Raw, atypical, and brutally honest – as never experienced before. Are you ready to see Greece in its darker shades of blue?
Future 2020 dates :
5 to 8 April 2021
This is a much needed fresh take on the achingly beautiful, warm and welcoming destination that’s been a travellers’ favourite since the 17th century Grand Tour explosion. With a history and heritage spanning millennia, great food and weather, and a characteristic openness to visitors, it has always been an easy choice for a memorable holiday. However, Greece isn’t just about the postcard-perfect whitewashed island houses, the trendy beach resorts or the old lady Acropolis. It is a country of many lingering contrasts, and if you scratch its carefully cultivated mainstream tourism surface, you will see a much different country – divided, disillusioned, and sometimes down right indigestible – but still full of surprises , and perhaps even more mysteriously attractive than you thought it could be.
What we will see
The basic Forgotten Greece tour lasts 4 days/4 nights. For those hungry for more locations, more stories, and more experiences, there are further extensions available at an additional cost. Read on :
Day 1 :
We will depart for the gritty town of Eleusina in the morning, and visit its industrial zone and ship graveyard. We will talk about its machine age ambition and eventual decline towards post-industrial decay, and reveal the character of the social and political problems that emerged along the way in a gritty suburban backdrop.
We will continue toward the magnificent Isthmus of Corinth, a feat of engineering that predates the Panama Canal. We will discover the connections between forgotten ancient trackways, fading rock carvings, and an abandoned Roman villa. Afterwards, we will fast forward back to the 20th century visit the forts, bunkers, and tunnels around Isthmus, recounting heroic, personal stories from the Fall of Greece during WW2.
At sunset, we will be offered the opportunity to join a memorable boat ride (additional cost), before retiring to a most stylish roadside motel with an astonishing story.
This day is ideal for photographers. There will be sensational locations at one of the most stunning – and least privileged – areas of Greece, and we’ll make sense of its secret stories as we explore the what ifs of a nascent Greek state juxtaposed with modern reality.
Day 2 :
We will drive to the town of DIakopto, to catch a train ride ride on a historic 19th century mountain railway. The tracks will take us through a gorge of unparalleled beauty towards Kalavryta, where we will visit the site and memorial of the most notorious crime against humanity performed in occupied Greece during World War 2. We will then double back for a memorable lunch in one of the minuscule villages inside the gorge, where we’ll sample local delicacies such as Mountain Goat Stew, or Stuffed Gourgette Flowers among others. We will recharge our batteries with a spot of trekking in the fresh mountain air.
In the afternoon, we will retire to the city of Patra, where we will explore its derelict industrial zone a sprawling 4 sq km region with abandoned factories, large machinery, and plenty of interesting spaces to discover and photograph. We will focus our discourse on the industrial history of the city, from its heyday to its demise, and up to the present day’s social and political issues revolving around the zone.
For those who prefer so, however, this can be a free afternoon to explore the gritty, lively city of Patras independently, or just relax. Towards the evening, we will dine at a small alternative eatery, enjoying the seaside, and even the occasional live music event !
Day 3 :
In the morning, will set off for the rural town of Kyparissia. where we will check into an alternative farmhouse for our next overnight. There, we will enjoy local hospitality in a surprising and tranquil setting, and attune to local lore and philosophy.
Later we we will then make our way to Methoni to search for its lost, early Christian catacombs, and see evidence of the secret rituals and burials that took place there. There will be some light trekking and botany, as we take in the sights, sounds and smells of the countryside.
On our way back, we will visit the strange Fairytale Castle and its associated monuments. It is one of the regions most fantastical and divisive landmarks. We will hear the story of its eccentric benefactor and find out about the importance of myth and folly in culture. We will be at a seaside tavern for lunch, where a variety of home cooked tapas and bites will be laid on the table for us.
There will be free time for relaxation in the afternoon, while he adventurous can opt for a bit of urbex at Kyparissia’s abandoned train station. In the evening, we will head to the town’s hilltop castle for a finger licking dinner of delicious gournopoula, the region’s renowned whole roasted suckling pig. Those who wish to, can enjoy some free time at the upper town’s bars and cafes later, or continue the evening with drinks back to our farm stay.
Day 4 :
The first stop of the day will be the Well of Meligalas, site of an infamous, and still divisive, civil war atrocity. We will recount the dramatic events of the Greek Civil War in an original setting, as well as the painful and divisive history of this dark location.
