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Voyages to Antiquity: Athens, the Isles of Greece and Istanbul

Program Number: 20322RJ
Start and End Dates:
4/12/2014 - 4/30/2014; 10/14/2014 - 11/1/2014;
Duration: 18 nights
Location: Greece/Turkey
Price starting at: $5,495.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; Ocean Cruises Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 48; 17 Breakfasts, 15 Lunches, 16 Dinners    
Meal Options: Gluten Free; Low Salt; Low Fat; Vegetarian    

From the rise of Corinth in about 685BC to the fall of Magna Graecia, the Greeks were responsible for one of the most brilliant and inspiring epochs in human history. Learn how they revolutionized every aspect of civilized life from art, literature and architecture to politics, philosophy and mathematics on this voyage to the isles of Greece and two great cities of antiquity, Istanbul and Athens.




Activity Particulars

Walking up and downhill, up to two miles per day. Standing up to four hours per day, with breaks; uneven terrain and steep stairs without railings at historic sites.



Itinerary At-a-Glance

Istanbul (Turkey), 3 nights; aboard Aegean Odyssey, 12 nights; Athens (Greece), 2 nights.



Day 1: Overnight flight from the U.S.A.


Days 2-5: Arrival Istanbul (Turkey) / embark Aegean Odyssey:

Discover the architectural treasures of Istanbul, including the Hagia Sophia, the Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque. Explore the Spice Bazaar and Grand Bazaar and enjoy a private boat excursion on the Bosphorus. Lodging: Four-star hotel.



Day 6: Canakkale:

From Canakkale, visit the ancient site of Troy, with excavations revealing settlements dating from 4000 BC.



Day 7: Kavala (Greece) / Mount Athos:

Explore the beautiful Byzantine port town of Kavala, sail past the so-called “Holy Mountain,” actually a long peninsula home to twenty monasteries.



Day 8: Thessalonika:

Delve into this city’s Byzantine heritage, including the 5th-century basilica Agios Dimítrios and the Museum of Byzantine Culture.



Day 9: Volos / Meteora:

Journey to see the famous Byzantine monasteries built on the sandstone towers at Metéora (which means “suspended in the air”).



Day 10: Skiathos:

Spend the morning relaxing in the picturesque town of Skiathos.



Day 11-12: Kusadasi (Turkey):

Explore Ephesus, one of the greatest sites of the classical world. Take in the beauty of Aphrodisias, for nearly seven centuries, a center of Hellenistic sculpture.



Day 13: Delos / Mykonos (Greece):

Find the temples, buildings and famous lions of Delos, then continue to Mykonos for evening drinks and dinner.



Days 14: Rethimnon:

On the island of Crete, visit the Minoan palace of Knossos then explore Rethimnon’s Old Town with its well-preserved Venetian and Ottoman buildings and relax in one of the seaside cafés.



Day 15: Monemvasía:

Walk through Monemvasía’s lower town, which includes the 13th century Christós Elkómenos Cathedral.



Day 16: Nauplia:

Journey to ancient Corinth and then to the Argolid Plain to learn about the great Mycenaean culture which flourished here between 1600-1300BC.



Days 17-19: Athens / disembark / departure:

Lodging: Five-star hotel.



Aegean Odyssey

The Aegean Odyssey is a premium-class ship especially rebuilt for sailing along shallow coastlines, among remote islands and into small, uncrowded harbors that larger ocean liners can’t reach. Public areas include several gourmet restaurants, library, Internet center, sweeping sun decks, outdoor pool, gym and spa.


Meals and Lodgings
   Armada Hotel
  Istanbul, Turkey 3 nights
   Aegean Odyssey
  Aegean Odyssey - At Sea, At Sea 12 nights
   Metropolitan Hotel
  Athens, Greece 2 nights
 Armada Hotel
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: The 4-star Armada Hotel is located in the historic peninsula of Istanbul, with views of two of the great masterpieces of world architecture; the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. The hotel offers modern comfort and convenience discreetly incorporated into the Turkish-inspired architecture, and period engravings throughout the hotel provide an insight into Istanbul's by-gone eras. The name of the Armada Hotel is a tribute to the memory of the renowned Ottoman Admiral Hayrettin Pasha Barbarossa. Located in the heart of the Old City, the hotel is within walking distance of museums, churches and other major attractions.
  Contact info: Ahirkapi Street 24
Sultanahmet
Istanbul,  34122 Turkey
phone: +90 212 455 44 55
web: www.armadahotel.com.tr
  Room amenities: Each room has a mini bar, hair dryer, bathrobes, telephone, LCD television, safe box, free wireless Internet, 24-hour room service and air conditioning.
  Facility amenities: The hotel offers two restaurants, a bar, lounge, meeting rooms, business center with computers and printers, library, free WIFI Internet access throughout the hotel, laundry service and air conditioning. The rooftop restaurants offer magnificent views of the area.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: N/A Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services if you would like assistance making hotel reservations for additional non-program nights. 1-800-241-1404
  Check in time: 2:00 PM

