Links to all parts of the Greek trip
Wednesday July 31
Arrived in Patmos at 8AM. Another sunny, hot day. We planned a down day today. Breakfast at nine. I had chocolate banana pancakes. A rare indulgence for me. Then we kicked back for a couple hours and headed into Patmos to explore the small town of Skala. And find lunch. I should mention the island of Patmos is famed because John is reputed to have written the Bible book of Revelations in a cave here. There were tours up to the monastery and cave.
We took the 11am tender in. This was the first time we used the Windstar tender. A bit choppy but we all got on and off OK. The town was tiny.
We had done a bit of homework on restaurants and we wandered the streets dodging the vespas and motor bikes and cars. Oh and trucks and busses! No real sidewalks. All the recommendations appeared to be closed for lunch. No problem. We stopped for cool drinks on a covered hotel terrace.
Then we randomly chose Ostria. It had a pretty covered dining area with trees. After we sat we noticed mostly Greeks eating there which was a good omen.
Our small, old man waiter (maybe the owner?) warmed to us through the meal. At first he tried to sell us the house wine but Luther persisted and we got a nice Greek white. Luther had pork gyros, Bill had pork Souvlaki, I had the pasta di mare, and Cindy had the pasta arrabiatta. Everyone liked their choice. Mine was the seafood and it had big prawns and mussels visible. But under the pasta was a lot more seafood in the sauce. Small shrimp, octopus, clams very yum. It was tomato based. I broke all the Italian rules here. Can you guess what I did “wrong”?
We had thick Greek coffee which was much like Turkish but not quite as strong. Obviously made the same way as the bottom was covered with sludge. We had small drinks on the house. A nice lunch for €67 for four with two bottles of wine.
Off to the ship on the tender. Later this evening, after dinner we had a crew talent show. Some were pretty good.
Thursday August 1
Kalomeno. A new Greek word I learned. It means have a good month and is always wished on the first of the month.
Today was Santorini, the fabled, arguably most beautiful of the isles. We learned there would be eight cruise ships here today! Lucky for us most were pretty small. Not the mega ships. Santorini is pretty amazing. We woke up in the Caldera of a volcano, ringed with sheer cliffs. At first what looked like a dusting of snow on top of the cliffs resolved itself into houses…all white…atop many of the cliffs. The caldera is almost 1,000 feet deep so we can’t anchor and must constantly do some thrust to stay in place. We had booked onto a wine tasting tour. We would have seen very little on our own.
We took the port tender in, a much bigger boat. Then we met our guide and enormous bus. We were only 7 plus one crew member, Jesse, who came along on his day off. Our guide was Irena.
We first visited the most beautiful town of Oia – pronounced ee-ya. It is the one most people think of when they think of Santorini. The one with the blue domes. And sparkling white houses. We disembarked our bus along with thousands of others from other busses. It was pretty awful. I would have turned left rather than right to give the people a chance to move on. But we followed the big tours and had to fight to get pictures from the view points. But I must say, it is unbelievably beautiful and I took quite a few pictures (of course!)
Afterwards we met and reboarded our bus. We next visited the wine museum. It was on the estate of the oldest winery on Santorini. We had been passing growing things that hugged the ground which turned out to be the grape vines. They don’t trellis them and we were told they put specially shaped baskets under the vines to keep the grape bunches off the ground. I have to say, I never saw any baskets peeking out of these small bushes. The wine museum was obviously made by the family. Rather crude manikins were in dioramas depicting scenes of the evolution of wine making on the island. We were treated to a tasting of four wines; a white, red, a sweet dessert wine, and a vinsanto. We had a bit of a discussion about this as he claimed the sweet vinsanto was a protected name and no one else could use it. We explained that where we live we have Vinsanto too. The white was my favorite made from a local variety called Assyrtiko.
Next we visited a cooperative making wines from the grapes of about 1,200 farmers. We tasted two whites and a vinsanto. And last a small winery where we tasted a white, rose and a vinsanto. We learned the word for a toast in Greek is Yamas!
We bussed to the final stop Firá from which the cable car descends the cliff to the shore where the tenders dock to pick up passengers. We stopped for a subpar lunch and enjoyed the cable car ride down. They are made up of five individual pods that travel together like a train. Each pod holds six. We caught the tender back.
