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"Flavor of the places visited"
We have now used Grand European for three wonderful trips. Each itinerary has been packed full and given us the flavor of the places we visited. The tour guides have been informative and friendly. Accommodations were lovely.
Venture back to a time when great philosophers roamed the halls of the Agora and gods competed for mythical supremacy. Your journey delving into the treasures of Greece begins in its vibrant capital, which you will have an opportunity to explore after being transferred to your hotel. Kick off your in-depth discovery of what was once the 'Cradle of Western Civilisation' this evening, when you meet your Travel Director and travel companions for a Welcome Reception.
We journey to a land of legends this morning. Our leisurely drive takes us to the scenic northeast Peloponnese and past the impressive Corinth Canal, which straddles two gulfs. Our first stop is the ancient Theatre of Epidaurus and the Sanctuary of Asclepius, God of Medicine, whose snake-entwined staff remains the symbol of medicine to this day. Take to the stage and hear first-hand the magnificent acoustics that would entertain over 14,000 spectators, then spend the rest of the day exploring the Venetian-inspired seaport of Nafplion. Amble past its Neoclassical mansions or enjoy a traditional meal against the scenic backdrop of the bay.
We continue our journey inland and visit Mycenae - its ruins remain as a testament of what was once an important palatial centre of the late Bronze Age in Greece. Stroll through the Lion Gate and Agamemnon's Royal Palace, before seeing the tomb of this fearless Greek leader who commanded the Greeks in their battles against Trojan forces. This afternoon, we 'Dive Into Culture' and sample delicious local vintages, gaining insights into wine production in the Nemea region. We'll have free time to stroll through the seaside retreat of Nafplion with a delicious Greek ice cream in hand.
Crossing the Peloponnese, we head towards the famous village of Olympia, where sacrifices were once made to the gods, and athletes competed for supremacy in the ancient Olympic Games. Visit the ruins of temples, the museum and the stadium imagining agile runners racing in honour of Zeus. This evening, we 'Connect With Locals' joining the Karambellas family on their olive and wine farm for a traditional 'Be My Guest' experience including dinner and dancing.
We leave the Peninsula and return to mainland Greece, continuing north past Amphilochia and Preveza, before arriving in Nikopolis to see where the Battle of Actium took place. Boarding a ferry, we cross to the beautiful island of Corfu where we have some time at leisure to admire its splendid architecture, arcades and Spianada, one of the largest and most impressive squares in Greece.
Begin your day with an orientation tour of the island, followed by a visit to the Venetian Castle and the Monastery of Palaiokastritsa to meet the friendly Orthodox Monks who share their day-to-day life with visitors. Later, we stop at the Phaeacian-styled Achilleion Palace, built by Elizabeth "Sissi" Empress of Austria and Hungary, who so admired Greece and its culture that she decided to build an enchanting summer retreat here. Stroll through its Imperial Gardens and enjoy magnificent views of the lush valley and glistening Ionian Sea beyond before returning to your hotel for an evening on your own terms.
We bid farewell to island living on Corfu and sail back to the mainland, continuing to the lively lakeside city of Ioannina, where we spend the rest of the day at leisure. Stroll along the tranquil lakeshore and through the Old Town to admire its Ottoman and Byzantine treasures, including the imposing castle that overlooks Lake Pamvotis.
The delicious flavours of Metsovone cheese and wine provide a fitting start to our day. We continue to Kalambaka and admire the famous Byzantine Monasteries of Meteora that stand almost impossibly perched atop colossal boulders. Pass the seaside town of Volos before arriving into Portaria.
Traversing the peaks of Parnassos and Giona, we stop in Thermopylae, the mythical entrance to Hades and the site where Leonidas and his 300 Spartans fought bravely against the invading Persians. Join a 'Local Specialist' for a guided visit to Delphi, the seat of the most important oracle in the classical world. Walk the Sacred Way to the 4th-century Temple of Apollo and ramble through what remains of this ancient sanctuary, once the site of the Pythian Games, a precursor of the modern Olympics. The seaside village of Galaxidi is our final stop for the day.
We return to cosmopolitan Athens for a day of delving into antiquity, coming face-to-face with the treasures of Ancient Greece. We ascend to the Acropolis and join a 'Local Specialist' for a sightseeing tour with magnificent views of Athena's Parthenon, the Agora, Royal Palace and Temple of Zeus. See Hadrian's Arch, built to celebrate the arrival of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, and view the stadium where the first modern Olympics took place in 1896. On our final evening together, we join our fellow travellers for a Farewell Dinner to celebrate the millennia and miles explored together on this epic voyage of discovery.
We bid farewell to Athens and newfound friends as we prepare to depart Greece, or join a 3-day Santorini Extension. Airport transfers are available. Conditions apply.
Optional Experiences are subject to change. Your Travel Director will supply you with a final list of Optional Experiences available on your trip. Optional Experiences cannot be booked online; they can be purchased during your trip through your Travel Director.
We board our coach for a short drive to the top of Nafplion to visit Palamidi Castle. A Venetian castle completed in 1714 which guarded the city for centuries. Take some time to explore in the castle grounds and capture panoramic pictures of the Gulf and Nafplion town before we head off to enjoy dinner in a local tavern popular with locals and visitors alike. At the end of the evening you have the chance to enjoy some homemade ice cream and meet one of our favorite locals. Includes entrance fee into Palamidi castle, dinner with drinks, and home made ice cream treat.
Adult Price: €47
Discover the hidden village of Makrinitsa which is a short drive from our hotel location of Portaria village. A short walk from the parking area brings you to a magical place with fairytale Magnesian houses perched on the Cliffside accessed only by beautiful cobblestone streets. Breathe in the freshest mountain air and marvel at the view of the Pagasitic Gulf before talking a slow drive back to our local Portarian venue to enjoy the mouth-watering flavours Pelion has to offer.
Adult Price: €35
All aboard our traditional Greek Corfiot “caique” boat for a completely relaxing afternoon. We start the latter part of the day from the old port of Corfu town and sail north along the stunning east coast towards Barbati beach. Take a plunge and feel invigorated in the beautiful Ionian Sea. Truly relax and just enjoy the natural scenery of Corfu and the coast line of Albania. Keep your eyes open for the local marine life of Dolphins and Monk Seals just in case they pop up to say “yassou”.
Adult Price: €48
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