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Greece Ports Athens, Corfu, Crete, Katakolon, Limassol, Mykonos, Rhodes, Santorini, Volos

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  #1  
Old March 17th, 2012, 02:44 PM
lisherm lisherm is offline
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Default Port Tips - DIY and Private Car

Will be 4 of us traveling in July on the Equinox and last time I travelled to the Med (West) many of you helped greatly with recommendations. I prefer the DIY days but on occasion will opt for a ships tour if it's something i really could not do on my own. This trip I don't really see that need but am considering the private guide/taxi for the convenience of getting to as much as possible within reason to save time and frustration. I have not done this before since it is usually more expensive, but with several friends to split the cost, we are researching it.

I have read that some cruisers did this for Ephesus and Athens as well as Santorini. Can any of you that have done the private guide/driver send me some recommendations of who they used, cost and where they toured?

Also, if anyone wants to chime in with their DIY one day best tips I would appreciate it. As i have read lately, in some places i plan to just get into "town" and enjoy but as Hank likes to state - do your homework. I want to maximize our day of enjoyment with your help and expertise.

Our Ports:

Sicily (Messina)

Athens (Piraeus)

Ephesus (Kusadasi)

Rhodes

Santorini

Mykonos

Naples (really want to go to Capri)

Thanks. Lisa
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  #2  
Old March 17th, 2012, 02:59 PM
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Naples is covered by the Italy board, Rome in Limo has over 1600+ positive comments.

Kusadasi is in Turkey and is covered by the Other Med Ports board.

The Greek ports for DIY are covered well here on this board. Just read down the board- there are at least 6 threads on the front page about DIY and private tour venders right now.
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Old March 18th, 2012, 09:07 PM
texancruzer texancruzer is offline
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We were on the Equinox last November (had already sailed Solstice in 2009) and it is a wonderful ship.......

I will comment on the ports I have been to and how we did them. Hope it helps you.

Our Ports:

Sicily (Messina) - private driver from Sicilylimosines. We went to Castelmola then to Taormina. Was nice day, relaxed -not rushed. Car and driver were top notch. Be sure and get a cannoli while there...... best I ever ate

Athens (Piraeus) We like to DIY here. Take the metro into town. Most sites easily walkable. Our first trip we cut short since I had a terrible cold (as did most of the ship) but still did Acropolis and a few other close sites. Second trip we enjoyed the Plaka and a few of the sites we missed on first trip.

Ephesus (Kusadasi) Both times we have been here we used Ekol. Best done with a private tour, don't miss the Terrace Houses !

Rhodes - haven't been here YET

Santorini - also did DIY. Took donkeys up (yep we did ) and then took taxi to Oia. Back to Fira and dinner with sunset. Cable car down.

Mykonos - also DIY but with the ship shuttle into town. I think it was $8.00 per person. Mostly walked to windmills, harbor area and shopped and had a wonderful gyro. Thought about taking ferry to Delos but just wanted an easier day.

Naples (really want to go to Capri) 3 visits...... 2 to Pompeii and Amalfi coast and one just to the Naples museum, a great pizza lunch and a mini tour with taxi (this was trip I had the bad cold :roll eyes

Hope this helps.... any questions - ask away
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Old March 19th, 2012, 09:00 PM
lisherm lisherm is offline
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Thanks Texancruzer, yes any and all information is appreciated. I like to hear how other cruisers DIY and their helpful tips. Although I have read many of the posts, I am hoping some of the other cruisers will chime in with their suggestions. I definitely want to do DIY and a private car when it's absolutely recommended.
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Old March 19th, 2012, 10:04 PM
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Hi lisherm - Texancruiser has given some good advice for some of your ports, but hadn't been to Rhodes so I will make a suggestion for there.

4 of us had a great day there with Themis Gounaris of Vip taxi tours about 15 months ago. Our tour covered the port area, the Old Town, Lindos and the beach area. Themis is quite a character and regaled us with many stories about growing up in the Old Town. When it was time for lunch, he insisted that we give him the money and that he goes into the cafe so that we will get an authentic gyro and not the "tourist" version.

I have no hesitation in recommending him.

In Kusadasi, we have used Hello Ephesusfor 2 different tours on 2 different occasions. Our guide was Bulent (Bill) Orkus and he was wonderful.
I agree that the Terrace Houses are not to be missed.

