Sample Itinerary: Seven Days

1

DAY

Corinth Canal, Getting Organized

After landing at the Athens International Airport, we will pick you up in a deluxe, air-conditioned minibus. We will drive to the Peloponnesus (one hour drive from the airport). On our way to the luxurious hotel, we will stop at the Corinth Canal, a fascinating engineering marvel. The canal crosses the Peloponnese Peninsula, connects the Gulf of Corinth to the Saronic Gulf and shortens the trip from the Aegean Sea to the port city of Piraeus by 320 km (200 miles).
After arriving in the hotel and getting organized, you may relax on your room’s balcony, facing the charming scenery of the Gulf of Corinth, meander along the beach adjacent to the hotel, use the gym or spa, or take your ease in the lobby over a glass of ouzo or Greek wine.
In the evening, we will have dinner in a Greek Taverna near the hotel, also reviewing the vacation itinerary, and then retire for the night, pleased and excited about the next day.
(Note: The activity on the first day will be determined according to the group’s time of arrival).

2

DAY

Cooking Class

After a rich breakfast, we will be given aprons and hats. We will then head out to one of Tallis Tavernas.

We will meet our chef for the day, become acquainted with the kitchen where we will be spending the day. We will then be given safety instructions for working in the kitchen preparing a sumptuous Mediterranean lunch.

The next 4 hours will be spent in a fascinating, unifying group experience, among pots and pans, ovens and mixers, bottles of olive oil and beds of herbs that are adjacent to every self-respecting Taverna. Every participant will discover their “inner chef” when preparing the traditional lavish Greek afternoon meal, with 5-6 courses.
During the break we will relax around a table of cheese and wine.

After a lunch, completely prepared by you supplemented with fine Greek wines, we will return to the hotel.

The afternoon is yours to spend as you like; indulge at the luxurious spa in central Loutraki, take a stroll on the beach, visit the gym or spa in the hotel, or relax on the balcony of your room, reading the book that you had always been meaning to get to….

In the evening you can enjoy any of the hotel’s restaurants, or the many Tavernas in the city, the Greek pubs and bars, and those who wish can try their luck at the deluxe Loutraki Casino.

3

DAY

A Trip to the Peloponnesus, the Cradle of Greek Civilization

After the excellent breakfast, we will set out on a fascinating tour of the Peloponnesus, a huge peninsula, the cradle of Greek civilization.
We will tour Epidaurus, Mycenae, and Nafplio a magical tour called the “Argolis Classic Tour” after the Kingdom of Argolis, which dwelt in Peloponnesus thousands of years ago, passing through some of the main sites of Peloponnesus.
In Epidaurus we will visit the Old City and the 3,000-year-old amphitheater, which is an acoustic marvel and still to this day serves as a site for special music events, attracting music lovers from all over Greece.
From there we will go to Mycenae, the place of residence of the ancient royal dynasty of King Agamemnon, king of Argolis, and where Helen of Troy was kidnapped. After we tour the beautifully preserved Old City of Mycenae and the graves of the royal dynasty, we will travel to Nafplio.

There we will finish the day exploring ancient castles, amazing museums, the narrow alleyways of the open-air market, and the beach restaurants of Nafplio.

In the evening you can enjoy any of the hotel’s restaurants, or the many Tavernas in the city, the Greek pubs and bars, and those who wish can try their luck at the deluxe Loutraki Casino.

4

DAY

Baking Class and Preparing Cheese and Yogurt

After breakfast, we will set out for a bakery, where we will meet the chefs, bakers, and cheese-makers. We will be given safety instructions for working in the bakery and we will begin to bake and to prepare cheese.

We will bake special Greek breads, cookies with olive oil, grape sugar concentrate ….and ouzo. We will learn to make real Greek feta cheese, Greek yogurt, and additional cheeses the way the Greek villagers prepare them for their own use.

After the class, we will sit down to eat the cheese and breads we made and add traditional Greek dishes to the repast to round out the menu.

In the afternoon, we will return to the hotel, and, either freshen up and then meet in the lecture hall for a half-day professional lectures, or, have a free afternoon, to be spent as you please, at the spa, the beach, the gym, etc.

5

DAY

Spoon Sweets

After breakfast, we will leave for Kiato, a small charming family factory belonging to Sophia and George, where Sophia prepares Greek spoon sweets with recipes that are passed down, from generation to generation and from mother to daughter in her family.