 Aegean Odyssey
Type: Cruise Ship
  Description: The Aegean Odyssey offers boutique-style cruising at its best. In contrast to the massive vessels cruising to and from major ports, it is a midsized ship adapted for island and coastal cruising. The Aegean Odyssey can visit smaller, less crowded harbors and sail closer to the coast enabling you to really appreciate the magical views.
  Ship Information: Ship’s Tonnage: 11,563 Length: 461 feet Beam: 67 feet Draft: 20.5 feet Cruising Speed: 18 knots Passenger Decks: 7 Stabilizers: 2 Passenger Staterooms/Cabins: 198 Passengers – lower beds: 378 Classification: Lloyd’s Register Society London Ship’s Registration: Malta
  Contact info: Voyages to Antiquity
1800 SE 10th Avenue, Suite 230
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33316 USA
phone: 877-398-1460
web: www.voyagestoantiquity.com
  Room amenities: All cabins are equipped with a flat screen TV, air-conditioning, and personal safe. Particular importance is placed on the standard of bedding in cabins. Luxury bedding, including fine duvets, covers and sheets, ample soft pillows and quality towels can be expected. Also, shampoo, bath and shower gel, soap, and shower cap are provided. Your cabin steward is always available. Cabins and suites feature outlets with 220 voltage, using the “European” two round pin plug. Hair dryers are provided in your cabin and electric rollers, curling irons, electric shavers and other small appliances can be used in your cabin. For safety reasons, travel irons are not allowed.
  Facility amenities: Dining: Aegean Odyssey offers many dining facilities: The Marco Polo Restaurant is the ship's more formal restaurant, providing casual country-club elegance for lunch or dinner; The Terrace Cafe offers a combination of indoor and outdoor seating where you can indulge in breakfast, lunch and dinner from the grill or the sumptuous daily buffet. In the evenings, enjoy breathtaking views over dinner at Tapas on the Terrace. *There is a complimentary choice of wine, beer, or soft drinks with your evening meal. There will be a string trio, pianist and casual dancing before and after dinner. You may also wish to partake in afternoon tea, served in the Observation Lounge or enjoy an evening snack and cocktail, available in the Lido and Rendezvous bars. A limited room service menu is available. Special Diets: Please advise us at the time of booking of any special dietary requirements. The ship can usually meet most general requests such as those made with an air carrier; however, this cannot always be guaranteed. Services: Library; outdoor pool; spa; health center, saunas, massage and beauty treatment rooms and early morning yoga on the Lido Deck; elevators; Internet center (open 24 hours and a charge of $18 for 4 non-consecutive hours is applied, wireless available in reception area); beauty salon; medical center; laundry and pressing services (order form and laundry bag is provided in cabin); lecture theater and cinema and on board shop.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 Metropolitan Hotel
Type: Five-Star Hotel
  Description: The Metropolitan Hotel, with its unique cosmopolitan atmosphere, combines traditional hospitality and luxury in central Athens. With a view to both the Acropolis and the Aegean Sea, the fully renovated Metropolitan Hotel is ideally situated in front of the Faleron Olympic Coastal Park. It is only 10 minutes away from Syntagma square, the center of Athens and the port of Piraeus.
  Contact info: Leoforos Syngrou 385
Athens,  175-64 Greece
phone: +30 210 947 1000
web: www.chandris.gr
  Room amenities: Each room has individually controlled air conditioning, satellite television, telephone, high speed Internet connection, radio, mini bar, hair dryer, safe box, and laptop and fax machine outlets.
  Facility amenities: The hotel offers a restaurant, lounge, bar, gift shop, fitness center, marble steam bath, outdoor heated swimming pool, business center, free wireless Internet access in lobby, and a hairdresser.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: N/A Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services if you would like assistance making hotel reservations for additional non-program nights. (800) 241-1404
  Check out time: 1:00 PM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Istanbul, Turkey. Meet at 7:00 PM in the hotel lobby. You will be staying at Armada Hotel that night.
  End of Program:
Athens, Greece. Program ends after breakfast on the last day. You will be staying at Metropolitan Hotel the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. The Voyages to Antiquity Guest Registration Form is required.
  Parking availability:
n/a
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  Istanbul
  Nearest city or town:  In town
  Nearest airport:  Atatürk International Airport
  Transportation to site: The Armada Hotel is located about 10 miles from the airport. Taxi ride to the hotel from the airport costs approximately 45 Turkish Liras (approx. $30) and takes approximately 30 minutes. The Armada Hotel also has an airport shuttle. Contact the hotel for more details. Alternatively, to book a private transfer (approx. $65), please contact info@baltactours.com
  From End of Program
  Location:  Athens
  Transportation from site: You may take a taxi from the hotel to the airport; this will cost approximately $62-68 per car. Alternatively, take a shuttle bus from the hotel to Syntagma Square. From there take bus #95 to the airport.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Departures
(Saturday, April 12)
   
