Join Phil Cousineau for a captivating sacred odyssey into the heart of ancient Greece. Journey through a land of myth & mysteries and step back in time to relive the ancient stories.
Enjoy the spectacular natural surroundings, the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea, the delicious traditional cuisine, the lively and vibrant culture and the welcoming Greek people. In Athens we follow the Panathenaic Way, the ancient procession of the goddess, up to the Acropolis and then Agora, before travelling to the sacred sites of Delphi and the Sanctuary of Eleusis. We will also visit Olympia, Nafplion, Mystra, Mycenae, and the beautiful island of Santorini. An optional extension takes us to Crete, the “Island of the Gods”, on this unforgettable journey. READ MORE
Phil Cousineau is a writer, teacher, independent scholar, documentary filmmaker, travel leader, storyteller and author of over 40 books including the national best-seller The Art of Pilgrimage, The Book of Roads, and Stoking the Creative Fires, winner of the Book of the Year Award from “Spirituality & Health Magazine.”
From Eleusis to Mycenae and beyond, I felt a connection to the land that defies description. It was as though Gaia had opened her arms to us and welcomed us home. Karma Pratt & Les Anderson, Fort St. John, BC
I had not expected this to be such an amazing journey of self- discovery, but in those beautiful settings...I had many unexpected personal revelations that profoundly affected my sense of who I am...Lou Ann Granger, Los Angeles, CA
Join Phil Cousineau for an unforgettable sacred odyssey into the heart of ancient Greece. Journey through a land of myth and mysteries, discovering the legends of ancient gods and goddesses, heroes and heroines.
Visit sacred ancient sites in honour of the Greek gods and goddesses, and take a step back in time to relive the ancient stories. Blessed with the bountiful gifts of the captivating islands, enjoy the spectacular natural surroundings, the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea, the delicious traditional cuisine, the lively and vibrant culture and the welcoming Greek people.
Our journey will begin in Athens as we follow the Panathenaic Way, the ancient procession of the goddess, up to the Acropolis to explore this sacred site. At the Acropolis Museum we will discover the antique relics and findings from the site of the Acropolis, finally ending our day at the sacred centre of the Agora in the heart of the city. We continue on to the sacred site of Delphi and the Sanctuary of Eleusis to learn about the ancient secret rites and initiation ceremonies and discuss the role of the goddess in Greek mythology as well as the role of ritual in antiquity.
We shall also wind our way up the ancient Sacred Way to the home of the Oracle at the Temple of Apollo, one of the greatest pilgrimage sites in all the world, and, in the spirit of the ancient pilgrims, we too shall ask a question. At Olympia, the site of the first Olympic Games, we shall learn about the relationship between athletics and spirituality, and the sacred dimensions of sports in ancient times. Travelling on to the seaport town of Nafplion, we find cobblestone streets, Venetian balconies, picturesque cafés and fortresses. Continuing our journey, we stop in Mystra, Sparta, and Mycenae, eventually winding up our odyssey on the island of Santorini. With its dramatic caldera views and stunning sunsets, here we shall unravel mysteries of the ancient Minoan civilization that flourished in Akrotiri before a momentous volcanic eruption destroyed it in the 2nd century B.C.E. We will also discuss the Myth of Atlantis, which was born here, and has persisted for over two thousand years. Finally, we return to Athens and bid a fond farewell to this magical land.
You may also continue your journey and join us on an optional extension to Crete, known as the “Island of the Gods”, according to Homer. Here we will visit Bronze Age sites and learn about the magnificent civilization that once inhabited this enchanting place. Phil will spin many ancient tales on this journey, including the legend of the Minotaur and his labyrinth at Knossos. We will also visit the Paliani Monastery to discover its associations with Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty, and the Dikteon Andron, the spectacular cave which has long been considered the legendary secret birth site of Zeus.
We welcome you to join us on this mystical journey to connect with the power of the ancient gods and goddesses and be graced with all the magic and fascination this land has to offer.
