Monday, June 7 - BARCELONA, SPAIN
The infinite variety of street life, the nooks, and crannies of the medieval Barri Gotic, the ceramic tile and stained glass of Art Nouveau facades, the art and music, the throb of street life, the food (ah, the food!) - one way or another, Barcelona will find a way to get your full attention. The capital of Catalonia is a banquet for the senses, with its beguiling mix of ancient and modern architecture, tempting cafes and marked, and sun-drenched Mediterranean beaches. A stroll along La Rambla and through waterfront Barceloneta, as well as a tour of Gaudi's majestic Sagrada Familia and his other unique creations, are part of a visit to Sapin's second-largest city. Modern art museums and chic shops call for attention, too. Barcelona's vibe stays lively well into the night when you can linger over regional wine and cuisine at buzzing tapas bars.
Tuesday, June 8 - PALMA DE MALLORCA, SPAIN
A rugged Mediterranean gem, arising out of the rich blue haze, Mallorca is a Spanish island of cuisine, culture, and sun-gorged beaches. Palma de Mallorca is the island's dominating capital and a sand-coloured mirage of glorious buildings and living history. Conquered and liberated countless times over the years, since its Bronze Age founding, the city is your gateway to ceaseless Mediterranean beauty, buzzy markets, and intense flavours. Cafes and bars wait close to the sweeping coastline, where you can enjoy strong espressos to kick start the day, or splashes of red Majorcan wines to round it off. Bicycles trundle up and down the promenade, which invites you to wander in the morning sunshine beside the waves. Dominated by the indefatigable form of Santa Maria cathedral, which looms over the city and coastline, Palma de Mallorca is drenched in history and culture. The labyrinth of the old town is a cobbled haven, which bustles with dripping ice creams and sun-lashed squares. Settle to try the island's superb cuisine, and savour local ingredients with an exceptional depth of flavour. Something about the sunshine here makes tomatoes extra sharp and delicious, while the seafood is consistently juicy and plump. The creation of the mighty cathedral, Le Sue, began in 1229 and was eventually concluded in 1601. A perfect encapsulation of Palma de Mallorca's blend of the historic and the contemporary, even Gaudi lent his hand to it, and the interior features a spectacular modernist take on the New Testament from artist Miquel Barcelo, which is painted across the chapel's walls. The splendid Royal Palace of La Almudaina fortress stands nearby, a left-behind Moorish footprint of square towers and Arabic archways that now serves as an official summer residence for the King of Spain.
Wednesday, June 9 - PORTO MAHON, SPAIN
Happy to sit out of the limelight that Ibiza DNA Majorca bathe in, Menorca lives life at its own pace, offering endless pine-tree fringed beaches and an appealing, mellow approach. The capital fo Menorca is a bashful member of the Balearic Islands, which waits off of the sunny Spanish coast. With atmospheric old towns, tiny fishing villages, and unspoiled beach coves, this is the one of the group's lesser-known and explored gems - and all the richer for it. A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, there are wetlands and rolling sand dunes with diverse wildlife to explore - and 220 different birds soar and wade within. The designation helped to halt the threat of overdevelopment, and with gloriously clear waters and leisurely boating trips to enjoy, Porto Mahon welcomes you to a wonderfully preserved and characterful island. The island's capital spills around the Med's largest natural harbor, which sprawls out for three miles. Wander the whitewash town's streets, heading for the hubbub of the fish market - to sample the best of the day's freshly prepared haul. The majestic organ that fills the interior of Santa Maria church with over 3,000 pipes is a sight to see and can produce a wonderful, gut-vibrating noise. Filled with pottery and cake shops, there's an artsy, laid back and creative atmosphere to Port Mahon's streets. Swing a golf club, and rack drives through the salty sea air of Porto Mahon, or rumble along the paved bike paths that ring the island exploring between wildflower sprinkled fields and stone walls. Or, head straight for the many beaches and turquoise seas, which are blotches with dark blue patches. When it's time for a sit down in the shade, order up a refreshing pomada - gin and lemonade - before settling on your sandy nook of choice, to watch the setting sun sinking into the warmth of the waves of the Mediterranean.
