Because there are more than 3,500 islands off the coast of Greece, we figured the best way to see them would be by boat! So we reserved our spots on a cruise ship and we were ready to go ‘sailing’ around the beautiful mountainous islands that make up a whole different part of Grecian culture. We were a bit hesitant to get on a boat because past sea sick experiences are never pleasant. But, with a bit of ginger in our bellies and a good attitude, we were off on our next adventure. We boarded the boat early Friday morning and would spend the next three days packed with places to go and sights to see!

As we entered the boat we were both stunned by all that the boat had to offer and how giant it was!! It took a while to get our bearings on the boat and learn where everything was…well, some of us never really learned, but that’s another story! :) We were given an itinerary of the activities they were offering and we were very excited to find that that afternoon they were going to have Greek language lessons and we were sure not to miss it. What we didn’t know is that right after Greek language lessons were Greek dancing lessons, and somehow our teacher got us reeled into that class too! With only two other guys in the dance class, the teacher took quite a liking to Jorge and made sure he was always on step. By the end of it, I would say he was the star of the class! Haha!

With the Sirtaki melody still ringing in our ears we were back to our cabin to get ready for our first stop off the boat!! During our time on the boat we would see five different islands, so we had a very strict and busy schedule! First on the list…MYKONOS!
Mykonos
Not to ruin the rest of the blog reading, but Mykonos was by far our favorite island!! We docked at about 6pm, and we were off to explore. (oh p.s. coming into port is so beautiful and such a different experience that coming in on a plane because you really get to see the whole island from afar and then gradually get up close and personal!) 
 
We walked into town from the port and from the minute we turned the corner onto the main square I was in disbelief. It was perfect, just like a movie: all the white houses and little finishing boats in the marina, small white Byzantine churches with the notorious blue domed roofs…just exactly what I always imagined it would look like. On our way to the island we had done our research with our handy dandy ‘Greek Islands’ travel guide (an awesome gift from Jorge’s mom) so we were ready to explore and knew exactly what we wanted to see. On our list: the pelican (the mascot of Mykonos for over 25 years), the molinos (old windmills constructed in the 16th century), and a part of the island called ‘Little Venice’. So we hopped off the boat in pursuit of the things on our list while still in awe of the views all around us.
 
We stopped at a few white byzantine churches to capture some beautiful photos and as we turned around there was ‘Petros’, the pelican. We tried to get a photo, but he did not want to cooperate. I’m sure he gets tired of all the tourists sometimes!
As we walked down the immaculate white cobblestone streets past cute little shops and restaurants, I felt something telling me to keep walking and as we turned the corner on to Little Venice, I knew this was why. Wow. All I can really say is Wow. It was absolutely a sight to be seen. These little stores and restaurants are seated right up next to the water and the waves splash up against the side of the buildings, truly looking like Venice. On the opposite side were all of these little bars serving amazing fruity drinks and fresh seafood with views of Little Venice, the amazing sun as it began to set, as well as the windmills. Could there be a better setting anywhere in the world?! I don’t think so. And if so, I haven’t found it yet. 
 
 
We made our way through the crowds of chattering happy folks, (who wouldn’t be happy looking out onto that?!), and we headed over to get a better look at the perfectly preserved windmills. As we got closer the sun began to set over the rippling ocean and it seemed that everyone on the whole island had come out to say goodbye to another beautiful day. After snapping some fantastic photos of the windmills with the sun setting in the background, we made our way back over to one of the restaurants to grab a quick appetizer of fresh mussels, sip some white wine, and just be part of this beautiful setting that was just another Friday night on the island of Mykonos. 
 
Everyone was so friendly and our neighbor table started chatting with us and before I knew it everyone around us started clapping. I, oblivious to the situation, asked what was going on and Jorge said… ‘The sun just set.’! Clapping for the sunset?! That is my kind of place. And what a show it was indeed! It definitely deserved our praises!! 
As we finished our appetizer and hurried back to the boat (we didn’t want to miss it at our very first stop), we laughed and joked about a life here in Mykonos: what it would be like everyday waking up on this gorgeous island, getting along with the locals, and having your biggest worry of the day be figuring out which lovely bar or restaurant you were going to sit at to enjoy another divine sunset!! Oh it would be the life….
 
Kusadasi

The next morning bright and early we were docked at our next stop in Kusadasi, a Turkish island. Unfortunately, we weren’t given much time on this island (unless you were up and ready to get off the boat at 6am, which we were not!) so we just had a look around and took our time climbing up and around an old walled castle and watching the crystal-clear, emerald water splash up onto the rocks around us. We sat at a café and enjoyed the views while also enjoying some Turkish tea! Then, it was time again to get back on the boat once again!

