Cruising around Culture and History
SAIL THE GREEK SEAS
Do you like boats? I do, but I wasn’t aware of it. I’d never thought sailing could suit me, I was a bit reluctant at first. Yet, I feel in love… Cruising Greece is simply the best way to experience immaculate natural landscapes and visit several historic sites, impressive remains of ancient civilizations. It’s a cruise around Greek culture and history.
Greece is full of both. Its breathtaking islands and mainland destinations come along with deep cultural insights rooted in the recent past. Getting on a cruise to visit multiple places is an option to consider. Be ready to choose among the wide cruise offer full of special concepts and contexts.
An example of such an expedition is a thematic cruise Antiquity to Byzantium, brought to you by Variety Cruises. This particular itinerary provides a unique combination of Greek landscapes and a real immersion in the history of the destinations.
The cruise concept and the thematic schedule
I found this cruising concept interesting. The luxury of the vessel includes relax, great food and drinks plus loads of fun while you sail to reach the many naval checkpoints. This thematic trip takes place around the Peloponnese mainland: Epidaurus, Nafplio, Monemvasia, Gythion, Pylos and Katakolo, to end with Ancient Olympia, Itea and Delphi. The starting point is a quaint marina in Athens, Marina Zea (Piraeus). The trip lasts 8 days.
You depart early in the afternoon, after meeting a welcoming crew and your fellow vacacionistas, a circle of friends for the next days. The first stop is the port of old town Epidaurus. There you will have dinner on board. Then, the night goes by on the magnificent lounge areas, both inside and on the deck of the MS Galileo. A cruise ship entirely renovated in 2016, turned into a floating home with wooden details, warm tones, and a hearty atmosphere across the sitting and dining zones.
On board breakfast and off to culture!
There are optional daily pre-arranged excursions on land. The next morning, after breakfast, head to Ancient Epidaurus, birthplace of Asclepius, father of medicine. Considered a healing sanctuary in the past, it was looted by the Romans and pirates who left a pile of remnants behind. A memory of its glorious existence. Knowledgeable and experienced guides introduce you to the artistic gem of the area, the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, famous for its great aesthetics, the acoustics, and for the annual festival of Epidaurus, which receives artists and actors of the Greek cultural scene.
After a restoring lunch on board, sail to reach your next stop, Nafplio. The town was the capital of the First Hellenic Republic and Kingdom of Greece, from the start of the Greek Revolution in 1821 until 1834.
You will find a picturesque town, ideal for photography lovers and in-love couples. There are cafés and tiny ice cream parlours in the small alleys and on the main square. See the sea and the castle of Bourtzi.
When you finish the walking tour, a car will take you to Mycenae, cradle of ancient culture and powerful military state. The visit to this archaeological site includes a guided tour to the Lion Gate, the tomb of Agamemnon and his wife Klytemnestra. Also visit the Museum of Mycenae, right next to the citadel. The museum presents several fine gold relics which reminds us of Homer referring to Mycenae as a place rich in gold.
Southernmost mainland and naval history
Over the night, sail to reach the port of Gythion, main naval base of the Spartans in ancient times. The next adventure takes you to the peninsula of Mani and the Cape of Tenaro, southernmost end of the Greek mainland. Mani is uncommonly beautiful… Rugged landscapes, stone-built fortresses, lakes and rivers.
Moving to the left of the Peloponnese you will find Pylos, attracting big touristic attention over the years. Theatre of important naval battles in the past, such as the Battle of Navarino, that saw Venetians against Ottomans, back in 1829. A battle that resulted in the future independence of Greece.
The Palace of Nestor, mythic king of Pylos, is one of the most important Mycenaean sites in the country. Another must-see site… and it’s just there.
Ancient Olympia and the Oracle of Delphi
The last two days of this cruise option, finds you immersing into the cultural vibe of Ancient Olympia and Delphi. After a night in Katakolo, you will head to Ancient Olympia, unique for its magnificent cultural heritage. This gem is the birthplace of the Olympic Games. Visit the Museum of the History of the Olympic Games, hosting artefacts and sculptures.
The Archaeological Museum of Olympia houses one of the most significant collections of bronze pieces in the world. I suggest you to see the Hermes of Praxiteles and the Cup of Phidias (or Pheidias). He was also author of the world-famous Statue of Zeus. A legend of ivory and gold, one of the seven wonders of the classic world.
The cup with the inscription I belong to Phidias has helped archaeologists conduct researches on the techniques used. Olympia, a sacred place for Greece, was dedicated to Zeus, the God who ruled as the king of the Twelve Gods.
Our last stop is the Oracle of Delphi, the most authoritative in ancient Greece. The Greek consulted it before all major undertakings for its symbolic advice on decisive issues such as wars, leagues and political affairs. Delphi was the omphalos (ὀμφαλός) of the Earth, the navel, the centre of the world.
On that last evening you will sail through the Corinth Canal towards Marina Zea. The Canal connects the Ionian to the Aegean, so instead of traveling around the Peloponnese, you will cut through Greece to pop out somewhere near Athens. An exciting experience to end a trip already full of unforgettable memories.
Describing the impressive size of Greek history is not a simple task. What could be best than a visit, sailing the seas of Greece, to appreciate it in full?