We continued the trip and flew back to Athens. I booked a pickup from the company welcome pickups. It is very punctual and the car boot is huge for three big luggages. Luckily I did not opt to drive in Athens city. It is too crowded and messy!! I think parking will be a huge issue. I stayed very near to Syntagma Square which is the central of Athens. After settling down in our hotel, we explored the city. First stop is lunch. It is around 3pm and I tot lunch time is long over. Alas, I am so wrong. Many of the restaurants and cafes are filled with people. Then, I realized Greek lunch time is 2+, 3pm. It is so different from Asians timing of typical 12+, 1pm. After a nice lunch, we walked to the nearby park to take a look at Temple of Zeus. I am standing outside taking pictures as the park is gated up. Then, we strolled to the award winning Acropolis Museum. It is a three storey building with a restaurant at level 2. It housed all the artifacts found in The Acropolis and Parthenon. If you look at every artifacts and the story, it can easily take you more than four hours. More for museum lovers.
Temple of Zeus
We visited another ancient town ruins at a more southern east part of Santorini. It is called Ancient Thera and situated on top of a hill. Driving up the hill actually is very challenging. There is only one road and is very narrow. Luckily, I did not encounter any cars on my way up or down in this 1.6km road. Another plus points in winter. There are limited parking area on top. Surprisingly, only one other car is there when I visited this place. From there, you can get a good view of the airport and beach area of southern Santorini. To reach the ruins need another good climb and walk..
After visiting the ruin, nearby attraction is Kamari beach. It is sort of a black sand beach. However, winter minus point, the beach is totally close and dead. Nothing is opened. So I just drive pass and take a look at the nice beach.
In Santorini, what is the most iconic and representatives pictures? It should be the three blue dome that is featured in every post cards. So where is this place? It is actually located in Oia. In fact, most of those beautiful post card photos are in Oia. Driving to Oia can be quite a challenge at night cos it has no light at all and the road is very close to cliff. So drive with care. There are some restaurants open in Oia in winter.
We visited the Akrotiri archaeological sites. It is a very interesting place. This ancient city is covered by volcano lava when it was erupted thousands years ago. Yes. There an active volcano in Santorini. The city is unearthed and some of the items are extremely well protected due to the lava. This site can easily take you around 1.5h. An interesting place near Akrotiri site will be the red beach. The sand is reddish in colour. The view is extremely gorgeous. It is a bit of a hike and is slightly dangerous to reach there. Walk with care.
Akrotiri Archaeological Site
You can either take a boat or fly to Santorini from Athens. Boat ride is cheaper but can take you at least five hours. I would recommend taking a plane instead. It is just around 45mins. Why waste precious time? Once there, just booked a car to get you around. The place is not too big. Car ride from one area to another usually will not take more than 30 mins. Winter time, it is not crowded and parking is plentiful. If you dun drive, you also can rely on bus and cab. But I heard the frequency is not that great. But downside in winter is that 80% of the shops are closed.
The next destination is Lamia. It is about 140km away from Meteora. The exact place I stayed is a small town called Loutra Ipatis. Totally love it. There is a hot spring center there for you to relax in the winter and a park. Another tourist spot there is the Thermopylae monument aka as Memorial of King Leonidas. If you watch the movie 300, you will know it talks about the Battle of Thermopylae where King Leonidas leads 300 Spartans into battle against Persian. That is the location where the Battle is fought. That area has hot sulphur springs and you can see smoke coming out from the ground.
After a night at Delphi, I drove to my next destination which is another 230km away. Meteora is home to six monasteries each located on a very beautiful cliff. They are listed as UNESCO site. The opening hours of each monastery varies and not limited by holidays. You need to go early to beat the crowd. If you want to visit all six and really explore inside, I feel a good two days are better. If you are those hit and run type, one day is okay. If you are short of time, then just visit great meteoron monastery which is the biggest and most iconic. Actually I feel no need visit all, just two and then spend your other time taking amazing photos of the external monastery. You need to modestly dress to go in. So ladies, leave you tube at home. But regardless of how decent you dress, ladies suppose to take a sort of cloth to cover themselves waist down. A lot of climbing, so jeans and sport shoes are good.
When I landed in Athens, I rent a car and drive all the way to Delphi which is around 200km away. It should take you less than three hours to get there if you drive within speed limit. Delphi is a small town and site to ruins of Temple of Apollo. It is said to be the 2nd most popular ancient sites after Athens. It should take you not more than four hours to cover everything.
1. What to see?
A. Archaeological Site devoted to Apollo. It is a 15 mins walk from the town. Entrance fee of 12 euro. This ticket also allows you to enter the museum. Open from 8am to 3pm.
Temple of Apollo
B. Archaeological Site devoted to Athena. Free. No closing time.
C. Delphi museum. Ticket package with the ruins. Open from 9 am to 4pm.
2. Where to stay
There are many choices. I stayed at Fedriades Delphi Hotel. Quite central location in the small town. Walking distance to shopping and eateries. Parking is street parking. So you just park along the street as long as you do not block any traffic. I cannot imagine summer time. Parking should be hell.