Welcome aboard! The Ottoman Turks finally defeated the Knights of St. John in the 1500s. Music and sports. But, even with four ships in the harbor today, there seems to be plenty of room. For coronavirus (COVID-19) travel information, Tour Account — View and manage tour details. It was built in the 19th century by people from the tiny Cycladic island of Anafi. These days Leonidas and Panagiota feed guests as if they're family. We're riding a Flying Dolphin — one of the fleet of speedy hydrofoils that zip from Athens to the islands, and from island to island. And hydrofoils vie with lumbering car ferries. The path is flanked by the remains of Delphi's famous treasuries — monuments erected by city-states in gratitude for the oracle's advice. Rhodes is built upon layers of civilizations — Italian, Greek, and Turkish, with a dash of medieval Crusader lore from all over Europe tossed in. The palace was fortified with three walls and two moats for good reason: the ever-present Turkish threat. Exploring the agora, it's fascinating to ponder the world of Plato and Aristotle and the age which laid the foundations for Western thinking about economics, democracy, logic, and more. This place has been known as Constitution Square or Syntagma Square ever since. Keeping my eye on the clock, I hop the cable car back down to the old port, where our ship's shuttle, or tender, awaits. This book focuses on Athens and a couple islands so please verify it covers the areas you are interested in. Since 1973, Rick Steves has spent about four months a year exploring Europe. Some of those first government buildings — built in the prevailing Neoclassical style — still survive today. This time it's all Greek to me…and that's exactly why we're here. This was one of the Aegean world's finest cities. This, rather than the Parthenon, was the culmination of the Panatheniac Procession. The island's oldest and most traditional taverna was the hangout of the sponge divers a century ago. The lime that makes the whitewash is a good antiseptic — villagers knew it would naturally disinfect the rainwater that was collected on rooftops. We'll tour the must-sees of ancient Athens: the Parthenon, Agora, and amazing National Archaeological Museum. Once a complete island like its neighbors, it was a volcano that about 3,500 years ago blew its top, creating a caldera — this flooded crater. Cruisers enjoy toggling effortlessly between their daily adventures on shore and evenings back "home" on their floating resort. Capitals grew bigger and bigger to an absurd size when finally they supported entire temples. Subtle interplay between hips and shoulders. Local guides like Penny Kolomvotsou brings these ancient and mythic events to life. Once again, when it was first pedestrianized merchants were upset. In the next order, Ionic, the capitals are decorated with understated scrolls. Fira is the island's commercial and transportation hub. And it's hard to imagine having had more Greek island fun in a few days than what we just experienced. A humble Greek Orthodox chapel celebrates that visit to this day. Punctuated by romantic nights at sea, our itinerary promises plenty of unforgettable sightseeing. Ippocratus Square is the busy heart of the old town. Travel with Rick on this video guide to Athens, Greece and find out what to do on your next trip. For some 800 years, until its destruction by barbarians in AD 267, it was the hub of all commercial, political, and social life in Athens, as well as home to much of its religious life. Those paying for the cruise line's excursion get off the ship first, and head for an alternative port — where buses and guides await. The Easter greeting here in Greece, “Kalo Pascha,” literally means “good passing” — a passing from sadness (the Crucifixion) to happiness (the Resurrection). Get inspired with Rick Steves’ recommended places to go and things to do, with tips, photos, videos, and travel information on Greece. It was constructed in the fifth century BC and dedicated to the virgin goddess Athena. If you prefer a quieter scene, more remote beaches are a short drive farther out. Rick: So a balance of things. In fact, you can still feel that Turkish influence to this very day. Twelve new episodes include Portugal (Lisbon and the country's heartland), the … With so little of the Agora still standing, this reconstruction makes it easier to imagine the sight in its original glory. Dimitris: This is the Mediterranean diet. The palace and the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior are guarded by the much-photographed evzones. Rick: These salads look delicious. I enjoy the scenic arrivals and departures by cruise ship. Posted by Nigel. They taste good. And in springtime, hikes come with fields of wildflowers. Can you tell me about them? Perhaps nowhere else does the historic and cultural timeline of Europe reach so far back while being so vibrant today. Like so many great civilizations, ancient Greece peeked and then faded. Green shrimp with a lemon sauce, calamari with a garlic sauce, spanakopita—spinach pie. Antonis is an excellent local guide who enjoys introducing visitors to the hidden nooks and crannies of Mykonos. This stunning bronze statue, cast in 460 BC, depicts the mighty god of the sea about to hurl his trident. The famed statue called the "Colossus of Rhodes" once towered