Mediterranean & Greek Isles
Day 1 - Valletta, Malta Occupied successively by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs, French and British, Malta has been of strategic importance throughout history. A British Crown Colony until 1964, Malta received the George Cross for its valiant resistance to German occupation in WWII. The island's rich heritage is reflected in the architecture of Valletta, the current capital, and Medina, the capital until 1565. In Valletta the Knights of St. John built such masterpieces as St. John's Co-Cathedral and the Palace of the Grand Masters, along with the fortifications that guard the town's magnificent harbors.
Day 2 - Syracuse, Italy Now a sun-bleached provincial capital, Siracusa was once one of the most prestigious cities in the known world. Founded in the 8th century BC by settlers from Corinth, Siracusa gradually grew in prestige to rival Athens and was considered the western capital of Magna Graecia. In the Greek world dictators, often called tyrants, exercised unlimited power over colonies like Siracusa. Although often unpleasant people, they also often patronized poets and artists and competed to bring intellectuals to their courts. Siracusa was home to Archimedes, Plato and Aeschylus during its height of power and prestige. Today's visitors come to marvel at the remains of the ancient structures, reminders of the past glory and rich history of the area. The city is superbly situated at the head of a beautiful bay and enjoys a mild climate. The coastline to the south is renowned for its beauty, clear waters and evocative, mythical scenery. There are romantic abandoned coves and wide, sandy beaches not easily matched anywhere else in Italy.
Day 3 - At Sea
Day 4 - Iraklion (Crete), Greece
Day 5 - Mykonos, Greece The quintessential Greek island of Mykonos is marked by whitewashed houses, domed churches, imposing windmills, and a labyrinth of winding streets designed to disorient pirates. Everywhere there is a dash of bright, bold blue - doors, shutters and window frames, sea and sky. The harbor bustles with colorful fishing boats, vendors selling fish and locals gathered with visitors in the casual seaside cafes. The port even comes with two beloved mascots, the pelicans Petros and Irini.
Day 6 - 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 7 - Cesme
Day 8 - 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.
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