Greece

Journey to the Heart of Joy

Level

Easy

Duration

6 days

Greece is a country one cannot just visit. It is a country to experience deeply with all five senses and discover through the taste its food, the echo of its stories and myths, the aroma of the mountain air, or the salty sprinkles of the sea. And the only way to achieve all this is to spend time with the locals.

So, with this trip, we present a unique live-like-a-local experience where you will spend most of the days in a homestay getting acquainted with the daily rituals of life in a Greek village, while the team leaders will introduce you not only to the place and culture, but also to some of their closest friends – people deeply connected to the landscape, and firmly occupying their unique place in the world. After a while, you will not be a guest anymore but, instead, a “family member” or an old friend welcomed in a house that will be like home.

 

As the days pass, you will feel that the places you visit, no matter how beautiful they are, won’t be the highlight of your trip. Instead, you will see yourself emerging renewed through the connection with the surrounding nature, the details that will be shared, and the conversations that may last till late at night. This trip is about connecting with a part of yourself that Greece will undoubtedly bring to the surface; a quiet, fun, intense, and nourishing week for the body and soul amid the beauties of a timeless landscape. This is the reason most people visiting the country end up falling in love with it.

The highlights of this trip include:

Strolling around the historical center of Athens and visiting some of its oldest neighborhoods

A taste of the traditional Greek philoxenia through our homestay in a villa perched on the mountains of Peloponnese

A visit to the Cave of Lakes, Planitero village, Souvardo village, Lake Tsivlou, and Kalavryta town

Swimming and snorkeling in Trapeza beach

Tasting traditional home-cooked food using local ingredients (some of which we may even gather ourselves)

Sort hikes on the surrounding mountains, getting acquainted with the local fauna and flora, and, above all, remembering how our presence can get incorporated in nature

A trip with rack train through the Vouraikos gorge – one of the most breathtaking train trips in the Balkans.

An acquaintance with local initiatives and small businesses that make a difference in the region, showcasing how the vision of one person can cause multiple waves of benefits for society.

Facts:

Activities: trekking /cultural sightseeing / swimming, snorkeling, caving, cultural interaction.

Our operation:

  • All Rahhalah’s ground handlers and guides are locally employed ensuring more authentic experience for travelers, as well as sensitivity and understanding of the local culture and environment
  • Our staff is highly experienced and has excellent knowledge, committed to provide exceptional service at all times.

Sustainability:

We run a low impact operation and we leave no traces behind, contributing to the efforts of protection of the local land, its people and culture.

We are committed to employing local people to the maximum extent possible. We pay our staff well and, just as important, we provide them with periodical training. In addition we emphasize on making extensive use of local products and enhance maximum economic benefits to the local communities.

As you all know 1% of our revenue go back to a local cause and Rahhalah directly takes care of that. This is our pay back promise.

Trip Leaders

Konstantina Sakellariou

Konstantina is our Greek partner in Rahhalah and the Chief Initiator – Transformational Journeys. After 20 years of corporate experience, she decided to quit her executive position and launch into a personal adventure, changing her life. Today, she focuses on writing and traveling, while she also leads a few trips in her beloved homeland. She has already published her first book “The Unusual Journeys of a Girl Like Any Other” inspired by her personal development through 7 hiking trips, and she has written over 100 articles sharing details from her traveling expeditions. Through her site www.MyUnusualJourneys.com, she publishes twice per month a mini e-magazine under the title “Thoughts and Impressions of a Conscious Traveler,” documenting, among other things, the interaction of the inner and outer landscape as it unfolds in her trips.

Nancy Papathanassopoulou

Nancy is a Greek Environmental Law and Management expert and an environmental professional with long experience in marine conservation projects in the Arabian Gulf region. She speaks fluently English, French, German, Italian, and, of course, Greek. She is a great cook, and, at nights, we hope to persuade her to play on her guitar and sing with us around the fireplace.

DETAILED ITINERARY

Day 1 (Wed, Aug 22): Arrival Athens (D)

You will be picked up from the airport and transferred to the hotel, somewhere close to the center of Athens.

