Prepaid GSM
Getting around

Part 1: Introduction

Map of trip to Greece

26.5: Munich -> Athens
27.5: Athens
28.5: Athens
29.5: Athens -> Delphi -> Olympia
30.5: Olympia -> Bassae -> Gialova
31.5: Gialova
1.6: Gialova, Methoni
2.6: Gialova
3.6: Gialova, Mystras
4.6: Gialova
5.6: Gialova -> Ancient Messini -> Porto Heli
6.6: Porto Heli, Epidaurus
7.6: Porto Heli, Tyrins, Argos, Mycene, Napflio
8.6: Porto Heli
9.6: Porto Heli -> Athens
10.6: Athens -> Munich

Overview and overall impression
This was our first trip to Greece. We were expecting to find lots of historical sites and great beaches  (because of all those tourist brochures showing beatiful beaches in Greece). The historical sites (from ancient Greece) were certainly impressive, although most of the time not much was left of the ruins. The National Archaeological Museum in Athens has some very impressive collections. The beaches turned out to be less impressive as we had imagined them (the ones we saw were not comparable to beaches in SE Asia). Surprisingly there are not so many sand beaches in the Peloponnese.
Traffic on the streets is quite manageable, but the streets are overall not very good (too many holes and bumps). Overall the infrastructure is not bad, especially in Athens.
Prices in Greece are high, for hotels and food even higher than in Germany, which is surprising considering that the salaries in Greece are lower than in Germany.
The weather was surprisingly fresh, even cooler than in Germany.

Pre-departure plan
The plan is to mix visits to archeological sites with relaxing stays on beaches, doing a round trip over the Peloponnese:

May 26. Sa MUC-ATH
May 27. Su Athen
May 28. Mo Athen
May 29. Tu Athen-Delphi-Olympia Visit Marathon, Delphi, arrive hotel in the evening
May 30. We Olympia-Gialova Visit Olympia, Bassae
May 31. Th Gialova
Jun 01 Fr Gialova
Jun 02 Sa Gialova
Jun 03 Su Gialova
Jun 04 Mo Gialova
Jun 05 Tu Gialova
Jun 06 We Gialova-Porto heli Visit Ihdra
Jun 07 Th Porto Heli Visit Mykene, Tyrins, Epidaurus, Nafplion?
Jun 08 Fr Porto Heli
Jun 09 Sa Porto heli - Athens Airport
Visit Korinth
Jun 10 Su ATH-MUC

Greece was more expensive than we had imagined, in any case substantially more expensive than Portugal, an other southern European destination. Hotels where we stayed cost between 50 and 85 Euro/night for a double (without breakfast in some places). We used to spend around 25-30 Euro for a meal for the three of us in restaurants (Alissia didn't eat that much or used to share with Shirley). The car cost 35 Euro/day (vs. 17 Euro/day in Portugal for a slightly smaller car however).

Greek food seems to be heavy on grilled meat, fried stuff, cheese, high on fats and low on vegetables. We tried initially to avoid this by going to Chinese restaurants, but could not find any (there are not so many). Pasta dishes in Greece are not good: the pasta is overcooked and the sauce is way too greasy and they add a lot of cheese. Often when we ordered a dish of grilled meat, the meat would be overgrilled and partly burnt. Seafood is not too bad, but expensive and there is not so much choice. The safest thing is to have a salad with some bread, but even here it happened that they served a salad overloaded with mayonnaise, cheese and ham cubes.

Money  / Exchange rate (February 2007)
1 Euro = 1.34  US $
(Greece uses the Euro)
For current exchange rates check the Universal Currency Converter.

ATMs are everywhere, so that you can easily get cash with a Cirrus/Maestro ATM card. You won't need traveller cheques.

Mobile phones and prepaid cards
I'm sure they have prepaid cards for GSM phones in Greece, but we arrived on a weekend in Athens and didn't manage to buy one there, since all shops were closed. Then it was kind of not so easy to find a mobile phone shop (there are not that many), so we didn't buy any prepaid card and instead relied on roaming.

Internet access
Internet cafes with fast ADSL lines are available, but not everywhere. For instance there was no Internet cafe in Gialova, so you had to drive to Pylos, the next town. Also in Kalamata, a major city in the southern Peloponnese there were only a handful of Internet cafes. There seem to be more in explicitely tourist areas, such as Athens or Nafplio. The going rate is around 2.50 Euro/hour, with 1 Euro as the minimum charge. A number of hotels in which we stayed had Internet access in the room (WLAN), the hotel in Porto Heli charged 5 Euro/hour or 15 Euro for 5 hours for this.


Sunny most of the time, rain only on a couple of days. Mostly blue skies, but occasionally overcast. Very windy in Gialova for the first two days. Surprisingly cool in Greece: temperatures around 25°C during daytime with only a few days with higher temperatures

Health / Vaccinations
None required for Greece.

VISA / Entry requirements
Greece is part of the EU and there are no border controls if you travel to Greece from another EU country.

No issues here, we didn't experience any problems. I also did not hear stories of people who had been robbed or pickpocketed in Greece.


Getting around
Athens has a good public transportation system with the metro being the fastest option to get around. For the trip we rented a car from the Pegasus ca rental (Athens), a Peugeot 307, paying 420 Euro for 12 days. The car was ok and the rental flexible enough to bring the car to our hotel on May 29th in the morning. This fee included an insurance with a CDW of 400 Euro (damages to the car being covered from 400 Euro upwards).

The roads in Greece are in a not too good state, except for the area in and around Athens. Lots of holes and bumps, even on motorways. The terrain in the Peloponnese is mountainous, so that the roads have many narrow curves.

Greek drivers are ok, but they tend to disregard speed limits and overtaking restrictions. Lots of drivers driving very fast on mountain roads.

Copyright 2007 Alfred Molon