Have you joined your Roll Call for your sailing ? That is a great way to find others who might wish to share tours in a mini van - IMO 8 is the ideal number. This can work out quite a bit cheaper than the private car/taxi and can be just as good.
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Old March 19th, 2012, 10:35 PM
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Rhodes is just about the easiest port in Europe to do on your own. The ships dock just outside the old city.....an easy flat walk of 10-15 minutes and you are there. You can see the famous gate from the ship. Once in the old town, all the main sites are close. Look online for a self-guided walking tour (I found one easily) and just follow it. The main "must see" is the Grand Master's Palace and the street of the knights, plus the Archaeological museum, which is housed in an old building that was used as a hospital during the period of the Knights.


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Naples is covered by the Italy board, Rome in Limo has over 1600+ positive comments.
If the OP wants to go to Capri, then RIL would not be a great choice. To get to Capri, you take a ferry....

OP: the ferries for Capri leave from an area called Molo Beverello which is next to the area where the ships dock. Depending on your ship's berth, it's generally about a 10-20 minute walk to get there. Purchase your ticket and head to Capri. Once there, you have a few options how to spend your time. Most people know about Anacapri and the Blue Grotto, but it's worth doing a little research as there are other nice options as well. More than enough to last a day.
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Old March 20th, 2012, 05:03 AM
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Morning Tex, we are on the equinox in oct and would like a little more info on tendering at Santorini, ie time needed to get off/on, can you arrange a car and pick it up where you get off for the organised tour to avoid the cable car?. We have not got a great deal of time and would like to see the sunset up in the north of the island. how much time will we need to get back onboard? any info would be greatfully received.
thanks Steve.
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Old March 20th, 2012, 09:07 AM
texancruzer texancruzer is offline
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Originally Posted by stevepoll View Post
Morning Tex, we are on the equinox in oct and would like a little more info on tendering at Santorini, ie time needed to get off/on, can you arrange a car and pick it up where you get off for the organised tour to avoid the cable car?. We have not got a great deal of time and would like to see the sunset up in the north of the island. how much time will we need to get back onboard? any info would be greatfully received.
thanks Steve.
Steve, we too did not have a lot of time on Santorini with a port stop of 2pm - 10 pm..... Whoever decided that was a good time frame for such a beautiful place needs their head examined !!!! But..... on to your questions.

First - be sure and get in line EARLY for your tender tickets if you are going to DIY. We did not and did not get on our tender until 3:45 The crew was DEFINATELY checking tickets too so no one was getting off until it was their turn.

If taking a ship tour you will get off with the tour earlier at another location.

I [u]think[u] you are asking if you can take a ships tour - tender off early to the tour tender point and then have a car waiting for you instead of taking the tour ????? If so, I do not know the answer to that question. Seems an expensive way to avoid the cable car.....but I guess it could be done.

We just tendered in, took the donkeys up (yes we did !!!!) Once at the top we walked straight to the main road and took a nice Mercedes taxi to Oia. We negotiated with him to take us, wait for us and then bring us back for 50 euros. We wanted to make sure we had a ride back from Oia when we wanted so this worked out great for us. We spent a few hours there shopping and wandering. We headed back to Fira for dinner and sunset as we wanted to be closer to the ship. We did have to stand in line for the cable car down - perhaps 45 minutes to an hour but no line for the tender once down at the bottom.

Hope this info helps........ have a great trip !
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Old March 20th, 2012, 10:26 PM
Mammoth Cruiser Mammoth Cruiser is offline
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Originally Posted by texancruzer View Post
Steve, we too did not have a lot of time on Santorini with a port stop of 2pm - 10 pm..... Whoever decided that was a good time frame for such a beautiful place needs their head examined !!!! But..... on to your questions.

First - be sure and get in line EARLY for your tender tickets if you are going to DIY. We did not and did not get on our tender until 3:45 The crew was DEFINATELY checking tickets too so no one was getting off until it was their turn.

If taking a ship tour you will get off with the tour earlier at another location.

I [u]think[u] you are asking if you can take a ships tour - tender off early to the tour tender point and then have a car waiting for you instead of taking the tour ????? If so, I do not know the answer to that question. Seems an expensive way to avoid the cable car.....but I guess it could be done.

We just tendered in, took the donkeys up (yes we did !!!!) Once at the top we walked straight to the main road and took a nice Mercedes taxi to Oia. We negotiated with him to take us, wait for us and then bring us back for 50 euros. We wanted to make sure we had a ride back from Oia when we wanted so this worked out great for us. We spent a few hours there shopping and wandering. We headed back to Fira for dinner and sunset as we wanted to be closer to the ship. We did have to stand in line for the cable car down - perhaps 45 minutes to an hour but no line for the tender once down at the bottom.

