WINDSTAR Come along with us on a Four-Masted Yacht Cruise of the ISLANDS OF THE AEGEAN SEA
WINDSTAR AND THE AEGEAN
We sailed the Aegean Sea aboard Windstar, a luxury sailing yacht with just 140 passengers. The cruise began and ended in Athens, and we visited 8 Greek islands, one Turkish Island and a Turkish port city.
Obviously there was far more that we saw and did on this wonderful 10-day cruise than can be reported here, but this will provide a taste of the experience. The dining and appointments on the ship can only be described as superb. This trip combined seeing the beauty of the islands, enjoying fabulous beaches, eating incredible food, steeping in ancient history and culture, and enjoying a sailing yacht across an azure sea.
Crete is a huge island with lots to do. We visited the Minoan palace at Knossos. The Minoans were an advanced civilization that flourished from 2600 to 1600 BC and is featured in the Greek myth of Theseus who slew the mighty royal Minotaur (giant bull) that was used in ritualistic bull acrobatics.
We traveled across the beautiful Cretan countryside to visit Elounda, a resort town on a beautiful bay. That island in the bay, Spinalonga, was once a leper colony. We had a magnificent seafood lunch at a waterside restaurant and spent the rest of the day at the beautiful Kanali Resort.
We docked in the Turkish port of Kusadasi, near Ephesus. That night we had a special treat. Windstar secured exclusive after-hour access to Ephesus where we were greeted with wine, and then dined alfresco in front of the elegantly lit famous library, while being serenaded by a string quartet. Could not have been more magical.
Santorini is amazing. The island was once round with a volcano in the middle. In 1620 BC that volcano exploded and left a huge caldera (cauldron) 1000 feet deep, surrounded by the remnants of the island’s perimeter. The town of Oia is the jewel of the island - a beautiful town with spectacular views.
Down the cliff from Oia on these zig-zagging stone steps you find Amoudi, a lovely spot to dine on the waterfront, while small boats come in to pick up or drop off goods or passengers.
Akrotiki holds the ruins of a highly advanced community that was buried under 16 feet of ash and pumice by the eruption that destroyed the island. Like Pompeii the burial preserved the town as it was at that instant. This site was just discovered in 1967 and are still being excavated.
Dining in the Caldera,SANTORINI
That evening we had an on-deck barbecue in the caldera with the the lights of the cliff-top town of Fira above us. Another magical night on the Windstar.
This large island is famous for the 100-foot-tall Colossus that once loomed over the port, toppled by an earthquake in 226 BC. The walled city of Rhodes is jammed with shops and restaurants. Sarah is serenaded with music from Zorba the Greek.
A short ride from the town of Rhodes is the ancient Acropolis at Lindos an easy donkey ride to get up to, and overlooking a pretty cove with a nice beach on which to cool off.
Mykonos is a popular tourist island with a cute town, great food, famous windmills and many fun beaches – we visited Paradise Beach.
Next to Mykonos, just a 15 minute ferry ride from the port where our Windstar ship was docked, is the tiny island of Delos that was considered by the ancient Greeks to be the most sacred island, where the gods Apollo and Artemis were born. The temples, statutes and houses date back to 300 to 600 B.C. The lion statues are iconic to Delos. Impressive mosaics and frescos have been uncovered.
Another lovely island with a handsome town loaded with great tasteful boutiques. A short ride to a pretty bay with a great beach and interesting beach chair guy.
A brief stop in Syros, a small island with a very pretty town. Finikis beach is named for the Phoenicians who once ruled there.
Nafplio - PELOPONNESUS
Peloponnesus is the southwest area of Greece that is actually an island separated from mainland Greece by the Corinth canal. Nafplio was the first capital of the newly liberated Greece in 1824. It has a cute town, pretty walk along the water a fortified castle over the town giving great views, and a fun beach below.
We visited the tiny island of Momenvasia, basically one giant rock connected by a causeway to the Peloponnesus.