Malta and Athens on the books!
As you already know, I have planned to spend the month of July traveling around Europe with my cousin, S., whilst working on my dissertation. I’m so incredibly excited to be able to take advantage of my time here, and doing it with my cousin is just icing on the cake. We decided to get Eurail passes for the majority of our unplanned travel, but the first two legs of our trip involve flights, so we decided to get those pinned down while flights are cheap.
After trying to map our journey (country by country; we’re going to figure out the cities as we go), we decided that Malta would be a good starting point for our excursion. A few days in the Mediterranean sunshine, a bit of sightseeing and a bit of family. [Check out my previous Maltese excursion here, here and here.] Plus, as it’s an island, we decided to get the flights out of the way initially and then stick to rail for the remainder of the journey. We booked our flights to Malta through AirMalta and got a pretty decent deal: £120 from LHR to Malta. Now, I realize that EasyJet has much better deals (I found a one way ticket for £80ish, but I took the following facts into consideration when booking:
1Easy Jet flies out of Gatwick (or Stansted or Luton) vs. Heathrow. Heathrow has the added bonus of having a tube line that drops off there. For £5 I can take the tube to Heathrow vs. the £18 that I would have to spend taking the tube to Victoria and Gatwick Express to the airport.
2Luggage! EasyJet allows one piece of hand luggage and everything else is charged (£9 in advance, £18 at the airport) which is inconvenient; AirMalta will allow the extra luggage that I’m bringing and save the headaches.
3Flight time: The flight times with EasyJet weren’t so great. Mind you, our flight with AirMalta gets us to Malta shortly before midnight but it’s better than a 5A flight the day after my cousin gets to London.
In any case, between the flight times, luggage, airport issues and added benefit of not having to fly a discount airline for once, we went for it! We snagged a great hotel in Buggiba, Malta for the four nights (three-and-a-half days) we will be in town. Total cost for a four star hotel near the beach? £149 for both of us; less than £20 a night each! That’s less than I pay in London for my current shoe box of a room! After getting the Malta trip nailed down last week, we decided it would be best to get the second leg of our trip under control as well. After discussing countries that were on our must-see list, we both agreed that Greece was a must! Since it’s the furthest point of our journey, we decided to make that the first stop of our mainland trip and the departing point for our Eurail adventures! For a mere $112 we snagged a flight on Aegean Air from Malta to Athens. What a steal!
I have heard amazing things about Greece: from the history and culture of Athens to the serene island of Santorini and the party haven that is Mykonos. Certainly, if we had the time, we would see everything! Unfortunately, time is of the essence and we needed to be able to see as much as possible in four and a half short days. We decided to book a hotel in Athens for the entirety of the trip, using it as a sort of home base for the rest of our Greek sightseeing. Though we’ll likely spend two of the days exploring Athens, we want to allocate at least one day to Santorini to get a feel for the islands. If we feel semi-fulfilled with a couple of days in Athens, I’m hoping to use that extra day to hit up a nearby city (though I’m not 100% sure where that’d be yet… Delphi, perhaps?) or another island. Like I’ve mentioned before, Greece was one of the top 3 places I wanted to see in my time here (along with Rome, Italy and Istanbul, Turkey) and I am so incredibly stoked to actually have this booked! I have fantasized about this trip for years (probably since I was eight) so I’m hoping that it’s half as amazing as I’ve imagined! Another bonus: for five nights in Greece, I snagged a great little hotel (3 star about a mile from the Acropolis) for £173 total! Again, talk about a steal. Can you beat a Greek excursion for £18 per night? Did I mention that breakfast and wi-fi are included? Cha-ching!
Less than one month until this madness begins and I can’t wait! Until then, I’ve gotta stick to studying for my exams (they start in 10 short days)! It will be such a relief once this craziness is over…