Greek Tour Itinerary

American Express NotesNotes from Karen's Diary
Day 1 Depart USA
Transatlantic flight to Athens. Dinner and continental breakfast on board.
Mon 15 Sep
Got up at 5:30 am PDT and left for SeaTac at 7:00. United Airlines flight 40 left at 8:30. Pleasant flight over cloud cover, arriving JFK 4:25 EDT. Easy trek to American terminal where Olympic Airways is housed. The Olympic flight left at 7:00 (45 minutes late), flew north then east along the 48th parallel. On the aisle was an old Greek lady who spoke no English and had lots of bags of stuff around her. We ate and read and tried to get some sleep. Everyone smoked a lot, and a baby cried most of the night (which induced a woman to scream hysterically about midway across the Atlantic).
Day 2 Athens, Greece
Greece's coastline comes to view on a descent to Athens. American Express welcome at the airport, then a drive to your hotel. Have a late afternoon stroll around this fascinating city where ancient ruins rest in landscap ed parks as they have for centuries. Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel. (D)

Hotel: Royal Olympic (3 nights)

HMC Athens | Attica

Tue 16 Sep
Still the same day PDT; still, when dawn arrived (over southern france) it felt like morning. Arrived Athens 11:00 am. Smooth landing; applauded the pilot. Got through passport without any trouble, but had some anxiety trying to connect with the tour. Our leader is a little Greek lady named Christine. Took a bus to our hotel, the Royal Olympic. First thing we heard on the hotel room radio was Paul Harvey ("Hello Americans", over Armed Forces radio); snapped it off immediately. Walked along Amalia Avenue to Syntagma Square, then walked around the Temple of Olympian Zeus (closed :( Tue), had Greek beer and cheese pies at a sidewalk cafe, the Oasis. Back to hotel for a nap. Had dinner (shish kebab) with Jim & Beth (tour folk from CO Springs). Went to bed about 9:00.
Day 3 Athens
Guided morning sightseeing through this city of close to 3 million people. Drive up Acropolis Hill to view the Temple of Wingless Victory and the 5th-century Parthenon. Afternoon free. Tonight tables have been reserved at one of Athens' best-known tavernas—for dinner, wine, Greek music and entertainment. (B,D)
Wed 17 Sep
Woke up at 4:00 am (6:00 pm our time) so we went exploring. Left the hotel about 6:30, walked a narrow street and after a while looked up to see the Parthenon, literally "rosy fingered" by the dawn, on a startlingly high Acropolis. At 9:00 the group went to the Acropolis and, at 11:00, to the National Archaeological Museum. Christine gave excellent lectures at both places. Spent first part of the afternoon in Syntagma area, had a sandwich and cashed a travelers' check, then took a nap at the hotel. At night we went to Mostou Taverna in the Plaka where we had dinner in the roof garden. Lots of ouzo and dancing.
Day 4 Athens / Cape Sounion excursion
Morning drive along the coast passes fashionable Glyfada with its summer homes and yacht-filled harbor. Then beaches, resort hotels and colorful seafood restaurants line the road to the Temple of Poseidon overlooking the Aegean. Afternoon and evening free in Athens. (B,D)
Thu 18 Sep
After a short walk we left (9:00) for Sounion. The Temple there was beautiful. Afternoon we went back to the Acropolis on our own, explored the Theatre of Dionysos, the Agora and the Thesion. At the theatre we discovered the audio effects of the echo stone and demonstrated it to two German boys, the only others out at that time of day (a breeze helped, it was 85 degrees). Napped at the hotel, then dinner, then to the Sound and Light show at the Acropolis. We missed our bus and spent the rest of the evening at the Oasis.
Day 5 Athens / Mycenae / Epidaurus / Nauplia
After breakfast drive to Mycenae to see the Lion Monument and Beehive Tombs. Then to Epidaurus, the famed outdoor theater with perfect acoustics—still used today for opera and plays. Next, to Phoenician- founded Nauplia, dramatically set on the sea under Mt. Palamidi. (B,D)

Hotel: Xenia

HMC Corinth | Argolis

Fri 19 Sep
Left Athens at 8:30. Stopped at Corinth (where I bought a Greek fisherman's cap which later spurred what Ross called "hat mania" among our fellow tourers). Rode to the theatre at Epidauros (beautifully preserved; we literally heard a coin dropped sitting in the highest seat in the house). Checked into our hotel at Nauplion. Had lunch at a sidewalk cafe on the waterfront. The town is very pretty, our room was luxurious (carved wooden ceilings, all marble huge bathroom, balcony over the Mediterranean). Afternoon went to Mycenae and the beehive tomb (of Menaleus), then to the acropolis and the Schliemann excavations. Peculiar martinis before dinner (every imaginable fruit in warm Holland gin). Incredible fragrance of Spanish jasmine outside our hotel.
Day 6 Nauplia / Olympia
Through rural countryside past villages unchanged for centuries to ancient Olympia. Sights include the Sacred Altis, beautiful Temples of Zeus and Hera, the famous statue of Hermes and the Stadium—site of the first Olympic Games. (B,D)

