My Mini-Odyssey on a Greek Island Cruise

March 9, 2015
My Mini-Odyssey on a Greek Island Cruise.

The mythical land of Greece is home to the gods of Olympus and to crockery-breaking parties. Just kidding, this plate-breaking business is apparently only done on special occasions, so please don’t go to Greece and break a plate at a restaurant. People may not be too impressed.

On my trip to Greece, I and three other South Africans flew into Athens looking forward to a few weeks of sunshine on a Greek island cruise. Of course it rained when we arrived — the first rain the area had seen in months. Thankfully, it only lasted for the duration of our cab ride.

Soon after our arrival, we began exploring the city, from the Plaka area with all its restaurants and rooftop views to the Acropolis, an ancient citadel. The awesome thing about Athens, and about Greece in general, is that everything in the city is alive till the wee hours of the morning.

My Mini-Odyssey on a Greek Island Cruise.

People only come out for supper around 9 p.m., most restaurants have outdoor seating, and all the hotels have rooftop bars. Speaking of food, we discovered the deliciousness frozen yogurt while we were there. In spite of our daily walking and climbing, we lost no weight thanks to this new obsession.

Since we were part of a tour group there, we bonded with a mix of people from the USA, Australia, and from our home South Africa. One of the South Africans I met happened to work at the same project I did but within different departments — what a small world!

The gorgeous town of Delphi was one of our first stops, and we stayed the Palace Hotel located at the top of the mountain and overlooking orchards filled with olive trees. I remember this hotel in particular because of the half-crawling, half-climbing trek to get back up there after a night out at the local dance club Katoi. I had an excellent experience with Greek hotels, even the most basic seem to have great service and facilities.

We got to see the location of the Alter of Hera, where the Olympic torch is always lit.

The next morning, we headed up to the Stadium of Delphi after not receiving answers from the Oracle herself, passing by the ‘original’ movie house of the Greeks, or the Theatre of Delphi. That was an exhausting walk thanks to the late night, so when we made it to the top, it was basically a mutation version of an ‘Avengers Assemble’ moment. Except we didn’t look as cool. At least we made it.

We headed on to Olympia, location of the first Olympics and the scene of many a wannabe athlete re-enacting the photo finish sprint across the dirt field. Aside from all the silliness, we tried to soak up some culture as well and visited the local museums and archaeological sites. We got to see the location of the Alter of Hera, where the Olympic torch is always lit.

My Mini-Odyssey on a Greek Island Cruise

Once we were back in Athens, we hopped over to the port via a coach to catch the Louis Olympia that would begin our Greek island cruise. We organised our drink cards and braced ourselves for seasickness, which fortunately never happened. I had once thought I’d never enjoy a cruise with my fear of deep water, but this was so much fun with lots of onboard entertainment, buffet meals with five different dining options, and a pool.

The alcohol was watered down so that no one really ever got too drunk, and the dance floor was open till 2 a.m. every night. Dancing as the ship moves is a funny experience — you want to shuffle to the left, but the ship has other ideas.

Dancing as the ship moves is a funny experience — you want to shuffle to the left, but the ship has other ideas.

While we slept, the cruiser liner was traveling toward the next island stop. By the time we were up and filled with breakfast, we had arrived at Mykonos and were being carted out by the crew for our day trip. Before we got off the ship, our tour leader warned us, ‘Girls, beware of the Mykonos boys.

Boys, be careful of the Mykonos boys.’ We had a laugh. In true Emily-fashion, I lost the group at some point and ended up wandering around on my own. Another group from the same cruise ship adopted me, and we eventually bumped into my crew to explore this little party island. We ended the evening at the Down Under Bar, where the cute bouncer barely escaped with his life and managed to stay on the island when we left.

My Mini-Odyssey on a Greek Island Cruise

Santorini, our next stop, is an island with stereotypically-gorgeous ‘Greek’ landscapes. Its white and blue buildings are truly picture-perfect. We bumped into many couples having wedding photoshoots and may have photo-bombed a few (intentionally and unintentionally). Santorini is basically a huge volcano, and from the docking points you can go up via a cable car, donkeys, or catching a coach.

We explored one part of the island where volcanic activity can still be seen steaming out of the crevices and took a pirate ship to one of the islands to visit the Church of St Nikolas. For the brave, jumping off the ship and taking a swim to the island and its hot springs is suggested. I started off brave but then wasn’t sure what was under me (…Jaws?) and hightailed it back to the boat.

The sunsets from the top of the volcano are stunning, and I highly recommend sticking around to watch them over the entire caldera. The restaurants serve delicious food, especially as all the vegetables are grown in volcanic and mineral rich soil and the seafood is fresh and tasty. A visit to the red or black beaches is a must-do as well.

It was quite an emotional and spiritual experience being there, knowing what happened there, and thinking about how it’s affected so many generations of people!

Next was Patmos, the island where the book of Revelation was revealed to the Apostle John. I was raised Catholic, and you know the jokes about Catholic guilt — walking into the Cave of the Apocalypse, I prayed it wouldn’t collapse on me since the partying continued on the cruise liner dance floor.

I’m joking, but there was a slight worry. It was quite an emotional and spiritual experience being there, knowing what happened there, and thinking about how it’s affected so many generations of people!

I have only one complaint about Greece, and it is the bathrooms situation. It wasn’t necessarily unhygienic, but because of the old sewer systems, you can’t really flush much non-organic waste down the loo. I’ll let you use your imagination, but I wish someone had told me about this beforehand so I could have prepared.

By the end of the cruise, we desperately did not want to leave the country where we had made some good friends and amazing memories. Greece is a place I would recommend as a romantic destination for couples but also as a wonderful place to explore and have fun with friends, old and new.

My Mini-Odyssey on a Greek Island Cruise

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My Mini-Odyssey on a Greek Island Cruise photo credits: Emily Fernandez and Unsplash.


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On the Real Deal, women share the highlights and challenges from their recent trip–and what they wish they knew before going.

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