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Day One Arrive in Athens and drive to hotel. Over night.
Day Two Spend a day on foot in the city, including a climb to the Acropolis in the morning, to see not only the monuments on the hill but the whole layout of the city. Visit the excellent, new Acropolis Museum. Return to the hotel for over night.
Day Three After breakfast drive out of the city to Delphi. The Panhellenic Sanctuary of Apollo and the site museum at Delphi. The oracle was given by a priestess called the Pythia who sat on a tripod over a chasm in the inner sanctum of the temple and, inhaling the vapours which issued from it, uttered prophecies in a trance. Return back to Athens for over night.
Day Four Transfer to Athens airport and domestic flight to Ioannina.Upon arrival we will visit The Castle of Ioannina, charmingly situated on Lake Pambotis. This houses the fine newlydisplayed Archaeological Museum and Museum of Byzantine Epirus. Transfer to our hotel for over night.
Day Five The mysterious Nekromanteion (Oracle of the Dead) on the Acheron, ¡River of Hades¢. This has been identified as the spot where Odysseus consulted the spirits of the underworld, as chronicled by Homer. Certainly the finds show that at a later date sacrifices were made here, and possibly hallucinatory comestibles were used. We also visit the lovely ancient town of Kassope, laid out in the 4th century BC on a grid, and depopulated when the inhabitants were forced to move after the foundation of Nikopolis. From here there is a view towards Nikopolis (¡Victory City¢), founded by Augustus after the Battle of Actium. Retunrn to our hotel in Ioannina for over night.
Day Six The sanctuary of Zeus at Dodona, mentioned by Homer as being the oldest in Greece. The original focus of worship was a holy oak tree, where the god delivered oracles through the rustling of leaves. It was later enhanced with stone monuments such as a theatre, temples and a stoa. We also visit the ancient city of Orraon, strategically situated at the southern end of an important pass connecting the Plain of Iannina with the Ambracian Gulf. Over night in Ioannina.
Day Seven After breakfst spectacular drive through the Pindos mountains to the Meteora monasteries. The earliest evidence for this particular community dates to the 14th century, but there may have been earlier inhabitants who left no trace. Over night in Kalambaka.
Day Eight Drive via Larissa and the Vale of Tempe to the ancient town of Dion, the Macedonians¢ sacred city, under Mt Olympos. The site museum houses finds from sanctuaries to Zeus, Hera, Isis and Demeter, and from the city. We will continue to Thessaloniki . Arrival and over night.
Day Nine After breakfast we will visit teh Capital of the Macedonian kingdom before its move to Pella in the 4th century BC, Verghina (ancient Aigai). We see the remarkable painted tombs, displayed in the excellent site museum under the recreated mound which originally covered the burials (entrance pictured below left). Continue towards Pella, second Macedonian capital which was only discovered in the 1950s (we view it from a distance). Birthplace of both Philip II and Alexander the Great, it is renowed for its exceptional mosaics made from carefully-selected natural pebbles. Some of finest examples are on display in the new museum. In the way back to Thessaloniki we will visit the attractive but little-known castle of Rendina occupies a hill in a thickly-wooded defile. Return to Thessaloniki for over night.
Day Ten Today we will visit Thessaloniki, the capital of northern Greece - the rotunda of St George with fabulous mosaics, the Roman arch and palace of Galerius and the striking Byzantine museum, Aghios Dimitrios and Aghia Sofia - two of the major churches - and then the Roman forum. We will see the impressive fortifications and a fine vew from the upper town over the city to the sea.
Day Eleven Transfer to Thessalonki airport for flight to home (directly or via Athens)