above the city. Descend into Athens' sleek and cool underground and you'll enjoy a transit system as efficient as anything in Europe. Of Santorini's many beaches, Kamari is one of the best. The black sand is a reminder of the island's volcanic origin. The Italians rebuilt it in the 20th century as an over-the-top imagining of a medieval fortress that scarcely resembles its original self — but in some ways, that makes it even more interesting to tour. Rick: Here we go, the shrimp. It was the site of the oracle of Apollo, god of the sun. Most cruisers get nervous about missing the ship and head back earlier than necessary. And tonight the place is all ours, as our enthusiastic cook welcomes us into his kitchen. The island of Delos was one of the most important places in the ancient Greek world, with temples honoring the birthplace of the twin gods Apollo and Artemis. Ermou Street, leading away from Syntagma, is a thriving pedestrian mall. Rick Steves' Europe Travel Guide | The thriving capital of Greece sprawls out from the foot of its magnificent Acropolis. The windy roads feel like a fairground racetrack for tourists, busy with an array of easy-to-rent vehicles. Local guides demonstrate still-working wells. It's an exciting springboard for the Greek Isles. These flamboyant soldiers, with their distinctive strut, change at the top of each hour. Hi, I'm Rick Steves, back with more of the best of Europe. How to remember all these? A delightful way to cap the day is to follow the coastal path to the village of Kaminia. Then we'll poke around the Plaka before escaping the big city to consult an ancient oracle and relax on a classic Greek isle. Delos ranked right up there with Olympia, Athens, and Delphi. A two-hour drive northwest of Athens takes us to Delphi, one of the most important sights in the ancient world. Colorfully costumed evzone guards stand at attention at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and periodically do a ceremonial changing of the guard to the delight of tourists (guards change five minutes before the top of each hour, less elaborate crossing of the guard around :25 after, full ceremony with marching band Sundays at 11:00—get there early as they may start a bit before 11:00). Survey the remains of the ancient harbor: foundations of shops and homes, and hillsides littered with temple remains. And, with a little luck, you can make a friend and be invited in — or, in this case — up onto the roof — for a pleasant chat and a cup of strong Greek coffee. Crowned by the mighty Parthenon temple, the Acropolis rises above modern Athens, a lasting testament to Greece's glorious Golden Age in the fifth century BC. Should I get Rick's Pocket Athens guide in addition to this Greece guidebook? This point, where the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas meet, is famously windy — long powering windmills. Two hundred years ago, Athens was just a small town surrounded by big ruins, sitting on lots of history. The most trendy is Paradise, one of the ultimate party beaches in the Aegean. We bid our guide goodbye to enjoy a last couple hours in Fira, Santorini's main town. Individuals go to the tiny "old harbor," where they can ride a donkey up the zig-zag trail, or hop a cable car up to the scenic lip of the island crater. An hour's drive south takes us to the island's other popular attraction. As the orders evolve, they gain syllables: Doric, Ionic, Corinthian. Terms of Service | Privacy. Rick: So he called this basically the bellybutton of the world. Visitors here can enjoy the building's fine interiors, a wide-ranging collection of artifacts, and the highlight of the entire palace: its fantastically detailed floor mosaics. It offers little beyond lovely sand, turquoise water, and tranquility. Exploring each island under the reliable sun, we'll compare beaches from the ultimate party beach…to quieter, more idyllic hideaways. This time I thought I'd take you on a little cruise. And I love the way the blue and white of the townscape seems inspired by the colors of the Greek flag. Agios Sostis, an old hippie beach at the north end of the island, has none of the thumping party energy of Paradise Beach. The Horse and Jockey of Artemision, cast in the second century BC, is filled with this Hellenistic energy. Dimitris: We had a big earthquake back in 1956, 7.8 Richter scale, destroyed very many houses like this captain's house over here, and on the other side, you can see the Venetian fortress. Mykonos is another small island with a small port inundated by cruise-ship crowds. Right, we got some sardines here, grilled, and on the other side, we've got a very nice grilled calamari, also served with salad, the lemon, and the olive oil. In fact, these archaic statues were named simply kouros (meaning "boy"), or kore (meaning "girl"). Their mission during the 12th century Crusades? It's destroyed. From Athens, we sail into the Aegean Sea. But for most travelers, the agora is more than an architectural review. We'll tour ancient ruins, trace the vestiges of the Crusaders, sample rustic cuisine, savor classic Greek-island views, and compare beaches — from the ultimate party beach to idyllic quiet hideaways. At a time when Rome was just a village, it was here that the foundations of our Western civilization were laid. This time I thought I'd take you on a little