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Hidden Treasures of Greece – Exploring Landmark Historic Sites & Idyllic Islands

Departure:    September 29 – October 12, 2020

Including:    The THESSALY 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 Thessaly Chamber Music Festival takes place in Thessaly, in central 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 : Sep 29 - DEPART THE USA

Depart the United States for Thessaloniki, Greece.

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Day 2 : Sep 30 - Tour THESSALONIKI, Greece

Arrive in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city. Transfer to the Hotel Electra Palace, located on the waterfront. Founded in 316 BC at a head of a spacious bay and named after the half-sister of Alexander the Great, Thessaloniki, the biblical Thessalonica, is renowned for its monuments dating from late antiquity and the Byzantine era. Under Justinian, it became the second most important city in the Byzantine Empire. Thessaloniki was also for centuries home to a thriving Jewish community and an important center of learning and scholarship. St. Paul preached here in AD 49-50, and addressed two of his epistles to the citizens of the city. Welcome dinner at a local restaurant.

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Day 3 : Oct 1 - Tour THESSALONIKI

In the morning, tour the city's important monuments dating from late antiquity, including the remains of the Palace of Galerius, the Roman emperor who lived in the city; the Rotonda, built as an imperial mausoleum, later converted to the church of Aghios Georgios; and the Arch of Galerius. Also, visit the superb Archaeological Museum which houses the gold objects excavated at the royal Macedonian tombs in Vergina. In the afternoon, visit the city's Byzantine churches, including Aghia Sofia, dating from the 8th century; the church of Holy Apostles, decorated with striking 14th century mosaics, and the Cathedral of Aghios Dimitrios, a 5th-century basilica dedicated to the guardian of the city.

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Day 4 : Oct 2 - Tour VERGINA/LARISSA

In the morning drive to Vergina, the ancient Macedonian royal capital, where we will visit the incredibly sumptuous temple-like royal tombs, including that of Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great. His tomb yielded treasures in gold, which we will see in the Archaeological Museum. Vergina is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After lunch, continue through the scenic countryside of Macedonia and Thessaly to Larissa, the vibrant capital of the region of Thessaly. Our home in Larissa will be the Hotel Divani, located in the center of the city, overlooking the 3rd-century BC theater, and near restaurants, cafes and boutiques. In the evening, attend the opening concert of the Thessaly Chamber Music Festival, held in the main auditorium of the Larissa Conservatory.

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Day 5 : Oct 3 - Tour LARISSA

Located in central Greece, Thessaly is one of the country’s most interesting areas, yet it mostly remains beyond its usual tourist destinations. Strabo, the ancient geographer and historian, called it, "a country most blessed." In the morning, visit the superb Diachronic Museum, whose exhibits of artifacts chronicle the history of Larissa and Thessaly from the Paleolithic period to the late Byzantine era, a span of about 10,000 years. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure. Late in the afternoon, drive to the Folk Museum of Larissa. After viewing its interesting exhibits, attend a concert at the Museum's auditorium, followed by dinner at a local taverna.

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Day 6 : Oct 4 - Tour METEORA/TRIKALA

Leave Larissa in the morning for Meteora (“monasteries in mid-air”), one of the most extraordinary sites in Greece and in all Europe. Rising from Thessaly’s valley are gigantic rocks on top of which are monasteries built by hermits some 600 years ago. At this UNESCO World Heritage Site, we will visit the monastery of St. Varlaam, originally founded in the 14th century, which is covered with fine frescoes. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, and then continue to nearby Trikala. The Homeric Trikke, Trikala is the reputed birthplace of Aesculapius, the god of healing.
Explore this interesting and progressive town, and after dinner at a restaurant serving local specialties, attend a concert held at the Cultural Center, before returning to Larissa.

