Venice to Ancient Greece 2016

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Venice to Ancient Greece 2016

Italy Slovenia Croatia Montenegro Albania Greece

Tuesday 06 September, 2016 to Tuesday 04 October, 2016

This tour is run by our European partner and is classed as an ‘Expedition’ tour. Enrollment is subject to an application process that ensures everyone on the trip is capable of riding long distances and enjoying the Expedition.
Venice to Ancient Greece
Dates:
6 Sep – 4 Oct 2016
Duration:
29 days
Distance:
2305 km
Ave. Daily:
88-90 km/day
Bike Type:
Road bike / touring bike
(included or BYO)
Accom.:
Comfortable 3 star lodgings
Meals:
All breakfasts, several lunches,
most dinners
Price:
USD $11,500 twin share
From Venice’s 117 islands and 409 bridges at the head of the Adriatic Sea, we’ll wind eastward along the coast toward the heart of Ancient Greece. En route, you’ll explore:

  • Wetlands and fisheries at the foot of the Alps
  • The oft disputed border city of Trieste, and its unique blend of Latin, Slavic and Germanic cultures
  • A sliver of Slovenia and the limestone islands of North Croatia and the Dalmatian coast
  • Split, Croatia’s cosmopolitan coastal city, which was at one time a Greek colony, a Roman capital, a Byzantine outpost, a Republic of Venice, a Hungarian protectorate, and an autonomous city
  • The fortified sea commerce hub of Dubrovnik, Montenegro, Albania and Macedonia
  • Lake Ohrid, a UNESCO World Heritage site and World Network Biosphere Reserve
  • Relics of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires
  • Greece’s rural farms, crisp mountain ranges and other settings of mythical proportions

This ride is designed and operated by our reputable parter tour company in Europe. Please contact us to let us know that you are interested in this tour and we will contact our local tour operator to check availability, answer your questions, or to book you in.

Please contact us to let us know that you are interested in this tour and we will contact our local tour operator to check availability, answer your questions, or to book you in.

Meal and accom inclusions noted as B, L, D, A (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Accom)

Venice -- 27km -- Day One -- - - D A
Highlights: Lido di Jesolo

Your Expedition begins just outside of Venice. We’ll meet this afternoon for introductions and a brief safety talk, you’ll get your bike fitted and be able to go out for a short warm-up ride. Tonight we’ll celebrate the start of our journey with a special dinner together. If you decide to come a day or two early to explore Venice be sure to book your hotel as soon as possible — the Venice Film Festival will be in town and hotels will fill-up quickly.

Lido di Jesolo to Grado -- 102km -- Day Two -- B - D A
Highlights: The wetlands of the Northern Adriatic, Caorle

You’ll begin your journey from the Lido di Jesolo, north of the Lido of Venice. The ride takes you through wetlands and small lagunal and fishing villages like Caorle. Though the ride is through the wetlands of the north Adriatic it is anything but straight as you cross a number of important rivers flowing out of the Alps including the Piave, Livenza and Tagliamento. We spend the night in Grado, once mainly a fishing center, today it is a popular tourist destination, known commonly as L’Isola del Sole (“The Sunny Island”).

Grado to Trieste -- 71km -- Day Three -- B - - A
Highlights: Wine villages of Friuli and the historic town of Trieste

Our route is fairly short today so you will have time to explore the historic town of Trieste. Trieste, like many border cities, bounced between Italy and Austria from 1719 until after World War II when Yugoslavia made claim to it. It has been under Italian control since 1954 and is now the capital of the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region.

Trieste to Selce, Croatia -- 126km -- Day Four -- B - D A
Highlights: A sliver of Slovenia, the region of Istria with its limestone coast

Our destination today takes us along the northern boundaries of Istria, like Trieste, a disputed border dominated by the Venetians, the Austrians, Marshall Tito’s Yugoslavia and is now a part of Croatia. Tonight you’ll be in the coastal village of Selce, where you can enjoy your first swim in the Adriatic, or relax at the hotel spa.

Selce to the island of Pag in Croatia -- 126km -- Day Five -- B L D A
Highlights: Limestone islands of the North Croatia Coast

You’ll spin along the coastline of the historic Roman “Dalmatia,” before taking a ferry to the island of Pag. This area is known for its “Bura” winds which have created a unique vegetation and trees with remarkable shapes. This rocky limestone island is home to a surprising number of sheep who thrive because of their ability to find aromatic herbs, thin grass and sage tucked between the rocks. The result of this special diet is a unique and delicious sheep’s cheese which you must try!

Pedaling the islands of Pag to Zadar -- 53km -- Day Six -- B - D A
Highlights: Island of Pag and historical town of Zadar

Today you will discover Pag, before you start riding on the mainland. A highlight of the day will be Zadar which was an ancient commercial capital of Dalmatia that competed with and was eventually taken over by Venice.

Zadar to Primosten -- 124km -- Day Seven -- B - D A
Highlights: The coast and interior of Dalmatia

Today you’ll pedal south and east, partly along the coast and partly into the interior to Primosten, a lovely coastal village famous for its wines.

