Gettin’ Freaky in Thessaloniki

Trip Region: Eastern Europe
Country(ies): Greece
Partners Trek? No
Cost: $2135
Airfare Estimate: $1700
Structure: 3   •   Lodging: 3   •   Nightlife: 3   •   Activity: 3

By the great beard of Zeus, we’re going to Greece! Our trek will encompass the Greek mainland and neighboring Greek islands, where we will participate in ecological, historical, cultural activities, in addition to getting some relaxing beach days…what a combo, the Snickers of Mtreks! This trek will be a balance between some very active hiking days and some leisurely days on the beach and enjoying the nightlife. Specific regions we will explore include: Thessaloniki, Mount Olympus and Meteora, Athens, and Naxos.

Day 1 — Saturday, Aug 19

Leave the great state of Michigan and depart for our adventure!

Day 2 — Sunday, Aug 20

Arrive in Thessaloniki! You’ll have some time to explore the second largest city in Greece. Relax in the splendor of what is regarded as the cultural capital of the country. On a clear day you might even catch a glimpse of the home of the gods, Mount Olympus. The city is undoubtedly the gastronomic capital of Greece and its flavors are unique. For 2,000 years it’s been a melting pot of cultures, with eastern spices, French, Balkan and Mediterranean tastes. Seek out the eateries in the area around the agora, where age-old columns and arches brush up against modern apartments and the ancient Rotunda. This city especially comes alive in the evening, thanks in part to its large student population. Following a welcome meeting, you’ll head out on an orientation walk and dinner with the group.

Day 3 — Monday, Aug 21

Forget air-conditioned malls and beige boutiques, join this 3 hour Thessaloniki tour to shop like the ancients did. Coppersmiths, butchers, fishmongers, and spice traders have been working in Thessaloniki’s markets for centuries, and they still are. Meet them for a living history lesson – it’s much more fun than ancient history class was in school. Uncover many of Thessaloniki’s hidden markets with a local guide. Meet artisans preserving age-old professions. Visit traditional neighborhoods, now turned into modern cultural hubs. Hear the ancient local stories behind Thessaloniki.

Day 4 — Tuesday, Aug 22

Transfer from Thessaloniki to Mt. Olympus for a hike. Mt. Olympus was thought to be the abode of the Greek Gods and the site of the throne of Zeus. Take the day to explore this famous peak during a hike (6hrs). Continue to Ano Skotina to overnight.

Day 5 — Wednesday, Aug 23

Climb into the heavens, just like monks have done for centuries, towards ancient monasteries precariously placed atop 400-metre-high rock formations. Meteora is home to 24 14th century monasteries that sit at the top of karst pinnacles, though only six are still occupied. They were once only accessed by rope ladders, but thankfully there are now steps. The cliff faces also feature caves where hermits lived an even simpler life than those in the teetering monasteries. The monasteries, which used to be supplied by rope and pulley systems, house woodcarvings, frescoes, paintings, and one even features the skulls of the first founders. You’ll enjoy some great views back over the town. The area makers for incredibly dramatic photos – multi-color streaked rock, bright green forest, and the pale terracotta of the monastery roofs against the Grecian sky. The mists that can surround the pinnacles make the constructions seem like they’re floating in the air. Hawks drift on the valley thermals looking for prey, and black-frocked priests shuffle silently around.

Day 6 — Thursday, Aug 24

Enjoy more amazing views during a morning hike followed by a caving tour. You will get to relax this afternoon – with a visit to a local winery for lunch. Learn about the local wines the best way – by tasting them!

Day 7 — Friday, Aug 25

Next stop – Athens. Named after the goddess of wisdom, the birthplace of Western civilization, Athens has an amazing array of historic sites to explore; a weighty history that spills out over the modern city, represented most dramatically by the ancient Acropolis. You will have an entry ticket to visit this famous site. There’s much to be seen in the ancient capital of Greece, vibrant and refreshed following the 2004 Olympics, yet still retaining so much visible history. Be sure to have a farewell meal with your leader as this is their last night with the group. Together you’ll all explore the nightlife of the Plaka region.

Day 8 — Saturday, Aug 26

This morning you’ll make your way to the port to continue to Naxos by ferry. Discover the beautiful beaches, charming villages and fragrant olive groves of Hora (the capital of Naxos). Make your way to the hotel. This place has colorful mythological history. The old town areas of Hora are perfect for a stroll, and the nightlife is vibrant.

Day 9 — Sunday, Aug 27

The day is free to relax. Perhaps head to the beach and check out some water sports.

Day 10 — Monday, Aug 28

Day of Sailboat charter! You will get to swim in a cave and hopefully have a chance to see dolphins and turtles. Go to an island for lunc and there will be an option to snorkel as well. Receive a DVD of tour at the end of the day.

Day 11 — Tuesday, Aug 29

Your adventure comes to a close. Make your way to the airport in Naxos for your onward flights.