Published on March 18th, 2014 | by Emma Hackwood0
Aegean Splendors with Transat Holidays
From endless coastlines to vast and varied landscapes that offer ancient sights, the cleanest beaches, slow paced island rest or adrenaline rushing metropolitan city night life, these are just a few reasons that call so many travellers to visit Greece. Our Travel Consultant Rita Puglisi shares her experience travelling through Greece with Transat Holidays and why you need to experience this trip for yourself:
It is the birth place of the arts, democracy, science, medicine and philosophy as we know it. For a sampling of how unique and rich this country is in myths, history, and culture, Air Transat takes you on direct flights into Athens for your Greek Adventures to commence.
From coach tours, cruises and customized itineraries Air Transat offers the most to Canadian travellers as they have a partnership with Greece Tours and the Greece Tourism board. I had the pleasure to sample some of the offerings that are available for travellers to experience while in Greece.
Louis Cruises – Olympia
Take a brief, yet activity packed escape to the Greek Islands and Turkey without having to organize the slightest thing. Leaving from Piraeus (Athens Pier) on this 4 day sail, aavour all things Greek as you visit Mykonos, Kusadasi, Patmos, Crete, and Santorini. Expect incredible service, great food and a wonderful entertainment staff.
First stop, the island of Mykonos. Part of the Cyclades it is one of Greece’s most glamorous island with a mix of holidaymakers, cruisers, and celebrities. The island offers a very romantic atmosphere with exclusive beaches and the labyrinth of the old town with stylish shops and restaurants. Two highly recommended hotels so very close to the beach is Mykonian Ambassador and The Petasos Beach Resort. Average pricing starts at $79 per night per person. Luxury beach resorts with breakfast included overlooking the splendid island views. Paradise on earth!
A beautiful resort town of of Turkey’s Agean coast rich in art and culture with history dating back to 3000 BC. Explore Ephesus one of the Seven wonders of the world and learn about this ancient Greek city and later major Roman city. It is believed that this was were The Gospel of John was written here. It is also the site of a large gladiator’s graveyard. After your tour, visit a Turkish Ministry of Education Weaving course and marvel at the fine tradition of women making fine silk carpets while sipping on apple tea. Don’t hesitate to bargain as you can get incredible deals!
It is here that Saint John the Divine dictated the writings of the Apocalypse. Since then it has become a place of pilgrimage for Orthodox and Western Christian’s. I had the pleasure of visiting the cave and monastery just days after Easter and touring the island was mystical and inspiring with all of the art, teachings and enchanting landscapes of sea, forest and local old town for souvenir shopping and walking around the restaurants by the port. It’s quiet charm attracts many of the elite for long summer stays.
The largest and most populous of the Greek islands. It is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Crete was once the centre of Minoan Civilization (2700-1420 BC) which is currently regarded as the earliest recorded civilization in Europe. Heading towards the Mesara south coast we visited an amazing almost all-inclusive (Breakfast and dinner included) resort called the Grand Hotel Holiday Resort.
Breakfast and a quick dip into the refreshing salt water of the Mediterranean Sea and of we went exploring the ancient Labyrinth of Knossos. Identified as a Bronze Age site (1380–1100 BC), it is truly a wonderment to see the existence from these ruins. Crete is definitely a destination to encounter whether it is for a day tour or for an extended all-inclusive stay. Transat has several options to plan out your stay in Greece.
Historically, Rhodes was famous worldwide for the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The medieval Old Town of the City of Rhodes has been declared a World Heritage Site. Today, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe.
I had the opportunity to visit the Acropolis of Lindos (which translates to the highest top of the city). Be prepared to wear your best hiking shoes as there is over 300 steps to climb. You could opt to ride a donkey up for 5 Euros, either way, its well worth the visit.
During my visit we stayed at the Rodos Palace. It is one of the largest hotels/resorts in Europe with 785 spacious rooms. If you love shopping, plan on spending sometime in the Medival Rhodes City as they have exceptional deals if you are ready to bargain!
Santorini is essentially what remains after an enormous volcanic explosion that destroyed the earliest settlements on a formerly single island, and created the current geological caldera. It forms the southern most member of the Cyclades group of islands. To my surprise, Santorini contributes a great selection of different award winning wines so be sure to try some of this ‘Vinsanto’ (which translates to ‘Sacred Wine’). The grape vines are extremely old and resistant attributed by local winemakers to the well-drained volcanic soil and its chemistry. The end result are some exceptional tasting wines.
While in Santorini we visited a couple resorts worth mentioning, El Greco and The Majestic. With breakfast included, they are both just a walk away in the town of Fira. These two resort properties are elegant and romantic. Gorgeous views within a very tranquil setting. Always make sure to be in Oia for the sunset hours of the day. The views are spectacular!
Santorini’s primary industry is tourism so your euro will go a long way with great shopping and incredible dining experiences. Try the Souvlaki on a pita with fries for just 2 euros. Interesting fact to all foodies: Souvlaki in Greece is either beef, pork or chicken. You will seldom see it with lamb meat like you see it here in Canada.
One of the oldest cities of the world, spanning 3,400 years, it is the birth place of democracy and the cradle to Western Civilization impact for cultural and political achievements. Every where you turn you are reminded of how influential the city is with architectural styles ranging from Greco-Roman, Neoclassical, to modern. Within the three days we were there, I had the pleasure of staying at the Metropolitan Hotel. It was a beautiful 5-star hotel with a rooftop patio pool that was close to a lot of the city’s fine establishments. Its about a 7 euro cab ride or 2 euros with the metro system away from the Plaka area. Take a “Volta” (thats greek for promenade) around the maze of cobblestone streets with great souvenir shopping and restaurants. For all the night owls, be sure to visit Gazi. This is Athen’s entertainment district. It was almost like being in a flash mob where everyone knows the choreographed dance. Don’t worry if you have two left feet like me, everyone takes the time out to help you get into the groove.
From Athens, you have the opportunity to do do many day tours like Greek Island day sailings or take the trek to Delphi. Its a 3 hour drive but its well worth seeing. Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle, the most important oracle in the classical Greek world.
This is also the setting of The Pythian Games where the existence of the stadiums and theatre atop of the Temple of Apollo boasted seating for over 5,000 spectators.
Whether customizing an itinerary or going on a coach tour, Air Transat specializes in your travels to Greece. There is always a representative with Tour Greece to assist you with everything from helpful information on tours to local sites of interest. From this experience, the professionalism and the assurance provided from Transat Holidays will guarantee you an unforgettable experience in Greece.
Looking for more information on travelling to Greece or with Transat Holidays? Rita Puglisi is an International Travel Consultant at Flight Centre Heartland in Mississauga, Ontario and can be reached online or by calling 1-866-581-7770.