12 Days Greece & Greek Islands from Denver, CO - October 01 - 12, 2019 - Fr. James Spahn
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12 Days Greece & Greek Islands from Denver - October 01-12, 2019
Day 1 – DEPARTUR TO GREECE
Depart for your overnight flight to Greece, meals served on board.
Day 2 – ARIVAL THESSALONIKI
Arrive Thessaloniki where you will be met outside baggage claim and escorted to you vehicle for a transfer to the hotel. Later this afternoon, meet your guide for a short Orientation Tour. Enjoy a welcome dinner with fellow travelers this evening. Overnight at hotel Kapsis (or similar)
Day 3 – THESSALONIKI
Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city with population of some 1 million and a vital cultural, industrial and commercial city, lies amphitheatrically on the Thermaicos Gulf, on the slopes of Mount Chortiatis. Founded by the Greek Macedonian King Kassander, he named the city Thessaloniki after his wife who was also the half-sister of Alexander the Great. During the Roman period, it was the capital of Macedonia Secunda and during the Middle Ages, it was the second city of the Byzantine Empire. For 400 years it was occupied by the Ottoman Empire, until it was finally freed in 1912.
We start our excursion of the city viewing the White Tower, an historical landmark before continuing on to visit the Archaeological Museum which houses interesting finds from the Archaic, Classical and Roman periods, with findings of the Sindos area and a stunning exhibition of golden jewels. Stop for a typical Greek lunch. From here, drive by the International Trade Fair grounds and the Aristotelion University, which was established in 1926 and today is the largest of all universities in Greece. Next, make your way up to the once upon a time, Acropolis, located in the upper part of the city. It is here, where you will have a superb panoramic view of the entire city with the Thermaic Gulf and Mount Olympus in the background.
Further visit of St. Demetrios Basilica which was erected in the 5th century AD. The five aisled basilica suffered a tragic fire in the year 1917 but was later restored in 1948. Marvel at the beautiful mosaics, dating back from the 5th to 9th Centuries. From here, follow your guide to the area located under the basilica, where you will see the famous crypt, which according to tradition, was once the confinement for an officer by the name of Demetrius who was later executed by the Emperor Gallerius. Today, St. Demetrius is the patron Saint of the city.
Return to your motor coach and drive along the modern street, Egnatia, named after the famous Roman road, Via Egnatia. While driving, view the Arch of Gallerius and St. George’s Rotonda. The tour will end passing by the well preserved Byzantine Basilica of St. Sophia, an 8th Century structure, rich in mosaics and frescoes. Overnight hotel Kapsis or similar.
Day 4 – THESSALONIKI – KAVAL – PHILIPPI – THESSALONIKI
Kavala, the ancient site of Neapolis, founded in the 7th Century BC, is the very same place where St. Paul set foot on the European Continent during his second missionary journey, establishing a thriving Christian church in the nearby city of Philippi. The famous Egnatian road, which once ran from the Adriatic Sea to Constantinople, passed by this city.
On the way to Philippi you will have the opportunity to view the St. Sylas Monastery named after one of St. Paul’s companions. Arrive at the famous city of Philippi, one of the most interesting biblical and historical ancient cities. The city once known as Krinides, was renamed “Philippoi” after King Philip II, father of Alexander the Great. It is this place where Brutus and Cassius were defeated by Mark Antony and Junavian Augustus, granting the City of Philippi a great many privileges. From here, drive a short distance to the Baptistery and the River, where Lydia, the first European convert was baptised by St. Paul.
Return to the archaeological site for a guided tour through the excavations, marveling at the upper and lower parts as well as the Forum, the Walls, the two Basilicas and the Theatre. Your guide will also point out the traditional prison, which once held St. Paul and St. Silas.
After lunch in Philippi Site, we will do a short orientation tour of Kavala (Anceint Neapolis) and then drive back to Thessaloniki. Overnight hotel Kapsis or similar.
Day 5 – THESSALONIKI – PELLA – KALAMBAKA
Your tour starts with a 45-minute drive to Pella birthplace of Alexander the Great, where you will explore the site on foot.
