Day 1 – Friday
We recommend an early morning arrival in Athens. The legendary King George II Palace provides limousine 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 individually designed and decorated suites for your stay.
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.
This evening, everyone gets together for a private “Meet and Greet” Cocktail Reception in the Royal Penthouse with a spectacular view of the Acropolis, including the city in full regalia from the commemorative week. Hosted by your Tour Connoisseur, Claudia von Kielich, you will be introduced to the General Manager, Mr. Panagiotis Almyrantis, for your entire hotel needs. You will receive a “Goddess Within Questionnaire” and a “Goddess Journal” to record your “Goddesses Go to Greece” journey.
Day 2 – Saturday
Everyone meets in the Royal Tudor Hall Restaurant, overlooking Syntagma Square and The House of Parliament, for a Goddess Breakfast specially prepared by the hotel Chef. Please bring your completed “Goddess Within Questionnaire” to the mid-morning repast. An Athenian Scholar escorts you for a day of private 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.
Upon exiting the Metro we pass by the hill where St. Paul spoke 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 we stop at the prominent DionysosRestaurant—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. Claudia will introduce you to your personal Greek Goddess, opening the door to individual deity.
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. Later we return tothe King George II Palace—for a quick rest prior to our evening activity.
In Greece religious customs are vivacious and dynamic. During the Christmas season the streets liven up with festivities and activity. On Christmas Eve and Day children go from house to house singing the equivalent of carols (kalanda)—a tradition that spread throughout Europe and into the Americas. These Kalanda are a blessing for the homes of their joyous harmonies. Honoring that tradition, we attend a midnight service at the Agios Dionysios Catherdal with Kalandas performed by the National Opera Chorus.
Day 3 – Sunday
“Kala Christouyenna” – Merry Christmas! Like all-Christian faiths, the Greek Orthodox Church celebrates the birth of Christ on December 25th. Unknown to most, the 25th of December was picked as the Christ’s birth because it was the date in the Mediterranean that honored the pagan Sun God, Mithras. In pagan tradition December is the darkest month of the year due to the shortness of the day. Towards the end of the month marks the beginning of the sun’s ascent away from the darkness slowly growing in light, hence the birth symbolizing the return to the light in mankind through the Christ. The difference between the dark and light is such a vital aspect for the Greeks that all traditions and customs are still rooted in the contrast between the two.
One of the most celebrated customs in Athens on the 25 is the Christmas Day Brunch, especially at the King George II Palace Hotel that hosts a daylong feast for their Athenian and visiting patrons. Meeting in Royal Tudor Restaurant we partake in a delectable meal with all the cultural holiday dishes. In keeping with the symbolism of the day, Claudia gives special gifts reflecting the birth of your individual divinity.
Next we venture into the streets to join in the lights, music, and revelry of the season presented by the city of Athens. In every corner of the city, something is always happening–concerts, theatrical shows, cultural performances, mimes and street performers–delighting the residents and visitors of Athens. Make sure to bring your camera and be prepared to take countless pictures to record the most wonderful Christmas of your life!
Our first stop is the National Gardens where the city transforms the area into several illuminated forest wonderlands playing enchanted digital music. The “Earth’s Christmas Forest”—celebrates Christmas around the world with structures reflecting their individual holiday traditions; The “Forest of Fairytales”—the home hobgoblins and elves with an array of Gingerbread and storybook cottages; the Zappeion–with lights galore, more digital music, live performances, an outdoor ice skating rink and the legendary, electrifying, luminous Carousel.
Just as the streets are filled merriment, so are the tavernas and ouzeries with music and dancing. We make our way through the Plaka to famous Gero tou Moria with live ethnic Greek music, dancing and plate throwing. Acclaimed as the one of the best restaurant for anyone to begin their Greek food adventure with its traditional cuisine, we sit down for a cultural Christmas fare with the customary Christopsoma (Christmas bread loaves) and holiday kourabiedes, melomacarona and vasllopitas (cookies).
Then it is back to the King George II Palace hotel via Syntagma Square–the heart of the city’s celebrations with the highest decorated Christmas tree in all of Europe. Throughout the season the square serves as musical oasis with classical and jazz melodies, Christmas tunes from around the world, Byzantine hymns, ethnic music and traditional dance performances. Filled with brilliant lights and a vibrant character the square radiates the spirit of joy and the holiday sentiment that touches the hearts of the young and old alike.
Day 4 – Monday
In Greece the celebratory season continues through the day after Christmas with a national holiday. After sleeping in we gather for a light Greek breakfast and journey forth into the city for another day of revelry.
