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Rainbow of tastes

AMBROSIA & NECTAR

Ambrosia & Nectar is a food and wine extravaganza tour taking place on the islands of Santorini and Crete. Cooking classes, wine tasting, vineyard visits and culinary activities conducted by local gastronomy and oenology experts.  Both Santorini and Crete are meccas for foodies and wine lovers because the people of both islands are passionate about what they eat and drink.

DESCRIPTION

Santorini   A fantasy world in the midst of the alluring Cyclades islands. Everything in its vicinity seems to be bluer and whiter than Greece’s national flag.  Owing to a perfect dry climate, the volcanic island has been a wine making center since the Bronze Age.  You will learn the secrets of how the locals grow grapes in volcanic ash soil.   The Cyclades Cooking Class introduces you to the region’s specialties whose cuisine epitomizes the healthy Mediterranean diet.

Crete.   A Greek island so huge, it is practically its own country.  Crete has its own culinary and wine traditions specific to the island and to each locale.  Slow food is their natural style.  Your immersion into Cretan foods and spirits is enhanced by cultural side trips to famous and fascinating antiquities, such as, the Minoan palace of Knossos and the Fortezza, a Venetian fortress in Rethymno.

ITINERARY

We can customize this itinerary to suit your travel profile!

Itinerary Summary & Driving Mileage

  • Days 1 – 3 Santorini – the island is small, driving distances are short
  • Day 4  Arhanes –  Herakleion to Arhanes 15 km, 9.30 miles
  • Day 5  Arhanes  –  Knossos roundtrip   19.60 km, 12 miles
  • Day 6  Rethymno  – Arhanes to Rethymno 93.50 km, 58 miles
  • Day 7   Rethymno – Vamos roundtrip 66 km, 40 miles
  • Day 8  Depart – Rethymno to Herakleion 80 km, 50 miles

Day 1: Santorini
Welcome to the Cyclades region and its star island, Santorini. Actually Santorini is four volcanic islands. On your first day you visit Ancient Thira, an underground wine museum and a contemporary art gallery located in a renovated winery.

Day 2: Santorini
Put on your apron. Today you learn the art of Santorini cooking. You will make amazing Cyclades specialties, such as, fava Santorini-style with onions, stewed capers, and tomato keftedes. You will sample five varieties of local wine and learn the foods available each season. Then lunch is served.

Day 3: Santorini
Today’s highlight is a visit to a local winery in Oia. You see how the vine grows in a circle on the ground, like a wreath, to better capture the night fog moisture in a land where water is scarce. Sample six wines accompanied by local foods prepared on site.  And then enjoy Oia’s famous sunsets.

Day 4: Arhanes
Transfer by high speed boat from Santorini to Crete.  Arhanes is a charming traditional village in the heart of the region’s wine and olive growing country.  As a welcome to Crete, enjoy an Olive Seminar tasting an impressive variety of flavored olive oils, olives and olive oil pastes.  This is followed by Cheese Tastings of 8-10 Cretan cheese from all regions of Crete with various meats and breads.   (The tastings take place as lunch).

Day 5: Arhanes
The morning is devoted to antiquities in a tour of Knossos, the celebrated Minoan palace and the Herakleion Archaeology Museum with its lovely Minoan frescos and Phaestos disc.   In the afternoon, you will visit several wineries in the Arhanes region for wine tastings.

Day 6: Rethymno
A morning botanic walk will acquaint you with roughly forty herbs that grow in the Psiloritis Mountain region.  You also have the opportunity to learn to make traditional breads and cheese.   Then leave the mountains to descend to the harbor city of Rethymno, Crete’s best kept secret. With its Venetian and Ottoman profile, it is one of Greece’s most captivating cities.

Day 7: Rethymno
Today you visit Vamos, an adorable village west of Rethymno that is known for preserving its houses, culture and traditions.  You will meet Mrs. Koula, the local chef, who guides you through the art of cooking fine Cretan cuisine, including dakos — a barley type appetizer which the Cretans have perfected — and cooked rooster.

Day 8:  departure

Transfer from Rethymno to Herakleion (81 kilometers) for daily flights to Athens, or overnight ferry to Piraeus.

DETAILS

Trip Duration 8 nights

Start & End Points 
Start:  Santorini island is the tour’s start point.  There are daily flights from Athens and daily high speed ferries from Athens’ port, Piraeus.
End:   Rethymno is the tour’s end point.   From here the closest city for departure is Herakleion, 1 hour’s drive away, with daily flights and overnight ferries to Athens.

