Greece and Turkey Culinary Explorations
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This phenomenal 12-day tour takes you through not only the ancient wonders and unique culinary aspects of these two countries, but allows time to enjoy the beautiful beaches in Greece, the fantastic history in Turkey and so much more! A truly exotic vacation that will give you a taste of this area of Europe.
ADDITION RATE INFORMATION
Rate based on double occupancy. Single supplement of $950.00 CAD applies for solo travellers. Ask us about pairing you with a same sex room mate to save the single supplement.
Day 1: Arrive AthensAthens, Attica, Greece
You arrive into this beautiful city on your international flight, and are met by your tour leader. Your transfer to your hotel is included; dependent on your group size, you may be taken in a taxi or larger private transport. Flights into Athens arrive at all hours, so if you are arriving early today you will be able to check into the hotel, and your tour leader will provide you with any information that you may need for spending some time on your own today.
Day 2: Athens Sites And Food TourAthens, Attica, Greece
This morning we enjoy a hearty breakfast in the hotel before we depart to meet our local guide for a walking tour. We kick off our tour outside the Greek Parliament and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where we’ll watch the statuesque evzones (the presidential guard) perform the Changing of the Guard ceremony in their eye-catching uniforms. Next, we cross through the National Gardens and catch sight of Zappeion Congress Hall and pass by iconic sights like the Temple of Olympian Zeus (Olympieion) and Hadrian’s Arch on our way to Plaka, the city’s Old Town. Have your camera ready as we wander the labyrinthine streets flanked with neoclassical architecture, Byzantine churches and bustling boutiques.
From Plaka, we make the short stroll along the Dionyssiou Areopagitou walkway to the Acropolis of Athens, a UNESCO World Heritage–listed citadel perched high above the city on a rocky outcrop. We head inside with our guide for a glimpse into the world of Ancient Greece and enjoy highlights such as the Temple of Athena Nike, Propylaea gateway and the Parthenon, the Acropolis’ crowning jewel. Pause for photos and listen to our guide’s commentary about the historical significance behind each ruin. Our tour with the guide will conclude at the Acropolis’ summit, and you will have some free time to enjoy the site on your own before we depart for our afternoon activity.
We meet again as a group and head off for our afternoon of culinary delights! At 2:00 pm we will meet another local guide. As we walk, we listen to our guide share fascinating insights into Greek cuisine and explain the tastings that follow. First, we head into a centuries-old cafe to bite into our first Greek specialty of the day — koulóuria. A traditional Greek breakfast item, koulóuria is crunchy on the outside, but deliciously soft on the inside. Next, dive into an enticing pastry shop to sample custard-filled filo squares and loukoumades. These golden puffs of delight are unlike any donut you’ve ever eaten before. Doused in sweet syrup and sprinkled with cinnamon and walnuts, loukoumades are delicious.
Continuing onto our next stop and we can sink our teeth into a pie at an authentic Greek bakery, before sampling local cheese at one of district’s cheese stores. Then, head to the bustling meat and fish market of Varvakios Agora. We stroll past the many stalls, each bursting with color and aromatic produce, and taste some homegrown coffee. Unique in its taste, Greek coffee is brewed in a traditional small pot and served with foam on top and grounds at the bottom of the cup. Next, we visit some of the hidden specialty food stores to purchase tantalizingly fresh fruit, olives, cheese, ham and other alluring deli produce, before heading to a small souvenir shop to sample Greek yogurt, local wine, aged aromatized vinegar, organic olive oil and honey. Here, you can take the opportunity to buy some gifts for your friends and family, if you so wish. We finish our tour with a wander down Evripidou Street. Heady with the scent of clove and cinnamon, this exotic street is famous for the herb and spice shops that have thrived here since the early 20th century. We enjoy a final tasting before ending our private culinary exploration back at Monastiraki Square.
Your evening is free to enjoy the city, ask your tour leader where to go, or get her to accompany you back to the hotel.
Day 3: A Day At DelphiDelphi, Attica, Greece
This morning we can enjoy an early breakfast in our hotel before we are picked up at approximately 8:30 am for our full-day tour to Delphi. We travel along the Greek National Road, through the plains of Boeotia and past Mt Parnassos, to the UNESCO-listed sanctuary of Delphi where our walk begins. First, we pass by Castalia Spring and spend our time viewing its many monuments. With our local guide, we admire the monument of the Argive kings, the treasury of the Athenians, Athenian Stoa, Polygonal Wall, the monument of Platea and the Temple of Apollo. We enjoy stunning views from the site, once considered by Ancient Greeks as the center of the world.
