Friday, January 19, 2018

What the Travel Gods taught me in Greece...


Ok so....I've been doing this travel thing for a few years now.  And for each trip, I plan a detailed itinerary.  Now, I don’t necessary feel the need to stick to everything on that itinerary; but I do like having a plan. 

My itinerary will always include items like my hotel info, transportation info, confirmation numbers or any tours booked, and information on all of the sites I would like to see/things I would like to do.  It’s always very detailed - the Greece Itinerary was 3 pages long!  As a matter of fact, I’ve been told that I should sell my itineraries because of the time and energy I spend creating them (I’m still thinking about that).

Anyway…..my Greece itinerary was no different.  We (my sister and I) traveled to Athens, Santorini and Crete.  The itinerary had all info needed and I was feeling confident that I had “dotted all of my Is and crossed all of my Ts”.  I had planned many itineraries, even itineraries for friends/family members for trips I wasn’t going on.  I am a beast at Itinerary Planning!

Each day was planned, including free time and beach days.  We flew to Athens, did everything on the itinerary, had an amazing time:  BAM.  We flew to Santorini, did everything on the itinerary, had an amazing time:  BAM.  We took a ferry to Crete, got into a taxi, showed the driver the itinerary with the hotel address (another good reason to have a detailed itinerary) and he said “that will be about €100”!  WHAT?!  #RecordScratch

You see, I hadn’t done my research.  I assumed Crete was just “another Greek island”.  I didn’t realize that it was actually the LARGEST and MOST POPULOUS of the islands.  The island is 160 miles long and its widest point is 37 miles.  It’s actually the 88th largest island in the world!  I.Had.No.Idea. 

So there we are at the ferry port, it’s about 7pm, and our hotel is 40 miles - or approximately €100 - away.  Now we had to make a decision.  Do we walk away from the reservation we had already paid for and try and find another hotel closer to the port?  Or do we just pay the taxi ride and stick to the itinerary?  My Itinerary Building Ego tells me to stick to the magnificence that is the itinerary.  So off we go….

We arrive safely to the hotel in Agios Nikolaos and while it was not bad, it was not Heraklion and that is where our activities for the next 2 days were.  So we walk around the town, get some dinner, and decide to book a hotel for the next night in Heraklion.  We also decided to take a bus back to that area because spending another €100 for a cab wasn’t going to work.  We had to chalk up the second night hotel because it was prepaid – but fine – sunken costs.

We arrive at our Heraklion hotel the next day before noon and now we are back on track.  We continue on with planned itinerary and everything is good with the world.

The next morning, I went online to look at our flight back to Athens and I for some reason I thought it said 5:05pm but the itinerary said 8:05pm.  Could there be a typo on the itinerary?!  I tried to get someone on the phone from the airline but there was no local number to call and the “Chat with a Representative” option was closed.  So we decided to simply be safe and arrive at the airport early.

We spent our last hours in Greece relaxing on the beach – which by the way cost us €60 RT in a taxi because, well because we are beach boogie and we wanted the “best” beach in the area.  Get back to the hotel, grab our luggage and head to HER airport.

We arrive at the airport tanned and happy, only to find out that our flight back to ATH did not leave from Heraklion airport.  As a matter of fact, our airline didn’t even have flights to/from HER!  As I’m standing there, listening to a very nice lady at the information booth tell me that I needed to get to Chania International Airport (CHQ) and that it’s at least 3 hours away, I could feel my Itinerary Ego falling away.  Ahhhhh – the Travel Gods were laughing hard at this point.  I would never make it there for a 5:05pm flight.

My sister and I considered simply purchasing a flight on another airline out of HER for a cost of $174, but instead we sat down, called the airline and confirmed our departure time.  It was 8:05pm – YEA ITINERARY!  We grabbed our luggage and headed out of the HER airport.  We jumped into a cab, told the driver where we needed to go, he told us €150.  I laughed and told my sister “I got it” and we were on our way (after a stop at the ATM). 

During the ride, I quietly thanked the Travel Gods (American, Delta and United) for the flight time mix up because without it, we certainly would have missed that flight, causing us to miss our flight the next day back to Chicago. 

I realized that in Crete alone, we spent over €300 in taxis because of my assumptions:  that it was a small island, that everything was close, that there was only one airport on the island.  I didn’t do my typical research.  I didn’t look at any maps.  I didn’t use my resources (friends, the internet, Facebook groups, etc.).  I told myself “you got this” but Crete actually GOT ME!

Whew – Lesson Learned.  And while I will still create detailed itineraries because part of the excitement for me is in the planning, I won’t let my ego stop me from taking the time to get all the details I can about the destination I am traveling to.  I won’t let assumptions cause me to take shortcuts that end up costing me the equivalent of a flight to another destination.

Me and My Sister on our ATV ride around Santorini!

By the way, Greece was amazing!  The history in Athens, the sunset in Santorini, and even Crete turned out to be enjoyable.  Check out all of my pictures on my Facebook page by clicking HERE! 

Get out there and go my friends!  There are some good deals floating around.


Angela Myers
Founder, 2 Girls & a Bikini