An Educational Adventure Exploring the Roots of Western Civilization Designed by Dr. Andrew Groft
Departure date: Monday, June 1, 2009
(Required date flexibility of 3 days
on either side of requested departure date)
Printable Version of the Itinerary
Day 1 – Monday, June 1, 2009
Board your overnight flight to London!
Day 2 – Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Arrival in London
“Sound drums and trumpets and to London all”-(Shakespeare, King Henry VI, part II). Ranging from the North Sea in the east to the playing fields of Eton in the west, London covers an area of some 620 square miles and is home to over 8 million people. Prepare to observe the stunning architecture, vibrant street life and royal majesty of this bustling and historic metropolis. At one time they say the sun never set on the English Empire, and because of that London is one of the most ethnically diverse cities on the planet. You’ll love it here.
Walking tour of London
Starting at Embankment, we will see panoramic views over the Thames from Parliament to St. Paul’s. As we walk along the ancient embankment, we’ll note that these shadowy waters gave the city its name, which derives from Llyn-Dyn, Celtic for “city of the lake.” We will walk along the same streets as Queen Elizabeth, Charles Dickens, Jane Austin, John Milton and Winston Churchill. We’ll continue on to Trafalgar Square, imagine German Zeppelins bombing the city from the air, and visit the four bronze lions at the base of Nelson’s Column—a symbol of British Naval superiority for 300 years from 1588 to WWI. We’ll finish our walk either in Leicester Square, center of theater and cinema, or Covent Garden where “My Fair Lady” was set—a converted fruit and vegetable market that is now a craft market and the stage for some of the world’s best “buskers”, a.k.a., street entertainers. (The exact walking route may vary, depending on our hotel location, weather, and the day’s other activities.)
Overnight in London
Day 3 – Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Guided sightseeing of London
London’s 2,000 years of history come into focus as we see how a city has been created from a collection of small villages. We will have the opportunity to stop and take photos of Parliament before seeing Christopher Wren’s masterpiece, St. Paul’s cathedral, whose dome is the second largest in the world (after St. Peter’s in Rome). Before heading to Windsor, we will see Buckingham Palace where the famed “Changing of the Guard” takes place. So that we have plenty of time in Windsor, we will likely not stop to watch the changing of the guar. However, I encourage you to do that on your own during your free time on another day—it’s worth it.
Guided excursion to Windsor Constructed by William the Conqueror in 1070, Windsor castle has been a preferred royal retreat for the last 900 years. Since a devastating fire in 1992, much of the State Apartments have been renovated. Outside the grounds of the castle, the town of Windsor offers a bustling mixture of both traditional and modern shops, as well as restaurants serving local favorites like Fish & Chips and Bangers & Mash. (Note: If the Queen is in residence, and the official apartments are closed, we will visit St. George’s Chapel or Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House.)
Overnight in London
Day 4 – Thursday, June 4, 2009
Free day to explore England!
Optional excursion to Stonehenge & Bath
Arguably nowhere in Britain has created more debate than the simple ring of stones that dominate the gentle chalk plains of Wiltshire. Archaeologists remain baffled as to just how Stonehenge was created and what it represents. From here we’ll continue on to the Georgian splendor of Bath. Settled by the Romans over 2,000 years ago, the city underwent a renaissance during the 18th century. Today is truly an opportunity to observe the character of English life while contemplating the ancient secrets of her past. I’ve been here once before, and let me tell you that this is one of the most charming English towns I have ever visited. Even Jane Austin loved it and lived and wrote here for many years. In fact, her old apartment is easy to find.
Possible Excursion to Stratford
Overnight in London
Day 5 – Friday, June 5, 2009
Globe Theatre Workshop
Early this morning, we’ll cross the Millennium Walking Bridge over the Thames and take a fresh approach to Shakespeare during a workshop at London’s Globe Theatre. During Elizabethan times, the Thames-side playhouse was popular with Londoners craving a little Shakespearian diversion. We’ll learn about the layout and social importance of the theater and develop a keener sense for Shakespeare with a variety of hands-on activities. If you memorize a short Shakespearian quote or soliloquy, you can present it to the rest of the group right there in this historic theater.