Pella, was the second capital of ancient Macedonia, founded by king Archelaos who had built the magnificent palace, its walls being decorated by the famous painter Zeuxis and made it to the seat of the Royal Family. Being situated at the riverside of Ludias, that was once navigable, was developed into an important port. Euripides was at Pella to see his plays produced and performed there and Aristotle was appointed to educate young Alexander. We start our visits here first with the Archaeological Museum. Being small but very important, due to its rich collection of clay figurines, the classical black and red figured vases, the pebble floor mosaics and the fine reconstruction of the interior architectural part of Greek house with its stucco decoration. We start visiting the excavations with the huge Greek houses bearing the central courtyards and being surrounded by big rooms, walk along the streets facing the shops of the big market and admire the still existing floor mosaics.
Continue to visit the Royal Tombs of Vergina (Land of Alexander the Great) we will have lunch at Elia Restaurant in Veria, overlooking the valley Aliakmon. The tour includes visit of the newly completed exhibition bearing the founds of all 3 Tombs, one of them famous as the Tomb of King Philip the II, Father of Alexander the Great. Make your way inside the subterranean structure, accompanied by your guide and feast your eyes on some of the most important objects, which once belonged to Philip II – the King’s shield adorned with ivory and gold the King’s gold- trimmed iron breast plate, Gold Diadems of unparalleled craftsmanship, the Golden Wreath of oak leaves, the gold plated collar and the Silver Burial Ums. Listen carefully, as your guide explains how inside the tomb of King Philip, a Golden Chest was discovered, containing the King’s bones, washed with wine and wrapped in purple cloth. After a short coffee break, we will drive towards the town of Kalambaka. Overnight at
Day 6 – KALAMBAKA – METEORA – ATHENS
Today we will visit the monasteries of Meteora. One of the most remarkable sites in Greece: a group of monasteries perched atop pinnacles of rock up to 600 meters high. A rare geological phenomenon, a quirk of nature as it were, created these looming rocks which trust skywards from the plain of Thessaly, as if striving to come closer to God. These peculiarly impressive natural sculptures are known as Meteora because they do indeed seem to hang or hover (meteoro in Greek) above the plain. Their summits totally isolated from the rest of the world, were a refuge for many hermits from as early as the 11th century. Three hundred years later the first monasteries were founded. Access to the monasteries and settlements was made by ladder and rope.
Once we arrive to the monasteries you will admire the brickwork of the Byzantine workmanship. The Churches house the spectacular frescoes, ivory carving, manuscripts and the fine work of art previously supported by the Emperors at the time. Included in the tour is the visit of two monasteries, Grand Meteora or Varlaam Monasteries (depends on the day of the week) as well as the Monastery of Agios Stefanos (Nuns). *You are kindly requested to observe the strict clothing restrictions of the monasteries i.e. long skirts and covered shoulders for the ladies, long trousers for men otherwise entrance will be denied*
After lunch we will start our drive towards Athens. Overnight at hotel Stanley or similar.
Day 7 – ATHENS
On a tour to Athens you will view many significant historical and archaeological monuments that date back to the Golden Age of Pericles, in the 5th century BC. During that time, the wealthy, newly democratic and invigorated city-state decided to rebuild the Temples on top of the Acropolis in great splendor. Visit the Parthenon, dedicated to the Goddess Athena, a unique masterpiece of Greek Architecture. This monument is recognized as the culmination of Greek architecture and sculpture. Examine the Propylea , which blends Doric and Ionic building principles. Continue to the Temple of the Athena Nike (Wingless Victory) and the Erechtheum Temple, which was formerly used for cult worship and consists of three basic parts: the main Temple, the north extension and the famous Porch of Maidens. Then you will enjoy a traditional lunch in a restaurant in the centre of Athens. After lunch you will have the chance to explore the Νew Acropolis Museum located across the hill of the Acropolis serving as a reminder to all visitors of the true greatness of 5th century Athens. Among its many important exhibits are the Caryatids (female sculptures acting as columns of the Erechtheion Temple), the Parthenon Gallery with the inner frieze, outer metopes and pediments of the temple and the statue of Artemis by Praxitelis. Next, view Mars Hill, where St. Paul preached Christianity. You will also be seeing the Ancient Agora, Tower of the Winds, Herodes Atticus Theater, Theater of Dionyssos,Temple of Zeus, see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the former Royal Palace which is now the House of Parliament. Continue to the University of Athens, the Academy of Athens, the National Library and then to the “Panathenian” Olympic Stadium where the first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896. Overnight hotel Stanley or similar.
