Raw, atypical, and brutally honest –  as never experienced before. Are you ready to see Greece in its darker shades of blue?

Next Departures :

23 to 30 May 2022 / 13 to 20 June 2022 / 24 to 31 October 2022

22 to 29 May 2023 / 12 to 19 June 2023 / 23 to 30 October 2023

This is a much needed fresh take on this 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, Greece is a straightforward choice for a memorable holiday. However, Greece is so much more than the postcard-perfect whitewashed island houses, the trendy beach resorts or the 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 Forgotten Greece tour lasts 8 days/ 9 nights. We will certainly visit two UNESCO heritage sites, the Acropolis and Mystras. Then we will shift our focus from those well known highlights, to the more obscure locations, challenging narratives and dark histories that make this tour unique. Read on :

Day 1 : Athens

After meeting up in Athens on the afternoon before, we will spend the morning of our first day in the heart of the capital, taking in the sights, sounds and flavours of the city. We will be wandering at the foot of the Athenian Acropolis, visit the Monastiraki flea market, explore the spice merchants and central meat market off Athinas street, and discover the picturesque backstreets of Plaka. Lunch at a local mageirio, one of the best hidden street food canteens of inner Athens. In the evening, we’ll watch the sun set from the celebrated Athenian Acropolis.

Photo by Alfie Sta

Day 2 : Eleusina

In the morning, we will depart for the seaside town of Eleusina to visit its crumbling industrial zone and ship graveyard. We will talk about Greece’s machine age ambition in the 19th and early 20th century, and its eventual decline towards post-industrial decay. We will discuss the character of the social and political problems that emerged along the way in a gritty suburban backdrop.

After lunch at a 50s style roadside diner reminiscent of an American road movie, 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.

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.

Elefsina
a rusty crane over the Gulf of Corinth

In the afternoon, we will retire to the city of Patra, dine at a small alternative eatery, immersing in the inner city vibes of this lively university town, and even joining the occasional live music event !

Day 3 : The Kalavryta Massacre & Abandoned Industrial Zone at Patra

We will drive to the town of DIakopto, to catch a train ride ride on a historic 19th century rack railway. The steep 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.

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The Kalavryta Massacre Memorial

In the afternoon, we will again retire to the Patra to 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.

The evening will be free to explore the gritty, lively city of Patras independently, or just relax.

Day 4 : Old Towns & Fairytale Castles

In the morning, will set off for the rural town of Kyparissia. where we will check into the alternative farmhouse where we we’ll spend our next overnights. We will enjoy local hospitality in a surprising and tranquil setting, and attune to local lore and philosophy.

We will then visit the strange Fairytale Castle and its associated follies. These are the region’s most fantastical and divisive landmarks, and we will hear the story of its eccentric benefactor and find out about the importance of myth and folly in culture. Afterwards 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.

In the evening, we will head back to Kyparissia to discover the explore the town’s abandoned train station, and then head to its 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 5 : Shipwreck Island & Lost Catacombs

In the morning, we will head towards Proti, the uninhabited mythical island of Proteus. We will anchor at a secluded cove for a swim and a pic-nic, and dive to a mysterious WW2 shipwreck resting in the seabed just under the surface of the island’s crystal waters.

In the afternoon we we will make our way towards Methoni in 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.

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The Methoni Catacombs

We will return to a hearty home cooked meal at our farm stay for the evening.

Day 6 : The Well of Death and Ancient Messini

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.

In the evening, we will dine at Sparta !!

Day 7 : Mystras and the fall of the Byzantine Empire

On this day, we will head deeper into the Peloponnese to visit the beautiful ruins of Mystras, seat of the last emperor of Byzantium. It’s an UNESCO Heritage site – and one definitely worth seeing, as we immerse in the ghostly abandonment of its 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.

The Imperial Residence at Mystras

We will also get the chance to visit a unique, and amazingly photogenic Modernist cemetery in nearby Sparta, and hear the story of its creation. 

We will spend the evening at Sparta, and will be free to explore the historic town on our own

Day 8 : Return to Athens

On the way back to Athens, we will stopover to 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.

As the sun sets, we will join a memorable Railbiking tour. Using specially designed velocipedes, we will set off for an astonishing evening journey on the old disused railroad track near Megara, and discover little known ancient ruins, wartime bunkers and an abandoned lime kiln while experiencing the breathtaking kaleidoscope of colours of the phenomenal geology of the location

© railbiking.gr

Returning to Athens, we will sit for our evening farewell dinner and drinks

Additional days (£200 per person per day) :

It is possible to add a day or two where we take a break from the schedule and take some time to enjoy a sight or location a bit more. Maybe you’d like to enjoy a few more hours at the crystal clear waters, or wander some more in the alleyways of history. Or deep dive in the local culture, attend a festival or event or just chill, and fall asleep on a hammock for a few hours without a care in the world?

I will be happy to make these arrangements at short notice. I will extend your stay or arrange a new one, be on hand with our vehicle to take you to places, or take a step back and be on call as and when you need me. I know the Peloponnese like the back of my hand, so let me know what you’d like and when, and I’ll make it happen !

The abandoned paper mill at Patras

Looking to continue your itinerary outside Greece? Why don’t you try this epic trip through the least known Balkan republics. Our friends at Soviet Tours will take you to Albania, Kosovo and North Macedonia, a great way to experience how cultures interact through history in this patchwork that is called the Balkans.

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 :

Brown Plain Collages Facebook Post (2)

What’s for dinner?

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.

Pricing

The price of the tour is £1799 per person. The single occupancy supplement is £250.

The price includes :

  • 8 days/ 9 nights accommodation (including taxes)
  • Daily breakfast included
  • All Meals included except two dinners on free evenings
  • 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

  • Flights
  • Airport Transfers
  • Any Drinks, and dinner on either of the 2 free evenings
  • Personal expenses such as additional hotel services, shopping, gifts or souvenirs

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 !

Contact me at explore@explorabilia.co.uk for further info and reservations. I am looking forward to welcome you to Forgotten Greece !