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ATHENS: Oopah! – Our Exclusive 3 Night “Real Life” Greek Experience
Upon arrival into Athens, travel like a local in a yellow Mercedes taxi to your hotel (booked directly), while beating the crowds and skipping the queues. As you pass through customs and immigration, your driver will be waiting for you holding a sign with your name.
Enjoy the remainder of the day at your leisure to relax after your international flight, indulge in the amenities offered by your hotel or being exploring the city on your own.
Meet your local English-speaking guide in the lobby of the hotel this morning to reconnoiter the streets of Athens and immerse yourself in Greek culture from a different point of view. Your first stop is the Ariston, dating from 1906; the Ariston is one of the oldest bakeries in Athens. Reenergize by sampling some of the many varieties of pies, made daily using fresh ingredients such as sweet peppers, feta cheese, mushrooms, or zucchini.
Continue on to Panepistimiou Avenue to visit the Mastiha Shop. This unique resin of the Mastiha tree has been used since antiquity to flavor chewing gum. Growing wild on the island of Chios, this resinous juice is believed to hold many beneficial properties for use in contemporary medications as well as cosmetics and perfumes.
A short walk along the main avenue leads past the National Library to the “Book Arcade.” This alleyway is a hidden little gem connecting Panepistimiou Avenue with Stadiou Streets (two of the most famous streets in Athens). From the easily identifiable Arsakeio building there is a beautiful “stoa” or row of shops providing a shortcut all the way through to Panepistimiou Street.
Visit Krinos, a traditional Greek doughnut (loukoumades) shop. Since 1922, Krinos has been frying these small delicious doughnuts drenched in honey-citrus syrup.
Our tour of local foods continues to Athinas Street, or the Varvakeios Agora area to explore the Central or Municipal Market of Athens. This sprawling, partially open-air market offers most culinary specialties imaginable. Explore the vegetable and fruit stalls (lachanagora) before perusing the fish (psaragora) and meat (kreatagora) sections of the market. Experience ‘a slice of traditional daily life,’ in this lively market and enjoy people-watching in the endless aisles filled with of vendors and customers.
Next, visit ‘spice street’ with its offering of herbs and nuts from throughout the Greek provinces, Continue on to a delicatessen that slightly resembles Katz’s in New York City, the Miran Company. Established in 1922, the Miran Company produces two items of world-renown quality: pastourma (pastrami) and soutzouki.
Travel by Mercedes taxi to Gazi, the industrial chic cultural centre of Technopolis. Once a derelict working class village, the area of Gazi (known locally as Gazohori, or village of Gazi, has been transformed into a hip and trendy neighborhood representing Athen’s ambitions to advance contemporary architecture and art. The old gasworks building, dating from 1862, has been converted into a complex of refurbished gathering places to house exhibitions, festivals and concerts. The main building’s slender chimney, beautifully illuminated with red lights in the evening, has become a local landmark, while other features like the furnaces and cauldrons testify to the industrial past of the area.
Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant with a quaint and rustic atmosphere; Sardelles is famous for fish or the Butchers Shop known for its quality meats (lunch is included, beverages on a direct payment basis).
After lunch, visit the sandal shop of Poet and Sandal-maker Stavros Melissinos. Melissinos is well known for his books of poetry, plays and essays including “The Athenian Rubaiyat.” He chooses to maintain his shop in order to gather experiences to inspire his writing. The designs of his sandals, like his poetry, is influenced by Greek mythology and history, and is based on the footwear of the ancient Greeks who once walked the streets of the ancient agora, in the very place his tiny shop now sits.
Continue on to the Martinos Antique and Fine Art Gallery. The gallery’s ever growing collection covers over four floors and includes beautiful items from all over the world such as carpets and kilims from the East, valuable old silver, Islamic Art, fine furniture, rare ceramics, delicate miniatures, primitive Art, paintings and sculptures. Quality and rarity in combination with exquisite taste have always been the objective when acquiring new pieces.
The last stop before returning to your hotel includes a glass of wine! Oinoscent, from the ancient Greek Oinos or wine, celebrates the wines of Greece. Sample a few of the different wines of the regions, while learning the differences between a Nemean wine and a Cretan wine. Enjoy local cheeses and olives. Intimate, varied, and competitively priced, Oinoscent also offers a fine selection of chocolates, ouzos and whiskey.
You are transferred back to your hotel in the late afternoon.
Today enjoy an insider’s view to ‘Chic’ Athens, exploring modern and eclectic Athens. Begin with a visit to Kolonaki, the posh residential neighborhood to feel the energetic pace of the most affluent areas of Athens. Continue on to join many Greeks in their national pastime with a visit the oldest coffee refinery with traditional bean roaster in Athens. The ‘coffee culture’ of Greece is robust and the owners of Misseyianni share with a guided tour of their facility and explain the process. Enjoy samples of the various types of coffee beans and how Greek coffee is made.
For the gentlemen who wish to pamper themselves, our next stop is a real treat. Take a step back in time to “1900,” a barber shop providing a traditional morning shave by barbers dress in retro garb. While the gentlemen enjoy their shave, the ladies can enjoy the opportunity to window shop at Kolonaki Square before reuniting to sip a coffee at the famous Da Capo café.
Our next stop is at the famous Zolotas jewelry store where you are greeted by the master craftsman who shares the family’s history and demonstrates how handcrafted jewelry, techniques which date back to antiquity, is made.
Enjoy lunch at Papadakis, a restaurant owned by celebrity chef, Argyro Barbarigou, with the biggest cooking show in Greek television! Feast on local specialties and enjoy one of the numerous wines available (Lunch and beverages on a direct payment basis).
Marvel at the breathtaking view of the city as you climb to the top of Lycabettus Hill on a funicular while your guide points out landmarks of the city. Visit the small chapel at the top before returning by Mercedes taxi to your hotel this afternoon.
After a morning at your leisure, you will be met by your English-speaking driver for your transfer to the port of Piraeus. Stop along the way at the Vosporos Restaurant in Microlimanon to enjoy a delicious lunch of grilled meats before embarking on your cruise. (Lunch and beverages on a direct pay basis)
Price per person: 1,175 EURO (based on 2 people traveling together)
Note: The above tours do require a considerable amount of walking cannot be operated on a Sunday or Major Holidays as all shops and businesses close in Greece.
YOUR TOUR OF GREECE INCLUDES:
- Transportation by private A/C vehicle and driver
- Licensed English-speaking guide during tours
- All sightseeing noted in the itinerary (approximately 5 hours each day)
- Set menu lunch at Sardelles or Butcher shop and at Vosporos