Greece: Sagacity, Sunsets, and Serenity
Athens ~ Folegandros ~ Amorgos
13 Day Tour ~ September 2022
There are two types of tours: ‘picture window’ tours and those in which the tourists, through direct experience, gain as much of an understanding of the people and culture as time allows and thereby become travelers. Educated Wanderer’s Greece tour seeks to be the latter. As such, we will visit Athens briefly and spend the majority of our travel on some highly authentic Greek Islands. We will walk or take public transportation, eat and shop among the Greeks, drink espresso in a local coffee bar and dine in charming seaside restaurants. This is utterly the best way to understand local culture and it is well worth the work of walking quite a lot, though of course the amount of walking can be minimized with use of public transportation.
Day 1. Depart from either Newark (possibly JFK) in the evening for our overnight flight.
Day 2. We will arrive at Athens International Airport then transfer to our accommodations. Check-in, as is fairly standard everywhere in Europe, is at 2 pm. Depending upon our arrival time, we will drop our bags and get some lunch or check in right away. You will have a couple of hours to get settled and perhaps take a nap. We will convene for a walking tour of Athens at about 5 pm. The tour will be approximately 90 minutes, give or take. Thereafter, grab some dinner at any of the charming restaurants around the neighborhood and soak up the Athenian atmosphere!
Day 3. We will explore the Acropolis today, beginning rather early: even though the heat of August is behind us, it can still be quite hot on the hill with no shade and we don’t want to be rushed off: the Acropolis is occasionally closed due to high temperatures. We’ll have a talk on the history and importance of this awesome archeological site that may have you wishing you lived in Ancient Greece! The rest of the afternoon is yours to explore Athens. There are innumerable historical sites, shopping, endless food and cultural experiences. We will have some suggestions for you but by all means do some reading to find what most holds your interest. Once you determine those interests let us know and we will help you get to where you want to go.
Day 4. We will be up with the rising sun this morning to catch the deep, entrancing blue of the Aegean Sea as we fly to Santorini to catch our ferry to Amorgos. Out flight departs at 7am and we then arrive at Santorini at 7:50am, giving us the morning to explore this beautiful but overcrowded island before catching our ferry to Amorgos at 12:15. We will arrive at 1:30, at the intimate port of Katapola, a small vibrant village lined with cafes and tavernas along the waterfront with fishing and sailing boats scenically displayed amongst the bay. We’ll make our way through the picturesque streets to the bus that will take us to our accommodations in the Chora. After check in, we’ll take a walking tour of the Chora’s narrow winding alleys featuring whitewashed houses, charming squares, beautiful churches, cafes and shops. The rest of the evening will be yours to explore this magnificent village.
Day 5. After a morning filled with fabulous Greek coffee, we will take our first walk up to the Tower of Gavras, a Venetian castle built in 1290, perched on a massive rock above the Chora. The views from the top of this fortress are beyond spectacular, well worth the climb. The archeological museum, containing interesting findings from excavations of ancient cities and the Minoan civilization will be intriguing, as well as the marble torso statues, sculpture and ceramics dating from 3000 BC to 3rd A.D. century. Our second walk will lead us up to the Monastery of Hozoviotissa: this second oldest monastery in Greece (built in 1017) is literally hanging off the side of a cliff 1000 feet above the sea. We will have the privilege to explore inside this amazing creation amid the smell of incense and among the monks giving gifts of honey, raki liqueur, and loukoumi. We will then walk – down this time – to the secluded beach below the monastery which claims to have the most brilliant blue water human eyes have ever seen, so let’s find out! We’ll have time here to relax, swim, nap until we feel like taking the trek back to the Chora where you may spend the evening at your leisure.
Day 6. Today we will follow the path of Fotodotis that will take us from the Chora to the port of Katapola. This is an easy walk, about an hour, that follows alongside a deep ravine, through areas of lush vegetation and an olive grove. After a break at one of the cafes along the water, we will walk up to Moundoulia Hill to explore the ruins of an ancient Minoan civilization dating from 10th century B.C. to the 4th century A.D. This was one of the most important centers of human life on Amorgos throughout prehistoric times and acted as a summer residence of Cretan King Minos. It will be a surreal experience to imagine from the ruins what once was a Gymnasium, Hellenistic Temple containing the body of a statue still standing in the middle, and even a lavatory. After our archeological exploration, the rest of the day and evening will be yours to either relax in Katapola, walk the path back to the Chora or take the bus to another destination.
Day 7. Our adventure today will begin in the picturesque port village of Aegiali that encompasses an authentic traditional atmosphere. Here we will take the hiking path to Melania which will provide spectacular views of Aegiali Bay as we make our way to the fascinating village of Langada with vistas of windmills and the ravine of Araklis. The path continues through the abandoned town of Stroumbos, where houses are being restored, to Panagia of Epanochoriani, a traditional Cycladic church surrounded by a few trees if you are needing some shade. The last stop will be the enchanting mountain village of Tholaria where we can take a break from hiking and immerse ourselves among the authentic lives of the friendly local people and take in the astounding views. You will be free to spend as much time here as you like and the rest of the evening to do as you like. If you’re up for another short hike, just outside the village is Vigla, the acropolis of ancient Aegiali. Here you can see the remains of the wall, statues, and tombs of the Early Cycladic period.