Free time in London
Enjoy free time in London. You might wish to visit the original Hard Rock Café, Madame Tussaud’s Chamber of Horrors, take a cruise down the Thames, or browse through the countless stores along Oxford Street. You could attend a Shakespearean drama at the Globe Theater we visited earlier in the day, or visit the fascinating, hands-on exhibits of London’s Natural History Museum. I love to visit the British Museum (free) and see the ancient mummies and the famed Rosetta Stone. You may also want to see a Broadway-type show in London’s Theater District near Piccadilly Circus. On the last trip, ten or twelve students and I saw Les Miserables and it was absolutely fabulous. In 2009 I think I am going to see Billy Elliot, Blood Brothers or maybe The Importance of Being Earnest. Although I’d like to see them all, time and money will probably allow me to see one.
Overnight in London
Day 6 – Saturday, June 6, 2009
Transfer to Ashford via Canterbury
This morning we’ll board our bus and head towards Canterbury and Ashford on our way to meet the high-speed train to Paris.
Walking through Canterbury
In addition to short faculty lectures and interesting insights, we will have our own European tour director who will accompany us throughout our month-long adventure. Our European tour director will guide us through historic Canterbury, including the town’s magnificent Gothic church, the Canterbury Cathedral. This is the headquarters of the Church of England, and is also the burial place of King Henry IV and Edward the Black Prince. It’s also famous as the site where four of King Henry II’s knights murdered Archbishop Thomas à Becket in 1170 for his refusal to obey the king. Pilgrims eventually flocked to Canterbury to visit Becket's shrine, inspiring Chaucer to write The Canterbury Tales in 1387.
“Chunnel” crossing via the Eurostar
In Ashford, board the high-speed Eurostar, a quarter-mile-long train that connects Britain with continental Europe for the first time since the Ice Age.
Arrival in Paris!
Welcome to Paris, cosmopolitan City of Light. Over the centuries, Paris has grown to become the undisputed center of France, and one of the world’s most important cities both culturally and politically. Equally famed for its high fashion, awe-inspiring museums and elegant cuisine, Paris has also been a center of theater, literature and philosophy since King Philip Augustus in 1200. This is seriously one of the most wonderful cities in the world. And it will be the first time on our trip that the people around us will all be speaking a different language—very exciting and fun!
Walking tour of Paris
Join our walking tour of the chic Opéra district and the haute couture boutiques of Rue du Faubourg St. Honoré. We’ll stroll through Place de la Concorde, the city’s largest public square, built to honor Louis XV. The next Louis was not so lucky—he was beheaded in this very square during the Revolution, along with Marie Antoinette. Then, we’ll continue through the geometric gardens of the Tuileries as we make our way to Place Vendôme, a vast square wrapped in 17th-century façades. Pass the Ritz hotel at no. 15, a favorite haunt of Ernest Hemingway. (The exact walking route may vary depending on our hotel location, weather and other activities. Alternately, we may take one of my favorite walks from the Opéra, through the Palaise Royale to the Louvre and then up the Seine to Ils de la Cité and Notre Dam Cathedral. Either way, we’ll go on a great walk of this wonderful city.)
Overnight in Paris
Day 7 – Sunday, June 7, 2009
Visit to the Louvre
Built to defend the city in the 13th century, the Louvre safeguards one of the world’s greatest art collections. We’ll enter the museum through world-renowned architect I.M. Pei’s 1989 modernist glass pyramid. Inside, we’ll see priceless antiquities from Asia, Greece and Rome. We’ll also see precious objects from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, as well as paintings by European masters, including the Mona Lisa. You will be shocked at how many of the most important artifacts of world history are housed here, in the Louvre. Maybe you will be able to break some of the “codes” supposedly hidden in the art and architecture that have perplexed people for centuries. You can stay at the Louvre as long or as short as you wish.
Free time in Paris
Enjoy free time for your own explorations of Paris. You might wish to visit the Musée d’Orsay, the Picasso Museum, or the futuristic exhibits of the Pompidou Centre. Other possibilities are a visit to the Sacré-Cœur, where you can watch artists at work in the streets of Montmartre below or a stroll through the Latin Quarter where you can visit the Pantheon that was finished the year the Revolution broke out (1789) and turned into a shrine for the French Revolution and its leaders. Or take part in the timeless Parisian tradition of people-watching over a cup of café au lait or hot chocolate at a sidewalk café.
Paris by Night
This evening, we’ll all take a narrated river cruise along the Seine. As our boat glides from one graceful bridge to the next, sit back and gaze at the illuminated landmarks of Paris as they pan into view. Next, we’ll continue on to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Built in 1889 for the World’s Fair, the tower is now one of the world’s most recognizable monuments and a symbol of Paris. Standing over 300 meters high with a viewing balcony on each of its three levels, a journey to the top is one of the must-do events during any visit to the city. We may do the Tower first and then the river cruise, but either way I promise you will love this activity.
