April 6th, 2012

First day of school

Off to Greece!

Tomorrow I head off to Greece for spring break! Woo! Here's my trip:

Day 1: Depart USA. Your magical journey to Greece and the Greek Isles begins as you depart New York today on your overnight flight.

Day 2: Arrive Athens. Arrive today in Athens, the capital of Greece and the birthplace of western civilization. You'll be met at the airport and escorted to your conveniently located hotel. Enjoy a free afternoon and evening to relax at an outdoor café and enjoy the festive atmosphere of the buzzing city. Athenian Callirhoe Hotel

DAY 3: Embark Cruise/ Mykonos. After a sumptuous breakfast journey to the nearby port of Piraeus, embark your cruise ship and settle into your cabin. Over the next four days you'll sail the deep blue waters of the Aegean Sea and explore the fascinating Greek Isles. Spend the afternoon settling into the cruising routine of enjoying the sun, sea breezes, the pool and other shipboard facilities. Later arrive at the spectacular island of Mykonos renowned for its characteristic windmills and dazzling whitewashed houses. Mykonos is also famous for the stylish crowds that flock to the island's beautiful beaches by day and to the trendy restaurants and clubs by night. Enjoy leisure time to stroll through the picturesque town with its labyrinth of narrow alleys, striking buildings and inviting shops. You can relax at a seaside cafe or a local taverna and enjoy a drink as you view the passing scenery before heading back to the ship. Set sail later tonight. Louis Cruise Lines (B,L,D)

DAY 4: Kusadasi - Ephesus (Turkey) / Patmos (Greece). Dock this morning at Turkish port of Kusadasi located a short driving distance from the ancient city of Ephesus. Considered the world's best-preserved classical city and famous throughout history for its Temple of Artemis, Ephesus is one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. You may join a guided optional tour to explore Ephesus and marvel at its impressive structures including the Library of Celcus, Temple of Hadrian, the Great Theater and the Odeon. You can also visit the House of Virgin Mary, a shrine said to be the final home of the Virgin Mary near Ephesus.

Return to the ship in time for lunch and set sail towards the lively Island of Patmos, Greece, known as the site of the apocalyptic revelations of St. John the Divine, written here during his exile from the Roman Empire. Here you may join an optional excursion to the cave where St. John lived and to the nearby Monastery. Built on one of the island's highest points the monastery contains outstanding frescoes as well as priceless icons and manuscripts. Later, drive back to the port of Scala and enjoy some free time in this quaint and picturesque town. Return to the ship for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

DAY 5: Rhodes. Today's port of call is Rhodes, the beautiful "Island of Roses". In the heart of the port city of Rhodes is the largest inhabited medieval town in Europe, a fascinating web of Byzantine, Turkish and Latin ruins. Its mighty fortifications provide the finest surviving examples of defensive architecture of all time. Rhodes most picturesque town is Lindos where whitewashed houses are clustered beneath a soaring castle-capped acropolis dedicated to the goddess Athena. Below the village lies the stunning bay of St. Paul where the apostle landed during his voyages. Optional tours are available or you may explore independently. Set sail later today (B,L,D)

DAY 6: Crete (Heraklion)/Santorini. Early morning arrival in the port of Heraklion on the island of Crete, rich with history and culture. Here savor the colorful open-air market where a boisterous crowd buys and sells everything from goats and sheep to huge cauldrons of fresh yogurt. You may also join an optional excursion to see the ruins of the Palace of Knossos. Discovered in 1899 and partially reconstructed, the elaborate palace is believed to be the mythical Labyrinth of King Minos and the seat of ancient Minoan culture. Much of the ruins has been excavated and colorfully painted and restored.

Return to the ship in time for lunch and continue sailing to Santorini, a volcanic crater immersed in the sea and perhaps the most breathtaking of all the Greek Islands. In the town of Thira whitewashed houses, narrow streets, outdoor cafes and glittering boutiques line to steep cliffs, accessible by foot, cable car or mule. Perhaps join an optional tour on which a drive up the road along the volcanic caldera offers stunning views of the Aegean Sea and the neighboring islands. Built on the caldera rim, Oia Village is an excellent example of Cycladic architecture. Explore the picturesque village by walking along the cobblestone streets and the white washed houses with blue shutters. At the conclusion of this optional tour, a short cable car ride brings you back down to the pier. Return to the ship for a final night at sea on board your cruise ship. (B,L,D)

Day 7: Disembark/ Mycenae /Olympia. After breakfast bid farewell to your cruise ship and its wonderful staff and embark on a three-day road excursion to the classical cities of mainland Greece. Drive over the impressive bridge spanning across the Corinth Canal, which connects the Ionian Sea with the Aegean, to the Peloponnesian Peninsula. Visit the amazingly well preserved 2300 year-old theater of Epidaurus. Continue to ancient Mycenae, which, according to the poets, was founded by Perseus and built with the aid of the mythological Cyclops. Marvel at the excavations that reveal impressions of the splendors so vividly described by Homer. Admire the Beehive Tombs, the Treasury of Atreus, Lion Gate, Europe’s oldest known monument, remains of Agamemnon’s Royal Palace, and the impressive fortifications of the Citadel. Proceed to Olympia, birthplace of the Olympic Games for dinner and overnight. Europa Hotel (B,D)

Day 8: Olympia/ Nafpaktos/ Delphi. This morning tour with a local expert the archeological site and museum at Olympia, where the Olympic games were conceived as a tribute to Hercules, son of Zeus. These games were the most important international event in the Hellenic world and continue today with the lighting of the Olympic flame that is carried by runners throughout the world. View the impressive remains of the Gymnasium and the Temples of Hera and Zeus. You’ll also visit the museum and see Praxiteles’ magnificent statue of Hermes. Voyage along the coast passing through picturesque fishing villages en route to Delphi, majestically set on the slopes of breathtaking Mt. Parnassus. Amalia Hotel (B,D)

Day 9: Delphi/ Athens. On this morning’s included guided excursion explore the ancient site of Delphi, the most beautiful and celebrated ancient site of all. This is where the Oracle representing the revered god Apollo presided over the ancient world. Marvel at the ruins of Sanctuary of Apollo, walk the marble Sacred Way and admire the 4th-century BC theater still in use today. You’ll also visit Delphi’s museum that houses the famous bronze Charioteer, one of antiquity’s greatest statues. Later today drive back to Athens and check into your deluxe, city-center hotel. Royal Olympic Hotel (B)

Day 10: Athens. An included guided morning tour features a visit to the awe-inspiring Parthenon, the crowning beauty atop the Acropolis. This massive Doric temple was dedicated to Athena, the divine patroness of Athens. Just north of the Parthenon view the Erechtheum with its graceful Porch of Caryatids. You'll also see the ruins of the Temple of Zeus before descending the Acropolis for a panoramic drive to view the Royal Palace, government buildings and elegant homes in the modern city that stand in a striking contrast to the remains of the Athens' glorious past. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure to explore Athens independently. Your hotel is located within easy walking distance to Athens lively and inviting old town, the Plaka! (B)

Day 11: Athens/USA. Following breakfast, transfer to the airport for your return flight to the USA. Your memorable journey ends as you arrive back in New York later today. (B)