TBT: Cruising the Greek Isles

18:00 Alyson Tart 0 Comments

If I had to sum up our trip to Greece in two words, they would be sun and ruins.

As I look back through our pictures from 2 summers ago, there are so many pictures of the two. Other than that, there's also a lot of food pictures and landscapes.

This was my first big ruins exposure, so I was excited to see them all, although after a year in Turkey, I've seen more than my fair share now.

Back to Greece - in June 2011, we took a trip with Paul's brother and wife to Italy and Greece. The focus was Greece, as it was a cruise where we would be stopping in 4 of the Greek Isles. While I was a cruising veteran, it was Paul's first cruise so I was excited to see what he thought about our floating hotel with overpriced drinks, night time entertainment and funny towel arrangements.

Corfu

This was the point in the trip when I realised I should have done some research. The night before we landed, it dawned on me I had no idea what to do once we got off the shop. Luckily, the ship gives some ideas and you can also steal some from their tours, putting us in a better place to explore.

We wandered the streets of Corfu a bit to start, giving us an idea of the lay-out of the city and feel of it all. We decided to try out the old Citadel for the best views of the city. They were breathtaking. The water was blue and clear, with sailboats sprinkled along the shore.


 Of course, we then had to check out the beaches and enjoyed the water before we headed back to the ship. Because we hadn't planned, we decided to go impromptu and follow the roads downhill until we ended up somewhere with access to the water. While definitely not our best or biggest beach of the trip, it may have been the most authentic, as we sat there with the locals & kids running around.

Santorini

This was what I was most excited about, as the iconic Greek Isle and it did not disappoint.  After we docked, we faced a huge cliff face with a few options to get up. We could walk (yuck), take a funicular (better), or for the same price as the funicular, take a donkey. We went for the traditional donkey route, although I felt so bad for the donkeys that I probably wouldn't do it again. Once we were up top, we took a bus out to Oia to wander among the blue roofed houses, have some wine and food, and of course take some photos.



We wanted to try the beach here as well, and although there were lots of interesting options, we decided to try the Black Beach on the other side of the island. It's called so because of the unique pebbles that are found there.


Instead of burdening the donkeys on the way back down, we decided to walk it. At that time of the day, most everyone was going down, so we avoided the donkey rush and got some good views in along the way, including one back out to the island from the tender boat.


Mykonos

When we got to Mykonos, we followed our usual plan first of wandering the streets. Here, we walked past the local mascot, Petros the pelican (the second), Little Venice and lots of bars. We then found out that Mykonos is somewhat of a party city, which we missed out due to ship curfew.



One of the odd landmarks of the city are the windmills, which you can find on a lot of islands in the area. There are 16 windmills on the island, but these on the hill give you the best views. They were used in the 16th century to mill wheat, but now are just for attraction (one is a museum).


Nearby to Mykonos is the island of Delos. It is an important historical and archaeological site, as it is said to be the birthplace of Apollo. Due to it's age, it's mostly in literal ruins now, in many instances it's hard to decipher what each group of ruins was originally. The icons of the island, however, are from the Terraces of Lions. These lions were originally installed in dedication to Apollo in 600 BC, but due to wear from the weather, are not in the best of condition. They've recreated some to give you an idea of what it used to be like.


After getting back to Mykonos, we squeezed in lunch and some sun at Psaru Beach.

Olympia

I think everyone can guess the importance of this island and what we did here. Olympia is home to the original Olympic games. We decided to avoid the tour buses and crowds and rent a car to drive out to the site.  Just outside the ruins, you can see the eternal flame where the torch for each Olympic games is lit from.

Within the Olympic complex (because in addition to the stadium were homes, markets, monumets and more), it follows a similar story to Delos - lots and lots of ruins. Some things are still standing, some have been re-created but for the most part it's hard to get an idea of the buildings use without a guide showing you around. The complex is also enormous, making it difficult to know what's the best things to look at.


We did manage to find the original stadium though. You can see the ground where the races were held and were spectators sat. We even tried our own version of the games to decide the strongest in the group.


After we had worn ourselves out, we headed back to relax on the beach in Katakalon. Since it was our last day on the beaches of Greece, we swam and soaked up every last ray of sunshine that we could from our vacation.


We haven't made it back to Greece in our time overseas, but there's so much more to explore!







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