Overnight in Paris
Day 8 – Monday, June 8, 2009
Step back into le grand siècle as we experience the opulence of Versailles. Built under the orders of Louis XIV to be the most extravagant palace in the world, Versailles came to be a symbol of the gap between France’s lavish royalty and its impoverished masses in the decades leading up to the 1789 Revolution. Today, we will tour the Royal Apartments, the historic Hall of Mirrors where the 1919 Treaty of Versailles officially ended WWI and set the stage for WWII, and the elegantly landscaped gardens that seem to go on and on. I have set up this excursion so that we will all use our metro passes and then each of us will pay a €3 upgrade and take the train. This way, after our tour is finished you can explore the grounds as long or as little as you like and then head back to Paris with a small group. I’ll teach you how easy it is to use the trains in London, Paris and Athens.
Free time in Paris
The afternoon is yours. You may wish to extend your time in Versailles by relaxing in the gardens or exploring the town. Otherwise, head back to Paris for some free time.
Overnight in Paris
Day 9 – Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Free time in Paris
You might wish to view Monet’s Water Lilies at the Musée de l’Orangerie, or visit the Panthéon, final resting place of Voltaire and Rousseau. Similarly, a trip to the cemetery of Pere Lachaise will allow you to see the tomb of rock-icon Jim Morrison. Alternatively, shop for souvenirs to bring home, climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe (suggested) or sit by the fountains in the gardens of the Palais Royale, Tuileries or Luxemberg. All three of these gardens are absolutely spectacular and VERY French.
Optional Excursion to Giverny
Follow the Seine south to lush Giverny, where Claude Monet lived from 1883 until his death in 1926. The grounds, including his pink and green house, are open to the public as a museum. View the workspace in which he fostered his great artistic inspiration; then absorb the intricate palette of colors that he so magically depicted in paintings such as the Water Lilies series as you stroll through the surrounding gardens. People who have taken this optional excursion with me before have loved it so much, that this time we will stay there longer than in times past, so you will have plenty of time to really soak in this beautiful property and town.
We’ll meet together this evening to catch our overnight train to Germany and then head on to Switzerland. These overnight trains are really a fun adventure and something that you’ll remember for a long time. If I had to sleep on a train every night I might not like it, but this one night is really a lot of fun.
Overnight in Train to Stuttgart, Germany
Day 10 – Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Arrive in Stuttgart and transfer to Lucerne
Recall the legends of folk hero William Tell (and his fortunate aim) as we head to the Vierwaldstättersee (Lake Lucerne) region.
Tour Director-led sightseeing of Lucerne
The majestic Alps provide a stunning backdrop to our guided tour of Lucerne where composer Richard Wagner wrote several of his major works. We’ll view the captivating Löwendenkmal (Lion Monument), a sandstone statue commemorating the Swiss Guards slain in the 1792 Paris storming of the Tuileries. According to Mark Twain, it is “the saddest and most compassionate piece of rock on earth.” Stroll down narrow, winding streets and across the Kapellbrücke, a covered bridge whose history dates back to medieval days. The murals lining its walls are nearly identical to those painted in the 14th century. Be on the lookout for the colorful hand-painted facades along the cobbled streets of the Old Town.
Excursion to Mount Pilatus
We’ll begin this breathtaking journey with a relaxing and scenic ferry cruise around Lake Lucerne. Then we’ll ascend the mountain by way of the world's steepest cogwheel railway—a marvel of Swiss ingenuity and design. At the summit we will have stunning views across the country before we begin our cable car descent over Edelweiss, the sound of cowbells and the whispering trees of the serene forests of Kriens. These are really the sights, sounds and smells of Johanna Spyri’s Heidi. And believe me, this is one of the most serene, refreshing and adventurous parts of our trip.
Overnight in the Lucerne Region
Day 11 – Thursday, June 11, 2009
Free day in Lucerne
Enjoy a free day to stroll along the shores of Lake Lucerne, view the fairy-tale exteriors of local homes or sample Switzerland’s incomparable chocolate. Go shop in the center of town, famed for its Rolexes and Swiss army knives, which you can have engraved. Lucerne also offers some of the finest chocolate anywhere. You may decide to climb to the city limits and walk by part of the defensive fortification for spectacular views of the city and lake below. Or you can pay a little extra to ride the water ferry to several small villages on the lake.
