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History,  Myth and Music in the Land of the Gods

Departure:    June 26 – July 6, 2020

FEATURING:  The Epirus Chamber Music Festival

 

The ancient Greeks believed that music was a gift of the gods and music played a most important role in their everyday life.  They began to study music as early as the 6th century BC, and music comprised a main field of one’s education.  In fact, the word music comes from Muses, the nine mythological daughters of Zeus and patron goddesses of the arts and learning.

This program combines the exploration of a beautiful and interesting part of Greece that remains “undiscovered” by tourists, with concerts of superb classical music performed at different venues, some of which are of significant historical and archaeological importance.  As its name implies, the Epirus Chamber Music Festival takes place in Epirus, in northwest Greece.

Our journey begins in Athens, the cosmopolitan and dynamic capital of Greece and the oldest city in Europe, where we visit some of the timeless landmarks, among them the Acropolis and Parthenon, including the Agora, ancient Athens’ civic center.  Then we fly to Ioannina, the main city of Epirus, and we explore other magnificient places, including awe-inspiring Meteora, the monasteries “in mid-air;” the ancient oracular site of Dodoni; and the idyllic island of Corfu.  From Ioannina, we travel to the lovely seaside town of Preveza, home to many important ancient sites.

This unique and unusual journey is certain to appeal to first-time travelers to Greece as well as to those who have visited the country before.  We hope you will join us to discover a different face of Greece.

Why Travel with Thalassa Journeys

Thalassa Journeys was established by the principals and managers of Travel Dynamics, the company that 50 years ago pioneered the concept of educational travel for America’s educational and cultural institutions. The belief that travel is primarily a learning experience forms the core principle of Thalassa Journeys.

Each Thalassa Journey is constructed around a particular theme. Unlike most tours, each of our journeys are intimate, and led by lecturers who are truly subject-matter experts for each theme. Although many other companies claim to have expert lecturers, few truly have accomplished, renowned experts in their fields, like Thalassa.

Itinerary

Day 1 : Jun 26 - Depart THE USA

Fly from the U.S. to Athens, Greece.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 2 : Jun 27 - ATHENS, Greece

Arrive in Athens and transfer to the elegant Hotel Grande Bretagne, located on Constitution Square, the center of the city. In the evening, enjoy a welcome dinner.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 3 : Jun 28 - Tour ATHENS

One of the world's most venerable cities, Athens is the oldest city in Europe. Its ancient monuments stand as testimonials to its glorious past that gave birth to democracy and many other ideas and concepts that form an integral part of the Western tradition. In the morning, visit the Agora, the civic center of Athens. In the aternoon, tour the Acropolis, with the incomparable Parthenon and other temples and structures built in the 5th century BC. Also, visit the new Acropolis Museum. Built at the foot of the Acropolis, it houses an outstanding collection of sculpture and other artifacts. In the evening, attend a performance at the magnificent Herodes Atticus threater or the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (subject to program availability).

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Meals Included

Day 4 : Jun 29 - Tour IOANNINA & DODONI, Epirus

Transfer to the airport for the moring short flight to Ioannina. Built on a rocky promontory that projects into a lake, the attractive university town of Ioannina first came into prominence in the 13th century. Since that time, it remains the commercial and learning center of northwest Greece. After lunch, tour the quaint old section which is still enclosed within fortifications. Continue to Dodoni, an archaeological site of great beauty and importance. An early oracular site dedicated to Zeus, Dodoni's dominant landmark is its superb 3rd-century BC theater where we will attend the opening concert of the Epirus Chamber Music Festival. Dinner will be served at a nearby taverna. Our hotel in Ioannina will be the lovely Grand Serai.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 5 : Jun 30 - CORFU ISLAND and GITANA

Leave the hotel in the morning for the port of Igoumenitsa where we board a boat to sail across the strait of Corfu, perhaps the loveliest in the group of islands known as the Ionian. Corfu is notable as the green and fair island of the Phaeacians, where Odysseus landed after ten years of wandering in the Mediterranean. Corfu, Kerkyra in Greek, was colonized by the Corinthians in the 8th century BC. From the 14th to 18th century, Corfu was the prized possession of Venice. Explore Corfu with its two prominent fortresses; the church of the Metropolis with its splendid iconostasis; the Archaeological Museum which houses the Gorgon pediment, among other artifacts; and the iconic islets of Vlaherna and Pondikonissi. Return to Igoumenitsa, and after dinner at a local taverna, drive to the seldom-visited ancient site of Gitana, where we will attend the second concert of the Epirus Chamber Music Festival, held at its theater.

