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Ancient Civilizations of Greece, Crete & Santorini: On the Edge of the World

Experience Sacred Monasteries, Greek Mythology, Ancient Communities and more. A transformative sacred trip to the mystical islands of the Gods.

May 5 to May 17, 2025

13 days, 12 nights

Greece and her islands are majestically situated as if the Gods themselves can commune effortlessly, perched on the edge of the world. We can still feel their presence and understand their lives better in a group of like-minded souls, enjoying the scenery and the mythology while experiencing the benefits of satsang or spiritual gathering.  

We invite you to join us for 13 inspiring days in mainland Greece and the islands of Crete and Santorini. We’ll use the Yuga Cycles of Time to investigate mythology and ancient civilizations in a stunning landscape while encountering thousands of years of spiritual practice.  We’ll visit holy sites where travelers have received healings, learn ancient Greek myths and culture while exploring mystic oracles, gleaming temples, and miraculous sacred sites.  Along the way, we’ll attune to the Greek people in her picturesque villages, visit the famous archaeological site of the mysterious Minoan Civilization in Crete, discover how Santorini changed the face of our planet, and imbibe in a variety of cultural experiences.

Gnothi Seauton means Know Thyself.  These words were inscribed above the entrance to the temple of Apollo at Delphi.  In Yogic terms, to know oneself is the most important thing in spiritual inquiry.  To find the truth, we have to first know the one who is searching for the truth and that is indeed one’s self.  

Arrive Athens May 6
2 nights Athens (6th & 7th)
2 nights Delphi (8th & 9th)
3 nights Crete (10th, 11th & 12th)
3 nights Santorini (13th, 14th & 15th)
1 night Athens (May 16th)
Depart May 17th.

(This tour has limited availability. Plan to be in Athens, Greece no later than May 6th, 2025.  If you’d like to come early and stay in our Athens hotel, please let us know after you’ve signed-up and paid. Contact admissions@anandacollege.org to be on our waiting list.)

Itinerary

Athens

Athens

Our tour begins in Athens, the ancient and modern capital of Greece. In Athens, we’ll take in the imposing and inspiring Acropolis, the majestic symbol of Classical Greece and its artistic achievements.

Note:  Some of us will be flying to Athens a few days before the tour begins.

Our 2023 Group

our group

Our 2023 group in Athens ranged from age 16-80 and everything in between.

Acropolis Museum

Acropolis Museum

We’ll visit the Acropolis Museum and learn about the goddess Athena, plus much more. We’ll stay in a centrally located area within walking distance to the famous Plaka shops and cafes, the old section of Athens.

Explore and Dine

Athens Restaurant

There will be time to explore or dine out in the tavernas along the slopes of the Acropolis hill. Our journey will involve daily walks and some easy-moderate hikes. Greek cuisine is very vegetarian-friendly. Most Greeks speak English and are very welcoming to tourists.

Delphi

Delphi

From Athens, we’ll travel north towards Delphi, a vast site of ancient temples, treasures, and a stadium built on a mountainside overlooking the Corinthian Gulf. In ancient times, Delphi was known as the “navel of the world,” the pinnacle of spiritual and political power, home of the Delphi Oracle, where the priestesses of Apollo prophesied the fate of the Greeks. Delphi was an ancient religious site.

Shiva Lingam

Omphalos

Some say the navel of the world, the “omphalos”, is actually a powerful Shiva Lingam, an oval stone within the Delphi site.  Legend has it that in order to find the exact middle point on earth Zeus set two eagles “free” from opposite ends of the earth and the spot where they met was marked with a stone, the intriguing “omphalos” of Delphi.

Corinthian Gulf

Woman with binoculars

Situated near a charming Greek village, our hotel offers stunning views of the Corinthian Gulf and a glimpse into life on the edge of the world.

Monastery of Saint Luke of Steiris

Monastery

On the way to Delphi, we’ll see the 10th Century monastery of Saint Luke of Steiris and see a well-preserved Byzantine church and the relics of the saint. The Saint’s relics have been said to heal for hundreds of years through spontaneous miracles, dreams, and the healing scent of myrrh.

Meditating

man meditating

Meditating outside the Monastery of Saint Luke.

Galaxidi

Galaxidi

When in Delphi, we’ll visit the charming Greek fishing village of Galaxidi for a special lunch.

Throughout

candles

Throughout our tour there will be time for meditation, prayer and hikes.

