12-Night Haifa to Athens 7.24.24
TO GREEK ISLES
REFLECTIONS & REVELATIONS
Enter into lands of reverence and feel the weight of history as you embark on a journey through the Holy Land and Greek Isles. An overnight and extended evening in Haifa allows time to dive deep into Nazareth, a destination rife with religious history. Extended evenings in Santorini and Mykonos give you time to experience their legendary nightlife. Or discover something hidden, like the Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum, a vineyard nestled within a natural cave six meters underground where you can sample volcanic wines. After a late-night experience of Mykonos’ legendary nightlife, navigate the Corinth Canal, as only small vessels like ours can do.
Jul 24 Haifa, (Tel Aviv), Israel Depart: 12:00AM
Haifa, (Tel Aviv), Israel
Along the northern slope of Mount Carmel lies the port city of Haifa. Often called “Israel’s San Francisco,” Haifa gives way to a sprawling, modern city complete with skyscrapers. But the true jewel of the city is the Bahai Gardens, an oasis of terraces that make up the UNESCO World Heritage Site. From Haifa, you can venture out to the modern-day city of Tel Aviv before or after your expedition. This vibrant city comes alive with sandy beaches, world-renowned nightlife, rich cultural experiences and delicious cuisine. The UNESCO-listed architecture of The White City of Tel Aviv by far holds an impressive allure with its collection of Bauhaus-style buildings.
Jul 25 Haifa (Nazareth), Israel Depart: 10:00PM
Haifa (Nazareth), Israel
Along the northern slope of Mount Carmel lies the port city of Haifa. Often called “Israel’s San Francisco,” Haifa gives way to a sprawling, modern city complete with skyscrapers. But the true jewel of the city is the Bahai Gardens, an oasis of terraces that make up the UNESCO World Heritage Site. From Haifa, make your way to the Biblical city of Nazareth, Israel’s largest Arab city. Explore the Old City’s shuk, outdoor market, searching for fresh produce and mingling with the locals. The Church of the Annunciation is the primary focus for visitors, but the nearby archaeological site of the Nun’s Convent holds a plethora of ancient treasures as well.
Jul 26 Ashdod (Jerusalem), Israel Arrive: 6:00AM Depart: 6:00PM
Ashdod (Jerusalem), Israel
The port of Ashdod acts as a gateway to the powerful history of the Holy Lands. A pilgrimage along the expansive scenery along the Dead Sea takes you to Massada: an ancient fortress and ruins that hold great significance in the Jewish religion. Overlooking the remnants of the past Jewish rebels’ stone houses from which they fled slavery, solemnity takes hold under the blazing desert sun.
The trek to the summit of Massada begins either on the zig-zagging Snake Path or the easier Roman Ramp. The walk along these paths offers stunning views of golden sun over brown, stone hills as far as the eye can see. But if walking is not your speed, then you can ride the cable car up from the eastern entrance of the national park for an equally amazing vista.
Below the ancient fortress lies the lowest point on Earth, the Dead Sea, where you can float weightlessly for an experience like none other. The silky smooth waters flow over your skin creating a pleasant sensation that makes it impossible to tell that you are still bound to the earth.
Out in the quiet desert of the Mitzpe Ramon nature reserve, a deep blue-black sky filled with twinkling stars surrounds you with a sense of wonder. As you gather around a crackling fire at your campsite with new friends, basking in the crisp, cool night, you cannot help but be overwhelmed with the pure magic created by a perfect night for stargazing.
Jul 27 Limassol, Cyprus Arrive: 8:00AM Depart: 3:00PM
Limassol surprises travelers not only with its rich, historical culture, but also as a modern city. From beautiful beaches and wine villages, to outdoor adventures, to galleries, shopping, and a wealth of venues to indulge yourself with the local gastronomy, this Cyprus city has no shortage of wonder. Cyprus’ largest seaport lies in Akrotiri Bay, awaiting explorers to discover its magic.
To begin your historical journey through the city, find the path to Limassol Castle, also called Lemesos Castle. Archaeologists found that while the castle itself dates back to the Middle Ages the structures of its foundations appear to come from long before then. These old stones stand amid a surrounding scenery of lush green and blue skies, creating a picture of a monument that stands outside of time.
A walk through Prokymea Sculpture Park along the seaside with a pleasant ocean breeze creates the perfect combination of cosmopolitan sensibilities with simple pleasures. Molos promenade stretches from the zoo to the Old Port, its path lined by palm trees for a stroll that invites you to linger for a while. Once you have worked up an appetite, samplers known as mezes wait to tempt your palette at tavernas.
