A good intro to getting to and around the Greek Islands. The hotels were adequate and in good locations. The bathrooms were a real challenge, especially the one in Naxos.
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
The Fira to Oia walk on Santorini was spectacular and we had great weather for our 5km easy walk....the scenery just kept getting more spectacular as you got closer to Oia. Picture postcard stuff.
We were kindly invited by locals jamming in Lefkes to a traditional music festival in Paros, in the town of Naoussa, and it was fun just people-watching. The dancing by young and old was a lot of fun to see. I'm glad I went as it was just so Greek!
- What did you think of your group leader?
Cecile was a very friendly and helpful guide and gave a good insight into being an expat in Greece. I thought she guided the walks well with the different speed levels. Good communication at times did not always work well as I think our group was a straggly bunch but Cecile did her best to keep us all informed of the group's plans. She booked us a fabulous guide at the Akrotiri archaeological site, very informative and well worth the trip. Exodus should really include it not as an option but as an inclusion: our entire group went to see it.
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
September was a great time to visit Santorini, Paros and Naxos: warm but not unbearable and tourist numbers are much lower.
There is a music festival held at the Naxos castle in August and September so I recommend taking in a show. The organiser was a real character and you get to try several homemade alcoholic beverages as part of your ticket price.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
The trip didn't start too well when Exodus changed the starting hotel from Athens to Rafina a few days before the start of the trip and I was spending a few days in Athens before the trip started so am glad I saw the email before I left home. The way Exodus handled this last minute change was pitiful as they offered no explanation or transportation to Rafina, or even a map or description of where it is. At first I assumed it was just another suburb in the centre of Athens but when I could not find it on the Athens tourist map, I googled it. Athens and Rafina are not close at all so this is a major change to the itinerary, not just a hotel change, as the group never actually even set foot into Athens city proper. If a taxi had been provided, I could have checked out of my Athens hotel and arrived during daylight hours to enjoy the seaside hotel instead of arriving around 9pm.
With no assistance or advice from Exodus, I worked out that it was easier and 35 Euros cheaper to travel back to the Airport to meet the Exodus group arriving and join their airport transfer than it was to get to the hotel in Rafina directly. I pointed this out by email to the Exodus representative and she allowed me to join the transfer even though I was not on the flight. A subsequent email from Exodus then followed, mentioning the approximate taxi fare to Rafina but no offer of transportation. Later we found out that some members had their taxi fare to the hotel in Rafina paid for by Exodus as their travel agent complained on their behalf, but no offer was made to me and to another lady who also arrived earlier in Athens. Furthermore we found out the reason for the hotel/city change was that the local company did not book enough rooms in the Athens hotel so it was too late to book more rooms as they were now full. I thought that is what I pay Exodus to do...to follow up on their sub-contractors.
Consequently, we had to take a catamaran to Naxos instead of the usual larger ferry and, although it was faster by an hour, it was most unpleasant with the rough seas. Most of the group felt very queasy as there is no outside to go to on catamarans. Having the catamaran staff walk around many times throughout the entire journey with vomit bags in hand was most reassuring indeed!!!