Ukraine, Greece and the Greek Islands
DAY 1: TOUR AROUND KIEV.
Meet at the hotel lobby for sightseeing bus tour around Kiev. See the 3 main historical districts of the capital – the Upper City, Podil, and Pechersk. During the tour, see the famous churches and monasteries – St. Andrew’s, St. Volodymyr’s cathedral, St. Catherine’s Greek monastery, several churches devoted to St. Nicholas, St. Michael’s Golden Domed monastery and 2 UNESCO sites – Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra (11 – 21ct) and Saint Sophia cathedral (1037). We will have the chance to see wonderful panoramic views of the Dnipro River, splendid Stalin style ensemble of the main street Khreschatyk, the government district with the Cabinet of Ministers, the Supreme Council, and Administration of the President. There are a number of must see places on our sightseeing list: the oldest and the most prestigious Ukrainian universities – Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (1632) and National Taras Shevchenko University (1834), the highest non-religious statue in Europe – the Motherland statue (106m), the Holodomor memorial, the deepest metro station in the world, the Golden Gate monument, Kyiv’s Opera, the former Euromaidan camp site. Lunch Walking tour “Charming Kiev” (2.5h) at the oldest and most picturesque part of Kyiv. We start at the oldest gates – the Golden Gate and walk to the Picturesque Alley. On the way, we will explore some hidden places and meet with their secret inhabitants. The Picturesque Alley is an amusing place in the city center where history is mixed with modern art and public activity. We will walk down St. Andrew’s street, which is called ‘Kyiv’s Montmartre’. This charming street is full of souvenir shops, delicious restaurants, and love stories. We will go up to Fortress Hill where the legendary founders of Kyiv settled in 1.5 thousand years ago and enjoy breathtaking views. Coffee break Walking tour “Legends of Podil” (2.5h) at the old trade district of Kyiv. We will see two squares: the Contract square – the unofficial city center and the Post square – Kyiv’s harbor. Podil is a district of stories, legends and gossips. You will hear stories about Kyiv’s witches and students of the oldest Ukrainian university, saints and criminals, the Catholic monastery next to the Orthodox convent, an Orthodox priest who saved a whole generation of Jews, ‘a lion that looks like a cat’. Dnipro cruise Free time
DAY2: WALKING TOUR & TOUR TO THE RESIDENCE OF THE EX-PRESIDENT V. YANUKOVYCH “MEZHYHIRYA”
Enjoy a walking tour devoted to the Euromaidan revolution of 2014 and continue along the main street Khreschatyk. You will see the former camp site of protesters, medical offices, barricades, bullet traces, photos of the heroes who gave their life for human dignity. We will visit places that were under control of pro-president forces: Berkut riot police and paid supporters – ‘titushki’. We will pass the Administration of the President and the famous House with Chimaeras on our way. At Independence square (Maidan), you will get to know about two previous Ukrainian revolutions. We will walk along the main street Khreschatyk to the Bessarabska square. You will get to know Khreschatyk story and enjoy its unique Stalin style ensemble. The tour ends at the Bessarabka market where you can taste Ukrainian products of the best quality. Lunch Tour to the residence of the ex-president V. Yanukovych “Mezhyhirya”. Today it is a huge park (137 ha) with a former private zoo, a farm, stables, a harbor, several ponds, a golf course, 5-floored house ‘Honka’, a gym complex, a collection of retro cars, a helicopter, ‘Putin’s House’. It is hard to believe it all belonged to one man. After a guided tour, you will have free time to discover it for yourself. We recommend renting a bicycle or an electric car. There are a number of cafes where you can buy a snack. Unfortunately, there are no organized guided tours to the house of Yanukovich – ‘Honka’. Dinner and folk program at the family farm “Savki”
DAY 3: RELIGION TOUR OF KYIV
This day is devoted to confessions and religions of Kyiv. You will start with a walking tour to Kiev-Pechersk Lavra – a must-see in Kyiv. There are beautiful golden-domed cathedrals in Ukrainian baroque style, amazing 18th century paintings, vestments and utensils used during liturgy. A large pilgrim attraction is the cave (or catacombs) that house preserved incorruptible relics of 122 Kyiv-Pechersk saints as well as several museums. We will invite you to the Micro-Miniature museum where you will see a flee with golden horseshoes, a 3.5 mm ship and other amusements made by Ukrainian artist M. Syadristy. The second museum on our way is devoted to the Ukrainian folk art – Ivan Honchar museum. The collection presents embroidered towels, national costumes, folk tools, and icons. Lunch Bus tour “Religions of Kiev”. During the tour you will get acquainted with Kyiv’s Christians, Muslims, and Jews. You will get to know their past and present, see their temples: St. Oleksandr Catholic cathedral, St. Catherine Lutheran church, Kiev’s synagogues, Ar-Rahma Mosque, Pirogoschi that is a part of the Ukrainian autocephalous church, the Annunciation – a part of the Kyiv Patriarchate Church. You will also visit the biggest cathedral of 11th century Europe – St. Sophia (1037). This cathedral is a real piece of Byzantine art and is famous for its mosaics, frescoes and graffiti. Transfer to airport for departure flight to Athens, Greece Arrival at Athens International Airport. Meet, assist & transfer to your hotel in Athens. Check-in & overnight stay.