Primosten to Split -- 70km -- Day Eight -- B - - A
Highlights: The Ancient City of Split

Split was one of the principal cities of Roman Dalmatia and site of the Roman emperor, Diocletian’s magnificent palace in the 4th century AD. Over the centuries Split was Roman, Byzantine, an independent rival of Venice and eventually a Venetian subject. The ride today is purposely short today so you can enjoy this wonderful city.

Split to Korçula -- 55km -- Day Nine -- B - D A
Highlights: Islands of Dalmatia

The ferry this morning takes you to Vela Luka on the island of Korçula. Take your time to explore this fascinating island once famous for its fine wines. The wine industry was devastated by the phylloxera root disease resulting in massive migration of Korçula residents to Australia during and between World Wars I and II. Take time to explore this stunning island.

Korçula to Ston to Dubrovnik-- 121km -- Day Ten -- B - D A
Highlights: Fishing village of Ston and Magnificent Dubrovnik

The ride today takes you the length of the spectacular Peljesac peninsula to the small fishing villages of Ston and Mali Ston, famous in the past for their production of salt. Stop for lunch before heading on to Dubrovnik.

Rest day in Dubrovnik -- NA -- Day Eleven -- B - - A
Highlights: The City of Dubrovnik

If you prefer to avoid the hordes of tourists that descend from cruise ships take an early morning walk, and a late afternoon aperitif and dinner once the tourists have left. Otherwise jump in the mix and enjoy excellent opportunities to people-watch. This fortified city once rivaled Venice for control of commerce throughout the Adriatic Sea.

Dubrovnik to Kotor Montenegro -- 103km -- Day Twelve -- B - D A
Highlights: Coastal Croatia and Montenegro

Leave the hubbub of Dubrovnik behind and head down the coast to Montenegro. Your destination is Kotor, on a natural inlet from the Adriatic Sea. Kotor’s natural harbor, surrounded by limestone mountains, made it an important Medieval trading center and seaport.

Kotor to Virpazar -- 95km -- Day Thirteen -- B - - A
Highlights: Spectacular limestone mountains and views of the coast

A spectacular and well-deserved view of Kotor Bay awaits you on the Jezerski Vrh summit. Your destination is Virpazar, a tiny town on the shores of the biggest lake in the Balkans: Skadar Lake.

Virpazar, Montenegro to Shkodra, Albania -- 75km -- Day Fourteen -- B L D A
Highlights: Shkodra, farmlands and limestone mountain scenery

You’ll bicycle into Albania today from Montenegro crossing a major historic boundary between 16th century Venice and the Ottoman empire. This boundary zone gave rise to the Albanian league under the rule of George Kastrioti Skanderbeg. Our destination is Shkodra, an ancient city that was once an Illyrian capital.

Shkodra to Fierze Lake -- 42km -- Day Fifteen -- B L D A
Highlights: Boat ride on Fjord-like Lake Komani

Shuttle this morning to Komani at the head of the lake of the same name. The dam built here is a part of a series of dams built amid the limestone mountains of northern Albania. You’ll board our private boat and cruise approximately 35 km (21 miles) with spectacular views of one of the most remote regions in Albania. Eventually docking in Fierze where you’ll pedal past a second dam, “the Light of the Party,” and continue to the hotel high above Fierze Lake.

Lake Fierze to Kukesi -- 83km -- Day Sixteen -- B L - A
Highlights: Beautiful views, mountain riding and the town of Kukesi

Your destination today is Kukesi, which had to be rebuilt in 1976 when the town was flooded by the dam that we passed yesterday. Stroll through the alleys which separate five-story tall apartment buildings built at the height of Enver Hoxha’s control over Albania. Broad boulevards, wide sidewalks and alleys with no parking characterize the city where few residents owned an automobile at the time.

Kukesi to Peshkopi -- 74km -- Day Seventeen -- B L D A
Highlights: Mountain riding on a newly paved road with little traffic

Today’s ride is through a formerly remote mountain region now connected with a fine paved road. Enjoy the views, stop for photos and to rest as you’ll climb over 6500 feet. Our destination is Peshkopi where local authorities have closed down one of the main streets in the center of town to favor the afternoon and evening “giro” or promenade.

Peshkopi, Albania to Lake Ohrid, Macedonia -- 92km -- Day Eighteen -- B L D A
Highlights: Beautiful views of Lake Ohrid, the “Riviera” of Macedonia

The ride today takes you along the shores of Lake Ohrid, a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the World Network Biosphere Reserves. The lake is distinguished by its depth and tectonic origins which are similar to Lakes Baikal and Tanganyika. We’ll spend this evening on the shore of Lake Ohrid.

Rest Day at Lake Ohrid -- NA -- Day Nineteen -- B - - A
Highlights: Medieval churches and the pleasant village of Ohrid

Take a ride along the lake shore if you’d like today but we suggest making this a complete rest day as you prepare for the mountains of Greece!