For Athenians the place to be on the day after Christmas is the Plaka and the Monastiraki Flea Market during the holiday season with its holiday vendors and street performers. It’s a must-see while in Athens with an eclectic mix of sights, sounds and smells that has a tantalizing effect on the senses. Not to mention it’s a great place to bargain and pick-up fabulous gifts or keepsakes for family and friends.
From the market we visit the Tower of Winds, the Roman Agora and Ancient Agora along our way toward the world famous Diogenes Restaurant for lunch. Known for its authentic Greek cuisine 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. Afterwards we return tothe King George II Palace—for a quick rest prior to our evening activity.
Characterized as “the last Greek Goddess”, Melina Mercouri, is Greece’s most admired, modern female and an inspiration to all women in the 20th century. She was a many-sided and much-loved vibrant personality. Known as a theatre and film actress of international fame, Melina played a leading role in the struggle against the Colonel’s Junta in 1967 – 1974. A politician who left her mark on the Greek culture, Melina brought Greece into the spotlight of the media and deemed her the inspirer of the “Cultural Capital Of Europe”.
It is only fitting we go to the Melina Cafe for drinks and a light meal to draw upon the muse from one of the world’s greatest iconic female figures. A tribute to Melina, the café combines the classic European cultural atmosphere with the magic of live jazz and folk art music. Dominated by Melina’s aura, inspiration and passion for life, it is the ideal place for us to motivate and support our inner Goddesses heartened by this magnificent woman.
Day 5 – Tuesday
The most energized ‘spirit of place’ in all of Greece is the ancient ruins of Delphi. Winter season is most opportune time to visit because we practically have area to ourselves. 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 Amhrova–an ancient local village. Here we will share the insights and personal experiences we learned about our Goddesses while at Delphi.
Day 6 – Wednesday
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. 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 on to the National Art Gallery and Alexandros Soutzos Museum. Recognized 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 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 an awe-inspiring panoramic view of Athens.
Next we stop at the world-renowned Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum–aunique museum devoted to the art of jewelry and the decorative arts. Founded in 1993 the Museum’s permanent collection includes over 4000 pieces of jewelry and micro sculptures from over 50 collections. All designed by the museum’s founder, Ilias Lalaounis, between 1940 and 2000. Later we return tothe King George II Palace—for a quick rest prior to our evening activity.
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.
Day 7 – Thursday
Our driver meets us in the lobby of the King George II escorting us to our private Mercedes 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. We lunch at the most noted of these seaside tavernas, the Aimani Cafe.
After our lunch we move onto the 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 most majestic setting in all of Greece to behold the setting sun over the Aegean Sea.
This evening we will crown our 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.
Day 8 – Friday
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 lies a 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 9 – Saturday
After breakfast, we board a private chartered yacht, the DIONI, traveling to Aegina one of the most cherished islands of the Greek people. The beauty of chartered yachting is that it allows us to discover 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 limo 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- hued sea to the far distant Cape Sounion.
Departing from to our port of entry, we go to a late lunch and kick off our shoes for a succulent seafood feast at an isolated family-owned seaside inn with tables placed in the water. Then it is back to the DIONI for a spectacular sunset cruise back to Athens and the hotel. Late afternoon port, coffee and deserts will be served on the DIONI during our trip.
On New Year’s Eve Syntagma Square is the place to be! It a fantastic party with DJ and VJ sets, innovative digital screenings, brilliant fireworks and performers that raise the Athenian’s spirits as everyone rings in the New Year.
We begin our celebratory evening with a late dinner on the balcony of the Royal Tudor Restaurant with all square’s activities beneath us and the luminous view of the Acropolis towering from above. This is the night to dress up and radiate your Goddess spirit, brining in the New Year with the attunement of your divine persona. So get ready to cut-loose, party down and get those Goddesses’ mojos a going as we count down the seconds ringing in 2011!
Day 10 – Sunday
New Year’s Day in Greece is St. Basil Day with Santa Claus being replaced by St. Basil or Agios Vassilis-the founder of the Greek Orthodox Church. It is also the name day for anyone named Vassilios or Vassiliki. Families exchange gifts, indulge in feasts, share the baked Vassilios (cake) and the ritual of “the renewal of waters”-emptying all the water jugs in the house and refilling them with “St. Basil Water.” The ceremony is often accompanied by offerings to the naiads-spirits of the springs and fountains. In pagan time and modern times water represents a cleansing or rebirth.
We meet for breakfast on the outside patio of the Royal Penthouse next to the infinity pool for a champagne brunch and to partake in this holiday tradition to solidify your Goddess experience. As with the custom you will receive a St. Basil parting 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