Rich flavors abound among the local fare of olives, grilled vegetables, hummus, calamari, roasted fish, and halloumi. A sampling of traditional Greek food might not be enough, so try a classic dish of moussaka. If you only want a quick snack between adventures, then stop at a local café to enjoy the rich aroma of a cup of coffee with a sweet pastry as you sit outside in the sea breeze and sunshine.
Jul 28 Port Said (Cairo), Egypt Arrive: 6:00AM Depart: 7:00PM
Port Said (Cairo), Egypt
Cairo comes alive as both a bustling metropolitan and home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – the renowned Pyramids of Giza. A vibrant mix of ancient history with contemporary skyscrapers and ornate mosques led it to become known as the City of a Thousand Minarets. The major seaport city of Port Said acts as a gateway. Standing along both the Mediterranean Sea and the Suez Canal, you can roam the five-mile boardwalk of the Waterfront Quarter of Port Said for a peek at the grand homes. A trip to the port’s historic lighthouse provides a glimpse into the architectural evolution throughout the 19th century.
Jul 29 Alexandria, Egypt Arrive: 9:00AM Depart: 11:00PM
Founded in 331 B.C.E. by Alexander the Great, Alexandria once stood as the greatest city in the ancient world. The city is most associated with its famed library that came to a tragic end. Today, you can explore its grandeur through palaces of past, archaeological museums, and 150 acres of royal gardens and forest reserve.
The Port of Alexandria lies on the western edge of the Nile Delta and acts as Egypt’s second-largest seaport. The port leads to popular sites such as Alexandria’s Montazah Palace, overlooking the beach on the Mediterranean Sea amid lush scenery and palm trees for a magnificent view that inspires awe.
At the Roman Amphitheater of Alexandria in Kom El Dekka, a civilization long past comes to life amid the stone ruins. As the only ruins of Roman influence that remain in Egypt the pillars and benches of old feel like they hold a secret history that want you to discover it. Down in the Anfushi Necropolis, walking among ancient tombs below ground level, you cannot help but feel a chill as you step so far into the past.
Sprawled out in expansive, vibrant greens lie the Shalalat Gardens of Alexandria. The peaceful atmosphere of El Shalalat Park, where the gardens reside, creates the perfect backdrop for a quiet stroll along the paved path that eventually leads to a crumbling tower. Like a picture out of a storybook, the gardens make it easy to get lost in the magic of the city.
Jul 30 At Sea
Spend the day on the high seas pampering yourself at the spa or enjoying some time on deck. Mingle with your fellow explorers and swap stories of your exploits, making plans for new ones together once you get to shore
Jul 31 Heraklion (Crete), Greece Arrive: 8:00AM Depart: 8:00PM
Heraklion (Crete), Greece
The capital of the Greek island Crete, Heraklion, holds so much history and wonder. It is known for the Palace of Knossos, a vibrant, painted structure of the Bronze Age. These rocky ruins of one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world will captivate even the most veteran traveler. What remains of ancient Minoan society gives modern-day explorers much to discover.
The Venetian Harbor greets you as you enter Crete’s largest city. Small fishing boats docked at the port create an odd yet intriguing picture floating in the water next to the ancient stones of Koules Castle. Wandering from the docks and into the city you will find influences and remnants of Byzantine, Turkish, Venetian, and Greek culture all throughout.
Heraklion’s Old Town takes you past neoclassical architecture and modern-day shops selling bronze statues that pay homage to the city’s myths and history. Strolling into Lion’s Square, you find the city’s famed fountain that gave the plaza its name. Once a part of an aqueduct built in Venetian times, The Lions, as the fountain is known, now stands as both history and incorporated into the town’s contemporary structures.
Explorers that want to take it easier will find the picture-perfect Ammoudara Beach not far from downtown Heraklion. A backdrop of local tavernas and a mountain range in the distance against blue skies creates an image out of a postcard. Clear, blue waters lapping against white sands mixed with pebbles make it a paradise that you will not want to leave.
Aug 01 Santorini, Greece Arrive: 8:00AM Depart: 11:00PM
When you think of the quintessential whitewashed houses of Greece with blue domes and windmills sprinkled throughout the landscape, it’s Santorini that comes to mind. This island of the Cyclades contains lush scenery, a quaint charm and cosmopolitan feel all at once.
Just 300 steps down from the northern city of Oia you will find Amoudi Bay, an exquisite vista of vibrant red cliffs and the caldera that demand you stop and take in the view. In the little village of the bay you will find the Greek island life thriving amid the local tavernas serving the catch of the day.
