That was the only dilemma we had in traveling in Greece without making advance reservations in October. As we got to the end of the month we did find a few places closing for winter, but still we had no difficulty in finding inexpensive -- and always, charming -- accommodations while traveling without set destination or itinerary.
Hotel Manessi on this island of Poros because it was our first stop some 24 hours after leaving Seattle. Spontaneity has its place but not after a combo marathon plane, train, bus and ferry trip. (The four nights we spent here at the end of the trip were booked when we walked up to their front desk.)
While we don't usually make reservations, we do our research by reading books, articles or the Internet (we enjoy the reviews on www.tripadvisor.com) or by simply talking to fellow travelers prior to arriving in a place. Even though we had an idea of what might be available. . .
Selection: A Matter of Serendipity:
Spetses: We'd planned to stay a night or two; we liked the website of a boutique hotel here. As the ferry approached, we decided the waterfront hotels would be fine. After disembarkation Joel set out towards them, with me at my normal, ten paces behind him.
So I was the one, a man approached, offering a brochure saying, "If you are looking for a place, try mine - Villa Christina - it is only 500 meters up the road." Although the waterfront hotels were fine, the brochure photos tempted and we set out to take a look at Villa Christina. It was so doggone charming (made more so by a courtyard filled with orange and lemon trees and brilliant bougainvillea blossoms) that we ended up staying there four nights at 35E, or about $50, per night. (We would never have found it on our own.)
|Our Hydra hotel was a phone call away . This was our taxi across the channel.|
When we asked how to find it, she replied, "He will meet you at the dock." Sure enough, George, the manager, was at the dock to lead us to his Pension Erofili. The rooms were spacious - we were tempted to stay longer but had a rental car to return so had to put this place on our 'return to' list!
|We found our hotel in Aegina several blocks from the ferry dock|
We've now spent four months of the last two years vagabonding through Greece, successfully using this 'go and find a place' system and will likely continue to do so until we are too old to haul bags around. And this is what we do:
1. Travel only in the low or shoulder seasons (early spring or late fall) -- we wouldn't try it in the middle of high season or at Easter or other holiday times when rooms are in demand (rates are also higher then).
2. Schedule our arrival for weekdays, as there is sometimes less availability on weekends.
3. Ask to see a room or two (guidebooks recommend this as well) and if we aren't sure about a place we tell them we will give it some thought and may return. This isn't an attempt to get a lower price; sometimes we really don't know if we want Place A until we see Place B.
4. Pack lightly, using small carry-on-sized roller bags and smaller shoulder bags; this wouldn't work with lots of luggage.
5. Ask locals or other travelers to recommend places. We've had some of our best experiences following the advice of others.
Do you travel without reservations? Have you stumbled across a place that we should know about? Use the comment section and let us know.
Photos on this post are the property of Jackie Smith and can be used - only with prior permission.
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