Condé Nast Travelers Say…

JOSEPH PHILIPS
September 7, 2014
A few months ago, I told a friend of mine that I wanted to vacation in Greece with my family. He suggested 3 tour companies recommended by Condé Nast Traveler—True Greece, Liadis Travel and Hellenic Adventures. I talked to all three and finally went with Hellenic Adventures because the owner—Leftheris Papageorgiou—called and spent some time understanding my needs before planning something that was exactly right for us.

I cannot even begin to describe what an amazing time my wife, my teenage boys and I had in Greece this August with Hellenic. We did Athens, the Pelopponese peninsula, Delphi and two islands (Crete and Santorini). Everywhere we went, Hellenic’s arrangements were impeccable—perfect pick-ups and transfers, excellent restaurant recommendations and incredibly knowledgeable guides who had a passion for telling us about their country.

It was particularly helpful that Hellenic had a man on the ground in Greece in our time zone. We had some issues with my younger son who had sprained his ankle a week before we left New York and the wheelchair we had brought with us broke down. Hellenic’s local contact arranged to have it repaired and helped us rent a replacement. All this was done with the local cell phone that Hellenic provided us.

In addition, because our tours were private, we changed the itinerary a couple of times to better suit our interests and the guides happily obliged. I thought it amazing that the guides knew so much that they could talk about pretty much any Greek time period with authority even if it was not on the schedule for the day.

I am the one in the family who usually researches and books vacations. This was the first time that I put the entire planning/booking process in someone else’s hands. And having done that I have to say that Greece is an amazing country with over 5000 years of history and the best way to see it is with Hellenic Adventures.

Further, given that we were so happy with CN Traveler’s recommendations, I just subscribed to your magazine and hope to use your advice in future for all our trips.

Thank you and I am happy to chat in more detail if you want.


SHOSHANA DWECK
September 4, 2014
A few years ago, my brother recommended that I search Condé Nast Traveler’s listing of travel specialists to help me create an adventure with my children. So, when we wanted to go to Greece, I went back to Condé Nast to find just the right specialist. We do enough travelling that we know what we are looking for in the experience, the balance of physically taxing days against intellectual and cultural exploration and stimulation, and even what attributes of a hotel matter to us. Like many families, we have our special requirements—from food allergies to keeping kosher, we are a challenge to feed on the road! When I travel with my three children we start from their interests, and build a family adventure and set of memories from there. So, that adds in another layer of complication to the planning because their interests grow out of their school curricula and personal reading, and my daughter’s sudden interest in learning to speak Ancient Greek.

Well, Leftheris and the rest of the team and Hellenic Adventures were incredible. From the very beginning, it was clear that they were listening at all levels, and truly understood the kind of trip we wanted to shape. Leftheris is so comfortable in his deep knowledge of Greece, that he could take my information and desires and expand them, to create a perfect trip that far exceeded what we could have dreamed up ourselves. Not because it was flashy or glitzy, but because in just a few conversations and emails he was able to extract the essence of the trip we wanted and design it for us. They even hooked us up with kosher restaurants and cooking supplies (a microwave and electric frying pan) so that we could eat comfortably, and helped us make arrangements to donate those supplies before we left Thessaloniki. And then, literally at the last minute, we needed to help my parents get out of Israel during the war this summer. The folks at Hellenic Adventures helped me to figure out the best way to book my parents from Israel, to add them to the Athens part of our trip, and to manage with the hotel and other matters. They gave me excellent advice, and then, when we were able to get the flights out of Israel, they took care of the adjustments to our travel literally while we were in the air, and we landed in the airport in Athens to find everything arranged.

So, it is my pleasure to share with you the comments I sent to Leftheris, and to compliment your publication and website as a wonderful resource—I would not start planning a trip anywhere other than Condé Nast.


COLLEGEPROF
January 29, 2014
We have just returned from an excellent two weeks in Turkey and Greece with Hellenic providing guides in both countries and luxury buses with drivers. Ours was an odyssey of a travel course from Istanbul and Troy through Athens and the great sites of the ancient Greek games. The organization and support provided by Hellenic was flawless. They provided a perfect platform upon which I taught my specific course material. I had 16 undergraduates with me and they were awed by the sites and more than happy with the transportation and accommodation. I unreservedly recommend Hellenic for educational journeys.