Distinctive sweets are part of the Greek tradition. Have you ever eaten olive jam? In class, we will learn to prepare the jams and spoon sweets so typical of the Greek cuisine. After class, everyone in the group sits down for a tasting feast, where they sample the various types of sweets, together with wine and bread.

On the way back to the hotel, from Kiato to Loutraki, we will stop for lunch at one of the traditional Tavernas on the shores of the “Greek Riviera”.

We will have a free afternoon, to be spent as you please, at the spa, the beach, the gym, etc.

6

DAY

Tour of Wineries and Cooking Class in the Wine Country

After breakfast, we will leave for the Nemea region, the “wine country” of Peloponnesus, where we will visit the centuries-old vineyards. We will visit the finest wineries and taste the superb wines of Nemea, produced with 4,000 years of experience.
In the afternoon we will come to the “Sophos” Tavern, where we will have a light lunch, and, together with Maria and Irini, we will cook an amazing Mediterranean dinner consisting of 5 – 6 traditional dishes (of course after we receive safety instructions for working in the kitchen that will keep us safe and sound.)
A dinner, which is completely prepared by the group, will celebrate the end of the vacation. We’ll eat Greek foods, drink wines from the Nemea region, we will dance the traditional Sirtaki to the sounds of the bouzouki and accordion, and we will feel special and united as never before.
Back to the hotel in the wee hours.

7

DAY

A Trip to Blue Lake, Osios Patapios Monastery, Malagavi Lighthouse, Heraion, and back to the Airport

After breakfast, the tour will begin with a steep climb (in our minibus… not on foot) to the Monastery of Osios Patapios, located atop Mount Geraneia, over the Gulf of Corinth, overlooking the stunning views of the sea, bay, and mountain. In the monastery is the Church of St. Mary and preserved there are the remains of St. Patapios.
After the tour of the monastery, we will go down to the Blue Lake, an estuary which has created a landlocked lake of saltwater. The lake was given its name because of the intense blue color of the water. Locals call the lake “flowing from below” and local legend has it that during one of the frequent earthquakes in Greece, the lake suddenly surged and swallowed the village there.

Later, we will reach Heraion, the Temple of the Goddess Hera, who watches over married women and childbearing. The place is perfectly preserved and the tour of it is fascinating.
We will end the trip at the edge of the cliff, at the Malagavi Lighthouse, which was built 150 years ago and is still active. The site is one of the most beautiful vantage points in Greece to see the meeting of the sea, bay, and mountain.

We will finish the half-day trip with lunch and continue to the airport for the flight home, ready to cook a proper Greek meal for our loved ones.
(Note – activities of the last day will be determined by the flight time of the group).

Corinth Canal – 1 hour 

The Corinth Canal, a man-made wonder, is a waterway across the Isthmus of Corinth, connecting the Gulf of Corinth in the northwest, with the Saronic Gulf in the southeast. Before the existence of the canal, ships were forced to make the long journey around the Peloponnese Peninsula, an area of more than 8,000 square miles.

In around 600 BC, Periander, founder of the Cypselid Dynasty of Corinth, had the brilliant idea of taking ships out of the water and pulling them overland, to avoid this tiresome trip around the Peloponnese Peninsula. He built a sort of railroad track on which ships were hauled on wheeled wagons across the Isthmus, from one end to the other. Parts of the track are still visible today. This practice was used until about the ninth century, when ships had become too large for this system.

In 1882 work began on digging out, mostly by hand, the Corinth Canal, which opened in 1893. The canal walls are more than 80 meters high, it has an in-water depth of 8 meters  and is just over 6 kilometers long. The width at the bottom starts at 21 meters, widening to 25 meters at the water’s surface.

The Corinth Canal is a popular tourist attraction; large ships being pulled through the canal by small tug boats is a sight worth seeing. Not for the faint-hearted is bungee jumping from a location just under the bridge that runs across the canal. Many nerve-wracking events have taken place here, like Robbie Maddison jumping across the canal on a motorbike and many others have walked a tightrope across it. Small planes have also daringly flown its length, actually in the canal, just above the water level.