Discover one of the most prominent excavations of prehistoric settlements in the Aegean at the Akrotiri archaeological village. Ruins from the ancient city date back as far as 1700 BCE before it was buried by a volcanic eruption. But the first inhabitants date even further back to the Late Neolithic period (fourth millennium BCE).
For the wine lovers who are curious about the history and process of their favorite drink, the Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum is a must-visit. Nestled within a natural cave six meters underground, a tour of the museum and tasting of the vineyard’s Volcan wines is an experience like none other.
A visit to Santorini is not complete until you sample the local fare – fava me koukia. Mashed fava beans are prepped with lemon, parsley, dill and fennel for a delectable Greek dish popular among the islanders. Or opt for tomato gefthedes (tomato fritters) for another savory selection.
Aug 02 Delos, Greece Arrive: 7:00AM Depart: 10:00AM
The uninhabited island of Delos in the Cyclades archipelago is dedicated solely as a UNESCO archaeological site with ties to ancient Greek mythology as the birth site of the sun god Apollo. It is the only island in the world entirely comprised of ruins. The stark white Doric temples against the deep blue backdrop of the Aegean create an image straight out of myth. Filled with monuments from the Classical, Hellenistic and Archaic periods of Greek art, this legendary destination gives you the impression that it will hold value for all time.
Aug 02 Mykonos, Greece Arrive: 12:00PM Depart: 11:59PM
Narrow, winding streets between the iconic architecture of whitewashed houses with blue domes create the archetypal image of modern-day Greece. Dotting the horizon up on the hill lie the renowned windmills among the Cyclades. The aroma of an old bakery, which still uses a 15th-century, wood-burning stove, entices you with the delicious scents of Greek pastries and baked goods. It is not a visit to Mykonos without sampling the local favorite, loukoumádes, fried dough dripped in honey, and sometimes topped with sesame seeds. Raise a glass to new friends and adventure with a round of ouzo and a serving of mostra at a local taverna. Taking the ferry to Delos, you reach an uninhabited island dedicated solely as an archaeological site known as the birth site of the sun god Apollo. It’s the only island in the world entirely comprised of ruins..
Aug 03 Hydra, Greece Arrive: 9:00AM Depart: 6:00PM
One of the most sophisticated of the Greek Isles, Hydra, lies in the Argo Saronic Gulf. This island is a popular getaway for celebrities and the elite, making it an exceptional destination for the explorer that wants cultural immersions. Various historical sites and landmarks like the bastions surrounding the port, the Merchant Marine Academy and Monastery of Agia Efpraxia tell the island’s story throughout the years. The three main villages – Hydra Town, Vlichos and Kaminia – each hold a different facet of Greek life. Hydra also offers a surplus of beaches to bask in the sun on the sandy shores.
Aug 04 Nafplion (Mycenae/Epidaurus), Greece Arrive: 8:00AM Depart: 6:00PM
Nafplion (Mycenae/Epidaurus), Greece
In the Saronic Gulf lies the charming small town of Nafplion, Greece. Narrow stone streets amid whitewashed houses and quaint local shops create a romantic picture straight out of a postcard. Find the steps leading to Palamidi castle perched on a cliff atop the town for a heart-pumping exploration. Not far from Nafplion you can explore the remains of King Agamemnon’s castle in Mycenae. This site contains the history of the dominating culture of mainland Greece from the late Bronze Age. Nearby in Epidaurus discover the famous amphitheater where you can stand in certain points at the bottom and hear the speaker at a location in the seats all the way to the top
Aug 05 Piraeus (Athens), Greece Arrive: 8:00AM
Piraeus (Athens), Greece
Athens is still as iconic as ever. Winding pathways from ancient times transformed into modern-day roads and streets lead you to the monumental gateway of the Acropolis and other archaeological sites. It is a land soaked in history and mythology, but not stuck in the past.
As you wend through back alleys, passing the street art and getting serenaded by street musicians, you are never lost. You are simply taking a journey to an unknown destination. You may find yourself at the likes of the Church of Agioi at the southeast corner of the Holy Apostles Ancient Agora, a less-crowded historical site away from the flocks of tourists.
Try your hand at haggling with local vendors at the Plaka or Monastiraki flea market. There are so many handmade wares and trinkets to peruse and purchase. Keep an eye out for the more risqué souvenirs if you want a good laugh.
Aside from venturing through the cradle of Western Civilization, you can explore the port of Piraeus. It is the biggest port in Greece and one of the most important ports of the Mediterranean. Centuries of history have transformed this seaside town from a wartime fortress to a major shipping and transportation center.
Call your Travel Advisor or one of our adventure specialists at 1-844-44ATLAS (28527) for more information.
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