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12-Day Journey in the Footsteps of Odysseus and Penelope

  • Athens, Greece

  • 11 nights

Grade 2 - Moderate

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Take a journey 3,000 years back in time, across Homer’s wine-dark sea. Discover the legends of Heroes and Heroines, Gods and Goddesses and connect with the mythic power of the ancients. From the heart of Athens to Odysseus’ home island of Ithaka, embark on an unforgettable tour with lifelong researcher, seeker and storyteller Phil Cousineau.

With teachings from his books, films and studies, Phil takes you on a voyage through the history of civilizations that flourished in the distant past. With wisdom and wonder to be discovered at every turn, this 12-day tour with Sacred Earth Journeys is one you’ll remember forever.



Join author-filmmaker-mythologist Phil Cousineau on a tour of ancient Greece visiting many significant sites associated with two of Homer’s greatest heroes, Odysseus and Penelope.

  • Travel with author, teacher and filmmaker, Phil Cousineau
  • Insightful group discussions and “Long Conversations”
  • Escorted tour of the Paleokastritsa in Corfu
  • Local English-speaking guide in Olympia
  • Guide from the Odyssean Studies Center in Ithaka
  • Visits to ancient sites associated with Homer’s the Odyssey
  • Group readings of poems, stories and passages associated with the sites we visit
  • Invited guest speakers (TBC)


Monday, April 18th

You will be met at Athens International Airport and transferred to your hotel in the heart of Athens. Depending on your arrival time, you may have an opportunity to explore this ancient city on your own. Athens, the capital and largest city in Greece, dominates the Attica periphery. One of the world’s oldest cities, it is full of myths, mysteries and legends. Steeped with a rich history that spans around 3,400 years, the city is home to many sacred ancient sites, monuments and landmarks. A fusion of old and new, Athens is also a cosmopolitan metropolis buzzing with lively activity and vibrancy. If you arrive early enough, they recommend a visit to the National Archaeological Museum, founded at the end of the 19th century to house and protect antiquities from all over Greece, thus displaying their historical, cultural and artistic value. The museum features many artifacts associated with the Homeric epics, such as the golden Mask of Agamemnon, the bust of the Minotaur and the Aphrodite of Cnidus.

In the evening, you will gather at the hotel for a welcome drink before walking as a group to the Plaka district for the Welcome Dinner. It will be held at the Palia taverna Kritikou with its splendid view of the Acropolis and Lycabettus. You will get to know your tour leader and fellow travelers as you savor traditional Greek cuisine and admire the stunning views of ancient Athens.

(Overnight in Athens at the Hotel Hermes or similar.)

Tuesday, April 19th

Enjoy a traditional Greek breakfast followed by the first of the Long Conversations: “Epic Storytelling in Classical Athens.” Afterward, the coach will take you to the Peloponnesus, crossing the astonishing architectural marvel of the Corinth Canal, begun by the Roman emperor Nero, who abandoned the project, which was finally resumed in 1881 and completed in 1893. After a short stop at the canal, you will visit the ancient citadel of Mycenae and its neighboring museum, with its cyclopean walls and history of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. Here, you will spend the morning exploring the archaeological site with a very special guest, Agamemnon Dasis, the great-great-grandson of the man who lodged the archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann (discoverer of Troy) when he excavated Mycenae in 1876.

After your tour of the citadel you will visit the nearby tholos or beehive huts, then lunch at Agamemnon’s restaurant and hotel, La Belle Helene, named after Helen of Troy. Over the years many luminaries have stayed here, including André Malraux, Stephen Spender, Jack Kerouac, Rebecca West, Lawrence Durrell, Henry Miller, Virginia Woolf, Carl Jung, Freya Stark, and J. K. Rowling.

Breakfast and lunch are included today.

(Overnight in Sparta at the Menelaion Hotel or similar.)

Wednesday, April 20th


After breakfast at the hotel, you will gather for a morning discussion based on Phil’s book, Who Stole the Arms of the Venus de Milo? The famous statue was inspired by the story of the torrid love affair between Paris, the prince of Troy and Helen of Sparta. It's a tale that has inspired more art than any other one from classical times. The conversation will prepare you for your visit today to the ruins of the palace she shared with King Menelaus. For it was here that the Trojan prince Paris, enchanted by the goddess of love, Aphrodite, came to seek out Helen, regarded as the most beautiful woman in the world, who was likewise under Aphrodite’s love spell. To catch a glimpse of the importance of these mythic figures, you will visit one of the most unusual sites in Greece, the strange pyramid-shaped Sanctuary of Menelaus and Helen, where they were worshipped as gods for centuries, and according to Pausanius, were buried there. 

