Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Making Greece our Home for 7 Nights

This is going to be the very last entry on our trip to Greece (phew~ finally~), or to be exact, the city of Athens and the island of Santorini.

Knowing both Deardo and I have had bad experience either during childhood or teenage period with following a packaged tour, we knew from the beginning we are definitely doing this on our own, regardless of language barrier shit. Most Greeks we encountered speak perfect English anyway, although with their own accent.

So one of the biggest headaches for people like us who travel on our own would be finding the perfect place to stay. I'm not gonna lie, it took me a lot of time doing research on accommodations. Most hotels in Athens are said to be noisy with bad sound proof, dodgy alleys and all, while Santorini's headache was that it was still peak season so good ones were taken way before I had a chance to book anything!

Of course we eventually settled with some stays and I'm here to share with you our experience and hopefully this post will help if you are travelling to Greece soon!

Loft in Psirri II, Athens Centre
Booked this apartment through Airbnb because it is walking distance to the Acropolis (supposedly the only place we wanted to visit during our short stay in Athens) and it is reasonably priced. I think the best thing is that the communication with Yannis on Airbnb was super immediate even when we changed our check-in time last minute because stupid Air France canceled out flight!
The view outside the apartment.
We had a rough start when the taxi driver who brought us there from the airport told us about the place being dodgy, with some drug addicts around (which I've read from the reviews but they said they will do no harm to you) and Chinese people around (oh yea the taxi driver hate Chinese in Athens). When we arrived, no doubt the place with all the graffiti around, looks a bit dodgy from the outside and yes there was an homeless guy sleeping across the street and Chinese working on their stocks just next door, but during our two nights there, no drugs addicts identified!
Clean and modern-looking! 
Yannis's assistant, George was super nice and friendly too. showed us around the apartment and called us a taxi right away for the day we were leaving for the airport so we need not worry about traveling to the airport early morning at all! :)
Bathroom is small but with washing machine in it! 
Super spacious room! 
And the apartment is awesome!!! It's exactly as shown in their photos in the website! Very spacious (this is why sometimes apartments are way better than hotels), modern and clean! I'm most impressed that it actually comes with a washing machine, hair dryer, kitchen with all the utilities needed! It is a pretty quiet area so we got really good sleep throughout the two nights! Good Wi-fi connection included too!
Superb night view from the rooftop!
The apartment is walking distance to a lot of the places I went to mentioned here and loads of food mentioned here too! And and and! Go to their rooftop and you will see the Acropolis just there!!!
But yes, every night when we walk home, the street is very quiet and dark (with a homeless man sleeping on the street too) so it can be a little scary.

Paid: 126 Euro/ 2 Nights (including Airbnb service fee)
Verdict: 3.5/5
Contact Yannis: Airbnb

Aspa Villa, Oia, Santorini
Because I decided we should have different experiences of staying in apartment and a villa/hotel, our first stop in Santorini was a villa. I made all the reservations on their website and we were greeted by Nikoleta, the very friendly (perhaps overly friendly) owner of the villa. I love her, she just tells you so many things that some of them are redundant but you'll feel bad stopping her! LOL!
Supermarket and cafe just a few steps away, making sure we get food easily!
The common area we hang-out at a lot... Just relax, feel the breeze/sun while looking at the amazing view.
The place is conveniently located - few steps away from supermarkets, a nice cafe and of course their super gorgeous common area where you can hang out all you want! Even the common area has wi-fi!
I can assure you Aspa Villa is one of the villas that are very affordable in Oia. I wanted to stay in their cave house room but I was too late and could only stay in their Superior Studio.
The stairs going up to our room!
And here's a panoramic view of our room!
The room is relatively smaller compared to an apartment and has a classic design and old school furniture but still pretty comfortable. When the wind is strong you can leave the window open and it's super nice!!! They have a small sharing pool too!

Paid: 345 Euro (paid 300 Euro only as it was an offer if you pay cash) for 3 nights
Verdict: 4/5
Contact: Aspa Villas' website

Thea Studio Apartment, Fira, Santorini
As we moved to the town of Fira, we check-into this apartment which I also booked through Airbnb. Since I read a lot about how noisy it could be if you stay in the town centre itself, I decided to pick Thea because it is about 15-20 minutes walk away from the town.
The walk isn't too long before you can get to the town, but at night it can be quite scary because the road back to the apartment is damn quiet, although in some ways we still feel pretty safe. I reckon that is why a lot of the people who stay at the apartment are renting cars, motorbikes, etc to go around town. The friendly people at the apartment can help you to arrange for all the rentals too! 
It's amazing how almost every part of Santorini can look so pretty, even somewhere out of town! 
The view from our room! Crazy beautiful isn't it?
One for the album!
The apartment is pretty from the outside, with a location overlooking the sea and has a nice swimming pool that it was a waste it was too cold for us to use.
The room is probably the best one we have stayed in the entire trip. So spacious, neat, clean, and even the bathroom is big! And for an apartment I was amazed they have daily cleaning service too! They also provide simple breakfast everyday which is another plus point! 
So apart from maybe not so much of communication with Dimitris on Airbnb, slightly scary walk at night (doesn't apply if you are renting automobile there) and not-so-strong Wi-fi in the room (better outside the room), I really love the apartment a lot, especially with the fact that it was pretty economic to stay in too! :)

Paid: 112 Euro/2 nights (including Airbnb servic fee)
Verdict: 4/5
Contact Dimitris: Airbnb

So here's the end of entries on our trip to Greece, which was mainly our honeymoon, but also a getaway and a 30th birthday trip for me. I think besides the fact that it was a little tough on food for a pregnant woman like me, we really enjoyed the trip a lot. A lot of sight-seeing, yet enough time to relax and even take afternoon naps almost everyday! Ahhhh... That was really a few days in heaven man!

Would I recommend you to travel to Athens and Santorini? Sure, but choose your travel dates properly cos it's really quite annoying when it is peak season! I personally think it is also quite economical to travel to Greece too - food, accommodations and transportation are still relatively acceptable compared to other bigger cities in Europe like Paris. We spent less than RM15k (two persons) for the entire trip of 7 nights, everything included and came home with great memories of superb scenery and I cannot highlight this enough - friendly people (majority of them of course, but it was way better than what we have heard about the Greeks before leaving for the country)! 

So, time to plan for your next holiday?

My entries on Athens here.
My entries on Santorini here.

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