The Plaka > > [ contact me ]
The Standard tour

An Encounter with Greece. Your invitation to join a select group of friends for a tour of Greece.

An encounter with history. Not only the Classical period that speaks to us through the dream of democracy and the remains of the Parthenon but also the contributions of all the layers of Greek history.
The face of Greece is a palimpsest bearing twelve successive inscriptions: Contemporary; the period of 1821; the Turkish yoke; the Frankish sway; the Byzantine; the Roman; the Hellenistic epoch; the Classic; the Dorian middle ages; the Mycenaean; the Aegean; and the Stone Age. Pause on a patch of Greek earth and anguish overcomes you. It is a deep, twelve-leveled tomb, from which voices rise up calling to you. Which voice should you choose? Every voice, every spirit longs for its body; your heart is shaken, and cannot decide.
-- Nikos Kazantzakis, Journey to the Morea

An encounter with Beauty. the well-known "quality of the light," the saturated colors of the hills, sky and ocean; the stark cubist beauty of the houses, the beauty of icons in the churches and monasteries, the intense shades of blue and white.

An encounter with the energy of the people a people for whom hospitality to strangers isn't just a word (filoxenia: philoxenia, the love of strangers) but is a point of honor, a way of life.

(And certainly, it will be an encounter with food, post cards, beaches and all that...) We invite you to join us on our summer 200x tour of Greece!


Day 1: Travel to Athens. Catch your overnight flight to Greece.

Day 2: Arrive in Athens. Arrive, transfer to hotel, settle in. Some activity for the adventurous during the afternoon, then an evening exploration of the energetic and charming Plaka area; dining al fresco, hopefully with Greek music to accompany us. We start the trip with what will become a daily ritual: lingering over dinner for hours.

Day 3: The Acropolis and surroundings. We will walk to the acropolis to see the Parthenon, employing a local guide for a detailed tour of the buildings and museum. Then, close at hand, we take in the Areopagas, where St. Paul spoke to the intellectuals of Athens; the agora where Plato and Socrates taught; and the Roman forum and the Tower of the Winds designed by a first century astronomer. We can then make some choices: afternoon rest, a drink on top of Likavitos hill with its spectacular view of ancient and modern Athens? Restaurant exploring in the Plaka?

Day 4: The Museums of Athens. Exploration of the Museum of Cyclidic Art with 4,000 year old artifacts that look strangely modern, the Byzantine museum with its collection of icons, or perhaps the Benaki museum (coverage of all periods). Note: due to variable closing times and displays, other museums may be substituted. Shopping in the up-scale Kolonaki district or a bookstore and postcard run may substitute for some, before (how hard we work!) another long dinner outdoors in the Plaka.

Day 5: Corinth and Mycenae. Travel by mini-van to the ruins of ancient Corinth including the bema where St. Paul was dragged (Acts 18). Visit Mycenae, home of Agamemnon, long thought a mythical invention of Homer, viewing runes of this culture that flourished 1500-1200 B.C. Overnight in harbor city of Nafpilo, a key city in Greece's war for independence in the 1820's, viewing its medieval fortress ruins.

Day 6: Epidarus, Dhafni, and to the Islands. By van back to Athens, via the ancient theatre of Epidarus, still used today for play productions. A visit to the monastery of Dhafni with its significant frescoes. Then to Athens airport for our flight to Myconos in the Aegean ocean.

Day 7: Myconos. Spend the day exploring the colorful city with its cubist houses, primary colors and shops. We may head to the beach, a small museum lunch on the oft-photographed Little Venice, a visit to the famous chapel.

Day 8: Myconos. The pace slows today with options: more beach time? Exploring the off-the-beaten-track villages? Shopping? A day trip to Santorini? A late evening drink on the balcony of our hotel?

Day 9: Travel to Tinos. Now we get a chance to see Greek life as the Greeks live it. We take a commercial ferry, watching the islands slide by, cruising slowly to the Island of Tinos.

Day 10: Tinos. Now we are where fewer tourists go. Tinos, the Lourdes of Greece, is the location of a major annual pilgrimage. We'll visit the church, look at the islands many dovecotes (residue of Venetian influence) and perhaps go up the hill to Exembargo to get a taste of rural life, and the view across the Aegean.

Day 11: Back to Athens. Some time on Tinos, then back to Athens by ferry.

Day 12: In Athens. On this the last day, we will visit the National museum in the morning to see many of the most stunning artifacts retrieved from Mycenae, Santorini and other places. Then shopping, packing, and a final dinner.

Day 13: Fly home. Try to remember why we're leaving, and then to the airport for our flight home, arriving later the same day.

