Day 1 -
ATHENS - CORINTH - PELOPONESE PENINSULA Meet at the
Hotel Philippos 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
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. At that time
joining the two seas by building a canal was forbidden by the god Poseidon,
yet Corinth prospered. But the city was was destroyed when the Romans
conquered Greece in 146 BC. It was rebuilt by Julius
Caesar in 44 BC and a second era of affluence 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
canal was not completed until 1893.
There is time to eat a
quick lunch at our canal rest and photo stop.
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.
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).
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 4 -
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.
- 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.
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 or linger over a drink at a sidewalk cafe.
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 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.