Heraklion, Crete

Hotel Room

Before heading to the island of Crete we’ll tour south to Athens.  Here, we’ll board a flight to Heraklion, Crete.  In Crete, we’ll be staying in a city hotel for the next three nights. All accommodations throughout the trip are at 3 & 4 star hotels.

Palace of Knossos

Temple

Our first day on Crete begins with an in-depth exploration of the site where the Palace of Knossos still stands.  Besides being Greece’s largest and most important archeological site, the palace served as the ceremonial, political, and religious center for the mysterious Minoan civilization.

Minoan Civilization

crete

In Crete we will immerse ourselves in the history of the Minoan civilization, a Bronze Age civilization that thrived beginning in 3,500 BC. We’ll chart their rise and fall as we visit their palace complexes and the natural landscape and coastline of Crete.

Heraklion

museum

In a museum in Heraklion, we’ll view intriguing figurines from the mysterious Minoan Civilization, which started in Descending Treta Yuga and into Descending Dwapara Yuga, periods of higher consciousness on our planet.  What do the figurines convey? Some faces seem to express blissful, meditative states, with crowns that could depict a oneness with nature or hands that express a certain mental awareness.

Crete and Santorini

scenic greek village

Some of the most scenic villages and oceanside dwellings in all the Greek islands exist in Crete and Santorini. This is where we’ll connect with the laid-back Greek culture, and sample Greek cuisine the islands are known for.

Olives and Olive Oil

olive oil

Crete is home to the some of the world’s best olives and olive oil, and imports to countries throughout the world, including Italy.  During our stay, we’ll visit a traditional Cretan olive-oil making farm.

Santorini

santorini

After visiting Crete, we’ll take a 2-hour ferry ride to Santorini, situated on the world’s largest caldera.  We’ll spend three nights in this iconic village.  We’ll tour the island, visit Greek orthodox churches here, have the opportunity to hike the trail along the ancient caldera.

Santorini View

stairs in santorini

On the edge of the world, in Santorini.

Akrotiri

Akrotiri museum

We’ll tour the fascinating Akrotiri museum to the powerful Thera volcano.  The ruins at Akrotiri are preserved in time, the volcano dealing a transformative blow to the Mediterranean during the time of Descending Dwapara Yuga.  This excavation site is of a Cycladic cultural settlement on Santorini, associated with the Minoan Civilization.

Sunset Cruise

sunset

It’s been said the best way to experience the sunsets on Santorini is by boat. The Sunset Cruise at Santorini is a 5-hour tour.  When you sign-up, let us know if you’d like to join us, it is $300 per person.

Santorini Sunset Tour

map of greece

Your Santorini Sunset Tour will be a private dinner cruise. After breakfast at our hotel, we’ll have the morning free to visit Santorini on your own pace.  In the afternoon, enjoy your cruise on a stylish double-decker Catamaran.  Relax in style and enjoy an all-inclusive getaway with round-trip transfer, BBQ meal, and seafood (vegetarian options), swimming stops, snorkeling facilities on board. Admire breath-taking views of Santorini’s cliffs and the world’s largest caldera! We’ll sail below the caldera, stop at the hot springs for swimming, then sail past Aspronisi, Ancient Lighthouse, Akrotiri and Indian Rock.  Our second stop will be at the Red Beach for swimming and snorkeling.  Our third stop will be at White Beach for swimming and an on-board BBQ, then we sail below Oia to watch the sunset.

Explore

diners on a boat

You’ll have free time to shop, dine and explore this beautiful island.

Goodbye Dinner

statues

Next, we fly from Santorini to Athens for our final day of the tour.  That evening we’ll have our goodbye dinner together.  Our tour ends the following morning after breakfast.

Sacred Travel Highlights

From the time we come together as a group on May 6, 2025 and until we all say goodbye on May 17th, we’ll be entering the sacred space of pilgrimage. This is a time to let go and begin to attune ourselves to the places we will visit on our tour.

Each time we go on spiritual pilgrimage, we open ourselves to what Paramhansa Yogananda calls a state of grace. “Expect the miraculous”, Yogananda would say. If we truly live like this we will draw to us little miracles that affirm God’s presence in our lives. This state of grace becomes more magnetic when a group travels together for the express purpose of spiritual attunement.

We invite you to travel with us to Greece and Crete, enjoy the land and the people, and experience a deepening awareness of these sacred sites that will provide spiritually uplifted inspiration for the rest of your life.