JOSIE JAMES
October 22, 2013
To Team Hellenic Adventures regarding 4 weeks ( mid Sep to mid Oct 2013) in Rhodes, Crete, Santorini, Mykonos, Athens… While I am aware that at some point we will be asked to evaluate our experience, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for facilitating a wonderful Greek Holiday. Mr Papageorgiou, we knew Hellenic Adventures was a perfect fit for us from the first time we had a conversation. Considering how little time you were given to organize this trip you and your team were most patient and accommodating. You read us perfectly. We thank you very much for the gift we received from the Athens museum. That was an unexpected thought and most appreciated. He is in a special place in our home where he can see… and be seen. We have nothing but good things to say about all of the accommodations you made for us. We kept thinking “it cannot get better than this,” but each one surpassed the other. The welcome gifts were a very nice touch and made us feel that you were there for us throughout the trip… not just until the contract was signed. Giving your clients a telephone is a very smart idea. It gave us peace of mind. We knew at any given time you were a call away. This was realized when the ferry to Santorini was turned back to Crete. There was chaos on board, and while other travelers whose agents had assured them their phones would work in Greece (they did not work) were left to their own devices, we easily contacted Mr Athanasiadis… on a Saturday no less. Mr Athanasiadis you are very efficient and handle your clients well.Your contacts in Greece… tour Guides, assisstants, drivers… were all very kind, pleasant, respectful. To Rachel…a special thanks for all your help before departure and your continued support and follow up with us during our trip. You are great! In summary, thank you all for your professionalism and for taking all our concerns seriously. When one is away from home a nothing issue is always magnified…so great you were on board. I am posting this letter on the Conde Nast site where we were fortunate enough to find you. We would encourage anyone traveling to any of your destinations to give you a call Best wishes to all.


JOHN AND ANN O’LEARY
June 26, 2013
We usually book trips online but even though this was our second time in Greece, I felt enough out of my element that I decided to try Hellenic Adventures. Wow! Best decision of my life—after marrying my husband. Besides the mainland, we planned some island hopping. To say the itinerary we had in mind was complicated is to say the least. Knowing the flight schedules between islands (which change seasonally) was critical. Leftheris, a native-born Greek living in the U.S., listened to what we wanted to do, made suggestions based on his superior knowledge of the area, discussed price range and then quickly worked out the best arrangements to meet our needs. He and his trusty assistant, Tara, were God-sends! Everything went very smoothly and our accommodations were much nicer than what we would have found ourselves. The fact that he frequently uses certain hotels probably made them more attentive to us and I’m sure led to our actually being upgraded to an incredible suite at one of the places, the nicest place we’ve ever stayed in. He even arranged to have our car delivered to us at our hotel so that we wouldn’t have trouble finding the hotel or a parking place. And we felt the prices were reasonable and the money well spent. Not being stressed out about the details, we were able to relax and enjoy, like we’re supposed to on vacation. A most memorable trip!


WILL FREIERT
December 22, 2011
Last May, Leftheris Papageorgiou and Hellenic Adventures arranged a superb trip for my wife and me, which ran from Thessaloniki across northern Greece to Corfu, then down to Ithaka and on to Athens.

Accommodations and transfers were impeccable. Leftheris put us in hotels we could not have afforded if we had made our own arrangements.

We recommmend him enthusiastically.


ELAINE GIEBENHAIN
November 1, 2011
Hellenic Adventures does a fabulous job of designing a trip to Greece that introduced our group to the beauty and wonder of the ancient Greek ruins and its accompanying myths. Our native guides at the historical sites were incredibly knowledgeable and very personable. Throughout the trip we enjoyed eating at neighborhood restaurants to sample traditional authentic Greek treats. During the 2-week trip there was a nice balance of group activity and individual hiking and shopping. One of the trip highlights was an afternoon/evening catamaran cruise in the caldera off the island of Santorini where we had the opportunity to swim in warm volcanic hot springs and… well, what happens in Greece stays in Greece! At a time when there was considerable potential for trouble with transportation/hotel reservations due to the economic and political unrest in Greece, we were free of worries due to the very capable (and charming!) Leftheris Papageorgiou who accompanied our group. (Leftheris is also owner/operator of Hellenic Adventures.) I highly recommend his company for small groups whose travelers are interested in learning and not merely visiting, where fun is a priority, and good food and small hotels (in great locations) are a must.