cruise. At the top end, a 500-year-old minaret marks the Mosque of Süleyman the Magnificent. The iconic row of sphinx-like lions still heralds the importance of the place. Crowds and weather might help you decide. The formidable Thalassini Gate is a reminder of the age of chivalry and the famed Knights of Malta. For the uninitiated: Rick Steves is a 65-year-old travel writer, television personality and cannabis legalization and reform policy activist. Walk once around fast for a time-lapse effect, then go around again for a closer look. Crowds would gather in shady porticos like this to shop, socialize, or listen to the great philosophers of the age. While pricey, if two couples split the cost, enjoying the services of a private guide can cost about the same as the cruise line's bus tour. Back outside the walls, the city beach sprawls in a beautiful arc away from the harbor. This stout, intimidating palace, perched at the highest point in Rhodes' hilly Old Town, is — like everything else on Rhodes — layered with history. The real attraction here is the beaches. But that makes it a quiet, uncrowded spot — nestled in the shadow of the Acropolis — to wander and get a feel for the ancients. Penny: Yeah the omphalos, yeah this wonderful place became the center of the world. The whitewash, while scenic today, was originally practical: White reflects the powerful heat of the sun. In the 14th century, the Knights of St. John added on to an existing Byzantine fortress here to create a residence and political headquarters for their leader, the grand master. The two main attractions — the archaeological site (officially called the "Sanctuary of Apollo") and the Archaeological Museum — are about a half-mile east of the modern town of Delphi. I'm glad I'm packing light as I hike up to my hotel. Dazzling mansions of wealthy merchants with colonnaded inner courtyards. The Stoa of Attalos, from the second century BC, was rebuilt in modern times to house the Agora's museum. By Rick Steves Unlike some of Mykonos' "meat-market" destinations, Agios Ioannis beach is off the tourist radar. Island getaways are fun, but the real heart of Greece is found in the Peloponnese Peninsula. And apart from coming here to consult the oracle, the other reason was also because, like in Olympia they had the Olympic Games, here in Delphi we had the Pythian Games. Because the knights were from aristocratic families they had lots of money and lots of power. Until next time, keep on travelin'. The final order, Corinthian — popular later on with the Romans — features leafy capitals…boldly decorative with no apologies necessary. Its superb harbor is surrounded by an amphitheater of rocky hills. They came here to the big city looking for work. The capitals, or tops of the columns, were both functional and decorative. Other than one very well-preserved temple and a rebuilt stoa, it's a field of humble ruins. Leonidas and Panagiota have retired from running their restaurant. At the top of town, the humble Taverna Leonidas has been around so long it doesn't need a sign. Typical of Greek island resort beaches, it's lined with rentable lounge chairs and a strip of seafood restaurants. It was still a Rick Steves’ tour…but with a plush and shady rooftop, a scholar guide (Colin Clement) and me on vacation with Anne. Statues looked more lifelike. Instead, donkeys do the heavy hauling today just as they have through the centuries. And we'll connect it all by cruise ship, enjoying fun on board as we sail. (photo: Cameron Hewitt) A row of windmills sits … Athens is getting more and more people-friendly. From there we side-trip to the oracle of Delphi and then cruise from Athens' port of Piraeus to the island of Hydra. We'll start up there, at the historic, cultural, and literal high point of any trip to Athens — the Acropolis. Greece, like all of the other Rick Steves tours, I have taken, was an excellent venture with a conscientious tour guide and congenial travel mates. And for a quick, inexpensive bite to eat, drop by a corner gyro and souvlaki stand. Allow 1.5–2 hours for the site (hiking to the stadium alone is nearly a half-hour round-trip), and another 45–60 minutes for the museum. Agora means "gathering place," but you could call this space by any of the names we typically give to the busiest part of a city — downtown, main square, forum, piazza, marketplace, commons, and so on. Because Santorini's pier is small, giant cruise ships drop anchor and tender their passengers in on small shuttle boats. Season 10 of RICK STEVES' EUROPE debuts in the fall of 2018. There's no way to reach the Acropolis without a lot of climbing (though people with disabilities can use an elevator). And with Dimitris, I know exactly what I'm eating. These "cave houses," surrounded by air-filled pumice, are naturally insulated — staying cool in summer and warm in winter. Today, luxury yachts crowd the harbor. Rome: Back-Street Riches - YouTube Rick Steves European tours and vacations feature the best value and travel experience around. I hope you enjoyed our look at Athens, the oracle of Delphi, and the romantic isle of Hydra. This stately square was part of a grand project designed to turn the town a suitable capital for the new nation. Just a few years ago, this street was a car-clogged mess. Rick Steves' Europe How to Embrace Life and Art in Paris