Hope this info helps........ have a great trip !
Hi texancruzer,

Thanks for your tips! We will be aboard the Equinox in May.

Did you just flag down a taxi on the main road or do you need to wait at a taxi stand?
Do you know if most drivers are willing to wait for you in Oia, if so how long will they wait for you?
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Old March 21st, 2012, 08:58 AM
texancruzer texancruzer is offline
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Hi texancruzer,

Thanks for your tips! We will be aboard the Equinox in May.

Did you just flag down a taxi on the main road or do you need to wait at a taxi stand?
Do you know if most drivers are willing to wait for you in Oia, if so how long will they wait for you?
We were actually walking to the bus station when a nice new Mercedes taxi pulled up to us .......... thats when dh decided to negotiate with him to take us, wait for us and bring us back. I do believe there is a taxi stand on the main road also tho.

As for the second question - most drivers will do pretty much anything - for a price We paid 50 euros for the driver. But I had heard stories of taking the bus over and then mobs of people trying to get on to get back....... then I heard stories of taking a taxi over and then no taxis in Oia to come back....... so we decided it was worth the $$ to know we had a ride back and on our schedule. He was right where he said he would be when we were ready to go back. Worked for us.
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  #11  
Old April 4th, 2012, 10:29 PM
lisherm lisherm is offline
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Hi lisherm - Texancruiser has given some good advice for some of your ports, but hadn't been to Rhodes so I will make a suggestion for there.

4 of us had a great day there with Themis Gounaris of Vip taxi tours about 15 months ago. Our tour covered the port area, the Old Town, Lindos and the beach area. Themis is quite a character and regaled us with many stories about growing up in the Old Town. When it was time for lunch, he insisted that we give him the money and that he goes into the cafe so that we will get an authentic gyro and not the "tourist" version.

I have no hesitation in recommending him.

In Kusadasi, we have used Hello Ephesusfor 2 different tours on 2 different occasions. Our guide was Bulent (Bill) Orkus and he was wonderful.
I agree that the Terrace Houses are not to be missed.

Have you joined your Roll Call for your sailing ? That is a great way to find others who might wish to share tours in a mini van - IMO 8 is the ideal number. This can work out quite a bit cheaper than the private car/taxi and can be just as good.

Thanks Goldy for your information - I will be checking into both of the private tours you mentioned for Rhodes and then Ephesus.

In Ephesus, did you book a full day tour? With terrace houses, i assume the full day is the way to go?

Any advice for Athens, i have read many reviews, some say private tour and some say DIY. I know DIY is totally do-able, but private guide seems more efficient and more productive?

Recommendations for Mykonos?
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Old April 4th, 2012, 10:35 PM
lisherm lisherm is offline
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Hi Cruisemom, thanks for your reply to my post. I have read many of your posts and reviews in various boards. I appreciate your opinion.

I read your full day in Athens on your own. Very helpful!

Would you have similar detailed itineraries for other ports on my list? If not that extensive, any other details are much appreciated.

As I mentioned originally, I am comfortable with DIY, but knowing the ins and outs ahead of time from experienced cruisers like you, really helps to be more efficient and productive. Also, there are 4 of us, so where recommended, a private operator that is not too expensive is an option for us. if it saves us hassle and time, sounds good to me.
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Old April 5th, 2012, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by lisherm View Post
I have read that some cruisers did this for Ephesus and Athens as well as Santorini. Can any of you that have done the private guide/driver send me some recommendations of who they used, cost and where they toured?

Also, if anyone wants to chime in with their DIY one day best tips I would appreciate it. As i have read lately, in some places i plan to just get into "town" and enjoy but as Hank likes to state - do your homework. I want to maximize our day of enjoyment with your help and expertise.
Thanks. Lisa
Hi Lisa

In case it's any help, somewhere among the videos from the link in my 'signature' below are individual ones for :

Athens - totally DIY - bus/train to the Acropolis complex and back - less that €20 pp all in

Santorini again DIY, that Volcano/Hot Springs tour cost €20 bought at the quayside on the day. It takes 3 hours, and that one is the 5-8 pm one. We took a bus to Perissa beach and back (€2 each way)

Ephesus
- private tour with Anker Travel from Kusadasi, can't remember cost but it was not much and we had a great day.

