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April 23 – 30, 2014
Day 1 – Wednesday
We recommend an early morning arrival in Athens. Goddesses Go To Greece provides chauffeur service from Athens International Airport. The luxury King George II Palace combines the grace of a historic landmark with ultra-modern amenities and personal attention that put guests’ comfort above all else. So renowned is its service the hotel received the “Guest Recognition Award of Excellence”. For all of our Goddesses, the hotel has arranged an individually designed and decorated suites.
To eliminate your jet lag it is a day of relaxation at the Palace Day Spa. As a welcome gift, there will be late afternoon appointments with a Grecian Style Consultant, specializing in color coordination, hair, make-up and nails. Measurements will also be taken for your personally designed handmade, Goddess sandals by Claudia’s nephew, Strato Parellis—a master cobbler for the high-end fashion boutiques of Athens.
The days of this tour is generously commemorated by the significance of Holy Week–the week before Easter. Celebrated in every corner of Greece with an aroma of spring, this week symbolizes the Resurrection and revival with the awakening of nature. Most of the country’s Easter traditions originated long before the beginning of the Christian era and are connected in many ways with pagan rituals that accompanied the arrival of spring–the earth’s renewal.
Some believe the name “Easter” was derived from Eostre—the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Springtime. In Greek, Easter is called Pascha, meaning passover—the eternal Passover from death to life and from earth to heaven.Easter week is the holiest of the holy religious festivals for the country, dedicating an entire week of celebrations honoring the last week of Jesus Christ’s life and his resurrection. Tapping into this spirit, it is the most glorious, uplifting and celebratory season for the resurgence of your inner Goddesses.
This evening, everyone gets together for an authentic Greek welcome. Our “Meet and Greet” soiree takes place at a secret rendezvous based upon “what’s hot” in Athens–think underground artistic scene for the cultural elite. These unique spots change from season to season dictated by the diversity of the Athenian nightlife.
Day 2 – Thursday
The preparations for Easter begin on Holy Thursday with the baking of traditional Easter bread, tsoureki, and dyeing of red eggs–the color of life and the Christ’s blood. In ancient times, all the nations of antiquity held the egg to be a symbol of the renewal of life. In Christianity, the use of red eggs originated with Mary Magdalene upon appearing before the Emperor Tiberius to offer him a red egg, stating, “CHRIST IS RISEN!” and elevated herself to the stature of ecclesiastic.
While the rest of the country readies for the upcoming festivities, we gather for a Goddess Brunch specially prepared by the hotel Chef in the Royal Tudor Hall Restaurant overlooking Syntagma Square and the House of Parliament. Please bring your completed “Goddess Within Questionnaire” to the mid-morning repast and dress causally for our outing. An Athenian Scholar joins us for a day of private lectures and touring. After breakfast we head out to experience one of Athens’ bravura achievements: the Athens Metro. A magnificent marriage of high-tech transportation and archeology, this rapid transit system is a museum in of itself with its marble surroundings, displays of antiquities uncovered during construction and glass-encased artifact exhibits. Nowhere else in the world can one experience the glory of one civilization simultaneously within the urbanity of another.
Exiting the Metro we pass by the hill where St. Paul introduced Christianity to the Athenians on our way to the top of the Acropolis, home of the Parthenon, dedicated to Athena–the Goddess of Wisdom and Patron Goddess of Athens–the Erechtheion, the Temple Of Athena Nike and the Propylae. Descending, our next stop is the Theater of HerodusAtticus as we make our way to the New Acropolis Museum.
Walking into the museum the 3rd century comes alive from a downward view of an ancient Athenian neighborhood encased in the museum floor. Intended, as “the ultimate showcase of classical civilization”, the museum, which cost $200 million, is one of the highest-profile cultural projects undertaken in Europe in this decade.
For lunch dine at the prominent Dionysos restaurant—famed for its spectacular view of the Acropolis, exquisite décor, Greek and International cuisine with impeccable service. Named after the Greek God of wine, this culinary enchantment is a must-do while in Athens. While at lunch, Claudia introduces you to your personal Greek Goddess and give out special gifts reflecting your individual divinity.
Then it’s onward to the Hadrian’s Gate and the Temple of Olympian Zeus, husband to Goddess Hera, Father to Goddesses Artemis, Athena and Afroditi. Afterwards we return tothe King George II Palace—for a quick rest prior to our evening activity.
