September 23 - October 7, 2017 (15 days).
Includes: Cruise of the Greek Islands!
Our adventure guides us through country graced with sun and azure seas, rich in mythology, art, architecture and history. Greece is truly the stuff of legend, from the birthplace of the Olympics, Democracy and Philosophy; Classical temples to amazingly advanced Bronze Age civilizations; site of half of the Wonders of the Ancient World. This itinerary is filled with names evocative of epics: Thermopylae, Meteora, Delphi, Olympia, Corinth, Mycenae, Knossos, Rhodes and Ephesus. We see the legacy of some of the world’s greatest ancient civilizations at their peak, and pair it with a long soak in the charm and sunlight of Greece’s beautiful whitewashed villages and idyllic isles!
Places: Mycenae - Tolo - Loutra Thermopilon - Calino - Pallini - Lindos - Epidaurus - Delphi - Olympia - Nauplion - Santorini Airport - Crete - Mykonos - Greece - Rhodes
Late afternoon departure for Greece via London with British Airways from Vancouver.
We arrive early evening, transfer to the hotel, check in and have dinner. (D)
Enjoy a morning sightseeing tour of Athens as we mount the Acropolis to visit the iconic Parthenon and the Erechteum. Our tour proceeds to take in some views and modern highlights of the famous city, passing the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Parliament House, the Presidential Palace, Panathenian Stadium, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Academy, the University and the National Library. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure; perhaps spend time in the historic Plaka area or relax in Greek style with a beer or Ouzo and soak up the atmosphere. (B,D)
We set off on an early morning drive, stopping en route to see the statue of Leonidas at Thermopylae. This commemorates the historic battle between a small force of 300 Spartans under Leonidas against the might of thousands of troops of the Persian army under Xerxes in 480 BCE. In the afternoon we visit breathtaking Meteora and one of the remarkable Byzantine monasteries which perch on its stony peaks. We arrive in Kalambaka in time for dinner. (B,D)
We drive through the towns of Central Greece – Amphissa, Lamia and Trikala – and cross the Thessalian plain towards Delphi. One of the most renowned oracles of the ancient world, the priestess Pythia pronounced her famous oracles in the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. We will visit the famous Archeological site and the museum, and later check into our hotel. (B,D)
Crossing the new bridge from Antirion to Rion we travel via Patras to Olympia. We’ll visit the complex this afternoon, site of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and birthplace of the Olympics. Later we check in and dine. (B,D)
Passing Megalopolis and Tripolis we drive to Nauplia, an important seaport through the Crusades. We’ll enjoy a stroll through this ancient capital before proceeding to the coastal town of Tolon. (B,D)
This morning is at leisure to enjoy the picturesque town. In the afternoon we tour the ancient sites of Epidaurus, including the Sanctuary of Asclepeios, ancient God of Healing, and the best-preserved ancient theatre in all of Greece. The grand theatre accommodated 12,000 people and is known for the harmony of its design and the perfection of its acoustics. (B,D)
This morning we drive to Mycenae to visit the remains of the prehistoric citadel which gives its name to an era (1600-1100 BCE) when it dominated southern Greece as one of the major centres of Greek civilization. We’ll see the fortified Cyclopean Walls, the Lionesses’ Gate, the remains of the Mycenaean Palace and the Tomb of King Agamemnon, who, with his family has been a source of inspiration for legend, drama, literature and opera for centuries. Then we continue to ancient Corinth, passing by the Corinth Canal, a steep four mile channel connecting the Saronic and the Corinthian Gulfs which was first attempted in the 1st century CE. We end the day in Athens. (B,D)
In the morning we will transfer to the port of Lavrion for the 4-day cruise to the Greek Isles and Turkey. We set sail before lunch for Mykonos and arrive by early evening. Mykonos combines the dazzling white beauty of a typical Cycladic island with a sophisticated international jet-set atmosphere and a very active nightlife. Stroll at leisure through the whitewashed, ower bedecked alleyways to the impressive church complex of Paraportiani or along the waterfront of “Little Venice” to the well-known windmills for an unparalleled photo op! We sail for Kusadasi at 22.00. (B,L,D)
This morning we call at Kusadasi, starting point for our excursion to the ancient city of Ephesus. Tour the spectacular remains of this great city which was founded in the 10th century BCE, and is still being excavated. Walk through history along marble streets lined with wonderful public buildings, among them the Baths of Scholastica, the Library of Celsus, the Temple of Hadrian and the Theatre. The site of another of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the massive Temple of Diana nearby also attests to the scope and magnificence of this city under Greek and Roman rule. We return to Kusadasi with a little time to shop for some of the famous carpets before setting sail again at noon. Arriving mid- afternoon at the beautiful, rocky island of Patmos, we can head up to the Monastery of St. John the Evangelist, where we have a panoramic view of the island and visit the Grotto where the exiled saint wrote of the Revelation or join a Scenic Island tour which also takes in the windmills of Chora. We can enjoy some free time at the scenic port of Scala before the ships sails for Rhodes at 20.00. (B,L,D)
We arrive at Rhodes this morning, famed for its medieval stronghold built by the Crusader Knights of St. John. In ancient times another of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the legendary Colossus of Rhodes bestrode the harbour entrance. A half-day excursion also gives us and opportunity to visit the Temple of Athena on the majestic Acropolis of Lindos, with the blue Aegean Sea beneath it and the whitewashed artists’ colony at its foot. We have the afternoon free in Rhodes to stroll the passages and fortifications of the medieval walled city and enjoy the cosmopolitan atmosphere from one of the elegant cafes in the marina. At 18.00 we sail for Heraklion, Crete. (B,L,D)
Arriving in Heraklion this morning, we depart the lively city for an excursion to the Palace of Knossos, centre of the distinctive Bronze Age Minoan Civilization (3650 to 1400 BCE!) and legendary home of the Minotaur. Next we depart at 11.30 for Santorini where we arrive in the afternoon. You may take a mule or cable car up to the whitewashed town of Thera, perched high on the rim of the ancient volcano, the eruption of which in 1,600 BCE buried a ourishing Bronze Age town which has now been excavated at Akrotiri. The eruption created a vast caldera and tsunami, and is considered one of the possible inspirations for the legend of Atlantis. We sail toward Athens this evening. (B,L,D)
After breakfast we will disembark and stop at Cape Sounion, famous for its radiant sunsets and the elegant Doric marble Temple of Poseidon that overlooks the gloriously blue Aegean Sea. Then we’ll drive along the coastal road past the beautiful beaches of Varkiza, Vouliagmeni, Voula, Glyfada and Kalamaki to Athens. Upon arrival we will visit the National Archaeological Museum, which displays finds from all parts of the ancient Greek world that date from Neolithic times to the last years of the Roman Empire. Following this we’ll check in to the hotel. This evening we will enjoy a traditional Greek dinner with folk dances, bouzouki music and songs in a typical tavern in the oldest and most picturesque district of Athens, the Plaka at the foot of the Acropolis. (B,D)
We breakfast at the hotel and check out. Transfer to Athens International Airport for our flight home. (B)