You will enjoy a traditional lunch either in Sparta or Gytheion, depending on timing. After your intriguing morning, you will visit Gytheion, the ancient seaport for the war-hardened Spartans—a beautifully preserved town—then, you'll visit the Kranai islet. According to legend, this was the port from which Helen and Paris sailed for Troy, their tryst igniting the most famous war in history.

Breakfast and lunch are included today.

(Overnight in Sparta at the Menelaion Hotel or similar.)

Thursday, April 21st

After breakfast at the hotel, the group will gather for a morning discussion about the curious relationship in the ancient world between athletics and warfare, as embodied at Ancient Olympia. Considered a national shrine for the ancient Greeks, the site housed many treasures and works of art ranging from temples, monuments, sacred altars, theatres and statues. Recent findings have pushed the origins of the competitions there from the traditional 776 B.C.E. to around 1250 B.C.E. Your visit will enrich your understanding of the role of athletics in Homer, who is often regarded as the first sportswriter in the world because of his intricate description of the so-called Funeral Games for the fallen hero Patroclus.

Together, you will make your way to the ancient gymnasium and the palaestra (wrestling forum), the Temple of Zeus, one of the original Seven Wonders of the World, the Temple of Hera, where the Olympic Torch is ignited for every modern Olympics, and the wondrous Archaeological Museum, which features the astounding statue of Hermes by Praxiteles. You will then walk through an old olive grove for a visit to the Olympics Museum, which features a collection of Olympic torches, medals and memorabilia of the Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the visionary who revived the Modern Olympic Games in the belief it would revive the spirit of the well-lived life.

This evening, Phil will lead a late evening discussion based on his book, The Olympic Odyssey, followed by a visit to a local taverna for some traditional music (at own expense).

Breakfast and lunch are included today.

(Overnight in Olympia at the Hotel Antonios or similar.)

Friday, April 22nd

Following your hotel breakfast, there will be a discussion about the symbolic power of Ithaka in mythology, psychology, poetry and the arts. After the talk, you will take the coach to the port of Patras, where you will catch a four-hour ferry to Pisaetos Harbor, Ithaka, then on to the nearby beautiful harbor town of Vathi. Tonight you will enjoy a fabulous meal and traditional Greek music together.

Breakfast and dinner are included today.

(Overnight in Ithaka at the Mentor Hotel or similar.)

Saturday, April 23rd

After breakfast, there will be a group reading of passages from the Odyssey that are set in Ithaka. You'll discuss the way the translations have shape-shifted over the centuries. You will also explore the centuries-long debate, which dates back to the 3rd century BCE, about the specific location of Homer’s Ithaka. 

After lunch, you will be guided by Spyros Couvaras, a member of the Odyssean Studies Center to the town square of the beautiful village of Stavros to see a scale model of ancient Ithaka, and the small but important Archaeological Museum of Stavros, where you will see fragments of twelve bronze ceremonial tripods in honor of Odysseus found in the nearby Polis caves. One is famously inscribed: EYXHN ODYCCEI, a reference to the gift of Alcinoos, King of Phaecia, to Odysseus. Then you will take a short drive by coach to the reputed ruins of Odysseus and Penelope’s palace that is referred to locally as Homer’s School. Archaeologists date it back to the 8th century. The most recent excavations, culminating in 2010, have fueled the controversy about the existence of a real Odysseus, reminiscent of Heinrich Schliemann’s digs at Troy, in Turkey, which many believe provides a historical basis for the Trojan War. After your visit to these haunting ruins, you will visit the actual Polis Cave, where the “Odysseus cult” was ritually celebrated for eight centuries. Time permitting, you will end your visits with a drive to the peak of Pilata Hill, which overlooks the Three Seas that Homer describes are visible from Odysseus’ Ithaka, and finally to the Homeric “Melanydros Fountain.”

Breakfast and lunch are included.

(Overnight in Ithaka at the Mentor Hotel or similar.)

