Though it has only recently re-emerged as an independent nation, Croatia is by no means a new country. There were settlements along the Dalmatian Coast before recorded time. When Slavic people migrated here in the 6th century, they converted to Catholicism and adopted the local Latin alphabet. The region eventually became part of the powerful Kingdom of Croatia. Medieval Dubrovnik, formerly the Republic of Ragusa, was one of several walled cities established in the 7th century to guard the coastal approaches. Its fortification was completed in the 13th century and has remained relatively unchanged. The city walls are in excellent condition and today prevent invasion by automobiles. Within the walls, the lovely sleek lines of Venetian-style buildings complement a wealth of ancient stone architecture. Nearby islands feature beautiful beaches as well as intriguing ancient ruins.
On the western coast of Montenegro, tucked away from the Adriatic Sea, is the ancient town of Kotor. Beyond its snaking stone walls, this fortified city offers a charming glimpse back in time.
Shaped like a scythe, the island of Corfu is considered one of the Mediterranean's best-kept secrets. Its lush interior is covered in cypress and olive trees while the main downtown area has elegant Venetian architecture and a serene atmosphere.
Between verdant mountains and Blue Flag beaches where the sea meets the Gulf of Corinth, Itea is home to UNESCO-protected treasures, from Amfissa olive trees to Delphi, site of the legendary oracle once considered the center of the ancient world. Here in this land of myth, explore Mount Parnassus, where Apollo, Dionysus, Pegasus and the Muses would gather, and where today you’ll enjoy extraordinary views. In recent history, Itea played an integral role during Greece’s War of Independence.
Rulers of ancient times wanted to construct a canal connecting the Gulf of Corinth to the Saronic Gulf, but lack of engineering expertise and a fear of Poseidon’s wrath kept the project stalled. It wasn’t until 1893 that a deep cut through the narrow isthmus was finally completed. Today, the four-mile-long canal only ignites wonder, with steep rock walls rising 300 feet above sea level at a near-vertical angle, and a width of a mere 70 feet allowing ships of only a limited size to pass through.
If there is a holiday retreat where rustic meets chic, it is Hydra, one of Greece’s Saronic Islands. Put on the map in the 1950s and by artists, celebrities and musicians and a perennial favorite for locals, the island is a place to see and be seen, with the harbor putting on a veritable show of taste and fashion with each catamaran’s arrival from Piraeus. People-watching has become an unofficial pastime, along with sipping cappuccino at the cafes centered on the crescent-shaped port. Energized by your brew and ready to explore, head out by foot and in fact, by foot is the only way to conduct your discovery. Other than a few city-operated vehicles, no cars, scooters or motorcycles are allowed on the island. Walking along the steep, stone streets, some of the best-preserved anywhere, you will surely appreciate a sense of stepping back in time and an intimate look at the 18th- and 19th-century mansions, or archontika. Be sure to yield to the primary mode of transportation, the donkey, and any temptation you may have to wander into a gallery or quiet back lane.
When in Greece, do as the Grecians do: Go to the Peloponnese. Connected by a narrow isthmus (it's less than four miles across at its narrowest) off the southern end of central Greece, the Peloponnese is a large peninsula with many things going for it. Not only are there fewer crowds than on the Aegean islands, it has just as many-if not more-ancient sites, including the temples at Nemea and Olympia. On the sunny east coast of the Peloponnese, tucked away in a deep bay, is the city of Navplion. As Greece's first capital after the Greek War of Independence in the 1820s, Návplion has its share of history, including two Venetian fortresses and many neoclassical buildings. But in fact, Navplion is the more modern side of Greece — a relaxed and appealing place with leafy parks, small museums, picturesque streets and lively outdoor cafes.
Magnificent Athens combines the fascinations of the ancient world with unique modern architecture.
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King- or queen-size bed, piled high with the finest linens, plush duvets and pillows of choice Personal butler service with gratuities included;unpacking and packing upon request Bedside iPads for entertainment, daily news and shipboard information 42" flat-screen HDTV, on-demand movie selections Concealed mini bar/refrigerator stocked to preferences Unlimited Wi-Fi Italian fashion house ETRO bath and shower amenities, bathrobes, and slippers Spacious closets, integrated cabinetry,and storage accommodating longer stays Architectural and task lighting easily adjustable on preference Custom-designed bathrooms with glass-enclosed rain showers, double-sink marble vanity, hairdryer, and high-end finishes plus modern technologies, including backlit mirrors with integrated TV and sound system Personal safe Twice-daily housekeeping with nightly turndown service 110/220V power sockets and USB Self-service laundry
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