We will approach old Spartan territory through the Arcadian Gate of Ancient Messene, and spend some time exploring this incredible site, where we will become familiar with the history and dark culture of Sparta, as well as the downfall of this terrifying ancient state.
We will then visit the black lignite fields of the imposing, smoke-spewing power stations at Megalopoli. Its an industrial location of grand scale and abject beauty, where we will be navigating the intertwining concepts of electric and state power, as well as their cultural and environmental consequences.
We will also stop by the weirdly eclectic church of Agia Fotini in Mantineia. It is the work of the architect Kostas Papatheodorou – a humble genius, and a man who abandoned career and mortal comfort to deliver this inspired project with grace. We will hear the astonishing story of this unique building, the folklore techniques utilised and a glimpse of the character and mindset of the architect.
Returning to Athens, we will get the chance to relax or explore for a few hours until our evening farewell dinner at a home style cooking restaurant.
Fancy more ? You can add a few extra days to the tour
Extra day 1 :
We will visit the beautiful ruins of Mystras, the seat of the last emperor of Byzantium.It’s a UNESCO Heritage site – but one definitely worth seeing, and we will immerse in the ghostly abandonment of this majestic location for several hours. The story of the last Byzantine court is steeped in desperation, intrigue and double crossing. We will hear about the important characters and the events that led to their downfall, as well as the story of their descendants and the enduring legend of the 3rd Rome.
We will also get the chance to visit a unique, and amazingly photogenic Modernist cemetery, and hear the story of its creation. We will finally move on to explore a derelict seaside resort, and swim in the crystal waters of its once private beach, and even catch the nearby shipwreck of the cigarette-smuggler Dimitrios at sundown, and hear some of the area’s quasi-mythical stories of piracy and illegal goods trade.
Overnight : at the lovely hamlet of Gytheio
Where will we stay?
An alternative farmhouse. A character boutique. A 60s modernist motel. Let me surprise you with location, character, and comfort. I’ve also opted for owners that I’ve had the chance to know, and often work with in the past : lovely, and interesting people with an exceptional hospitality philosophy, a great living space, and a few stories to tell ! And I can tell you with certainty : one of the thing that’s definitely not forgotten in Greece is Xenia – the ancient art of hospitality. It is an incredible concept, and one we will refer to, and certainly participate in throughout the experience.
We will be staying in a mix of private homes, formal hotels, and historic boutiques. Due to the nature and availability of certain accommodations, we will opt for either full en-suite, or shared communal spaces in some occasions, but this will be clearly specified well in advance. Here’s a sampler of the diversity of spaces we could be staying at :
What will we eat?
Greece is famous for its Mediterranean cuisine. There will be something to please every palate, including staples like barrel-aged feta cheese,spinach pies, or the ubiquitous gyros & souvlaki. We will however get the chance to sample certain unique foods that are local to the area of Peloponnese : the delicious gournopoula , or whole roast suckling pig. Kokokythokorfades, or courgette flowers stuffed with rice. Kagianas, a versatile egg scramble with tomato or salted meat. The list of delicacies is virtually endless, and some of these recipes will be prepared specifically for us by locals.
The price of the tour is £799 per person. There is a £150 single room fee.
The price includes :
- 4 nights accommodation (including taxes)
- One group dinner
- All transport in a modern, fully air conditioned minibus (including petrol and highway toll fees)
- All entrance fees and public transport tickets
- Experienced, licensed and insured English speaking driver
- A passionate, knowledgeable, tireless, and fun guide (that’s ME !!)
The price does not include
- Airport Transfers
- Meals & drinks unless specified
- Personal expenses such as additional hotel services, shopping, gifts or souvenirs
- Additional night’s accommodation in Athens (upon request) £60 per person per night
We will travel as a small group, between 4 and 7 people. The aim is to keep it small, and personalised.
Forgotten Greece will be available to book up to one month prior to departure. To declare your interest and book, I will require a 10% deposit. This will remain fully refundable until the closing date above, or in case the trip doesn’t eventually go ahead.
The remaining balance has to clear by 2 weeks prior to departure, so I can be able to begin guaranteeing the remaining accommodation, transportation and dining for the group. I will regrettably not be able to refund you within 2 weeks of departure.
Sometimes there are unexpected situations. It can happen to any of us, an emergency, or an unavoidable event. Instead of forfeiting your deposit entirely, and provided that there is a genuine reason for you to cancel at any point after a deadline, I would be happy to discuss with my suppliers about transferring the balance and reservations towards the next available tour date : I’ll be more than happy to host you at another, more convenient time !