Sunday, April 24th

Today, you'll enjoy a morning of storytelling and discussion about the Iliad and the Odyssey, including recent mythopoetic renderings of Homer’s myths, including Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad, and Madeline Miller’s Circe, and today’s theme of “Ithaka After Odysseus.”

After the “Long Conversation”, there will be an attempt to visit the Archaeological Museum of Vathi to see its beautiful collection of rare vases from the so-called “Dark Ages,” as well as vases from the Geometric Period and striking Ithacan bronze coins from Classical times. Some coins have the very face of King Odysseus. As it is Easter Sunday, they are not sure if the museum can be opened for the group, but they will try using their local contacts.

Next, you are in for a real treat! Enjoy a traditional Easter lunch in a picturesque setting with lamb on the spit, Greek music and dancing!

Breakfast and lunch are included today.

(Overnight in Ithaka at the Mentor Hotel or similar.)

Monday, April 25th

After breakfast, you will leave Odysseus' home island for the mainland. You will board an early morning ferry bound for the port of Astakos on the west coast of the mainland, arriving at noon. You will enjoy a brief lunch in the port and then take the coach to Nicopolis, "the Victory City," named after the goddess Nike, where the great Epictetus founded his school of philosophy. Nicopolis was founded in 29 BCE to commemorate the nearby Battle of Actium, where Octavian's army overwhelmed Cleopatra and Marc Antony. It is considered the largest ancient city, size-wise, in all of Greece.

Dinner and overnight in Preveza with its glorious beaches.

Breakfast and dinner are included today.

(Overnight in Preveza at the Margarona Royal or similar.)

Tuesday, April 26th

After breakfast, the group will drive to Necromanteio of Acheron, a candidate for both the strangest ancient site in Greece and the least visited of the Homeric sites. For millennia, this temple marked the entrance to Hades, where a religious cult developed to celebrate the mysteries of Hades and Persephone. Pilgrims gathered here from all over the ancient world to honor the recently dead and also to be led by the resident Oracle of the Dead down into subterranean chambers, where it's believed they experienced a ritual death and rebirth. In Book Eleven of The Odyssey, Homer portrays the sorceress Circe as the inspiration for Odysseus to descend from here down to the Halls of Hades. On his nekyia, or underworld journey, the hero asked the soothsayer Tiresias for advice on how he could reach home again and be reunited with Penelope after twenty years.

Next, you'll continue along the beautiful western coast of Greece to Igoumenitsa to catch the ferry for Corfu. Upon arrival in the main port, you'll check into their luxurious hotel in Corfu town. Designed by the famous architect Sakelarios, the Corfu Palace is considered a classic, and is a much-loved hotel by locals and visitors alike.

Corfu town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, famed for its cobbled streets, Venetian architecture and eclectic galleries and restaurants. This picturesque town also has stunning views over the Ionian Sea.

Breakfast and dinner are included today.

(Overnight in Corfu at the Corfu Palace Hotel or similar.)

Wednesday, April 27th

Today, you'll enjoy the hotel breakfast and then set out by coach to the breathtakingly beautiful, high-cliffed Palaiokastritsa Beach, from where you'll journey by local boat to “Nausicaa’s Cave.” There, you will enjoy a seaside lunch and have an opportunity to swim.

According to long tradition, this is the site where the shipwrecked Odysseus was rescued by the princess Naussica and taken, in an extraordinary act of xenia, Greek hospitality, to the palace where she lived with her royal parents, King Alkinoos and Queen Arete. After listening to Odysseus’ heartbreaking stories about his twenty-year-long adventure, they built him a magical ship designed to carry him on his final journey back to Ithaka.

Breakfast and lunch are included today.

(Overnight in Corfu at the Corfu Palace Hotel or similar.)

Thursday, April 28th

After your traditional sumptuous Greek breakfast, you will engage in your final “Long Conversation” at their hotel, which will be based on the shape-shifting nature of the tale of Odysseus and Penelope, one of the most durable and charismatic stories in human history. The discussion will range from the early Greek plays of Sophokles and Euripides to Ovid’s renderings, Monteverdi’s opera, Joyce’s Ulysses, the Coen brother’s O, Brother, Where art Thou?, to the recent feminist versions of Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad and Madeline Miller’s Circe, and even the influence on video games such as “Odyssey: The Search for Ulysses.”