 In Transit: Depart US/Canada on international overnight flight.

Day 2: Welcome
(Sunday, April 13)
   
 Afternoon: Arrival at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport (IST). Meet group outside of customs. Transfer to the Armada Hotel. Welcome Orientation at 7:00 PM in hotel lobby.
 Dinner: Dinner in hotel dining room.
   
Accommodations: Armada Hotel
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Istanbul, Turkey
(Monday, April 14)

Note: The excursions in Istanbul involve significant walking. As we will be visiting religious sites, please no shorts or sleeveless shirts. Ladies may be asked to cover their heads.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel dining room.
 Morning: During this first of three days in Istanbul, explore the opulent Topkapi Palace including the Imperial Harem. The Topkapi Palace was the seat of the Ottoman Sultans for 400 years and a great testimony to the wealth and power of the Ottoman Empire.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: In the afternoon visit the Chora Church/Kariye Museum to behold its exquisite mosaics and frescoes dating from the 14th century, a period of Byzantine reawakening in arts.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
   
Accommodations: Armada Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Istanbul, Turkey
(Tuesday, April 15)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel dining room.
 Morning: Start the day by visiting the amazing church of Hagia Sophia, possibly the most important architectural monument in the city, standing gracefully since 537 AD. Field trip to the Hippodrome, the civic center of ancient Constantinople, where chariot races were run between the four teams of Blues, Greens, Whites and Reds. Then visit the 17th century Blue Mosque, world renowned for its exquisite Iznik tiles surrounding the interior of this wonderful mosque.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Explore the beautiful Underground Cisterns, built by the illustrious Byzantine Emperor Justinian in 532 AD to store water underground. Visit the award winning Archeology Museum to examine an outstanding collection of artifacts spanning across millennia including the magnificent Sarcophagus of Alexander the Great.
 Dinner: Explore local fare on your own.
   
Accommodations: Armada Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: Istanbul, Turkey - Embark the MV Aegean Odyssey
(Wednesday, April 16)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel dining room.
 Morning: We embark on a private cruise on the Bosphorus to explore the stunning palaces, mansions, and fortresses dotted along the Asian and European shores of this marvelous strait. Afterwards, we visit the Rustem Pasha Mosque, built by the famous architect Sinan, a small but gem-like mosque demonstrating the most stunning examples of 16th century Iznik tiles.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Spend the rest of the day visiting the Spice Bazaar, where exotic aromas capture visitors upon entering, and the Grand Bazaar with its maze-like streets and alleys and 4,000 shops! Embark the MV Aegean Odyssey in the late afternoon. Late afternoon Road Scholar orientation to the ship in the "Observation Lounge."
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
   
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Çanakkale, Turkey
(Thursday, April 17)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Enter the world of Helen of Troy and Paris, Hektor and Achilles. The 13th or 12th century BC siege of Troy by Spartan and Achaean warriors from Greece has fired the imagination of poets over thousands of years. The site is one of the most significant demonstrations of early contact between the civilizations of Anatolia and the Mediterranean world. The shores of the Dardanelles, known in antiquity as the Hellespont, lead our way to the last vestiges of the fabled city called Ilion in Greek and Truva in Turkish. In legend, Troy was said to be founded by Dardanos, the son of Zeus and Electra. The site's existence was long considered merely a fable invented by Homer in The Iliad. Then, in 1870, Heinrich Schliemann, an amateur archaeologist working more on passionate belief than empirical evidence, discovered the site. Today, most historians agree that Troy was one of nine civilizations that inhabited the spot. There is also evidence to support the tale of a ten-year siege, giving further weight to Homer’s tales. Alexander the Great, who modestly declared himself a descendent of Achilles, made a pilgrimage to this site in 334BC. Today little remains of the 5,000 years of habitation. Lecturer-guides bring its storied past to life as you view the massive walls, a Roman theater and the reputed Palace of King Priam, along with, a fantastical giant replica of the Trojan Horse. Alternatively, take a ferry to Gallipoli, the scene of one of the most tragic and bloody campaigns of World War I. Over 500,000 Allied and Turkish troops died in the battle. Today several museums, monuments and cemeteries mark their sacrifice.
 Lunch: Lunch on board or explore local fare on your own.
 Afternoon: Free time to explore the city of Çanakkale on your own or to relax on board.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Evening departure for Kavala. Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
   
