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

ITINERARY:

Day 1 -  ATHENS - CORINTH - PELOPONESE PENINSULA   Meet at Hotel Divani Palace in central Athens at 1.00PM and board our private bus to head for the Peloponese Peninsula.  Along the way, we pause at the Corinth Canal.  In ancient times the city-state of Corinth was a busy sea-port due to its location on the narrow isthmus joining the Adriatic and the Aegean.  Destroyed by the Romans in 146 BC. , it was rebuilt by Julius Caesar and when St Paul visited here in 52 AD, he found the city too sophisticated and chastised the Corinthians for their wanton ways. By the 2nd century AD, with 300,000 citizens and 500,000 slaves, Corinth was larger than Athens.

Our route takes us through Nemea where our mythic companion is Hercules (the legendary hero who performed 12 labours including slaying the Nemean Lion). We stop at a winery that is famous for its ‘Agiorgitiko’ (St George) wine - one of the finest Greek red varieties, produced since antiquity.

By late afternoon we reach our hotel in the pretty beachfront town of Tolo.  Like most places in Greece,  legends abound. Tolo was first written about by Homer who mentioned the acropolis of Asine that still sits on a small hill near our hotel. It is claimed that the warriors from the Argos region set sail for the Trojan wars from Tolo.  But more interesting today will be a dip in the hotel pool or stretching your legs strolling the beach before enjoying a buffet of classic Greek dishes for dinner. 

Day 2 -  COUNTRYSIDE WALKING  Our walking guides meet us at the hotel to brief us. You can choose a relaxed "Philosophers" walk or a more energetic "Olympian" hike.  Our coach then takes us a short distance to the lovely village of Kefalovrysso (pop 189).  This traditional village is nestled in the foothills of the Lirkio range and surrounded by trees said to date from the time of Menelaus (Helen of Troy's husband). 

From our base at a sustainable agrotourism project we have a choice of two hikes on paths scented by wild thyme and oregano. Both paths are loop walks through shady orchards and forests filled with streams and waterfalls. After lunch we follow a quiet road alongside a river bordered by olive trees to a wine and olive oil producing organic farm.  The only traffic on the road is usually a shepherd and his flock.  At the farm we walk through orchards of lemon, apricot and pomegranate trees and through a vineyard. 

Day 3 - EPIDAURUS - THE HEALING PATH -  This morning both the Philosopher and Olympian paths lead through pretty countryside and olive orchards. Along the way we see healing springs lined with wild lavender, sage and rosemary.  In ancient times the healing path was walked by the afflicted on their way to the Sanctuary of Epidaurus so our mythical companion for the day is Asklepios, the god of healing.   At the end of our walk we visit the amazing site of Epidaurus (UNESCO)  with an expert guide. We hear how, in the 6th century BC, the sanctuary was a temple where patients came to consult Asklepios.  But, over the centuries, priests of the temple accumulated wisdom about disease so what was once just a temple became a healing centre using surgery and potions as well as holistic therapies like dreams, serpents and theatre. These theories of healing spread throughout the Greco-Roman world so Epidaurus became the Mayo clinic of ancient times. It is a fascinating tour through the vast site.  Later in the afternoon we return to Tolo in time for a swim.

Day 4 - ONE DAY CRUISE from Tolo our cruise ship goes to the small islands of Spetses and Hydra. Of course our mythical companion for the day is Poseidon, god of the sea, and often dolphins accompany us frolicking in the ships wake.  We explore both islands on foot (cars are not permitted on Hydra) and hear some of the islands' fascinating history.  Merchant seafaring was the main source of livelihood in these rocky islands and it brought prosperity - especially during the Napoleonic wars when Greek shipping magnates made fortunes 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.  We hear the story of Bouboulina, a swashbuckling female 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. Huge state-of-the-art yachts are moored at the marina alongside quaint fishing boats. There are pleasant coastal walks on both islands as well as cafes and shops. The cruise returns to Tolo harbour in time for dinner.

Day 5 - NAFPLION - Today there is a choice of either taking a coach transfer into the the romantic sea-side town of Nafplion (15 minutes) where the Philosophers do an easy 5 km coastal walk.  The alternative for the Olympians is a more challenging 8 km walk.  Whichever you choose, you will find the town wonderful.  Our stroll through Nafplion streets is a walk through Greek history from archaic times to the present. Legend says that the town was founded by Nafplios, son of Poseidon. Nafplios' son Palamides fought in the Trojan War and today, his namesake, the huge Palamides castle, still stands guard atop the hill overlooking the town. (Olympian walkers may choose to climb the 999 steps to the top).  Nafplion changed hands many times. In 700 BC warriors from Argos destroyed the town but it was re-established in 323 BC only to be invaded by Romans and then Byzantines. In the 1400’s the powerful Venetians took over for a short time until they were ousted by the Turks who remained until 1822. Each of these invaders left their mark on the architecture and culture.  But there is more here than history.  After our walking tour we have free time to browse in the shops or relax in the cafes.

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 the Hellenic world. At its height in 1350 BC, 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 the tour we choose our walks. The Olympian route is on King Agamemnon's path where, according to legend, Agamemnon 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 Hera, queen of all the gods,  when she passed by en route to her temple.  Our walk ends at the archaeological site of Heraio which was a religious centre dedicated to Hera. In ancient times women would travel on foot for many miles to ask Hera for their wish to be granted.  You can try it but we suspect your wish will be to head back to the swimming pool at the hotel.

Day 7- ATHENS - Today we have a leisurely morning to enjoy the seaside village of Tolo before boarding our  bus and heading 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 through 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 or linger over a drink at a sidewalk cafe.  Our final dinner is at an Athens restaurant.

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 one day tour to visit Delphi which is one of the most famous archaeological sites of Greece.  Or a three night cruise is available from Athens 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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