Traveling Through the Mediterranean: Greece and Turkey
July 8, 2015
The last part of our Europe trip was through the Mediterranean. We took a seven day cruise from Athens through the Greek Isles to Istanbul. This was the first time I have experienced a cruise – we booked our trip with Celebrity Cruises on the Equinox. We boarded the ship in Athens, spent a day at sea, and then had day stops in Rhodes, Mykonos, Santorini, Kusadasi and Istanbul and were at sea each evening. The Equinox was an impressive ship – standing at the port and looking up it was hard to believe the entire structure was floating in the water (there were 16 decks). The ship was well maintained and the staff kept it extremely clean. It was nice to be able to relax and unwind each night after our day trips. I do think in terms of having time to explore, cruises can be limiting since your time in each city is limited from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. Still it was a nice way to cover a lot of ground in a short period of time. All the islands we stopped at were beautiful. The water was so bright and clear. Beaches were so beautiful – I loved how they were all organized. I wish I could be on a permanent vacation in Mykonos, I hope to visit again someday. My heart goes out to all who live in Greece due to the financial crisis!
We spent one day in Athens before we boarded our cruise which was enough time to walk around the city, visit the Acropolis and enjoy some delicious Greek food. I stopped in a few pharmacies to see how they compared to those in Paris and Rome. There are a lot of similarities in the setup, but the pharmacies in Athens carry different brands and sometimes items more similar to American drugstores rather than just health and beauty products. We took a hop-on-hop-off bus through Athens. A few photos from our day there.
Rhodes was our first stop. We didn’t plan anything in advance and taking any buses or tours to Lindos would take up a significant amount of time. We decided to walk around the port area and enjoy the beaches nearby. We stopped by the Palace of the Grand Master and walked around the streets. I wish we could have spent an extra day here to see more.
Above with my Longchamp Small Tote which I carried around with me for our vacation. It was the perfect size to carry essentials including my camera, wallet, tickets. It was lightweight but roomy. At times I was able to fit in a sweater, my husband’s jacket and a water bottle inside. The zip top closure was perfect to keep everything tucked away and safe. I didn’t have to worry about pickpockets with it zipped closed.
Mykonos was my favorite place out of all the islands we visited. We took a local bus to Elia Beach which was only 4 euros each for a round trip (compared to the cruise beach transfers priced at $50 each). It was approximately a 20 minute drive from the port to the beach. I hope to go back again to visit and spend more time here. We only had enough time to visit the beach for about 4 hours and have lunch before we had to head back to the ship.
Santorini was the place I was most excited to visit. My feelings about our trip were mixed though (scroll down and you will see why). The day we visited there were four other cruise ships in port at the same time making everything extremely packed and busy. We went to the Perivolos Beach which is a black sand beach. It was really hot and the sand felt like it burned the feet but the water was nice and warm. Santorini is such a beautiful place – one day is not enough to see much of anything but we had a lot of fun at the beach.
To reach the town, they ferried us to a dock where buses go up a steep,
windy and narrow road up the cliffs. To get back down to the ship, there
are cable cars and also steps down the cliff where they have donkeys.
By 3:45 pm, the lines for the cable cars were extremely long. After
waiting 30 minutes, the line didn’t seem like it was moving so my
husband decided we should just walk down. I read about the steps ahead
of time and insisted on waiting in line for the cars. My husband left
for a few minutes to check it out, came back and said “they aren’t bad at all and the steps are really wide” so I said ok. If you google “Santorini donkey steps” you will see that the steps are wide, but extremely steep, slippery and dangerous. We were almost run over by donkeys multiple times. My husband insists that he saw 3 year olds and 60+ year olds going down the hill with no problem. For me it was 500+ steps of pure terror as I have a fear of heights. It took us over an hour to walk down because I was so slow. We heard later from others on our ship that the cable car line was up to 3 hours for some people. If you visit Santorini – I do not recommend walking down the hill.
Above to the right, if you click on the image you might be able to see the cable cars. The arrow points to the steep zigzag cliff we walked down. I seriously thought I was going to die.
Our last stops were in Turkey. We stopped by Kusadasi, Ephesus and Istanbul. My husband is in love with Turkish Coffee. I was amazed to see wild cats and dogs everywhere. I wanted to take some of the cats home with me. At one of the restaurants there was a black kitten under our table. We fed him some of our kebabs.
Below: Kusadasi, Blue Mosque, Ephesus, Turkish Coffee + Cafe Latte
I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to travel to Europe and visit so many beautiful places. I haven’t visited Europe since 2001 – this trip was long overdue. Out of all the places we visited, my top two favorites were Paris and Mykonos. I can’t wait to visit again – I am hoping we will be able to do another trip somewhere in Europe next spring.
Have you been to Greece or Turkey? What should I add to my travel wish list?