Lake Ohrid to Kastoria Greece -- 150km -- Day Twenty -- B L D A
Highlights: Two national parks, three countries, three lakes and great views

Your ride today takes you through two national parks and along Lake Ohrid and Prespa Lake, which is split among Greece, Albania and Macedonia. The ride is long but the views are spectacular and the grades are quite doable. Kastoria, Greece was a Byzantine city and an Ottoman stronghold under the Turks until 1912. It is located on a narrow isthmus on the lake of the same name. Kastoria has been a center for furriers long after the beaver once trapped here disappeared.

Kastoria to Metsovo -- 129km -- Day Twenty one -- B - D A
Highlights: The mountains of ancient Greek Macedonia and Epirus

A mountainous ride today takes you through ancient Greek Macedonia, an important border region between classical Greece and the central Balkans. Rome was able to bring peace to the region as it expanded the empire in the 2nd century BC. Over the centuries the Albanian, Macedonian and Bulgarian populations in the region have formed a real melting pot of historic cultures. You’ll be in Metsovo this evening.

Metsovo to Kalampaka -- 70km -- Day Twenty two -- B - - A
Highlights: A short ride to Kalampaka and a guided visit of Meteora monasteries

Enjoy a half rest day today and lunch together before visiting two of the famous monasteries perched on remnants of sandstone deposits dating to 60 million years ago. Our hope is to eat lunch in one of the monasteries. Stay tuned for news on that. After our visit you’ll be free to relax and enjoy a rest this afternoon.

Kalampaka to Karditsa -- 61km -- Day Twenty three -- B - D A
Highlights: Traditional Greek villages

Today is a little respite from the mountains as you wind our way among Greek farm villages on your way to Karditsa. Take your time as we have several mountain days coming up.

Karditsa to Karpenisi -- 102km -- Day Twenty four -- B L - A
Highlights: Alpine scenery and mountain riding

The ride today takes you to the “Switzerland of Greece,” in Karpenisi. The town and surrounding villages are famous for their alpine settings, clean air and great views. Enjoy a relaxing evening in the square or “plateia” this evening.

Karpenisi to Nafpaktos -- 113km -- Day Twenty five -- B - D A
Highlights: Bicycling to the edge of the Gulf of Corinth

The route today takes you over one last mountain range before plummeting to sea level on the historic Gulf of Corinth. Your return to sea level, means you’ve left the ancient Ottoman Empire and Byzantium, and are back in Venetian territory. The Venetians consolidated their hold over this coast in the 16th century when they fortified Nafpaktos against the Ottomans.

Nafpaktos to Lambia -- 103km -- Day Twenty six -- B - - A
Highlights: Cross the world’s longest suspension bridge to the Peloponnesian Peninsula

Just 15 kilometers from Nafpaktos this morning we pedal across the Rion-Antirion suspension bridge. We actually begin in Antirion and pedal the nearly 3 km bridge to Rio (about 1.8 miles). The bridge was inaugurated in 2004 for the Olympics in Athens. From here we pass around Patras and into the center of the Peloponnesian Peninsula which constitutes the southernmost part of mainland Greece. While technically it may be considered an island since the construction of the Corinth Canal in 1893, it is rarely referred to as an island. It has two land connections with the rest of Greece, a natural one at the Isthmus of Corinth, and an artificial one by the Rio-Antirio bridge.

Lambia to Ancient Olympia and Ampeliona -- 107km -- Day Twenty seven -- B - D A
Highlights: Olympia, Site of the First Olympic Games

Our route takes us to the site of the ancient Olympic games that were first held in the 8th century BC. We’ll stop for a brief guided visit together and we’ll suggest lunch here before heading on to our lodge in Ampeliona.

Ampeliona to Kalamata -- 80km -- Day Twenty eight -- B - D A
Highlights: Frankish town of Kalamata

Kalamata, famous for its olives, and the remote capital of an even more remote southern Peloponnesian peninsula. The founders of ExperiencePlus! Bicycle Tours, Rick and Paola Malpezzi Price began their walk with Benjamin the donkey here in the spring of 1974. That walk eventually gave rise to bicycle and walking adventures throughout Europe and South America. Enjoy Kalamata’s mosaic of history, take a walk to the beach and we’ll have a final dinner together this evening to celebrate our journey.

End of the journey in Kalamata -- NA -- Day Twenty nine -- B - - -
Congratulations on your successful journey! Wherever your future travels may take you, enjoy them and thanks for joining us to bicycle from Venice to Kalamata!
Please contact us to let us know that you are interested in this tour and we will contact our local tour operator to check availability, answer your questions, or to book you in.

Inclusions:

  • Quality 27-30 speed bicycle (road or hybrid)
  • 28 nights accommodation
  • 28 breakfasts
  • Most dinners (approx 19)
  • Several lunches (approx 8)
  • Superb tour leaders, bilingual and bicultural experts
Full Tour (28 nights)
USD11,500 twin share
USD1000 single room supplement