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Voyages to Antiquity: Venice, Athens and the Adriatic Coast

Program Number: 19079RJ
Start and End Dates:
8/14/2015 - 8/28/2015; 5/8/2016 - 5/22/2016; 9/24/2016 - 10/8/2016;
Duration: 14 nights
Location: Italy/Croatia/Greece
Price starting at: $5,695.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; Ocean Cruises
Meals: 35; 13 Breakfasts, 10 Lunches, 12 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Low Fat; Gluten Free; Low Salt    

The dramatic beauty of the Adriatic Sea has long inspired writers, poets and artists. Experience its sun-splashed islands, lofty mountains plunging into the sea, winding fjords and magnificent bays. Plus soak in manmade splendor from the sanctuary of Ancient Olympia to the seaside palace of the Emperor Diocletian.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles per day and standing for up to four hours per day, with breaks. Some hilly and uneven terrain and steep stairs without railings at historic sites.

Ports of call vary between 2015 and 2016 departure dates.

Itinerary At-a-Glance

Venice (Italy), 2 nights; aboard Aegean Odyssey, 9 nights; Athens (Greece), 2 nights.

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

Days 2-4: Arrival Venice (Italy) / embark Aegean Odyssey:

On an expert-led city excursion, stroll the sprawling Piazza San Marco then walk the narrow streets and over the bridges of the Castello and Cannaregio districts. Enjoy some free time for independent exploration. Lodging: Five-star hotel.

Day 5: Split (Croatia):

Step inside the magnificent Palace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, today not a deserted ruin but a bustling warren of houses, shops and cafés.

Day 6: Korcula:

Explore the pine-forested island of Korcula, said to be the birthplace of Marco Polo, then sail past the gorgeous islands of Hvar and Brac off the Dalmatian Coast.

Day 7: Dubrovnik:

On an expert-led excursion in Dubrovnik, discover this beautiful seaside city’s Old Town and the Baroque Church of St. Blaise. Sail through the winding, fjord-like Bay of Kotor.

Day 8: Corfu (Greece):

Examine the Venetian heritage of Corfu as you visit the Old Fortress, the red-domed Agios Spyrídon church and the famous Esplanade.

Day 9: Préveza & Ithaca:

Discover the fortress as well as 13th and 14th century churches in Arta, the former capital of the Byzantine province of Epirus. Continue to Ithaca and spend a leisurely evening in the picturesque port town of Vathy.

Day 10: Katakolon:

Journey to the site of Ancient Olympia, where the first Olympic Games took place in 776 BC. Examine the remains of the sports structures erected for the games.

Day 11: Pylos:

Learn about the classical city-state of Messene, whose substantial ruins include an odeon used for singing performances and an asclepeion, or healing temple.

Day 12: Monemvasia & Hydra:

Take a walking excursion through Monemvasia’s lower town, which includes the 13th century Christós Elkómenos cathedral. Enjoy free time in the lovely port town of Hydra.

Days 13-15: Athens / disembark / departure:

