Depart home city via your chosen air carrier to Crete's International Airport (HER)
Crete / Flight arrivals from USA or pre-tour destination
Arrive Crete, the largest and most mountainous of the Greek Islands. After clearing customs, Carl and his local representative will personally meet and escort you to awaiting transportation. After a short drive, Anne will meet you on arrival at the deluxe Aldemar Knossos Royal Hotel. This upscale resort overlooks Crete’s north coast and is a complex of blue and white bungalows surrounded by beautiful gardens and pools, including a private beach. Since everyone enjoys a great sunrise or sunset, all of the accommodations for our Friends of Carl & Anne group will have a balcony or veranda with beautiful views of the sea.
The Knossos Royal also offers many and varied restaurants including the gourmet Fontana Amorosa, authentic Italian Pizzeria and the Greek taverna Artemis. The hotel is located near the village of Hersonissos, which offers visitors rows of shops selling local goods, clothes, specialty jewelry and an abundance of restaurants providing a wide variety of dining options to suit every taste.
After check-in at the hotel, the balance of the day is free for you to unpack, unwind and relax or you may want to go exploring and have some fun. Just remember to be back in time for our dinner function tonight!
This evening, please join Carl, Anne and your fellow Friends of Carl and Anne traveling companions... commonly known as FoCAs, for a special "Welcome to Crete" cocktail reception followed by dinner at the hotel.
Crete / Half Day Tour - Knossos Palace and Archanes Village
After breakfast, enjoy a fascinating tour of historic, ancient Crete. You will start off your half-day sightseeing tour with a short drive through the town of Heraklion, arriving at the excavations of the Knossos, home of the great Minoan Civilization and the mythological home of Zeus. Here, Sir Arthur Evan’s archaeological discoveries revealed a civilization dating back to 4000 B.C., when a great empire flourished on the island of Crete. These findings will be viewed in detail, as our guide will lead us on a journey of discovery to learn about the sophisticated culture that flourished thousands of years ago on this island.
The Palace is decorated with frescoes and shields and houses the Hall of the Royal Guard, the Hall of the Double Axes, the King's Chamber with the alabaster throne, the Queen's Apartment, beautiful courtyards and shrines.
After visiting this remarkable site, we will continue to Archanes village. After a walk through the award winning historically restored village, we will enjoy lunch in its picturesque main square before returning back to our hotel.
Archanes is a picturesque village built on the slopes of mount Giouhtas, 25 miles south of the city of Heraklion. Situated in the center of the most important wine-producing region of Crete, it has a 5000-year-old history, while excavations conducted in the last 50 years have also brought to light a lot of sites dating back to the Minoan period. The village is also famous for its typical Cretan architecture. Most of the houses have been restored recently and Archanes has won the second award as "the best restored village in Europe."
After the tour, the balance of the afternoon and evening is at your leisure. You may choose to take it easy and eat at one of the fine restaurants at the Knossos Royal or, have a nice "Greek" night at one of the nearby local tavernas. We're sure that whatever you opt to do will make for a wonderful evening!
Note: Anne and I will provide you with a list of nearby restaurants and their website links before the trip so you can have an idea of which ones you may want to consider before arriving in Crete.
Crete / Free Day
Today is totally at your leisure so get out, "hit the bricks" and have yourself a great adventure! There are many tour options and activities for you to consider; Hiking, biking, horseback riding, sail boating, and organized tours to the many ancient sites that dot the island (Porto Rethymno, Elounda, Chania, etc.).
Another great option is to either rent a car or hire a car with a driver /guide and spend the day roaming the island. Crete is an easy country to get around with well-maintained roads and good, easy to follow road signs. A day on your own will allow you to stop and "smell the roses" at some out-of-the-way special places that you would ordinarily never find, much less stop for a visit. We know it be a great day no matter what you do!
Today lunch and dinner, are on your own. To help you find that perfect restaurant, we suggest that you ask for recommendations from our local hosts. They will be happy to help find the ideal dining venue for a special evening on the town!
Crete / Full Day Sightseeing Tour: Palace of Malia, Dikti Mountains, Lassithi Plateau, Monastery of Panagia Kera
After our breakfast today, we will depart for our guided tour to the ruins of the ancient Minoan Palace of Malia. The Palace of Malia, dating from the Middle Bronze age (2000 BC), was discovered in 1915 by Hatzidakis, a Greek archaeologist. It was fully excavated from 1922 onwards by the French School at Athens, in collaboration with Greek scholars. Importantly, the palace was surrounded by a Minoan town which has just recently been uncovered. After visiting Malia, we will drive to Dikti Mountain and see the cave where, according to legend, The Father of the Gods, Zeus, was born. The dominant feature of Dikti is the Lassithi Plateau, the largest and arguably the most picturesque plateau in Crete. During our drive, we’ll see the famous windmills of the Lassithi Plateau with its magnificent views.
