GREECE 2011!!! I had the wonderful opportunity to travel with some girlfriends to beautiful Greece this summer. If you have ever thought about Greece as a vacation destination, I highly recommend it! Our 10-day adventure (booked through EF Tours) began with arrival in Athens after 3 legs of flying from the middle of the US, with layovers in Minneapolis and Paris. The morning following arrival, we boarded the Louis Majesty cruise ship with Louis Cruises for the week. This was the first time I had been on a cruise ship, and it was just lovely!
We set sail for the island of Mykonos, enjoying the cuisine on the ship and an afternoon laying out in the sun on the top deck. The views of the various mountainous Greek islands and weather were just spectacular! Arriving in Mykonos, we were treated to a gorgeous sunset after exploring the island’s many shops, waterfront restaurants, and large windmills that were formerly used to mill flour. We were told that Mykonos is an island where many celebrities and wealthy vacation. We enjoyed tasty gelato on our walk back to our cruise ship.
The following morning, we arrived at the port of Kusadasi, Turkey and were bussed to a visit of ancient ruins Ephesus and the House of the Virgin Mary. The ruins were quite interesting and ended with the Arcadian Way. Part of the tour was a “Turkish Rug Demonstration” which in reality was a little sales pitch to buy and have sent to your home an authentic Turkish rug! Only $1000! As promised by our tour guide, the shop keepers were extremely pushy in Turkey. We walked through a bazaar on the way out of Ephesus and again on our way back to the cruise ship. Granted, things were cheaper in Turkey (which of course we didn’t realize until later!) but the salesmen (yes, all men) were very chatty. Back on the ship, we enjoyed lunch and more time soaking up the sun en route to the island of Patmos. There wasn’t a lot going on in Patmos, it was a pretty chill little island and our group did not opt for the excursion to St. John’s Monastery and Grotto. We could have done some swimming, but we mainly explored the village with it’s beautiful white-washed buildings, friendly shopkeepers, did some shopping and just enjoyed the beautiful, mild weather.
The next day our ship docked at the island of Rhodes for the day. The Old City and Philerimos was a medieval city, so it has medieval walls surrounding it. Inside those walls are old structures filled in with modern shops aplenty! We spent the morning exploring the city and shops, and the afternoon at Ellie Beach enjoying the beautiful Aegean Sea!!!
Our final stops included the island of Crete (not a lot to see there) and Santorini – absolutely breathtaking. If you ever have the opportunity to visit any one island in the Mediterranean, choose this one. Santorini is essentially what remains after an enormous volcanic explosion that destroyed the earliest settlements on what was formerly a single island, and created the current geological caldera. If you have seen the movie Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, the scenes where Lena goes to Greece were filmed here in Fira! Simply beautiful with many, many shops and restaurants to visit in the incredible buildings built into the mountainside.
To sum it up, if you like to travel, put Greece on your list of places to visit!!!
~ Your Mountain Muse guest travel writer ~ Stephanie