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It is your turn to live. You may in this lifetime have feasted upon heavenly unforgettable tastes. But now Nectar and Ambrosia’s team invites you to be delightfully amazed by an incredible variety of foods immersed in ancient culture.
Within hours of arrival, you may be stricken with an affliction of the Gods. To many, symptoms manifest themselves as the taste of food merges with the piercing sound of a 12-string bouzouki; to others, a gripping epidemic under the mild amorous effect of ouzo.
You have learned about Athens from previous visitors. Word-of-mouth tells you that each vista is a kaleidoscope of history that never becomes routine. Many visitors are surprised by their first visit to the heart of democracy – they can hardly believe its magnificence.
It’s your first day in Athens. If you were fortunate enough to have a window seat on your inbound flight, you noticed in the last few minutes of your journey, a bleached white city nestled by massive rock formations. The city and terrain both contrast prominent aquamarine waters of the Mediterranean. The elevated pinnacle in the center features the Acropolis. That reflective white glean and sky-water blues are represented in the colors of the Greek flag. The city sprawls; creeping fingers of urban veneer climb sparse vegetation of the foothills as it has for 6000 years.
Today you are a guest of this ancient land. You will be embraced by its mystery and intrigue. The city was named after the Goddess Athena. She has protected her city from earthquakes, torches of conquerors and plagues since 400 BC. Athens is immortalized as the legendary city of creations of Plato, Pericles, Solon, Sophocles and Socrates.
There is much to see and do. Do not intend to rest long in your hotel today. A week-long adventure awaits you. Thrill of discovery tamps fatigue. Impatient to begin, you’ll assume vigor of an intrepid explorer. You’re off!
Meet your Guide in the lobby for a brief introduction. The orientation is basic but informative. The Guide will escort you on a “first-stroll;” just a peek of what lies ahead. The immersion is a first impression you are not likely to ever forget. Breathe this new air. Stretch your legs. Drink plenty of water. Stay hydrated. Keep your head on a swivel but do not be overwhelmed. The city is yours.
As you explore the historical center of this magical city, you will receive information full of practical facts related to your upcoming adventure. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about the city, the culture, its people. Your guide has been trained to provide knowledge in digestible morsels. Very soon, your stroll will place you in a fine restaurant familiar with accommodating needs of weary travelers. Your first glimpse of Greek hospitality. Enjoy your first unforgettable dinner in Athens in witness of a stunning view of the Acropolis. Believe it. Your Nectar & Ambrosia experience is a dream come true.
This day starts with a walk up the sacred rock where Democracy was conceived: The Acropolis. Do not rush. Pause every few steps and look around. This is the hill where St. Paul gave his famous “Unknown God” sermon. The summiting reward for your climb offers one of the world’s breathtaking vistas. Before you, one of the most important structures of human history, the Parthenon. It is yours to explore. Your guide will explain its architectural specifics, as well as the tremendous optics provided by Dionysus theatre, the acoustics of the Temples of Erecthion and the magnificence of Athena Nike, the Propylaea and more – all co-located on the Acropolis rock.
Atop Acropolis, your guide will provide you an iPad Mini to enjoy an innovative, interactive tour. Through a specially-augmented reality program on the I-pad, you will witness full 3D-colored reconstruction of 5th century BC statues, buildings and ancient objects. You will virtually walk through time. Time will appear to fly here, and you soon learn it is time to pursue to the next leg of your N&A adventure: a leisurely guided walk through Plaka, the marvelous “old quarter” neighborhood.
Plaka is the familiar site of travel posters featuring narrow picturesque cobbled streets, quaint restored buildings, shops of art and artifacts, and impressive exposure to Hellenistic aromas and sounds belonging to the heart of Greece. A short coffee-break while sampling sweets gives you a chance to absorb it all. It is here where your guide begins to liven the pace of your tour by revealing history behind Ancient, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman traces of the area you explore, without boring you with dates and meaningless trivia. Presented properly, it all fits into place in a natural progression of civilization semantics.
