Meteora, Metsovo, Ioannina, Vikos Gorge, Dodoni, Nafpactos, Delphi,
Optional day: Arrive in Athens, Transfer from the airport to your hotel by the Acropolis. We'll visit the Acropolis and the highlights of Athens. Optional tour Athens by night.
1st day: Leave Athens at 8.00 a.m. for Meteora through Thermopylae (short stop to visit Leonidas' monument) via Lamia to Trikala and Kastraki (overnight). Visit Meteora, among striking scenery, perched on top of huge rocks which seem to be suspended in Mid - Air, stand ageless Monasteries, where you can see exquisite specimens of Byzantine Art. Of the 24 monasteries that grew up between the 13th and 16th centuries only six are still inhabited: The Great Meteoron, Agia Triad, Agios Nikolaos and Varlaam by monks: Agios Stephanos and Roussanou by nuns.
2nd day: Arrive in Metsovo (overnight), which is admirably situated in a mountain comb just below the highest road pass in Greece (alt 1705m/5594ft) which marks the borders between Epirus (west) and Thessaly (east). Brown bears and wolves survive in the surrounding ancient forests of beech and pine trees. The traditional town is not only a summer resort offering the benefits of bracing mountain air but also a winter sports centre with skiing on the slopes of Mount Karakoli (ski lift). Metsovo is famous for its trout, its wine and its cheese as well as for its embroidered cloth and wood carvings.
3rd day: Depart for Ioannina, a modern town except for the old district near the lake which dates from the Turkish occupation. Local craftsmanship produce embroidery and silverwork, there are shops in Odos Averoff, Gastronomic specialties include eels, frogs, trout and crayfish from the lake, cheese from Dodoni and sparkling white wine from the region of Zitsa. Visit the island in the middle of the lake, access by boat (15 min). Continue for Vikos Gorge (overnight in Monodedri in restored traditional houses)
4th day: Visit the Zagoria Country, "the land beyond the mountains" which follows the renowned trout stream, the River Voidomatis, as it flows north into Albania. It is a region of Forests (conifers, oaks chestnuts) and pasture, the traditional habitat has not been disturbed, there are many houses of beautiful grey stone, with projecting upper storey and wooden balconies, roofed with stone. In these wild mountains, where bears and wolves still roam, Greek troops defied the advancing Italian forces when they invaded from Albania in November 1940.
5th day: Vikos Gorge, the grey stone buildings of the Monastery of Agia Paraskevi cling to the rocks directly above a precipitous drop into the bottom of the gorge 1000m/3281ft below, which the river Voidomatis has created. A path starting from the monastery winds down the face of the cliff past some terraces once cultivated by the monks and some caves which provided shelter for Klephts and Hermits, it reaches a platform overlooking the confluence of the Voidomatis and a neighboring mountain stream, the atmosphere is oppressive and wild.
You can view our portfolio of photos at http://www.panoramio.com/user/45649/tags/Nafpactos and http://www.panoramio.com/user/45649/tags/Delphi%20-%20Apollo%20Oracle
6th day: Visit Dodoni .Ancient Dodoni grew out of a sanctuary dedicated to Zeus where a famous oracle flourished from the second millennium BC until the 4th C BC. this oracle made known its pronouncements through the whispering of the breeze, known as Helloi or Selloi. We'll visit the theatre one of the largest (130m/427ft broad by 22m/72ft high) and one of the best preserved of ancient Greece. It was originally constructed in the late 3rd C BC, destroyed in 219 BC and rebuilt in the reign of Phillip V of Macedon (221 - 179 BC). Under the Romans it was transformed into an arena for gladiatorial and animal combats, at this time the arena was separated from the public by a wall which is still in place. Continue for Delphi through Arta, Agrinio, Nafpactos (This charming little city at the northwest end of the Gulf of Corinth was fortified by the Venetians in the 15C. Under its medieval name of Lepando it recalls the famous naval battle which took place in 1571 between the Christian fleet from Spain, Genoa, Naples, Malta and Venice with the Turkish fleet of Sultan Selim.- short stop). Continue for Delphi.
7th day : Last day, further visit of archaeological area of Delphi. Return to Athens from the east side of Mount Parnassos, through small mountain villages, the ancient town of Chaeroneia (where in 338 BC the battle between the southern Greek cities and King of Greek Macedonians Phillip took place, in which Alexander then 18 years of age, was making his debut in battle) and Levadia.
You can view my portfolio of photos at http://www.panoramio.com/user/45649/tags/Meteora-Monasteries
8.00am. Return approx 7.00 p.m.