Friday, 30 June 2017

My experience with MEDexperience

MEDexperience Greek Island Hopping Tour Review Athens

As you may be aware if you regularly read my blog, in early June I went on a Greek island hopping tour with a company called MEDexperience. When myself and my friend Kelly decided we wanted to go to Greece this summer, we knew that we didn't want to have to do much organising, so we thought that a tour would be the perfect way to see a few of the Greek islands, with minimal effort on our part.

We performed a good old Google search for tour companies that could take us to Greece, and MEDexperience seemed to stand out as the cheapest, plus it went to quite a few islands that we were interested in. We paid £469 for an 11 day Greek island hopping tour, starting and ending in Athens. There was also a 9 day tour available for £389, starting in Santorini and ending in Mykonos, but flights in and out of the islands would have made it more expensive than a couple of extra days of the tour and flights to Athens.

MEDexperience Greek Island Hopping Tour Review Athens

Signing onto and paying for the tour was fairly easy, and the company were really quick to reply to emails. A couple of weeks before we were due to fly we were sent a detailed itinerary for the tour, including accommodation details and a link to the Facebook group in case we wanted to meet others that would be joining us in Greece.

Once we were in Athens, it was really easy to get to our hotel from the airport via the metro (and much cheaper than a taxi, which would have cost us around 50 euros, compared to 10 euros for the metro). Whilst on the tour we were staying in dorm rooms, with up to 6 people in one room, although most rooms had a maximum of 4. On the first night of the tour we met our leader, Stavi, and the rest of our group. There were 12 of us in total, which was a really lovely size as it meant that we were able to get to know each other really well over the 11 days.

MEDexperience is cheaper than other tour companies because it does not include food or optional excursions. The price you pay for the tour includes all transport except airport transfers, accommodation fees and a tour guide. We had to pay extra for our flights, and take some spending money for food, drink and the optional excursions.

On our first day in Athens we were able to go on an optional walking tour around the city, which cost us 17 euros each. The tour took us around all of the main sights, and I felt like I had seen Athens after a few hours following the tour guide. If I'm honest, it wasn't my favourite city I've ever visited. I loved the old town and the history behind some parts, but the newer part isn't the prettiest place I've been to.

Our first island stop was Santorini. Everything felt really easy because the bus magically turned up for us without us organising it and took us straight to the ferry port for an 8 hour boat to the island. We got to know one another a bit more during the ferry journey, and Stavi was amazing as she answered all of our questions about the trip and Greece in general. That evening we were able to go for an orientation walk around Fira, the town we were staying in, and have dinner with everyone.

On the second day in Santorini we joined an excursion to do a hike to Oia, the iconic blue and white town in Santorini, visit the black beach, and take part in wine tasting. This tour was 40 euros. Oia was beautiful and just like you see in photos of Santorini, but I found the black beach to be a bit underwhelming. I was surprised by how much fun I had at the wine tasting - it was an incredible setting looking out over the ocean and all of the wines were honestly the best I have ever tasted.

Our next stop was Ios, and again the ferry ride and transfers were really easy. Ios is known for its partying, and we were given the option to join a bar crawl on the first evening, and try and make it to sunrise. I think I made it to around 1.30am and got too tired, so I went back to the hotel to bed!

MEDexperience Greek Island Hopping Tour Review Ios

Ios was definitely the best hotel that we stayed in - we had an amazing view over the town and only 3 people per room. I also loved the town, as it was quite small with little winding streets and colourful bougainvillea. Stavi took us to a different restaurant each night of the tour, and she seemed to know the best places to go - plus we got discounts in some restaurants by showing our MEDexperience wristband.

MEDexperience Greek Island Hopping Tour Review Ios

On our second day in Ios we joined the speedboat safari tour, which was 42 euros. We walked down to the beach and took part in a type of watersport called tube riding, which was so much fun. We then climbed aboard a little speedboat and the captain took us to explore caves, snorkel, and relax on a deserted beach. This was my favourite optional excursion of the whole tour and was definitely worth the money - I really enjoyed speeding along the sea with music blasting from the boat and the wind whipping through my hair.

The next island we visited was Paros. We stayed in a lovely little quirky hotel with a pool, which we spent most of the first day relaxing around.

I also loved Paros' main town, as it also had lots of little interesting streets and bright colours everywhere you looked. The first evening we took part in an organised Greek night, which was 25 euros. We were served lots of incredible Greek food, and then took part in Greek dancing which was so much fun.

MEDexperience Greek Island Hopping Tour Review Paros

On our second day in Paros, we went on the island day trip (48 euros). We caught a public bus to the port and got onto a boat that took us around Paros and Antiparos. We were able to swim in the sea, including in the beautiful blue lagoon, and had a barbecue on the beach. I did enjoy this trip, but we were a little surprised that there were other members of the public on our boat, as we were told that all of our excursions were private. The barbecue on the beach was really good and swimming in the sea was nice as it was so hot, but I wish we had had our own boat as we were all a bit squished at the front. I'm not sure that I would have paid nearly 50 euros if I had known this in advance, and everyone else on our tour said the same thing.

Our final island was Mykonos, and we stayed at the famous Paradise Beach Resort which has had many famous DJs play in its club, including LMFAO and Calvin Harris. On the first day we stayed in the resort, and partied from 4pm til late, as there was a Zumba party and then a face paint party. I had a lot of fun dancing the night away on the beach. The only thing I didn't like about the resort was that it was quite far away from the main town, so there wasn't that much to see except the actual hotel. I'm not sure that I'd want to stay there longer than a couple of nights, as it could get a little bit boring.

MEDexperience Greek Island Hopping Tour Review Mykonos

On the second day we relaxed on the beach and then caught the bus into Mykonos town, where we watched the sun setting and ate dinner. I also really liked Mykonos and would like to go back, as it is quite big and I didn't feel like I saw much of the town. It was really pretty, again with lots of little side streets and interesting-looking shops. One of the worst parts about being on a tour group was that we couldn't just stop and look in the shops, as we had to keep up with the rest of the group. When I'm on holiday I usually spend hours meandering through little towns and really enjoy exploring, but I felt like I couldn't do that whilst I was with MEDexperience as I would have got left behind.

The next day we made our way back to Athens for a final night with the rest of the group, before most people flew out of Greece the day after.

MEDexperience Greek Island Hopping Tour Review Mykonos

MEDexperience were a great company to travel to Greece with, and one of the best things was that we saw lots of different places with minimal organisation on our part. All of the transfers were really easy and we didn't have to make too many taxing decisions (except what to pick off the menu each night as everything looked so delicious!). Stavi was an amazing tour guide with loads of knowledge and stories about each place we visited, and she made the trip so much better than I thought it could be. We also had an amazing group and we all got on so well, and got to know each other over the 11 days that we were together.

If you want an easy holiday that will visit lots of different places, I would definitely recommend MEDexperience. The tour includes relaxing activities and partying, and everything is optional so you can choose what you want to do. We didn't want a holiday with masses of partying, but we enjoyed the couple of nights out that we had, so this was perfect for us. I also really enjoyed meeting new people from all over the world, and MEDexperience groups are not generally too large, so it's easier to get to know everyone (unlike Contiki, who had 80 people on one tour group that we met in Mykonos!). Greece is definitely a place that you should visit at some point in your life - as well as the beautiful surroundings and culture, the food is some of the best that I have ever tasted.

TIP: Take lots of cash with you to Greece as lots of places don't accept card, plus on the MEDexperience tour you have to pay for the optional excursions by cash.
Worrying doesn't take away tomorrow's troubles, it takes away today's peace.

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