Walk in the footsteps of Plato on the Acropolis of Athens and visit the outstanding new Acropolis Museum. Walk the labyrinthine streets of Plaka, the picturesque historical neighborhood of Athens. 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
   Hilton Molino Stucky Venice
  Venice, Italy 2 nights
   Aegean Odyssey
  Aegean Odyssey - At Sea, At Sea 9 nights
   Metropolitan Hotel
  Aegean Odyssey - At Sea, At Sea
Athens, Greece
2 nights
 Hilton Molino Stucky Venice
Type: Five-Star Hotel
  Description: The five-star Hilton Molino Stucky Venice is a modern Venetian Masterpiece. Its building, once a flourishing flour mill, beautifully restored, now houses a hotel unlike any other, offering a different view of Venice. A short, five-minute boat ride from the heart of Venice, it offers breathtaking views over the city and complimentary shuttle service.
  Contact info: Giudecca 810
30133, Venice,   Italy
phone: +39 041 2723 311
  Room amenities: Each room has a mini bar, hair dryer, bathrobes (available upon request), telephone, 32" Plasma TV, laptop-sized safe box, free wireless Internet (for a fee), 24-hour room service and air conditioning.
  Facility amenities: The hotel offers six bars and restaurants, roof-top pool, fitness center, wellness center (for a fee), business center with computers and printers, laundry services, gift shop, currency exchange, free WIFI in the hotel's public areas (available for a fee in rooms), air conditioning, and a free shuttle service to St. Mark's Square.
  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
  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; 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. Internet: The ship has an Internet center (open 24 hours) and WiFi is available in the reception area. Fees begin at 10mb for $45. As a rough guide you could send around 200 standard emails with no attachments for $45. However, if you start adding medium size web standard photographs (not hi res), each one would be about 1.5mb. There are no refunds for unused capacity. PLEASE NOTE: Due to the nature of satellite connectivity on board a ship, the internet connection is slow, erratic and may be unavailable at times.
  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
  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:
Venice, Italy. Program begins at 5:00 PM in the hotel lobby. You will be staying at Hilton Molino Stucky Venice that night.
  End of Program:
Athens, Greece. The program will end after breakfast on the last day. You will be staying at Metropolitan Hotel the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  Venice
  Nearest city or town:  Venice/Mestre
  Nearest highway: Highway A4 to Trieste and Milano
  Nearest airport:  Marco Polo Airport
  Transportation to site: Option 1: From Marco Polo Airport, take the ALILAGUNA private water bus shuttle service RED LINE (Airport - Giudecca Hilton) € 16,00 OW /€ 27,00 RT. The trip takes approx. 1 hour 40 minutes. Option 2: Hotel Molino Stucky Venice is at a 25 - 30 minute water taxi ride from Venice’s Marco Polo Airport and costs 110 - 120 Euro. Note: For both options water taxi /Alilaguna pier is located 10 minutes walking distance from the arrival lounge at the airport.
  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
(Friday, August 14)
 In Transit: Depart US/Canada on international overnight flight.

Day 2: Welcome
(Saturday, August 15)
 Morning: Arrival at Marco Polo Airport (VCE). Transfer to Venice.
 Afternoon: Welcome orientation to the program at 5:00 PM in the hotel lounge.
 Dinner: Road Scholar welcome dinner in the hotel dining room.
Accommodations: Hilton Molino Stucky Venice
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Venice, Italy
(Sunday, August 16)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel dining room.
 Morning: This morning experience Venice as a Venetian. Breathe in a bit of every day life of this fragile city at a relaxed pace. From St. Mark’s square enter the Castello district and meander the narrow calli. Learn about the Venice of yesterday and today. Stop at Campo San Giovanni e Paolo, a most impressive open space dominated by the stunning Gothic basilica which is home to many monuments of Doges and sea captains. Continue to the densely populated district Cannaregio; explore Chiesa dei Miracoli, a little “jewel box” of a 15th century church to gain insight into Venetian beliefs and traditions.
 Lunch: Enjoy a traditional Venetian lunch at a local restaurant with your Road Scholar group.
 Afternoon: This afternoon, you are free to explore on your own. You may choose to walk to Rialto or simply sip a Bellini at Harry's Bar.
 Dinner: Explore local fare on your own.
 Evening: If there is one memory to take home with you, it is the sight of St. Mark’s Basilica, the cathedral of Venice, and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity the see this remarkable building at its very best. This evening, St. Mark’s will be reserved for Voyages to Antiquity guests who will be treated to a private visit and the breathtaking sight of the famous mosaics illuminated in a spectacular light show.

The church was built in 828 as a tomb for Saint Mark, whose body was spirited out of Alexandria hidden in a casket of pork, a bit of intrigue you can see memorialized in the mosaics above the church door. After a 976 fire, the church was rebuilt and served as the Doge’s private chapel. As such, it was a place of immense wealth and power that it became known as the Golden Church, or Chiesa d’Oro. For example, the Four Horses of St. Mark in front are replicas of the Roman sculptures inside, brought back by the Venetians after the sacking of Constantinople. These horses originally had giant rubies in their eye sockets. The interior reinforces the jewel-encrusted Byzantine effect with its galleries high above the naves, massive chandeliers and over 40,000 square feet of mosaics. Works by Tintoretto, Bellini and Mantegna – to mention a few – adorn the walls. The Treasury brims with wealth from centuries of conquest. A visit here is an unforgettable glimpse into the heights reached by La Serenissima, as The Most Serene Republic of Venice was called.
Accommodations: Hilton Molino Stucky Venice
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4: Venice, Italy / Embark the Aegean Odyssey
(Monday, August 17)

Note: The optional excursion is to be paid in cash (Euro only) or by American Express credit card. There is an ATM in the hotel lobby. Upon check-out your luggage will be transferred to your cabin on the ship. Upon check-out your luggage will be transferred to your cabin on the ship.

 Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel dining room.
 Morning: Free time to explore Venice on your own - perhaps enjoy a gondola ride on the Grand Canal or visit the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. Alternatively, the ship will offer an optional excursion to admire Venice's Aristocratic Villas (additional cost, bookable on board).
 Lunch: Explore local fare on your own.
 Afternoon: Meet the group at the hotel to transfer for embarkation. Late afternoon Road Scholar orientation to the ship in the "Observation Lounge."
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Early evening departure for Split.
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5: Split, Croatia
(Tuesday, August 18)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: At sea. Take advantage of the ship's well stocked library that has a wide selection of volumes covering classical history, literature, art, architecture, and philosophy. The frequently updated collection also includes an extensive reference section as well as modern and classic novels.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: When Emperor Diocletian shook up the Roman Empire by abdicating in 305AD, he had his retirement residence ready: a lavish palace he had just built in Salona, now Split, in his native Dalmatia.

Visit this amazing palace complex that, when completed, held three temples, a massive mausoleum, and could accommodate 9,000 people. For an intimate perspective on how life was organized, this excursion includes a walk through the palace cellars. The city of Split grew inside and around this palace, with the population retreating behind its walls when under attack, and then spilling out beyond them in times of peace.

Today the Palace of Diocletian is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but don’t expect a deserted ruin. Discover instead a vibrant warren of museums, galleries, shops and restaurants mingled with medieval fortifications, pre-Romanesque churches and Gothic chapels. Renaissance palaces testify to a time when Split was a key port of the Venetian Republic. The field trip visits Diocletian’s massive octagonal mausoleum, converted into a cathedral in the 7th century and named after a Christian martyred during that emperor’s persecutions. You’ll also visit the city museum where 15th-century furnishings recapture aristocratic life in that period. Other sights include the palace’s monumental Golden and Silver Gates and the columned Peristyle Square. Following the excursion, there will be free time to visit the colorful local market or explore Split on your own.
 Dinner: Dinner on board or explore local fare on your own.
 Evening: Attend a shipboard guest lecture. Late evening departure for Korcula.
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Korcula, Croatia / Cruising past the islands of Hvar & Brac
(Wednesday, August 19)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: From pirates to princes, Korcula has had many masters, all seeking to use this island to ease their passage along the Adriatic. The Greeks, who first colonized the island in the 6th century, called it “Black Corfu” because of the thick forests. Mythology provides an earlier 12th-century BC founder, the Trojan hero, Antenor. Much of Korcula's architecture dates from the 15th and 16th centuries when the island was part of the Republic of Venice.

This morning's walk takes us from the ship to Old Town with its Venetian towers, 14th-century walls and fishbone layout, designed to take advantage of refreshing winds. Visit the impressive Cathedral of St. Mark, which took over a century to erect, perched overlooking the town. Local stone masons left examples of their art in such details as the 15th-century lion portal, the island's boat wrights gave the main aisle the feel of a ship's interior and a splendid Tintoretto presides behind the altar. The excursion also visits the 14th-century Bishop's Palace, where the art collection includes works by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Tiepolo. Next, at the 16th-century Gabrielli Palace, view the City Museum's array of Greek and Roman artifacts, as well as objects detailing the island's shipping history. Korcula lays claim to being the birthplace of Marco Polo in 1254, and our walk takes us by his family home. Some 22 centuries ago, when the island was a favorite resort for the Greeks, the writer Athenaios praised the local wine, so before sailing, why not try a sip of the island's crisp white wine at a nearby café?
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: At sea. Attend a shipboard guest lecture. Enjoy a late afternoon Road Scholar cocktail party in the Observation Lounge.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Arrive in Dubrovnik in the early evening. You are free to stroll around the charming old town.
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Dubrovnik, Croatia / Cruise Kotor Bay
(Thursday, August 20)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Lord Byron called this majestic walled city “the Pearl of the Adriatic,” and it is easy to see why. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is held to be the best-preserved walled city in the Mediterranean with a seafront setting and dramatic mountain backdrop. The city skyline is a medley of bell towers, copper domes and massive 10th-century walls. Dubrovnik was founded in the 7th century AD and was a powerful independent republic from 1358 to 1808, when Napoleon conquered the city. Today the city is an inspiration in self-resurrection. Despite a destructive earthquake in 1667, Dubrovnik has managed to preserve its beautiful Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance churches, monasteries, palaces and fountains.