Optional Glacier Walk and Nature Hike
Those who come on this optional excursion will have a blast. We will trade in the trains and subways for nature trails, sights, sounds and smells that will refresh your soul before we head back into the historic and bustling cities of historic Italy and Greece.
Overnight in the Lucerne Region
Day 12 – Friday, June 12, 2009
Transfer to Venice via Lake Como
Arrive in the magical region of Venice, home of Marco Polo. Known globally for its gondoliers and glassware, Venice is also a heady mix of busy piazzas, thronging with pizzerias and cafes, as well as deserted streets, alongside canals, leading to hidden gems such as churches or local-dominated restaurants serving regional delicacies.
Lunch stop in Como
Stop for lunch in Lake Como, a literal oasis of charm and tranquility surrounded by rolling hills and alpine views. Lake Como is located in Northern Italy just miles from the Swiss border.
Overnight in Venice
Day 13 – Saturday, June 13, 2009
Visit to Doges’ Palace
Visit the grand 14th-century, pink and white Doges’ Palac, from which mighty Venetian dukes once ruled. Here we’ll stroll over “the Bridge of Sighs,” connecting the palace and its prison. Crossing the bridge, prisoners supposedly sighed with perfect sadness as they regarded their beautiful city for the last time. Casanova made a daring escape from this prison in 1756. Venice is also famous for its glassware—you’ll see why during a glassblowing demonstration.
Free time in Venice
The afternoon is yours to explore wondrous Venezia. Stroll along the intertwining canals, or venture into the labyrinth of streets crammed with restaurants and shops. You’ll definitely want to take in the views from the Rialto Bridge. And the truly romantic experience riding in one of the city’s many gondolas along some of its finest canals is probably something you’ll want to plan to do—this usually costs about €100 for 5 or 6 people.
Overnight in Venice
Day 14 – Sunday, June 14, 2009
Transfer to Florence via Bologna
Arrive in Florence, birthplace of the Italian language, the Renaissance and opera. On our way, we’ll stop for a quick rest in Bologna, home of the first European University in 1088.
Enjoy a glorious panorama of Florence from the hilltop Piazzale Michaelangelo, a popular evening destination for locals. It’s an ideal spot for a group photo—you will have the opportunity to see all of Florence’s major landmarks below while also admiring the spectacular rolling Tuscan countryside that surrounds this beautiful city.
Visit Basilica di Santa Croce di Firenze
We’ll take a stroll through what has been called “The Pantheon of the Italian Glories” and view the tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli and others in the Santa Croce Church. You may linger long and take in the beauty of Donatello’s reliefs or Giotto’s frescos, or just take a quick peek before you head into the heart of the city to explore in small groups. The thing I love so much about this city is that since it was made of so much stone, the city looks pretty much the same as it did 500-600 years ago. If you even do the slightest research on this city, I’ll bet it will be one of your favorites. I really love Florence!
Free time in Florence
Spend your first afternoon in Florence getting to know the medieval city. Peruse the luxurious shops of the Ponte Vecchio, or take a stroll up through the Boboli Gardens to Forte di Belvedere, where you might chance on a sculpture exhibition as you take in the spectacular panorama of Florence. Make sure you walk under Brunelleschi’s famous Duomo as you stand in the transept where Savonarola preached against Pope Alexander VI in 1498—one of the most important events leading up to the Protestant Reformation. This church looks almost exactly as it did when Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci came to hear Savonarola speak. Meet up again with your group at Piazza Signoria, and stand on the exact spot where the Bonfire of the Vanities burned, Savonarola was hanged, and Michelangelo’s original David stood.
Overnight in Florence
Day 15 – Monday, June 15, 2009
This simple building, located on Via Ricasoli, houses one of the world’s true masterpieces: Michelangelo’s statue of David. Here you can see unfinished works by the great artist along with other Renaissance treasures. Make sure to visit the ‘workroom’ and learn more of the skills required to bring images out of marble. The David is truly one of the most magnificent pieces of sculpture I have ever seen. Read The Agony and the Ecstasy (by Irving Stone) before we go and you will love it even more.
Originally created as offices (uffizi) for Cosimo de Medici, the building became a gallery in the 17th century. Today it houses one of the finest collections of Medieval and Renaissance works anywhere in the world. See with your own eyes how medieval art transitioned into renaissance. Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Primavera are here, as well as many others including Raphael’s Madonna of the Goldfinch and Da Vinci’s Adoration of the Magi.
