3500 years ago, the Santorini Island was devastated by one of the worst natural disasters since the Ice Age: a huge volcanic eruption. This cataclysm happened 100 km from the island of Crete and the city of Knossos, the home of the thriving Minoan civilization. Fifty years after the eruption, that civilization was in ruins. Did the volcano deliver a death blow to the Minoans? Is it possible that a huge tsunami wave caused by Santorini Volcano hit the shores of Crete completely destroying the Minoan Civilization? These questions have been haunting historians and scientists for decades.
The scheduled field trip, by the end of the conference, seeks for an unforgettable visit to the lost world of the Minoans. Their palace at Knossos which dates back to circa 2000 BC was vast and elaborate, with Europe’s first paved roads and running water and beautiful and delicate frescoes. This trip will guide you through the history and help you meet the famous Minoan Civilization.
Those who cannot resist swimming in an exotic setting may enjoy a cruise at the famous Balos lagoon and swim in one of the best beaches in the world, famous for its wild natural beauty. Its waters have a deep turquoise color while millions of crushed shells paint the sand pinkish composing a magical scenery.
The lagoon and the wider area, with rare species of flora and fauna, are protected under the Natura 2000 program. Eleonora falcons, shags and cormorants nest in the caves of the area which is also a shelter for the protected monk seal and the sea turtle careta-caretta.
Old City of Chania
Get familiar with the city of Chania by wandering around its streets, visiting its museums and admiring the different architectural styles presenting the historical route of the city.
Guests will be driven to the city by bus and guided through an enjoyable walking tour experience with historic and cultural character.
Stroll through the old city alleys, get acquainted with the old Jewish quarter, meet the locals in the municipal market and learn about the local cheese and herbs from the producers before heading to a “kafeneion” –the Greek traditional café for a drink and a quick bite of “bougatsa”. The tour will continue with a visit to important museums and some free shopping time before heading for lunch and returning back to the conference venue.
The 17th Century Settlement of Milia and Elafonisi Beach
Board the bus in the morning towards Milia, an authentic 17th century mountain settlement which has been transformed into and eco-friendly tourist complex. A glorious location boasting exceptional rugged beauty in the area of Kissamos. Placed among plane trees, chestnut trees, and mountain tops reaching the skies, the area overwhelms visitors with its unique diversity. Clean air, warm hospitality, relaxed atmosphere and home-cooking is what you will find in Milia, a small forgotten corner in Western Crete where the philosophy of ‘’back to basics’’ has found true meaning: the village is not even connected to the electricity grid! As the bus makes its approach, participants will come across breathtaking landscape including traditional villages, small gorges and will be charmed by the route and its overwhelming beauty.
Leaving Milia, the participants will be driven to Elafonisi Bay, an oblong 76 km west of Chania which is often torn by the sea water in two parts giving the impression of a separate island.
The endangered turtle careta – careta and several rare animals nest on the island and it is strictly forbidden to remove any plants, animals and sand from the area.
Exotic beaches with white sand and turquoise waters reminiscent of the Caribbean, are formed on either side of the peninsula.
The Samaria Gorge
One of the most famous places to visit on the island of ,this National Park is 18km long and exceptionally rich in animal and plant beauty. Inside the gorge you will find unique species protected under international law and you may even meet its famous inhabitants, the wild goats of Crete, which the locals call “agrimia” and tourists call “kri-kri”.
Τhe Samaria footpath is very well signposted all along its length and is thought to be the most-walked footpath in the whole of Greece. More than a quarter million people walk through the gorge every year from beginning of May to the end of October. The walk takes 4-8 hours depending on your pace. Six hours is the normal time, especially if you stop to take pictures and enjoy the amazing natural landscape. Agia Roumeli village is where the walk ends and you can enjoy a swim in the Libyan Sea or have lunch one of the many tavernas.
However, if you don’t feel up to the whole route, there is also the “lazy way” as the tour agents call it. This is a much shorter route from Agia Roumeli up to the “Iron Gates” Sideroportes), the narrowest point of the gorge. At the Iron Gates, the gorge is so narrow that you can almost touch both sides as they rise up sheer 500 m above your head. The short route is certainly an easy way to experience some, though not all, of the magic of the Samaria Gorge.