Day 8. Today will be a free day to do as you please: relax on the beach (and recover from all that walking!), explore more villages, or drink raki and sample some delicious Greek food at at a scenic taverna!
Day 9. We will have a leisurely morning before boarding our ferry from Amorgos to Folegandros which departs at 2pm and arrives in Folegandros at 4:10pm. After arrival at the panoramic port of Karavostasi we will make our way to the equally exquisite Chora to check into our accommodations and have a short restful break. We’ll be just in time to take a walk up the stone zig zag path to the church of Panagia, perched high above the Chora, to catch the sunset and some awe-inspiring views. This whitewashed Cycladic church is thought to be made with ruins of an ancient temple; you can see inscriptions dedicated to the Light-bearer Artemis and her brother Apollo Protector etched in the marble along with bases of statues in the interior and courtyard of the church. Interestingly in its past, the church of Panagia was a female monastery belonging to a nunnery. After making your way back down the zig zag, the night will be yours to enjoy in the romantic Chora.
Day 10. We will have a full day today diving into crystal clear water, visiting mystical caves, chilling out in secluded bays, tasting some local treats and drinking authentic Raki, all from our amazing island boat tour. We’ll get to visit all the secret spots only accessible by boat and also relax while taking in the breathtaking scenery!
Day 11. A bus ride will bring us to the spellbindingly beautiful village of Ana Meria. It’s hard to resist one person’s description, “the village itself is curious: it almost seems like a giant picked up a bunch of houses and just threw them there at random”. Besides its curiousness, Ana Meria is a refreshingly natural village with only 350 residents all of whom have preserved their age old traditions and heritage. The simplistic lifestyle is seen even in the homes here, called themonies, which are actually small autonomous agricultural units that sustain their closed farming economy. While there we’ll visit the Folklore Museum which will take us inside one of these themonies representing rural life of past centuries. You’ll be able to experience the stone walls and earthen floor, the crops cellar, mill room to crush olives, the wall oven room, the winepress and small vineyard, and animal complex. From the village we can take another amazingly spectacular walk out to Asporpountas Lighthouse, perched 190 feet above the sea. Imagine the views from here! This route will take us past Lividaki beach, a secluded pebbled beach with amazing scenery where we can stop to take a break and even a swim. Then we will make our way through Tzanis gorge, past some picturesque churches, back to the windmills of Ana Meria.
Day 12. Our final day on Folegandros will be one focused on relaxation and pure enjoyment with being in such an amazing place. Spend the day on Agali beach soaking up the sun and cooling off in the azure blue
Day 13. Our last day in enchanting Greece will give us essentially a synopsis of our entire trip! We will depart Folegandros on the ferry 11:10am, arrive 11:55am, then grab our flight to Athens for our trip home.
Pricing: Approximately $3900.00, which includes airfare, hotel, all tours, tips, taxes, admissions fees (except where noted as optional), and airport transfer in Athens (not to/from the U.S. departure gate).
We do not include meals in our pricing for a few reasons. First, it’s very difficult to account for a variety of tastes, preferences and allergens and inevitably some folks will be unhappy. Second, places that accommodate a group of our size are almost inevitably tourist restaurants and thus fairly bland or standard. Finally, food is such a part of the cultural experience and thus wandering into a small family-run place where you cannot read the menu and which only accommodates a small number of people is the best possible way by which you can have this experience. We recommend you bring a minimum of $450 for food. You can certainly eat decently and deliciously on this amount, but if you plan to eat sit-down meals at lunch every day, purchase lots of espresso, and order 4-course dinners each night with wine (and you will want wine!), you will need more than this. For this budget an espresso and a koulouri (a sesame bagel, essentially) or cheese pie for breakfast, a gyro for lunch and a sit down dinner with house wine (all astounding) for dinner is completely doable.
Accommodations: We will stay in a centrally-located hotel for our night in Athens, while on the islands we will stay in places that are best described as guesthouses that have space for 2-3 people per room. These places are unbelievably charming and the hosts are hugely hospitable though they are not luxury accommodations. The will be comfortable and safe, and with the stunning outdoor views you will not be interested in spending mountains of time inside!
No reservations accepted without a deposit of $500 per person. Make checks payable to The Educated Wanderer, and mail to the above address. Final payment is due June 20, 2022. Deposits are fully refundable if cancellation occurs on or before June 20, 2022. There are no refunds if cancellation occurs after June 20, 2022. Travel protection/cancellation coverage is available and highly recommended (approximately 10% of the total cost of the tour), but not included. One piece of luggage per person and one carry-on are permitted. The Educated Wanderer is not responsible for any delays, cancellations, injuries or circumstances beyond its control and reserves the right to change this itinerary. All trip components are subject to change in accordance with Government, State and Local guidelines and/or mandates. This tour will run rain or shine. Approximate price: $3900 Double; $4300 Single.
Methods of Payment: Venmo @educatedwanderer, Call 973.513.9001 to pay by credit card over the phone (Credit Card payments have a 4% surcharge). Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details on how to send Cash or Check or with any questions regarding your payment the trip or your zodiac sign.