A firsthand account of the inspiring experiences that can be enjoyed from aboard the Seabourn Odyssey, from Travel Associates Consultant Kate Gaskell
We set sail on a seven-day cruise that promised to reveal the treasures of the Aegean, and I discovered more hidden gems then I could ever imagine. I knew that I would be wowed by Athens and I couldn’t wait to see the picture perfect Santorini, but it was the little villages and unexpected experiences in between that made this a trip to remember.
Life’s a beach on Patmos
There were four excursions on offer for Patmos Island, which is apparently the site where the Book of Revelations was written. Seeing as though we were in the Mediterranean we thought; why not head to the beach?
A local taxi based at the port had us on Kambos Beach within 15 minutes of us arriving. (Flying around hairpin turns and overtaking on double white lines is obviously the norm in the Mediterranean!) He also organized to come back and pick us up three hours later.
The long stretch of Kambos Beach is the trendy place to swim and be seen on Patmos. It is sheltered and scenic, with its pebbled, sandy beach and amazingly clear water. The stones were hot on our feet and the water was surprisingly cold, but was magically refreshing. There are plenty of water sports on offer, but we preferred to lie on the sun beds in the shade of the tamarisk trees and soak up the Mediterranean vibes.
Gorgeous little Kastellorizo
Oh my goodness, what a simply gorgeous little place. The waterside mansions are colourful and built in a neoclassic style with decorative wooden and iron balconies. There are no paved roads, only footpaths, so you need to walk everywhere or jump in a water taxi.
Once again we were offered great tour options from Seabourn. A stroll through the cobbled paths of Kastellorizo village was like walking through a scene from a postcard, and we tried katoumari and strava, the traditional sweets of the region.
We didn’t get a chance to go to the Blue Cave, which is the biggest sea cave in Greece, but people we spoke to that did go said it was one of the most amazing things they’ve ever done.
Bustling Paphos and Monastery Panagia Chrysorogiatissa
After experiencing Patmos and Kastellorizo, Paphos seemed huge, but we soon settled into the lively bustle. We set off on a tour to the Monastery Panagia Chrysorogiatissa, whose present building dates back to 1770 and is home to some important religious artwork, such as a painting of Mary and baby Jesus by St Luke the Evangelist.
Upon arrival there was a gorgeous little old woman giving out homemade sweets. We got to sample some vintage wines that are produced at the monastery, as well as haloumi cheese, baked bread and cucumber.
My encounter with Cypriot coffee and honey balls
This excursion also included a visit to Fyti, a tiny village which hasn’t changed much in the last 200 years. We sampled the local Cypriot coffee and I wish I could say it was wonderful but to me it tasted like it had been poured through a stinky old boot! On the other hand the amazing Cypriot honey balls were delicious - like a little, dense doughnut ball dipped in honey.
This was the port I was most looking forward to. Everyone has seen the gorgeous photos of Santorini, with its white buildings and blue roofs. It did not disappoint, and I had a ‘pinch yourself’ moment while standing in Oia, looking back at all the gorgeous houses, cafes and shops.
Our day tour ended in Fira town, where a client had told us we had to have lunch at Argo restaurant - this is now on my list of recommended must-dos for anyone heading to Santorini. What an absolutely stunning restaurant; it had beautiful views, beautiful staff and food that really was to die for.
We had beetroot tzatziki, feta-stuffed calamari, the freshest Greek salad I’ve ever seen and mixed grill, all washed down with the most wonderful rosé. It was one of those beautiful lunches were everything is so divine that you just can’t stop smiling. The sky was blue, the water was sparkling, and the white buildings were accentuated with pink flowers everywhere. It was simply perfect.
Contact Kate or your local Travel Associates Consultant to start planning your own adventure through the Aegean sunset with Seabourn