A Comprehensive guide for two amazing destinations in the world – Greece and Gran Canaria
Tour Summary of Greece and Gran Canaria
Starting location: Bangalore
Tour Duration: 11 Days
Travel Month: December (Christmas New year time)
Number of People: Total 6 families 20 people including adults and kids.
Athens: 4 nights
Santorini: 1 night
Gran Canaria: 4 night
Madrid: 1 Night
Expenditure (All inclusive): INR 4,90,000/- (2A+1C)
Planning is the most important and exciting part of any tour. It imbibes a lot of positive energy and motivation to our daily life. You must plan your holidays for at least 6 months in advance.
This time we started our planning well in advance. Our intention for this trip was to celebrate our 20 years of Graduation. I would like to highlight that our friend Kuntala (founder of travelogueofkuntala.com) was supposed to travel with us but finally she dropped, and I told her that I will remember this.
From our previous experience we knew that Christmas time is the only time when we have common holiday for all as (India, USA, UK). Time was fixed but it took time for us to decide the place. After lot of deliberation finally we found Grand Canarias is the best fit for us in terms of weather and location. Reunion was planed for 4 days so we added one more destination in our trip before Grand Canarias. Initially we were planning for Morocco, but you need separate visa to travel to Morocco and there is no Morocco embassy in Bangalore or Chennai. If you need Morocco visa you need to go to Delhi and apply for Visa. For us most logical choice was Europe (no need of additional visa) and we selected Greece.
As this trip was well planned, air tickets were not very expensive. We booked our Air tickets in the month of April.
- BLR – Athens via Air France
- Madrid – BLR via air France
- Athens – Santorini – Athens via Ryanair
- Athens – Madrid via Aegean.
- Madrid – Gran Canaria – Madrid via Iberia
Air France was above average 7/10, Ryanair was good as expected no surprise 6/10, Aegean Airlines was average no surprise 6/10, Iberia bad airlines full of surprises 3/10. We were travelling from Madrid to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Airport. We were 5 people – 4 adults and 1 kid. I did the web checking for my family (me, my wife and kid), but my friend did not. During check in at the counter they said as the flight is overbooked. They will not allow our friend's family to travel in the same flight. They can accommodate them for the next flight which is 4 hrs later than this flight. At the same time, they agreed to pay 300€ as inconvenience charges. But after one year of follow up, still they have not got the money back.
I like Booking.com and I am a genius member, I get good discount in selected hotels / apartments.
- Athens: Hermes Hotel for 4 nights, INR 33000. without parking. Good Sleep with king-size bed enough for 3 of us, Excellent location, booked without breakfast.
- Santorini: Kaleidoscope Cave Houses for 1 night, INR 17254 free roadside parking. 1BHK cave house, sea-facing, huge space, Good sleep, Good location, Private Jacuzzi with hot water. Enjoyed our stay. Very good breakfast.
- Gran Canaria: NH Las Palmas Playa las Canteras for 4 nights INR 33500. without Parking. Provided extra bed for a child, Good sleep, Good location, very good breakfast
- Madrid: Aparto-Hotel Rosales, for 1-night INR9401. Good location, Metro access, booked without breakfast.
Guideline for Schengen visa for Greece and Gran Canaria: You need to apply for the visa at the embassy, where you will be staying maximum number of days. Our stay duration in Spain was 5 days, and Greece was also 5 days. So we applied visa at Greece embassy as Athens was our port of entry. The visa application process is not very complicated. You need to provide all relevant documents as mandated by the visa office. It typically takes 2 – 3 weeks to process the application. If your documents are all clear, you can even get the visa within a week. We applied through VFS Bangalore and got the visa within 10 days.
I booked the car at Santorini Airport for 2 days from Budget (Avis) for Santorini visit. Pick up and drop at the Airport. It was easy and convenient. As it was on 25th December dropping, only very few people were working in Santorini, Avis was closed, I had to wait for 30 minutes for Avis representative to come and take back the car key.
In Gran Canaria I booked the car from CICAR. I booked the car from “La Palma Airport” instead of “Las Palmas Airport”. I never realized that there are 2 different airports with very similar name. After arrival when I showed them the booking details they laughed and told me your booking is not valid. But I would like to appreciate CICAR to arrange a vehicle with same booking. It was Christmas time and no cars were available. Some how they managed to give us a car, though it was not from the same category.