Firá above us. See the sad donkeys going up the hill. I hope people will stop using them so they will let these donkeys stop this horrible labor. They are underfed and forced to go up and down this steep hill in incredible heat with little water, carrying heavy people – over and over everyday. 😢
At 6pm there was a demonstration of Greek dancing by four energetic young people in costume accompanied by a fiddle and accordion. Excellent and fun with most of the passengers learning the dances. Then a talk about our next port, Monemvasia.
This night was the grand BBQ. Always wonderful. We sailed out of the Caldera into the sunset. Afterward there were line dances. I think this group of passengers is the most energetic and enthusiastic of any we’ve been with. We even got to drink Greek wines with dinner tonight.
Friday August 2
Last day. Monemvasia. Sad. We had breakfast and rehashed our trip. We’ve all had fun. We didn’t arrive until 11am so the morning was free. They had demonstrations and tours scheduled on board. I took the galley tour to see the kitchens. It was interesting. All the menus are done by corporate. The head chef just runs the show. He does the final check on orders and oversees. They do the AmphorA main dining room as well as room service 24/7, breakfast and lunch, yacht club functions and also feeding the officers and crew. They have a separate cook for the crew. They are all Asian so they want it spicy! I wish I could eat with them 😕
An enormous piece of rock that is compared to Gibraltar. There is a narrow causeway across to the “almost” island. And on the island is one small village. There is a castle up on top of the rock and the village is beneath it. But it is all called The Castle. The village has defensive walls ringing it in. It looks very defensible and it quite unique. We took the tender across and then a bus to the gate.
It was already lunch time so we wandered and looked in the shops. Lots of artisans and artists. We chose a restaurant and had a nice lunch. We shared Tzatziki and fava beans on bread. Then I had yet another Greek salad! They are so cool and refreshing in the hot weather. It reached 105 this day!
I was saved by Greek Salads. They were the perfect “go to” lunch in the hot weather.
We bussed and tendered back to the ship. And retired to shower and rest up. I did most of the packing. We had to have the suitcases in the hall by 6:45 AM Saturday. We went up for our final sailaway. We had the music and the “time to say goodbye” song. And we had full sails!
We went to the lounge for the Captains farewell address and a briefing by Pavlo for disembarking. All the people who had bought anything in Kusadasi had been entered in a drawing to win a Turkish rug. Well, I won it! I never win anything!
Then we went to dinner which was probably my favorite one on board. I had a seafood chowder and the lobster risotto. Quite good. Up on deck after dinner people were saying good bye to each other and prowling around the ship. It was perfect weather. A light breeze and nice temperature.
Saturday August 3
Time to say goodbye 😕 Transport to airport in a bus for the 4 or us. Alitalia to Rome and then drive home.
🇬🇷 Trip recap.
- Sad to say we did not complete the jigsaw puzzle they put out for us. First cruise I’ve been on where it didn’t get done.
- The weather was hot and no rain at all. It was expected.
- I was saved by the Greek salads. Amazing, cool and refreshing.
- I was happy the sails were out all but the second day.
- I missed Captain Belinda and found Captain Simon aloof.
- I recognized many crew members.
- The food was good enough but still not very exciting.
- The staff was again excellent. It is the best part of the Windstar cruises. I hope Windstar appreciates that their success depends on these hard working and relentlessly cheerful people.
- We learned 7 Greek 🇬🇷 words. Kaliméra, good morning; Kalispera, good evening; Kalomeno, have a good month; Efcharistó, thank you; Parakaló, you’re welcome; Yamas! Cheers!; Ne, yes.
My Best and worst list
- Best Greek salad – Athens in Eat with Milton
- Worst Athens food – rooftop restaurant in St George Lycabettus for dinner
- Best Athens food – Scala Vinoteca
- Best shore lunch – Captain’s in Mykonos and Ostria in Patmos
- Worst shore lunch – Firá Santorini
- Worst shore food – Ephesus dinner (catered)
- Favorite stops – Mykonos and Nafplio
- Least favorite stop – Patmos
- Prettiest island – Mykonos and Santorini
- Worst crowds – Ephesus and Oia on Santorini
- Best cruise ship – Wind Star!
- Best tours – Athens full day and Ephesus
- Good thing – private transfers to from airport and harbor
- Nicest people – all the staff on the ship. The Greeks we met in general were nice folks.
When I return from a trip I’m normally happy to be home. I was happy to see my cats, who missed us, but I felt very sad the trip was over. That says a lot!