Monday, February 19, 2024

GREECE | Travel Logistics

I have been wanting to write some blog posts about our Summer 2023 trip to Greece but haven't been able to find the time. It was our first big trip that I posted real-time on Instagram stories so that was a fun way for friends and family to follow along but I love having these posts with more details for me to come back to and read years later. 

How did we Pick Greece?

I actually wanted to go to Switzerland but by the time we started planning in January 2023, things were booked up already so we switched gears. Greece has always been on our list so we decided to go for it. One of Jake's colleagues has been several times and she helped us craft our itinerary which was ATHENS - CRETE (CHANIA) - SANTORINI.



Getting There 

We flew to Athens on Turkish Airlines with a stopover in Istanbul and I was happy with the deal I got on our tickets (~$1,400 each). I spent a lot of time trying to find the optimal travel plan. Should we stop in NYC and do a slower approach to get there? I wrote a post in one of the Traveling with Kids FB groups I am in and many folks suggested getting as close to our destination as quickly as possible so that's how we ended up with LAX > IST > ATH since there are no direct flights. I joke that I only travel to places with direct flights from LAX so I made an exception to visit Greece! 

I also didn't realize how far away it was! Like, exactly how far East in Europe. Greece is 10 hours ahead and we got in around 8 pm local time so we just went to bed. It was actually pretty easy to get up the next morning and start exploring. We also used the Timeshifter App which helped us prepare ahead of time and avoid jet lag. 

The Flights 

The first flight was 13 hours long red eye (cringe) and the second flight was a little over an hour. I really liked the mediteranian food on the transatlantic flight and how we got so many different meals! We saved the printed menu for our memory box. I can't imagine what kind of culinary specialities they had in Biz Class. Maybe one day!! West slept for about 5 hours and we rested on and off too. Then we took turns watching a movie or reading and West played on his iPad and watched a few shows too. Our flight was delayed so we were worried about missing our connection. I think they held the plane for folks that were on our flight because the 2nd flight was also delayed, but we made it! The Istanbul airport was huge, modern and very minimalist. I loved it! We only brought carryon's because I was worried about losing our luggage so we had to hoof it through the airport with a 4 year old (who may or may not ride in his travel stroller), 3 luggages, a couple tote bags and a kid's backpack. We eventually had it down to a science. One person would push two suitcases back to back with one hand and the 3rd suitcase with the other hand. The other person would push West in the stroller or "help" him push it if he preferred to walk and held the two tote bags and backpacks. Both flights had a VERY cool feature where there was a camera on the front of the plane so you could watch the flight while it was happening, you could face it forward or down to see what the pilots were seeing. I have a video of this on my Instagram story highlights.  

LAX, Tom Bradley Terminal

Carry-on Luggage (17 lbs max EACH)

Where Did We Stay? 

I almost booked a Costco Travel package but I realized how much I like to pick out hotels so I needed more time to research them. We almost stayed at an AirBNB in Athens but landed on Pame House in the trendy Psirri neighborhood. In Chania, we initially booked Hotel Christina but changed up last minute and thank goodness because this was my favorite hotel of the trip! We splurged for Domes Zeen and stayed in a standalone bungalow which came with our own private (unheated!) pool. Finally, we stayed at this VRBO property in Imerovigli, Santorini with a heated pool and West was able to swim like the little fish he is. I really enjoyed all of the places we stayed and it was fun to have a change of scenery every 3 days. For the last night before our flight home, we stayed at Hotel Avra in Rafina which is a seaside town near the airport.   

New (to me) Travel Hacks

-Using AirTags in Luggage, with passports and on West

-Carry on Luggage was great (except no room for souvenirs!)     

-Fold up Travel stroller came in clutch. We've used this a bit around town and constantly get stopped on the street with people asking about it. One guy bought it right before our eyes on the Amazon app as soon as we told him the brand!