Following documents are required to book the car
- Driving license (Home Country)
- International driving permit (IDP) is not required to book the car. But as per country regulations in Spain and Greece, International driving permit (IDP) is required to drive the car for non-EU residents.
During car booking, please don't take insurance during online booking. Take zero liabilities full coverage insurance from counter (expensive than online). Online insurance has lot of terms and conditions and you will face challenges when required.
International Driving Permit (IDP)
Getting IDP in India is very easy. You need to apply online, pay the fee online and go to RTO office after taking appointment online. You need to go to RTO two times, one day for application and one day for collection. Time required is 15 days. Following documents are required for IDP
- Copy of Passport and Visa
- Copy of Air ticket
With all the arrangements in place, we started our tour to Greece and Gran Canaria.
DAY 1 – Greece and Gran Canaria Tour
Our flight was from Bangalore to Athens via Paris. The flight was late by 20 minutes from Bangalore to Paris. We were left with only 1 hour to catch the other flight from Paris to Athens. We broke the queue in immigration and security check. Somehow, we were able to catch the other flight.
I was expecting that we will not get our luggage at Athens and as expected our luggage did not arrived. This is not the 1st time we are facing similar kind of experience; we always keep few cloths in our hand luggage to survive for 1-2 days. In the airport counter they took our hotel address and told us that we will get out luggage before 5:00 am tomorrow morning and the kept their commitment. From airport to hotel we took train as we had no luggage with us.
After checking in to the hotel we booked Cruise trip for next day “Athens One Day Cruise to 3 Islands Aegina – Poros – Hydra”. We walked around the place and enjoyed the evening.
Food: Lunch in flight and dinner at McDonalds.
DAY 2 – Greece and Gran Canaria Tour
We started our day very early in the morning at 5:30 am. It was a guided tour. The pickup bus arrived very near to our hotel at 5:30 am then they took us to the ship.
First Island was Hydra. On the island, there is no car, motorbike, or bicycle. Island is very small. People majorly communicate by walk. There are few donkey stations to hire donkey if you have some luggage or you don't feel like walking.
Second Island was Poros, beautiful place with a picturesque landscape. Greece as a country is very rich in history. Your guide will explain all the details about the history.
Third Island was Aegina. This island is big compared to Hydra and Poros. They took us for a round trip by bus. The bus journey was excellent and the guide explained the history throughout the journey.
From Aegina we returned to Athens. During our return journey we enjoyed the show in the ship, very good experience.
Food: Lunch and dinner was included in the package, (buffet: veg, non-veg, sea food) both was good and tried local delicacy
DAY 3 – Greece and Gran Canaria Tour
Santorini; we started our day very early. As it was a 2 days trip, we kept our luggage in the same hotel after checking out. The hotel had no problem to keep our luggage; as we had a booking to check in once again in the next day evening. We travelled only with hand luggage. We hired a car from Avis at Santorini. After landing at Santorini we took the car and started our trip. The weather was good and sunny.
We went to 1. Kamari beach. We could see very few people around. In general, there was not much tourist at Santorini due to the winter holidays. We spent some time at the beach and then went to 2. Thera. This place was good and we could see a lot of people around. We could experience iconic view of Santorini from this place. We spent reasonably good amount of time there. Then took lunch and went ahead to 3. Oia. There is a sunset point at Oia and that can't be missed.
Food: Lunch, we tried a small European restaurant and food was good. For dinner we went for sea food, and it was very fresh.
DAY 4 – Greece and Gran Canaria Tour
We stayed in a cave house. It was a beautiful house. The host was good. After breakfast, we started our day. The weather was bad, cloudy and drizzling. We went to the red beach. The place was good and diving was beautiful. After the red beach, we went to Thera again and went ahead to Santorini airport from Thera.
The same evening one of my friend with family joined us at Athens airport and we enjoyed our evening at Athens.
Food: Lunch non-veg European food. Dinner at McDonalds.
DAY 5 – Greece and Gran Canaria Tour
After breakfast, we started our day with Hop on Hop Off tour. We always opt for Hop on Hop Off in every city (where available). It provides an overview of the city and its attractions. We feel without Hop on Hop off, the tour is incomplete. We took it for half day.
During the second half, we hired one taxi and explored the urban area. The taxi driver was very good at English. He told us the history of Greece along with the places where we were travelling.
