Three Travel Tips for Greece


1.    Do not flush your toilet paper

Americans consider it a right and privilege to flush toilet paper. In fact, most lavatories indicate by signs that it is alright to flush toilet paper. There are hardly any restrooms which prohibit the flushing of toilet paper. Similar practices are followed in Europe, Mexico, and the Caribbean islands.

My trip to Santorini was an eye opener. After seeing the huge ruckus over toilets, I asked for a hotel recommendation that had better toilets. To my surprise even the best hotel in Greece had an inadequate plumbing system, which was not able to handle toilet paper. I do not think that American restrooms are free from clogging.

2.    When in Santorini,  Stay at Firostefani

Santorini is a gateway to Greece. You cannot claim to have visited Greece without setting foot in Santorini. Deciding where to stay in the beautiful town can be challenging. I prefer staying along the beach when I visit most islands. But Santorini is not just any island. The breathtaking view of the caldera is visible from the west coast or cliff side. The beach side or the east coast is not as popular.

Ia and Fira are the two major towns in Santorini. Ia is a picturesque town. Exploring the island can be challenging as it located in the northern tip. The famous Red beach located in the south. Fira is the capital of Santorini and is located along the west coast. Fira is densely populated.

I highly recommend staying at Firostefani in Fira. Staying at Firostefani will allow you to travel to and fro. I resided at Villa Ilias, which is a budget hotel. Camping further, I reached Imerovigli, which has upscale restaurants and hotels. The walk to Fira from Imerovigli is tedious and is not recommended, especially after the sun sets.

3.    At Athens dinner is served late

I was warned well in advance regarding dinner hours before visiting Spain. I usually have my dinner by 8:00 pm, though I would prefer to delay it by an hour or so. Most hotels in Madrid and Barcelona were packed with guests during similar hours.

Similarly I was warned about the dinner hours of Greece. The people of Santorini, Paros, and Naxos had dinner at reasonable hours. Athens, being my last stop, I was dumbfounded by their dinner timings. There is no city that I can imagine with such late dinner hours. Some hours later and you might expect breakfast.

Staying in Athens for two nights, I decided to stay at an upscale hotel; the Grand Bretagne. The concierge made dinner reservations at Balthazar, a Mediterranean restaurant. I reached the restaurant around 9:30 pm, which was the reservation time. I was surprised to see the staff still making preparations. Guests continued to trickle in till about 11:00 pm. Although it was midnight, the restaurant was buzzing with activity. On close observation, I realized that the guests were not just drinking. They were busy indulging in appetizers and main courses.

My next stop was the Villa Mercedes with a reservation at 10:00 pm. To our luck, our driver lost his way and I arrived late by half an hour. I just crossed my fingers. Even this was early for the hotel staff. This was pretty amusing considering that I and a couple of others were the only guests till the clock struck the midnight hour. And what’s more? It was a Saturday night. I pretended that I booked an early reservation on purpose. Therefore, do not make the mistake of anticipating dinner time in Athens.

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