This evening we will crown our cultural activities with a performance at the Greek National Opera. The Greek National Opera is the country’s lyric opera company that has created and organized a national archive of music, a music library, and a museum with costumes, stage models, musical scores and many items from great performances presented by the company. The GNO is responsible for a wide variety of performances, including opera, ballet, musical theater and symphony concerts with its company touring both within Greece and internationally.
Later in the evening, the ringing of church bells throughout the city signifies the beginning of the holy reenactment of Jesus’ death. In all the churches a two-dimension figure of Jesus on the cross is brought inside and supplanted for the entire congregation to view, thus commencing the mourning of Jesus’ suffering on the cross. During the night young girls prepare his brier decorating it with white and purple flowers, while In some of the churches women sit through the night in traditional mourning.
Day 3 – Friday
Meeting on the balcony of the Royal Tudor Restaurant for breakfast, we hear once again the church bells ringing throughout the Athens. This marks the beginning of “Megalo Paraskevi” – “Good Friday”–the holiest of all the holy days–and signifies the death of Jesus during the ongoing Easter Drama.
Inside the churches the nails holding the two-dimensional figure are removed. Taken down from the cross, the figure is wrapped in a white cloth. Another cloth, the epitaphios–embroidered with the image of Jesus–and decorated with flowers throughout the night is brought into the church. Sprinkled with rose water, more flowers petals are thrown upon it. Women in the congregation weep in mourning, while all the flags in Greece are lowered to half-mast.
After breakfast, we board a private chartered yacht, the DIONI, or the HYDROFOIL, traveling to Aegina–one of the most cherished islands of the Greek people. The beauty of a customized tour is that it allows us to encounter hidden coves, ocean arches, remote ruins and cliff villages known only to the Greek citizens.
The island of Aegina is a priceless jewel in the Saronic Gulf, rich with ancient Greek mythology. After docking, we are met by a private chauffeured Mercedes for our journey to the Temple of Aphaea—a daughter of Zeus and half sister to Artemis. This local Goddess was originally named Briomartis. Along our stunning coastline journey we encounter the medieval village of Palaiochora, home to 37 churches dating to 896 AD.
Built in 480 BC, the Temple of Aphaea, the foremost ancient site of the Saronic Gulf isles, sits on a pine-covered hillside of Aegina. Looking out over the Saronic Gulf from this pictorial, well-preserved temple, considered the forerunner of the Parthenon, one can see across the aqua hue sea to the far distant Cape Sounion.
Returning back to the town and port of Aegina, we stop by the ruins of the famous Temple of Apollo. This is a key Archaeological site, not so much for the temple or it’s other structures, but rather due to it containing the remains of ten successive prehistoric settlements dating from the late Neolithic period (5th century BC) to the Mycenaean period (1600 – 1100 BC). Most of the ruins have not withstood time, however of those that have, the most noteworthy for us is the altar from the Temple of Artemis.
Near the altar is a secluded beach perfect for us to take a swim and have a private lunch of Greek delicacies from the region, catered by the well-known Taverna Zeus. Walking back to town and the port we stop for coffee and deserts at a quaint seaside café, Stin Paralia, prior to our departure. Then it is back to the DIONI and onto the unspoiled, cosmopolitan isle of Hydra.
The seductive landscape of Hydra with the most picturesque port in the Mediterranean is a safe haven for international artists, writers, politicians and the jet-setting elite. Sheltered deep in a naturally formed harbor, its traditional-styled 18th century architecture fans-out amphitheatrically over two hills leaving an eternal mark on the island.
Arriving in early afternoon affords a perfect time for our private sightseeing through the village’s untouched traditional old-world monasteries and mansions—all in full ceremonial dress preparing for the sanctified services of Good Friday. Wandering through the narrow landscaped paths, we make are way to an awe-inspiring view of the Aegean to an Ouzerie, overlooking the crystal blue sea. It is the perfect advantage point to watch the community gather in the harbor for the evening service as the youth of the island carry relics from the churches to be cleansed in the water.
Leaving the island we board the DIONI to return to Athens for the Good Friday vesper activity at Dionysios Arepaeitus in Kolonaki. Starting around 9pm the epitaphios is taken from the church, with the mournful tolling of the church bells and carried through the streets—the procession of the bier (representing Jesus’ funeral).
