I'm vaguely pondering the idea of going to Greece early December. All I know about the country is from reading greek mythology and doing three years of greek classes in highschool (which means that I can recite (and more importantly read) the greek alphabet fairly swiftly, but have vocabulary that doesn't stretch beyond "oi'moi" and "hè thalatta" - which probably bears as much resemblance to modern greek as latin does to italian, and so wouldn't do me much good anyway).
Aka, nothing that relates very much to the country as it exists today.
I have two reasons for wanting to go: 1) one of my friends from Sweden is living in Thessaloniki for a year, and 2) I remember southern Portugal having really nice weather in December (low 20s during the day, nice breezes, mostly cloudless), think I could use some of that, and am hoping Greece will be the same, since it's on the Mediterranean as well. (And hey, what's a few thousand kilometers difference in longitude between friends?)
So... how wrong am I likely to be about the weather being similar? And what all should I see, where should I go? I love hiking, beautiful nature (does this exist much in Greece? I mostly have an image in my mind of dry and barren landscapes, but that's based on very little...), would like to see a few historical sights (I guess a visit to the Acropolis is a must). I don't care about nightlife or beaches, although some nice green-blue water to gaze at and walk along wouldn't be amiss either.
What's public transport like between cities/regions of the country, and how should I get around? Can I safely assume people working on public transport to speak English, or will I be stumbling my way through with a phrase book? Which of the islands are worth visiting without being tourist resorts?
What questions am I not thinking of asking, but should I be asking?
Well .. Hi there !
Seems like you have an idea about Ancient Greek, but believe me, if you try speaking to a Greek using this language the most possible thing to happen will be to stare at you as if you were landed from Mars ! I am sure you wouldn't like that to happen.
As far as the weather conditions first, allow me to tell you that Greece has nothing to do with Portugal or eastern Med. Usually, December is a rather cold month, either rainy on the South, with heavy snow on the North and relatively freezing temperatures on the North West. You can find higher temperatures (up to 18 - 20C) in Crete island which is very very South (just opposite to .. Africa) Under this circumstances i am not sure you would like to walk by a beach and act as if its summer! Athens has a milder winter, but for a woman like me (i am coming from North West) its nearly unbearable for my skin to accept the sea breeze during winter time. Snow suits me better !!!!
On the other hand, you can do hiking or walking or bird watching, or hunting if u like, in many many areas during winter. A nice option is Ioannina (http://www.about-ioannina.gr/) or Grevena (good snow centers, hiking paths, many travel agents organising such excursions). Another one is Karditsa or Veroia (equally good natural landscape). To be honest, my favorite is a complex of traditional villages called Zagorochoria (Ioannina region - North West). You can find excellent accommodation, high quality services, organised trips and excursions like canoe or rafting, amazing food and a breathcutting landscape! Don't miss it if you get here after all.
You can get nice services as far as public transportation refers. Some of them speak fluent english, some of them don't. But i am sure you will find the proper bus for your prefered destination.
Corfu island (North west region - opposite to Italy) is an excellent option for a winter destination, as well as Crete or Lesvos (Lesvos is my favorite - there is a unique architecture on this island, with excellent accommodation services for all seasons and you can taste both the sea and the mountain during winter time).
I guess, you are bombed with info and ... just take a map, check on the areas and do a schedule! You will enjoy this trip .. don't question that !
Ask anything more you need - at any time.
All the best
[ Edit: Edited at Oct 20, 2006 12:51 AM by atzim ]
Thanks! Not quite what I was hoping for with regards to the weather *g* but very helpful.
I am a new member here and this is my first post to the forum.
The previous friend gave very good answers concerning the weather. Greece is cold in the winter; at least cold for our standards. For Northern European standards it's not too bad I guess, but December it's a month that there is snow, low temperatures and rains. Greece is a country for summer. All the activities and the interesting things take place after spring; so basically in winter you may not like it. F.ex. I don't know what a tourist can do in Athens on a rainy day. In Northern Europe there are many closed spaces, museums, malls etc. where somebody can spend its day in a rain, but in Greece most of the activities and the nice things are for good weather, so when weather is bad it's a bit melancholic.
If you decide to come you can visit Athens and Thessaloniki, go to Nafplio ( a small city near Athens). from islands I adore Santorini, Crete and Rodos.
that's all from me!
enjoy your trip