Saturday, June 12, 2010

Classic Journeys Announces New Greek Isles Walking Tour

At Classic Journeys, we spent last week in-country with our terrific native guides on Crete and Santorini. The trip's mission quickly changed from simply renewing acquaintances to making some exceptional – and wholesale – improvements to our Greek Isles cultural walking adventure:

* 4 hours of driving eliminated (hence 4 hours added for discovery)
* 3 new countryside walks
* 2 new cultural visits with local artisans
* 1 great new boutique hotel

Day 4 of our itinerary is the perfect example, featuring the excavations at Eleftherna (one of Crete's must-see archaeological sites). To our minds, there was too much time in the vehicle and not enough time in the open air. So, we reconnoitered, reconfigured and rerouted...and came up with a brand-new walk that showcases the island's true colors, from the deep green vineyards and silvery olive groves to the shimmering cobalt sea. After a visit to the magnificent ruins of the Minoan palace at Knossos – and a thrilling glimpse of their art, architecture and engineering prowess – guests proceed gratefully to our hand-picked boutique hotel in Heraklion.

It turns out that resetting our sights on walking was a breeze in a place where the sea is a constant presence. Yet – as on every Classic Journey – the real highlights are the cultural connections we make along the way:

* A private introduction to ancient lace-making techniques by our friend Popee, curator of a local folk art museum
* A private instruction from our baker friend George, one of a vanishing breed who still make phylo dough by hand
* A private demonstration of the centuries-old craft of pottery-making by our friend Dimitri
* A private stopover hosted by our friend Joanna at her family-run olive press
* A private winetasting at the family-owned vineyard of our friend Nikos, not far from Oia

Note how the words "private" and "friend" keep cropping up? In a nutshell, they sum up how Classic Journeys connects to each region we visit. While most tourists arrive by sea at Santorini, spend a few hours amid the hustle and bustle of Fira, and quickly return to their ships, to us, that's barely scratching the surface. We're there to get to know Santorini like the locals do, setting out on a meandering footpath that takes us from Fira to Oia on the back side of the island, where whitewashed villages dot the hillsides and terraced fields slope down to the sea.

The price for our seven-day, six-night Greek Isles adventure, departing in September, October, May and June, is $3895 per person, double occupancy, including all breakfasts and five dinners.

For a detailed itinerary and daily agendas, click on, or contact a Guest Services Coordinators directly at (800) 200-3887.

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