GREECE from 11th May 2016 – 9 days 8 nights with Jewish Renaissance

A unique combination of Jewish Heritage and Ancient Greece
Thessaloniki to Athens a road much travelled through history in this GREEK DISCOVERY TOUR
Ancient Greece taught the world about beauty, invented art and taught us how to see, indeed .where western civilisation was born, together with the worlds 1st democracy. The other ancient culture Biblical Israel taught the world hope. These two cultures that break myth were Hellenism which gave philosophy and reason & Hebraism with the Jews by monotheism and revelation. Jews respected Aristotle science and our trip will also aim to discover both this aspect and facets of Jewish existence back to the destruction of the temple by Greek gods. Greece is filled with a host of architectural gems. From mysterios ancient ruins to impressive modern triumphs, each unlocking intriguing secrets from the past which you will learn about
Your fascinating journey to explore the fascinating Jewish presence for 2,300 years within Greek culture begins with Thessaloniki, honoured with the title THE MOTHER OF ISRAEL a long shelter for persecuted Jews between 1492 to 1943, and continues through timeless roads, much travelled a homecoming of ancient civilisation to the capital of all ancient cultures in ATHENS where we conclude our journey………….
FLIGHTS We are recommending the Stansted RyanAir flight at 16.40 that lands in Thessalonika at 22.00 and returning on any flight to suit yourselves expecting some to benefit from extra nights or a Greek Island trip add on to consider

Day 1 Wednesday 11th May 2016 – We recommend the Stansted RyanAir flight that leaves 16.40 landing at 22.00 although if Gatwick is preferable there is a very early 5.55am flight that lands at 11.10 in Thessalonika where transports will be available to take you to the hotel. Freetime to discover the area and walk to restaurant area close by with shops and sea front opposite all escorted by Marcel Manson

Day 2 Thursday 12th May 2016

Our guide Rania Pechlivanidou will meet group in reception at 9.30am. She has studied Archaeology at Thessalonica University licensed by Greek Ministry of Culture and Tourism since 2008 has guided groups including American Friends of Hebrew University and specialises in Jewish Roman and Ottoman tours will escort us on the coach from the airport to the Hotel giving an overview of the city and its Jewish history to include the famous Jewish owned villas that are now landmarks, and belonging to the once thriving Jewish community

This will be a Jewish walking tour that incorporates the ceremonial Synagogue Lezikaron via the monument in the main town square that the Jewish men were ridiculed by the Nazis standing and exercising in the summer heat as the initial anti Jewish laws started ahead of them been all loaded up on trains to Auschwitz. We visit the Jewish museum and learn about a community that once had 50 Synagogues and why it was called MOTHER OF ISRAEL with famous Jewish mystics, legalists, poets and Rabbis known throughout the near east and and beyond into Europe. We tread the quarters of the city that were once wholly Jewish whilst also seeing archaeological sites going back to both Roman and Hellenic times. As its Yom Hatsmaut we hope to spend some time with the local community celebrating Israel’s 68th birthday.- Free time for lunch
Evening meal at typical local Trattoria with live Greek music

Day 3 Friday 13th May

We head for Vergina whose archaeological find in 1977 became as famous as the dead sea scrolls when the richly extravagant tombs of King Phillip 11 father of Alexander the Great were unearthed.
We continue to Veria where we visit the towns rich Christian heritage, but mainly to absorb its Jewish quarter with its unique setting and atmosphere that still prevails by the river with its natural Mikva. We spend time learning about the community of 900 who perished explained by Evi Meska in its beautifully preserved.renovated Synagogue that she looks after with such consuming passion.
We return to our Hotel in Thessaloniki in time to freshen up and walk to the 2nd functioning Monastiriot Synagogue used for Shabbat prayers after which we enjoy a Shabbat kosher meal at the Astoria Hotel.