Cruising throughout the day was so nice because no matter what we were doing: eating lunch on the upper deck, enjoying a smoothie by the pool, or playing cards on the balcony off the stern, we were surrounded by great views of little tiny islands and blue green water everywhere we looked. A marvelous way to travel!





Patmos
The Island of Patmos had a completely different feel and personality all it’s own. During our research earlier that day we had found that this island claimed to be the place where St. Paul lived while he wrote/dictated the book of Revelations. We were quite intrigued by this and as we got off the boat this taxi man offered to take us up to the cave where Paul had been living and later up to the monastery that was built about 1000 years after to honor this holy place. 


We decided that this was a great idea because the monastery as well as the cave looked quite far and with our time constraints with the boat we wanted to make sure we had enough time to see everything. We jumped into the cab and he took us up to the cave. Already with spectacular views of the entire island and the ocean beyond, we entered into the cave to find the actual place where St. Paul laid his head at night and also the rock that split and spoke the words of Revelation to Paul. There was a Greek Orthodox monk who did not speak any English, but as he gave a description of the cave and what had happened there to Greek visitors, you could feel the devotion and belief that he had within him. Quite a thing to witness. 

Then, right on time, our taxi guy was waiting to take us up to monastery above. From here we had unbelievable views and the sun was just beginning to reflect on the water! Wow…again! We entered into the monastery and it was beautiful. It had frescos on all of the walls inside and outside of the chapel and there was also a museum above that had many different books and other important artifacts. 

As we headed back down the mountain we talked about the island a bit with the taxi driver, a native of Patmos. You could just tell that this island had a sense of peace about it. Very different from our night before in Mykonos, but a wonderful island all its own. We had some time, so we decided to have a walk along the waterfront, stopped for some more great tapas, and watched the sunset and the waves role in before we had to get back to the tender boat that would get us back to the ship! Another great day on the Aegean sea!



Crete

Another early morning stop. We did get a little more time on this island, but still were a little rushed to see what we wanted to see. We were able to walk to the city center and out onto a great boardwalk were we saw the freshest ‘fish market’ I had ever seen, if you can call it a fish market. All of the fish were still flopping around in their boxes, obviously just caught earlier that morning. This was not affecting the buyers though, they were happy to get this fish as fresh as it came. We also met an artist who was sharing his story with us about his life as a Greek artist and how lately times have changed for him. Although he had quite a sad story, he still had a smile on his face and was happy to sell us a beautiful, homemade piece of pottery with a carving of Hippocrates, the first ancient Greek physician. We made it back on the boat just in time to sail off to our last and final island, Santorini.

Santorini

One of the more well known islands, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Santorini, but I was surprised right as we started getting close to the island. The island, what is left after a huge volcanic explosion, is now in a half moon shape. The ship cruised through the opening of the moon shape and what we saw was astonishing. All of these little white houses up on the very tiptop of the island. Incredible. I had never seen anything like it and I just kept wondering ‘How did they get up there?!’. We had read that we were in for quite a hike to get up to the top to where the actual town was located.

You had three options of getting to the top: 1) cable car, 2) donkey, or 3) climbing 588 steps! So guess which one we chose…you guessed it, hiking up all those stairs….what a joy! And not only that, watching out to not be trampled by donkeys randomly running up and down the mountain slipping and sliding as they came… ay ay ay! What a trip. But we made it, all 588 steps, and as you can see they even numbered the last couple to keep you going! So we got to the top and the reward was so worth the hike! 

When we looked back over the seas we saw these amazing islands peaking up in the distance and to the left on the island a stream of white houses flowing over the mountainside. You know that picture you always see of Greece and think ‘Someday I want to go there.’? Well this was that picture…except in person!! We were stunned by the view and just kind of stood there and looked out feeling like we were on the top of the world for a few moments!

We still had quite a bit of time on the island, surprisingly after all that climbing, so we headed a bit farther into town and found quads for rent. Jorge, very excited about this idea, was on board within seconds! So we rented our quad, put our lovely helmets on, and were off to explore the island! Luckily they guy gave us a map and we had kind of an idea of where we wanted to go, so we just drove and enjoyed the views that surrounded us… 

We made a quick stop at a little beach, which was covered in black sand from the volcanic ash. We stopped and stuck our feet in the water for a bit and enjoyed the waves crashing in onto the rocks. Cutting it close to our tender boat time, we quickly made it back down the 588 stairs and made it just in time to get back on the boat to spend our last night and our last sunset on the ship, enjoying a lovely dinner of Greek favorites!!

The next morning we docked in Athens at the lovely hour of 6am and were off the boat back to our hotel for one more night. We loved every minute of our trip and have been replaying every moment of our journey ever since we’ve been back! It will be difficult to top this trip…ever.