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Kavala, Greece / Mount Athos
(Friday, April 18)

Note: The excursion to Philippi involves heavy walking.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Visit the city founded by (and named after) Philip of Macedonia in 356BC, confront antiquity at every turn of its extraordinary archaeological site, and, in addition, visit the stream where St Paul's first European convert to Christianity was baptized. Today's adventure starts from Kavala, once the ancient port of Philippi, where a castle overlooks the bustling harbor. The drive to Philippi is only a short distance, but it takes you a long way back in time. The site is at the foot of Mount Pangeon on the border of a marsh that once covered the entire plain. History whispers at every turn. Thucydides was exiled here. When the city was a Roman colony, Julius Caesar's assassins, Brutus and Cassius, met their deaths at the Battle of Philippi. Saint Paul visited several times and wrote a letter thanking the citizens for their support while he was in jail. Visit the main archaeological site to see the extensive ruins, which include a large Roman forum, sacred gates, baths, wrestling rings and even a public latrine with marble seats. Other sights include the reputed "jail" of St Paul, a theater from the classical period and two Byzantine basilicas. These testify to the town's transition to a Christian headquarters. On your return to the ship, stop at the stream where St Paul's first European convert, a merchant-woman named Lydia, was christened along with the rest of her household. The site is marked by a Greek Orthodox basilica. From here it's a short drive back to the ship. Time permitting you may chose to remain in town and return to the ship at leisure.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: Attend a talk by your Road Scholar Group Leader before the MV Aegean Odyssey will sail past Mount Athos (weather permitting). The so-called "Holy Mountain" is really a long peninsula, which rises at its southern tip to a 6,000 ft peak. Dotted along its length are some twenty ruling monasteries, some dating from the 10th and 11th centuries. Women are strictly forbidden to set foot on the Mountain, together with - at least in theory - all female animals. Fortunately, most of the monasteries are on or near the coast and will be seen clearly from our ship.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Early evening departure for Thessalonika. Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
   
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Thessalonika, Greece
(Saturday, April 19)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Byzantine emperors held Thessalonika (also known as Salonica) second only in importance to Constantinople, and today the city is an open-air museum with Christian monuments dating from the 4th to the 21st century. Thessalonika became part of the Byzantine Empire in 395AD and was one of the first bases for the spread of Christianity. Drive from the ship to the Byzantine Museum, stopping en route at the 15th century White Tower and the International Trade Fair grounds, built on the site of an old Jewish cemetery razed by the Germans in World War II (the headstones were used to surface roads). At the museum, enjoy an absorbing look at Byzantine and post-Byzantine culture. Learn how art and theology intertwined with politics and social structure, permeating all aspects of everyday life. Drive next to the 5thcentury basilica, Agios Dimitrios, devastated in a 1917 fire that destroyed half the city. The church was rebuilt and inside are some of the finest mosaics in Greece, including depictions of St Dimitrios, Thessalonika's patron saint. From here, your walk continues to the palace of the Emperor Galerius and the 4th century Rotunda, his mausoleum. The climax is a visit to the 8th century Agia Sofia, patterned on Justinian's Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, its giant dome a symbol of technical mastery and the mosaics inside a work of Byzantine art. Following the visit you may drive back to the ship or, if time permits, explore more of the town at leisure.
 Lunch: Lunch on board or explore local fare on your own.
 Afternoon: Free afternoon to continue exploring this vibrant city.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Evening departure for Volos.
   
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Volos, Greece / Meteora
(Sunday, April 20)