Day 4 Shabbat 14th May
Optional Synagogue services for those who want, to include a sit down Kiddush afterwards with the Rabbi.
Kosher Shabbat lunch at the Astoria hotel with free time in the city thereafter.
Alternative day trip optional to Edessa City of Waterfalls and Pozar Thermal Spa treatments
Evening free [we are near the city famous restaurant quarter with ample choice of tavernas or swishier restaurants

Day 5 Sunday 15th May

Leave Thessaloniki at 9.00 prompt for a 3 hour drive to Ioannina that contains the oldest Jewish cemetery dating back to medieval times in Greece together with the Kal Kadosh Yashan Synagogue and the ancient cobbled streets of the former Jewish Kastro quarter. This quarter is inside the castle and has a moving holocaust memorial therein. We will arrange a meeting with the small existing Jewish community before we leave for Kalambaka [2 house drive but breathtaking towns and villages] where we spend the night and have dinner at our Hotel.

Day 6 Monday 16th May

Early departure at 9.00am. We marvel at the Enesco Meteora site of famous priceless Byzantine Monasteries dating back to the 13th century perched soaring and suspended on natural granite rocks pillars considered to be highly inspiring and used in Bond film ‘’for your eyes only’’. We continue to the beautiful village of Portaria in the Pilion mountains before we head for our hotel and dinner.

Day 7 Tuesday 17th May

Early departure 9.00am where we head for Volos on the shore of Pagasitikos Gulf in a charming bay, the city is steeped in history and fascinating myths. Gaze up at the beautiful towering Mount Pelion mountain, alleged to be the hunting ground of centaurs and other mythological creatures. We learn about a Jewish community that dates back to the 6th century, whilst visiting the Synagogue and walking through its Jewish neighbourhoods.
Following our visit of Volos we head for Athens [4 hours]. Dependent of time of arrival we will start our tours including Beth Shalom Sephardic Synagogue and view the Romaniot Synagogue only open for High Holidays and aim to meet some of the Jewish Community made up of Romaniote & Sephardic members who will address us during the course of the evening meal

Day 8 Wednesday 18th May
We begin at the Jewish museum, with lectures on the Jews of Greece following which we head for one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world the The Acropolis, constitution Square, Temple of Olympian Zeus, Hadrian's Arch, Theatre of Dionysus and the Palace. We Stroll through the Plaka which is the historic area of Athens thereafter free time for group to decide what they wish to do.

Day 9 Thursday 19th May

We visit the Monastiraki district of Athens with careful attention to return people to airport for the various flights home.

4 nights Thessaloniki 5* Hotel Mediterranean Palace
1 night Kalambaka 4* Amalia Hotel
1 night Portaria 4* Hotel Despotiko
2 Nights Athens 4* Hotel Titania

Costs :
9 day tour 8 nights all inclusive except flights £1,135 per person sharing double or twin room includes Hotel B & B most meals, sandwich packs when travelling, all transport guides and museum fees throughout
Single supplement is £295
Deposit of £200 per person required with completed booking form to secure places on this trip

Not included are flights, insurance, tips, drinks other than water except on shabbat

Additional nights at our hotel in Athens are available on request together with additional 2 nights Greek Island trip to CRETE which will depend on the numbers going

This trip proceeds once 20 people book so do not book flights till trip confirmed, if trip does not proceed your deposit of £200 will be returned

Also as a Jewish Renaissances trip membership is required to the quarterly magazine which has an annual fee of £29

Extensions of this tour to visit the enchanting Greek islands which have Jewish Heritage, Three Islands have been identified as follows which can be undertaken with day trips from Piraeas the port of Athens or simply staying on Crete a perfect place to relax after a busy week:-
1. AEGINA 4th century Synagogue
3. CRETE where we intend staying for 2 night visiting Etz Hayim Synagogue in Hania in the old Jewish quarter called Evraki. There is also a historical museum in Crete in Heraklion, a former Jewish residence built on a site of a Synagogue. three Hebrew inscriptions are found in marble on the ground floor and on the 3rd floor a folklore collection includes Judaic. A war cemetery nearby includes 4 Jewish graves killed at the Konaki restaurant in Hania on the site of the Beth Shalom Synagogue destroyed in WW2