You will then board the coach for a drive to the nearby village of Gastouri, where you will seize the opportunity to visit the Achilleion Palace, which was constructed for the Empress, Elizabeth of Austria, as an expression of her passionate admiration for Greek culture. The villa offers a magnificent panoramic vista of the Ionian Sea and reveals a modern vision of King Alcinoos and Queen Arete’s mythical Phaecian palace.

Your final afternoon will be free for wandering the cobbled streets of Corfu town, shopping or journaling. In the early evening, the group will meet for a Farewell Banquet at a seaside taverna in Corfu town.

Breakfast and dinner are included today.

(Overnight in Corfu at the Corfu Palace Hotel or similar.)


Friday, April 29th

After breakfast this morning, you'll say a fond farewell to your newfound friends and tour leader as your time together in Greece comes to an end. You will travel home with incredible memories and a deeper understanding of the importance of the sites visited and their role in Homer’s Odyssey.

After check-out, you will be transferred to Corfu International Airport for onwards flights home.

Breakfast is included today.


  • Airfare to Athens and return from Corfu
  • Cancellation & Medical Insurance (ask us for a quote)
  • Meals and drinks not specified
  • Cost to obtain valid passport
  • Tips and gratuities to guides, drivers, hotel staff
  • Any items of a personal nature such as laundry, drinks and telephone calls. Any item that is not specifically detailed on our website or in the final
  • retreat itinerary

Phil Cousineau is a writer, teacher, editor, independent scholar, documentary filmmaker, travel leader and storyteller. His life-long fascination with art, literature, and history of culture has taken him on many journeys around the world. He lectures frequently on a wide range of topics from mythology, film and writing to beauty, creativity, travel and sports. He has published over 30 non-fiction books and has more than 20 scriptwriting credits to his name. Currently, he is the host of the much-acclaimed “inner travel” television series, Global Spirit, on Link TV.

Phil's books include his international bestseller, The Art of Pilgrimage: The Seeker's Guide to Making Travel Sacred, which has been translated into ten languages; The Book of Roads: Stories from Michigan; the recently released The Meaning of Tea; Stoking the Creative Fires: Nine Ways to Rekindle Passion and Imagination; The Olympic Odyssey, which was selected by the US Olympic Committee as a gift to the athletes at the 2004 Athens, Greece Olympics; Soul: An Archaeology: Readings from Socrates to Ray Charles; The Soul of the World: A Modern Book of Hours; and The Hero’s Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work. Cousineau also worked with the drummer John Densmore on his bestselling autobiography, Riders on the Storm: My Life with Jim Morrison and the Doors. Cousineau is also a contributor to more than 50 other books. 

Phil’s screenwriting credits in documentary films, which have won more than 25 international awards, include: A Seat at the Table; Ecological Design: Inventing the Future; Wayfinders: A Pacific Odyssey; Humble Serpent: The Life of Reuben Snake; Wiping the Tears of Seven Generations; Eritrea: March to Freedom; The Presence of the Goddess; The Hero’s Journey: The World of Joseph Campbell; and the 1991 Academy Award-nominated Forever Activists: Stories from the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. His most recent work was story consultant and on-camera interviewee for Stealing Home: Tiger Stadium, Detroit’s Field of Dream, which was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2016. An expert on mythology and film and the “hero journey” structure of screenplays, Cousineau also consults on many types of films and projects, including at Warner Brothers, Twentieth-Century Fox studios, and Pixar Studios.

Cousineau has been the keynote speaker at major conferences as diverse as the Ansel Adams Centennial Celebration in Yosemite National Park, The European Unitarian Universalist’s Fall Retreat in the Netherlands, and the Red Bull Conference on Creativity in 2015. He has been invited to lecture at distinguished venues including the University of California, Berkeley, UCLA, Stanford University, Pacifica Graduate Institute, the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago, the Swedenbourg Library, Syracuse University, Bard College, and the University of Tennessee. He recently gave a prestigious TEDx talk about mentorship and creativity called “The Passionate Life.” 