Note: No shorts allowed; skirts must be below-knee length and shoulders must be covered. There are 150 steps to climb to reach the monastery.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Perhaps the highlight of any trip to Greece is the sight of the Byzantine monasteries built atop the rock towers of Meteora. The very word means "suspended in air" and their effect is unforgettable. These sandstone "columns in the sky" soar up over a thousand feet above sea level and are crowned with monasteries built by anchorite monks from the 11th century onward. In all, there are twenty-four monasteries in Meteora, and while many have fallen into ruin, some of those that remain are adorned with beautiful frescoes which mark a key stage in post- Byzantine art. Originally visitors were winched up to the monasteries by a windlass, but stairs were cut in the 1930s to ease access a bit. From the ship, it’s a 2-hour drive across the fertile plain of Thessaly, the country of the mythical centaurs and the site of a battle between Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great. The monks who built the monasteries were looking for an escape from later battles, and nature provided the perfect place in Meteora. The rock formations unfold along a winding road, and whether they were formed, as some hold, by an ancient lake 30 million years ago or by the flow of the Peneus River, they are stupendous. Six of the monasteries are still inhabited and two are nunneries. Visit the oldest and most accessible monastery, Agios Stephanos, now a convent. The Byzantine Emperor Paleologos stayed here in 1333 while en route to a battle on the plains below. The nuns here are involved in artistic pursuits that include icon painting, and the monasteries 15th century church has an icon museum. Next, visit the Varlaam Monastery, which requires climbing about 150 steps, but it is well worth the effort both for the commanding views of the Pindus Range and also the fabled frescoes that include an apocalyptic vision of hell.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: After lunch we'll continue driving through this unearthly landscape, viewing new sights as we descend slowly to the plain. Few sights are more iconic than this.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Evening departure for Skiathos. Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
   
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Skiathos, Greece
(Monday, April 21)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: The westernmost island in the Sporades, Skiathos is famous for its splendid beaches. The shade cast by the tree-covered hills is said to have inspired the Pelasgians to give the island its name. Dionysus, the god of wine, was worshipped here. Herodotus wrote that the residents used beacons to notify the Greeks of the approaching Persian fleet in 480BC. Following the Peloponnesian Wars, the island endured successive waves of conquerors. Today, cosmopolitan Skiathos draws visitors from all over Europe. There are the superb beaches, the walled town of Kastro and a lively town where you can sample the local olives, honey and almond sweets.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: A lunchtime departure for Kusadasi. Attend a talk by your Road Scholar Group Leader.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
   
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Kusadasi, Turkey / Ephesus
(Tuesday, April 22)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Upon arrival in Kusadasi, we will transfer to the ancient city of Ephesus, one of the largest and best preserved ancient cities in the world. The cosmopolitan city of Ephesus was, in its heyday, on par with Athens and Rome. We will also visit the newly excavated Terrace Houses in Ephesus, where the rich and the ruling class once lived in comfortable homes decorated with wonderful works of art and complete with running water.
 Lunch: Road Scholar lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: From Ephesus, journey to Didyma to see the impressive Temple of Apollo which is larger than a football field and has 128 finely decorated columns. This temple was once connected to his twin’s in Miletus via a Sacred Way lined with lions, sphinxes and statues.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Overnight in Kusadasi.
   
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Kusadasi, Turkey / Aphrodisias
(Wednesday, April 23)

Note: Heavy walking for one or more hours over uneven terrain with multiple uphill segments and stairs without railings.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Two and a half times the size of Pompeii, Aphrodisias is named after the Greek goddess of love and could be said to rival Ephesus in its claim to be “the most well-preserved ancient site in the world”. Aphrodisias sprang up around one of the finest marble quarries in antiquity, and was the center for Greek and Hellenistic sculpture for nearly seven centuries. Monuments include a magnificent theater, vast stadium, and the remains of a great temple. Ongoing excavations reveal superb sculptures each year – more than any other classical site in the Mediterranean. Additionally, because of the remote setting in the hills surrounding the valley of the Meander, the site is relatively free of tourists and utterly unspoiled.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: After an enticing local lunch of Turkish delights, sit back, relax, and enjoy the 2-hour drive back to Kusadasi.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Sunset departure for Delos.
   
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Delos, Greece / Mykonos, Greece
(Thursday, April 24)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Discover the tiny, deserted isle of Delos, the religious center of the Cyclades, where columns lie glistening in the sun, and the Lions of Delos guard the Sacred Way. As the reputed birthplace of the god Apollo, Delos was once a principal religious and commercial center of the Eastern Mediterranean. Pilgrims, traders, politicians, and warriors alike came from all over the Mediterranean to this sanctuary. In fact, the “Cyclades,” the name of this island group, means “those islands around Delos.” In the 5th century BC, the Delphic Oracle decreed the island was to be purged of all the dead and that no person could either die or give birth on Delos to preserve the isle’s sanctity. Some of the richest archaeological treasure troves in Greece await as you leave the Sacred Harbour on your guided walk. Imagine the merchants in the Agora and the pilgrims entering the Sanctuary of Apollo. Walk along the spectacular Avenue of the Lions. Pay homage to the guardians of the Sacred Lake where Leto gave birth to the twin gods, Artemis and Apollo. And above all, savor the almost-mystical silence that pervades this haunting site of antiquity.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: Enjoy a guided walk with your Road Scholar Group Leader of the cosmopolitan island of Mykonos followed by free time. Contrast the sacred sights of Delos with the more worldly charms of Mykonos, a whitewashed resort that is the very image of a Greek isle. The huge granite rocks you see strewn across the hilly landscape are said to be the graves of the Titans. The windmills are a later refinement, dating from the 16th century, used for grinding grain for shipment when Mykonos was a major seaport between Venice and Asia. In town, the streets are a delightful maze, designed to confuse attacking pirates, although eventually the island became the headquarters of the Corsair fleet and a place where pirates recruited for their ships. Today these winding streets are lined with tempting shops, galleries and boutiques that all exact their tribute. Along the waterfront, near the area called Little Venice, the seaside cafés are ideal for evening drinks.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Late evening departure for Rethinmon. Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
   