The drama of Jesus’ death is reenacted with a great devoutness. A band or choir sings or plays somber music preceding the procession; followed by the cantors, clergy, women bearing myrrh, altar boys with liturgical fans, and the congregation, who sing hymns throughout the pageant. All along the parade’s route, people with candles scatter flowers and perfumes on the epitaphios (bier) as it passes. To be a part of this devoted splendor is an opportunity of a lifetime and only afforded by the people of Greece.
Day 4 – Saturday
After another delectable breakfast we set off from the King George II Palace down Embassy Row pass neoclassical buildings with an array of colorful flags of nations. Simultaneously, in Jerusalem, the Orthodox Patriarch breaks the seal of the door of the tomb of Christ in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. He emerges with the Holy Fire, which is then flown by Olympic Airways, accompanied by high-ranking priests and government officials to Athens International Airport where it is met by an honor guard and taken to a small church, Agia Anargyroi, in the Plaka. From there the flame is distributed to churches all over Greece for the Holy Saturday evening services.
While the eternal flame is in route to Greece, our first stop is the Benaki Museum, Greece’s oldest privately owned museum. A monument in culture and art commemoration, the museum is the foremost in terms of history of both ancient and modern Greece as well as art and culture.
Our second stop is Museum of Cycladic Art. Dedicated to the study and promotion of ancient cultures of the Aegean; the museum places a special emphasis on Cycladic Art of the 3rd millennium BC. Next, it’s onto the National Art Gallery and Alexandros Soutzos Museum. Acclaimed as Greece’s most vital institution, it is a magnificent assemblage devoted to the history of Greek and Western European art from the 14th century to current day.
Then it is back to Kolonaki Square, the Fifth Avenue of Athens with its high-end boutiques and trendy milieu. Boarding the Rack Rail we head for Lykavittos Hill—the highest point in Athens. Legend has it Athena inadvertently created the hill when she dropped a large rock during the construction of the Acropolis. For us it will be the place to take in a late lunch surrounded by a breathtaking panoramic view of Athens. Returning tothe King George II Palace, we take a quick rest prior to our evening plans.
The night of Holy Saturday fills the city with anticipation awaiting the ceremony of the Resurrection. By 11pm, people gather in the churches and squares with large white candles. We meet at 11:30 at a reserved table on the balcony of the Royal Tudor Restaurant. Specially made “Goddesses Go To Greece” candles will be distributed among you as we wait for the crowning moment representing the transformation of Jesus.
Inside the churches and in the streets everyone sits in darkness. At midnight all the priests in the city announce that Christ has arisen from the dead. They light candles from the eternal flame and share the flame with the people. A glow at the front of the church grows throughout the congregation, illuminating the entire room from everyone’s candles, spreading out into the streets.
For us it is the signal to light our candles, as the priests intones the paschal hymn. The church bells ring alerting the city that “Christos Anesti,” – “Christ has arisen.” Everything comes alive—fireworks explode, ships sirens sound, gunpowder booms, floodlights from building shoot into the night, filling the city with the brilliance of light and joy. Everyone elatedly kisses each other saying, “Christos Anesti” with the other person replying back, “Alithos Anesta” – “Truly He has arisen.”
The glory of the celebration continues late into the night. People carry their eternal flame to their homes with candle lights creating a luminous trail through the streets. Upon returning they use the smoke of the candle to make a cross on their door, leaving it year-round to signify the light of the Resurrection blessing their homes. In keeping with the tradition, we too will continue to burn our candles and have the traditional mid-night Easter meal of mayiritsa soup, tsoureki (sweet bread) and red eggs.
Day 5 – Sunday
“Kalopaska” – Happy Easter This morning we sleep in and meet for specially prepared Easter brunch on the balcony of the Royal Tudor Restaurant. Here we partake in one of the city’s most popular and distinguished traditions. In the streets below a full regiment of Evzones execute the Changing of the National Guard in front of the House of Parliament. Joining us is Kosta, an Evzone by trade, to describe the ceremony and the history of this national custom.
In ancient times, the Goddess Demeter brought on the coming of spring. So grateful by the annual return of her daughter, Persephone, the elated Demeter marked the event by the flowering of the meadows and the sudden growth of new grain. In the countryside and islands, many of the girls and women honor the earth’s resurrection by collecting flowers and make wreaths.