Many of the places that we will be visiting have been inhabited with saintly people. We will also visit some places where pilgrims have experienced healings and personal transformation. We’ll hear stories of Greek mythology and we will also be attuning to the higher ages of The Yuga Cycles of Time. Together, perhaps we’ll piece together what may have occurred in some of these higher ages.

A short introduction for travelers to Greece and Crete on “The Yuga Cycles of Time”

By David (Byasa) Steinmetz
Ananda College Professor and co-author of “The Yugas: Keys to Understanding Our Hidden Past, Emerging Present and Future Enlightenment”

The places we visit on a pilgrimage tour are beautiful windows into a variety of cultures and times, but is there a larger picture, one that helps us see how it all fits together? Yes, there is. It is called the Yuga Cycles of Time. Based on ancient knowledge preserved in India and expounded by Swami Sri Yukteswar over a century ago, this model of the evolution of human consciousness provides a framework on which we can hang all sorts of things. The prevailing consciousness of a people finds enduring expression in their art and architecture, history, mythology, language, and literature. We can use these clues and our knowledge of the evolution of consciousness to help us attune to the people and times associated with each place that we visit.

For instance, when we visit Byzantine monasteries, realize that they come from a time, called Kali Yuga, when the general population had a lower, more material consciousness than most people do today, so these monastics isolated themselves to seek a higher consciousness. We can tune into the depth of devotion and strength of determination these people had to have to remove themselves so completely from society.

Most of the sites on this tour are from the age called Dwapara Yuga which preceded the Kali Yuga and followed an age of higher consciousness called the Treta Yuga. Today we are in the lowest part of an ascending Dwapara Yuga, so we might get a glimpse of our own future by tuning into cultures from the higher (i.e. earlier) part of the descending Dwapara Yuga. In general, that age corresponds to the Bronze Age of archaeology.

These considerations enrich our appreciation of the artifacts we see. For example, we might look at the famous Minoan fresco that depicts acrobats gracefully vaulting over the horns of a bull and compare that sport from the early Bronze Age (higher consciousness part of descending Dwapara) with the bloody bull fight spectacles left over from the lower consciousness of Kali Yuga.

(The above image is from a fresco in the Knossos Palace on Crete. Today some say these bull acrobats would never have been able to grab a bull by the horns, let alone participate with it, because it would have gored the participants to death. However, in the higher yugas of Treta and even Descending Dwapara Yuga, people would have had much higher consciousness and attunement with all life, including with animals, trees, plant forms, etc. In Treta Yuga, people and potentially animals communicated telepathically. Therefore, even in descending Treta and Dwapara Yuga, this higher consciousness would have allowed interactions like these that were more harmonious, perhaps even entertaining. We know Dwapara Yuga was the age of energy. The acrobat on the right hand side of the fresco appears to be using hands—possibly to move energy. In Minoan Art, men were depicted as red, women as white. As we descended down to the Dark Ages of Kali Yuga, both humans and animals lost their connection to higher consciousness and their awareness dropped significantly. Humans began killing and eating animals, animals fought to protect themselves. During the ages of higher consciousness, the bull was revered, even honored, much as they are today in places like India. – Nayaswami Nischala)

ring

(A closer look at this ring from a tomb next to the Knossos Palace on Crete shows a Goddesses like figure descending from the heavens. In other rings found in tombs nearby, women appear to be invoking a Divine Mother figure from above, also showing attunement with the plant and animal kingdom. Some art historians claim the Minoan Civilization provided proof of the first matriarchy, where women were priestesses, lived harmoniously with all nature and animals, and was essentially a spiritual civilization. – Nayaswami Nischala)

Whenever we investigate the ancient civilizations of Greece, Anatolia, the Aegean Sea, and Egypt we encounter a blank wall around the time of transition from Treta Yuga to Dwapara Yuga c. 3100 BC. That is largely due the nature of Treta Yuga. It was a mental age, with little emphasis on building the physical structures that archaeologists love. The artifacts of the Treta will be found in the oral traditions and myths that have been handed down to us over the millennia. When those civilizations disappeared, much of those precious traditions were lost. India is the one culture that has a continuous history dating back even beyond the Treta Yuga to the highest of all ages, the Satya Yuga. We can get clues from Indian Vedic traditions and literature as to the history and consciousness of those times. The Vedic knowledge was spread westward toward the Aegean and beyond in ancient times and traces abound in mythology and placenames. Mostly what this tells is that the ancestors of the cultures we know have their roots deeper in antiquity at least back to the end of the last ice age c.12000 years ago.