Day 8 – ATEHNS – CORINTH
Corinth (Argolis) Journey outside Athens to walk among the ancients in Corinth, a once rich and powerful city known for luxury and vice and see the incredible Corinth Canal, cut through miles of solid rock. Follow the sacred way which led to Eleusis, known in antiquity for its sanctuary of Demeter, whose legendary search for her daughter Persephone explained to the ancients the cause of the seasons. A modern highway takes you past olive fields and numerous small villages, including Megara, whose inhabitants colonized in Asia Minor under the leadership of Byzas and founded the city of Byzantium - which later gave its name to the Byzantine Empire. Driving along the coast leads to the majestic Corinth Canal, an engineering triumph century in the making. Nero, Rome's most infamous emperor, inaugurated one attempt in 67 AD with his golden spade, but it was the Greeks who finally conquered the steep rock in 1893. Prior to the canal, ships were dragged from the Ionian Sea to the Aegean Sea using a wooden road with special grooves greased with wax. Traces of the road can still be seen. Continue on to Ancient Corinth, a city blessed with a superb location, fertile plains and a virtually impregnable refuge. Excavations reveal that the ancient city was huge and wealthy; a survivor of numerous invasions but devastated by earthquakes. See the Bema, where St. Paul was tried by the Roman Governor, and one of Corinth's most striking ancient buildings - the Temple of Apollo, seven of whose original 38 columns still stand. Walk through the remains of the Market Place, a colonnaded square once surrounded by many small shops. See the celebrated Fountain of Priene, which has produced water from earliest times and Lechaion Road, formerly the main thoroughfare to the port of Lecaion. You will also be visiting the museum of Corinth. Overnight hotel Stanley or similar.
Day 9– Depart
Day 9 – Athens - Mykonos –free afternoon
Celebrate Mass at the Church of St. Paul in Pireaus.Transfer to Piraeus Harbor for 11am boarding. Late afternoon, arrive at the beautiful island of Mykonos. Overnight sail to Kusadasi.
Day 10 - Kusadasi (excursion to Ephesus)/Patmos (excursion to Cave of St. John where he worte the Apocalypse)
Arrive at Kusadasi, continue by coach to Ephesus and explore ruins of the ancient city. Celebrate Mass at Panaya Kapula (the House of the Virgin Mary) in Ephesus. Afternoon visit to the island of Patmos and overnight sail to Rhodes.
Day 11 - Heraklion - free morning/Santorini
Arrive at Heraklion, continue by coach to Knossos, the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on, considered Europe's oldest city. Celebrate Mass on board. Enjoy the afternoon on the stunning island of Santorini, and village of Fira perched high above the sea with a spectacular view.
Day 12 – Athens - Departure
Return to Athens around 06:00am, disembarkation after breakfast and transfer to the airport. (Breakfast on board)
Trip Date: October 01-12, 2019
Departure City: Denver, CO (other cities available)
Package price includes the following:
- Round trip airline tickets
- Three overnights in Thessaloniki (hotel Kapsis or similar)including breakfast daily
- One overnight in Kalambaka (hotel Amalia or similar) including breakfast daily
- Three overnights in Athens (hotel Stanley or similar) including breakfast daily
- 4-day cruise extension
- Air-conditioned motor coach throughout for all tours and transfers
- Services of English speaking professional, licensed guide for all sites and museums as per itinerary
- Six lunches during tours includes one soft drink or glass of wine per person
- Welcome dinner in Thessaloniki includes house wine
- Transfers from and to airports
- Entrance fees as per itinerary
- Road tolls and all applicable taxes
- Guide and driver accommodation and meals
Package price does not include the following:
- Tips to guide, driver, restaurants
- Drinks during meals (except those specifically mentioned above)
- Personal expenses of guests (telephones, laundry, room service etc)
- Anything not specifically mentioned in included section