Walkers' World 
Guided Rambling and Sightseeing Holidays in
Greece    Walking with the gods   


ITINERARY:

Day 1 -  ATHENS - CORINTH - PELOPONESE PENINSULA   Meet at the Divani Palace Acropolis Hotel in central Athens at 12 noon and board our private bus to head for the Peloponese Peninsula.  Along the way, we pause to see the Corinth Canal. In ancient times the city-state of Corinth was a prosperous sea-port due to its location on the narrow isthmus joining the Adriatic and the Aegean. A canal, however, was forbidden by the god Poseidon. Corinth's greatest period of prosperity was between the 8th and 5th centuries BC, but it was was destroyed when the Romans conquered Greece in 146 BC. The city was rebuilt by Julius Caesar in 44 BC and a second era of prosperity began (although still without a canal). When St Paul visited here in 52 AD, he found Corinth too sophisticated, and chastised the Corinthians for their wanton ways. By the 2nd century AD, with some 300,000 citizens and 500,000 slaves, Corinth was much larger and more prosperous than Athens. The famous canal was not completed  until 1893. There is time to eat a quick lunch at our canal rest and photo stop.

By mid afternoon we reach our hotel in the pretty beach front town of  Tolo.  The beach is ideal for a walk to stretch your legs. Or perhaps you might just like to admire the sea from your balcony or have that first dip in the Mediterranean or the hotel pool. Tolo has shops with local produce and bakeries where you can pick up freshly baked bread, spinach pies  and other treats for our picnic lunches. 3 course dinner at hotel is a buffet of traditional Greek dishes.

Day 2 - TOLO AREA - there are many interesting sights close to our hotel. The bay of Tolo was first written about by Homer in the Iliad, where he also names the acropolis of Asine on a small hill near the hotel. Legend claims that it was from here that the warriors from the Argos region set sail for the Trojan wars. Remains of prehistoric settlements and parts of ancient city walls can be seen there; excavations also revealed Mycenaean tombs. Another famous local landmark is the 'Egg' Monastery. You will understand the name as soon as you see the shape of the rock the monastery is perched on. Our guides will meet us at the hotel in the morning to brief us on the walks and our first day of walking will be designed around our abilities and preferences.  Dinner in a local seaside taverna.
The more difficult walk is a unique track of about 8 km. Starting from Tolo we ascend the mountain to admire a magnificent view of the bay of Tolo.  We continue on a dirt road and cross the back side of the emblematic mountain of Prophet Ilias in Assini village. Our route takes us through orange and olive orchards and all sorts of trees and flowers. Nearing Nafplion we view the eminent castle of Palamidi and the Monastery of Agia Moni which leads gently down to the village of Aria.

The easier walk is 7.5 kilometers. We start walking on the beach towards and then ascend a small hill to ancient Assini where we pause to admire the panoramic view of Tolo, the bay and its beaches. We continue along a dirt road, over another beach and then pass through small villages and the lagoon ponds of a wetland sanctuary. Crossing a small bridge, we arrive in the charming seaside village of Vivari where there are small tavernas, beckoning us to linger over a cool drink or to swim from the small beach.

Day 3 - MOUNT ARTEMISIO - NEMEA - This morning our coach takes us a short distance to Mount Artemisio where we have a choice of two hikes on paths scented by wild thyme and oregano.  We start at Karyes, a traditional village nested in the foothills and surrounded by trees said to date from the time of Menelaus (Helen of Troy's husband). Originally built around healing springs, Karyes was a sanctuary to the goddess Artemis, goddess of the hunt and of the wilderness. Because of its remote location this mountain village was used by Koloktronis, the leader of the Greek War of Independence, and his bandit warriors as a base to attack the hated Turkish Ottomans who occupied Greece. Our easier route this morning allows more time to explore life in the mountain village while the more challenging route takes our Olympian walkers upward on Mount Artemisio through forest and Byzantine watermills. Picnic lunch (not included).

On our return we travel through Nemea where our mythic companion is Hercules (the legendary hero who performed 12 labours including slaying the Nemean Lion). There are few places in Greece that combine Ancient Greek temples with what feels like the Napa Valley of California and we stop at a winery that is famous for its ‘Agiorgitiko’ (St George) wine - one of the finest Greek red varieties, produced since antiquity. Dinner at hotel

Day 3 - EPIDAURUS - NAFPLION - THE HEALING PATH -  Epidaurus (UNESCO) was first built as a healing centre where patients came to consult Asklepios, god of healing.  Our morning walk through pretty countryside to reach the ancient sanctuary (the ancient Greek version of a hospital/health spa). The centre functioned here for 2,000 years using surgery and potions as well as dreams, serpents and theatre as therapies.  The theatre with its amazing acoustics is still used today for concerts. Near the site is a 3,500 year old olive tree.