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14: Rethimnon, Crete
(Friday, April 25)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: An hour and 20-minute drive takes you from Rethimnon to Knossos. Even without the tales of a blood-thirsty Minotaur, this magnificent palace complex with its flamboyant decoration, courts, audience chambers and residential areas is an impressive and inspiring site. Constructed around 1900BC, it was the administrative and religious center of the Minoan kingdom. Here King Minos held court and – so mythology holds – his wife gave birth to a half-man, half-bull creature that lurked in the palace’s labyrinth. This fearsome beast was appeased only by human sacrifices. An earthquake destroyed the original complex; it was then rebuilt on an even grander scale, only to be destroyed again by the massive volcanic eruption on Santorini around 1500BC. Though periodically excavated by Greek archaeologists in the late 19th century, credit for the full excavation and restoration is given to amateur Victorian archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans. Roundly criticized for occasional mis-steps in restoration, Sir Arthur poured his fortune into the effort and did a remarkable job for the time period. Knossos today at least allows the visitor to visualize the palace as it once was and understand its intricacies. The guided excursion will take you through this legend-rich, entrancing complex that sprawled across five acres, where everything from throne room to royal living quarters is reconstructed with meticulous care.
 Lunch: Lunch on board or explore local fare on your own.
 Afternoon: A free afternoon to join your Group Leader on a walking excursion of Rethimnon’s Old Town -- one of the best-preserved Renaissance cities in the Mediterranean with fine Venetian and Ottoman architecture.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
   
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 15: Monemvasía, Greece
(Saturday, April 26)

Note: This excursion involves walking one or more hours over uneven terrain with multiple uphill segments.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Pass through a gap in a rocky cliff and emerge into a Medieval scene on this morning excursion to Monemvasía, a castle town that has been called the Gibraltar of Greece. Indeed, the name means “single entrance.” For us, it provides an illuminating transition from the classical world to the Byzantine era. Monemvasía dates back to the 6th century, when inhabitants of Laconia settled on the site, which developed into a major city-state. In the 15th century the city suffered a hundred-year blockade by the Turks. Walk along the narrow streets, sometimes only wide enough for two, and visit the 13th century Church of Christos Elkomenos (Christ Chained to the Cross), home to several Byzantine icons. Those who wish can climb on their own to see another 13th century treasure: the ethereal Agia Sofia, a rare example of a domed octagonal church with original wall paintings. The views out over the sea and lower town are a spectacular reward. Those who prefer not to climb may want to seek out a quiet café and a sip of Malmsey, the sweet dessert wine that originated in this atmospheric spot.
 Lunch: Lunch on board or explore local fare on your own.
 Afternoon: In the afternoon, you are free to explore on your own. For those who feel energetic, there is a path leading to the upper town to see the Byzantine church of Agia Sofia. Enjoy a Road Scholar cocktail party before dinner.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
   
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 16: Nauplia, Greece
(Sunday, April 27)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Enjoy a full day Road Scholar exclusive field trip. Anchor off the port of Nauplia in time for breakfast. From the pier, enjoy an hour-long scenic drive across the Peloponnesian peninsula to the Isthmus of Corinth to enjoy a walking tour through the ruins of this ancient and historic city. From Corinth, journey to the city of Mycenae, reputedly the capital of Agamemnon and the "well-built citadel" of Homer's Iliad.
 Lunch: Road Scholar lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: After lunch, explore the elegant town of Nauplia during a brief walking excursion. Next, discover Epidaurus -- sacred to Asclepios, the god of medicine -- and once the most acclaimed healing center of the classical world. Visit its theatre: one of the best preserved of all ancient Greek theatres.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Early evening sailing for Athens. Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
   
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 17: Disembark / Athens, Greece
(Monday, April 28)

Note: This excursion involves walking one or more hours over uneven terrain with multiple uphill segments.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: After disembarking the Aegean Odyssey, we will explore the long anticipated $200-million, 226,000-square-foot Acropolis Museum. In the dramatic Gallery of the Slopes of the Acropolis, ascending floors of glass literally “float” you above the excavations for an extraordinary perspective of the layers of Greek history that lie below.
 Lunch: Lunch at a restaurant in Plaka.
 Afternoon: A guided excursion through the ancient citadel of Athens, the Acropolis. Built during Athens' Golden Age between 447-438BC under the orders of the great statesman Pericles, the Acropolis represents the magnificent achievements of Athenian culture during this remarkable era.
 Dinner: Dinner in hotel dining room.
   