Tue, Jun 12
Arrive Athens (D)Read more
Arrive at the Athens airport and be met by our representative who will transfer you to the hotel. Depending on your arrival time, you will have time to explore this ancient city on your own. Athens, the capital and largest city in Greece, dominates the Attica periphery. One of the world’s oldest cities, Athens is full of myths, mysteries, and legends. Steeped with a rich history that spans around 3,400 years, the city is home to many sacred ancient sites, monuments, and landmarks. A fusion of old and new, Athens is also a cosmopolitan metropolis buzzing with lively activity and vibrancy.
In the evening we will gather as a group at a local tavern in the Plaka district for our Welcome Dinner. Dining on delicious traditional food we will enjoy live Greek bouzouki music and entertainment while admiring the magnificent views of the Acropolis in the distance. (Overnight in Athens)
Wed, June 13
Athens (B, L)Read more
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel. This morning, we follow the Panathenaic Way, the ancient procession of the goddess, up to the Acropolis. Once arrived, we will visit the magnificent ruins of the Parthenon, currently undergoing restoration, and visit the Theatre of Dionysus, the world's oldest theatre where great plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides were first performed. We then visit the Acropolis Museum, which is home to all the findings and artifacts from this ancient site. The museum itself sits on the archaeological site of Makrygianni and over part of the ruins of Roman and early Byzantine Athens. We then take a break for lunch either at the museum or a nearby restaurant.
After lunch we walk to the Agora, the heart of Athens, and one of the most historically important, but least visited sites in Athens. The Agora is the ancient marketplace where Socrates, Plato and Aristotle strolled, and the traditional morning meeting place for the citizens in Athens. Here the people would discuss politics and philosophy, worship at one of the many altars, visit the Temple of Poseidon, and shop at one of the many markets. Today it is one of the quietest and most meditative places in Athens, with magnificent views of the Parthenon atop the Acropolis. This evening, explore Athens independently or join Phil for a night of traditional bouzouki in the Plaka. (Overnight in Athens)
Thu, Jun 14
Athens to Delphi (B, L, D)Read more
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before we depart for Delphi. We stop en route in Eleusis to visit to the Sanctuary of Eleusis, one of the greatest shrines of antiquity in honour of Demeter and Persephone. Here we will learn about secret rites and initiation ceremonies that honoured the wandering Demeter and her daughter Persephone who was held hostage in the underworld by the god Hades. Their drama was enacted here and witnessed by initiates under a vow of secrecy. Sophocles remarked that “happy is man who has seen the secret rites,” which were intended to reveal the mysteries of rebirth. This morning we will take time to roam the ruins and share in a discussion about the role of the goddess in Greek mythology and the role of ritual in Greek life.
Upon our arrival in Delphi in the afternoon, we will settle into our hotel and then have time to stroll around the town and do a little shopping before gathering for dinner as a group. (Overnight in Delphi)
Fri, Jun 15
Delphi; Olympia (B, L, D) Read more
After breakfast at the hotel, we gather for a morning discussion about the Oracle of Delphi, also called the Pythia, or the Sibyl, who uttered prophecies for pilgrims who came to her temple for over twelve hundred years. Afterward, we will walk in silence from the small town of Delphi and wind our way up the ancient Sacred Way to the home of the Oracle at the Temple of Apollo. Here, we will dwell on the threshold of one of the greatest pilgrimage sites in all the world where everyone will have time to approach the temple, and, in the spirit of the ancient pilgrims who brought their deepest questions here for 1200 years, we too will ask a question. We will then visit one of the most beautiful stadiums in ancient Greece, and the old theater. Finally, we will visit the Delphi Museum, which features the original stone omphalos, symbolic of Delphi being the navel or centre of the ancient world, and see the brilliant bronze sculpture of the Charioteer found in a shipwreck in the 19th century.