JAYNE NIEMI
December 21, 2010
I have been on three trips with Hellenic Adventures. One was in 1995—a sailing trip through the Cyclades and I was a solo traveler. Another was in 2004, when my husband and I went on another sailing trip—this with some time on Santorini as well. The third was late May, early June of 2010, when we asked for help arranging a trip to Santorini and Crete where we met family, followed by a mainland adventure for the two of us. All three trips were spectacular, and even the first two felt like they were arranged just for me. This last trip, although “independent” in theory, felt as if I had a guide with me all the time. Leftheris and his colleagues worked with us to choose hotels on the two islands and equipped us with sage suggestions for adventures, meals, and places to relax. Routes for driving were highlighted, extraordinary and personally delightful guides were treasures for us, and all services were as predicted, and more! Small things made a big difference. Like what? We worried about cell phones—we were provided one, with minutes on board, when we landed in Athens. Instead of waiting as planned for our scheduled flight to Santorini, our guide whisked us through standby to an earlier available flight, allowing us to be staring at the caldera from our hotel balcony instead of sitting in the Athens airport. Our guide on Crete fed us a superb lunch at her home. It felt as if every hotelier and guide and driver treated us like family because we were sent by Leftheris. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that the value of the personal attention, extensive knowledge and experience present in the staff of Hellenic Adventures is extraordinary. Others who have described their trips to Greece have listened with envy to my experiences. Hellenic Adventures is responsible for that!


PETER GREENE
October 17, 2010
My wife and I recently returned from a trip to Greece arranged by Leftheris and the team at Hellenic Adventures. Our trip was exactly what we asked for: four days in Athens, five days on a “non-touristy” island (Sifnos, as recommended by Leftheris) and five days on Santorini. We had a wonderful trip, largely because everything went exactly as planned. We are not people who enjoy tours with lots of other tourists, so we usually make our own way. On this trip, everything was very well planned and organized. Whenever we arrived somewhere, there was an Hellenic Adventures person to meet us. We had private tours, arranged by Hellenic Adventures, at the Acropolis and at Delphi. And when our schedule caused us to be at a hotel long past the normal checkout time, the people at the hotels graciously allowed us to keep our rooms until it was time to leave. A great deal of work went into planning and executing this trip and, to us, that’s what you really pay a travel agent for. We had many conversations with Leftheris and Tara, and they understood us and our traveling style very well. We would urge anyone using Hellenic Adventures to be very candid with them, in terms of both your desires and your budget. The more informed Leftheris and his team are, the more enjoyable your trip will be. We would strongly recommend that anyone planning a trip to Greece utilize the services of Leftheris and his team. They’re the best!


WALKER
August 23, 2010
4 of us took a similar trip and have some amazing memories. 2.5 weeks July 1, 2010. Athens to Delphi to Mt. Pelion and back to Athens. Ferry to Sifnos, private boat 3 days stopping at Paros, Koufonissia, and ending in Santorini. Incredible trip. Anyone who has travelled knows the amount of detail required and I can only imagine how much work went into this trip. Leftheris and Tara had everything so detailed pre-trip it was amazing. Then the Greece based crew took over when we arrived. We had a few unavoidable problems: general country wide strike the day we were to take the ferry, weather that delayed our boat a day, but we never worried about it. We were informed and then alternatives discussed. Even the problems became positive adventures. I can’t say enough about the people that Hellenic Adventures uses in Greece. Top quality and nice as can be, but not without passion and opinion. I wanted this to be a big trip and it was, what I didn’t anticipate was becoming emotionally attached to the country and people. It was a cultural emersion of the best sort. One tip: Leftheris gave us a large list of places to eat. Follow his suggestions. Without a doubt, some of the best meals I’ve had abroad. Steven Walker, Minneapolis


