The overnight ferry from Barri to Athens- Saturday 11th September
We boarded the ferry in the Italian town of Barri ready for our overnight ferry at around 3pm. Three hours later the ferry finally left. We saw over 120 trucks and over 200 cars loaded on the ferry before we left- it was amazing. We had dinner on the ferry- a self-service Greek style cafeteria. It was a good night sleep and after breakfast we finally arrived in Greece.
Amazing Athens – Sunday 12th September
We drove to Athens and had a guided tour of the Acropolysis and coach tour of the city. The President Hotel in Athens was a fantastic hotel with awesome beds and showers. We had a traditional Greek dinner in the Plaka part of Athens.
Cruising the Greek Islands on the Aquamarine
Mykonos on Monday- 13th September
We boarded the cruise boat in Athens at around 8:30am on Monday morning. First up we had a life-jacket drill on the boat then we finally left at around 11:45am.
We spent most of the day on board cruising. We had lunch on board- our first experience of the awesome food on board the Aquamarine. At around 6pm we pulled into Mykonos our first Greek Island. We ate gyros- a kebab with hot chips, tzatiki and chicken. James loved them! We then saw an amazing sunset over the ocean and made our way back to the boat for the Buffet dinner.
Turkey on Tuesday- 14th September
We docked in Turkey around 7am- and headed over to Ephesus- an ancient civilisation over 2,000 years ago built the city and over 200,000 people lived there. It was very well preserved and the modern features of the town were impressive. They even had toilets and a library.
We were then driven into the port town of Kudasai to look at the Turkish Bazaar and did some bargain shopping. We tried some traditional Turkish Apple tea and James got a McDonalds Cheeseburger.
In the afternoon we docked at the island of Patmos. We walked up the hill to see the Grotto where St John finished writing the Gospel book. It was a little cove in the side of a rock and the local people had built a church around this to mark the significance of the location. We then went for a quick swim at the beach before heading back to the boat. That night on board the boat the Contiki group were given a special cocktail party before a four course traditional Greek sit down dinner at the restaurant.
Rhodes on Wednesday 15th September
Again the boat docked at 7am for our visit to the island of Rhodes. However we had been up for a few hours thanks to James phone automatically picking up the signal off another boat and changing the time to one hour earlier which meant a wake up alarm at 5am. We did get to see a great sun rise from the boat deck.
On Rhodes we headed on a bus trip over to the town of Lidmos to see the ancient Acropolysis built on top of some cliffs overlooking the sea. It was very picturesque and amazing to think that such a large structure was built 2,000 years ago. Next stop was a family ceramic factory. Then we visited the old town part of Rhodes Town. This is a medieval town built for the knights of St John, complete with a castle and moat. It was very cool place to walk through and it was easy to imagine the knights walking the narrow cobble stone streets hundreds of years ago.
We then headed back on board for our buffet lunch. Then it was back into Rhodes to drop off our washing at a Laundromat and head to the beach. After walking for nearly an hour in hot sun and with no luck in finding the Laundromat we were about to give up and go to the beach. Then out of nowhere a young Australian couple came up to us and asked if we needed help to find something. It turns out that they had been staying on the island for a few days and spoke fluent Greek. They helped us find the place and made sure the lady in the Laundromat understood what we wanted. With our washing sorted it was time to hit the beach.
Elli Beach at Rhodes is the most beautiful beach- with crystal clear blue water it was a great place to spend an afternoon. There was a diving board in the middle of the ocean and James swam out there and jumped off the top diving board- about 4 metres above the water.
We picked up our clean clothes and made our way back to the boat. That night we had a cocktail party with the Captain of the boat in attendance. We got our photos taken with the Captain and enjoyed our cocktail and entertainment before heading to dinner for another 4 course meal. After our main meals, the lights were turned out and all the restaurant staff came out holding ice-cream cakes with candles on them. It was very cool to see all the flames and the dessert they served tasted very delicious.
Crete and Santorini- Thursday 16th September
We finally managed to get a sleep-in with an 8am start. After a leisurely breakfast we made our way off the boat and into the island of Crete. We walked to the old fort built in the 16th Century to defend the port town. We took some nice photos of the great view from the top of the fort and walked through the rest of the town before heading back to the boat for lunch.
The boat docked at Santorini at around 4pm, and we made our way on shore by charter boat. Then on a bus we drove up the narrow and steep road to the top of the cliffs on top of the island. Santorini islands and made from volcanic eruptions and are very steep cliffs with a few small towns on the cliff tops. We made our way first to the town of Eia to see the magical white buildings with blue roofs overlooking the clear blue ocean. The photos we took looked like postcards. Then we drove back to the main town called Thora and watched the sun set over the ocean- it was beautiful.
Finally to get back down the cliffs to the tender boat we caught a donkey ride. This was a lot of fun! Keat got on a donkey first, expecting James to get on the donkey behind her with the two tied together and slowly make our way down the cliff face. Instead Keat was put on the pedigree racehorse quality donkey, and it ran away on its own all the way to the bottom over taking over donkeys- it was the quickest way to the bottom. Keat was at the bottom with James no where in sight. Eventually James appeared and then we got on the last boat back to the cruise ship to have dinner.
Friday 17th September
We are heading to Pirenza, Greece before the drive tomorrow to Albania.