This morning’s walking excursion of the Old Town takes you along the city’s main street, the Stradun or Placa, once a sea channel connecting two ancient settlements. Visit the Dominican Monastery, home to a beautiful 15th-century Gothic cloister and the city’s finest collection of Renaissance paintings. Next, the Franciscan Monastery is home to Europe’s oldest pharmacy, founded in 1318 and still in existence. Walk past such landmarks as the Sponza Palace with its elaborate stone exterior, the Baroque Church of St. Blaise and Onofriou’s Fountain. Visit the Cathedral of Our Lady, originally built in the 12th century, destroyed in the 1667 earthquake and triumphantly rebuilt. View Titian’s Assumption over the main altar and, in the Treasury, one of Europe’s finest collections of gold and silver, including the bejeweled skull of St. Blaise.

Following the field trip there will be free time to explore the nooks and crannies of the Old Town.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: This afternoon the ship cruises through one of the finest natural harbors in Europe. Kotor Bay is sometimes referred to as Europe's southernmost fjord, but the winding bay is actually a submarine river canyon. At one time Kotor Bay was rival to Venice and Dubrovnik for sea power. Stretching between Croatia and Montenegro, the bay offers picturesque vistas of fortified towns and mountains dotted with castles.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Corfu, Greece
(Friday, August 21)

Note: There is a choice of excursions on this day; please review "Shorex Excursions" program note regarding "Alternate" excursions.

 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: You can thank Venice for the thickly wooded headland of Corfu. During the Republic's four centuries of rule on this Ionian island (from 1386 to 1797), it was decreed that an olive tree be planted at each birth and a cypress at each death. Early admirers included the Greek poet, Homer, who sang the island's praises. Octavian brought his fleet to the island's harbor before the battle at Actium.

Today's sightseeing starts with a drive to Corfu Town and a visit to the Old Fortress rising majestically from a large cliff and surrounded by a fairytale moat that has its sinister side as the last resort of the lovelorn. Built on the remains of a Byzantine castle, the fort was completed over four centuries, first by the Venetians who gave it the moat and then by the British who erected the fort's church of St. George. The fort proved a formidable bulwark against the Turks. From the fort, enjoy a stroll along the Venetian-built Esplanade past the colonnade of the Liston Café, built during French rule. The café takes is name from a time when the promenade was limited to Venetian nobility that appeared on a list in the Libro d'Oro (Golden Book). Today this path provides an excellent view of the town's cricket pitch, a legacy from British rule, and the start of our walking excursion. Discover Old Town's narrow stepped streets, Georgian mansions and red-domed Agios Spyridon church, built in 1589, containing the remains of Corfu's patron saint.

Alternatively, you can choose 'Byzantine Corfu' which visits the Corfu's historic Campielo quarter and its Byzantine Museum with its wide selection of icons (additional details on board).
 Lunch: Lunch on board or explore local fare on your own.
 Afternoon: In the afternoon, you are free to continue enjoying Corfu Town. A drink at the Liston Café is a must. The ship will provide a shuttle between Corfu and the ship.
 Dinner: Dinner on board or explore local fare on your own.
 Evening: Night-time departure for Préveza. Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Préveza, Greece / Ithaca, Greece
(Saturday, August 22)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: After our morning arrival in Préveza, depart for Arta to discover this former Byzantine capital and its glorious 13th and 14th-century churches. After the fall of Constantinople to the Crusaders in 1204, Arta was established as the Byzantine despotate of Epirus. The city is built on the foundations of an ancient city called Ambrakia and was once the capital of King Pyrrhus (318BC-272BC), the legendary general.