Items of interest found in Plaka’s shops and kiosks are seldom seen elsewhere in the world. Greece’s best products will grab your attention. But before leaving Plaka you will enjoy yet another break and a delicious lunch. This lunch is where you begin to genuinely appreciate that special Greek blend of culture and civilization. It instinctively grows on you, and this realization, this exposure, becomes the basic trademark for the rest of your tour. Each meal, each venue and each attraction permeates your senses. If you could make this experience last forever, you would.
After lunch, your walk will bring you to the awarded Acropolis museum showcasing surviving treasures found on the Acropolis and surrounding areas. The museum’s collection covers Archaic and Roman periods. Emphasis is on the Acropolis of 5th century BC, considered the apotheosis of Greece’s artistic achievement. The museum cleverly reveals layers of history, floating over ruins with the Acropolis visible above, displaying her masterpieces in context. A must visit for all guests of Athens, you will leave this location near your hotel knowing you shall return. Only a short walk from your hotel it will remain in sight as a reference beacon for most of your trip.
Later that afternoon you enjoy a relaxed Greek herbal tea and honey tasting. Explore rich selections of indigenous herbs offering excellent aromas, and other qualities, in a simple cup. Sample amazing varieties of delicious Greek honey. Pace yourself. It won’t be long until you head off to enjoy a wonderful dinner at a local tavern. The night is now yours.
Today you visit one of the best wineries in the region. Your exploration begins with a guided tour of the Wine Museum showcasing a multitude of exhibits and vintage artifacts from the 17th century until today. You are invited to examine personal collections of the Lazaridis family. Learn the long history of winemaking in Greece including the production processes of wine, spirits and vinegar. The cellars are the most popular sites of the winery tour. This visit could not of course be complete without tasting Ouzo and Tsipouro, local spirits produced here as well.
Tsipouro, a spirit coming from distilling grape skins, has been enjoyed in Greece for centuries. Although only half as famous outside of Greece compared to its first-cousin Ouzo, it is more popular among locals. Ouzo is a double-distilled anise-flavored version, first created in the area of Tyrnavos in central Greece. It became such a success that it was recognized as a distinct national drink. Many products you sample today are considered by Greeks as being too good to export.
This day you will realize how much you have already learned. No Roman considered himself educated if he had not studied in Athens. While exercising your ever-awakening palate to new tastes of familiar foods, you will be treated with a cooking demonstration. You may elect to participate before indulging in a delicious lunch. The meal and final remnants of jet lag have you searching for a nap at your hotel. Rest easy, you have another great evening to enjoy just hours ahead. Education seldom seems this much fun and stimulating. By morning you will be convinced … there’s a little bit of Greek in all of us. Don’t try to deny it.
Upon awakening on this day, and accustomed to routine expectation of fascinating discovery, you realize that many of your recent discoveries lie within walking minutes, just a few city-blocks away from where you sleep. By your first sip of your morning coffee, you weigh opportunities to revisit places versus the risk of not capturing newer experiences. Advice: stick to the program. On this morning you realize that clear blue skies and bright sun have dominated your weather … it’s a benign climate famous for having fewer than 30 totally cloudy days a year.
A sense-provoking tour bearing insights into Greek gastronomy and local food culture are featured this day. Basic but little-known hints in the development of Greek cooking methods, recipes and culinary traditions lie just hours ahead. Explore streets of Athens as you sample appetizing treats that locals enjoy as part of their daily routine during this fun, private, food tour.
Visit with dedicated artisans who have perfected ancient recipes over decades. Get an insider’s glimpse of specialized food stores sourcing the best produce from all over Greece, and supplying the nation’s culinary venues. This part of your culinary tour to the city’s vibrant central food market is a unique, behind-the-scenes experience you will never forget.
You exit the market experience to find a quiet restaurant where you will dine while learning of intricate culinary customs of Athenian taste. Athenians cherish and indulge in a bountiful assortment of appetizing sweet and savory treats. Again, we caution you to pace yourself. Instinct tells you to rest. Yet intoxicating adrenaline impairs your judgement. You will be tempted to roam. If a hammock is not available, you may retreat to your hotel to rest-up for this evening’s event. By day and night, the Parthenon becomes your reference-beacon … a model of harmony.
