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A Classic Quest: Discovering the Past and Present of the Peloponnese

September 3–15, 2018

The heart of ancient Greece still beats in the mountains and gorges of the Peloponnese. Here you can walk through history from the age of Agamemnon to the war cries of Sparta, but also from the Byzantines to the birth of Greek Independence. Monasteries and fortresses cling to cliffs, seaside shores shelter hidden caverns and quiet villages. On this expedition, we’ll walk in the footsteps of the first Olympians and dance with Zorba, we’ll learn to cook and taste wines, and we’ll travel by rack-and-pinion railroads, through hikes, and even by bike. If you want to see the Greece beyond the postcards so many have already seen, you can have no better way to do so than by traveling with Leftheris, who looks forward to welcoming you to the treasures he’s unearthed over his decades of travel.

12 nights/13 days: September 3–15, 2018

Minimum/maximum participants: 10-14

Trip cost based on double occupancy = €4,552 per person
Est. $5,641 per person plus $297 travel insurance at $1 = €.807

Single Supplement: additional €1,198 (est. $1,484 plus an added $78 travel insurance at $1 = €.807)

Day One: Athens (September 3–4)

Welcome to Athens, the cultural center of the ancient world and now a modern metropolis. Our journey together begins with a stroll around the Acropolis and Plaka—the old central district—followed by a lovely Welcome Dinner.

Day Two: Kalavryta (September 4–5)

Our exploration of the Peloponnese begins on its northern shore, in the seaside village of Diokoftó. A historic train takes us up the narrow gauge track to the mountain town of Kalavryta. Along the way the railroad winds through the gorge of the Vouraïkos river—this journey through tunnels and alongside streams is an adventure in and of itself. During our stay in Kalavryrta, we’ll visit the Monastery of Mega Spileon, which has clung to the cliffs—1,000 meters above sea level—since 362 AD. We will also visit an important World War II monument.

Day Three and Four: Olympia (September 5–7)

Our next destination lies in the western Peloponnese—Olympia, home of the Olympic games. We will explore the ancient site of Olympia with our guide, marveling at its vast collection of ancient temples, altars, sports locales and Olympic stadium, as well as a charming, small museum with its renowned statue of Hermes by Praxiteles. We will also be visiting the Monastery of Aghia Lavra, an important site in the Greek struggle for independence, as well as Dimitsana, one of the oldest and loveliest Arcadian villages, featuring medieval treasures in a charming water mill museum and a picturesque picnic-friendly gorge. As a special treat, during our time in the area we’ll take a hands-on cooking class at a private home, then after our meal, channel Zorba with Greek dancing and many shouts of Opa!

Day Five through Seven: Kardamyli (September 7–10)

In ancient days, the southwestern area of the Peloponnese was known as Messenia. We’ll explore the archaeological sites of the area from our base in Mani, a region known for its rugged “moon-like” landscape at the tip of the Peloponnese. From the lovely, seaside village of Kardamyli, we will visit lovely villages and churches in the nearby foothills of Mt. Taygetos, as well as the classical city of Messene and the modern regional capital, Kalamata, famous for its olives.

Day Eight and Nine: Monemvasia (September 10–12)

As we depart the Mani Peninsula for our next destination, we will explore the Diros caves by boat: the stalactites and stalagmites here feature splendid colors. We will also stop in Gytheion, the port of ancient Sparta: Helen sailed with Paris to Troy from here. Neo-classical buildings hug the side of Mount Koumaros all the way down to the sea. Our next home base lies in the southeastern Peloponnese—Monemvasia is an impregnable fortress built atop a huge rock that is often called the “Gibraltar of Greece.” We’ll explore the castles, ramparts, old mansions and narrow lanes paved with stone slabs that remain from this once mighty Byzantine-Venetian fortress state.

Day Ten and Eleven: Nauplion (September 12–14)

Next we head up the coast to the Byzantine city of Mystras to explore several of the most important historic monasteries and churches. Later, we will arrive at Nauplion, the first capital of modern Greece. We will begin our explorations of this charming port town with a bicycle tour. The area surrounding Nauplion includes several ancient treasures. One of the most dramatic, Epidauros—sanctuary of Asklepios, the god of medicine—features one of the the most famous and best preserved of all the ancient theaters in Greece, built right into the hillside within the sanctuary. Also nearby looms the Palamidi Fortress, built in 1711-14. This fortress, set on a 700-foot peak, is elegant with red stone bastions and flights of steps that zigzag down the cliff face. As our trip together comes to close, we will enjoy a special Farewell Dinner together.

Day Twelve: Athens (September 14–15)

Before we depart the Peloponnese, we have one final stop… or two. We can’t leave without visiting the ancient citadel of Mycenae, one of the most powerful city-states in Greece up to 1100 BC, when it was destroyed by fire. We’ll enter the acropolis through the famed Lion’s Gate, the oldest example of monumental sculpture in Europe, before exploring the ruins of the palace and tombs, including one once thought to belong to Agamemnon. En route to Athens, we’ll stop a noted Greek winery for a tasting and lunch. Enjoy your last evening in Athens on your own.

Day Thirteen: Travel Day (September 15)

Enjoy your journey home… or begin a new one! Contact us to plan an optional extension.

Optional Extensions

Want to extend your trip? Let us know!

Want to see more of Athens? Add a day or two to include a private half-day tour of the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum and/or the National Archaeological Museum, the ancient Agora, and the Athens Food Market. These days may be added either before or after this group experience.

Or… add a few nights on a Greek island. Some of Greece’s most glorious ancient treasures await on Crete, Rhodes, Mykonos or Santorini. Talk to us to learn more!

Trip Details

  • 1 night Athens, Athens Hilton
    (5* luxury hotel, executive rooms, Acropolis view)
  • 1 night Kalavrita, Kalavarita Canyon Hotel & Spa
    (4* hotel, deluxe rooms)
  • 2 nights Olympia, Europa Hotel
    (4* hotel, double rooms, half board)
  • 3 nights Kardamyli, Melitsana Village Hotel
    (3*superior boutique hotel, 2 superior upper-floor, 3 superior ground-floor, 3 classic ground-floor rooms)
  • 2 nights Monemvasia, Kinsterna Hotel
    (5* luxury boutique hotel, 4 premium residences, 2 Kinsterna suites, 2 deluxe suites)
  • 2 nights Nauplion, 3Sixty Hotel & Suites
    (4*superior boutique hotel, 8 suites)
  • 1 night Athens, Athens Hilton
    (5* luxury hotel, guestrooms, Acropolis view)

Your 12 night/13 day journey consists of the following services as per itinerary: accommodations in 3-star superior boutique to 5* luxury hotels; transfers and land transportation provided by private, air conditioned vehicles; all breakfasts at hotels and one picnic lunch plus 12 additional lunches or dinners (multi-course) at lovely local restaurants or special locations excluding beverages except bottled water and coffee/tea; however, the Welcome and Farewell Dinners, the cooking class, and winery lunch include wine and non-alcoholic beverages; private sightseeing tours, walking/hiking excursions, bicycle tour, cooking class, Greek dancing experience, winery tour, cave exploration by boat, and rack-and-pinion train ride in Arcadia as per itinerary; all entrance fees to sites, museums, and national parks as per itinerary; our strongly recommended comprehensive travel insurance program; all tips and taxes for the services noted above. Plus, Leftheris often has one or two surprises up his sleeve!