From the ship, a scenic one hour drive winds through the lovely countryside of northwest Greece. Arriving in Arta we drive by the famous bridge over the Arachthos River, haunted by a mythical story of an engineer who sacrificed his wife for the sake of a successful bridge by building her into it. The bridge was completed in 1612, but rests on the foundations of an earlier bridge that dates to classical times. In 1881 the borders of Greece and Turkey met in the center of Arta's bridge.

Arta is dominated by a towering medieval fortress, but its pride are its Byzantine churches, and of these, Panagia Paregoretissa (Mother of the Swiftly Consoling) is the most striking. The church was built in the 13th century by a husband-and-wife team, and features an impressive array of architectural innovations. The central cupola is considered unique in the world of ecclesiastical architecture.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: In the afternoon, the ship will cruise the delightful Ionian islands on the way to Ithaca.
 Dinner: Dinner on board or explore local fare on your own upon arrival into Ithaca.
 Evening: Spend the evening ashore in the attractive seaside town of Vathy, Ithaca. Late departure for Katakolon.
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Katakolon, Greece / Olympia
(Sunday, August 23)

Note: The excursion to Olympia includes heavy walking for one or more hours over uneven terrain, with multiple uphill segments.

 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: The small fishing village of Katakolon is approximately an hour from the mystical site of Ancient Olympia, sacred ground to the people of the Peloponnese Peninsula as early as the 10th century BC. Olympia is most familiar as the site where the first Olympic Games were held in 776BC in honor of Olympian Zeus. The origin of the word Olympic comes from the ancient Greek Olympiad – meaning every four years.

The setting could not be more idyllic: prominently located in the middle of a fertile valley with the rivers of Alfeios and Kladhios flowing past. The site was a religious sanctuary even before the Stadium was built and the games took place in the sacred area called Altis. The most imposing monument in the area was the outstanding Temple of Zeus housing the gold-and-ivory statue of Zeus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Temple of Hera, the Prytaneion, and the Philippeion were also monuments standing in the sacred grove. The famous Stadium, the largest of its day with a capacity of 45,000 spectators, was entered through a long, tunnel-like passage, constructed in Roman times. The stadium was restored in 2004 for the historic return of the modern Olympics to Athens.

After your exploration of the famous grounds, visit the archaeological museum which is a short 5-minute walk from the site. Among the great finds of the area that are displayed are the Head of Hera and ornaments from the Temple of Zeus, the famous statue of Hermes created by Praxiteles and the helmet of Miltiades, the Athenian general during Athens' 'Golden Age'.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: Relax on board as the ship sails to the next port, Pylos. Attend a lecture by your Road Scholar Group Leader.
 Dinner: Dinner on board or explore local fare upon your arrival into Pylos.
 Evening: Spend the evening ashore in Pylos.
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Pylos, Greece
(Monday, August 24)

Note: There is a choice of excursions on this day; please review "Shorex Excursions" program note regarding "Alternate" excursions.

 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Messini is regarded by many as one of the best-preserved archaeological sites in Greece. Take a short drive to the Arcadian Gate, an impressive structure that once acted as an entrance to the ancient city of Messini. From here, you’ll head for the archaeological site of Messini, which dates back to 146 BC. This is a marvelous site that includes an almost-intact theater, the ruins of a 3rd-century temple, a time-worn sanctuary and a Byzantine monastery. Then on to Mavromati village, about five minutes away, for a coffee break and the chance to enjoy the great panoramic view of the ancient site of Messini before making your way back to the ship.

Alternatively, you can elect 'Castles of Southern Greece' which visits the Turkish castle of Niokastro and then the Venetian castle of Methoni (additional details on board).
 Lunch: Lunch on board or explore local fare on your own.
 Afternoon: Free time for independent exploration of Pylos.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Evening departure for Monemvasía. Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Monemvasia, Greece / Hydra, Greece
(Tuesday, August 25)

Note: This morning's 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's exploration of Monemvasia, 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.