In this second of two episodes dedicated to Paris, travel expert Rick Steves goes beyond the typical tourist stops for a … Thanks for joining us. This lane, called the Street of the Knights, originally hosted knights from their various countries. It was a hundred feet tall and polished bronze. Today, inviting whitewashed villages seem to crowd its dramatic ridges as if jostling to enjoy the views. see our FAQ. Greek architecture evolved in stages. The dazzling white-washed town of Lindos, originally a wealthy maritime center because of its harbor, is now totally overrun by tourists. But when the Greeks won their independence from the Ottoman Turks in the early 1800s, they chose little-but-historic Athens to be their capital. Locals manage to eke out an existence as they have for centuries. Penny: There was a priestess inside the Temple and right underneath it there was this room where she was inhaling vapors evaporating from the ground. There are 3,000 passengers on this ship. Huge granite cannon balls littering the grounds are a reminder of why it was said that when the Turks attacked, cannon balls rained down on the city. Seeing it today is awe-inspiring but imagine how striking it must have looked when it was completed nearly 2,500 years ago — in all its carved and brilliantly painted splendor. Along with its beaches, Mykonos offers a major historic attraction. A trove of funerary art from the royal tombs of Mycenae shows treasures from a society that thrived around 1000 years before the days of Socrates and Plato. From Athens to Mount Ararat, join Rick as he meets the people and explores the ancient sites of Greece and Turkey. As is standard around here, beaches rent comfortable lounge furniture with umbrellas. Rick: So tell me why this place was chosen for the oracle. Honeymooners find the B&B of their dreams…and savor breakfast in unforgettable settings. -Back on board, we sail farther east toward the island of Rhodes, and we have another evening on board. Once again, we see that classic Greek balance between stillness and motion. The one must-see sight outside the central tourist zone is the National Archaeological Museum. In a few minutes they're pulling up the gangway and I'm back on the ship. It's the perfect companion to the Rick Steves Greece: Athens & the Peloponnese guidebook! Until next time, keep on travelin'. Thanks for the validation Rick Steves! The homes of sea captains, whose wealth came from trade, are now fancy hotels and gift shops. Its main town, also called Hydra, is home to about 90 percent of the island's 3,000 residents. In Athens, it seems all roads pass through Syntagma Square. As in many Greek island towns, on Mykonos the windmills have harnessed the steady wind for centuries — grinding grain to feed its sailors. In the 20th century, with an influx of refugees and industrialization luring workers in from the countryside, the population of Athens exploded. We're sailing to three iconic Greek islands: Santorini, Mykonos, and Rhodes. This is where, for 3,000 years, Athenians gathered. Lindos is the most beautiful town on the island. I find the ports are least crowded and most relaxed and enjoyable during that last hour. Now, it's a hit with everyone. ©2021 Rick Steves' Europe, Inc. | In this sampler of Greek isles we'll enjoy their fascinating history, inviting beaches, and dramatic beauty. Coming from all over Europe, they gave Rhodes a cosmopolitan feel. Golden Age sculptors shifted weight more believably, placing their statues in a contrapposto pose — that means relaxed, with hips shifted realistically and weight resting on one foot. Many of these dwellings originated as humble caves. For drinks, sit out front on the porch. Most visitors find that two hours on the island is plenty to wander the site and see the museum; add more time if you want to climb Mount Kynthos. The harbor, with twin forts and plenty of cannon, housed and protected the fleet of 130 ships as the Greeks battled the Turks in their early 19th-century War of Independence. Strolling in the footsteps of Socrates is your best opportunity to commune with the epic Greek past. Because the priests debriefed those seeking advice on the state of their homelands, Delphi became the data base of the ancient world. There's a range of beaches on Mykonos. His mission: to empower Americans to have European trips that are fun, affordable, and culturally broadening. There's a pier for only one ship, so most ships drop the hook and shuttle their people in by tender. That 19th-century Athens is today's Plaka. You must have cookies enabled to use the Rick Steves Travel Store. Its capital is Athens. Oia is the postcard image of the Greek isles. Click here for more information on how to enable cookies. It's fast but less scenic, as the passengers are stuck inside. I like being here at the end of the day — with the tourists gone, cheers of the long-gone crowds still ringing in the cool mountain air, and the starting block all mine. And tour groups are sure to have free time at the best photo ops. All the parts were there in geometrical, if not biological perfection. They stand amid today's bustling metropolis. The four major monuments — the Parthenon, Erechtheion, Propylaea, and Temple of Athena Nike — were built as a coherent ensemble (c. 450–400 BC). Rick: So people from all over the Greek-speaking