Day 01Friday, Oct 26
- 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 pm.
In the 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 02Saturday, Oct 27
- 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, 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 few other important neighborhoods: Thiseio, Monastiraki, and Psirri.
In Monastiraki, we will explore the flea market – which, of course, has its own story – and check some spectacular graffiti in Psirri.
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 the family house of Nancy (one of our trip leaders) where we will live, for a few days, like a local. This will be our home for the rest of the trip. After dinner, we will enjoy an evening tea, coffee, or drink around the fireplace, share stories from the region, and listen to the sounds of the nearby forest.
Day 03Sunday, Oct 28
- Participation in the local festival / Trekking (B, L, D)
The 28th of October is one of the two major National Holidays in Greece when the locals celebrate their negative reply to the Italian and German forces to enter the country. The date also commemorates the starting point of Greece’s involvement in the Second World War – an involvement that proved to be of significant consequences for the outcome of the war and the history of Europe as we know it today.
After breakfast, we will head to Kalavryta town, where we will observe the parade, and we will interact with the locals and the numerous small shops that pop up for the occasion, selling or sharing local delicacies. We will roam around the picturesque town, pass by the memorial site which shares a message of peace, and we will stop at the delicatessen shop of MrMarossis 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.
After lunch in a local tavern, we will head to the house, and we will go for a short and easy hike in the surrounding mountains or towards the village and the aqueduct, spending on the way time to share stories or explore details of the forest life and the local flora and fauna.
On such holidays, the evenings usually host musical events and singing. Depending on the weather conditions, we expect to participate in such festivities, combining this with our dinner.
Day 04Monday, Oct 29
- Caving / Trekking / Souvardo village (B, L, D)
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 stream 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 hike towards Souvardo village which is a bit higher than Vrachni, at 1300 m of altitude, getting acquainted with the life of the mountain and the forest. We will walk slowly and quietly, learning to breathe at the vibration of the mountain, becoming an integral part of nature.
Depending on the time that we will arrive, we will observe (and maybe participate in) the preparation of the traditional spinach and cheese pies of Greece, and we will enjoy dinner at the home-cooking restaurant of MsAndrianna, drinking the fresh, digestive water of Helmos Mountain directly from the central source of the village.
Day 05Tuesday, Oct 30
- Tsivlou lake and surrounding villages (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 an excellent opportunity for short hikes and relaxation. We will walk on the path that goes around the whole lake (a 2-hour easy trek), connecting with nature and learning to notice the details which, despite their importance, we often take for granted.
We will have lunch at a nearby tavern, and then we will go on a short road trip through the surrounding villages, getting a better understanding of the region, while having the opportunity to admire some spectacular views and picturesque alleys.
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 06Wednesday, Oct 31
- 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