Monemvasia 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.
 Afternoon: At sea. Enjoy the ship's amenities as it sails for Hydra, this evening's port-of-call.
 Dinner: Dinner on board or explore local fare on your own upon arrival into Hydra.
 Evening: Free time for independent exploration along Hydra's crescent-shaped seafront.
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Athens, Greece / Disembark
(Wednesday, August 26)

Note: Heavy walking for one or more hours over uneven terrain, with multiple uphill segments.

 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: After disembarking the ship, 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 the "Golden Age" of Athens between 447-438BC under the orders of the great statesman Pericles, the Acropolis represents the magnificent achievements of Athenian culture during this remarkable era.

The Acropolis became the seat of Athenian civic and religious life in the 5th century BCE, when Athens was the preeminent center of culture in the region. Temples and monuments were designed and built by the greatest architects and artists of their time. The ruins we see today testify to some of the singular achievements of Western civilization. Foremost among these is what has been described as the most perfect building ever made, the Parthenon, dedicated to the patron goddess of the city, Athena Parthenos. Its apparent perfection is the result of numerous tricks of the eye devised by its designers. The Acropolis monuments suffered damage from a variety of causes over the centuries. The Parthenon was virtually destroyed by Venetian bombardments in 1687. Many of the finest sculptures were taken by the British Lord Elgin in the early 1800s and sent to England, where they are displayed in the British Museum. Acid rain severely affected portions of what remains and some sections have been removed and taken to the Acropolis Museum for their protection. Since 1975, the government of Greece has supervised an ongoing repair and restoration effort (expect to see scaffolding and cranes) likely to continue into the foreseeable future.
 Dinner: Dinner in the hotel dining room.
Accommodations: Metropolitan Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14: Athens, Greece
(Thursday, August 27)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel dining room.
 Morning: A guided walk through Plaka - the picturesque old historical neighborhood of Athens, clustered around the northern and eastern slopes of the Acropolis, and incorporating labyrinthine streets and neoclassical architecture.
 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.
 Dinner: Farewell Dinner in the hotel dining room.
Accommodations: Metropolitan Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 15: Athens / Departures
(Friday, August 28)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel dining room.
 Morning: Transfer to Athens International Airport (ATH) for departures.
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Athens Benaki Museum
The Benaki Museum is made up of many buildings, which offer an in-depth look into Greek history and culture. An array of artwork and artifacts illustrate the character of the Greek world from ancient times to the 20th century. For additional information, visit
  Museum of Cycladic Art
The Museum of Cycladic Art illustrates the ancient cultures of the Aegean and Cyprus. The three major subjects on display are Cycladic Art, Ancient Greek Art, and Ancient Cypriot Art. For additional information, visit
  Venice Ca’ Rezzonico
A museum of eighteenth century art, the palace on the Grand Canal was designed by a Baroque architect of Venice, Baldassare Longhena, for the aristocratic Bon family. The museum shows works of art, furniture and interior furnishings by master artists such as Guardi, Canaletto, Tiepolo and Longhi, and important Venetian school paintings from the 15th-20th centuries which are a part of the Martini Collection. For additional information, visit
  Doge's Palace
Doge's Palace is a former governmental palace and a masterpiece of Venetian gothic. The Ducal Palace was the residence of the Doge up to the fall of the Venetian Republic in 1797 and was a public palace and seat of the administration of justice. The palace is the highest and richest symbol of Venetian civilization and of Venice's cultural, military, political and economic history. All historic periods are represented in an extraordinary stratification of structural and decorative elements: from the antique foundations of the original Gothic complex, to the great halls dedicated to political life and decorated by the canvases of Veronese, Tintoretto and the great masters of the Renaissance, from the precious rooms of the Doges apartment, to the dark prisons and places of torture and the luminous loggias on the Piazza and the Lagoon.
  Gallerie dell'Accademia
Spanning five centuries, the Galleria Belle Arti's matchless collection of paintings provides a complete spectrum of the Venetian school, from the Byzantine period through the Renaissance to the Baroque and later. Masterpieces of Titian, Veronese, Bellini, Tintoretto, Tiepolo and more all await you here. For additional information, visit
  Glass Museum of Murano
A museum of Venetian glassmaking, the Murano Glass Museum was founded in 1861 when the darkest period in the history of Murano glassmaking had been overcome, following the fall of the Republic of San Marco (1797) and the subsequent years of foreign rule. The museum’s collection was expanded by the addition of the Correr, Cicogna and Molin Collections which include, among other things, the most beautiful Renaissance pieces in the museum. The museum also has samples of glass from Egyptian times through the present day, and the displays show the art and manufacturing of glass that has developed over the centuries. For additional information, visit
  Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Located on Venice’s Grand Canal, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection is one of Europe’s premier museums devoted to modern art. With masterpieces ranging in style from Cubism and Surrealism to Abstract Expressionism, the collection has become one of the most respected and visited cultural attractions in Venice. For additional information, visit
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

