Written by Missy Johnston
Samos Local Boat Building
Join your yacht in Kusadasi, Turkey, after flying into the Izmir airport. Cruise to Samos, Greece, just off of the Turkish Coast. Once the birthplace and home of Pythagoras, Samos is known today as an up market, cosmopolitan island with several port towns, including the lovely Pythagorion. The Greek Goddess Hera is said to have been born on this island in the village of Heraion, where today lie remnants of the Temple to Hera. Visit the Tunnel built by Eupalinus, a famous Hellenistic Engineer. This tunnel, which was once part of an ancient aqueduct system and in use for conveyance of water for over 1000 years, was considered one of the Eight Wonders of the Ancient World and was constructed with fascinating precision. On the western side of the island is the Cave of Pythagoras, where the famous mathematician once hid from his political detractors.
Balconies on Ikaria
Cruise to the island of Ikaria, where the mythological Ikaros fell and was buried after flying too close to the sun. On the way, stop at the small island of Samiopoula, meaning “small Samos” for lunch and a swim. The island of Ikaria is truly off of the beaten path with breathtaking panoramas, clean mountain air, and therapeutic hot springs. Archeological sites on Ikaria hail from the Classical, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods, and include remnants from the Temple of Artemis at Nas, Drakano Fortress, a Hellenistic watchtower, Roman baths at ancient Therma, Roman/Byzantine small theatre in Kampos, and the Byzantine Castle of Koskina. Be sure to try the local Ikarian wines which have been produced and praised since antiquity.
Typical Village Taverna
Sail for the tiny island of Fourni. Fourni is truly a hidden gem, rarely visited, and offers a view of the traditional Greek fishing village of yesteryear, barely touch by time. This is where you will want to sample fresh fish in one of the local Tavernas of traditional Greek food, at an outdoor table under the plane trees in the village square. For the athletic, try a hike up along the ridge of the island for great views of Turkey and the surrounding islands. Overnight in a quiet anchorage off of an isolated beach.
Cruise to Mykonos, one of the most cosmopolitan of all the Greek islands, Mykonos has an international reputation and quite justifiably attracts a large number of tourists from all over the world. The capital Chora, with its colorful harbor in which little fishing boats nest happily side by side with luxury yachts, presents quite a different picture from that of the majority of Aegean island towns.
One of the most charming districts of Chora is Little Venice with the picturesque houses of the island’s sea captains, built right on the rocks lashed on by the sea. The mascot of the Island is a Pelican, called Petros, which can be seen trying to bite tourists at the port. Cocktails and dinner on board.
Delos: The Avenue of the Lions
Photo Credit Missy Johnston
It’s a short morning cruise to Delos, which was the religious capital of the Ionians in 1,000 BC. Greek mythology recounts how Leto, one of Zeus’s lovers, gave birth to Apollo on Delos, god of physical beauty and the fine arts. By 454 BC the Athenians had overtaken the Ionians, forcing Delos to pay taxes and provide ships to Athens. Delos’ greatest period was in the third to fourth century BC, when the tiny island had a population of 20,000 and was the chief financial center and slave market in the Mediterranean. Foreigners from Rome, Syria and Egypt built homes and coexisted tolerantly, despite the variety of religious beliefs.
Visit the excavated ruins, such as the Avenue of the Lions, the theater, and many one and two-story houses with mosaic floors, like the House of the Trident. A flight of steps ascends the island’s summit, Mt. Kynthos, the birthplace of Apollo. As a visitor you can admire most of these finds wandering around Delos sanctum and visiting the island’s archaeological museum.
Relax with lunch on board before cruising to Paros, the third largest of the Cyclades after Naxos and Andros. Gently rolling hills surround the center and southeast of the island, which is occupied by endless vineyards. Paroikia (or Paros), the island’s capital and port, stands on the site of an ancient city. There is a picturesque and ruinous Venetian castle and the courtyards of the houses of the town – all of them painted white – are full of hanging pots of basil, jasmine and honeysuckle. Walk around the village before cruising to Langeri, a secluded sandy beach, or Drios beach, which happens to have a fabulous fish taverna where you may want to have dinner. Anchor overnight.
Enjoy breakfast before cruising to Ios, a 33-mile cruise. Ios, which is locally called Nios, is an island whose history goes back to prehistoric times. According to Herodotus, the “poet of poet’s”, the ‘godlike’ Homer was buried at Plakotos, in the north of the island and Pausanias tells us that there was an inscription at Delphi confirming the poet’s interment on Ios
The sites of Ios include a Hellenistic tower and the remains of an ancient aqueduct at Agia Theodoti, traces of an ancient temple at Psathi, a ruinous Venetian castle at the spot known as Paleokastro, and the Hellenistic tower of Plakotos.
In the morning, enjoy a relaxing breakfast during the 22-mile cruise to Santorini. As you approach Santorini, it’s easy to imagine the cataclysm that gave birth to this astonishing Greek Island that has become such a popular tourist destination. Your yacht edges between bare islands of volcanic rock and the crescent shaped remains of the volcano. Santorini, with its sheer black cliffs rising 200 meters out of the sea, actually consists of three islands: Thira, Thirasia and Aspronisi.
Between Skala (the main port), at the base of the cliff, and Thera (the main town), a narrow path has been etched into the cliff-face in a series of zigzags. To the left of the path there are the prosaic lines of a cable car, the first hint of the island’s connection with the twentieth century and tourism. There are three ways to get from Skala to Thera – mule, foot or cable car. The most popular, is by mule.
Besides the interesting architecture of the houses in Thera, it is worth visiting the two cathedrals (the Orthodox and the Catholic) and the Monastery of the Dominican nuns. The Catholic monastery of Panagia of Rodari, which was built in the area of Skaros where the medieval capital of the island used to lie surrounded by a strong fortress on the edge of a steep hill, and the Venetian building Gizi are worth a visit.
From the gulf of Thera boats can take you to Nea Kammeni. There you can see the volcano’s crater where hot air and sulphuric steam still rises. The land is warm and you should wear athletic shoes and have plenty of water. Hot springs exist at the nearby Palia Kammeni where the sea is sulphur-blue.
Disembark in Santorini