Thursday, June 10 - AT SEA
Friday, June 11 - LIPARI ISLAND, ITALY
Located just to the north of Sicily, and to the west of Italy's mainland, Lipari Island is the largest of the Aeolian's cluster. Florally-painted buildings line cobbled, plant-pot decorated streets - and glow attractively in the ever-present sunshine. The laid-back island atmosphere immediately washed over you, as you breathe in your first taste of the salty sea air. WIth tastebud-jangling pizza, palate-satisfying wines, and sparkling blue waters to behold - Lipari Island is a little slice of sensory heaven. Head straight to the shore to soak up the rich blue hues of spots like Havana Beach - where shelves of turquoise are interrupted only by bobbing yachts and occasional swimmers. Hike the scenery, and look out across the archipelago to the fiery cone of Stromboli - one of three active volcanoes in Italy - which looms from the blue waters. Visit a winery, to admire the neat rows of vines, and taste the subtle flavors the grapes acquire from these fertile soils. Sip the wines, alongside fresh curls of ham and cheese. Explore the town's charms - such as the archaeological museum, which tells of turbulent history in the clutches of major empires - before climbing the stone-stepped incline to the salmon pink Cathedral of San Bartolomeo. Beautiful frescoes spread across the roof, and you can admire the Norman cloisters, and silver statue of the island's pron saint, Saint Bartholomew. This statue is said to perform the miracle of changing its weight when required - notably when the fascist regime attempted to seek it - only to discover it was mysteriously featherweight and worthless. Lipari Castle's steeply banked walls add a crowning glory to this island of volcanic wonder.
Saturday, June 12 - SIRACUSA (SICILY), ITALY
Honey-colored Siracusa is a staggering UNESCO World Heritage Site and an extraordinary Sicilian city of immense ancient history. The modern population is a fraction of what it was at the city's heyday around 400 BC< when Athens' might was successfully challenged and faced down, reinforcing the city's incredible power and status. Siracusa's historical nucleus waits to be discovered on the compact islet of Ortygia. The city was founded here, but grew over time, spreading across the mainland. A small channel separates the two, which is now spanned by twin bridges. Wander the atmospheric streets of this time warp, to reach the shining elegance of Piazza Duomo. The Baroque cathedral rises like a giant sandcastle, and you can settle opposite to cradle a glass of wine and enjoy the view over the immaculate square - people watching before the glorious baroque facade. Dig deep into its history at the mainland's archaeological park. Here you can wander between the remains of a Greek theatre, constructed in the 5th century BC, and now used as a grandiose, atmospheric venue for events and performances. You'll also encounter a Roman Amphitheatre - where gladiators battled brutally, and the spectacular ear-shaped cave, which is famed for its extraordinary, secret-revealing acoustics. It was given its name - the Ear of Dionysius - by Caravaggio. Visit the legendary Fonte Arethusa, or lose yourself in the Ortygia Market - you'll find everything here, from fresh fish to spices and local bottles of wine. Look out for a flavor-filled jar of real Sicilian u strattu - an intense tomato paste that is the secret ingredient to many Sicilian recipes. The local ingredients are imbued with flavor by this volcanic land's fertile soils and the firepower of Europe's most active volcano Mount Etna waits just to the north.
Sunday, June 13 - VALLETTA, MALTA
Perched high on the imposing Sciberras Peninsula, Valletta immediately presents it massive, protective walls and vertical bastions to visitors arriving by sea. Rising to 47 meters in places, the fortifications protect lavish palaces, grand domes, and illustrious gardens. Built by the Knights of St John on the narrow peninsular, Valletta is a compact, richly historical treasure trove of Baroque wonders. Ascend to reach the restful, flower-filled Upper Barrakka Gardens, where cannons fire and boom in salute at noon each day, sending echoing cracks of noise out across the waves below. Recognized as 2018's European Capital of Culture, Valletta is a fascinating and dense haven of history and intrigue. A busy, bustling capital, the breathtaking St. Joh's Cathedral - commissioned in 1572 - is almost concealed among its narrow streets. The relatively modest exterior is counterpointed by a staggeringly opulent, gold-leaf bathed interior, containing a Caravaggio masterpiece - the shadowy vision of the Beheading of St Joh. Cinematic and magnificent, Valletta has served as a filming location for Game of Thrones - b real epic history abounds on the rocky isle too. From the prehistoric and megalithic sites of the Hypogeum of Paola and Tarxien to the fascinating War Museum at Fort St Elmo. Mdina also waits nearby, and the former medieval capital is a striking contrast to the island's main city. Cars are barred from its streets, and it offers endlessly atmospheric old-time wanders. WIth a strategic positioning in the Mediterranean, Malta is a jewel that many have wrestled for over the centuries. Independence from Britain was finally achieved in 1964, but the close allegiance remains evident, with English recognized as an official language, cars driving on the left, and red post boxes and telephone gleaming in Malta's sunshine.