CHILDREN   This tour is not recommended for children because of a focus on drinking wine and spirits.

DRIVER-GUIDE VERSUS SELF-DRIVE

To fully absorb Greece, if you want to focus on the scenery, never get lost, avoid using quality holiday time to study maps, risk reading road signs in Greek script when English signs occasionally are missing and prefer being taken straight to each destination without the stress of driving in a foreign country, we recommend you opt for a company driver-guide.

Our driver-guides put your safety first. They are amiable, reliable, convenient, and totally helpful in translations, luggage, hotel intermediary and just a general overall trouble shooter to ensure that everything runs smoothly and all you do is relax and enjoy the tour. They are there when you need them and linger in the background when your party seeks quality time alone.

The self-drive option is less costly. Another important factor for self-drivers is the freedom and adventure to get around on your own in a foreign country. If you enjoy studying maps and orienting and navigating routes, opt for self-drive. You would also prefer self-drive if you simply love to drive!

SELF-DRIVE LOGISTICS

In Santorini, whether you arrive by air or sea, the vehicle will be waiting for you.  When you depart Santorini for Herakleion, you leave the vehicle at the port and board the ferry with your luggage.   In Herakelion, a second vehicle awaits you.  When you depart Crete,  you leave the vehicle at either the airport or port.

We arrange for your use of a four-door vehicle with a rental car company we patronize.  We forward your credit card to the rental company for security purposes. You sign the rental car contract not for the basic rental cost but for liability purposes in the event of accidents or damages. The fee for the rental car is included in your tour cost.

To drive in Greece, you must have an international driver’s permit.    For Americans, an AAA branch can issue a permit upon presentation of a valid driver’s license and two passport photos.  After filling out an application, within 15-20 minutes for a cost of $15 you will have your permit.    If you are not able to go to an AAA office, the permit can be obtained by mail.

PROFESSIONAL GUIDES AT ARCHAEOLOGY SITES

We strongly recommend adding professional archaeology guides to your tour itinerary.  Without them, walking through an ancient site is like watching a movie with the sound turned off.   See Extras tab for rates.

BOOKING AGREEMENT  Participants are required to sign our company Booking Agreement as a condition of the tour.

WAIVER  Participants are required to sign our company Waiver as a condition of the tour

COST & INCLUSIONS

COST PER PERSON

Participants Driver-Guide Self-Drive
1-2 3500 euros per person 2020 euros per person
3-4 2490 euros per person 1750 euros per person
5-6 2140 euros per person 1720 euros per person
7-8 1980 euros per person 1670 euros per person
Single Supplement 700 euros per person 700 euros per person

Tour cost is based on double occupancy.

For currency exchange rates, click here.

INCLUSIONS

Driver-Guide Inclusions Self-Drive Inclusions
 7 nights accommodations in 3-4 star hotels – see Accommodations tab 7 nights accommodations in 3-4 star hotels – see Accommodations tab
 Daily breakfast at each hotel
 Daily breakfast at each hotel
 Driver-Guide and Vehicle – see details below Vehicle akin to 4 Door Nissan Note or Nissan Prima Star mini-van for 5-8 persons, manual steering
Airport transfers GPS for automobiles
Boat from Santorini to Crete  Boat from Santorini to Crete
Santorini cooking class with lunch  Santorini cooking class with lunch
several Santorini wine tastings one Santorini wine tasting
 Entry fees to Ancient Thira
  Licensed guide and entry fees at Knossos and Herakleion Archaeology Museum
 Arhanes Olives & Cheese Tasting Arhanes Olives & Cheese Tasting
 Arhanes wineries
 Botanic Walk & Bread Making  Botanic Walk & Bread Making
 Vamos Cooking Class  mobile phone with 10 euros card
Santorini & Crete maps Santorini & Crete maps
Trip packet with useful information: what to see and do in each region,  recommended tavernas, packing tips, phone numbers, etc. Trip packet with useful information: what to see and do in each region,  recommended tavernas, packing tips, phone numbers, etc.
 Gratuities, tips, VAT  Gratuities, tips, VAT

