Greecing the wheels
Saturday 03 May 1997
Most scheduled flights between the UK and Greece operate between London (Heathrow or Gatwick) and Athens on British Airways (0345 222111), Olympic Airways (0171-409 3400) and Virgin Atlantic (01293 747747). In early summer, British Airways has a World Offer of pounds 161 plus a massive pounds 18.90 tax - Greece charges more departure tax than any other EU country. For this price, you must book by 14 May, and at least two weeks in advance of travel. Thessaloniki, served daily on BA via Stuttgart, and direct four times a week on Olympic, costs pounds 181.90 including tax.
For travel from places outside London, and/or to reach destinations in the islands and elsewhere in Greece, the only prospect for a non-stop flight is a charter. For example, Unijet (0990 114114) has flights to Corfu in June from Gatwick, Stansted, Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle for between pounds 145 and pounds 199, inc tax.
Ferry 'cross the Aegean
Out of season (October to June) there are at least three boats a week from Piraeus to Folegandros and Sikinos. The least bad is the Milos Express (in a previous incarnation the Sixties-built Sealink ferry Vortingen). Careful study of timetables should also give three connections a week between Sikinos and Amorgos, via Naxos.
Your constant companion should be the estimable Greek Island Hopping 1997 by Frewin Poffley (Thomas Cook, pounds 12.95). Not only is this a comprehensive survey of Greek ferry services, it is also a joy to read. A warning from the chapter "Planning an Itinerary", for example: "Build a two-week itinerary along the lines of `on Tuesday we'll arrive at the port at 14.20, giving us a free 20 minutes to sup a pint of ouzo before catching the 14.45 boat', and the chances are you will come unstuck sooner rather than later. You would also end up extremely drunk. Greece is a casual country, so `on the Tuesday afternoon or evening we'll catch a ferry' approach will be far more successful."
Seven days sailing at Portoheli with half-board costs from pounds 332 low season to pounds 610 per person. Details from Thomas Cook on 0990 666222.
National Tourism Organisation of Greece, 4 Conduit Street, London W1R 0DJ (0171-734 5997). Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus. Open 9.30am-5pm from Monday to Thursday, 9.30am-4.30pm Fridays.
A good source for books on Greece is Hellenic Bookservice, 91 Fortess Road, London NW5 1AG (0171-267 9499; fax 0171-267 9498).
Thessaloniki is European Capital of Culture for 1997. Information on events is available from the Organisation for the Cultural Capital of Europe at 105 Vasilissis Olgas Avenue, Thessaloniki (00 30 31 86 78 60).
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