Something catastrophic happened in the Eastern Mediterranean c.1200 BC. as the end of Dwapara approached. All the prominent civilizations in the region collapsed in a very short window of time. Greece was thrown into a Dark Age period, the Hittite empire of Anatolia (modern day Turkey) failed, the Mycenean civilization collapsed, many kingdoms were no longer. Those who survived, notably the Egyptians were much weakened. Many scholars have sought for a single cause, to no avail. It seems that a series of earthquakes, uprisings, migrations, climate changes, trade disruptions and more contributed to the collapse. If we are to look for a single overreaching cause it would be the change of consciousness between the Dwapara and Kali Yugas. Such a change has myriad manifestations in both human and natural realms. As the poison of dark Kali Yuga consciousness begins to mix with the dynamic energy of Dwapara the consequences are bound to be cataclysmic. A sobering thought is the realization that we are a few hundred years into the Dwapara Yuga now and seem to be approaching a similar flash point and collapse. The good news is that we are on the upward arc of the Yugas and can look forward to a few hundred years of peace and prosperity similar to the corresponding period of the Bronze age preceding its collapse.

yugas timeline

The chart shows the relationship of our time to the ancient times associated with the sites visited on the tour. You will be visiting archeological sites mainly of three different cultures:

  1. Mycenaean and Minoan – Bronze Age cultures of the mid Dwapara Yuga. The roots of these cultures are hidden in time, but probably extend from as far back as the Treta Yuga.
  2. Ancient Greek and Roman – After the Bronze age collapse these cultures flourished in the descending Kali Yuga. Note that the Roman empire ended with the transition between the descending and ascending Kali Yugas.
  3. Byzantine and Ottoman Empires – These were the dominant Western cultures during the ascending Kali Yuga but ended with the return of Dwapara Yuga.

After Delphi, we return to Athens and take a plane flight to Crete. We will be visiting the Knossos Palace. Knossos is a vast Bronze Age palace complex excavated by British archaeologist Arthur Evans in 1900. Evans’ excavations made this pre-Greek civilization that began in Treta Yuga known to the wider world. Evans is responsible for creating the name Minoan, which speaks to the mythology of King Minos, a legendary Cretan king who was the son of God Zeus and Europa the bull. King Minos’s myth tells of his son, the Minotaur, residing in a labyrinth where he kills any humans who enter. The Knossos palace design is typical of the Minoan sites, with many small rooms for commerce and storage accompanied by large spaces for outdoor communal religious activities. The palace complex resembles a labyrinth, which is one inspiration for the name Minoan.

crete knossos

Knossos Temple (above) in Crete also has a mythical connection to “the navel of the world” at Delphi. Myths that abound in Hindu, Egyptian and Greek mythology often included Gods with superhuman abilities, similar to what we might expect in Treta and possibly higher Dwapara Yuga. Sometimes these Gods were half animal, half human.

dolphin fresco

Minoan dolphin fresco in the Temple of Knossos. In Greek Mythology, there exists the Myth of the Delphinium, which relates to modern day Delphi. The myth is that Apollo travels about after his birth on Delos seeking a place for an oracle. He is advised by Telephus to choose Krisa, “below the glade of Parnassus,” which he does, and has a temple built, killing the serpent that guards the spring. Subsequently, some Cretans from Knossos sailed up on a mission to reconnoiter Pylos. Changing into a dolphin, Apollo cast himself on their boat’s deck. The Cretans did not dare to remove him, but sailed on. Apollo then guided the ship around Greece, ending back at Krisa, where the ship ran aground. Apollo then entered his shrine with the Cretans as its priests, who worshipped him as Delphineus, “of the dolphin.”

(Above: Olive groves on the island of Crete. The oldest tree in the world exists on Crete, “the olive tree of Vouves”, an olive tree that still produces olives and some say is at least 3,000 to 4,000 years old.)

Travel Details

Enjoy a hearty breakfast every day. At the breakfast buffets you can expect fresh breads and pastries, dry bread rusks, eggs prepared several ways, yogurts, cereals, cheeses, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and both fresh and dried fruits. 

Greek mid-day meals are eaten considerably later than in the US, around 2 or 3 in the afternoon. A variety of vegan and vegetarian salads, spreads, and entrees will always be available no matter where we are in Greece. Food is always prepared fresh with local ingredients and local flavor combinations; this is a way of life in Greece. Dinners are much the same.

greek restaurant

Your Hosts

jenny kellogg

Jenny Kellogg, PhD, a Kriyaban who is fluent in Greek and has led Hellenic tours for Harvard.

