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Optional tours are available from most ports for an additional charge.
Day Athens, Greece Athens is the historical capital of Europe, with a long history, dating from the first settlement in the Neolithic age. In the 5th Century BC (the Golden Age of Pericles) the culmination of Athens long, fascinating history the citys values and civilization acquired a universal significance. Over the years, a multitude of conquerors occupied Athens, and erected unique, splendid monuments - a rare historical palimpsest. In 1834, it became the capital of the modern Greek state and in two centuries since it has become an attractive modern metropolis with unrivalled charm.
Day Delphi After your morning breakfast, depart for the Archaeological site of Delphi, considered by the ancients to be the physical and spiritual center of the earth. This shrine of Apollo, set nearly 2,000 feet up on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, exerts even today, a potent grip on visitors. Here was the most respected oracle of antiquity. See the Castalian Spring, in which worshippers first purified themselves; the Sacred Way, once lined with statues and treasures; the Grand Temple of Apollo, beneath which the Pythia sat; the theater with its excellent acoustics; and the well preserved stadium with the marble starting blocks in position. Then visit the Delphi Museum to see the Omphalos, which marked the center of the world, and the magnificent bronze Charioteer, one of the finest pieces surviving from the 5th century B.C. A traditional lunch of tzatziki, olives, dolmades, Greek salad, and other Greek treats will be served at the village of Delphi. After lunch board your coach for the drive to the picturesque town of Kalambaka that sits at the foot of Meteroa, to the Divani Meteora Hotel. After check-in, the evening will be at your leisure.
Day Meteora Following breakfast you will head to Meteora, one of the largest and most important groups of monasteries in Greece. The rock monasteries have been characterized by UNESCO as a unique phenomenon of cultural heritage and they form one of the most important stations of the cultural map of Greece. What created this rare geological phenomenon is one of the mysteries of nature. The area was originally settled by monks who lived in caves in the rocks during the 11th century. But as the times became more unsettled they climbed higher and higher up the rock face until they were living on the inaccessible peaks. There were no steps then, and the main access was by means of a net or retractable wooden ladders up to 131 feet (40m) long. This was how the monasteries were reached until the 1920s but now there are roads, pathways and steps to the top. You will see examples of these nets, used today for bringing up provisions. Of the original 24 monasteries only 6 are now inhabited, and you will visit 2 of them. Departing from Meteora the tour will proceed to Kalambaka where lunch will be served.
Return to Athens late in the afternoon to overnight at the St. George Lycabettous Hotel, passing the heroic monument of Leonidas at Thermopylae. The evening is at your leisure
Please note: Both ladies and gentlemen should be modestly dressed for these visits - ladies must wear skirts covering their knees, no trousers, and gentlemen should wear long trousers. Both must cover their shoulders.
Day Acropolis and Piraeus / Athens, GreeceDeparts 05:00 PM After your morning breakfast you will depart for the Acropolis tour. The Acropolis hill, so called the "Sacred Rock" of Athens, is the most important site of the city. Climb the smooth marble steps as visitors have for centuries. History opens before you as you reach the Propylaea, one of the masterpieces of classical architecture, serving as the entrance to the complex of buildings. You'll see the Temple of Athena Nike (Wingless Victory) and the Erectheum, with its classical Porch of Maidens, the Caryatids. Stand in awe of the Parthenon, designed as a shrine to Athena and at one time housing a massive gold and ivory statue of the warrior goddess. In the museum see all the surviving treasures of the Acropolis together in one place. The collections on display are finds of the Acropolis, Post Parthenon, Roman Period and the excavation site when the new museum was built. The highlight of the Museum is the display of the Parthenon Frieze located on the top floor. Departing from the Acropolis, transfer to the port of Piraeus for embarkation on your waiting ship.
With 3,000 years of history, you can't turn around in Athens without encountering the past. The Acropolis, a UNESCO site, the Plaka, and the Acropolis Museum are must-sees. But leave time if you can to climb Pnyx Hill for photos of the Parthenon at sunset, to buy your own set of Greek komboloi (worry beads), and to explore the metro stations that serve as mini-museums for the relics that are constantly being unearthed.