After visiting these two museums, you will have free time to wander and explore. I HIGHLY recommend visiting the Bargello—a medieval jail, now museum with some of the finest works of sculpture, including Donatello’s David, Michelangelo’s Bacchus and Pitti Tondo, Ghiberti’s winning panel of Issac’s Sacrafice, Gemito’s Fisherboy (my son and I love this one) and many others including works from the Della Robbia family. If you feel “museumed-out” today, then plan to see this museum tomorrow, but try not to miss it (entrance is approximately €5).
Overnight in Florence
Day 16 – Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Free Day in Florence!
Optional excursion to Pisa and Vinci
Opt to journey to Pisa. In the city’s Field of Miracles, you’ll see the six stories of white marble comprising the 12th-century Leaning Tower of Pisa, aslant ever since the third floor was built. Be sure to visit the adjacent marble cathedral and baptistry, which contain exquisite marble pulpits, carved in the Gothic style by Nicola and Giovanni Pisano. We’ll also visit the Leonardo Museum in the town of Vinci. Housed inside the Gaudi Castle, the museum displays one of the largest collections of machines and models created by Leonardo da Vinci—Renaissance inventor, technologist, artist and engineer.
Tonight, I have arranged for a late bus back to our hotel for anyone who wants to take it. I recommend taking a rest midday so that you will have the energy see this beautiful city at night. The city changes, the heat and crowds abate, more locals come out and it’s really a wonderful experience for those who want to do it. Anyone who just feels too tired can head back to the hotel around 7:00 PM.
Overnight in Florence
Day 17 – Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Transfer to Rome via Assisi
Head to bella Roma, the first city of the empire. Here, Publius Valerius helped to forge a new Republic, Caesar was stabbed, and the Roman Empire became the Holy Roman Empire when Charlemagne was crowned emperor by Pope Leo III in A.D. 800. If you can, try to read parts or all of Plutarch’s Lives in preparation for this city. You’ll need to get used to the ancient-type style, but you’ll be glad to read some really great stories of people who left a mark on Rome and Athens.
Free time in Assisi
On our way to Rome, we’ll stop to enjoy free time to explore the beautiful hill-side city of my favorite medieval saint (St. Francis of Assisi). Take time to visit the Rocca Maggiore, the 14th century fortress that sits above the city. You can visit the San Damiano church, where St. Francis is said to have received his first message from Christ. You may also want to research St. Clare of Assisi. This is a beautiful and enchanting city that is sure to offer a calming serenity between the bustle of Florence and Rome. People loved it here so much last time we came, that I am going to arrange for us to stay a couple hours longer so that people can simply get lost in the narrow streets of this amazing medieval town.
Basilica of St. Francis, Assisi
Dominating the Assisi skyline, the Basilica is actually two churches juxtaposed upon one another. Despite extensive damage by two earthquakes in the late 1990s, much of the church has been restored. Inside is the tomb of St Francis as well as frescoes depicting his life. You may want to read about St. Francis in Will Durant’s Story of Civilization, vol. 4.
Arrival in Rome
Welcome to Rome, the “Eternal City”. Rome is an incredible mix of archeological gems, Roman genius, Renaissance art and religious treasure. As Italy’s capital, it is also the bustling heart of this exciting country. With its fashionable shopping and café-culture, Rome really is a unique European experience. For those who try their best to study about Rome before we leave, you will be so amazed that you are actually standing in this ancient place where so much history of the Western World took place.
Overnight in Rome
Day 18 – Thursday, June 18, 2009
Colloquium and free morning at the hotel
Take the morning to catch up on sleep after 18 days of adventure. Besides participating in a small group colloquium and short lecture, you can relax at the hotel, swim or get some sun at the pool (if a pool is available), catch up in your journal writing and prepare for an afternoon departure into central Rome. Tonight we will stay out late—this is why the morning rest will be so important.
The Colosseum and Roman Forum
Officially known as the Flavian amphitheatre, its construction was begun by the Emperor Vespasian around 72 AD. Up to 50,000 Romans flocked here for many events—gladiatorial contests were the big attraction designed to prime soldiers for real combat. Learn more about the temporary roof that would protect Rome’s elite from the sun as well as the earliest fast-food franchises.