Hotel: Amalia

HMC Arkadia | Eleia

Sat 20 Sep
Everyone complained of mosquitoes during the night. Got on the bus at 8:30, drove through mountains and the town of Tripolis. Stopped at Megalopolis' (market day) open-air market. Bought the biggest/best peaches ever. Headed for Olympia. Went to the site of the ancient games. Beautiful setting - very parklike. Also went through the museum. Had dinner with the Schneiders (from BC), then went to the bar where we joined the Ross and Robin Reeves (VA) and Dottie and Spence (PA). The bartender wouldn't serve Germans if they ordered in that language.
Day 7 Olympia, Delphi
Morning drive north through Patras to Rion for a ferry to Antirion. Then an easy drive to sacred Delphi, one of the most magnificent sites in Classical Greece. Walking among shady olive groves, you'll capture the spirit of the Oracle. Sights also feature the Sacred Way and Temples of Apollo and Athena. (B,D)

Hotel: Amalia

HMC Achaia | Phokis

Sun 21 Sep
Awoke to the sound of roosters. Left around 8:30 for Patras (very primitive toilet facility - a rope hanging down over a hole). After a ferry crossing had lunch at Clovino Beach. Heard from someone that Gov. Dixie Lee Ray lost her primary bid (yay!). Reached Delphi about 3 pm, 2500 feet up a cliffside on a very narrow road, much screaming as the bus backed up (off the cliff) to charge the driveway. Toured the museum, then visited the Castillian Spring at the base of the Phaedraeides. After a nap had drinks with Verlie and Marge (Montreal), dined with them, then a nightcap in a little inner courtyard of the hotel.
Day 8 Delphi / Piraeus / Cruising
Past ancient Thebes to the monastery of Osios Loukas and its Byzantine mosaics. Then to Piraeus where outside air-conditioned cabins await on the Sun Line's famed Stella Solaris. Dinner at sea. (B,D)

HMC Boeotia

Mon 22 Sep
Left the hotel about 9:00 after playing with a local Weimaraner and taking angry remarks from Germans who wanted me to move my bus (they thought I was the tour leader) so they could move their BMWs (I smiled ignorance). Went to the ruins of the sanctuary. It was beautiful. Next went to Ossios Loukas, an 11th century Byzantine church surrounded with almond trees. Next, Piraeus and the Stella Solaris. Next to the bar for drinks with tour-friends. Dined throughout the tour with the Reeves.
Day 9 Cruising Dikili, Turkey / Pergamum excursion
Morning arrival in the little Turkish seaport of Dikili. Ashore, you'll visit the famous archaeological city of Pergamum. Tonight, you'll enjoy the Captain's cocktail party and dinner at sea . (B,L,D)
Tue 23 Sep
Got up at 6:00 and went to the Lido deck to see the sunrise. We were beginning our tour of Greek cities in Turkey. After breakfast we entered Turkey when we were handed from a Greek sailor to a Turk (about two stories above the water) onto a tender which took us to shore. Went from there to the Asklepion of Pergamum. Our guide here was Turkish. Next drove to the Acropolis. In the afternoon we got some sun and saw some dolphins leaping in the sea. There was a life-boat drill at 3:15. Joined at the Captain's cocktail party by Rachel Abernathy, Helen Martin, the Erwins, Rodriguezes, Reeves and Christine. Walked around the deck that night and were nearly blown away.
Day 10 Cruising / Istanbul
Istanbul's fabled skyline greets the Stella at breakfast. Sight-seeing highlights ashore feature the Blue Mosque of Sultan Ahmet and the jewels in the Topkapi Museum. Later, perhaps stroll along the Bosphorus and, literally, walk between Europe and Asia. Time, too, for shopping in the Grand Bazaar. Later, Greek Taverna Night at sea. (B,L,D)
Wed 24 Sep
We were in harbor when we awoke. Couldn't dock, so back to the tenders. Toured the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia and the Topkapi. Our guide was a pretty Turkish lady named Izell. Returned to the ship for lunch, then back ashore to visit the Grand Bazaar and the Mosque of Suliman the Magnificent. Bought a Turkish carpet which we carried with us. Back to the ship about 5:30 to see the departing Istanbul skyline. The crew were all dressed traditionally for Greek taverna night. Went to the Grill Bar, then walked around the Boat Deck.
Day 11 Cruising / Kusadasi / Ephesus excursion
Morning arrival in Kusadasi, then an excursion to Ephesus. In what was once among the richest cities in the Roman Empire. Festive evening at sea: 1001 Nights Dinner and The Masquerade Ball. (B, L,D)
Thu 25 Sep
Spent the morning relaxing on the Lido Deck sailing to Kusadasi. Afternoon we went to Ephesus. Very handsome ruins. Impressed by how far the shore had receded since ancient times. Also by the upper-city, lower-city distinction (to prevent spread of disease visitors used to be quarantined for a period). An underground tunnel had connected the library to the brothel. Many statues of gigantically developed little men. Stopped and said hello to two camels on our way back to the ship. Dinner with Ross and Robin, then a walk around the ship. Sailing for Rhodes.
Day 12 Cruising / Rhodes, Greece
The Stella Solaris steams into the ancient walled harbor of Rhodes—one of Europe's most popular summer resorts. Ashore after breakfast, you'll drive along the spectacular coast to the art colony of Lindos. Afternoon free to explore, shop and swim at sandy beaches. Plenty of time to enjoy international taverna nightlife before 1 a.m. sailing. (B,L,D)