Monday, June 14 - AT SEA
Tuesday, June 15 - CHANIA (CRETE), GREECE
Combining a touch of Venetian beauty with Crete's rugged landscape and dazzling beaches, Chania is an enchanting welcome to this legendary Greek island. Waterfront restaurants spill out onto the gorgeous 14th-century Venetian harbour, which hums with clinking coffee cups and laidback chatter during sunny afternoons. Later, the sounds of popping corks and rattling cocktail shakers take over, as the harbour's lights sparkle romantically, and the stars glitter overhead. Chania is Crete's second-largest, and undoubtedly its most beautiful, town. The showpiece harbour is a cluster of colourful buildings, guiding you amiable towards the scenic old town - a mesmerizing interplay of narrow cobbled streets. There's a Turkish touch to some of the architecture, and the dusty domes of an Ottoman-era, former mosque overlook the undulating waterfront. It now serves as a unique venue for art exhibitions. Wander out across the thin sea walls to the 16th-century lighthouse - charming hodgepodge of architectural styles, with influences from the major occupations of Crete's history. Leave the gentle clamour of the old town to unwind on luxurious Agia Marina, a coral-specked stretch of clear turquoise water, lapping gently against a band of soft golden sand. Balis' beaches are another option, with curves of protected sandy sheltering inside rocky coves. Flip through the pages of a paperback, or enjoy strolls with the lazy loll of the waves washing over your feet. Back in the city, settle in to eat on that evocative waterfront, and rip freshly-baked bread, drizzled with golden olive oil, squeezed form love groves nearby. Afterward, enjoy platters of mussels, prawns, and grilled sea bream from the Cretan waters. Be sure to try local mizithra - rich, creamy cheese with echoes of ricotta.
Wednesday, June 16 - SANTORINI, GREECE
Breathlessly romantic, and incredibly scenic, the sure domes and whitewash buildings that cascade down Santorini's slopes are prime honeymoon material - and relentlessly romantic. A true gem of the Cycladic island group, Santorini is startlingly pretty, and its white windmills and dazzling villages are incredibly easy on the eye. Envy-inducing and evocatively beautiful, Santorini's sunsets are legendary, and the island is a highlight of any voyage to the Greek islands. Look out over the endless expanse of blue waves, filling the massive volcanic caldera of Santorini - and absorb one of the most spectacular views int eh world. The sheer rock shoulders of the caldera create an immense, natural amphitheater - so enjoy the show, as you sip a local, volcanic-mineral enhanced white wine, and fall in love all over again. Any meal is well rounded off with the famous wine, Vinsanto. The east side of the island may lack the incredible panoramas, but it's ideal if all you want to do is recline on volcanic-sand beaches - which range n hues from charcoal-black to flame-red. This beautiful island was forged by powerful volcanic activity, and you can learn more about the huge eruption of 1,600 BCE - which wiped out the Minoan city at Akrotiri. The eruption sank the center of the island, forming the moon-shaped topography we see now. visit the archaeological site that has revealed and preserved the village, which was lost to time below the pumice and ash. Some whisper that this destroyed town may even be the fabled Atlantis.
Thursday, June 17 - ATHENS (PIRAEUS), GREECE
The city of legend, civilization, and enduring culture, Athens is a majestic and magical urban sprawl. Extraordinary elegance and grace combine with grit and graft in Greece's capital, where highways encase ruins from antiquity, and gleaming museums and galleries stand beside concrete sprayed with edgy street art. These contrasts enhance and elevate the wonders of this 2,500-year-old city, however, which can count notable contributions to philosophy, drama, and democracy, among its global legacy. Piraeus' giant port and naval base welcome you to the edge of the Athens' urban area. From there it's a simple jaunt to the center. The majestic ancient citadel fo the Acropolis dominates an elevated platform and is a constant presence as you explore the city. The wonderful remains of the columned temple of the Parthenon - which date back to the 5th century BC - stand here, representing the pinnacle of classical architecture. The nearby Acropolis Museum adds context o your visit and frames the broad views from its giant glass windows. Or rise up Mount Lycabettus, to be rewarded with perhaps Athens' best panorama of the Acropolis sitting high over the city on its grand stage. See the marble horseshoe of the Old Olympic Stadium where the first modern Olympics were held in 1896, for more of the city's enduring legacy. Elsewhere, golden beaches and temples stretch out along the coastline, should you wish to explore a little further afield. Coffee is an art form to the Greeks, and it's an unwritten rule that coffee time must never be rushed. So prepare to settle down for a couple of hours and lose yourself in a good chat. Feeling hungry - try traditional souvlaki made with sauces handed from generation to generation.