The Nature of the trip - important, read this This is not a five-star, gold-plated, carefully insulated view of an amusement park from behind an icely-cold air-conditioned bus window. We will actually talk to Greeks, eat their food (no hamburgers or Mt. Dew for two weeks), share their sidewalks, use their transport, and generally have a lot more fun than packaged tour groups. You need to be adaptable, flexible and open. Ugly Americans not invited. We'll watch the tour buses go past and laugh.

Lodgings. Hotels will be basic, located conveniently to our activities. Your beds may be small, the bathrooms set up differently, the air-conditioning non-existent or minimal. The hotels will be plain (but always clean and safe). They will be run by Greeks and look Greek. If you want the Holiday Inn take a tour to Indianapolis.

Trip information Calculating your price. The quoted price is $_____ , per person, double occupancy, which is inclusive of coach air fare from New York. Add air-fair supplement to your starting point (available from our travel agent at ______). Add costs for food. If you eat modestly, have a few lunches of snacks from the grocery stores, allow $15-17 per person per day. If you eat all meals out, like some wine with your meals, and have a few splurges now and then, allow $18-22 per person per day. If food is one of the reasons you travel, and you want to go for it, allow $22-25 per person per day and up. That's it. That's what the trip costs. Included in your base price is air-fare from New York, all lodging, local transport in Greece, admissions and tour guides. Breakfast is included in your lodging. Not included are incidental personal expenses such as snacks, curios, books, film, laundry, telephone calls, etc.

Food. Greece is not on any food-connoisseurs top ten list - too bad, you can eat well there. Breakfast does not start the day auspiciously for those requiring donuts: it will consist of tea, coffee, orange juice, and some bread with butter and jam. In Athens we may have a larger selection of cheeses and fruit. For the other meals, there is the famous Greek salad, main dishes with lamb, swordfish, eggplant, entries of soulvaki, giros. For desert there is baklava and the anise flavored after dinner drink of Ouzo. A marvelous wine called Resisna (it does taste a bit like turpentine, but it goes well with Greek food nonetheless) is available

Packing. Pack light! Pack light because a) its warm, b) you have to carry what you bring, and c) you want will want to take more things home than you brought. Weather should be uniformly warm, highs likely in the 70's and 80's most days. Evening may need the lightest of shells to break the wind coming off the ocean. There is a small chance of a light shower in two weeks. A heavy sweater or bulky jacket is utterly pointless. You will have to carry your bags at several points, occasionally for three or four blocks. Both men and women will need "modest" clothing to visit holy sites (long pants for men, over the knee dresses or long pants for women). A hat to ward off the sun and comfortable walking shoes are very important.

Photography. Greece is a paradise for photographers, so load up. The bright sun and saturated colors allow work with the higher quality slower speed films. New security measures are causing concern about film fogging in checked luggage by airport X-ray machines. We strongly recommend film be hand carried.

Precautions. Greece is a wonderful, relatively safe place with access to the modern conveniences. In Athens, the ordinary safety skills of large American cities are needed, including watching for pickpockets at the airport. To prevent derailing the time schedule of the trip, you should carry adequate supplies of all prescription medicines and a copy of the prescription if going without it for a few days would prove dangerous. Prescription medicines should be carried in their original containers only, in case of questioning. A second pair of glasses might be useful. Large amounts of cash are not recommended, you can use your credit cards for most major purchases. There are ATM machines that take your U. S. bank cards just fine. The old standby of travelers checks are still good. Needless to say, firearms, illegal drugs, and so forth are prohibited from the trip.

Formalities A valid U. S. passport is required. No visa is necessary for entry to Greece.

Disclaimers. We are not responsible for reimbursing you if you lose something, break something, get sick, break Greek laws, or see things you haven't seen before. You agree not to sue the trip organizers for problems encountered during the trip. We recommend you check with your local insurance agent to determine your coverage for such a trip..

We will do our best to carefully research the times of all activities for a smooth trip and get you into everything we said we would. We reserve the right to change the schedule if conditions warrant it and that decision belongs to the tour organizer alone. Greece is a 'spontaneous' country and things promised to be open may be shut, things scheduled to run may have vanished; if so, we reserve the right to replace activities with others. This spur-of-the-moment stuff can actually be one of the great benefits of the tour.

Your Tour Organizer. This will be John's fourth trip to Greece. Over dinner, he will try to explain 4,500 years of history without confusing the Myceanans with PASOK while remembering what street he is on and what century he is in. Note carefully: John is not licensed to function as a tour guide in Greece and cannot and will not provide running commentary at sites. We are traveling as a group of friends who will use local, licensed guides where they are available. Interested? We hope so, call us at ______ to schedule your trip.

Last modified 8/29/04; posted 3/18/00; © 2004 John P. Nordin