Recommended arrival time latest 3-4 pm.

In the late afternoon, we will walk (or take the metro) towards the old neighborhoods of Athens and ramble around the picturesque alleys, observing the kaleidoscopic co-existence of the Ancient Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, and modern Greek eras, represented in the ruins, the architecture, the houses, and the stories imprinted in each corner. It is an excellent opportunity to hone our photographic skills, experimenting with colors, angles, and meanings.

We will pass through the Anafiotika neighborhood – fondly referred to as “an island within a city” – and we will enjoy the sunset as well as a panoramic view of Athens from the Areopagus Rock. We will finish our day in the oldest Plaka tavern to dine on traditional local delicacies while singing and dancing – the Greek way

Day 2 (Thurs, Aug 23): Athens - Vrachni village (B, L, D)

After breakfast, we will start the day in the hills opposite Acropolis: the Filopappou Hill (or Hill of the Muses), Pnyka, and the Hill of Nymphs. There, under the shade of the pine trees and, possibly, with the deafening accompaniment of the cicadas, we will talk about the story of the city of Athens: the ups and downs, the golden eras and the dark ages, the differences with other well-known Greek cities, the importance of its famous monuments, and the impact of the city in Greece’s as well as Europe’s history.

From these hills, we will enjoy panoramic views of the Parthenon, we will visit the place where Democracy was implemented, and we will walk downhill passing in front of the Old Observatory building on our way to a couple of other important neighborhoods: Thiseio and Monastiraki.

In Monastiraki, we will explore the flea market – which, of course, has its own story – and have lunch in a small tavern for a taste of the famous Greek souvlaki.

After lunch, we will have coffee or a refreshing drink on a terrace with a view of the old city (another must-do while in Athens) and, then, we will return to the hotel to pick up our luggage and drive towards Vrachni village, close to Kalavryta in Peloponnese.

Perched at 1100 m above sea level, Vrachni village, along with Souvardo, are the highest (in terms of altitude), inhabited villages in Kalavryta area. The region is thought to have been first inhabited in the mid-8th century AD. The landscape is verdant green, with fir trees and running water. It is a village that is cared for by its residents with a lot of love and creative energy. We can even find a theatre opposite the Church of the Saints Theodori.

After a three-hour drive, we will reach the village, and we will be welcomed by the second leader of our Greek team, Nancy, who opens for us her family house on the mountains in order to live, for a few days, like a local. This will be our home for the rest of the trip. After settling down, we will enjoy a home-made dinner in the idyllic environment and sit for an evening tea, coffee, or drink in the garden, sharing stories from the region, observing the stars, and listening to the sounds of the nearby forest.

Day 3 (Friday, Aug 24): Caving / Trekking (B, L, D)

The morning will start with a hearty breakfast on traditional local delicacies that we will prepare at home. The preparation of the breakfast is a ritual of its own in which we will all participate, observing the recipes, the ingredients, and the habits of the Greeks. We will leisurely enjoy it in the shade of the veranda, while some of us may wish to scout around the area to get acquainted with the surrounding landscape.

After breakfast, we will drive towards the Cave of Lakes which is an old subterranean river consisting of three levels. During the winter when the snow melts it is transformed into a flowing river with waterfalls. During the summer, it dries up, leaving behind 13 lakes.

After the cave, we will visit Planitero village with its amazing plane-trees forest. We will explore the ancient settlements of the area while walking in pristine forests of fir, cypress, walnut, and chestnut trees, and, then, have lunch at the trout-growing farm of the village, at a traditional restaurant, enjoying home-cooked food and having access to crystal-clear waters full of minerals from the underwater sources of the mountains. There, we may be joined by a young, accomplished beekeeper whose six types of honey have won prestigious awards throughout the EU. We will visit the beehives and learn more about the honey collection process.

In the afternoon, we will return home from where we will go for a short hike on the path that passes through the house. We will walk slowly and quietly, learning to breathe at the vibration of the mountain, becoming an integral part of nature. Depending on the season, we may be lucky to encounter some of the local fauna, such as foxes, ferrets, or wild boars, besides the numerous kinds of birds that live in among the trees. We will most certainly meet goats and sheep flocks, and we will have the chance to interact with the local shepherds and listen to some of their stories.