We then enjoy lunch in a local restaurant and admire the spectacular views before continuing on to Olympia, a sanctuary of ancient Greece, and home to the Olympic Games of the classical period. Olympia was considered a national shrine for the Greeks and housed many treasures and works of art ranging from temples, monuments, sacred altars, theatres and statues. Upon arrival at our hotel we will settle in and then enjoy dinner at the hotel. After dinner, Phil will lead a late evening discussion and storytelling session in a local tavern with traditional local music. (Overnight in Olympia)
Sat, Jun 16
Olympia (B, L, D)Read more
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel, followed by a day of ancient discoveries. Together we shall make our way to the site of the ancient Olympics and spend the day visiting the ancient gymnasium, and the palaestra (wrestling forum). At the Temple of Hera, where the Olympic torch is lit every four years, we will gather for a group discussion. We will then visit the ruins of the Temple of Zeus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and finally enter the excavated stadium, the origin site of all Western athletics. Breaking for lunch, we will dine at a nearby restaurant. After lunch, we walk through an old olive grove for a visit of the Olympics Museum, which features a collection of Olympic torches, medals, and memorabilia of the Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the visionary who revived the Modern Olympic Games in the belief it would revive the spirit of the well-lived life. Here we will have another group discussion about the relationship between athletics and spirituality, and the sacred aspect of sports in ancient times.
We return to the hotel to freshen up, followed by dinner at the hotel. This evening, stroll through Olympia on your own, or join Phil at an old tavern for an optional late night discussion. (Overnight in Olympia)
Sun, Jun 17
Olympia to Nafplion; Mystra; Sparta (B, D)Read more
Enjoy breakfast at your leisure and then spend time this morning to independently wander the town. You may also want to revisit the Olympic site and ruins once more and explore the museum more thoroughly. We then depart from Olympia and journey to the 13th century monastic site of Mystra, famous for its mosaics and frescoes, and regarded as the “Florence of the Orient”. Later, we continue on to the ancient seaport town of Nafplion making a brief stop in Sparta, home of Menelaos and Helen of Sparta (and later Troy), and Leonidas, the leader who fought the Persians, along the way. We will also take a brief mid afternoon break for a picnic with a discussion of the origins of the Trojan War and the Greek cult of beauty, embodied in Helen, Aphrodite, and Paris.
We arrive in Nafplion in the late afternoon, where we will find one of the best examples of restoration in modern Greece. After checking into our hotel and freshening up, we will enjoy dinner and a stroll through the beautiful cobbled town square of Nafplion (Overnight in Nafplion)
Mon, Jun 18
Nafplion, Mycenae (B) Read more
After breakfast at our hotel, we head to the ancient citadel of Mycenae, with its cyclopean walls and history of Menelaus and Clytemnestra. Here, we will spend the morning exploring the archaeological site, first excavated by Heinrich Schliemann (discoverer of Troy, in Turkey). We then visit the nearby tholos or beehive huts. Surrounded by the glorious scenery, we will enjoy a picnic and discussion where we will examine the influence of Homer on our impression of Greek history. We then return to Nafplion for the evening. Tonight you are free to roam this charming town, sample delicious cuisine in the town square, or immerse yourself in the lively culture. (Overnight in Nafplion)
Tue, Jun 19
Nafplion; Athens to Santorini (B, D)Read more
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel and then prepare for our return to Athens. We will stop en route in Epidaurus to visit the famous sixth century BCE dream temples of Asclepius and the ancient amphitheater, which is known around the world for its breathtaking acoustics. Here, we will participate in a discussion about the ancient roles of dreams, healing, herbs, and the oracle. We will take time to meditate, journal, sketch and walk the ancient grounds. After visiting the temples, we will visit the on site museum.
