Let's Sail the Aegean Islands and Discover Greece

Athens, Greece

Changi Airport Terminal 1

This adventure is: #on the weekend, #far far away, #scenic

Athens: Let's Sail the Aegean Islands and Discover Greece

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“Hi, it's u­­­s, Georg­i­n­a, Bri­tt­a, and ­Lee­ Lin­g­”

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Highlights

If you've ever gone to a concert, play or movie, you've benefited from one of the ancient Greeks' most obvious contributions to the modern world, the theater!  Greece is one of the oldest civilizations of the world that had a powerful influence on the Roman Empire and is the foundations of Western civilization.  Whether it be astrology, mathematics, biology, engineering, medicine or linguistics, nearly all of the information we take for granted today was first discovered by the ancient Greeks.  That is not all, the literature, music, architecture, design and the performing arts, the Greeks established many of the standards by which identify beauty and creative value.  The Greece civilization also spread throughout the thousands islands of the Aegean and Ionian seas.  So instead of hopping the islands on public ferry to discover Greece, I thought a few of us can come together to charter a boat and explore some of the islands as old as time and enjoy the laid back island time.  We will start our journey from Mykonos and sail down south to Santorini, visiting some of the islands along the way.  We will then finally fly back to Athens to learn more about Greece.  So let's set the sails.

Here is a glimpse of the highlights of the trip.



  • Wander Santorini island enjoying the white-washed village scenes of this paradise island and catch the amazing sunset

  • Explore the island of Mykonos, Greece’s most famous cosmopolitan island

  • Visit the Paros Island the heart of the Cyclades, known for its hidden beaches, quaint villages and bountiful plant life

  • Visit the Antíparos Island and explore ancient sites such as the Cave of Antíparos, used as a place of worship for the goddess Artemis

  • Stop at Ios island and get up close to the hillside clusters of blue-roofed white buildings

  • Explore Sifnos the perfect Greek island with a balance of beautiful beaches, low-key nightlife, and white Cycladic villages

  • Explore Folegandros island and the beautiful city of Hora

  • Visit The Acropolis, the Ancient Agora and the Temple of Olympian Zeus – all built by the Athenians at the peak of Greece to venerate the gods of ancient Greece

  • Savour the Mediterranean food and its fresh seafood

  • Appreciate how much Ancient Greece has influenced the world that we know today


 

Let's Sail the Aegean Islands and Discover Greece starting at Athens, GreeceA refreshing blast of sea water for dusk drinkers in Little Venice, Mykonos, photo by David Baxendale licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0 

Let's relax at Mykonos waterfront café and admire the view of the quaint windmills, set against a luminous blue backdrop.  Then pay a visit to the church of Panayia Paraportiani, the Town hall and the castle situated above the harbour and possibly the Archaeological, Folklore and Maritime Museums to take in a little history. Wander around the always colourful and busy pedestrian shopping streets of the Hóra. The most glamorous of all is Matoyánni Street, lined with brand name stores, charming cafés and stylish restaurants.  Enjoy the nightlife of this island before we start sailing to other islands, our first stop the Naxos Island.

Let's Sail the Aegean Islands and Discover Greece starting at Athens, GreeceCoastline water boats against the cityscape of Mykonos island, photo by Mstyslav Chernov licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 

Naxos is the largest island in Cyclades, and the most important centre of civilization of all the Cyclades during the ancient period, 4000-1000 BC.  The Thracians were the first inhabitants in Naxos who remained for two centuries, until the Carean took control of the island.   Then the island was dominated by the Ionians who contributed in the development and growth of Naxos, with the sea trading which brought wealth during the 7th century BC.  Then the Peloponnesian War came, during which the Athenians lost from the Spartans taking under control of the island. Then, Naxos felt under a succession of authorities which were the Macedonian Empire, the Ptolemy of Egypt, the Rhodians and, in 41 BC, the Roman Empire. Christianity appeared on the island during the 1st century AD.  In 1207, Marco Sanudo a Venetian took the Cyclades and established a duchy.  The power of Marco Sanudo last until 1564, when the Turks took the entire Greece. 

Let's Sail the Aegean Islands and Discover Greece starting at Athens, GreeceTemple of Dimitra in Naxos Island

When we arrive in Naxos Island for those who don't want to hike Mt Zeus, you can explore the city of Naxos.  For the hikers, I thought this is a good video to get an idea of the hike and its landscape. 



