During this magnificent tour, there will be an opportunity to tour the unparalleled Palace of Knossos in Crete, which is the island’s largest Bronze Age archaeological site. Spending four nights on Crete and two on Santorini, you’ll enjoy a range of sights and activities, and return home with some legendary stories of your own.
Our visit here is truly enhanced by the knowledge of a historian, who will enlighten the ruins with tales from the past, facts and fascinating information. Formerly the centre of Minoan civilisation, this is a captivating place to visit and we will spend ample time here so that we really get a sense of what its purpose was and also what it means now in the modern world.
The amazing whitewashed buildings with vibrant domed roofs that pierce the blue of the sea and sky will provide the most idyllic creative inspiration, and the rugged natural beauty of the trails will keep the walkers among us motivated. Join us on this seven-day adventure and see for yourself why Greece is such a popular destination worldwide.
Our flight lands in the Cretan capital, Heraklion, our home for the next four nights. Once we’ve checked in the group splits for its afternoon activities: the painters start by sketching the serene and turquoise sea, the walkers will have time to explore the delights of this city. Tonight we reunite for dinner as a group.
This morning, those with paints and canvases situate themselves on the Lasithi Plateau, a patchwork of fields and windmills encircled by looming mountains. Nearby, those with boots and daypacks walk to Psychro Cave, which is known in legend as the birthplace of Zeus. After lunch we return to Heraklion, where the painters carry on with their pieces, and the walkers enjoy free time.
Our destination this morning is the extraordinary Knossos Palace, which we tour together with a knowledgeable historian. Knossos is one of Crete’s foremost destinations: a sprawling set of ancient ruins, rediscovered in the late 19th-century. The palace is thought to have given rise to the myth of the Minotaur, and has been partially restored. Following lunch at a nearby café, we return to Heraklion for the afternoon. Once again, walkers have the afternoon free, while painters are invited to continue with their art at the hotel.
Today the walkers are treated to a full day of hiking through the Samaria Gorge, one of the continent’s longest canyons. This is arguably the greatest walk on the island, and wends through an unspoilt natural park. Keep your eyes peeled for the Kri-Kri (a rare Cretan goat), and an abundance of other notable flora and fauna. Meanwhile, the painters spend their morning at Agios Nikolaos, an elegant coastal town with wide boulevards and modern architecture. After lunch here they sail across to Spinalonga Island, a former leper colony that was cut off from the mainland by the Venetians. An evocative place for reflection.
This morning we cross the Sea of Crete to the sunny archipelago of Santorini, arriving in plenty of time for lunch on the main island, Thira. Here we enjoy a suitably restful afternoon, either painting the island’s stunning features – its broad coastal views, blue-roofed buildings, and volcanic peaks – or setting out on a relaxed and scenic walk. Dinner tonight is served at our hotel.
After breakfast, those painting will turn their attention to Oia, an exciting mass of white-painted buildings, clinging to rocky slopes beside the sea. After lunch here, it is time to gather work together for an extra special exhibition. The walkers, meanwhile, spend their morning at nearby Thirasia, hiking through a landscape of monasteries, villages and geographical formations, before ending the day at the painters’ exhibition. Tonight we toast to the trip’s successes, with a final group dinner at our hotel.
After saying our goodbyes, we transfer to the airport for our return flight home.
Susanna Bailey first travelled as an artist when she won the Nancy Balfour Scholarship during her post graduate years at the Slade School. Her love of drawing and painting has taken her all over the world as a tutor and as a working artist.