Written by Kenneth, a BVT client recounting his trip to Greece
As a birthday present to my wife and in celebration of my retirement, I decided to plan a surprise trip to Greece using once again the services of Bella Vita Travels (first trip was Italy and we were sold on their services!). The BVT team and their partners in Greece did a wonderful job in every way from a terrific itinerary, fabulous hotels, incredibly interesting activities and flawless execution.
Our first stop was Athens. While not a beautiful city, it was endlessly interesting that even after four nights there, we still had places we wanted to visit. Our hotel, Grande Bretagne, was a sophisticated urban hotel in the perfect location. We absolutely loved the rooftop restaurant & bar with the spectacular view of the Acropolis and the hotel facilities/room were wonderful (great gym/pool). Service was not personal like two of our other hotels but excellent nonetheless. We would definitely stay there again.
As a history and archaeology buff, I delighted that in this one trip we had an opportunity to visit so many major ancient archeological sites … the Acropolis and Theater of Epidaurus, outside of Athens, from the Classical Greek period … to the Bronze Age civilizations of Mycenae & Knossos … and the prehistoric site of Akrotiri on Thera. I was captivated by the Acropolis and the spectacular new museum. We also found a small musical instrument shop that specialized in handcrafted Greek guitars, and was able to purchase a baglamas for our musician son from a family that has been crafting them for 40 years!
After Athens, we headed to mythical Santorini. Megan was very upfront about how touristy the island could be, but she and her team did an excellent job of showing us the true side of the island. We stayed at Canaves Oia Suites which happens to be of one Megan’s favorite hotels and for good reason! We would rank this as one of the best resort experiences we have had. Their magnificent location and facilities was equally matched by the warm, friendly and personalized service we received. Even morning they would come by to ask how we were doing and provide an update on our tours or ask what they could do for us that day.
We enjoyed a an exploration day of the island that included Akrotiri visit (note, I would suggest having a private guide versus visiting on your own) and a surprise private 1.5 hour presentation on the development of ancient Greek instruments (culminating in the Greek “bagpipe”, the tsabouna) interwoven with stories of Greek mythology and it’s role in society. It may not be for everyone but we loved it and we ended up playing some of these instruments along with our presenter. A couple (he is Greek and she is an American) restored a small hilltop Venetian 13th century tower within the castle of Akrotiri and have turned it into a small cultural center devoted to the islands history and ancient instruments. Such a treat!
Next stop was Milos…Loved this island and this hotel. We were wishing we had booked more nights here. It was a beautiful small hotel with very personalized and gracious service, great food and a beautiful view. We loved coming back here at night having a drink and enjoying the evening on the patio. One day we did had a pre-arranged catamaran trip. It was fabulous to see and swim at many of the spectacular beaches and coves with a wonderful crew who prepared a great meal.
Our last stop was Crete, an amazing island with so much to see and do (and not enough time for us!). We stayed at the lovely Blue Palace Resort, which we enjoyed but after the other 3 islands, our expectations were possibly too high. I hesitate in even mentioning this because it was a beautiful resort with great service and we felt a little guilty (or ungrateful) not liking it as much as all of the others. Perhaps the others set the bar so high … and we should have ended in Santorini or Milos.
On Crete, we thoroughly enjoyed a private tour of incredible Knossos tour & a local winery. Another day we had a relaxing and romantic the picnic sailing trip. The perfect way to end our trip.
This was our second trip with Bella Vita Travels and we are about to start planning our third for fall of 2018. We know we are in excellent hands with Megan and her team!
Best regards, Kenneth