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Meals Included

Day 6 : Jul 1 - Tour METEORA & METSOVO

Leave the hotel in the morning for Meteora, driving through what is arguably the most spectactular scenery in Greece. In Meteora, rising abruptly from the valley of central Greece are gigantic precipitous rocks on top of which hermits built monasteries (the monasteries in "mid-air") some 600 years ago. At this celebrated UNESCO World Heritage Site, we will visit the Monastery of St Varlaam, whose interior is covered entirely with frescoes. The view from the monatery of the surrounding rocks and their monasteries is stupendous. After lunch at Kalambaka, the town just below Meteora, return to Ioannina, stopping on the way at Metsovo, a pretty alpine village built on the side of a ravine.

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Meals Included

Day 7 : Jul 2 - Tour EPHYRA/{ARGA/CASSOPE/PREVEZA

Leave Ioannina in the morning fo rthe southern part of Epirus. Reach the Necromanteion of Ephyra, the site that marked the entrance to the Underworld, and the sanctuary of Persephone and Hades. One of the most famous visitors here was Odysseus, as mentioned by Homer in the Odyssey. After visiting the site, drive to nearby Parga. Settled since antiquity, Parga prospered in the middle ages when it came under the domination of Venice. Enjoy lunch in this lovely place, and then explore ancient Cassope. Founded in the 4th century BC, Cassope occupies an attractive position below its acropolis. Large public buildings were built, including two theaters, and private houses have been excavated. Near Cassope is the seaside town of Preveza, where we will stay at the Hotel Dioni for the next three nights. After checking in and enjoying dinner at a town taverna, we will return to Cassope's ancient theater to attend a concert of the Epirus Chamber Music Festival.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 8 : Jul 3 - Tour PREVEZA/ARTA

Preveza is built on the site of the ancient Berenikia which was founded in 290 BC. In 1499, Preveza was occupied by the Venetians who held it for 200 years. It was off Preveza that the decisive Battle of Actium took place in 31 BC by the fleet of Octavian and the much larger combined fleet of Antony and Cleopatra resulting in the victory of Octavian's forces and his becoming Roman Emperor Augustus. Spend the morning at leisure to explore Preveza on your own. In the afternoon, drive to Arta which occupies the site of Ambracia, an ancient town that was founded at the end of the 7th century BC. After exploring the town, including the remains of the ancient city and the remarkable Bridge of Arta, a stone packhorse bridge dating from the Ottoman period, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant and attend a concert in the splendid church of Panghia Parigoritissa, built in 1282-89.

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Meals Included

Day 9 : Jul 4 - LEFKADA ISLAND/NIKOPOLIS

In the morning, explore Lefkada, one of the Ionian islands that line Greece's west coast. Only 17 miles from Preveza and connected to the mainland by a causeway, the island has coveted since antiquity for its strategic position as the gateway to western Greece. After touring the island's main town and enjoying lunch, return to the mainland to visit Nikopolis. Located close to Preveza, Nikopolis ("Victory City") was founded by Octavian/Augustus to commemorate his victory at Actium. After dinner, attend the closing concert of the Epirus Chamber Music Festival, held at the imposing ancient theater of Nikopolis.

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Meals Included

Day 10 : Jul 5 - PREVEZA/IOANNINA/ATHENS

Drive from Preveza to Ioannina's airport for the flight to Athens. Upon arrival, check-in at the Hotel Sofitel, conveniently located across the street from the airport's terminal.

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Meals Included

Day 11 : Jul 6 - ATHENS/USA

Walk across from the hotel to the departures terminal for your return flight home.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Tour Price

$TBD per person, double occupancy

Single room supplement: $TBD

Journey Extension

Post Journey Extensions

OPTIONAL POST-FESTIVAL EXTENSION TO THE VIKOS GORGE AND THE ZAGORI VILLAGES, JULY 5-8, 2020. Extend your exploration of Epirus by visiting the quaint villages of Zagori and the magnificent UNESCO-protected Vikos Gorge. Located north of Ioannina, near the Greek-Albania border, the Vikos Gorge features the steepest walls of any gorge in the world. Vikos has been compared favorably to the Grand Canyon in scale and grandeur. In this extraordinarily impressive mountainous country are scattered old villages that have preserved their traditional stone architecture. During our stay, we will have ample opportunities to view the gorge, explore the surrounding area and the villages, and taste the delicious local cuisine. Accommodations for three nights will be t the superb Aristi Resort and Spa, a boutique hotel that is a featured property of National Geographic's Unique Lodges of the World. Double Occupancy rate: $TBD; Single Supplement rate: $TBD

Inclusions

Call/Email us to book

E-Mail : Reservations@ThalassaJourneys.com

Phone : +1 866.633.3611