Our lunch today is included and will take place at a traditional Greek restaurant offering delicious, fresh Cretan specialties.
This evening dinner is at your leisure…giving you another opportunity to experience Crete’s fine cuisine in the atmosphere of your choosing.
Crete / Free day for leisure or optional tours
As was mentioned on Day 4, there are options galore for you to consider. Please see the local hosts for suggestions or reservations.
This evening, dinner is on your own. However, before you step out, please join Carl and Anne and your fellow FoCA travel partners...and now close friends…for a "Farewell to Crete" cocktail reception.
Crete / Island of Santorini
Another new adventure begins today! After breakfast, we will transfer from the hotel to the port of Heraklion to board a high speed ferry boat for a 2 hour ride to the Island of Santorini. Upon our arrival in Santorini, we will transfer to our "home" for the next 3 nights, the beautiful, picturesque, Andromeda Villas (http://www.andromeda-santorini.com). After check-in, you are free to do what you wish. You may opt to "hit the bricks" (…make that "cobblestones") and go exploring or you may just want to relax by the pool and take in the magnificent view of the caldera and adjoining islands. It’s up to you!
Tonight, please join Carl and Anne and your fellow FoCA travelers for a "Welcome to Santorini" cocktail reception. The balance of the evening is free to stroll the neighborhood and have dinner at one of Santorini’s quaint tavernas or top quality restaurants near the hotel. Once again, our local host will be glad to give you recommendations and make reservations for you, as well as answer any questions that you may have about Santorini.
Santorini / Full Day Sightseeing Tour: Prophet Elias Monastery, Akrotiri, Village of Oia & Village of Fira
We have a very special tour planned for you today! After breakfast, the first stop on our tour will be to the Prophet Elias Monastery, which is more of a fortress than a monastery, and one of Santorini's most impressive sites. Built on the highest point of the island, the Monastery hosts an important collection of rare ecclesiastical items, hand-written books and Byzantine icons. It also has workshops on printing, shoemaking and candle making, as well as wine making. From the yard of the Monastery, you’ll have excellent and breathtaking views of the whole island of Santorini.
Next, we drive to Akrotiri, the most important archeological site of the Cyclades Islands. Akrotiri is a Minoan Bronze Age settlement near the village of Thera. The settlement was destroyed in a volcano eruption about 1627 BC and buried in volcanic ash, which preserved the remains of fine frescoes and many objects and artworks. The settlement has been suggested as the possible inspiration for Plato’s story of the Lost City of Atlantis. After our visit of Akrotiri, we will have lunch at a traditional Greek waterfront restaurant. Then, we will continue driving through the picturesque countryside to the quaint village of Oia. Oia is perched atop a craggy cliff at the northern most point of the island offering panoramic views of steep plummeting cliffs and nearby small islands surrounded by the deep blue sea. You will be amazed!
After our visit to Oia, our tour concludes at the hilltop village of Fira. The charm of this lovely cliff-top village lies in its very narrow, twisting cobblestone paths that cater to only pedestrians. The charm of this lovely, traditional and somewhat removed village lies in its very narrow, twisting cobblestone alleyways and steps, pointing out the brilliant white stone buildings that create a maze of fine shops, art galleries, restaurants and domed churches.
This evening, dinner is on your own. After our day of touring, you may want to "stay in" and dine at our hotel’s restaurant or at one of the many nearby tavernas for a relaxing evening with some of your FoCA friends.
Santorini / Free Day / Farewell Reception & Dinner
As was mentioned on Day 4, there are options galore for you to consider and, since this is our last day on this beautiful island, we must make the most of it! Today you are free to relax or do a little (or lot) of shopping, or you may choose to take one last optional excursion. Some may just want to find a table at one of the many cliffside tavernas, order a bottle of vino and just sit, relax and people watch. The choices of how to spend your day are plentiful!
Even though our journey has come to an end, there is still time for one last get together before we bring a close to this year’s trip. Tonight, please join Carl and Anne and your fellow FoCA travel partners for a very special evening. Tonight everyone is Greek!
Santorini / USA
After breakfast, transfer to Santorini National Airport for your return flight to the USA and home city or other destination via your chosen air carrier.
Maybe I should have one more Ouzo before I go…