Day Mykonos, GreeceArrives 07:00 AM Departs 06:00 PM One of the most visited of Greece's Cyclades Islands, Mykonos is also known by the lyrical name of "the island of winds." The name comes from its first ruler, Mykons, son of the god Apollo. Today, you'll see what look like the descendants of the gods lounging on Mykonos's beachesthe island is known for being a lure for the rich and beautiful and was once a favorite vacation destination of Jackie Kennedy Onassis and her entourage. Although a mystique of money and hedonism still lingers around the island, there's lots to see, do, taste and buy in Mykonos that's accessible to us mere mortals. There's also the simple beauty of Greek windmills, whitewashed houses clinging to the hills and charming tavernas with terraces open to the sky and the sea air.
Day Kusadasi (Ephesus), TurkeyArrives 07:00 AM Departs 11:00 PM "Kusadasi in Turkey is the gateway to one of the most legendary cities of the ancient world: Ephesus. St. Paul preached in its Great Theater, while the facade of the Celsus Library survives as a testament to the citys role as a center of learning and culture.
Not far from Ephesus, the Temple of Artemis (also known as the Temple of Diana), one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, once stood, drawing pilgrims from around the Mediterranean. While it no longer stands, it is possible to walk amongst its foundations and the remains of its towering columns.
Other historic sites can also be found nearby: The House of Mary is believed to be the home of Jesuss mother at the end of her life, and the Basilica of St. John, constructed in the 6th century, marks the location of his tomb. (Like Mary, he spent his final years in Ephesus.) Nearby, the Selcuk fortress reflects the period of Byzantine and Ottoman control of the region."
Day Patmos, GreeceArrives 08:00 AM Departs 06:00 PM Deserted for centuries because of constant raids by pirates and the Turks, this tiny arid island was first settled in 1088 when the Emperor of Constantinople made it a gift to the monk Christodoulos Latrnos so that he could establish a monastery in honor of St. John the Divine on the site. Patmos has been a place of scholarship and religious enlightenment ever since. Today this modern pilgrimage site is a quiet respite from the tourist havens many other Greek isles have become
Day Santorini, GreeceArrives 08:00 AM Departs 09:00 PM As our ship approaches the spectacular cliffs rising from the deep azure sea, youï¿½ll understand the magic of this area, where some say the ruins of Atlantis remain hidden. Visit the village of Oia and see the iconic Santorini blue domes or take a guided tour of Bronze Age excavations at the UNESCO site of Akrotiri. Toast the day with a crisp, cold glass of local Assyrtiko wine.
Day Monemvasia, GreeceArrives 12:00 PM Departs 06:00 PM Monemvasia was once on the Peloponnese mainland. Then an earthquake turned it into an island. It is now joined to the mainland by a narrow causeway that limits access, originally for reasons of defense. The tall, flat isle is completely honeycombed with nooks and grottoes, narrow alleys and rock-carved rooms. Clearly it was a formidable redoubt in times of attack, and earned its nickname the Gibraltar of the East. The upper town, long uninhabited, has narrow pathways leading to the Byzantine Aghia Sophia church, and remains of the medieval fortress and walls. In the lower town, look for the bell tower that leads you to Elkomenos Square, with its namesake medieval Elkomenos Christos church and a small museum.
Day Nafplio, GreeceArrives 07:00 AM Departs 05:00 PM Held to be one of the loveliest small towns in all the islands, Navplion has a tradition and culture all its own. The sheltered location, below a rocky headland crowned by a Venetian fortress is perhaps unrivaled in Greece. After the Greek revolution of the early 19th century, Navplion served as the first modern capital. The neoclassical houses, large official buildings and carefully planned seafront streets all date from this period.
Day Athens, GreeceArrives 07:00 AM Athens is the historical capital of Europe, with a long history, dating from the first settlement in the Neolithic age. In the 5th Century BC (the Golden Age of Pericles) the culmination of Athens long, fascinating history the citys values and civilization acquired a universal significance. Over the years, a multitude of conquerors occupied Athens, and erected unique, splendid monuments - a rare historical palimpsest. In 1834, it became the capital of the modern Greek state and in two centuries since it has become an attractive modern metropolis with unrivalled charm.