DIANA BERGESON
July 21, 2010
After my family(2 teens included) decided we wanted to go to Greece, I began my research. Raised Greek Orthodox and having many friends of Greek descent, I went to them first. I did much research at the bookstore as well as online. But, the best "find" was Hellenic Adventures! Owner Leftheris(we were on a first name basis after our first call)listened attentively to my desires: I wanted to experience Greece as a traveler, not a tourist.I wanted my children to not only see the important sites, but to get a sense of the people. To connect to the Greeks and understand their philosophy, culture,lifestyle, etc. by hanging out with them. Needless to say, we just came back from the best 2 1/2 weeks! Of all of the trips we have taken(we have had wonderful experiences in other parts of Europe as well as a variety of travel within the US and Canada), we felt like we never wanted to leave. We were met in Athens by one of Leftheris’ employees who made sure we were well taken care of right from the start. The following day we had an all day tour of Athens with a wonderful guide who not only brought us to the Parthenon, Acropolis,Acropolis Museum and the Plaka, but Hellenic Adventures made sure we saw the meat and veggie markets(where the locals buy their food);ate at a taverna where the locals eat,etc. She gave us a sense of Athens as we walked by churches, neighborhoods, architectural sights while she provided us with so much educational information. From Athens, we had the pleasure of being with another guide/driver(Dimitris) for three days. He brought us to Mt. Pelion, which was a highlight of our trip. Leftheris had suggested this after hearing how I wanted to experience the “real Greeks.” Mt. Pelion is a 4 hour drive from Athens and is magical. Small villages where people have lived for generations; we hiked the mountainous areas and went to many small villages. We met, ate and drank with the locals;spoke to everyone about their lives; we hiked down to the beach and was swept away by its peacefulness and beauty. The Oracle of Delphi was next; again,a great guide who brought the kids into every conversation. The town of Galaxidi was a wonderful place for dinner and a walk at night.Cape Sunion and the Temple of Poseidon was next and then we needed to leave Dimitris to head onto our boat. We all cried as we did not want to leave this man who connected with our family, who spoke to us about life and human connections and introduced us to so many people. We then went onto our motor yacht for the next 6 days. What a surprise! Our orginal plan included a motor sailer( which a few weeks prior to our trip was unexpectantly sold). Leftheris felt that due to he not knowing the new owner,he was not 100% comfortable with us going on the orginal boat.He then suggested we charter a motor yacht and he negotiated with its captain to accomodate our orginal contract. We were completely surprised at the accomodations! The week we spent with Captain Basile and his fun, attentive, wonderful crew on the Ivi was icing on the cake.We were completely spoiled. We went to 6 islands in the Cyclades(Kea, Kythnos, Serifos, Sifnos,Ios, Santorini) and we had a wonderful time connecting with the people who live on these islands as well as the crew.Captain Basile and I spoke at night for hours; he taught my son to waterski, they went fishing and we played football and paddle ball with the crew when they were off duty. Leftheris had many surprises for us along the way: gifts as we arrived in Athens, champagne for us when we arrived on the Ivi and then he connected us with his friends who now live on Kythnos in an amazing part of the island. They graciously invited us into their home for a tour and lunch and to just chat! Prior to, during and after the trip, Leftheris and Rachel(from his Minnesota office) made sure we were 100% pleased and satisfied. They provided us with a detailed itineary, listened to our needs and spoke to me at length regarding every issue that came up during the planning stage(from restaurant choices to travel insurance to offering many choices for hotels and destinations).I felt as if I was their only client due to the attentiveness they gave me and my family regarding our trip. We were 100% satisfied and cannot wait to have Hellenic Adventures help us plan our next trip. Information: Our trip: June/July 2010 Advice: 1. Be bold and stay in the small family run venues vs. “hotels”; you will be pleasantly suprised how warm and generous and inviting the Greeks are. 2. Plan on gaining 10 lbs. on wonderful home-cooked meals at the tavernas! The best food and the best conversations…Plan on spending hours eating and chatting about life. Well worth it!—Diana Bergeson, Portola Valley, California