Messina
- this was at the end of a long cruise so we had a very easy half-day and didn't stray more than 250m from the ship, so no cost at all

Prices as July 2009

All the best, Tony
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Old April 7th, 2012, 02:05 AM
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Thanks Goldy for your information - I will be checking into both of the private tours you mentioned for Rhodes and then Ephesus.

In Ephesus, did you book a full day tour? With terrace houses, i assume the full day is the way to go?

Any advice for Athens, i have read many reviews, some say private tour and some say DIY. I know DIY is totally do-able, but private guide seems more efficient and more productive?

Recommendations for Mykonos?
Ephesus - Yes, we did what was described as a full-day tour, but it was actually only about 6 1/2 hours. We were back in Kusadasi by around 3pm and some of us opted to be dropped at the bazaar which is very close to the port and great for shopping - if that's your "bag". The Hello Ephesus tour took in the museum in Celkuk, the remains of the Temple of Artemis, St John's Basillica and nearby mosque, House of the Virgin Mary, the ruins of Ephesus including the Terrace Houses (a must) and lunch (included in the price) at the Carpet School.

Many on CC rubbish the Carpet School but we found the demonstration quite interesting and did not feel pressured to purchase (we didn't). The lunch was typical local food and served in the gardens. There were about 10 of us from our Roll Call and we paid US$60 pp. Our guide was Bulent(Bill) Orkus and he was excellent.

Athens - There were many taxi drivers at the port gates, offering to drive us around for about 150 euros. We walked right by, planning to walk to the metro station and completely DIY. However, as we walked along, there were other taxi drivers offering cheaper prices. One eventually offered his services for 80 euros - just 20 euros each for the whole day.
We decided this was too good to pass up. He took us to all the main attractions - Acropolis, Hadrian's Arch, Changing of the Guard at the Palace, Plaka, etc.

Taxi drivers in Greece are not licenced guides and cannot accompany you into the sites, but he drove us around and was always waiting for us each time we returned. He did not request payment until we were back at the port. Entrance to the Acropolis was an additional fee and we could have joined a group with a guide had we chosen to. This is offered near the entrance.

Mykonos - We treated this port as a lazy day (quite welcome with the busy schedule on Med cruises) and just wandered around the town. The windmills are only a short walk and we had lunch at a taverna in Little Venice - a great place to people watch while enjoying the local wine.
There are very nice shops here - some quite up-market. I bought my most expensive "momento" here - a gold omega chain with an Athena pendant. Not cheap at all, but I love it and always receive compliments when I wear it (which is often).

Rhodes - Many will say that this is an easy port to DIY, but we enjoy having a driver who will tell us lots of interesting things - the history of the building or scene we are looking at, what it was like to grow up in the Old Town, where and how they live, stories about their family, etc. These are the extra "bits" that don't come in a guide book. JMHO.

Your group of 4 is the perfect number for a taxi tour.

Enjoy your cruise. I'm sure you will. So many of the ports around the Med are really interesting and different.

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Old April 7th, 2012, 10:03 AM
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I can speak about Athens and Ephesus.

For Ephesus I organized a private excursion with Hello Ephesus. We were luck to have Bill (Bulent) as our guide. I had researched guide recommendations here and gave Hello Ephesus requests for one of three. It was a full day tour as Goldygolfer described above. We enjoyed the lunch at the carpet making school and the demontstration was interesting and educational. There was no pressure to buy and none of us did. We had an excellent day with time to shop afterwards.

Athens was the end of our cruise so we negotiated with a taxi to take us to our hotel. Athens is very easy to explore on your own. We used Rick Steves' guide. A car is no use to you downtown.
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Old April 12th, 2012, 06:33 AM
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Steve, we too did not have a lot of time on Santorini with a port stop of 2pm - 10 pm..... Whoever decided that was a good time frame for such a beautiful place needs their head examined !!!! But..... on to your questions.

First - be sure and get in line EARLY for your tender tickets if you are going to DIY. We did not and did not get on our tender until 3:45 The crew was DEFINATELY checking tickets too so no one was getting off until it was their turn.

If taking a ship tour you will get off with the tour earlier at another location.

I [u]think[u] you are asking if you can take a ships tour - tender off early to the tour tender point and then have a car waiting for you instead of taking the tour ????? If so, I do not know the answer to that question. Seems an expensive way to avoid the cable car.....but I guess it could be done.

