USNA Alumni Travel - Greece 2020
EXPLORING THE 2,500 YEAR
ANNIVERSARY OF THE
September 20 - October 1, 2020
Santorini Island | October 1 - 5
$4,495 per person, land only
A ONE OF A KIND ITINERARY
Custom designed for the USNA Alumni Association, this one-of-a-kind itinerary traces the most important sites, artifacts, and personalities from the legendary Greco-Persian War. Stand in the pass of Thermopylae, honor the dead at Marathon, walk in the footsteps of Themistocles and Xerxes, and sail through the waters off Salamis exactly 2,500 years after this famous sea battle changed the course of human history. Enjoy the engaging lectures of Greek-American historian Adam Sparks, soak up the unique culture and cuisine of modern Greece, and visit Mycenae, Olympia, Delphi, Sparta and Athens on this boutique tour from our Greek-American family. Extend your trip with three unforgettable nights on the stunning island of Santorini for a luxurious, relaxing conclusion to your time in Greece.
• Enjoy an engaging, comprehensive narrative from expert lecturer Adam Sparks that will make the ancient world come alive
• Spend three nights in the coastal, Venetian built town of Nafplio, mainland Greece’s most picturesque town
• Explore the sites of Greek mythology, from the citadel of Homeric kings at Mycenae to the Oracle of Delphi
• Dine on the life-giving cuisine of the Greeks at hand-selected, family-run restaurants serving the freshest ingredients
• Sail the wine-dark Aegean Sea on our privately chartered cruiser to recreate the world’s most important naval battle
• Stay in the countryside above Olympia, in a sleepy mountain town in Delphi, and at the foot of the Acropolis in Athens
• Trace the origins of Christianity, walk in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul, and marvel at a 1,000 year old Orthodox monastery
• Sample ancient wine varietals at a countryside vineyard and shop for artisan goods at eclectic boutiques
• Appreciate the difference of personal attention with a boutique, Greek-American family travel provider. Instead of handing you off to a series of disjointed local guides, we guide you through every site, select every menu, and share Greece with you as our personal guests.
YOUR TOUR LEADERS
With a mother from Verea, Greece and a father from Dallas, Texas, Adam Sparks is the perfect ambassador to show you the beautiful country of Greece. With a focus on engaging guiding, relevant lectures, and unique cultural experiences, Adam and his wife Blake delight in showing you the country they love. By personally answering all of your questions before the tour, planning every activity and menu, and accompanying you 24/7 during the trip, you’ll enjoy a bespoke travel experience beyond the standard tourist-track. Come enjoy the difference of boutique travel!
We've been on a lot of trips and we have found that a really good guide makes all the difference. Adam was superlative. With Blake at his side to make sure every little detail was taken care of, we had an unparalleled experience.
– Mont Phelps, USNA Alumni Travel 2018 Greece Tour
12 DAy ITINERARY
Day 1 and 2 - Arrival
Depart USA, arrive Athens and transfer to Nafplio, Greece. Check in to our seaside hotel steps away from the historic main square of Nafplio, Greece’s first capital, and enjoy the stunning sea views from every room. After a welcome reception, gather together for an authentic dinner at a local taverna. (D)
Day 3 - Nafplio, Epidavros
In the morning, enjoy a Greek coffee at a local cafe and a cultural orientation to life in Greece. Then, set out to the ancient healing center of Epidavros, home to the magnificent Theater of Epidavros, the best preserved from the ancient world. After learning about the origins of Greek drama and comedy, explore the adjoining Asklepion healing complex where doctors like Hippocrates first established western medicine. In the afternoon, enjoy a leisurely seafood lunch in a picturesque seaside town at a family run taverna. Then, return to Nafplio for free time in this idyllic town before gathering for drinks and dinner later in the evening. (B,L,D)
Day 4 - Mycenae, Peloponnesian Vineyard
Your day begins high above Nafplio at the haunting Palamidi Fortress. Built by the Venetians and subsequently taken by the Ottomans and Greeks, this ruined fortress offers stunning views of the blue waters of the Aegean Sea. Then, visit the palace citadel of King Agamemnon, leader of the Trojan War, at Mycenae. Tour the Bronze Age site, including the underground cistern and beehive tomb of Clytemnestra, as you hear the words of the Athenian playwright Aeschylus who most famously told Agamemnon’s story. In the afternoon, visit a countryside, family-run vineyard for a tour of the complex, a sampling of the wines, and a sumptuous feast. Enjoy a free evening in Nafplio with time to shop in the designer boutiques and relax along the cafe-lined harbor promenade. (B,L)
Day 5 - Mystras, Sparta
On this unique day, head deep into the Peloponnese Peninsula to explore the great, ruined city of Mystras. During the end of the Byzantine Empire, Mystras was the second most important city of the empire and the capital city of the region. Hike amongst the remaining buildings and churches, many of them with exquisitely preserved frescoes, as you get a unique, firsthand look into the Byzantine Empire of 600 years ago. After exploring this haunting former city, head down into the valley to visit the ancient city state of Sparta. Famous for their austere lifestyle, the Spartans left little behind of their ancient city, but it’s easy to summon their spirit in the ancient olive tree grove at the base of the Taygetus Mountains where their city center once lay. Hear the words of the Congress of Sparta, famously recounted by Thucydides, and discuss their perplexingly unique society. Departing Sparta, continue to a hillside hotel high above Olympia for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Day 6 - Olympia
