Ancient Greece - Islands, Myths and Legends

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Day 1: Arrive in Athens

You are met upon arrival and transferred to the hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure. Dinner tonight will be at a local restaurant in the Plaka district. Overnight in Athens.

 

Day 2: The Parthenon and Cape Sounion

Other than the pyramids in Egypt, the Parthenon of Athens has probably received more attention from archaeologists, historians and architects than any structure from the ancient world.

Built in the 5th century BC during the Golden Age of Greece, the Parthenon was dedicated to the Goddess Athena. Today we see the highlights of Athens, the Acropolis, Constitution Square, the temple of Olympian Zeus, Hadrian's Arch and the Panathenaic Stadium where the first Olympic games of the modern era were held in 1896.

After lunch we have some free time to enjoy the old district of the Plaka. Later this afternoon, drive to the most southern point of Attica, Cape Sounion, to see the white marble pillars of the Temple of Poseidon. For centuries, this temple acted as a landmark for boats sailing between Piraeus and the islands. Overnight in Athens.

 

Day 3: The Byzantine City of Mystras

After an early breakfast we drive to Mystras via Corinth and Sparta. Once in Mystras we take a light hike to the Byzantine Citadel.

After lunch continue via Gythio to Deep Mani, a region of rugged beauty. For centuries the area has been protected from many invaders, resisting sea threats from fortified villages and mansions on the hill. The history of the area speaks of pirates and vendettas, patriotism, pride and faith. Not only architecture, but also nature fits with this tradition. A combination of rugged hills and deep blue sea, rocky slopes, hidden gorges, olive groves and peaceful fishing villages makes this area an explorer's paradise. Overnight in Stavri.

 

Day 4: Cape Tainaro - Entrance to the Underworld

After breakfast our journey takes us to Cape Tainaro. On our way, we will stop for a short visit to the partially restored village of Vathia. The basic settlement of Vathia was formed mainly after the 18th century. It flourished in the 19th century and began to decline in the 20th. At Cape Tainaro we walk (approximately 3 hours) to the Lighthouse at Cape Tainaro, the southernmost area of continental Europe. Greek Mythology says that Cape Tainaro was the entrance to the underworld. On our walk today we enjoy the rugged landscapes of the Mani region. Overnight in Stavri.

 

Day 5: Diros Caves, Kardamyli

This morning we travel to the picturesque village of Kardamyli. On the way we visit the Diros Caves, which were places of worship in Paleolithic and Neolithic times. They are part of a huge underground river system and are filled with stalagmites and stalactites. On arrival in Kardamyli, we take a light hike (approx. 1-2 hours) to visit the ancient ruins of the old city, including the church of St. Spyridonas and the dwellings of the Troupiani or Troupiakis-Mourzinos clan.

After lunch you will have some free time to stroll around this seaside town or join your tour leader for an optional hike. Overnight in Kardamyli.

 

Day 6: Travel to Olympia the Birthplace of the Olympic Games

Today we drive through the Central Peloponnese before arriving in Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games. Here we visit the archaeological site of ancient Olympia, the archaeological museum and the monument of Cubertin.

The games began in 776 BC to honor Zeus and according to mythology, Pelops, the King of the Peloponnese was their founder. Overnight in Olympia.

 

Day 7: Delphi - The Center of the Ancient World

We depart from Olympia this morning crossing over the newly constructed Rio-Antirio Bridge and drive along the Corinthian Gulf. On our way to the picturesque fishing village of Galaxidi. We will stop for lunch in Nafpaktos.?The rest of the afternoon will be free to explore the modern city of Delphi. Overnight in Delphi.

 

Day 8: The Handmade Textiles, Olives and Vineyards of Arahova

In the morning we are guided to the center of the Ancient World - the Omphalos (Navel) of the Earth. On the slopes of Mt. Parnassus, in a landscape of unparalleled beauty and majesty, lie the ruins of the Sanctuary of Apollo.

We visit the Treasury of the Athenians, the Temple of Apollo and the museum which contains masterpieces such as the Bronze Charioteer and the image of the famous athlete Aghias.

We will drive to the nearby village of Arahova famous for its traditional textiles, olives and vineyards from which a fine black wine is produced. This is where we will have lunch.