Free time in Rome (Forum included)
Take an opportunity to visit the Forum and explore its fascinating history. You might also want to sit on the grassy banks of the Circus Maximus and imagine what it was like to watch chariot races there. Walk to the ancient Pantheon (a must) and on your way, stop to make a wish at the famed Trevi Fountain. Rome also has some of the most fashionable shops to be found anywhere, a trip along the Via del Corso confirms this. Or, just find a café, order a soda and watch the noise and bustle of this fascinating city go by. I will hand out a copy of Brutus’ and Antony’s speeches from Shakeseare’s Julius Caesar so that those who want to can find a place in the ancient Roman Forum, read the speeches, and imagine the city in uproar as Julius Caesar body lay dead on the Senate steps. Also, Michelangelo’s Moses sits in the San Pietro in Vincoli and is a must see for those who really appreciate fine sculpture. This statue isn’t as famous as the David, but it is spectacular to behold. You will also want to go to the Spanish Steps in the early evening—simply a beautiful and bustling part of town that is worth experiencing.
Rome by Night
At night, the tourist bustle settles down a bit, the lighted buildings emerge, the heat abates and you will experience an entirely different city from the one you witnessed just hours before. We’ll head back to the hotel this evening around 11:00.
Overnight in Rome
Day 19 – Friday, June 19, 2009
Guided sightseeing of Vatican City
This morning we will tour St. Peter’s Basilica (the world’s largest dome) in the Vatican City, erected on the site where Peter was supposedly martyred. Inside, we’ll admire Michelangelo’s Pietà along with the numerous features of this masterpiece cathedral—visually stunning and deceptive in equal measure. Passing through the Vatican museums, we will enter the Sistine Chapel, crowned with Michelangelo’s incomparable ceiling depicting the creation. This is truly a sight to behold.
Transfer to Sorrento
Experience the unparalleled beauty of Italy’s favorite resort, which overlooks the Bay of Naples. Sorrento was first settled by Spaniards and Greeks, whose influence still remains. They grow lemons here the size of cantaloupes (really), the hotels are practically built into the cliffs, and it is really one of the most beautiful regions of Italy. Time permitting, those who would like to take a dip in the Sea should be able to.
Overnight in Sorrento
Day 20 – Saturday, June 20, 2009
Learn how wealthy Romans lived 2,000 years ago on an excursion to Pompeii, which was buried by volcanic ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79. While Pompeii has still not been fully excavated, you can still see the ruins of villas, ancient temples and the Stabian Baths. Pompeii is truly an amazing place where people and animals were killed so quickly that after their bodies decomposed, they left hollowed-out molds that were later filled with plaster to show them cowering from the heat and ash. Since there are no modern buildings around Pompeii, walking through the streets of Pompeii will give you a real sense for what everyday life must have been like.
Free time in Sorrento
Italy’s Amalfi Coast offers some of the most beautiful coastlines in Europe, and Sorrento is where it begins. (The famed “Amalfi Drive” begins in Sorrento and winds 43 miles to Salerno through cliffs and mountains for fabulous views.) It’s Italy’s favorite resort town, and with its picturesque landscape and mild temperatures, you’ll love this place. Walk along the gorge in the center of town where you’ll find the Piazza Tasso leading to smaller streets that are great for exploring; in the evenings some are closed to cars to allow pedestrians room for their passeggiatas (walks.) Stroll through the historic quarter and chat in the 15th century Sedile Dominova Square; locals can be frequently spotted conversing with neighbors under the umbrella-covered tables, as has been the practice for years.
Overnight in Sorrento
Day 21 – Sunday, June 21, 2009
Transfer to Brindisi
From Sorrento we will cross over to Puglia, the heel of Italy, en route to Brindisi where we will board a night ferry bound for Greece.
Night ferry to Greece
In Brindisi we will board a ferry that will take us through the night across the Adriatic and on to the Ionian Sea. Arrive the next day in Igoumenista, Greece.
Overnight on Ferry
Day 22 – Monday, June 22, 2009
Transfer to the Meteora Region
Upon arrival in Igoumenista, we’ll head toward the majestic vistas of the Meteora region. More than 20 medieval monasteries are nestled among these black mountains. You will learn that after the fall of Rome, law and order broke dow, and monasteries had to be built on the top of high mountains and steep cliffs for protection. The Meteora region is truly one of the best-kept secrets of central Greece, and one you will be glad to have visited.
Explore the Meteora Monasteries
Visit one of the spectacular Byzantine monasteries in the Meteora region. Savor the quiet and contemplative landscape as you encounter a world that has changed little through the centuries. While here, be sure to look for the unique beauty of the Byzantine mosaics.