In Athens, there is no better place to experience the awakening of nature than the National Gardens. Formerly known as the Royal Garden from the days when Greece was a monarchy, this magnificent green refuge is best described by the famed American author, Henry Miller: “It remains in my memory like no other park I have known. It is the quintessence of a park, the thing one feels sometimes in looking at a canvas or dreaming of a place one would like to be in and never finds.”
For the most Athenians, Easter day is the favorite day of the year. Starting early morning all the homes and restaurants roast lambs on spits over a grill. It is a day dedicated for friends and families to eat, drink, socialize and dance, which is exactly what we are going to do!
From the Gardens we make our way through the Plaka and the merriment to the world famous Dionysios Restaurant for our late classic Easter meal. Known for its authentic Greek cuisine and hand-painted mythic Goddess murals, it is the perfect place to myth gossip and discover more about our Goddesses. Claudia’s brother-in-law, an Athenian Aristocrat and Greek mythology scholar, will reveal the unknown facts of your divine personas.
After dinner we are met by Claudia’s nephew, Theo, escorting us the to famous Gero tou Moria with live ethnic Greek music, dancing and plate throwing to party into the night bringing in the renewal of life.
Taking time to sleep in, we meet for a late breakfast at the Royal Tudor Restaurant. Claudia’s sister—a 25-year Athens resident—joins us for her customized tour of the least tourist invaded, yet illustrious, areas of the city. Known as the “Walk of the Millenniums”, she takes us down the legendary Ermou Street for a journey through time.
In the heart of central Ermou lays charming 11th Century Byzantine Church traditionally called the Church of Panaghia Kapnikarea. A tribute to the Virgin Mary, the church was built on a temple ruin site dedicated to the Goddess Demetra during the Middle-Byzantine period and is also known as the Church of the Princess.
From the 11th Century AD we move back in time to 11th Century BC and the most historic burial area in ancient Athens for over a thousand years. Keremikos with its revered Street of Tombs was the final resting place for prominent Athenians in Ancient Athens. Named after Kermos the son of the God Dionysus and Goddess Adriadne, he was also a famed hero to the Athenian potters.
Continuing down Ermou street, we enter into the Gazi District named after the Gas (Gaz) Factory established in 1857 until deserted in 1984. This 3-acre site that originally blanketed the sky with soot from its factory’s gas-producing furnaces is now an incomparable architectural, industrial museum and multi-purpose cultural center. Crowned as Technopolis with its restaurants, cafes, music and unique graffiti art alleyways, the area is hailed as one of the most innovative and happening places in Europe.
For dinner we will dine in one of the modern tavernas in the area and will be joined by Claudia’s niece, Katerina. An award winning swimmer, Katerina was Greece’s first female jockey and an Athenian Councilwoman. During our meal she will enlighten us on Greece’s current trials and accomplishments to reinvent itself as a major cultural society.
Day 7 – Tuesday
The most energized ‘spirit of place’ in all of Greece is the ancient ruins of Delphi. Traveling out of Athens in our private chauffeured Mercedes limousine we take a morning ride to experience what the ancient Greeks regarded as the centre of the world. Built on the slopes of Mt. Parnassos, overlooking the Gulf of Corinth, Delphi’s allure lies in its stunning setting and inspirational sites.
One cannot visit Delphi without taking in the Sanctuary of Apollo with its steps leading into the Sacred Way that gradually winds up to the foundation of the Temple of Apollo. Academics of Delphi will join us to reveal the site’s historical details and accolades dedicated to this imperial sacred homage to the Greek God, Apollo.
The female Delphi Oracles’ prophecies altered the courses of nations. The revered site from where they spoke, The Delphic Oracle, was the most influential source of sacred wisdom in the ancient world. Many who walk this hallowed ground make claim of life altering experiences. If you are open to the experience, hopefully our visit will ignite your Goddess aspect into fruition.
After a light lunch in Delphi we will return to Athens taking a different route to explore the local villages along the scenic coastline. This leisurely drive will afford stops along the way to take in the charms of Nafpaktos, the beautiful Galaxidi and the Corinth Canal, which separates the Peloponnese from mainland Greece connecting the Gulf of Corinth and the Saronic Gulf.
