Ever since I saw a photo of Greek Cycladic architecture with those white buildings and bright blue painted accents, I knew I wanted to visit. The Greek islands held a fascination for me that represented carefree beach days, winding pathways, delicious mediterranean food, and balmy sunset nights. I got to experience all that and more on my twenty days cruising the Greek islands.
I began my adventure in Athens for a few nights, took in the Acropolis and tried to recover from the jet lag of a 10 hour time differential. Then I boarded The World and we set sail for Mykonos. The World is a cruise ship unlike any others, in that the residents own their cabins, and most cabins are like small homes complete with kitchens, livings rooms, multiple bedrooms, balconies, etc. Despite the kitchens in the cabins, there are still five restaurants on board and plenty of amenities such as a spa, gym, theatre, pool, tennis court, billiard room, and multiple lounges for cocktails and live entertainment. I was in Heaven!
As we cruised through the various Greek islands, large and small, I was surprised at the diversity in the landscape. There are 20 botanical regions in Greece! While Mykonos was lush with vegetation and charming window boxes, Santorini was volcanic and dry, and resembled a cross between a lunar plain and a barren desert. A friend told me that Mykonos is the “party island” and that gay life here is fabulous. How right she was. If I wasn’t bogged down with complete jet-lag, I would have danced the night away! We rented a lunar vehicle, I mean a scooter, on Santorini, and drove through the hot, dry, desert landscape to a black sand beach. Think “instant sunburn” and you have the picture. We did however make it up from the port (600 stairs or a cable car…guess which one I did,) from one end of the island all the way to the other end, to the town of Oia, in time to see the sunset on the blue dome.
Hydra was vehicle free and donkey abundant, while Patmos was a sanctuary with over 300 churches, including the Cave of the Apocalypse where it is believed that John had his revelation which would become the last book of the bible. When I entered it, I had a revelation that it was very old and dusty and my allergies would go crazy if I didn’t leave ASAP.
Tiny Folegandros was just 20 square miles, with one large mountain in the shape of a pyramid, and white houses covered in bougainvillea and geraniums. Crete, however, showed signs of it’s Turkish rule back in 1645. The buildings were of Byzantine, Turkish, and Venetian architectural styles. We visited a lake in Chania which was barren and windy with cool breezes blowing through the nearby gorges and waterfalls.
In Karpathos, we spent our day on an old ship, called a caique, traveling to Mount Olympos, a village that is like a living museum, where the architecture, ethnology, linguistics, customs, and clothing date back hundreds of years. It’s the supposed birthplace of Prometheus.
One of my favorite stops photographically was Symi. Neoclassical mansions, built during Symi’s heyday as a shipbuilding and sponge diving center, line the hillsides above the port. The colors seemed to explode as pastel houses there hugged the azure harbor.
Rhodes was a large island and quite metropolitan in most areas. Despite that, I was able to wander the charming paths in Lindos and view the Acropolis, considered among the top ten of Greece’s important archaeological sites. The Old Town, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, was a bit disappointing, in that the walls and cobblestone walkways were beautifully preserved, but t-shirt shops and junky souvenir vendors lined every street.
Our final stop was actually in Cyprus, not Greece. I went on a culinary adventure day and toured a goat farm (delicious fresh cheese that was made to last only 3 hours), an olive orchard that produced olive oil, and an alfresco greek feast. Now that’s my kind of day!
Photos I just had to take: