Scenic Panoramic view of Acropolis in Athens

A Grecian Odyssey to Greece and the Greek Isles

Spring 2022

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Explore the settings, structures, and cultures that remain of the once-mighty ancient Greek civilization.

What is it like to live and do business in a country where classical mythology and ancient history still have a presence in everyday life?  In the capital of Athens, the namesake of the goddess Athena, walk in the footsteps of ancient Greeks at the Acropolis. Discuss the feats of Michael Phelps at the site where the modern Olympics were born and ponder life’s great questions in literal molds of Socrates, Plato, and other great philosophers.  Students will visit Athens, Corinth, Olympia, and Delphi before boarding a 4-day cruise of the Greek Isles.  On the cruise, students will visit Mykonos, Patmos, Crete, Santorini, and Ephesus in Turkey.
 
Students interested in the trip to Greece and the Greek Isles can register for the class (IS200 with Dr. Scharff) any time after spring registration begins.  Students are advised to register as early as possible as popular trips will fill up quickly.
 
Group Leader:  Dr. Michael Scharff

Sign up for the waitlist

Your Itinerary

Day 1: Fly to Greece

Meet your group and board your flight to Athens.

Board your overnight flight to Athens!

Day 2: Athens

Arrive in Athens

Nestled among mountains on the Attic plain, Athens is the Cradle of Democracy and birthplace of Western civilization. A modern city with a strong connection to its ancient history, Athens has been a center of culture, politics, and history for thousands of years. The great philosopher Socrates lived here, offering to fellow Athenians his views on virtue and knowledge.

Walking tour of Athens (time permitting)

Get acquainted with the endearing Plaka district. Stroll to the Athenian Trilogy, a three building complex identified as the heart of intellectual life in Athens and the epitome of neoclassical architecture in Greece.

Overnight in Athens

Day 3: Athens

Guided sightseeing of Athens

An expert local guide introduces you to the antiquities of Athens. Climb the Acropolis to view the majestic Parthenon, perhaps the world's greatest architectural feat. See the Temple of Athena Nike, which once housed a gold statue of the goddess (her wings were clipped to keep her from ever deserting the city). Athens is named after Athena, the goddess of war and wisdom. After seeing the Presidential Guard in their traditional costumes, pass the stadium, where the first modern Olympics were held in 1896, as well as lively Omonia and Syntagma Squares.

Visit the Acropolis Museum

Visit this archaeological museum that houses nearly 4,000 artifacts from the acropolis and surrounding site. This new museum opened in 2009 and is built on the southeastern slope that was once the route of the ancient road that led up to the "sacred rock".

Guided excursion to Cape Sounion

Journey to Cape Sounion and visit the Temple of Poseidon overlooking the Aegean Sea. The temple's great Doric columns were a welcoming sight for sailors in ancient times, signifying the imminent arrival at nearby Athens.

Visit the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion

At the southern tip of the Attic Peninsula, view one of the most imposing sights in the ancient world. High above the sparkling Aegean, the 5th century B.C. Temple of Poseidon, one of Greece's most evocative ruins, dominates the landscape. Sixteen elegant Doric pillars remain, and from this lofty cliffside location, you can see five Aegean islands on a clear day.

Overnight in Cape Sounion

Day 4: Athens | Argolida region

Free morning in Athens

Enjoy this morning to explore the city at your leisure.

Travel via the Corinth Canal to the Argolida region

Journey by way of the Corinth Canal (Oedipus spent his childhood in Corinth). The views of the adjacent mountains reflected in the water are some of the most impressive in Greece.

Arrive in the Argolida region

Continue to Argolida, which is home to Greece's first capital. This peninsula is dotted with orange and olive groves. Together with the Isthmus of Corinth, Argolida forms the Saronic Gulf, known for its sailing and charters due to its proximity to Athens.

Overnight in the Argolida region

Day 5: Argolida region | Olympia region

Guided sightseeing of Epidaurus and Mycenae

Visit the ancient site of Epidaurus, famous for its open-air theater, dating from the 4th century BC. The best-preserved theater in all of Greece, its acoustics are world-renowned-a person whispering in the round orchestra can be heard from the top row of seats. Test the practice during your visit here today. Continue on to Mycenae where excavations began in 1874 under the leadership of German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann. The site is perched on a hilltop, overlooking valleys, mountains and the sea, and in ancient times "golden Mycenae" was one of Greece's greatest cities. According to Homer's epic, it was in Mycenae that Agamemnon began his legendary campaign against Troy.

Travel to the Olympia region

Continue on this afternoon to through the Peloponnese peninsula to Olympia, most famously known as the site of the ancient Olympic Games. Despite its name, is it nowhere near Mt. Olympus, which is located in Northern Greece.

Overnight in the Olympia region

Day 6: Olympia region | Delphi

Guided sightseeing of Olympia

Visit Olympia, site of the first Olympic Games almost 2,800 years ago. According to legend, Hercules proposed the idea of the Olympics, which were intended as a means of honoring Zeus. Back then the games were held every four years-a tradition that the modern-day Olympics upheld until 1994, when the summer and winter games were first split into different years.

Visit the Museum of Archimedes

Dedicated to Archimedes of Syracuse, a known physicist, engineer and astronomer, this museum highlights his greatest inventions and contributions to science.

Travel via Patras to Delphi

Disembark in Patras. Capital of the Peloponnese, Patras serves as a hub for ships traveling among the Greek islands and the ports of Italy.

Arrive in Delphi

Journey through vineyards and orchards to Delphi, home of the mystical Oracle.

Overnight in Delphi

Day 7: Delphi | Athens

Travel via guided sightseeing of Delphi to Athens

As you tour Delphi, ponder the mysteries of what lies in your future, as did Greece's ancient military leaders, who left gifts for the Oracle in hopes of good fortune in battle. Then visit the Temple of Apollo where, according to legend, the gods communicated with mortals. Your visit concludes with a stop at the Delphi Museum, whose collection boasts many artifacts dating back to 550 B.C., reminiscent of the mythical past of ancient Greece.

Arrive in Athens

Nestled among mountains on the Attic plain, Athens is the Cradle of Democracy and birthplace of Western civilization. A modern city with a strong connection to its ancient history, Athens has been a center of culture, politics, and history for thousands of years. The great philosopher Socrates lived here, offering to fellow Athenians his views on virtue and knowledge.

Overnight in Athens

Day 8: Athens | Greek islands cruise

Depart on Greek islands cruise

This morning, you'll check-in for your Greek islands cruise voyage, which sails out of Athens. A captivating four-day odyssey lies ahead, with stops at some of the Mediterranean's most historically and culturally rich islands and seaports. In between ports of call, you'll have plenty of time to enjoy the activities on board ship. Free-time options while you're at sea include shopping, games, fitness activities, swimming and sunning. On most of the islands, optional excursions will be made available for a more in-depth exploration. (Shore excursions to Samos, Crete and Santorini are included for all travelers.)

Visit Mykonos

The first island you'll visit is Mykonos, one of Greece's Cyclades Islands. It was ruled by the Venetians in the 13th and 14th centuries, and more recently was under Turkish occupation. Walk to the Church of Agia Kiriaki, which contains some of Mykonos' most fascinating and beautiful religious icons. Follow the quaint winding streets of the Old Town, where you may wish to browse amid the trendy boutiques and craft shops, to Three Well Square (Tria Pigadia). You will be provided a shuttle into Mykonos. The town is a little more than a mile from the dock.

Day 9: Greek islands cruise

Visit Kusadasi

Set in a stunning gulf in the Aegean region of Turkey, Kusadasi (which means “bird island”), is known for its beautiful beaches, classical ruins at the City of Ephesus, and large marina. Travelers will disembark and participate in the Ancient Ephesus shore excursion. Founded by the ancient Greeks, the City of Ephesus served as one of the key centers of Christianity. Due to its strategic location, it was also a significant trade center of the ancient world. It remains one of the most well-preserved sights in history.

Visit Patmos

Patmos, which united with Greece in 1948, is one of the 12 Dodecanese Islands that extend off the western coast of Turkey. Despite many centuries of foreign rule, Patmos has long retained its Greek language and culture. Join an optional excursion to St. John's Monastery, a fortress-like retreat named after St. John the Evangelist, who came to Patmos in the first century A.D. after his exile from Ephesus. From the monastery, you'll have a panoramic view of the whole island and the surrounding sea. In a nearby grotto, St. John wrote the Book of Revelations. (Please note: Visitors wearing shorts may not enter the monastery or the Grotto. Female visitors to the monastery must wear clothing that covers their shoulders. Also, a strenuous uphill walk is required to reach the monastery.)

Day 10: Greek islands cruise

Visit Rhodes

Rhodes, the largest of the Dodecanese Islands, was fortified by the Knights of the Order of St. John in the 14th century and is rich in history and culture. Visit the beautiful village of Lindos and its famous Acropolis or explore the streets of Rhodes' Old Town and the restored monastery of Philerimos.

Day 11: Greek islands cruise

Visit Crete

Said to be the birthplace of Zeus, Crete is Greece's largest island with a culture and history of its own. Docking at the central port of Heraklion, you can explore some of ancient Greece's most interesting archaeological sites as well as the stunningly situated Tomb of Kazantzakis, honoring the influential 20th-century writer Nios Kazantzakis. Join an excursion to the Minoan archaeological site at Knossos, legendary home of King Minos and the Minotaur. Four millennia ago, the complex was the ruling house and the religious center for the entire region.

Visit Santorini

Santorini is often considered the quintessential Greek island, with its whitewashed houses perched on steep hillsides and its landscapes of plunging cliffs and black sand beaches-as well as the only active volcano in the eastern Mediterranean. Enjoy free time in the island's hub of Thira and explore the clifftop caldera section, accessible only by donkey or cable car. Your day includes an excursion to Oia Village.

Day 12: Depart for home

Disembark the cruise and transfer to the Athens airport for your return flight

Your Tour Director assists with your transfer to the airport, where you'll check in for your return flight home.
 

Please note:

Due to flight routings and departure times out of Athens, your tour may return to the USA one day later.

The itinerary is subject to change.