Athens (Pireaus), Greece
It's no wonder that all roads lead to the fascinating metropolis of Athens. Lift your eyes 200 feet above the city to the Parthenon, its honey-color marble columns rising from a massive limestone base, and you behold architectural perfection that has not been surpassed in 2,500 years. But, today, this shrine of classical form dominates a 21st-century boomtown. To experience Athens fully is to understand the essence of Greece: ancient monuments surviving in a sea of cement, startling beauty amid the squalor, tradition juxtaposed with modernity. Although Athens covers a huge area, the major landmarks of the ancient Greek, Roman, and Byzantine periods are close to the modern city center. You can easily walk from the Acropolis to many other key sites, taking time to browse in shops and relax in cafés and tavernas along the way.
Whilst the busy resort town of Kusadasi offers much in the way of shoipping and dining - not to mention a flourishing beach life scene, the real jewel here is Ephesus and the stunning ruined city that really take center stage. With only 20% of the classical ruins having been excavated, this archaeological wonder has already gained the status of Europe's most complete classical metropolis. Built in the 10th century BC this UNESCO World Heritage site is nothing short of spectacular.
Another point of interest for history buffs would be the house of the Virgin Mary. Legend has it that May (along with St. John) spent her final years here, secluded from the rest of the population, spreading Christianity. For the less historical minded, Kusadasi offers plenty in the way of activities. After a stroll through the town, jump in a taxi to Ladies' Beach (men are allowed) sample a Turkish kebap on one of the many beachfront restaurants. If you want to venture further, then the crystal clear beaches of Guzelcamli (or the Millipark), a cave of Zeus and the white scalloped natural pools at Pamukkale, known as Cleopatra's pools.
Rhodes Island, Greece
Early travelers described Rhodes as a town of two parts: a castle or high town (Collachium) and a lower city. Today Rhodes town is still a city of two parts: the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site that incorporates the high town and lower city, and the modern metropolis, or New Town, spreading away from the walls that encircle the Old Town. The narrow streets of the Old Town are for the most part closed to cars and are lined with Orthodox and Catholic churches. Turkish houses (some of which follow the ancient orthogonal plan), and medieval public buildings with exterior staircases and facades elegantly constructed of well-cut limestone from Lindos. Careful reconxtruction in recent years has enhanced the harmonious effect.
Mykonos is famed as a cosmopolitan destination among the Greek islands and widely recognized as one of the great travel meccas. In Greek mythology, the Mykonos was named after its first ruler, Mykonos, the son or grandson of the god Apollo and a local hero. The island is also said to have been the location of a great battle between Zeus and Titans and where Hercules killed the invincible giants having lured them from the protection of Mount Olympus.
Mykonos Town (Chora) is a stunningly picturesque Cycladic town with a maze of tiny streets and whitewashed steps lanes, houses and churches, gathered around its harbor in the middle of a wide bay. It is one of the most cosmopolitan and crowded towns of the Aegean. The streets are lined with little shops, boutiques, art galleries, cafes, stylish bars and restaurants.
In the region in the heel of the Italian "boot", Bari is the capital of Puglia. It's an off-the-beatean-path destination, tucked along the southern Adriatic. Bari is conveniently divided between its picturesque Old Town on a peninsula to the north and its modern city center to the south. The chief draws are architectural, especially the Romanesque 12th century San Nicola Church made of stunning white limestone and the imposing Swabian Castle.
Fronting the Adriatic Sea, this southern Croatia city is known for its distinctive Old Town, encircled with massive stone walls completed in the 16th century. Its well preserved building range from baroque St. Blaise Church to Renaissance Sponza Palace and Gothic Rector's Palace, now a history museum. Today, tourism is the most important industry in Dubrovnik and the proudest feather in Croatia's cap, an elite destination with one of the most beautiful towns in the Mediterranean. Adding to it's popularity in recent years, is its starring role in the HBO TV hit "Game of Thrones" where Old Town has stood in for fictional places in the TV series.
The Croatian island of Hvar bills itself as the "sunniest island in the Adriatic." Not only does it have the figures to back up this claim - an annual average of 2,724 hours of sunshine - but it also makes visitors a sporting proposition, offering them a money-back guarantee if there are seven consecutive days of snow!
Walk through history and view the longest and largest piazza of all the Croatian islands. Cars are banned from Hvar Town so its streets and people converge onto the expansive piazza. A thick-walled fortress overlooks the harbour and reaches down to the water where you can begin your walk into the old town and to the 15th-century Franciscan Monastery
Lord Byron called Venice (Venezia) "a fairy city of the heart." La Serenissima, "The Most Serene," is an improbable cityscape of stone palaces that seem to float on water, a place where cats nap in Oriental marble windowsills set in colorful plaster walls. Candy-stripe pylons stand sentry outside the tiny stone docks of palazzi whose front steps descend into the gently lapping waters of the canals that lace the city.
A whimsical stroll through the city can lead one to a hidden world of ornately decorated piazzas and shops. As you explore colorful marketplaces and busy town squares, marvel at a priceless legacy of Baroque architecture. Admire the richness of St. Mark's Basilica and the lavishness of the Palazzo Ducale. Getting lost in Venice can be a truly delightful experience. The place of dreams, this romantic city will live long in your memory.