that sort of thing).

Kinobi Eman · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 0

Do not leave Greece without visiting Pelopponese. That is the real greece. Nedousa is the spot off the beaten tracks for climbers not following fashions.

rpc · · Portland, OR · Joined Dec 2005 · Points: 575

Go to Meteora.  One of a kind setting & some excellent multi-pitch climbing.

gtluke · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2012 · Points: 1

If you're american get an international drivers license, rentals get a little squirrely on kalymnos. Get it motorcycle endorsed if you can, lets you ride mopeds powered by more than 50cc. moped is the way to go btw on kalymnos.
2 days in athens is enough, don't try to drive there. Their uber is crazy cheap.
The multi pitch on telendos is way worth it, but get there EARLY. We paid some captain an extra 5 bucks to drop us off at the base on the first trip across and we beat the crowds. Was a little adventurous jumping off the boat onto a rock but it actually was fine. I think it was a little crowded while I was there since it was climbing week or something...
you can't drink the water on kalymnos, even if you're a tough guy. it's seriously sea water. there are kiosks with free good water around the island but it's not apparent that this is what you're supposed to do. bottled water is confusingly cheap, like $1 for 1.5 liter at a bodega or 35c at a grocery store.
you have to get your rental company to meet you at the port or airport with the car/moped so make sure you set that up ahead of time.

Their top anchoring system is fantastic. almost all permanent biners of some sort, stacked vertically. You're supposed to clip into their biner, then one of your draws to the top bolt which puts the wear on YOUR draw but it's backed up by theirs. Makes everything super super easy. I'm not sure if I ever used any kind of anchor at all the whole week I was there.

ddriver · · SLC · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 1,344

Everyone has an opinion. ;)  One disadvantage of going in May is that the ferry options are relatively limited.  June 1 seems to be when the high season schedule opens up, allowing you to cross the entire Aegean with reasonable options, so you'll be more dependent on air travel.  Look at Anek, e.g., for ferry schedules.

We spent 3 days in Athens and I would have been happy staying longer, so there.

We climbed Kalymnos early June and temps were just fine.  You can find shade and its a dry heat.  Small scooters work fine for two.

Three places is probably plenty for a 2-week trip.  I have not been to Santorini but I would probably choose Crete instead.  We spent 10 days there last summer.  There is very little info available re climbing there, but quality rock abounds.  There are two year-round international airports, Heraklion and Chania.  We flew into Chania.  It is a very popular and worthwhile tourism destination and offers nearby cultural sites, beaches and climbing.  There is a greek-language guide to Chania with some English.  We climbed one day in the nearby Therisso Gorge, very nice sport climbing, no one there.  Route grades painted at the base.  Another day trad climbing at the Stavros cliffs overlooking the Stavros beach.  These are worthy, been meaning to add them to MP.

Naveen Periasamy · · Acton, MA · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 0

I’m going in early March and planning to spend two days at Kalymnos(March 2-3). Looking for a climbing partner. PM me if anyone would like to join me. 

Willem Braat · · Barcelona · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0

Yea all above very true. I really loved Telendos, easy and worthwhile daytrips from Kalymnos (easy 10 min boat ride), it feels pretty isolated at night and in the morning. Climbs there are fun. 
(I stayed there 10 days or something, also had my hair cut which sea view, which was pretty special but perhaps off topic).
2. For another good Kalymnos memory try the Sigati cave (1.5 hour hike, impressive climbs), there’s an isolated beach below, you can try to live the blue lagoon life there if you miss your flight back
Enjoy!

Ross Ayer · · Southington, CT · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 60

Does anyone know the best way/ if there is a way from Santorini to Kalymnos?

Brian in SLC · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Oct 2003 · Points: 15,387
Ross Ayer wrote: Does anyone know the best way/ if there is a way from Santorini to Kalymnos?

I'm sure if you had time and wanted to combine the journey with seeing a few other islands, you could piece together a ferry route.

