A GREEK FERRY TALE
We are a couple in our mid 50s looking to travel to Greece for four weeks. We were thinking September or October, but realise that some Greek islands shut down after summer. What islands are worth visiting that aren’t too touristy? Do ferries still run?
The Greek islands are such a magical place (I can’t wait to see the stunning scenery when the new Mamma Mia! movie is at the cinema this week). The beach life, the fresh food, the salt-ofthe-earth people – you just can’t go wrong with this destination. But you are absolutely right, Greece during September or October will be much quieter, and some restaurants and activities will close down.
The upside is prices won’t be as high and the crowds not as big – a plus, as far as Doc can see – but if there is something specific you want to see or do, inquire online to make sure they will be open for your chosen dates.
Helloworld Travel’s Matthew Perre reminds us that ferries between Athens, Mykonos and Santorini can be up to seven hours each, so a local flight will be more time-effective. That said, the ferries still operate in the off-season, but on limited schedules. And although they are long trips, travelling is comfortable with assigned seating and food and drinks available to buy on board.
Given your luxurious time frame, you might like to consider a seven- or 10-day guided tour from Athens to visit the northern part of Greece visiting Olympia, Delphi and Meteora, followed by a few nights in Athens to see the Acropolis. Then unwind and relax on the islands and travel more independently. The main island attractions are the beautiful beaches, historical sites and amazing sunsets (take a sunset cruise).
Matthew says Mykonos and Santorini are very touristy (especially when cruise ships are in port as thousands of extra visitors descend) but Paros and Ios also offer great resorts and restaurants. You will feast on some of the best food in the world – Doc can smell the fresh seafood and mouth-watering lamb grilling already.
We are travelling to Bali soon and were told we need six months’ validity on our passports. Is that six months from date of entry, or departure?
This is always a tricky one, and I’m happy you asked because it is a constant query from loyal Doc readers. Arianna Albertazzo of Helloworld Travel Packenham says you need six months’ validity from your return date into Australia. Cautious airport staff may warn you otherwise, but they just want you to be safe, not sorry.
Australian passports are valid for travel to and from Australia until their expiry date, but some countries may refuse entry if you have less than six months’ validity beyond the period of intended stay. The passport buffer is mostly to do with visa precautions. Governments tend to err on the side of caution with these things, factoring in unforeseen circumstances that
We have booked and paid for our holiday to Thailand using our ANZ credit card. The bank says we are covered for travel insurance because we used the card. Have you heard any good or bad reports using this, or would you recommend taking other travel insurance?
Doc has heard many travel horror stories about people who thought they were adequately covered when they weren’t, so good to doublecheck. As a general rule, always check the details. Helloworld Packenham’s Arianna Albertazzo says things to look out for include what you’re actually covered for, what your excess is, and whether the insurer pays upfront in an emergency or if you have to fork out the cash to be reimbursed later.
So if there was a drama and you were hit with an $80,000 medical bill before you got home would you be able to pay? (Just an FYI – CoverMore and SureSave both pay upfront for medical bills). Also, check your age and whether that is covered by the bank insurance. One traveller who didn’t check what he was covered for realised – after two years of global travel – that he was too old to be included by the “free” insurance. Some banks require you to spend a certain amount using that particular card on your travels. Call the bank and check exemptions. If not 100 per cent satisfied, get extra coverage from another insurer.
We have two days in Budapest in July. Can you advise some interesting places to visit and things to do? Can we use euros?
Budapest is a booming, vibrant city and there’s loads to see and do, says Cathy Natoli from Laze Away Travel in Sydney, a Helloworld Travel member. You can use euros in Hungary, which makes life easy. Make sure you visit the Buda Castle, which is a beautiful historical masterpiece (built in 1265!) and the home of Hungarian art. The Fisherman’s Bastion is also a stunning way to see the city – the turreted fortress looks like something out of a Walt Disney fairytale. The famous Hungarian Parliament Building is also worth exploring, as it stands proud on the banks of Europe’s longest river, the Danube.
It may be worth looking into a private tour to make sure you don’t miss any spectacular sights – but with only two days you may be pressed for time. Don’t be tempted to do too much. You can get carried away soaking up thousands of years of history in European cities – sometimes you need to balance it with a picnic in the park or a sleep-in after an indulgent dinner.