Later in the afternoon, we make a brief stop in Corinth, home of King Sisyphus, and the infamous temple in honour of Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty, and the spectacular nearby canal. Here, Phil will recount the ancient story of Sisyphus. Once in Athens, we transfer to the airport and hop on a quick flight to magical Santorini. We check into our hotel upon arrival and then stroll to a local restaurant for our dinner this evening. (Overnight in Santorini)
Wed, Jun 20
Santorini; Oia (B, D)Read more
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel, followed by a discussion on the mystery of the Minoans. Phil will also share a tale of the labyrinth at the Knossos Palace, and talk about Theseus, Ariadne, and the mighty volcanic explosion in Santorini that destroyed much of the island as well as parts of distant Crete, and with it, Minoan civilization. We will also explore the connection of the myth of Atlantis, which Plato associated with this cataclysmic event. Afterward, we will travel by coach to visit the Akrotiri Museum (if it has reopened by this time). Later, enjoy the afternoon at your leisure; bask in the golden sunshine, stroll along the spectacular volcanic black sand beach, and splash around in the warm Mediterranean waters.
In the evening, we enjoy a Farewell Dinner Cruise and sail to Nea Kameni to visit the active volcano. We stop on the island for a while and then continue on to Palea Kameni where the thermal springs provide natural heated baths. We then sail along nearing Thirassia Island and begin to feast on our delicious buffet dinner. By dessert we have reached Oia where we end a splendid evening with a magnificent sunset. (Overnight in Santorini)
Thu, Jun 21
Santorini to Athens (B, D)Read more
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel and your last morning with Phil before transferring to the pier to board a hydrofoil to Piraeus (Athens). Upon arrival, check into the hotel and explore Athens independently taking the time to visit new sites or revisit your favourites. In the evening, enjoy dinner with the remaining group at a local tavern (Overnight in Athens)
Fri, Jun 22
Depart Athens (B)Read more
Breakfast at your leisure at the hotel before transferring to the airport for your return home.
Sacred Odyssey into the Heart of Ancient Greece with Phil Cousineau
June 12 - 22, 2012
Island of the Gods: A Crete Encounter
June 20 - 25, 2012
Main Tour Includes:
10 nights accommodation based on double/shared occupancy
Arrival and Departure Transfers
Breakfast Daily, 4 Lunches and 8 Dinners
Transportation by Private Coach Bus
Local Flight – Athens to Santorini
Hydrofoil Santorini to Athens
Baggage Handling at the Hotels (1 bag per person)
Fees and Gratuities for Tour Leaders
Admission to all sites as per itinerary
Local Guides for all visits
Travel with author, teacher and filmmaker, Phil Cousineau
Insightful Group Discussions
Welcome Dinner with Traditional Entertainment
Visit the Acropolis, Parthenon & Theatre of Dionysus
Visit the Acropolis Museum
Visit the Sanctuary of Eleusis
Visit the Temple of Apollo
Visit Delphi Stadiums and Old Theatre
Visit the Delphi Museum
Visit the Site of the Ancient Olympics and the Olympic Museum
Visit the Ancient Citadel of Mycenae & the Tholos
Visit the Dream Temples of Asclepius & the Ancient Amphitheater in Epidaurus
Visit Akrotiri Museum (if open)
Farewell Dinner Cruise
Crete Extension Includes:
4 nights accommodation based on double/shared occupancy
Breakfast Daily, and 3 Dinners
Transportation by Private Coach Bus
Hydrofoil Santorini to Heraklion
Flight from Heraklion to Athens
Baggage Handling at the Hotels (1 bag per person)
Tips for Bellboys, Housekeeping, Restaurant Waiters, and Bus Driver
Fees and Gratuities for Tour Leader
Admission to all sites as per itinerary
Local Guides for all visits
Visit the Ancient Marketplace
Visit Heraklion Museum
Visit Paliani Monastery
Visit Church of Agios Ioannis
Visit Dikteon Andron Cave
Tour Does Not Include:
Airfare to Athens, Greece
Cancellation & Medical Insurance (ask us for a quote)
Meals and drinks not specified as indicated in the itinerary
Tips and Gratuities (approx. 3 Euro per person/per day for local guide & driver)
Cost to obtain valid passport
Any items of a personal nature such as laundry, drinks and telephone calls. Any item that is not specifically detailed on our website or in the final retreat itinerary.