DAY 4: ATHENS CITY TOUR - SOUNION
Following breakfast at the hotel, we enjoy our half-day sightseeing tour of Athens (Acts 17:15). We climb up to the marble-capped Acropolis, the sacred rock of Athens which was the citadel and sanctuary of the city in antiquity. We visit the famous Parthenon and the Erechteion. Then, we go to nearby Mars' Hill (or Areopagus) to read Acts 17:22 where Paul delivered his well-known sermon and spoke about the inscription: “to an unknown god”. Our tour continues with the highlights of modern Athens: we pass by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Parliament House, the Academy, the University of Athens, the National Library, we view the Panathenaic Stadium, the Temple of Olympian Zeus and Hadrian’s Arch. In the afternoon, our excursion take us to Cape Sounion, driving along the picturesque coastal road. A crowning feature of the tour is Cape Sounion, famous for its radiant sunsets and dominated by the Doric white marble Temple of Poseidon that overlooks the blue Aegean Sea. Return to the hotel in Athens for overnight stay.
DAY 5: ATHENS – CORINTH –MYCENAE – EPIDAURUS
At 8:00 a.m. we drive along the beautiful coastal road of the Saronic Gulf to ancient Corinth, passing by the Corinthian Canal; a four-mile narrow passage, connecting the waters of the Saronic and Corinthian Gulf. It was from Corinth where the Apostle Paul lived and preached for a year and a half and to this church that he wrote two of his New Testament letters. We see all of the Greek and Roman sites associated with his ministry: The Agora, the Temple of Apollo, the Roman Odeon, the Bema, and Gallio’s Seat. The small local archaeological museum here is a must! Then we proceed to Mycenae to visit the remains of the prehistoric citadel fortified with the Cyclopean Walls, the Lionesses' Gate, the remains of the Mycenaean Palace and the Tomb of King Agamemnon in which we will actually enter. After lunch, we continue through Argos on to Nafplion, the first capital of modern Greece, where we stop to take pictures. From here, we visit Epidaurus and the Sanctuary of Asclepius, ancient god of healing. Epidaurus is the best-preserved ancient theater in all of Greece, famous for the harmony of its design and the perfection of its remarkable acoustics, easily accommodating 12,000 people. Return to the hotel in Athens.
DAY 6: ONE DAY CRUISE TO THE SARONIC GULF ISLANDS (HYDRA, POROS & AEGINA)
Enjoy a one-day cruise to 3 different islands in the Saronic Gulf, including a buffet lunch served on board and round-trip transfers by bus. Set sail at 8:00 a.m. from the port of Marina Flisvos. The first stop is Hydra, a fashionable artists' colony, retreat of intellectuals and a favorite film location. The amphitheatrical town rings the colorful harbor with well-preserved sea-merchant family mansions. We have time for a leisurely stroll, some shopping or swimming (weather and sea permitting). Buffet lunch on board. From here our voyage continues to Poros where the first naval arsenal of independent Greece was established. Poros provides delightful scenery marked by the low pine-wooded hills. Our last port of call is Aegina, an attractive and tranquil resort island. Here we can either join the optional guided excursion to the Temple of Aphaia; one of the finest and best preserved of Greek temples, or walk leisurely around the harbor and browse through small gift shops. Return back to Marina Flisvos around 7:00 p.m.
DAY 7: ATHENS, DELPHI
At 8:00 a.m. we depart from Athens by bus, driving through the fertile plain of Boeotia, crossing the town of Thebes (connected with the tragedy of king Oedipus). Next are the towns of Livadia and Arachova, famous for their colorful woolen rugs and carpets. Arrive at Delphi, the center of the Ancient world, or "omphalos" (navel) of the earth - whose prestige extended far beyond the boundaries of the Hellenistic world. On the slopes of Mt. Parnassus, in a landscape of unparalleled natural beauty and majesty, lies the archaeological site of Delphi. We visit the Sanctuary of Apollo, the Treasury of the Athenians and the Archaeological Museum containing such masterpieces of ancient Greek sculpture, such as the bronze Charioteer and the famous athlete Aghias. Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant. During your visit to Delphi, there will be a brief visit to a local store where you can shop for a variety of gifts and souvenirs. Return to Athens for overnight at the hotel.
DAY 8: ATHENS, GREEK NIGHT
Free Day. You have the opportunity to visit that museum or monument that you saw on our bus tour, shop for gifts to take back home and discover Greek cuisine and the vibrant Athens coffee culture. In the evening we will enjoy a traditional Greek dinner with folk dances, bouzouki music and songs in a typical tavern in the oldest and most picturesque district of Athens, Plaka. Return to Athens for overnight at the hotel.
DAY 9: ATHENS DEPARTURE
After breakfast, check out and transfer to Athens International Airport “Eleftherios Venizelos” for your departure flight home. As your journey comes to an end, we hope that the experiences, sites and memories that you had in this land of light, with its deep blue sea, friendly people, and legends of old, will inspire you for a lifetime and will bring you to Greece once more.