Easiest might be to fly to Athens then to Kos, then boat to Kalymnos.
Adam Ronchetti · · Madison, WI · Joined May 2011 · Points: 25
Kyle McPheeters wrote: Hey everyone,

trying to get a Greece travel/climb trip figured out. Hoping for May, all we've got so far is fly into Athens, spend 2-3 days there doing tourist stuff...Kalymnos and Santorini are on the short list, along with Crete, as it all looks relatively accessible (cheapish flights between mainland/islands). The trip will likely be 2 weeks or so. Any feedback on cool places to visit, climbing and otherwise? We'll be staying in hostels probably, so if you've got any you'd recommend let me know!

Thanks!!

Spend the entire time on Kalymnos. There's A LOT of climbing there. Bring an 80m rope (not joking). The spinach pies at Super Market Hibiscus are amazing after a day of climbing (by Glaros Snack Bar). Try the aloe vera yogurt. Probably the best meal my wife and I had when were were there was the grilled calamari at Anna's Restaurant. And bring a collapsible plastic water cube and some reusable shopping bags. 

Also don't turn down the honey balls no matter how much you've had to eat. We did that on our first night and the waiter looked at us like we'd kicked his puppy. 

Shadrock · · Here and there. · Joined Jun 2009 · Points: 367

My wife and I have spent a fair amount of time in Greece. A few quick details mentioned in this thread bear emphasis. A few other things might be helpful... YMMV:

  • Get an international driver's license. I travel globally and extensively for my work and have never had to do this anywhere except Greece but it is a thing and gtluke is spot on that it is important. We rented cars on both Kalymnos and Crete but you could easily zoom around Kalymnos on a scooter. Crete is a fair piece bigger and I like the comfort of a car. 
  • On our last visit to Kalymnos (Oct. 2016) there was no ferry service between Kalymnos and Santorini (ferry service to Kalymnos always goes through the neighboring island of Kos). We had to go back to Athens before going to Santorini. In general, Island hopping requires a bit of work to figure out the ferries, planes, etc. Also be aware that ferries can and are occasionally cancelled due to weather (although this seems to be more of an issue with the fall season). 
  • Meteora is absolutely stunning and worthy of consideration. That being said, it adds a significant piece of mainland travel and requires you bring REALLY LONG AND/OR DOUBLE ROPES. We were traveling with a single 70m and were a bit limited in what we could do. This wasn't a problem for us in Kalymnos, but I'd heed Adam Ronchetti and bring an 80m if you can. There's tons of development going on and a lot of it is on the long side... 
  • Our ~15 day circuit for the "Kalymnos trip" (including transportation) was Athens for a day or so; Kalymnos for a week (plane to Kos then ferry to Kalymnos); back to Athens for a day (via ferry because there was an airline strike and our flights were cancelled); then on to Meteora for 3 days (via train from Athens - a great way to see the countryside); down the Peloponnese via rental car (Kinobi nailed it) to some shorter crags in Nafplio for a few days; back through Athens; down to Santorini (via flight) for a long weekend, then home. We did Crete as a separate trip: it is much more "wild" than Kalymnos and definitely deserves some time and attention on its own: it is, however, absolutely amazing. Kalymnos is fabulously easy to navigate for the climber. The main "climber town" of Kalymnos is Misouri (confusingly marked as "Mirties" on Google maps - there are variants in the spelling of that) and you can't miss the climbers and gear shops: you will have no problem chatting with people and getting beta. 
  • In general, I'd say build in some buffer time. Hopping all over the country requires a lot of things to go right (planes, trains, ferries, rental cars) and things can go wrong. However, Greece is a fabulous country and worthy of sight-seeing and just enjoying. So don't forget to do that when you can (or are forced to). 
  • Regarding hotels: we AirBnB'd the whole thing and were fine. Some were much nicer than others, but none were horrible. AirBnB is quite a common way for Greeks to earn another income: whether through existing properties or buy purchasing a rental with family and friends. Several hotels and resorts will also use it to offer rooms during the shoulder season: this won't be immediately understood when you see their AirBnB page, however. On Kalymnos you could probably stay just about anywhere: you can get from one end of the island to the other in about 30 minutes.
  • It is very worth your time to get a Greek phrasebook (this one is very easy to use) and learn a few phrases. Most Greeks we met spoke very good English, but there are people you might interact with (older generations on the islands and around Meteora) who don't speak it at all. Learning how to say "hi", "please", "How are you", and "thank you" will yield massive benefits with everyone you run across no matter their level of English. I went hog wild and learned "I'm sorry, I don't speak Greek, do you speak English" which went down like gangbusters. I always started conversations with "Good morning / evening" and it's just amazing how much people appreciate this. Don't worry about pronouncing everything perfectly: it's the effort that counts. 
  • We loved Aris Theodoropoulos's guide books (see his website here). They're a bit spendy, but worth every penny. Excellent, modern, guidebooks with great information and photos: they saved us a lot of time. Other local information can be had in Athens at the Anavasi Maps & Travel Bookstore. The woman that was running the place knew Aris and seemed well connected to the local climbing scene. The shop stocks climbing guidebooks for a variety of areas. 
  • Fast before you go: eat as much as you can while you are there. 
Hope this helps.
ddriver · · SLC · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 1,344
Ross Ayer wrote: Does anyone know the best way/ if there is a way from Santorini to Kalymnos?