Today, Arahova's women continue the tradition of the famous Arahovian handmade textiles, using looms and natural dyes. Women who follow the traditional ways of preparation make savories which are based on local recipes such as marmalades, sweets, drinks, chilopitas, trahana and many others. Arahova is also a great place to shop for the locally produced brightly colored shoulder bags and rugs.

We drive north towards Meteora, arriving in the late afternoon. Overnight in Kastraki.

 

Day 9: Meteora

The name Meteora, meaning "suspended in air" encompasses the 24 monasteries set in the canyons of the Eastern Pindus Mountains. The Byzantine Monasteries dating back to the 14th century were constructed on the tops of huge rock pillars, and are one of the most memorable sites in northern Greece.

This morning we will hike the trails (approx. 1-2 hours) to the monasteries or opt for vehicle transportation. We visit the Moni Megalo Meteoro monasteries, then have lunch at a scenic picnic spot by the woods. After lunch we visit a workshop to see and learn how painters make Byzantine icons. Later this afternoon journey to Rafina port, Greece's 2nd largest port. Relax at a local cafe as you watch the port come alive at night. Overnight in Rafina.

 

Day 10: Ferry (catamaran) from Rafina to the Island of Tinos

This morning we have an early breakfast before we board our catamaran to the island of Tinos. Many Greek Orthodox make pilgrimages to Tinos' religious sites. The town of Tinos also has a bustling waterfront with many shops.

Tonight we dine in a local restaurant in the main town. Overnight in Tinos.

 

Day 11: Tinos, Chora

After an early breakfast, we depart for the village of Exomburgo, where a stunning view of the Aegean awaits us. Explore the Venetian Castle, situated on top of an overgrown hill. This fortress was built on the ruins of Psofida, an ancient acropolis of the islands. Continue on to the Church of the Sacred Heart. Following the well maintained path to Chora, we will pass through the village of Tripotamo and the Church of Kyra - Xeni to end the trek in Chora. Wonder through the white walled streets and lanes in one of the most picturesque Cylades settlements. In the afternoon journey back to Tinos for a relaxing dinner by the sea. Overnight in Tinos.

 

Day 12: Ferry to Mykonos

This morning we leave Tinos by local ferry to the cosmopolitan island of Mykonos.

According to Greek Mythology it's said that both Poseidon and Hercules had a hand in destroying some of the Giants that opposed Zeus on this very island. Later, as the story goes, the island was named in honor of Apollo's grandson Mykonos. Depending on time of arrival we may do a short walking tour of Chora (main town). Overnight in Mykonos.

 

Day 13: The Sacred Island of Delos - the Temple of Apollo

Today we take a small boat over to the sacred Island of Delos, which is believed to be the birthplace of Apollo, the son of Zeus.

With the arrival of the Mycenaeans around 1500BC and the Ionians in 1100BC, Delos was recognized as a place of worship. In order to acquire spiritual and political status, various Ionian Leagues began to compete by building elaborate shrines and temples to Apollo. In 425BC the Athenians decreed a purification of the island by removing all graves and passed a law that no one would be allowed to die or be born on Apollo's Island.

Exploring the island by foot, we will see Lion Avenue, the 3 temples of Poseidon, the stadium and old gymnasium. We also have time to visit the Archeological Museum before taking our boat back to Mykonos. This afternoon is free. Overnight in Mykonos.

 

Day 14: To Naxos

In the morning we will transfer by high speed boat to Naxos Island, the largest and most fertile island of the Cyclades. The word Cyclades derives from the Greek word "kyklos" (circle). The five islands of Mykonos, Tinos, Naxos and Syros form a circle around the sacred island of Delos.

Upon arrival we settle in our hotel and we will walk from Ano Potamia, a picturesque village below the Apano Kastro (upper castle). The walk will end at the Kouros statue. Overnight in Naxos.

 

Day 15: Naxos, Athens

After breakfast we will take a morning ferry back to Athens for an evening free to enjoy this historic and exciting city. Overnight in Athens.

 

Day 16: Exploring Athens

This morning we visit the National Archeological Museum. Afternoon is free to visit the Temple of Zeus or take the funicular to the top of Lycabettus Hill for views of Athens and the Aegean Sea. We have our farewell dinner at a local restaurant in the Plaka. Overnight in Athens.

 

Day 17: Depart Athens

Today we transfer to the airport for our departure flights.

 
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