We continue onward to the Delphi museum and view fascinating exhibits including a frieze of the Treasury of the Sifnians, the Naxian Sphinx, statue of Antinoos and the famous bronze sculpture of a charioteer. The exhibits, coupled with information provided by our guide, complete the picture from the monuments seen earlier on our tour, and give further insight into the role Delphi played in bygone days.
From here we travel to our next stop: the picturesque and high-altitude village of Arachova. We enjoy a relaxed and unhurried lunch here, at an altitude of roughly 3,117 feet (950 meters) above sea level, tasting products specific to the region and enjoying some original Greek cuisine. We can finish the meal with a cup of traditional strong Greek coffee, and then relax in comfort as we travel back to our Athens hotel.
The evening is free to enjoy on your own, or ask your tour leader what she is doing!
Day 4: Santorini, Here We Come!Santorini, Greece
This morning we have an early departure to the airport, where we board our short flight to the island of Santorini. We arrive into the airport on Santorini in the late morning and are met by our transport to take us to start our island adventure. We drop our luggage at the hotel and can have an early lunch before our transport and local guide pick us up for our tour of the island.
The afternoon trip starts with a stop at a breathtaking spot in the famous Caldera of the island Santorini where we will be introduced to its history and its unique scenery. We explore the myths and legends of Santorini, discovering the Akrotiri excavations, the most well-preserved prehistoric settlement of Greece. We enjoy a few minutes at the famous Red Beach, covered with red volcanic sand, and met by deep blue waters. The Red Beach is arguably one of the most famous and beautiful beaches of Santorini. It is located only some steps away from the ancient site of Akrotiri and offers an amazing view of the Aegean Sea. We also stop at the village of Emborio. It's the largest village of the island boasting wonderful windmills on the top of the hills, narrow streets painted in white, blue domed churches, a Cathedral, a medieval castle and a pagan church dating back to the 3rd century B.C. The traditional center looked very medieval and we will have the opportunity to wander about and to discover hidden gems.
Next, we visit the highest point of Santorini. The Mountain's name is Prophet Ilias, coming from the monastery with the same name on its peak. From the yard of the monastery, you will enjoy a striking view of the entire island. From Prophet Ilias, we will continue to Pyrgos, a village that was once the ancient capital of Santorini. With more than 30 churches, a Venetian castle and incredible views of the Vulcano, Caldera, and the Aegean Sea. Here, on the open terrace we enjoy an alfresco wine tasting with views of the Santorini, Caldera, and the Aegean Sea. Then, it's time to head north to the other side of the island and discover Oia, the town of the sailors. We have a short walking tour to admire the whitewashed houses and, of course, to gaze at some of the best views this world can offer. There will be free leisure time for shopping, refreshments and the chance to experience one of the world's best sunsets.
We are returned to the hotel late in the day and you have the evening free to enjoy the hotels services, the restaurant and the area. Ask your tour leader what you can do!
Day 5: Time For Food And WineSantorini, Greece
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the hotel as we have a later start time today. At 11:00 am we meet George, our local wine expert for an unforgettable excursion in the heart of the Santorinian gastronomy. We start with two of the most celebrated wineries of the island. There, with the help of George, we will learn about the indigenous grape varieties: Assyrtiko, Athiri and Aidani and their unique cultivation system, the famous “kouloura”. We will hear about the history of every one of the wineries and then we can decide which of their wines are our favorites, as we taste four wines in each, eight in total. But the best part is still to come.
Next on our journey of Santorinian flavors will be a local farm at the southern part of the island. We will walk through cultivations of the famous Santorinian tomatoes, the small cherry tomatoes that look like small pumpkins famous for their sweetness. We will get to know three of the most distinctive products of the island, the white eggplants, the local “katsouni”, the most refreshing cucumber you will have tasted in your life and of course the yellow fava beans, the most renowned Santorinian agricultural product. Then, under the guidance of a charming local cook, we will master the art of cooking like a local. Using the fresh products of the farm you will make your own Santorinian salad, using tomatoes, katsouni, capers and “chloro cheese” and then the two most traditional dishes of the island, paste from fava beans and tomatoballs. At the end, all together we will sit and enjoy our meal, with a glass of a refreshing homemade wine, while staring at the Aegean Sea with the gentle caress of the breeze on our delighted faces.
This tour is approximately 4 hours in total, and we will return to the hotel mid-afternoon. You have the rest of the day free to enjoy the area.