Brian may be right about flying from Santorini to Athens or elsewhere (maybe Heraklion) as an intermediate destination as the fastest option.  There is boat service from Santorini to Heraklion, btw, and they operate daily, and Heraklion is a significant airport.  Kos has an airport. I don't think Kalymnos has commercial flights.

You can take ferries from Santorini via Naxos to get to Kalymnos.  Naxos is a bit of a ferry hub and makes for a great overnight if needed.  There is a high-speed option from Santorini to Naxos, and from Naxos there is a large ferry that serves Kos.  That's maybe 3 or 4 hours sail time from Naxos via Astipalea to Kos.  From Kos town you can take a ferry to Kalymnos or you can do a short land transfer to Marmari and catch a speed boat over to Kalymnos.  I've done this with the exception of the Santorini leg.  I highly enjoyed the ferry travel between islands and if you can work out the logistics it is a great and reasonably-priced option.  The biggest catch seems to be that high season for ferry routes starts around June 1, especially with the Naxos to Kos route. My experience was that you didn't need to pre-book anything, just show up at the ticket office and make your purchase, but you better figure out your agenda in advance because some of these routes run anywhere from once or twice a day to once or twice a week.

There are multiple lines serving these routes so you may have to search some to find all the options, but Anek and Blue Star are big operators.
Anek​​​
Blue Star​​​
Willem Braat · · Barcelona · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0

Kalymnos has a commercial airport, not sure but probably limited to Athens flights (perhaps one other destination). You can save yourself half a day by flying in on Kalymnos 

If you fly in on Kos keep in mind the Kos Airport - Mastichari - Kalymnos - Masouri trip takes quite some time, but is faster than from Kos city 

Kyle McPheeters · · Chattanooga, TN · Joined Nov 2013 · Points: 1

Big thanks to everyone who took the time to reply and give some feedback! I've been wanting to post on this thread, but the app is strange on my phone for replying. We've booked tickets to Athens, planning to spend two days there, 10 on kalymnos and 7 on Santorini. Thanks again!! 

Slogger · · Anchorage, AK · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 80

I highly recommend spending time on Crete. Awesome island. I was there in May two years ago, sure it was hot, but manageable in the shade at lower elevations. If you climb trad, Mt. Gigolos was a stupendous alpine adventure and one of my favorite rock climbs I've had. Very comfortable temps up high in May.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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