We will return home to prepare dinner – maybe using some of the greens we have picked from the mountains during our stroll – and enjoy a quiet evening, discussing around the fireplace of the house.

Day 4 (Sat, Aug 25): Trapeza- Swimming / Snorkeling/ Souvardo village Hiking (B, L, D)

We will repeat the breakfast ritual and, at around 10 am, we will set off for Trapeza, the clearest and most beautiful beach of the Corinthian Sea. We will spend a couple of hours swimming and snorkeling, and we will bask under the sun while sharing information about the local sea life, the overall ecosystem, and the changes we have observed throughout the years.

After lunch at a traditional fish tavern by the sea, we will return home to relax and shower, before going for a hike towards Souvardo village which is a bit higher than Vrachni, at 1300 m of altitude, once more, getting acquainted with the life of the mountain and the forest.

We will enjoy dinner at the traditional, home-cooking restaurant of Ms. Andrianna, under the plane tree of the central square, drinking the fresh, digestive water of Helmos Mountain directly from the central source of the village.

Day 5 (Sunday, Aug 26): Tsivlou lake / Kalavryta town (B, L ,D)

After breakfast, we will drive towards Tsivlou lake, one of the most beautiful lakes of Peloponnese. Located at 800 m of altitude, it is surrounded by forest that slides down next to the water edge and offers a great opportunity for short hikes and relaxation. Some of us, on a dare, may be brave enough to swim in the cold waters of the turquoise lake. We will enjoy picnic lunch under the trees and will return home.

After coffee and cake, we will visit the picturesque Kalavryta town. We will pass by the memorial site which shares a message of peace, and we will stop at the delicatessen shop of Mr. Marossis who will take us on a journey through the tastes of the region by sharing information and stories regarding the cheeses, pasta, beans, mushrooms, or other produce of the area.

We will have dinner at a local tavern and will return home for another beautiful evening with tea, coffee, or drink next to the fireplace.

Day 6 (Monday, Aug 27): Vouraikos gorge/ Athens Departure (B)

After breakfast, we pack our luggage and leave on our way back to Athens.

At Kalavryta, we will take the odontotos rack railway to Diakofto village, following the direction of the Vouraikos gorge, passing through several tunnels and a landscape of breathtaking beauty.

One hour later, in Diakofto, we find our car again and return to Athens and the airport.

Recommended departure time:after 4 pm

1000 EUR

per person based on a group of min 6. Double occupancy.

Trip Dates

22nd August 2018

NOTES

This cost is based on Double Occupancy. Single Supplement Applies.
This rate is valid for August 2018
All services stipulated above are subject to availability at the time of booking / reservation. All prices are subject to change.

This includes:

Accommodation in a hotel in Athens for one night (double occupancy) and homestay in Vrachni village for 4 nights (shared rooms – some twin beds and some double beds may need to be shared)

Meals as indicated B, L, D In the house, there will be plenty of food for snacks as well.

Transportation from and to the airport

Transportations within the country as per the itinerary above

Ticket to rack train

Entrance tickets wherever needed as per the itinerary above

The presence of Rahhalah partner and Chief Initiator Transformational Journeys, Konstantina Sakellariou

The presence of Nancy Papathanassopoulou who opens her house for us and will share her local expertise.

This excludes:

  • International flights

    Visa fees

    Travel Insurance

    Single Supplement

    Personal gear

    Meals not mentioned above

    Beverages

    Tips and gratuities

    Personal expenses

Important:

Be prepared for the unexpected. At any moment, based on a whim or a specific request from the group, we may decide to follow the untrodden path, exploring an area not included in the itinerary. We may spend more time next to the lakes at sunset for birdwatching, or we may choose to visit archaeological sites that have not been listed in the agenda below. The path will unfold as we create it ourselves and this is what makes every journey unique and exclusive.

We reserve the right to alter the itinerary depending on the weather conditions or other unforeseeable factors that may negatively affect the traveling experience.

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