This unforgettable day begins at the Museum of the Olympic Games, which includes numerous interesting artifacts used by the athletes of the ancient athletic contests. Then, visit the amazing Archaeological Museum of Olympia with its fantastic pedimental sculptures of the Temple of Zeus. Then, explore the serene archaeological site of Olympia, including the Temple of Zeus, former home of the Statue of Zeus, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and the ancient racetrack, where the Olympics first began. Departing Olympia, enjoy a quick stop in the charming seaside town of Nafpaktos before continuing to the quaint mountain village of Delphi overlooking the picturesque olive tree lined valley below. (B,L,D)
Day 7 - Delphi, Monastery of Osios Loukas
Today, explore the most important Pan-Hellenic religious site: Delphi. After touring the museum with finds spanning over a thousand years, hike up the sacred way to the famous Oracle of Apollo and hear its most well-known pronouncements. After touring the site, eat lunch in the village with spectacular views of the valley before enjoying free time to stroll the streets of modern Delphi and shop for local fares. Then, visit one of Greece’s most important and best preserved Orthodox religious sites: the Monastery of Osios Loukas. Founded over 1,000 years ago, the monastery reveals a glorious heritage in its impressive structures and glistening gold mosaics. In the late afternoon, return to Delphi for dinner on your own in this quaint mountain town. (B,L)
Day 8 - Thermopylae, Marathon, Acropolis Museum
Departing Delphi, journey to the ancient coastline to visit the legendary pass of Thermopylae. Intransigently defended by the Spartans against the Persians, Thermopylae was the first major battle of Xerxes’ invasion. After examining the once-narrow pass wedged between sea and mountain, continue to the culminating battlefield of the 1st Persian invasion: Marathon. Learn of the history of the battle and its unforeseen outcome, and survey the ancient burial mound of the Athenians. From Marathon, travel along the world’s most famous racecourse to legendary Athens, the greatest city of both ancient and modern Greece, and check in to your hotel at the foot of the Acropolis. Begin your exploration of this city’s matchless heritage at the impressive Acropolis Museum and examine the world famous Parthenon Marbles up close. In the evening, gather on our hotel’s wonderful roof garden for drinks and the world’s best views of the Parthenon before heading to the Plaka traditional marketplace district for dinner. (B,L,D)
Day 9 - Athens
Begin exploring the Acropolis at the Theater of Dionysus, the birthplace of all drama and comedy. Ascending the dramatic rock of the Acropolis, pass the Odeon of Herod Atticus, Propylaea, and Temple of Athena Nike before standing in the shadow of the architecturally stunning Parthenon. After admiring its optical refinements and the panoramic views of Athens, continue to the Areopagus and hear the words of the Apostle Paul’s 1st c. sermon to the Greek pagans in its original setting. Continue to lively Monastiraki Square for lunch before free time to shop in the festive Plaka traditional marketplace. After a free afternoon to continue exploring this cosmopolitan city, gather together for an elegant rooftop dinner with stunning views of the Parthenon. (B,L,D)
Day 10 - Private cruise to Salamis & Aegina
Today, nearly 2,500 years to the day after the Battle of Salamis, head to the coast of Athens to sail through the very waters where the most important naval battle of the ancient world took place. Begin just outside the famous Port of Piraeus and admire a modern, full-sized reconstruction of an ancient Athenian trireme, the vessel used to defeat the Persians and wrest control of the Aegean Sea. Then, board a privately chartered ship and sail into the strait of Salamis where the Greek ships laid in ambush for the larger Persian force. After recounting the maneuvers of the battle, sail to the nearby island of Aegina for an unforgettable seaside lunch and time to enjoy the coastal life and serene beaches of this off-the-beaten-path destination. In the late afternoon, return to Athens for an evening and dinner on your own. (B,L)
Day 11 - Athens, National Archaeological Museum, Cape Sounion
The morning is free to shop in the boutiques of the Plaka, tour one of Athens’ amazing museums, hike on the nearby Hill of the Muses, admire the grandiose Temple of Zeus, watch the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, or simply enjoy a coffee at one of the many streetside cafes. In the afternoon, take a visit to the National Archaeological Museum, home to the world’s single greatest collection of ancient Greek antiquities. As the tour nears its conclusion, head out to unforgettable Cape Sounion and enjoy a festive final dinner and closing meeting at a seaside taverna. Then, visit the beautiful Temple of Poseidon, located on a promontory high above the Aegean Sea at the edge of mainland Greece, as you watch the stunning sunset over the dramatic waters of the Aegean Sea. (B,D)
Day 12 - Depart Greece
Depart for stunning Santorini for an optional four day extension, or depart Greece as lifelong lovers of this legendary land! (B)
OPTIONAL POST TOUR EXTENSION TO SANTORINI ISLAND
Rightly considered one of the most beautiful places on the planet, the island of Santorini is the crown jewel of the legendary Greek islands. Enjoy three unforgettable nights in world famous town of Oia at your traditional cave house perched high on the rim of an ancient volcano with breathtaking views of the picturesque whitewashed chapels. From a catamaran cruise through the crystal clear waters of the caldera to the world’s most famous sunset, this is a relaxing, luxurious experience you will never forget.
5-star, cave-style accommodations with caldera views
Flights and airport transfers from Athens
Catamaran cruise to a warm spring, a black beach, and through the caldera of the volcano with an onboard meal
Daily breakfast with sea views
October 1 - 5, 2020
$2,495 per person, double occupancy
+ $1,395 single supplement
Suite upgrades available, please inquire
RESERVE YOUR SPOT ON THIS TOUR
We'd love to travel with you!
For questions, please contact us at 214-493-3027.
Sofia Travel provided an outstanding combination of cultural exploration, local food, historical sites, and locations off the beaten path. Their service is seamless, and the experiences they provide to the traveler are marvelous because of their passion for what they do!
- Donna Tierney, USNA Alumni Travel 2018 Greece Tour