We then drive to the charming sea-side town of Nafplion. This morning we have a 7 km walk through pretty Greek countryside. The route is dotted with mysterious ruins, tiny villages and Byzantine churches. We can see preserved imprints of chariot lanes and two ancient herms with an inscription from the 3rd century B.C. Those that want a challenge can opt for a steep hike up to a chapel with a panoramic view of the Argolid region. After a picnic by a stream we head to Nafplion. Strolling through the streets of Nafplion is a walk through Greek history from archaic times to the present. Legend says that the town was founded by King Napflios whose son Palamides fought in the Trojan War. Today, the vast Palamides citadel stands guard over the town. (The Olympian walkers may choose to climb to the top). In 700 BC warriors from Argos destroyed Nafplion but it was re-established in 323 BC when Greece was at its zenith in the areas of medicine, sculpture and mathematics. In Roman and Byzantine times Nafplion was invaded by many nations. In the 1400’s the powerful Venetians took over. The Venetians were ousted by the Turks who remained until 1822 when they were finally driven out in the Greek War of Independence. Nafplion then became capital of the new Greece. There is ample time to explore, browse in the shops, relax in a cafe or swim. Today you can bring a picnic or enjoy a late lunch in Nafplion. Dinner tonight is at a taverna in Nafplion.

Day 5 - ONE DAY CRUISE from Tolo to the small islands of Spetses and Hydra. Explore both islands on foot (cars are not permitted at all on Hydra). Merchant seafaring was the main source of livelihood for many islanders in these rocky, non-arable islands and they prospered - especially during the Napoleonic wars when Greek shipping magnates made tremendous profit working with, or against, both belligerent sides. In 1821 Spetses was the first Greek island to raise the flag of Revolution. The wealthy sea captains who had been hoarding their gold quickly dug up their buried treasure, funded the revolution and liberated the territory from the Turks. Discover the story of Bouboulina, a swashbuckling female naval commander from Spetses who used her own wealth to fund a fleet during the War of Independence. She survived the war but in the end was shot and killed in a family feud. Another Greek tragedy. Today Spetses’ quiet beauty attracts Greek billionaires (yes there are some in spite of the recent economic crisis), plus international novelists and pop stars looking for a retreat. Vast, state-of-the-art yachts are moored at the marina alongside quaint fishing boats. The cruise returns to Tolo harbour in time for dinner at the hotel.

Day 6 -  MYCENAE - In the morning we visit nearby Mycenae (UNESCO). According to legend, Mycenae's founder was the hero Perseus, son of the god Zeus. In the second millennium BC this was one of the major centres of Greek civilization, a military stronghold which dominated southern Greece. At its height in 1350 B.C, the town had a population of 30,000 and scholars still are puzzled about why it declined. We visit the Citadel and the famous Treasury of Atreus. We marvel at the Cyclopean walls, built by giants or elephants - no one knows for sure.  After a guided tour we choose our walks. The more difficult route is on King Agamemnon's path where, according to local legend, the legendary ruler drove his golden carriage on his triumphant return from the Trojan war. Continuing on, we pass through olive and orange fields, along agricultural roads and paths. We see a strange stone building which local legend claims was a guard room to keep a watchful eye οn the gοddess Hera when she passed by in her carriage en route to her temple at Heraio. The easier option is a 3 hour 6 km easy walk. Along the way we see a Mycenaean bridge over Chavros gorge.  We stop for a rest at a small chapel and admire the view of surrounding villages, the sea and mountains in the distance. Our walk ends at the archaeological site of Heraio, a great sanctuary dedicated to Hera (goddess of marriage). Picnic lunch. (Dinner in a local taverna near the hotel.

Day 7- ATHENS  Today we have a leisurely morning to enjoy the lovely seaside village of Tolo before we board our  bus and head for Athens (about 2 hours). After checking into our hotel there is time for a stroll through 5000 years of history on a 4 km promenade that circles the Acropolis, the Athens Archaeological Park. Along the way we see marble temples, Byzantine churches, ancient theatres, and neoclassical museums. On this pedestrian-only path it does not take much imagination to hear the echoes of philosophers' and scholars' footsteps....Pericles, Socrates, Sophocles, Plato, Aristotle may have trod this route. Or perhaps you will want to browse the bustling Plaka for souvenirs or linger over a drink at a sidewalk cafe.

Farewell dinner under the dramatic floodlit Acropolis.

Day 8 - Tour ends in Athens after breakfast.  You could stay on in Athens to visit the Acropolis and its amazing new museum. Or there is a day tour to visit Delphi which is one of the most famous archaeological sites of Greece.   3  night cruises are available to the islands of Mykonos, Patmos, Crete, and Santorini.

 

Walking in Greece Where we stay
Cost and what is included Walking Itinerary
Optional add-on 3 night cruise Optional day trip to Delphi
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