Accommodations: Metropolitan Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 18: Athens, Greece
(Tuesday, April 29)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel dining room.
 Morning: Enjoy neo-classical architecture while meandering the labyrinthine streets of Plaka -- a picturesque neighborhood of Athens -- during this morning's guided walk.
 Lunch: Explore local fare on your own.
 Afternoon: Free time to explore on your own or join your Group Leader for further exploration of Athens. Individual return to the hotel via hotel shuttle from Syntagma Square.
 Dinner: Farewell Dinner in the hotel dining room.
   
Accommodations: Metropolitan Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 19: Departures
(Wednesday, April 30)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel dining room.
 Morning: Transfer to Athens International Airport (ATH) for departures.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
 
  Çanakkale Çanakkale Archeological Museum
The Museum has artifacts from ancient sites around Çanakkale, including Troy, Assos and Dardanos. It is located about 1 ½ miles from the port in the city center.
  Mirrored Bazaar
This charming Bazaar was built in 1889 by Ilia Halyo in 1889 during the reign of Sultan Abdülhamit and is a copy of the Egyptian Bazaar in Istanbul. It is believed to have been destroyed by shells deployed from the British Battleship "Queen Elizabeth" during WW1. It was restored in 2007 and is brimming with shops peddling locally manufactured goods.
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


1453, The Holy War For Constantinople and the Clash of Islam and the West


Author: Roger Crowley


Description: In this well-paced history, Crowley recounts with drama the events surrounding the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks.



Anatolian Days & Nights


Author: Angie Brenner, Joy Stocke


Description: When Joy Stocke and Angie Brenner meet on the balcony of a guesthouse in a small resort town on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, they think they have only a mutual friend and a summer dream in common. Soon, they discover a shared love of travel, history, culture, cuisine, and literature; and they begin a ten-year odyssey through Turkey.



Ancient Greece: Art, Architecture, and History


Author: Marina Belozerskaya, Kenneth Lapatin


Description: This lively illustrated guide covers the architecture, painting and sculpture of Ancient Greece from the third millennium to the end of the Hellenistic period. With 282 color and 28 black-and-white illustrations.



Birds Without Wings


Author: Louis De Bernieres


Description: De Bernieres offers sweeping historical scope, memorable characters, drama and many new vocabulary words in this stupendous novel set in Anatolia during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.



Byzantium, The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire


Author: Judith Herrin


Description: Herrin captures the glory, accomplishments, personalities, cruelty and import of Byzantium from the foundation of Constantinople to its capture by the Ottoman Turks in 1453.



Crescent and Star


Author: Stephen Kinzer


Description: This insightful, anecdotal report on contemporary life, culture and politics in Turkey comes from a former New York Times Istanbul bureau chief who is especially attuned to the powerful geographic position of Turkey and its multiple identities in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.



Culture Smart! Greece


Author: Constantine Buhayer


Description: A concise, no-nonsense guide to local customs, etiquette and culture with a short overview of the land and people along with practical travel advice.



Culture Smart! Turkey


Author: Charlotte McPherson


Description: Take along this pocket guide to local customs, etiquette and culture.



Eyewitness Guide Greek Islands


Author: Eyewitness Guides


Description: Color photography, excellent local maps and an island-by-island synopsis of attractions make this book the one to carry with you.



Eyewitness Guide Turkey


Author: Eyewitness Guides


Description: Gorgeously illustrated and filled with excellent maps, this compact book provides a thorough overview of history, traditions and sights.



Greece, A Traveler's Literary Companion


Author: Artemis Leontis (Editor)


Description: In this terrific anthology, 24 modern Greek writers offer a flavor of their nation, its culture and people, beautiful landscapes and rich history.



Greece, Land of Light


Author: Nicholas Gage, Barry Brukoff


Description: Barry Brukoff's striking color photographs are paired with an eloquent tour of the land, people, history and monuments of Greece and the islands by journalist Nicholas Gage.



