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Garden of the Gods: A Springtime Educational Voyage to the Greek Islands   

Departure       April 19 – 30, 2019

A journey to Greece and the Greek islands in spring is a magical experience, for it’s the time of the year when this ancient land becomes a vast natural garden. Greece is home to a stunning number of plant species, comprising the richest flora in Europe – more than 6,000 species thrive in the country.

On this journey we will witness the beautiful display of flowers as we explore the country.

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 : Depart THE USA

Depart the United States for Athens, Greece.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 2 : Tour ATHENS, Greece

Arrive in Athens and transfer to the elegant Hotel Grande Bretagne, located on Constitution Square, the heart of the city and within walking distance to many of Athens’s attractions. In the evening, enjoy a welcome dinner.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 3 : Tour ATHENS and SOUNION

One of the world’s most venerable cities, Athens is the capital of Greece and Europe’s oldest city. Its ancient monuments are testimonies 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, tour the Acropolis, including the incomparable Parthenon and other temples and structures built in the 5th century BC. Visit also the Acropolis Museum, which houses an outstanding collection of sculpture and other artifacts. In the afternoon, drive along the Athenian Riviera to Sounion to visit the Temple of Poseidon, magnificently set above the sea. Dwarf bearded irises and other flowers carpet the site. Dinner will be served at a local taverna.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 4 : Tour ATHENS/HERAKLION, Crete

Fly in the morning to Heraklion, Crete’s largest city and main commercial center. Check in at the lovely Hotel GDM Megaron. The largest of the Greek islands, Crete is the reputed birthplace of Zeus and home of Europe’s earliest civilization, the Minoan. With an incredibly beautiful and varied landscape that harbors about 2200 plant species, of which 170 are endemic, outstanding archaeological sites and museums, a population renowned for its friendliness and hospitality, and a cuisine that has been studied by the world’s nutritionists for its health benefits, Crete is a beguiling place to visit and explore. In the afternoon, tour Heraklion, including the enormous Venetian walls, the church of Aghios Titos, the Venetian City Hall and its loggia, and the Historical Museum, whose exhibits offer an examination of Cretan history.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 5 : Tour CRETE

Today’s exploration of Crete will reveal the island’s beautiful and varied landscape, some of its ancient sites and the charming town of Rethymnon. Leave the hotel in the morning for Gortyn, the ancient city that rose to power during the 1st century BC. Nearby is the Minoan palace of Phaistos, dating from the second millennium BC, beautifully situated in the fertile plain of Messara, overlooking Mount Ida, the birthplace of Zeus. Continue to the seaside resort town of Aghia Galini for lunch, and then drive through the scenic Amari Valley to Rethymnon, one of Crete’s most atmospheric towns. Explore the old town’s narrow alleyways before returning to Heraklion.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 6 : Tour KNOSSOS and the HERAKLION MUSEUM

In the morning explore the magnificent palace of Knossos, the largest Minoan palace in Crete. Clustered around a spacious courtyard, the palace contains a maze of rooms and passages that reveal the brilliance and refinement of the Minoan civilization. Walls decorated with frescoes illustrate life as it was some 4000 years ago. Continue to the superlative Archaeological Museum, home to the world’s finest Minoan artifacts. Spend the afternoon at leisure to explore Heraklion on your own. Enjoy dinner at a restaurant specializing in Cretan cuisine.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 7 : Tour HERAKLION/SANTORINI

Sail in the morning across the blue Aegean Sea to volcanic crescent-shaped Santorini, perhaps the Mediterranean’s most spectacular island. Be on deck as the ship approaches Santorini to admire the spectacle of Phira, the island’s white-washed main town, perched on the 1,000-foot-high volcanic caldera. After checking in at the Hotel Santorini Palace, visit the Museum of Prehistoric Thera, whose exhibits provide a fine introduction to the island’s Bronze Age civilization. Then drive the short distance to Oia, the picturesque small town that is sited at the northern tip of the ridge.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 8 : Tour SANTORINI

Known in classical antiquity as Thera, the island was a flourishing trading center inhabited by a sophisticated society during the Bronze Age. In the late 17th century BC, a massive volcanic eruption collapsed half of the island and buried Akrotiri, its main town, in a thick layer of ash and pumice, preserving its houses, streets and squares as they existed 3,700 years ago. Starting in the late 1960s, excavations by Greek archaeologists brought Akrotiri to life, becoming one of the world’s most important archaeological sites. Spend the afternoon at leisure to explore and enjoy Phira on your own.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 9 : Tour SANTORINI/NAXOS

Leave Santorini in the morning and sail to Naxos, arriving early in the afternoon. A major center of the prehistoric Cycladic culture and the birthplace of Dionysus, Naxos is known for its varied landscapes, ancient sites and picturesque old village. In the afternoon, explore picturesque Chora, the island’s main town, its narrow streets spread below the Kastro, a citadel built by the Venetians, who held the island from 1207 to 1537. Facing the town is a small islet, connected to the town by a causeway, on which are the remains of a temple built in the 6th century BC. Our home for the next three nights will be the boutique Hotel Naxian Collection.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 10 : Tour NAXOS/DELOS/MYKONOS/NAXOS

Cruise to uninhabited Delos, the small island that was sacred to the ancient Greeks, on account of its being the birthplace of the divine twins Apollo and Artemis. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Delos is a vast archaeological site and a veritable open air museum. Walk the Sacred Way to see the remains of sanctuaries, temples, the celebrated Terrace of the Lions and houses, some of which contain exquisite mosaics. Adding to the unique beauty of the place is that at this time of the year Delos is awash with flowers. After exploring Delos, sail across the short channel to Mykonos, the quintessential Cycladic island. Spend time at leisure to explore Mykonos on your own before returning to Naxos.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 11 : Tour NAXOS

In the morning, explore Naxos’s interior, known for its ancient sites, green valleys, historic churches and picturesque villages. Start our exploration at the Sanctuary of Dionysus, a cult center since the 8th century BC. Continue to the Temple of Demeter, which was constructed in 530 BC, and then to the village of Chalki, with its distinctive architecture and the church of Protothronos, dating to the 6th century. Nearby are the villages of Moni, home of the equally early church of Panaghia Drosiani that contains important frescoes; Apeiranthos, perched on a high cliff; and Flerio, site of an ancient marble quarry. Lunch will be served at a village taverna before returning to the hotel and an afternoon at leisure. Enjoy a farewell dinner.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 12 : Transfer NAXOS/USA

Morning transfer to the airport for the flight to Athens to connect with the flight home.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Tour Price

$5,990 per person, double occupancy

Single room supplement: $690

Inclusions

Expert Guest Lecturer

Panayoti Kelaidis

Panayoti Kelaidis

Panayoti Kelaidis, is a plant explorer, gardener and public garden administrator associated with Denver Botanic Gardens where he is Senior Curator and Director of Outreach.  He has introduced hundreds of native ornamentals from throughout the Western United States to general horticulture.  His travels have taken him throughout the world, including much of Europe from Spain to Turkey.  He has lectured in over 140 cities in twelve countries, and has published widely in horticultural journals. He speaks Greek and has a broad interest in the culture, history and botany of Greece.

Call/Email us to book

E-Mail : Reservations@ThalassaJourneys.com

Phone : +1 866.633.3611