Overnight in the Meteora Region
Day 23 – Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Transfer to Athens via Delphi
Nestled among mountains on the Attic plain, Athens is the Cradle of Democracy and birthplace of Western civilization. A modern city with a strong connection to its ancient history, Athens has been a center of culture, politics, and history for thousands of years. The great philosopher Socrates lived here, offering to fellow Athenians his views on virtue and knowledge.
On our way to Athens, we’ll stop in Delphi where we can ponder the mysteries of what lies in our futures, as did Greece’s ancient military leaders, who left gifts for the Oracle in hopes of good fortune in battle. At the top of the hill, with spectacular views all around, we’ll visit the Temple of Apollo where, according to legend, the gods communicated with mortals. It is amazing how often Delphi is mentioned in Greek plays, poetry and philosophy. So, actually visiting here is a truly amazing experience that brings Greek history and literature to life. Even though many of the Greek religious traditions are foreign to most of us, trying to understand them helps us better understand human nature, the need for a connection to the divine, and even helps us better understand and appreciate our own religious beliefs.
Overnight in Athens
Day 24 – Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Guided Sightseeing of Athens
An expert local guide will introduce us to the antiquities of Athens. We’ll climb the Acropolis to view the majestic Parthenon, perhaps the world’s greatest architectural feat built under the reign of Pericles to celebrate the Helenic victory over Persia. We’ll see the Temple of Athena Nike, which once housed a gold statue of the goddess (her wings were clipped to keep her from ever deserting the city). Athens is named after Athena, the goddess of war and wisdom (an oxymoron?). After seeing the Presidential Guard in their traditional costumes, we’ll pass the stadium where the first modern Olympics were held in 1896. And, of course, we will visit the lively Omonia and Syntagma Squares.
Greek Cultural Evening
Tonight, experience Greece’s unique and colorful culture during an evening of traditional entertainment and cuisine. Enjoy an authentic meal composed of typical dishes at a specially selected taverna near the famous old Plaka district of Athens. Witness the fancy footwork and twirling bravado of traditional Greek dancing while musicians perform on bouzoukis, stringed instruments unique to Greece. Musical instruments, which date from the Bronze Age in Greece, have long played a central role in Greek tradition, as have regional dances. We will experience firsthand this thrilling element of Greek culture!
Overnight in Athens
Day 25 – Thursday, June 25, 2009
Free day in Athens
Today, take time to become more acquainted with Athens. Perhaps explore the Plaka district on your own in small groups, or go see the awe-inspiring antiquities at the National Archaeological Museum. Alternatively, do some shopping for local crafts and souvenirs. For a chance to absorb the whole city, take a funicular up the Lycabettus hill for spectacular views. Even the subway system here is awesome. In upgrading the city for the Olympic Games of 2004, the builders of the subway system came across thousands of ancient artifacts, which are now displayed in the various subway stations.
Tonight, we will come together to enjoy a special evening celebrating our exciting trip through Europe. There will be a talent show, dancing, and a chance to look back on some of the highlights of the trip.
Overnight in Athens
Day 26 – Friday, June 26, 2009
Transfer to the airport for return flight
Our tour directors will assist us with our transfer to the airport, where we’ll check in for the return flight home. For some, they will be ready to head home, but if it is possible, I highly recommend staying for the optional cruise. It is a relaxing and luxurious way to end this trip. And you will see the Aegean, Greek Islands, Biblical landmarks, Istanbul, etc…
Itinerary subject to some slight changes.
OPTIONAL 7-DAY CRUISE EXTENSION!
If there is any possible way for you to attend this extension, I highly recommend it. It may mean some extra work to save up, but it will be well worth it.
Day 26-33 – June 26-July 3, 2009
7-day Cruise of Greek Islands & Turkey
Enjoy a seven-day relaxing and educational cruise of the beautiful whitewashed isles of Greece. Cruise through the Ancient “Hellespont” otherwise known as the Aegean Sea / Dardanelles, and see many of the most important Greek Islands including the volcano island of Santorini, the beautiful Mykonos, historic Crete where the Minoan King Knossos reigned, Rhodes, and even Patmos where the Apostle John was exiled and received the Book of Revelations. Also see ancient Ephesus where Paul taught, cruise past the ancient city of Troy into the Dardanelles, see the Bosporus and spend two nights in Istanbul (formally Byzantium and Constantinople) before heading back to Athens. Between stops, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the luxurious life onboard ship. Free-time options while you’re at sea include shopping, games, fitness activities, dancing, on-board entertainment, swimming, sunning, reading and gourmet dining. My wife and I did this cruise in 2005 and absolutely loved it. Again, if you can’t come on this optional extension, no problem, but if you can, you’ll be glad you did.