DAVID HURRELL
August 4, 2011
Consider no other. Leftheris and the staff of Hellenic Adventures are second to no one. My wife, two boys, ages 14 and 17, just returned from two weeks in Greece arranged by Hellenic adventures. Perhaps I should apologize for a one-sided review, but this was a most amazing trip and met all expectations and then some. In an attempt to make it brief, we began in Athens and were greeted by the staff of Hellenic Adventures…yes they have staff in Greece! We essentially had a guide and driver just to get us to our hotel, not to mention a nice welcome gift and a cell phone just in case we need to reach them and didn’t bring our own. The next day we also had a personal guide in Athens as we toured the city and the acropolis. Next we were off to personal tours of Olympia, Delphi, Meteora, Dion, Vergina and finally Thessaloniki all over the next five days. We did it all with our personal driver, Dimitris, who was amazing and with personal tour guides at each site. After Thessaloniki we toured Kastoria, Ioninna, and Parga across the northern landscape of Greece. Finally we relaxed on the island of Naxos with our friends, but the personal service of Hellenic Adventures never ended. It was perfect up to the very last minute. I would strongly recommend a tour arranged by Hellenic Adventures. The personalized service cannot be beat and the attention to detail becomes very obvious as you begin your adventure. I would like to strongly emphasize that this is not a “cookie cutter” experience, but one that is talilored to your likes, desires, affordability, and finally, your comforts. I promise, you won’t want to come home!! Please enjoy Hellenic Adventures and your trip to Greece as we did.


DIANA B.
August 15, 2011
Our family decided on our summer plans a bit too late. We were dealing with some family issues and when we finally had soem time to breathe, we decided to go to Italy. I could not have planned it without Hellenic Adventures. Because we used them last year for our wonderful trip to Greece(see Diana Bergeson’s reveiw above), I knew I was in good hands to go with Leftheris to see Italy. I have been to Italy, but my tow teenagers and husband had not so we decided to do more of a “touristy” route and see Rome and Venice and end on the Amalfi Coast. Yes, we skipped Florence and Tuscany(for personal reasons) and due to my children really wanting to spend more time in fewer areas, than vice versa so they could really get into the feel of how Italians live. We knew we would hit the crowds going in July, but we decided it was going to be worth it. Starting in Venice and staying there for 4 days, we felt we saw it all! Leftheris organized the tours of Doges Palace and St. Marks Square and to get an overview of the entire city. He respected our wishes of not being overbooked with tours as we wanted to visit with a family friend, sight see on our own. But, to experience the tours(including one that took us to Murano and Burano) was quite helpful due to the crowds. His suggestions of Restuarants were wonderful and we visited a few of them as well. Next stop was Rome via train, which he organized. The best thing about working with Leftheris is all is taken care of: train tickets, meeting at airport, transfers, great guides, etc. Stress free. Back to Rome: Lea, was our tour guide for both the Roman Fourm/Colesium, etc as well as for Vatican City. She was a great guide, stopping to show us “real Italy” and was very detailed with her knowledge of both areas. Lovely woman. Stayed in the best location: so happy we decided on the Eden Hotel as we were in walking distance to the Spanish Steps and to Villa Borghese(where we rented bikes and rode thru the beautiful gardens). Leftheris’ suggestions for areas to explore on our own were insightful as well as his list of restaurants. We found the areas we fell in love with and kept going back there! Next and last stop was the Amalfi Coast..SO HAPPY we chose the Santa Catarina Hotel in Amalfi. Best place to stay in this area. It was not only beautiful and we recieved great service, but we were away from the crowds. We could go to and from and see the sites(boat to Capri, walk to town—visit paper museum—to hinking in nearvy Ravello-but we could come back to a peaceful retreat where the staff made us feel as we had lived there forever;swim in the beautiful waters along the cliffside and soaking in the mediterrean sun. We visited the other hotels we had orginally been interested in and thankfully we did not choose these areas as they were so crowded with summer tourists*Capri and Positano). 6 days on the Amalfi were too short! Had a great tourguide to Pompeii and a wonderful guide who went with us hiking. Although Leftheris has an office in Greece, he does not have one in Italy, but he partners with one there, whom I called a couple of times for minor reasons. They were very kind, accomodating and did check in with Rachel(Leftheris’ asst, in the USA) to let her know of the changes we made(so all would be on the same page). You will not go wrong with Hellenic Adventures…so detail oriented, makes our trips stress free and such a wonderful group to work with.