Greek, A Language Map


Author: Kristine K. Kershul


Description: This durable, foldout card, featuring 1,000 words and phrases, works as a quick and convenient reference for travelers.



Helen of Troy, The Story Behind the Most Beautiful Woman in the World


Author: Bettany Hughes


Description: In her investigation into the life of Helen of Troy, one of the most enigmatic and notorious figures of all time, Hughes reconstructs life in Bronze Age Greece through Homer’s accounts, ancient literature and art. A well-researched and engaging portrait about one of the world's most famous women.



Istanbul, Memories and the City


Author: Orhan Pamuk


Description: Nobel Prize-winner Pamuk writes with dazzling grace of the city of his birth, a magical place of crumbling mansions and Ottoman riches.



Lonely Planet Turkish Phrasebook


Author: Arzu Kurklu


Description: With essential vocabulary for the traveler.



Lost to the West


Author: Lars Brownworth


Description: This popular chronicle tracks the history of Byzantium -- a stronghold of Christian civilization, education, art and architecture -- from the establishment of the eastern Roman capital to the fall of Constantinople in 1453.



The Ancient Mediterranean


Author: Michael Grant


Description: Grant explores the realms of archaeology, geography, art and economics to paint this classic portrait of the ancient world, from prehistory through the Roman Imperium, and its influence on Western civilization.



The Colossus of Maroussi


Author: Henry Miller


Description: Miller captures the spirit and warmth of the resilient Greek people in this inspired tale of a wartime journey from Athens to Crete, Corfu and Delphi with his friend Lawrence Durrell.



The Complete World of Greek Mythology


Author: Richard Buxton


Description: With hundreds of color illustrations, site plans, genealogies and maps, this handsome, encyclopedic reference illuminates the world of the Greek gods.



The Fall of Constantinople 1453


Author: Steven Runciman


Description: A classic, wonderfully written history of the fall of Constantinople in 1453 and its consequences. Runciman, a noted British scholar, draws on many sources, both Greek and Muslim, in tracing this fateful time in the history of the city. Originally published in 1965.



The Hemlock Cup, Socrates, Athens and the Search for the Good Life


Author: Bettany Hughes


Description: An illuminating portrait of Socrates and the Golden Age of Athens. The award-winning scholar re-creates the streets, red-light district, gymnasia, religious festivals and the teeming marketplace in the heart of ancient Athens where Socrates engaged in philosophical dialogue and where he would be condemned to death.



The Parthenon


Author: Mary Beard


Description: A lively tale of the construction, significance and uses of the 2,500-year-old architectural marvel.



The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Greece


Author: Robert Morkot


Description: This pictorial survey of Greek antiquity, recording its culture and expansion, features dozens of full-color maps.



The Towers of Trebizond


Author: Rose MacAulay, Jan Morris (Introduction)


Description: Mixing high farce, archaeology, history and lively travel writing, Rose MacAulay's impossibly witty short novel is back in a new edition. Originally published in 1956, MacAulay follows the adventures of English missionaries traipsing across Turkey from Istanbul to Trabzon.



The Turkish Embassy Letters


Author: Lady Mary Wortley Montagu


Description: The unconventional wife of the British ambassador, Lady Montagu delights in Turkish life and society in these lively letters.



The World of the Ancient Greeks


Author: John Camp, Elizabeth Fisher


Description: Featuring hundreds of illustrations and invitingly short chapters on topics from The First Greeks to The Heroic Age and Classical Athens. With modern color photographs of great Greek cities from Athens and Delphi to Knossos, Ephesus, Pergamum and Priene.



Travels With Epicurus


Author: Daniel Klein


Description: Daniel Klein's witty meditation on the ancients, life in the Greek Islands, his favorite philosophers -- and growing old gracefully -- is also a delightful romp through the Aegean.



Turkey, What Everyone Needs to Know


Author: Andrew Finkel


Description: From the Kurdish question to economic policy, Turkey's role in Iraq and its quest for EU membership, Finkel illuminates the past and present of this strategically important nation in lively, straightforward prose. A journalist based in Istanbul for the last 20 years, he brings balance and insight to the task.



Turkish Reflections, A Biography of a Place


Author: Mary Lee Settle


Description: Settle's captivating travelogue is a richly detailed portrait of contemporary Turkey, its people, monasteries, myths, archaeological treasures and living traditions. Exemplary.



Women in Purple, Rulers of Medieval Byzantium


Author: Judith Herrin


Description: Herrin describes the complex and deeply religious world of Constantinople in the aftermath of Arab conquest, focusing on three Byzantine empresses’ work to restore icons to a prominent position in Eastern Christian worship. An enlightening portrait of three all-powerful women who changed history.





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