Greece & Eastern Mediterranean
Day 1 - Piraeus (Athens), Greece Piraeus has been the port for Athens since 482 BC. The busy harbor is filled with ferries and cruise ships making their way to the Greek Islands and other Mediterranean cities. The busy metropolis of Athens and its treasure trove of antiquities lie just a few miles from the port. Even as the reality of the modern city took hold, with its high-rise apartments, crowded sidewalks and bustling traffic, the beauty of the Acropolis, the outstanding museums, charming cafés, sidewalk markets and startling views come together in a cultural mosaic for all to enjoy.
Day 2 - At Sea
Day 3 - Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey Kusadasi, which means "bird island," is set in a superb gulf known for its sparkling water, broad sandy beaches and large marina. The city has managed to retain a certain earthiness while doing a brisk trade in Turkish carpets and leather goods to visitors. The town's old quarter is a picturesque maze of winding streets and houses adorned with flowers and birdcages. In the center stands a 17th-century caravanserai, now converted into a hotel. The resort is also gateway to important sites of archaeological and religious interest.
Day 4 - Patmos, Greece Deserted for centuries because of constant raids by pirates and the Turks, this tiny arid island was first settled in 1088 when the Emperor of Constantinople made it a gift to the monk Christodoulos Latrnos so that he could establish a monastery in honor of St. John the Divine on the site. Patmos has been a place of scholarship and religious enlightenment ever since. Today this modern pilgrimage site is a quiet respite from the tourist havens many other Greek isles have become.
Day 5 - Rhodes, Greece Best known of the Dodecanese Islands, Rhodes is a fascinating architectural patchwork of her past. Here the legacy of the ancient Greeks mingles with that of besieging Turks, crusading knights, and occupying Italians. Twin bronze deer, the symbol of Rhodes, guard the Mandraki Harbor where the 100-foot Colossus is said to have stood, a wonder of the ancient world. The medieval Crusader City is dominated by the Palace of the Grand Masters, while cobbled streets lead to the bustling bazaar and a lively harbor that is a center of the international yachting scene.
Day 6 - Fethiye, Turkey This small port town was called Telmessos in ancient Lycian times. Throughout its history, dating back to the 5th century BC, it fell under the rule of Persians, Hellens, Romans and Byzantines. Charming Fethiye lies at the southernmost edge of the Aegean in a deep blue bay of 12 islands, one of which is reputedly the birthplace of jolly old St. Nicholas. An earthquake leveled the town in 1958 and most of what was left standing were its tombs from 400 BC. These Lycian tombs were carved directly out of the cliffs that face the harbor; their facades are reproductions of building fronts from those ancient times. There is even a 400-year-old Hamam, or Turkish steam bath. Today bakeries, cafes, and shops abound - a perfect setting for an exploration on foot.
Day 7 - Paphos, Cyprus Paphos is a city on the southwest coast of the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. Inhabited since Neolithic times, it has several sites relating to the cult of goddess Aphrodite, whose mythical birthplace was at Old Paphos (Kouklia). New Paphos is the modern city that incorporates the harbor, and the ancient ruins of tombs, fortresses, theaters and villas at Paphos Archaeological Park
Day 8 - Haifa, Israel Situated on the slopes of Mount Carmel, along one of the most beautiful bays on the Mediterranean coast, Haifa is Israel's primary port. It also serves as an important gateway to the biblical and historical sites of this sacred land. Although the origin of Haifa is obscure, its name appears for the first time in the 3rd century A.D. in Talmudic literature. Over the years, Crusaders, Arabs, Turks and the British occupied the city. Today, this bustling city possesses the nation's largest industries, several important museums and the respected Haifa Technical Institute. It is also the world center of the Baha'i faith, symbolized by a beautiful gold-domed shrine.
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