Day 6: Free Time / Beaches / Sunset Cruise, Hot Springs And DinnerSantorini, Greece
Today you have the morning and early afternoon to enjoy the pool, beaches or area on your own. At 3:00 pm we will meet as a group to depart to the jetty for our 4-hour cruise. After we meet the trained skipper and crew, and find a comfortable spot on the cruise boat, we sit back and admire Santorini’s caldera and sugar-cube, clifftop houses as our vessel pulls away from dock. Relax, enjoy the sea spray and take snaps of the unfolding views as our boat cuts through the waves of the Aegean Sea. While we cruise, we can enjoy the sodas, wine, ouzo (anise-infused liquor) and coffee available for purchase from the onboard bar.
After roughly 30 minutes, we drop anchor at the hot springs beside Nea Kameni, Santorini’s ancient volcano. Here we step ashore, and snap photos of the dark volcanic cliffs contrasted against the turquoise of the sea. As an option, immerse yourself in the invitingly warm pools, whose steaming waters are thought to have therapeutic benefits. Afterward, we hop back on deck for a delicious dinner while moored near Thirasia, an island located off Santorini's northwestern coast. As the boat bobs in the water, sip an included glass of wine and watch the sun set over Thirasia's craggy coastline. The island, also home to the remains of ancient Thira, is sparsely populated, and offers a nice contrast to lively Santorini. As the sun sinks below the horizon in a blaze of orange, gold and pink, we'll cruise back to port and finish our tour with a hotel drop-off.
Day 7: Goodbye To Santorini, Hello To IstanbulIstanbul, Marmara, Turkey
This morning we depart very early for our transfer to the airport for our short flight back to Athens and then on to Istanbul, Turkey for the second portion of our vacation. We arrive in to Istanbul and are transferred to our hotel.
Since we have had an early day, this afternoon you will have the opportunity to rest, enjoy the pool and the other hotel facilities. For your pleasure we have included a 30-minute Turkish Bath Experience and a 30-minute head or back massage. TURKISH BATH EXPERIENCE: Take part in the Ottoman tradition cleansing your skin. Removes dead skin with bath-glove and your skin starts to breathe once again. And thus, improves circulation in your body. Then, soap massage starts in company with a pleasant-smelling soap bubble cloud from your head to feet.
Tonight, we are going to depart at about 6:00 pm for a walking and light food tour. We start by heading into the heart of historical Sultanahmet. As we walk, we hear from our guide about Istanbul’s history and how it has left its legacy on the city’s cuisine. We wander through the bustling streets, passing some of Sultanahmet’s landmarks, and get insider tips from our guide on great places to eat and must-try delicacies.
While we talk and absorb the evening ambience, we wind our way to Taksim Square and enjoy four food stops to sample some classic local dishes. Samples may vary, but expect to taste favorites such as a mouth-watering lamb shish kebab, a juicy meatball and a fried mussel kebab; a string of lightly battered mussels threaded onto a skewer. As dusk falls, we enjoy the magical sunset views over Sultanahmet’s minarets from the Galata Bridge, and take in the sight of the Galata Tower on the opposite bank. We drink in the buzz around the food vendors and restaurants, and make a final stop to taste some classic Turkish baklava. Sink your teeth into these super-sweet honey-and-nut filo parcels that were much loved by the Ottoman sultans. After approximately four hours, we return to the hotel and a much-needed night of rest.
Day 8: Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia And Topkapi PalaceIstanbul, Marmara, Turkey
We start our day tour with a pickup in an air-conditioned vehicle. Then, we set off to discover the historic Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and more!
First, we head over the Hippodrome to the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, internationally known as the Blue Mosque, and observe Ottoman architecture at its finest. Turn 360 degrees to see six imposing spires and 260 luminescent windows that scatter brilliant sunlight over the mosque’s 20,000 Iznik tiles. We continue to Hagia Sophia and learn how this civil engineering wonder was once the largest church in the world, then a mosque, and now the Saint Sophia Museum. Enjoy perusing through this enormous dome structure admiring the beautiful Byzantine mosaics. Next, we delve under the famous peninsula of Sarayburnu into the largest ancient cistern in Istanbul, Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarayi). Located a mere 500 feet (150m) southwest of the Hagia Sophia, we experience its sheer size and learn how it was built under the rule of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in the 6th century and is the largest cistern in a city of hundreds.
