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Athens was once the centre of the world and for a short spell it will be the centre of yours. On arrival, transfer to your hotel and spend the rest of the day exploring the Greek capital your way. Evidence of the city’s former status as the 'Cradle of Western Civilisation' can be seen around every turn, so lace up your walking shoes and pound the pavements in search of the artistry, architecture and archaeological treasures that have made Athens a popular stop for history lovers. Later, meet your Travel Director and fellow travellers.
Today you’ll come face-to-face with the impressive ancient backdrop that followed you throughout yesterday’s solo sightseeing – the Acropolis. A Local Specialist joins you for a sightseeing tour through what remains of the ancient citadel, including the Parthenon, dedicated to the goddess Athena. View the Panathinaiko Olympic Stadium, the Temple of Zeus and Hadrian’s Arch, stopping at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to admire the curiously clad Evzone guards. Later, follow the road taken by the ancient Greeks who once sought the wisdom of the Oracle, arriving in Delphi for your overnight stay.
Walk the Sacred Way to the Temple of Apollo – the same path that Alexander the Great once trod, demanding to hear that he would conquer the entire ancient world. Your Local Specialist will reveal the ancient site’s captivating history and some of the Oracle’s prophecies, many of which would eventually come true. You’ll also discover Delphi’s fame as the host of the Pythian Games, dedicated to Apollo and the arts. A scenic drive takes you to Thermopylae, most notably the site of the heroic defence by King Leonidas and his brave Spartans against the invading Persians. Later arrive in Kalambaka, where you dine tonight at your hotel.
The mystical monasteries of Meteora cling almost implausibly to the rounded rock towers that overlook Kalambaka. Joining a Local Specialist this morning, you’ll visit this heavenly Eastern Orthodox complex, built by monks in the 14th century to stave off attacks from the invading Turks. Return to Athens later this afternoon where the rest of the day is free to do as you wish. An Optional Experience this evening could see you indulge in tasty traditional cuisine. Join your new friends for a taverna evening including dancing and drinks.
Set your watch to the laid-back pace of the Greek Islands, boarding your three-night cruise through the Aegean where your only priorities will be good food, good friends and good times. With that in mind, your first stop ticks all the boxes as you enjoy your time on Mykonos rambling through the narrow streets of Chora, sharing the sun-dappled courtyard with lazy cats and welcoming locals. You could choose to join an optional countryside tour with a Local Specialist, visiting several of the island’s beaches, the 16th-century monastery at Ano Mera and Little Venice with its brightly painted wooden balconies overlooking the old harbour. Your cruise sails east to Turkey through the night.
A brief brush with the Turkish coast transports you back in time to what remains of the incredible ruins of Ephesus. Walk down the pillar-lined Curetes Street towards the ornate façade of the Library of Celsus and view what remains of the Temple of Artemis, one of the World’s Seven Ancient Wonders. Your next stop is Patmos, most famously the location where the disciple John wrote the Book of Revelation in the New Testament. See the Grotto of the Apocalypse first-hand when you join an Optional Experience with a Local Specialist, with time in medieval Hora to stretch your sea legs.
Europe’s oldest city comes to life on your visit to the Palace of Knossos in Heraklion on the island of Crete. Walk through its imposing northern entrance and admire the bright wall paintings that were restored at the turn of the 20th century, revealing insights into Minoan civilisation several thousand years before Christ. The dramatic volcanic landscape of Santorini rising out of the deep blue Aegean is our final destination today. You’ll have time to join an Optional Experience to some of the island’s villages which cling to the volcanic cliffs, including Oia with its distinctive white buildings and blue-domed churches which vie for the best views over the caldera.
And just like that we’re back in Athens after an exhilarating encounter with ancient Greek history and laid-back island life in the Aegean. You’ve seen the haunts of Socrates, Aristotle and Plato and admired many of the world’s greatest ancient treasures. Close the curtain on stories that span several millennia as you disembark your cruise ship and transfer to the airport.
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