Jenny holds a PhD in Modern Languages and Literatures from the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Belgium and a BA in Classical Philology from Beloit College. She has worked in academia and non-profits in a variety of administrative and leadership roles, including ten years at Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies. Since 2005, Jenny has developed and led many service-learning programs for college students in Greece.

Jenny is a Kriyaban and a disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda since 2013. She teaches the courses “Comparative Mythology of Greece, India, and Egypt,” “Finding Your Dharma,” and leads travel-study tours to Greece for Ananda College. Besides teaching, Jenny is both an astrologer and spiritual coach, helping her clients navigate change, find meaning in their lives, and reconnect to their authentic selves. She specializes in trauma-informed astrology, combining the Compassionate Inquiry approach of Dr. Gabor Maté with modern astrological techniques and ancient wisdom traditions.  She is also a literary translator from the Modern Greek and enjoys volunteer work within Greece’s refugee crisis. 

your guides

Nayaswami Nischala and Nakula Cryer, co-founders of Ananda College of Living Wisdom, and the New Horizons Gap Year.

Nayaswami’s Nischala and Nakula Cryer have been leading tours for Ananda College of Living Wisdom for nearly 20 years.  They have led tours to Northern India, Southern India, Egypt, Greece, Peru, Italy, France, and England.  They are the co-founders of the Ananda College of Living Wisdom.  For 18 years they lived at the Ananda Meditation Retreat in Northern California where they managed the retreat and the college, and where they raised their son.  Nakula is a builder of sacred temples, creating the Temple of Light and Moksha Mandir at Ananda Village, as well as other sacred buildings.  Nischala is also an author of two books, Reflections on Living 30 Years in a Spiritual Community, and the Amazon best-selling, The Four Stages of Yoga.

Costs

You can contact us to see if space is still available at admissions@anandacollege.org.

Double room shared (two people)
$6,850 USD per person

Single room (one person) supplement
$1,250 USD per person

International Flights Not Included

Includes:

  • all accommodations at 3 & 4 star hotels
  • transportation during the journey, entrance to all holy and ancient sites and museums including the Delphic Oracle and Acropolis Museum
  • 13 buffet breakfasts, 2 dinners and 2 lunches enjoyed together buffet style or at lovely restaurants
  • Airfare from Athens to Crete, and Santorini to Athens
  • Fast ferry from Heraklion to Santorini  
  • Online class on Yugas & Greece & Crete 
  • All expert guides for monastery and Delphi visits, Athens morning walking tour, hiking and cave expert guides, and tours in Crete and Santorini

Cost does not include:

  • your international flights to/from Greece
  • any extra nights at hotels before or after trip
  • travel insurance that we require proof of
  • transportation from the Athens airport to our Athens hotel
  • any personal expenses, laundry costs
  • any medical expenses
  • Meals other than the above. We do not cover drinks at meals we provide, or lunches we do not provide.
  • NOTE: Greeks like to eat a light meal at 3:00 so we will visit small tavernas around lunch where people can order for themselves.
  • We suggest you plan your budget to include tips for the specialty expert guides we have contracted with at key trip locations.

Requirements for traveling to Greece:

You should be reasonably fit, able to walk up stairs and walk throughout the day. The tour includes a few longer hikes, and walking on uneven surfaces, sometimes up hills. 

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory for all our travelers and should be taken out at the time of booking. Your travel insurance must provide cover against personal accident, death, medical expenses and emergency repatriation with a recommended minimum coverage of US $200,000 for each of the categories of cover. We also strongly recommend it covers cancellation, curtailment, personal liability and loss of luggage and personal effects. You must provide proof of your travel insurance a couple weeks ahead of departure; you will not be able to join the trip without it. Here are a couple options:

Travel Documents

You must hold a valid National Travel passport with an expiration date at least six months after the end of your stay. No visa is needed for travelers from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia, and most other countries in the Americas and Europe.

Travel Safe in Greece & Crete

On May 14, 2021, Greece opened its borders in a safe and attainable manner. Requirements for traveling internationally are changing with some regularity. We will keep you informed as we approach the date of this trip of the then-current requirements. For now, these are the circumstances: Prior to departure, all travelers must ensure that they carry an acceptable form of certification of their health condition.

More information on Greece/Crete travel at https://travel.gov.gr/#/

Questions?

We are available to Skype or Zoom with you for questions you may have.

jenny kellogg

Jenny Kellogg, PhD, Tour co-leader

your guides

Nayaswami’s Nischala and Nakula Cryer


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