EXCLUSIONS

Driver-Guide Exclusions Self-Drive Exclusions
Airfare to/from Greece Airfare to/from Greece
Airfare or sea transfer to Santorini and departure from Crete Airfare or sea transfer to Santorini and departure from Crete
 Meals except breakfast and culinary classes Meals except breakfast and culinary classes
 Travel Insurance – see Extras tab Travel Insurance – see Extras tab
Knossos guide
Vehicle gas and tolls
Automatic steering (extra cost)

VEHICLE WITH DRIVER GUIDE

Guests on Driver-Guide tours are transported in a mini-van akin to a Nissan Prima Star with seating for up to eight passengers. For more than eight participants see Groups tab. Our company driver-guides are focused on your safety, your comfort, your pleasure, your convenience. They work a basic eight hour day and are not needed at night because almost all eating choices are within walking distance. Driver-guides assist with your luggage, interface with the hotels, help with translations, lead you on walks or hikes, introduce you to all activities, and in general they are all around trouble shooters. They take care of all their own meals. It is in your discretion if you wish the driver-guide to join your party at dinner but he pays for his own meal.

EXTRAS

Travel Insurance  For U.S. citizens, we are official agents of Travel Guard travel insurance and can book your trip insurance or provide you a policy quote.

Enhance your tour with these additional activities which we arrange for you with our local collaborators.

Private licensed guide at Knossos  The professional guide makes ancient Knossos come alive.  The guided tour also includes the renovated Herakelion Archaeology Museum with its amazing Phaestos disc and marvelous Malia bee necklace.  3 hours,  250 euros per group plus entry fees of 15 euros per person for site and museum.

Traditional Cretan Cooking Class in Vamos  Learn to make such Cretan delicacies as dakos, rooster, tzatziki, stuffed vine leaves (dolmades). Take your recipes and apron home.  Eat the fruits of your labor.   Enjoy raki before and after your meal.   185 euros per person for two persons.  93 euros per person for 4 persons.  62 euros per person for 6 persons.  50 euros per person for 8 persons.

Labyrinth Musical Workshop in Houdetsi near Arhanes.  This is a very special center with a focus on traditional music and traditional musical instruments.   The seminars are offered mostly for multi-day but from time to time there are one-day workshops and the premises have a museum, too.  Contact us for more information.

Wine tasting in Rethymno at a 12th century villa in the old town with professional oenologist.  Tour the prize winning underground wine cellar with precious Cretan wines.  70 euros per person.

ACCOMMODATIONS

VenetoAn indicative hotel for the Ambrosia & Nectar tour is Veneto hotel in Rethymno, Crete.  Veneto is an old Venetian 14th century manor house located in the heart of the Old Town.

We select the accommodations based on quality, comfort, cleanliness, hospitality, location and charm. Most of the hotels on this tour are family owned and operated.

Hotels are included in the tour cost based on double occupancy. A single room entails an additional cost. Standard double rooms are provided but upgrade options are available.

All hotels are dependent on availability. In the event of no occupancy, we patronize comparable accommodations in the same location.

Request Links to Accommodations for Ambrosia & Nectar

MAP

Click map to open in Google Maps

Overnight destinations and points of interest

GROUPS

This tour is also available for groups of more than eight persons. You can take the tour with the itinerary as listed or we can customize the tour’s destinations and activities to suit your party.

A group of eight participants travel in a company vehicle with staff driver who also acts as your guide. A group of 10-16 participants travel in either two company vehicles with staff driver/guides or one mini-coach. Groups larger than 16 participants travel in coaches or mini-coaches, led by a company tour leader who handles all logistics.

We offer innovative tours to large groups attending a congress, conference or corporate event.

See more information on the Groups page.

Contact us directly for price quotes and itineraries for your party’s special stay in Greece.

Driver-Guide

versus

Self-Drive

Which to choose?
PROS and CONS of each.

See Details tab for details!

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Visit Santorini wineries to see the unique wreath-like grape vines lying on the ground
  • Learn the secrets of Cyclades cuisine in a cooking class that climaxes with a grand gourmet lunch
  • Tour the famous Minoan ruins of Knossos palace city in Crete
  • Olives galore.  Sample olive oils, olives, olive paste in an Olive Seminar
  • Stroll the magnificent Fortezza, Rethymno’s grand Venetian fort
DAY TOURS
DAY TOURS
Athens & Attica Region
OUR ECOATHENS DIVISION
Bike Tours
Walks & Hikes
Culinary & Wine
History & Culture
Health & Wellness