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Day 7 : Oct 5 - DIMINI/VOLOS

Drive in the morning to Dimini, one of the most important Neolithic settlements in Greece, located near Volos. Settled around 5,000 BC, Dimini's excavated houses, workshops and narrow streets give a vivid picture of a Neolithic village. Continue to Volos for lunch, and then check-in at the Hotel Xenia, built on a lovely spot overlooking the sea. Situated on a broad bay, the university city of Volos, Thessaly's main port city, occupies the site of Bronze Age Iolcos, the home of Jason, and the place from which he led the Argonauts in quest of the fabled Golden Fleece.

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Day 8 : Oct 6 - MAKRINITSA/PORTARIA/VOLOS

Ascend in the morning the road to the Pelion massif. As in antiquity, thick forests of chestnut, oak, beech, olive and fruit orchards cover the slopes of Pelion. According to Greek mythology, Pelion was the home of the centaurs, depicted as half-man, half-horse creatures. The profusion of vegetation, the magnificent scenery, the surrounding blue sea, the villages with the preserved architecture, and the friendly and hospitable people make Pelion one of the most beautiful and welcoming places in Greece. Explore Makrinitsa, one of Pelion's most striking villages. Built on the side of a high hill, Makrinitsa is known as "Pelion's balcony," on account of its superb position that opens up to wide vistas. Old timber-framed houses with slate roofs are built on steep terraces. Enjoy lunch at the neighboring village of Portaria. Afternoon at leisure in Volos. Evening concert at the Volos Conservatory.

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Day 9 : Oct 7 - Tour VOLOS

Visit in the morning Volos' attractive Archaeological Museum. highlights of the collection include the outstanding Neolithic (6500-3500 BC) figurines, the painted stelae from the Hellinistic period, and gold jewelry. Continue to the neoclassical building that is the headquarters of the Lyceum of Women of Volos, an educational, cultural and philanthropic institution where we will be hosted by its officers. Exhibited is a wonderful collection of traditional costumes. The afternoon is free for independent activities.

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Day 10 : Oct 8 - Tour MILIES/VYZITSA

Drive in the morning along the coastal road, and then up the slope of Pelion to the picturesque village of Milies where we will visit the small church of Taxiarchon, which is covered with luminous 18th-century frescoes. Nearby is Vyzitsa, with its many well-preserved old mansions built in the traditional architectural style of Pelion. Home-style lunch has been prepared for us by the village's folk. Return to the hotel in the afternoon. In the evening, attend a concert at a 19th-century industrial building that has been converted to an arts center.

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Day 11 : Oct 9 - Cruise to SKIATHOS ISLAND

In the morning, board a ferry at the port of Volos. Cruise in the great Pagasitic Gulf and the Aegean Sea to Skiathos, where we will arrive early in the afternoon. Known for its extensive forests of pine, incredibly beautiful coves and sandy beaches, Skiathos has been inhabited at least since the 7th century BC. Our home in Skiathos will be the Hotel Elivi, an excellent beach-front resort.

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Day 12 : Oct 10 - Tour SKIATHOS

In the morning, explore the island, starting in Skiathos' old town, with its labyrinthine alleyways, and then to the monastery of Evangelistria, sited in a superb tree-clad hillside. Facing a courtyard is the dignified 18th-century monastery. Afternoon at leisure to enjoy Skiathos and the resort's facilities on your own.

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Day 13 : Oct 11 - Tour SKOPELOS/SKIATHOS

Sail in the morning from Skiathos to the neighboring island of Skopelos. Chora, the island's main town, climbs up and around a hill like an amphitheater. Its setting and distinctive traditional architecture make it one of the loveliest in the Greek islands. Explore the town on foot and visit several of its old churches, including the 11th-century church of Aghios Athanasios, with wall paintings from the 16th century; the church of the Panaghia, with fine frescoes; and the Folklore Museum, whose collections include colorful traditional garments. Return to Skiathos in the afternoon and enjoy a farewell dinner.

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Day 14 : Oct 12 - SKIATHOS/ATHENS/USA

Transfer to the airport for the flight to Athens. Connect with your flight home.

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Tour Price

$5,780 per person, double occupancy

Single room supplement: $870

Inclusions

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E-Mail : Reservations@ThalassaJourneys.com

Phone : +1 866.633.3611