Our ports of call will be picturesque Mykonos, Patmos, Kusadasi, Rhodes, Thessaloniki, Santorini, Crete and Istanbul. (Slight changes may be possible to the cruise based on weather or other unforeseeable circumstances.)
Disembark ship and Transfer to the airport for your return flight
At this point, we all head home, having just experienced the educational adventure of a lifetime.
Prices Include the Following:
- Comprehensive sightseeing tour led by expert local guides of London, Windsor, Vatican City, and Pompeii.
- Other guided instruction from GWU faculty and local Tour Directors.
Entrance included to St. Paul’s Cathedral, Windsor Castle, St. George Chapel, Globe Theater Workshop, British Museum, Canterbury Cathedral, Louvre, Seine River Cruise, Eiffel Tower, Versailles Palace and Gardens, Mt. Pilatus Ferry, Pilatus Cog and Cable Cars, Doge’s Palace, Basilica Assisi, Chiesa di Santa Croce-Florence, Accademia Gallery, Uffizi Gallery, Roman Colosseum, Roman Forum, Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museum, Pompeii, Adriatic Ferry, Meteora Monestaries, Delphi Ruins, Acropolis, Agora, Greek Cemetery. On the Extension Cruise, all fees, taxes and meals are covered. Also included:
- Round-trip airfare
- Transfers to and from the airport and hotel and between destination cities (as per program itinerary)
- Overnight stays in superior tourist-class or regular tourist class hotels (all with private bathrooms) It is important to note that those under 23 years will room together in groups of four, and those 23+ will room in groups of two. Private single rooms are available for an extra fee.
- Continental breakfast everyday
- Dinner on days 2, 6, 10, 12, 14, 17, 19, 21-23
- Gourmet Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner on cruise extension
- Full-time services of a European Tour Director
- 4-day Tube pass in London
- 4-day Metro pass in Paris
- 2-day Metro pass in Athens
- Late evening bus transfers on day 16, 24-25
- Instruction from Dr. Groft and GWU Faculty
- 6-15 Possible Credits (optional, and must be paid for separately within one year of the completion of the tour)
Optional Excursions Estimated Prices (can be added
Stonehenge and Bath $120
Oxford & Stratford $110
Glacier Walk and Nature Hike $55
Pisa & Vinci $50
Not included in the Program Fee:
- Customary gratuities for your tour director, local guides and driver, cruise staff
- Personal Insurance & Spending Money
- Beverages and lunches
- Dinner on days 3-5, 7-9, 11, 13, 15-16, 18, 20, & 25
- Shore excursions while on cruise extension
Accommodation details available 7 days prior to departure. Flight details available 30 days prior to departure.
Prices include taxes, airport surcharges, and all fees.
Price for those under 23:
Airfare Included $4,999
Airfare NOT Included $3,854
Cruise Extension add $880
Price for those 23 and older:
Airfare Included $5,699
Airfare NOT Included $4,569
Cruise Extension add $1,370
$595 is required to reserve your spot. All participants will be enrolled in an auto-pay system where you will either receive a bill once a month, or you can do auto-payment through your bank account or credit card. There may be a minor alteration in fees based on airport taxes and other fuel surcharges, but this is unlikely. The Cruise Extension price is based on at least 25 people enrolling.
You may be able to save some money by using your frequent flyer miles to cover your own airfare. Just remember that if you cover your own flights, it will be your responsibility to meet up with us at the hotel on the first day and to get to the airport the last day of the trip. This can be a bit of a hassle, but it may be worth it for you. Your departure airports can be either LAX, LAS or SLC. You may fly out of a different major airport, but the fees will adjust slightly if you do. Talk to Dr. Groft if this applies to you.
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Make sure that your junk mail filters allow my emails. They will come from me personally (email@example.com)
**Auto-Pay will deduct an equal part of the amount due each month from the time you sign up until the balance is due 45 days prior to departure. I highly recommend Auto-pay; however, if you simply cannot do Auto-pay it is not required. You will be billed when money becomes due every four months or so, with the final amount being due 99 days prior to departure for those not using Auto-pay.
To reserve your spot, print out the Reservation Form below and mail, along with your $595, to:
Dr. Andrew Groft: 2009 Europe Adventure
970 South Sage Drive
Cedar City, UT 84720
Printable Version of the Itinerary