We just tendered in, took the donkeys up (yes we did !!!!) Once at the top we walked straight to the main road and took a nice Mercedes taxi to Oia. We negotiated with him to take us, wait for us and then bring us back for 50 euros. We wanted to make sure we had a ride back from Oia when we wanted so this worked out great for us. We spent a few hours there shopping and wandering. We headed back to Fira for dinner and sunset as we wanted to be closer to the ship. We did have to stand in line for the cable car down - perhaps 45 minutes to an hour but no line for the tender once down at the bottom.

Hope this info helps........ have a great trip !
Very helpful information Texancruiser...thanks! We will be arriving on the Equinox for a 2 to 10 p.m. timeframe in June. Had thought to have dinner in Oia so we could see the sunset. But it makes me nervous about getting back to the ship in time (sunset is at 8:30 I think). Did you enjoy having dinner in Fira? Are there many outdoor restaurants there? And did you hear of others on your cruise who had trouble getting a taxi in Oia or is that just something that we all read about here on CC?
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Old April 12th, 2012, 09:09 AM
texancruzer texancruzer is offline
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Very helpful information Texancruiser...thanks! We will be arriving on the Equinox for a 2 to 10 p.m. timeframe in June. Had thought to have dinner in Oia so we could see the sunset. But it makes me nervous about getting back to the ship in time (sunset is at 8:30 I think). Did you enjoy having dinner in Fira? Are there many outdoor restaurants there? And did you hear of others on your cruise who had trouble getting a taxi in Oia or is that just something that we all read about here on CC?
We were there in early May, not really "high" season but still had some doubts about a few things.......

first, it got dark @ 8:30 at that time of year...... so in order to see the sunset and eat, get back to the taxi, ride for 20 minutes or so, get in the line, get down and tender back to the ship..... well, that made us nervous too.

second, yes we had heard about the difficulty getting return ride in Oia here on CC, and to be honest - even in early May the area where the taxis, bus etc congregate was pretty much a zoo. It was really nice to walk into the parking lot and see our driver (and taxi) waiting for US !

As for restaurants, we found a really nice spot to have dinner and enjoy the beautiful sunset. There are plenty there. Would it have been "better" in Oia ? I don't really know but with this time frame we felt our plan was best for us. The line for the cable car was already quite long when we arrived....... and we were the only ship in port at that time.

It's really up to you, but for what its worth, I thought I got a pretty nice sunset from Thira
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Old April 13th, 2012, 06:49 AM
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We were there in early May, not really "high" season but still had some doubts about a few things.......

first, it got dark @ 8:30 at that time of year...... so in order to see the sunset and eat, get back to the taxi, ride for 20 minutes or so, get in the line, get down and tender back to the ship..... well, that made us nervous too.

second, yes we had heard about the difficulty getting return ride in Oia here on CC, and to be honest - even in early May the area where the taxis, bus etc congregate was pretty much a zoo. It was really nice to walk into the parking lot and see our driver (and taxi) waiting for US !

As for restaurants, we found a really nice spot to have dinner and enjoy the beautiful sunset. There are plenty there. Would it have been "better" in Oia ? I don't really know but with this time frame we felt our plan was best for us. The line for the cable car was already quite long when we arrived....... and we were the only ship in port at that time.

It's really up to you, but for what its worth, I thought I got a pretty nice sunset from Thira
Very helpful, Texancruiser. I think we'll go with your plan.
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Old June 3rd, 2012, 08:37 PM
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Hi Mammoth,

re-reading your post and wondering if you took your trip in May? I am going in July on the Equinox - even though our time frame will be 7-6. Do you have any info for Santorini now that you have gone? This is still one of the ports that we are unsure of our plans. We prefer DIY - thinking taxi to OIA but also considering taxi to a beach? Mostly concerned with the ride up and down by cable car and those long lines people keep talking about. Also, concerns of getting a taxi back as mentioned by Tex. Even considering just doing a ship's tour? Thanks. Lisa
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Old June 8th, 2012, 07:24 PM
lisherm lisherm is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 38
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Hi Tony

reviewing posts again as we get closer to our trip. Still undecided about Santorini due to too much info - cable car and taxi/bus concerns. How was Perissa Beach? Was it worth the trip and how long did you stay there? It sounds as if you did this before the volcano/hot springs excursion you took? Thanks.

Lisa
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