Be prepared to enjoy a different type of dinner, paired with the best microbrewery beers of Greece. Many may not know that Greek beer has such a rich history. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, considered beer to have valuable medicinal qualities. Homer, on the other hand, gave us a vivid description of how Alkinoos, king of the Phaeacians, stored in his palace, gold and silver craters filled with wine made of barley (what we now call “beer”). This tasting and dinner will give you the opportunity to not only discover the history of Zythos (the Greek word for beer), but to taste the best quality Greek beers paired with a carefully selected assortment of appetizing nibbles. If you are not a fan of beer, these brews may surprise you. But, in any case, don’t worry. Interesting selections will always be available to address the wine-locked palette. The food is delightful, and the average waist-belt loosens a notch by the time you retire on this fourth day of your Nectar & Ambrosia tour. It’s natural.
An early start brings you to visit Pnyx Hill. This is the very place of the birth of ancient popular assembly which is the most important function of the Ancient Greek system of direct democracy. Your guide will give you a full historic account of how democracy was born in the 5th century BC in Athens.
Your walk will continue to the hill of Philoppapos to admire this monument, the breathtaking view of the Acropolis, and the city of Athens. You will have enough time here to taste some delicious breakfast goodies and to relax in the midst of this beautiful Athenian park.
At noon you depart from your hotel to the East suburbs of Attica region. The itinerary features two exceptional wineries where you will be invited to taste a selection of their fine wines along with a Greek cheese tasting. While you have already nibbled countless Greek cheeses, today you will be formally introduced to delicious qualities of original Greek Feta cheese and be pleasantly surprised by numerous local cheese varieties.
This afternoon you embark on a little side trip. You visit Cape Sounio in time to have a unique experience: watching the most beautiful sunset in the region from atop the Temple of Poseidon over a glass of wine. You won’t have to pray for the bright westerly painred-on-blue yellows, golds and rosy hues which give way to purple sky and twinkling bright stars. Glistening nautical vistas are the reason Poseidon chose this divine spot on Earth to feature his commemoration. The setting sun patiently waits for you to have your second, or third, glass of a favorite selection from the day’s samplings.
Dinner is an experience on its own. Nectar & Ambrosia takes you to the village of Kalyvia, an area famous for its taverns offering the best grilled meat in Attica. Char-broiled lamb chops, steaks and the very Greek “Kokoretsi” accompanied by breads, cheeses and salads of the area remind you of a popular movie of the early sixties. This dinner is a fitting conclusion to a truly marvelous day.
Clad in a Greek fisherman’s cap, you will probably venture directly to your hotel room to sleep. It was a long but plentiful day. However, for insomniacs, the bouzouki will summon you back to Plaka for one more Ouzo, one more song, and perhaps one more dance. It is rumored that you may be offered a dish to break to express your simultaneous joy and sorrow with life. If you elect to express your feelings this way, offer to pay for the damage! But they won’t accept. Now, you are even more Greek than you were when you awoke this morning. Let’s see what the morning brings. Life is full of surprises.
We get an early start to capture daunting shadows and plush scenic memories of the historically famous Corinth Canal. The locals affectionately call her “The Ditch.” There’s a story here. This is the spot of one of the most famous military strategic chokepoints in history. Julius Caesar, Caligula and Hadrian all toyed with the idea of digging a canal here. Octavian used warships to chase Antony and Cleopatra through the passage. But we will learn more as you view the manmade marvel which led to Nero’s suicide. This dramatic blue ribbon slicing through bordering tall sheer walls, is the opening stage of our venture into the little-explored mountain-region of Peloponnese; a region of pure theater, dazzling actors, improbable scripts and littered with evocative time-worn props.
Visit and enjoy a guided tour of the site of Mycenae, the city that imagination built. We’ll see the brooding Citadel where myth meets history. Take in venues full of Mycenaean art of the Bronze Age, an era known for exuberant motifs, scenes of hunting and war. Attractions feature an exquisite museum providing details of monumental ruins belonging to a civilization which flourished in the 1600 BC era. Examine golden treasures of a culture that combined art with culinary extravagance. Among highlights; exquisite gold, silver, copper and inlay work found on culinary-knives and weapon-daggers showing that Homer’s description of Agamemnon’s cuirass (armor consisting of breastplate and backplate fastened together) and Achilles’ shield were not just articles of fantasy. In Greek history and myth, this region holds center-stage.