During our return to Athens we will stop for dinner at a celebrated family-owned taverna for a classical country meal under the stars in an ancient local village and share the insights we learned at Dephi about our Goddesses.
DAY 8 – Wednesday
Once again we meet for our breakfast in the Royal Tudor Restaurant. Then join our chauffeur for another trip out of the city. Make sure you bring your bathing suits, suntan lotion and beach gear because today we spend a glorious day in the sun replenishing our mind, body and soul in a organic health spa. Traveling in our private chauffeured limo we take a scenic drive out of the city.
Just a short distance in the southern coast of Attica lies the magical and mysterious Lake Voulliagmeni–a small fresh-water lake fed by an underground hot spring current seeping through the mass of Mount Hymettus, creating a ecologic mineral spa. Recognized as a natural wonder because of its unique appearance and pictorial surroundings, millions of years ago it was originally a vast cavern with a countless number of hot springs. Due to the high temperatures and moisture from the hot spring the cavern’s roof caved in crating the lake. An extended part of the cave is still underwater with numerous unexplored, bottomless channels and waterways.
Anastasios Christomanos, a Professor of Chemistry from the University of Athens, discovered the therapeutic quality of the lake in 1889. Voulliagmeni contains a plethora of minerals–potassium, natrium, lithium, ammonium, calcium, ferrium, chloride and iodine–creating a slight radioactive properties that heals a variety of diseases, from rheumatic, gynecological and skin disorders. For us Goddesses it is heaven on earth as we take the entire day to swim, soak, sunbathe and feast on a gourmet seafood lunch provided by the En Plo restaurant. After our day of Goddess rejuvenation we return to the hotel for another special evening occasion.
Tonight we go to one of the oldest and most prestigious restaurants in Athens, the Abunknva. This sophisticated and cultured establishment has three different dining areas in its three-storied eatery—each with a different décor and feel for their patrons. For us Goddesses, they have arranged a private area on their rooftop garden with the best view of the Acropolis while surrounded in greenery and floral for our dining experience.
Our driver meets us in the lobby of the King George II, escorting us to our private limousine. In the tranquil countryside outside of Athens lies a temple complex in Vravrona, sometimes romantically called, “The Parthenon of the Bear Maidens“, this site is commonly known as the Temple of Artemis–the huntress and childbirth Goddess.
Skipped by most visitors and most tour operators – solely because it is a bit out of the way– this temple is rarely crowded and stands by a delightful museum filled with images of the children who once studied at the temple.
Winding along the countryside roads we veer off the beaten path to stop at the olive groves and vineyards during the harvest. This leisurely drive will afford a stop along the way at Basileoy Winery for wine tasting. Then it is onto Porto Rafti and a seaside taverna for our lunch.
Pórto Ráfti, a picturesque little port in a bay on the east coast of Attica, takes its name from a large marble statue of the Roman period, popularly known as the “Tailor” (raftis), on a rocky islet which shelters the harbor. One of the common sights of the seaside village is tavernas or docked fishing boats with fresh caught octopus hanging in the sun to dry.
One cannot leave Greece without experiencing Cape Sounion, the noted site of ruins for the Temple of Poseidon—the God of the sea. Perched on the headland surrounded on three sides by the water, this hallowed sanctuary in ancient times was the last sign of civilization the Athenians saw as they sailed away from home and the first upon their return. For us it is the perfect parting gift to behold the majestic setting sun over the Agean Sea.
Returning back to the King George II Palace we will have a late celebratory dinner under the stars with the city lights and luminous view of the Acropolis on the balcony of the Royal Tudor Restaurant. This is the night to dress up and radiate your Goddess spirit, sharing what you have discovered and the attunement of your divine persona from your “Goddess Journey.”
We meet for breakfast on the outside patio of the Royal Penthouse next to the infinity pool for a champagne brunch. You will receive your exclusive “Goddess Go To Greece” gift-your individually designed sandals created by Strato Parellis. It is an opportunity for everyone to exchange contact information, personal pictures and whatever one chooses to share prior to saying adieu. After we have said our goodbyes, the hotel limo service will take you to the airport for your individual flights back home.
For more information about this tour please contact Claudia von Kielich at (310) 383-5100 or firstname.lastname@example.org. CST #2054515-50