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With knowledge and a nudge from your Rick Steves guide, you'll walk among marble monuments where Plato pondered, splash in the turquoise Aegean where Odysseus sailed, gaze up at god-dwelling mountains, sample family-crafted olives and wines — and maybe learn to play backgammon at a whitewashed taverna on the island of Hydra. This morning we'll hike to the top of Athens' legendary Acropolis, where we'll take a walking tour of its 2,500-year-old Golden Age temples, dominated by the dramatic Parthenon. After an orientation walk around Monemvasia's cozy little Lower Town, the rest of the day is free.Join us for Athens & the Heart of Greece in 14 Days! we'll meet at our hotel near Athens' pedestrian-friendly Plaka neighborhood for a "Welcome to Athens" meeting. We'll then work our way down and tour the sleek new Acropolis Museum, custom built to showcase the amazing Parthenon sculptures. This morning we'll tour Athens' impressive National Archaeological Museum, home to amazingly preserved masterpieces in marble, bronze, and gold. We will enjoy lunch together, and after making a few off-the-beaten-path discoveries, we'll ride on to the dramatically set medieval town of Monemvasia, where you'll be free for dinner. You can wander more of the romantic walled town or take a swim in the Aegean.This evening we'll have dinner together and sleep in the town of Delphi (1 night). At a riverside café in the mountain village of Planitero, we will enjoy a lunch of freshly caught trout and other Greek specialties before our bus takes us to our destination high up in the Menalon Mountains. Then we'll return to Nafplio for a free afternoon to explore the colorful alleyways of the Old Town, ride a boat to the little castle island in the harbor, or hike up to enjoy a Venetian fortress view. We'll learn about the roots of medicine and drama here, before hopping a boat to the idyllic traffic-free island of Hydra, where we'll sleep (2 nights). We will cap our island vacation with a relaxing sunset happy hour. Your afternoon is free to wander and shop through the Plaka, or explore other parts of this bustling city. This was my first time visiting Greece and this tour exceeded my expectations.We'll regroup for dinner together this evening. Tonight we'll gaze at the floodlit Acropolis and enjoy a final dinner together, sharing travel memories and toasting new friends. Our guide Colin was able to bring the history and archeology alive, and then hand us over to expert Greek guides who took us through the ancient sites sharing their extensive knowledge with good humour and skill.I am so pleased that Rick Steve's tours combine history, culture, diverse towns and landscapes as well as good food and wine."At the amphitheater in Epidavros a 2500 year old site, one of our tour members stood in the centre of the stage and recited Shakespeare.The pace is moderate, however the majority is over uneven surfaces, stairs and steps. Please be aware that if taking the Masada & Dead Sea optional tour the journey to the top of the mesa is via cable car.

Here, 25 centuries ago, the celebrated oracle allowed mere mortals to converse with the gods. Today we'll cross over the Gulf of Corinth to the Peloponnese, where we'll temporarily leave our bus for a steep, scenic cog railway ride past the waterfalls and caves lining the narrow Vouraikos Gorge. We'll enjoy a Greek wine and ouzo tasting, and sleep in Nafplio (2 nights). We'll take a walking tour through the grand Lion Gate, along the "cyclopean" walls, and into a remarkably domed tomb. Once the most famous healing center in the Mediterranean, today's star attraction is its ancient theater, large enough to accommodate 14,000. You might swim at a nearby beach, hike across the island, or try to make friends with a donkey. This morning we'll take a ferry ride to Piraeus, where our bus will be waiting to take us back to our Athens hotel. You can easily catch a cab for the airport, or to nearby Piraeus where a fleet of ferries awaits to transport those with time to even more Greek destinations.Accommodation in small family run hotels was much preferable to large 'could be anywhere hotels'.Climbing up and down many stairs to reach some of these hotels was not a great experience."The highlight of my Greek adventure was swimming in the Aegean Sea, in four different towns along the southern Peloponnese.I have never seen water as clear, and combined with a perfect temperature, and a saltiness that gave amazing buoyancy, it was an unforgettable experience.

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My favorite museum experience was in the National Archaeological Museum, looking at the bronze running horse with a boy atop, stunning in the red room, and learning about the Antikythera mechanism." I had a great time and I would recommend it highly to future travelers.

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