He has collaborated and appeared with many of the great thinkers and philosophers of our time including mentors, Joseph Campbell and Huston Smith, John O’Donohue, Karen Armstrong, Robert Thurman, Robert A. Johnson, James Hillman, Brian Swimme, Robert Bly, Brother David Steindl Rast, Marija Gimbutas, Angeles Arrien, Baseball Hall of Fame announcer Ernie Harwell, and many others. He enjoys collaborating with musicians and artists such as John Densmore, drummer for The Doors, Mickey Hart and Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, cellist David Darling, songwriter R.B. Morris, Cliff Aerie and Chris Bakriges of the Oikos Ensemble, movie producer Jeff “The Dude” Dowd, and painter Gregg Chadwick. For the Global Spirit series he interviewed Carlos Santana and his wife Cindy Blackman Santana.

  • Travel with like-minded people and forge lifelong friendships
  • Escape from daily stresses, restore balance and rejuvenate the body, mind and spirit
  • Learn about ancient cultures and traditions and explore their significant sites
  • Travel safely with the comfort of a small group and an experienced, passionate tour leader
  • Enjoy daily discussions, contemplations and life-changing conversations
  • Develop more understanding and compassion for yourself and others
  • Enjoy an itinerary that is extensively researched and infused with personal contacts and resources
  • Connect with ancient spiritual energies and power places at carefully chosen sacred sites
  • Strengthen your connection to the rest of the world and deepen your knowledge of other traditions


Tour operated by Sacred Earth Journeys. Sacred Earth Journeys is a registered & licensed Travel Agent in British Columbia (B.C. Reg 28465). All participants on our trips are covered by the terms of the British Columbia Travel Agents Act.


A deposit of $500 per person is required if booking more than 70 days before your departure date. Payment is due immediately in full within 70 days of departure. If you pay a deposit, the remainder is due 70 days before you depart. If the balance is not paid in full by the due date, we will regard the booking as canceled. Payments made less than 30 days before departure must be made with a certified cheque, money order, or credit card. All payments are non-refundable and we strongly suggest you purchase Cancellation Insurance to protect your investment.

Minimum Number of People

The advertised cost for each tour is based on an established minimum level of participation. Should the group for any tour fall below this number, each traveler may be assessed a surcharge dependent upon the number of persons traveling (usually between USD $100 and USD $300 per person). Sacred Earth Journeys will make every effort to keep the surcharge as small as possible. If assessed a surcharge, you will be notified of the amount at least two weeks before the departure date. Payment is due upon notification. Instead, in the event that there are not the minimum number of participants,  Sacred Earth Journeys reserves the right to either add a 10% small group surcharge or cancel the tour. In either case, you will be notified as soon as possible. In the event of a tour cancellation, you will receive a full refund or you may transfer to another trip.

Single Supplement

A single supplement is available for an additional cost ($980 USD per person for Greece; $850 per person for Mexico). The single supplement is for those who would like to secure a private room throughout the tour, at the indicated additional price. If you are not traveling with anyone you know and would like to share a room, please indicate your preference for a roommate above. We will be happy to work to find you a suitable roommate.


We strongly recommend purchasing Travel Insurance (Cancellation and Medical Insurance) to protect against cancellation fees and additional travel expenses that may incur before, after, or during the trip. All payments are non-refundable and we strongly suggest you purchase Cancellation Insurance to protect your investment.

Tour Costs

Tour costs and what they include are listed on the itinerary for each tour. Unless indicated otherwise on the tour itinerary, the tour fee includes accommodations in double occupancy, meals as indicated (any foods or beverages not included in the program and purchased by you will be at additional cost. Tour price includes only foods and beverages that are provided to the entire group), all transportation during the tour, sightseeing as specified in the itinerary, entrance fees for parks and other areas, and services of a tour leader. The tour operator reserves the right to substitute hotels of similar category. Tour costs are based on group rates and no refunds will be given for unutilized services. Items not included in costs: visa and passport charges, departure taxes, gratuities (some tours require gratuities be pre-paid), extra meals not included in the itinerary, items of a personal nature (i.e. laundry, drinks, telephone calls, personal clothing), emergency evacuation, personal travel insurance, any item that is not specified as being included.


A valid passport must be held by each passenger traveling internationally. Some countries require that your passport is valid for 6 months from your return date. Visas are required for entry into some countries. Please check with your local Embassy or Consulate of the country being visited, to learn about Visa requirements for your Nationality. Obtaining Visas is at the passenger's own expense.