Epidaurus – Mycenae – Nafplio – Full day (8-9 hours)

This fascinating tour called the “Argolis Classic Tour” after the Kingdom of Argolis, which dwelt in Peloponnese thousands of years ago, passes through some of the main sites of Peloponnese.

In Epidaurus we will visit the Old City and the huge 3,000-year-old amphitheater, which is an acoustic marvel, one of the most well preserved ancient theatres in the world and still to this day serves as a site for special music events, attracting music lovers from all over Greece.

When visiting Epidaurus, you must try out the magnificent acoustics: stand in the center of the circular orchestra (marked by a square of marble) and speak as quietly as you can.  You won’t believe how your voice returns to you, and how people in the very back of the theatre can hear you perfectly well.

From there we will go to Mycenae, the Capital of Ancient Mycenaean Civilization, dating from the 1600 – 1800 BC, the place of residence of the ancient royal dynasty of King Agamemnon, king of Argolis.

As the landscape is rather rocky and most of the ruins are at the top of a hill, a bit of climbing is involved; do wear sturdy and comfortable shoes.  The tour begins at the “Lion Gates” (The earliest monumental sculpture in Europe), taking you inside the Acropolis, followed by a climb up to the Palace.  The Palace is where King Agamemnon was murdered by his wife Klytemnistra and her lover, Aegisthus, after returning, victorious, from the Trojan war (1200 BC), a war sparked by the beautiful Helen of Troy.  Helen, “The face that launched a thousand ships”, ran away with Paris of Troy, leaving behind her husband Menelaus, brother of King Agamemnon.

Mycenae was inhabited by royalty, and some of them are buried here. “The Grave Circle” (containing six royal graves of the Royal dynasty), and “The Treasury of Atreus”, (the Tomb of Agamemnon), situated on a hill opposite the palace, are spectacular. The entire astounding place was surrounded by the famous Cyclopean Walls, built to protect the royal families of Mycenae.

After we tour the beautifully preserved Old City of Mycenae, we will travel to Nafplio, the first capital of the First Hellenic Republic and the Kingdom of Greece, and now the capital of the Argolis region.

Nafplio is set at the foot of a hill, topped by the Venetian fortress of Palamidi, which was built by the Venetians between 1711 and 1714.  If you feel that you can handle it, climb the 999 steps leading up. (Do not despair though; it can be reached by car…..). The views when you reach the top are breath taking, looking over the blue sea and down onto the old town of Nafplio.  The oldest part of Nafplio is the fortress of Akronafplia, (“The Inner Castle”), and until the 13th century it was a town on its own. Across from the harbor, sitting alone on a tiny island, is The Bourtzi, a small fortress, built by the Venetians, which can be visited by small boats.

Nafplio is one of the prettiest towns in Greece. The bustling streets are lined with small shops, selling a delightful range of arts, crafts, curiosities, up-market clothes and jewelry. Visit the unique Komboloi and Begleri Museum (Greek worry beads, a string of beads manipulated with the hands and used to pass time in Greek culture), the Archaeological Museum (the oldest exhibits here are from thirty two thousand BC), or sit at one of the popular coffee shops, serving the most irresistible cakes and pastries.
Around the harbor, a handful of sea food restaurants can be found, serving freshly caught local sea food, while higher up in the town numerous Tavernas offer the most delectable traditional Greek dishes.  Nafplio is certainly a place that you will long to come back to.

Blue Lake, Osios Patapios Monastery, Malagavi lighthouse, Heraion – Half day (5 hours)

The tour will begin with a steep climb to the monastery of Osios Patapios located atop Mount Geraneia, over the Gulf of Corinth, overlooking the stunning views of the sea, bay, and mountain. In the monastery is the Church of St. Mary and preserved there are the remains of St. Patapios.

After the tour of the monastery, we will go down to the blue lake, an estuary, which has created a landlocked lake of saltwater. The lake was given its name because of the intense blue color of the water. Locals call the lake “flowing from below” and local legend has it that during one of the frequent earthquakes in Greece, the lake suddenly surged and swallowed the village there.

Later on we will reach Heraion, the Temple of the Goddess Hera, who watches over married women and childbearing. The place is perfectly preserved and the tour of it is fascinating.

We will end the trip at the edge of the cliff, at the Malagavi Lighthouse, which was built 150 years ago and is still active. The site is one of the most beautiful vantage points in Greek to see the meeting of the sea, bay and mountain.