Major attractions covered
- Olympic Stadium
- Hadrian's Arch
- Temple of Poseidon – Sounio (Urban)
Food: Street food for lunch. Dinner local delicacy
DAY 6 – Greece and Gran Canaria Tour
We had an early morning flight to Madrid. After checking out of the hotel we went towards the airport. We hired the same taxi with whom we spent the previous day. On our way to Madrid, I have observed a natural phenomenon from the flight, which is not clear to me till today. Don't know whether I have seen a volcano or the cloud on top of the mountain. You can also check the picture to find out.
From Madrid, we took the flight to Gran Canaria (GC) via Iberia. We had a very bad experience with Iberia airlines which I explained earlier.
We reached GC in the afternoon. From the Airport we took the car and went ahead to the Hotel.
Then the fun began, all my friends had reached earlier than me. After checking in to the hotel, we went out for dinner. After dinner, kids found their company and they started playing in the hotel. We adults started hunting bars, all males and few females. I was the only person in the group who did not drink alcohol. However, I have given them company with soft drinks.
Food: Brunch at McDonalds. Dinner local delicacy
DAY 7 – Greece and Gran Canaria Tour
After breakfast, we started our day. Our plan was to go to “Roque Nublo” and “Boulevard El Faro” hill station and beach. GC as an island is beautiful and driving is an awesome experience. We took a lot of snaps during driving. We had 4 cars with us, and 20 people. The other challenges were all kids wanted to sit together. One of my friends hired MPV to accommodate all 6 kids in one van.
From the beach, we came back to the hotel in the evening. After escorting all the kids into the hotel we started hunting bars once again. Finally, we came back at 2:00 am in the early morning.
DAY 8 – Greece and Gran Canaria Tour
Our plan was to go to Tenerife Island. This island is located almost 100 km away from GC and ferry takes almost 4 hours to reach from GC. We took the early morning ferry. We took our cars also to Tenerife island. A separate ticket is required to board the car on the ferry. It was a beautiful experience and for me first time experience with the car on a ferry. While parking inside the ferry, you need to pull the hand brake very strong; and need to apply the gear (not in neutral for manual transmission car) don't know about Automatic Transmission cars.
We all enjoyed the day very much once again at the hill station and beach. The most enjoyable part was driving through the hilly roads and the view.
While coming back from Tenerife we had an incident. One of my friends lost the route to the ferry terminal. We all thought that they will miss the ferry (4 people) but at the last moment, they were able to reach. We reached the hotel in the late evening.
But the day was not over yet, once again we went out for bar hunting till late night.
Food: In canary Island sea food is very good and we tried almost everything so specifically not mentioned any.
DAY 9 – Greece and Gran Canaria Tour
As I told earlier, my tour is incomplete without trying Hop-on-Hop- Off. We had senor citizen in our group; one of my friend's parents also part of the tour. Only 6 people were on for Hop-on-Hop-Off while others decided to chill on the beach. My son was also not part of hop-on-hop-off tour. We took the tour for half day and then joined them on the beach in the afternoon. We took special dinner with all and enjoyed the evening.
But night was still young, and we went out once again for bar hunting.
DAY 10 – Greece and Gran Canaria Tour
Time to say goodbye to GC. We took an early morning flight as we wanted to spend some time in Madrid. After putting our luggage in the hotel, we went out to explore Madrid. It was so crowded we couldn't get a chance to get a ticket for Hop-On-Hop-Off. Then we decided to explore via metro. We spent the whole day and enjoyed the New Year's Eve in Madrid and came back to the hotel at 2:00 AM.
Return back home.
|SL No||Description||INR Converted (1Euro = INR 75)|
|1||Air ticket (for 3)||201,000|
|2||Visa (for 3)||18,000|
|4||Car Rental and Fuel (Santorini, GC)||27,500|
|5||Cruise (Greece) / Ferry (GC)||31,200|
|6||Metro (Madrid), Big bus (Athens, GC), Taxi (Athens)||32,800|
The trip was one of the best trips for me. This trip is memorable for me for so many reasons; a lot of history in Greece, a lot of fun in GC, ferry ride, good drive, good food, and more. While coming back to home, I was feeling very sad and would like to do more these kind of trips with friends.
A full time hard core professional and an avid traveller, exploring the world in his unique fashion. Loves visiting places to excavate the hidden treasures.