Greece is where so much began – democracy started here – the Olympics were first held in Greece – much of the philosophy, mythology and folklore we all so often quote, first saw the light of day here. We commence at the very heart of Greek culture, Athens, the city of the Acropolis and the Parthenon. However, Greece was a nation of city-states, where each community created its own history. Now this fascinating history is waiting for you throughout the rest of this extraordinary country: Delphi, famous for its Oracle; Mycenae, once richly ladened with gold, and Epidaurus, where we experience the marvellous acoustics of a 14,000-seat, open-air theatre. Then we take to the storied seas, cruising amidst the enchanting Greek Islands to picturesque Mykonos; Santorini, regarded as possibly the lost island of Atlantis, legendary Crete, as well as captivating Rhodes, where the Colossus once stood guard. Then cruise on to the Turkish mainland to see remarkable sights.
DAY 01: TORONTO – ATHENS
Depart Toronto on an overnight flight (Olympic Airways) to Athens. Meals will be served and headsets will be supplied so that you may enjoy the full-length movie and the many audio channels available.
DAY 02: ATHENS (D)
Arrive in ageless Athens, center of the classical civilized world for fifteen centuries. After clearing immigration and customs you will be met and transferred to your downtown hotel.
The afternoon is completely free to relax and absorb the myriad
wonders of this splendorous city. The possibilities are endless.
DAY 03: ATHENS (B)
Breakfast at hotel. Half day guided sightseeing tour of Athens. The glories and the grandeur of the Greek past come to life as you ascend the limestone plateau of the Acropolis, originally a royal fortress and a precinct enclosing the most sacred shrines of Athens. See such fascinating sights as the diminutive Temple of Athena Nike, the porch of the six graceful maidens and remains of the unparalleled Parthenon, probably the most perfect building ever constructed. It remains possibly the single most impressive monument in the world. Afternoon at leisure.
Overnight in Athens.
DAY 04: ATHENS – MYCENAE – EPIDAURUS – OLYMPIA (B/D)
After breakfast at the hotel, you will check out and board the tour coach. Make your way to Mycenae. The Bronze Age acropolis of legendary Mycenae, Kingdom of Agamemnon, brings to life the myths and glorious history of a city that was the centre of a civilization that thrived from 1600 to 1100 B.C.E. Then, on to Epidaurus. Stop at the Corinth Canal, which links the Aegean and Ionian Seas. The 14,000-seat theatre at Epidaurus has acoustics so acute that even after 23 centuries; from the back row you can hear the strike of a match or a coin drop on its massive stage area. Continue on to Olympia where you will overnight.
DAY 05: OLYMPIA – DELPHI (B/D)
This morning, visit the ruins of Olympia, the centre of the Panhellenic games spread over 5,000 acres. Imagine the cheers as you walk through the gate used by ancient Olympians to enter the stadium.
Continue on to Delphi. Upon arrival, check in to your hotel where you will have dinner and overnight.
DAY 06: DELPHI – KALAMBAKA (B/D)
On the slopes of towering Mount Parnassus, in a landscape of
unparalleled beauty and majesty, lie the ruins of Delphi, site of the
Divine Oracle. Delphi is situated high above the Gulf of Corinth and
renowned throughout ancient Greece as the sanctuary of Apollo, once the
holiest of places.
DAY 07: METEORA – PIRAEUS FOR CRUISE EMBARKATION (B/D)
Breakfast at hotel. Depart on a guided tour of Meteora. One of the
most magnificent sights in all of Greece, the monasteries of Meteora is
precariously perched on towering sandstone ‘needles’. Only six of the
original 23 monasteries remain, the others having succumbed to erosion.
Following your tour, continue on to Piraeus where you will embark on a
DAY 08: ISTANBUL (B/L/D)
The dusky silhouettes of the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque greet us as we sail into Istanbul, a city fit for a Pasha, mysterious and compelling, standing astride two continents. An optional city tour covers all the main sights including St. Sophia/Topkapi (Treasury and Harem excluded), home to the Ottoman Sultans, whose charged setting is the repository of jeweled daggers, sacred relics, exquisitely embroidered quivers, Ming dynasty porcelains and precious gems. Milky blue tiles from Iznik and gilded mirrors evoke memories of beautiful concubines in the chambers of the harem.
Overnight on board ship.
DAY 09: ISTANBUL (B/L/D)
Today you’ll marvel at the perfect proportions of the Mosque of Suleyman; the magnificent nave of the Hagia Sophia; the carpet covered floors and six minarets of the most famous monument in the Islamic world, the Blue Mosque. Return to the ship to continue your journey.
Overnight on board ship.
DAY 10: MYKONOS (B/L/D)
Mykonos is quaintly picturesque and one of Europe’s superlative
vacation retreats. It is indeed one of the dazzling gems of the Cyclades
island group. Mykonos offers golden beaches, fairytale harbours ringed
by sailboats, yachts, welcoming tavernas, and a maze of shops lining
DAY 11: PATMOS - KUSADASI (B/L/D)
Breakfast on board the cruise ship. Once you see the terrain of Patmos you’ll wonder at the difficulties faced by the Monks who built the Monastery of St. John in 1088 AD.
In Kusadasi we have an opportunity to see Ephesus, a staggering sight constructed ten centuries before Christ and in antiquity, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Overnight on board ship.
DAY 12: RHODES (B/L/D)
Arrive Rhodes in the early morning. The Knights of the Order of St. John were established in Rhodes in 1309 AD and their stay has endowed the island with a series of majestic buildings. To really get the feel, follow the Street of the Knights to the Palace of the Grand Masters. The captivating townlet of Lindos, sheltered under an immense acropolis and framed by a lovely bay and beach, is well worth the trip. Rhodes shopping is first rate – excellent leathers and jewelry. Overnight on board ship.
DAY 13: CRETE – SANTORINI (B/L/D)
This morning you cruise to Crete’s ages-old port of Heraklion, the long time Venetian stronghold. In the land of Zeus and Zorba, there are relics of a civilization 4000 years old. Crete attained the highest peak of its glory during the Minoan periods. Crete is also known as the birthplace of the great painter El Greco, born in a little village near Heraklion. The variety and extent of Crete’s coastline makes it possible to bask on a vast number of beaches. Opt for a swim, or head to Heraklion’s shops and museum, or perhaps hear the epic tale of King Minos at the Palace of Knossos.
This afternoon you arrive in volcanic Santorini (also called Thira). Rising dramatically from the waters of the Aegean, there has been great research and speculation as to whether Santorini is the lost island of Atlantis. One of the highlights of a stop in Santorini is the opportunity to travel via donkey up and down the winding stairs leading to the harbour. Overnight on board ship.
DAY 14: CRUISE ENDS: PIREAUS – ATHENS (B/D)
Disembarkation after breakfast (Pireaus). Transfer to Athens.
This evening enjoy your farewell dinner at a local taverna in Plaka with show.
DAY 15: ATHENS – TORONTO (B)
YASSOU ATHINAI! HELLO CANADA. Transfer to the airport for your flight home, arriving the same day.
Italia!Dawn broke early, banishing night’s darkness with a gentle nudge. Kissed the glistening snow-capped peaks of the majestic Swiss Alps; then beamed her golden smile far and wide to light the morning sky. Our Alitalia jet had just crossed the Italian border where the scenery was so breathtaking...