The high Sun takes us to the area known as “Nemea.” Here, you will be immersed in appellations of Homer with a wine tasting kaleidoscoped of fleshy noble reds, dark purples and golden whites of the fertile region. Grapes grown and cultivated Southeast of Corinth are of a unique strain resulting from their biome. Sip slowly. A gentle wine-inspired Zephyrus breeze is our cue; a small feast-like appetizer awaits…again. And yes, if you haven’t mastered the seized-desire of pairing wines with cultured food, Dionysus sends a helping mortal messenger to hypnotically seduce your sense of taste. He has done this mercifully from an oracular chamber similar to Delphi’s since Neolithic times, but the mystery of what happens here is still unsolved. It’s all good.
Napflio, a nearby village named after Poseidon’s son, is our next stop. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along cobblestone alleys bordered by small specialty shops, restaurants and bakeries. Take in the beautiful architecture. Learn about this town’s illustrious past and its secret ancient culinary link with nature’s gift of health and restorative youth. Savor a delicious lunch at a traditional tavern nestled amidst the picturesque former capital of Greece adorned with Turkish wall fountains, ruined mosques, Venetian buildings, palaces and castles. Harams existed here. Tastings of traditional sweets and local honey remind you; you have already sampled but not experienced, the perfect “loukoumatha,” as you will in Nafplio. The dumpling-like bite-sized honey-drip was used by the most beautiful women of the world to tempt the most powerful men of the world…and the rest is history. We embark on our last return to Athens.
You have been urged to pace yourself on this culinary expedition. Today, compliance will be a challenge. As you twine through mountains back down to sea-level, the air arouses your appetite as your body knows what to expect next; a delicious dinner in one of the best local tavern of the area. During this day, you may suggest to your guide dishes which may have caught your curiosity and may like to sample once again. If logistically possible, the guide will attempt to make everyone’s dream-meal come true by visiting a restaurant which could accommodate most of your requests.
Your day will start with a shopping walk to Kolonaki, the posh area of Athens. You will experience the aura of cosmopolitan Kolonaki where celebrities, politicians and everyday Athenians enjoy their coffee at the famous Da Capo Café. Visit carefully selected local upscale independent stores, each with a special character, tradition and history offering beautiful clothing, shoes, artifacts, jewelry, accessories, and cosmetics. ‘Shopped-out? You are loitering in a neighborhood of museums. From religion to military, take your pick and indulge.
You will then visit a local delicatessen to learn even more about the number one culinary product produced in Greece, olive oil. Olive oil has contributed to local Greek economies since ancient times. It is a product that is always found on every Greek table. Learn about different olive oil varieties, distinctive tastes, colors and aromas of each olive variety originating from different regions of Greece. Many clients are surprised to learn of health benefits derived from olive oil, especially when compared to those of a vast assortment of European plant and animal oils…the secrets will be learned at this stop.
Lunch will follow. Accompanied by an Ouzo and Tsipouro tasting. By now, you are near-expert on the second most-cherished products in Greece after olive oil! You will once again be introduced to signature Greek spirits closely interwoven with the country’s local products. In Greece, customary culinary culture melds drink consumed with accompanied local appetizers, nibbles and the subtle-piercing background sound of the ever-present bouzouki. Early in this afternoon, you may visit Lycabettus hill to enjoy the 360 breathtaking views of Athens with some coffee and sweets. You will forever recollect memories of the arid yet gentle scent of caressing sea breeze as you take in one of the most historic vistas of man’s history. Contemplate magnificence of your spectacular visit, your intrepid journey and your unforgettable experience.
The pace is yours. And although tonight’s dinner may be the closing episode of your Nectar & Ambrosia adventure, you will not be sad. Instead, the word “inspired” seems to dominate the event. Our farewell reception and dinner takes place at a fine dining restaurant in the heart of Athens. Here, immersed without rehearsal, fanfare nor provocation, conversations focus more on a permeated mood of “…all that I shall do and see on my next trip to Greece” Kalo Taxithee!