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.

City of Fortune, How Venice Ruled the Seas

Author: Roger Crowley

Description: Crowley spins tales of three centuries of plunder and plague, imperial conquest and piracy in this riveting new history, chronicling the transformation of a tiny city of lagoon dwellers into the richest place on earth.

Corelli's Mandolin

Author: Louis De Bernieres

Description: This lyrical novel captures the humanity, quirks and loves of village life in the Greek islands. A satire of war, this charming and richly-colored novel is set on Cephallonia during the Italian occupation in the 1940s.

Eyewitness Guide Croatia

Author: Eyewitness Guides

Description: Gorgeously illustrated and filled with excellent maps, this compact book offers a thorough overview of Croatia's history, traditions, cultures and sights.

Eyewitness Guide Venice & the Veneto

Author: Eyewitness Guides

Description: Features color photography, dozens of excellent maps (including a pullout map) and a synopsis of the region's attractions.

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.

Homer the Classic

Author: Gregory Nagy

Description: Harvard classics scholar Nagy considers how Homer’s poetry was greeted in its own day and in the centuries immediately following the great bard.

Italy, A Short History

Author: Harry Hearder

Description: Elegantly written, generous and informative, this compact book takes in the sweep of Italian history from the Roman Republic through the Renaissance, World War II and up to the present.

Mediterranean Explorer Map

Author: Ocean Explorer Maps

Description: This handy color map of the Mediterranean from Spain to the Black Sea and the Levant puts ancient sites and historic ports into context. With notable people, a timeline and descriptions of dozens of places.

Mediterranean by Cruise Ship

Author: Anne Vipond

Description: The best-selling, compact guide, featuring excellent local maps, hundreds of color photographs, concise background information and recommended excursions for ports-of-call throughout the Mediterranean.

Territorial Rights

Author: Muriel Spark

Description: Wheels spin within wheels in Spark's wicked comedy of betrayals, youth murders, spy-craft and much more, set in her beloved Venice.

The Balkans, A Short History

Author: Mark Mazower

Description: With eloquence and clarity, Mazower addresses the issues of geography, nationalism and nation in this indispensable survey.

The Bridge on the Drina

Author: Ivo Andric, Lovette F. Edwards (Translator)

Description: These linked stories by the Nobel Prize-winning author capture the history and complexity of Christian and Muslim relations during Ottoman occupation. Hewn of stone, the bridge dividing the town of Visegrad was Andric's inspiration.

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 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 Middle Sea

Author: John Julius Norwich

Description: A marvelous writer who has already written on Byzantium, Venice and the Sahara, Norwich spins his magic in this story of culture, trade and politics, royalty and rulers, wars and religion in the Mediterranean.

The Parthenon

Author: Mary Beard

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

The Way of Herodotus, Travels with the Man Who Invented History

Author: Justin Marozzi

Description: A Penguin Classics edition of The Histories in hand, Marozzi journeys from Herodotus' home town of Helicarnassus, now known as Bodrum, to Baghdad, Babylon, Egypt and Athens, weaving tales of his hero with erudite and entertaining modern travel.

The World of Venice

Author: Jan Morris

Description: If you are going to read one book on Venice, we recommend this favorite.

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.

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