I live in DC, which is a great place to live and visit. I try to make the most of it. However, I also love to leave my home and see what the world has to offer. Come and join me!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sleeping in Greece

Hotels in Greece are pretty standard European affairs. The rooms are small and the beds only have one flat pillow. The ones we stayed at were quite clean and, despite ashtrays indicating otherwise, did not smell of smoke. I was very relieved after having bad hotel experiences in Italy with the smoky rooms.

All my rooms had en suite bathrooms, with tiny showers that may or may not boast a curtain and likely had a handheld shower nozzle with nowhere to rest. I am petite, but I imagine someone larger than me might get claustrophobic in one of the little shower cubicles. If you have a shower with a handheld nozzle and without a curtain, the key is to always keep the nozzle pointed toward the back shower wall. And to remove the toilet paper roll from the holder and place it somewhere where it will stay dry! Only our 90E/nt luxury hotel in Meteora had a bathtub, though even that didn't have a shower curtain. Bath and hand towels were well-supplied, but (as is standard in Europe) there were no washcloths.

Breakfast is generally included in your room rate, though at our Athens hotel it was a separate 8E charge per person (not worth it!). Standard Greek-style continental breakfast is yogurt, muesli, cereal flakes, boiled eggs, bread (possibly including croissant or pain au chocolat), sliced cheese, sliced ham, feta, sliced tomato, sliced cucumber, coffee, and orange drink (NOT to be confused with orange juice). You can definitely get the right balance of foods to last you through a long morning of sightseeing at a hotel breakfast--be sure to eat the eggs for protein.

All the hotels I stayed at get a "recommend" rating, meaning I would stay there again. There is more information about the hotels in the individual blog posts for the days we stayed there.

City: Thessaloniki
Hotel Name: Hotel Tourist (aka Tourist Hotel)
Rate: 75E/nt for a double
Breakfast: Standard Greek continental, but no yogurt!
Notes: This hotel is in a great location one block from the water. The room was adorable, with "gilded" molding along the ceiling. The bathroom was clearly an afterthought--it was a little hut that had been constructed in the corner of the room, the ceiling about four feet below the extra-tall room ceiling. The desk clerks were very friendly and helpful.
Location: Waterfront

City: Meteora
Hotel Name: Meteora Hotel Kastraki
Rate: 90E/nt for a double
Breakfast: Excellent, hot dishes of scrambled egg, mushrooms, and sausages in addition to standard items. Beautiful view of Meteora sandstone cliffs from the breakfast room and hilarious cheesy 80s slow dance mood music.
Notes: This hotel was pricey, but if money is no object I highly recommend it. It's on the other side of the rocks from Kalambaka, so you don't get a view of any of the monasteries (which are on the Kalamabaka side), but the view of the backside of the cliffs is just as breathtaking. All the rooms have access to a balcony that runs the length of the hotel. They are putting in a pool.
Location: On a hill. Look for the signs.

City: Galaxidi
Hotel Name: Poseidon Hotel
Rate: 45E/nt for a double
Breakfast: Served up by the owner as he cooks it in a small kitchen. Per person you get a boiled egg, bread with jams, grapes, and a homemade donut, with orange Fanta and Nescafe. I would have liked a bigger breakfast, but you can't say the service isn't personal.
Notes: We did not book ahead in Galaxidi, and the Hotel Ganimede, recommended by both of our dueling guidebooks, was full up. The owner of Ganimede hopped on his motorbike, young daughter in tow, and led us to Poseidon. The elderly owner fussed over us like we were his own kids and sent us off with a bottle of ouzo.
Location: To get to the hotel, enter the town by the main road (the only way to enter the town, as far as I can tell). At the first big road you get to, turn right. It looks like the road dead ends at a little yellow house, which is the Poseidon.

City: Athens
Hotel Name: Art Gallery Hotel
Rate: 100E/nt for a double
Breakfast: 8E; standard Greek continental with particularly bad bread and croissants
Notes: You can't beat the location for the price of this hotel. It's three blocks down from the Acropolis on the unfashionable side, not the Plaka side, in the Koukaki/Marygianni neighorhood. The room was even a bit large by European standards, and the shower cubicle had doors. We found staff unfriendly and unhelpful at times (like when it was time to pay), however.
Location: At the Syngrou-Fix metro station exit toward Drakou, walk up three blocks and it's up on the left.

City: Naxos Town
Hotel Name: Hotel Galini/Sofia Latina
Rate: 35E/nt for a single
Breakfast: Greek continental with a few interesting additions, such as cinnamon sesame seed rusks.
Notes: This hotel was delightful. When I arrived the owners told me to sit down, have some water. When I finally told them I had a reservation they laughed and said they knew, I was the only single they were expecting that day. It is just steps from St. George beach and a quick walk to the waterfront and pier. My only complaint was the fire exit indicator lights. They were so bright I had to hang a towel over the ones shining directly in my eyes, which was quite an operation involving a very precarious sideways tiptoe perch on the refrigerator (oh yes, there's an in-room refrigerator).
Location: come off the ferry, walk down the pier to the harbor, and turn right (away from the Portara). Walk along the water always (DON'T TURN ANYWHERE), rather than going up to the main drag. Eventually the road will turn into a wide flagstone drive. You'll pass the Naxian Sphinx on your left. Keep going while the road winds around. After the bend there will be a driveway and the tiny church of St. George on your left. You can see the hotel behind the church. Make a left and go up the driveway and you're there. This is probably about 500 meters. A cab is 6E if you're not up to it.

City: Athens
Hotel Name: Athens Backpackers
Rate: 25E/nt for a six-person single-sex dorm, inclusive of linens but not towel, plus 5E refundable cash deposit for the key
Breakfast: Provided, but I didn't have any as I left in the wee hours of the morning for the airport
Notes: This was my first hostel! It had excellent reviews for cleanliness and safety so I wasn't concerned. In fact, it turned out to be a blast meeting the other travelers (all of them a decade younger than me, of course). The cleanliness and safety were very acceptable. The rooftop bar has an amazing view of the Acropolis, and of course I did not bring my camera, so no visual aid for this location.
Location: Akropoli metro, exit toward Athinasios Diakou, walk 30 metres, turn left onto Makri Street, 15 meters on the left

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