world came here. No individual features — everything was idealized. Buoyant after winning freedom from its Turkish overlords, the new capital city flourished. To protect Christian pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem, and provide hospitals for their care. Archaic statues all looked like cousins. Two hundred years ago, Athens was just a humble town of about 8,000 huddled at the base of the Acropolis. The worst lines are caused by the bottleneck of people trying to squeeze into the site through the Propylaea gate. With each port you've got sightseeing options: You can take the organized tour and be on their time table, or, you can hire a private guide. It never recovered and was eventually abandoned. In 1309, the Knights of St. John claimed Rhodes as their headquarters and transformed it into a bustling, highly fortified European city governed by their "Grand Master.". Ancient Delphi, perched high on the slopes of Mt. Rick Steves The words "Greek Isles" evoke visions of sun-bleached houses shoulder-to-shoulder against a hillside with a mesmerizing view of glittering blue water. Within minutes you'll be powering up the switch-backs into the island as your guide narrates the drive. The bazaar-like back lanes are a delight to wander, and the main shopping drag still feels a bit like a Turkish bazaar. Walk in the steps of Socrates, test the acoustics of the amphitheater of Epidavros, and set … May 30, 2016 - Explore Sandra Kent's board "Rick Steves" on Pinterest. The earliest style, Doric, has flat, practical plates as capitals. And the once-menacing shores of Turkey are just 12 miles away. Santorini is a dramatic island — the rim of a volcanic crater with spectacular vistas. While tourism dominates the economy, Mykonos still has a traditional charm thickly layered with white stucco, blue trim, and colorful bougainvillea. And, for many, it's their Greek isle dream come true. The Kameni Islands are actually made of lava rock. These mansions survive today as grand old hotels, embassies, and museums. Little survives from the classical agora. In the morning, we'll be in Santorini. Shady trees make it a breezy and restful spot. Today these mansions have been refitted as restaurants and bars for tourists enjoying fresh fish and romantic views. This idyllic ensemble of whitewashed houses and characteristic domes is delicately draped over a steep slope at the top of a cliff. Relax and take in a sea busy with water taxis, ferries that connect this oasis with Athens, old freighters — like castles of rust — lumbering slowly along the horizon, and cruise ships anchored as if they haven't moved in weeks. Antío. Hi, I'm Rick Steves back with more of the best of Europe. Hydra is one of the prettiest towns in Greece. At the foot of the Acropolis, the Ancient Agora (or "marketplace") sprawls out from its surviving temple. As it was in ancient times, Piraeus is still the port of Athens. Assuming a sunny floating resort is what you're looking for, cruising can be both economical and efficient — especially when lacing together far-flung islands within a limited vacation schedule. As the nearest Greek island to the Holy Land, Rhodes was a natural gathering point for Crusaders from all over Europe. Arrive early or late to avoid the crowds and midday heat. While less balanced and composed, it was a more individualistic age — with more exuberant and emotional art. Nope! Hi, I'm Rick Steves, back with more of the best of Europe. Like other hilltop sights in the ancient Greek world, Athens' Acropolis (or "high city") was both a place of worship and of refuge when under attack. While Rick Steves Greece covers a few islands (Hydra, Mykonos and nearby Delos, and Santorini), most travelers headed to more islands will want to supplement their Rick Steves book with a guide to the islands (we recommend Lonely Planet Greek Islands). Rick produces a best-selling guidebook series, a public television series, and a public radio show, and organizes small-group tours that take over 30,000 travelers to Europe annually. With the crush of the crowds, the limited time, and the scattered array of interesting sights, investing in a bus tour like this to see Santorini can make sense. Rhodes, or "Rhodos," as locals call it, is the fourth largest of the Greek islands. I'm Rick Steves. Greece Travel Guide by Rick Steves For coronavirus (COVID-19) travel information, see our FAQ . They were also called the "Knights of St. John Hospitallers." And, like most of them, we're heading for the beach. Rick Steves says it’s time to go to Greece and we’re going to Ithaca for our June Greek Island Yoga Retreat. Acropolis without a lot of climbing youtube rick steves greece though people with disabilities can a... Erected by city-states in gratitude for the new nation main shopping drag still feels a bit like fairground! Whether from Spain, France, or `` marketplace '' ) layered with white stucco, blue,. Parthenon was perhaps the finest temple in the ancient world hard to imagine the sight in its glory... The ever-present Turkish threat the most striking in the morning to buy the day is to follow the of! Rick as he meets the people and explores the ancient Agora ( or `` marketplace '' sprawls! This Colossus of Rhodes, or Germany, each group built its own headquarters here be! 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