HMC Dodekanese

Fri 26 Sep
Drove to Lindos where we climbed 262 steps to the Acropolis. I had a hard time getting down (my vision was terrible and the steps were seriously worn). We lost a half hour waiting for two ladies who got lost, then toured the city of Rhodes and the medieval Fortress of the Knights of St. John (Street of the Knights and hospital, now a museum). Lunch on the Lido Deck where we spent the afternoon. After dinner joined Christine in the Solaris Lounge. Played a bingo game then finished off the night at the Piano Bar.
Day 13 Cruising / Crete
Lazy morning on the Aegean with time for sunning and relaxing round the ship's pool. Ashore in early afternoon, you'll tour the birthplace of Minoan civilization—the 5000-year-old Palace of Knossos. (B,L,D)

HMC Herakleion

Sat 27 Sep
Leisurely morning on the Lido Deck sailing toward Crete. Arrived Heraklion about 11:00. About 2:00 we went ashore to the Museum (Minoan frescoes mostly), then on to the Palace at Knossos. Difficult to describe that place: a maze of underground rooms, light wells going down several stories, remnants of the fire which destroyed it, the throne room, open courts, etc. Cocktail party that night sponsored by the ship and American Express. Then the Reeves and Christine joined us in our cabin to finish off our duty-free scotch. Then to the Captain's gala farewell dinner (champagne, lobster, chateaubriand, baked Alaska). Adjourned to the Lido Bar to finish the evening.
Day 14 Cruising / Santorini / Mykonos
The black volcanic island of Santorini looms on the horizon this morning. Then by donkey up the zig-zag path to the white village of Thera—no better views of the Aegean in all of Greece. Afternoon port of call is Mykonos. Nothing really historic here—just the best fun in the Greek islands. Stop in one of the colorful tavernas along the harbor. Grand Buffet farewell dinner before midnight sailing. (B,L,D)


Sun 28 17 Sep
Knossos was destroyed when Santorini blew up around 1450 BC. Our ship sailed into the middle of what was left of it. I skipped the shore excursion and got some sun. Karen and the Reeves took the donkey ride up the cliffside to Thera. The donkeys raced; the trip was scary; the view from the top was beautiful. After lunch on the Lido Deck and more sun, we stopped at Mykonos. Took a tender ashore and explored the town. It is beautiful: classic white wash, winding little streets, sat at a wharfside taverna and ate pistachios. Bought a few little museum reproductions. Returned to the ship, packed and had martinis at the Piano Bar. Dined at buffet with the Reeves and Rodriguezes, then watched a little of the passenger talent show.
Day 15 Piraeus / Athens / USA
Disembark in Piraeus. Short drive to Athens for the flight home, arriving late today. (B)
Mon 29 Sep
Long day today. Left the ship about 8:00. Had trouble at Greek customs because of the rug from Turkey (after much language difficulty found out they wanted us to declare it low cost to avoid paperwork). Made it to the airport on time, but the plane was an hour late leaving Athens. When we got to New York, paid duty at customs, ran through traffic (carrying luggage and the rug), we had 5 minutes to spare catching our domestic flight at 6:30pm EDT. Cool and raining lightly when we arrived at SeaTac 9:10pm PDT.