Continuing on, we take a short walk to Topkapi Palace, the oldest and largest palace on the planet. Hear about the treasure held within its walls as you stroll through its ornate rooms. Then, we cruise around its buildings to a spectacular vantage point of the Golden Horn and learn why it's considered the crown jewel of the Ottoman Empire. Onwards, we travel to the center of Constantinople’s sporting and political heart at the Hippodrome. We go back in time 500 years when the Ottoman empire was in power and imagine a place ruled by games and riots. Nowadays, this civic park carries on the Ottoman tradition in its name only known as the Horse Grounds (At Meydani).
Moving on, we can admire the Hippodrome’s ancient Egyptian Granite Obelisk and hear how it was transported in 390 AD to Constantinople by Emperor Theodosius. Finally, we enjoy the hustle and bustle of the famous Grand Bazaar. Discover the world’s largest canopied market as you stroll along peering into shops full of leather, pottery, jewelry, spices and carpets. With more than 4,000 shops on 58 streets, you’ll be astounded that this market has been operating since the 14th century.
We return to the hotel later in the day and you have the evening free.
Day 9: Sile And Agva Nature Tour And Black Sea SwimmingIstanbul, Marmara, Turkey
Our local guide and transport pick us up at the hotel to head northeast of the city to Sile, a picturesque Black Sea fishing town with perfect sandy beaches, a pretty harbor and historic lighthouse. This is the perfect time to browse local shops for Sile’s distinctive woven cotton fabric, stroll the harbor or visit a nearby café. We continue to the town of Agva — our route passes through the charm-filled villages like Kabakos and Suaybli — and discover a Turkish community that seems lost in time. Here we board a slow-moving river boat for a leisurely trip along the Goksu River, with views of lush trees that line the riverbanks. We pause for a relaxing, 3-course lunch with locally-caught fish, then spend the afternoon swimming from one of Agva’s sheltered, sandy beaches. We make the return trip to Istanbul through the forest, with a break at a local café to sip tea in a comfy hammock. We finish the day with a drop-off at our hotel and the evening is free.
Day 10: Coffee, Fortune Telling, Free Time, Evening Cruise And ShowIstanbul, Marmara, Turkey
You can enjoy breakfast in the hotel at a leisurely pace as our tour today doesn’t depart until 10:00 am. Our local guide will meet us at the hotel, and we will travel by public transport to our coffee workshop.
We meet our coffee expert and experience a classic Turkish coffee drinking ritual as we hear about the history of the coffee trade and its significance to the country's culture. Sample a typically strong coffee and learn how the secret of a good brew lies not just in the beans but the preparation. Finely ground roasted beans and sugar, if required, are added to water and boiled on a low heat multiple times in a cezve. Only then is the coffee — served unfiltered — poured out for drinkers to enjoy its earthy aromas and full-bodied, frothy texture. Discover, too, how the slow coffee-making process is celebrated in Turkey not just for its great results, but also for encouraging patience, conversation and relaxation. Make your own classic Turkish coffee with guidance from your host. Then, savor your homemade brew accompanied by Turkish delight. After enjoying your coffee, pass your cup to a fortune teller who will ‘read’ the leftover grounds and sediment to predict your future. When our 45-minute workshop ends, we will return to the hotel by public transport.
You have the afternoon and early evening to enjoy the area. Ask your tour leader for suggestions on what to do.
Tonight, we are going to enjoy a 3.5-hour Dinner Cruise through the Bosphorus Strait to see the European and Asian coastlines. We settle in with a complimentary drink from the bar and pick a viewpoint to gaze out at the stunning monuments of Istanbul, including the Blue Mosque, the Kiz Kulesi town and Dolmabahce Palace which glows gold at sunset. As the sun drops, we enjoy the last slivers of light illuminate Faith Sultan Mehmet Bridge, famously known for connecting the two continents.
We continue the evening with traditional Turkish fare and enjoy unlimited drinks! Along with this, an incredible folklore show begins. This exciting performance of music and dancing sheds light on the city’s Anatolian culture. As the show picks up, get ready for the classic belly dancing performance.
We end our cruise, and our day, at about midnight with a transfer back to our hotel.
Day 11: Time To Return To AthensAthens, Attica, Greece
Our last full day of travel before heading home! Our short flight back to Greece today departs early this afternoon and we arrive in time for some free time in Athens, and of course, a fabulous last dinner as a group tonight. Ask your tour leader for recommendations of what to do with your free time, or ask her to join you!
Day 12: Time To Say GoodbyeAthens, Attica, Greece
Today you may have free time to enjoy the city before returning to the airport for your flight home. Your return transfer is included and your tour leader will be accompanying you to the airport.
Small group tour, maximum 6 travellers.
35% deposit upon booking, final payment due 60 days prior to departure OR affordable monthly payment plans available with small deposit.
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