Crete & Santorini Portion - May 5 - 15, 2011 (email for dates)
Option of only participating in Crete portion & not Santorini - email about that
Optional extension to Delphi, Epidauros, Mycenae & Napflion, following above tour May 15 - 19, 2011 (4 nights)
Open to participants from any country
Day 1 Arrive in Crete and transfer to lovely apartments high on the hill overlooking the seaport village and sea below. Time for rest and naps and recovery from jet lag. Dinner out this evening at wonderful restaurant with fresh fish and other selections including Greek specialties, in Agia Pelagia, near the beach. While here on Crete, we will be staying at Nymphes Luxury Apartments on a hilltop above Agia Pelagia, a small village on the sea. Pepy Chatzimarkaki is the lovely woman who is the owner of this beautiful, enchanting place. Our apartments have balconies or decks and lovely furnishings as well as a beautiful swimming pool on the grounds. Pepy also loves herbs and has gardens around the grounds and will be sharing her love and knowledge of herbs while we are staying there. She serves us lovely breakfasts while we are staying here.
Day 2 - Introductions and introductory information on Crete and its mysteries. We will start to explore the ancient goddess, the ancient sites, history and mythology of Crete.
Day 3 - Today we will explore some beaches and villages. Spend time in the lovely seaside village of Matala with its tiers of ancient caves and beautiful beach. There is a beautiful 300 metre half crescent shaped sandy beach which is protected on both sides with great cliffs forming a pretty little bay. In the 60’s and the 70’s Matala became renowned as hippies came from around the world to live in the caves carved out of the cliff sides of the bay. These famous Neolithic caves, are now undergoing archaeological research.
Day 4 - Today we will visit Knossos - ancient palace or funerary site? We will explore the variety of theories out there about its use. This afternoon travel a short distance to Heraklion and explore the city as well the Heraklion Museum which is truly incredible with its ancient Neolithic, Minoan, Mycenean & Classical remains & art - a mesmerizing place. Day 5 This morning, explore the herb
garden with Pepy and learn about the herbs growing there. We will pick and taste fruits, grapes, herbs, to dry and take with us, as well as prepare a lovely smelling tea from different spices, which we pick that morning from her garden. (all optional - nothing required - could have this time for free time if you like for swimming & sunbathing). During May the weather is perfect & the earth is full of wild flowers.
Day 6 - Travel to the intriguing Lassithi Plain surrounded by mountains and Psychro Cave - ancient sacred cave. Pilgrims dedicated many offerings, such as figurines of humans, gods, animals, double axes etc. The excavators and several scholars identify the cave as the famous “Diktaian Cave”, where Zeus was born and brought up with the aid of Amaltheia and the Kouretes.
Day 7 - Travel by boat to beautiful Santorini - Overnight in Santorini for the next 3 nights here, staying in lovely accommodations overlooking the beautfiul Caldera. Santorini is known as one of the most beautiful islands in the world famous for its imposing landscape; the volcanic cliffs & the magnificent caldera with its impressionistic contrast of colours; the beautiful black sand beaches; the incredible white-washed houses, breathtaking sunsets, deep blue sea, & so much more. The light is magnificent here. The eruption of Santorini in ~ 1,650 B.C. was one of the largest in the last 10,000 years.
Day 8 Sightseeing around Santorini to Akroteri, (if open - has been closed for a few years due to construction) ancient Minoan Village excavated from under the volcano ash - destroyed in approximately 1500 BC after earthquake & volcano. Akroteri, a Minoan city on the south part of Thera, is being excavated. About 3-6 feet (1-2 m) of ash fell on the city which had a population of about 30,000. The residents appear to have been successfully evacuated prior to the eruption. No bodies have been found in the ash like those at Vesuvius. Time here for swimming; shopping; relaxing
Day 9 - Time to visit some beautiful beaches for sunbathing or swimming. Also we will explore the villages of Fira & Oia and time for shopping, sumptuous lunch and dinner. Also optional boat trip on your own (extra cost) in the caldera and to the volcano island in the middle.
Day 10. Flight to Athens this afternoon and continuing on with Optional Extension or flights home on. Overnight near airport for those going home on Day 11 OR continuing on their own. For those continuing on to Delphi & the Peloponnese, we will drive to Delphi for tonight and the morning of Day 11. Delphi is famous for her Oracle. About 100 miles NW of Athens, is the ancient site of the sanctuary of Delphi. The complex of buildings, which includes the Temple of Apollo near where the famous oracle sat. The sacred Corycian Cave, and the Castalian Spring, is nestled in the forested slopes & rocky crags on the south side of the sacred mountain. According to legend, the shrine was originally guarded by the shedragon Pytho. She was killed by Apollo who then took over the oracle. In antiquity, Delphi was regarded as the centre of the world. We will visit the Ancient Temples of Apollo & Athena, amphitheatre & gymnasium.
Day 11 - After the morning in Delphi, we will travel west & then south, over the Gulf of Corinth to the Peloponnese (island south of mainland of Greece) to Napflion area & stay nearby, on the beach in Tolo (since we will surely be missing the beach by now!) On the way, we will visiit Mycenae, written of by Homer, with its magnificent archaeological site (dating back to 16th century B.C.) containing tombs, palaces, aqueducts, and the famous Lions Gate. Myth from this area is of Agamemnon & Orestes. Overnight here for 3 nights
Day 12 Today there will be time on the beach or you have the option today of taking boat trips to other islands nearby (extra, on your own)
Day 13 - we will visit Napflion - a city of Venetian fortresses with an ancient harbor, harbor walk, restaurants, cafes and serenity
Day 14 - Today, leave this area to head back toward Athens. We will explore Epidaurus, on the way - the home of Asclepius, god of healing & famous for its incredible amphitheatre. It was the health spa and religious center of its time and maintained a bath, hotels & dwellings for the priest-physicians as well as a tholos building, temples, stoas, gymnasium, palaestra, stadium and a theater. The theater is one of the best preserved ancient structures in Greece & is now used for modern presentations of ancient Greek drama. The Asklepieia (athletic and dramatic festival) was held every 4 years. Epidauros is claimed as the birthplace of Asklepios & it was the most celebrated center for healing. Overnight near Athens airport for flights home in the morning, on Day 15, or continue on your own.
Costs: Main portion (Crete & Santorini - 9 nights) starting at $2595 USD - other currencies can be calculated) + all airfare extra
Deduct $650 if only partcipating in Crete portion and not Santorini
I can easily help you with your flights and good airfares as I am a travel agent
Single occupancy $500 USD extra
Cost includes accommodations, continental breakfast daily, admission to sites listed, transportation around Crete & Santorini via mini-buses and/or cars; and workshops. Flights not included
Optional Extension for extra 4 nights Delphi, Epidauros, Mycenae & Napflion, starting at $495
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