After the hike we will head back to our boat and sail to explore the other islands, the Paros Island, Antiparos Island, Ios Island, and Sifnos Island.  

During the ancient times, Paros was famous around the Mediterranean, for its high quality semi-transparent marble, found at the Marathi Quarries. The same used to build many works of art and masterpieces such as the Temple of Apollo on Delos and many others.  Some of the great discoveries was the ancient pottery workshop in Tholos, with its fasinating works of art, and the ancient cemetery of Parikia.  After the fall of the Roman Empire, Paros became part of the Byzantine Empire and its inhabitants converted to Christianity, therefore the numerous churches, chapels and monasteries were built during those times. Among those, the most famous is the Church of Ekatontapiliani in Parikia. It is considered as the most important Byzantine monument of Greece, this church is believed to have been built according to the orders of Saint Helena, mother of Constantine the Great.  The church is only a short walk from the harbour.

Let's Sail the Aegean Islands and Discover Greece starting at Athens, GreeceChurch of Ekatondapyliani in Paros Island, photo by Tango7174 licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 

After exploring Paros Island we will move on to Antiparos Island.  Very little is known about the history of Antiparos as it has been overshadowed by the neighboring island of Paros.  In anycase nothing will stop us from enjoying the beautiful Antiparos sea and its people.  The boat will have a kayak, therefore for those not exploring the islands, you can kayak to explore the coast of the islands.  

Let's Sail the Aegean Islands and Discover Greece starting at Athens, GreeceThis is the northern part of the town of Antiparos, on the island of Antiparos, photo by SNappa2006  licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 

Let's Sail the Aegean Islands and Discover Greece starting at Athens, GreeceWe can swim in Aegean seas instead of exploring the islands.

Ios island however, was an important and strong city in Classical and Hellenistic times. Its decline began with the Roman occupation, when it was used as a place for exile, and continued in Byzantine times. The island experienced a recovery at the time of the Duchy of Naxos, but the Ottoman domination interrupted it. 

Then we will sail to Folegandros Island, this is an island that have not been swarmped by summer tourist and yet in many ways similar to Santorini Island.
Let's Sail the Aegean Islands and Discover Greece starting at Athens, GreeceFolegandros at sunset, photo by Navin75  licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 

Let's Sail the Aegean Islands and Discover Greece starting at Athens, GreeceVillage in Cyclades Folegandros, photo by rene boulay licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 
  
Let's Sail the Aegean Islands and Discover Greece starting at Athens, GreeceNikolaos beach in Folegandros photo by Kostas Limitsios  licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 

Finally we will sail to Santorini Island, the gem of Aegean sea, we should expect tons of tourist here as it host about 1.5 million tourist every year with most of them coming within the summer months.  I think it is worth squeezing with others as it is one of the most uniquely beautiful island and its famed sunset that all will get their cameras ready for.

Let's Sail the Aegean Islands and Discover Greece starting at Athens, GreeceChurch at Santorini

Let's Sail the Aegean Islands and Discover Greece starting at Athens, GreeceBeautiful sunset at Santorini, photo by Pedro Szekely licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0  

We will then head to Athens.  Before leaving Greece, let's visit the UNESCO sites Acropolis, the Ancient Agora, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and Delphi.  

The Parthenon is regarded as an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece, Athenian democracy and Western civilization, and one of the world's greatest cultural monuments. To the Athenians who built it, the Parthenon and other Periclean monuments of the Acropolis were seen fundamentally as a celebration of Hellenic victory over the Persian invaders and as a thanksgiving to the gods for that victory.  The Parthenon is a former temple on the Athenian Acropolis, dedicated to the goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their patron. Construction began in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the peak of its power.

Let's Sail the Aegean Islands and Discover Greece starting at Athens, GreeceThe Erechtheum western side, Acropolis

Let's Sail the Aegean Islands and Discover Greece starting at Athens, GreecePartheon, a temple dedicated to Goddes Athena

The history of Delphi begins in prehistory and in the myths of the ancient Greeks. In the beginning the site was sacred to Mother Earth and was guarded by the terrible serpent Python, who was later killed by Apollo. Apollo's sanctuary was built here by Cretans who arrived at Kirrha, the port of Delphi, accompanied by the god in the form of a dolphin.

Between the sixth and fourth centuries BC, the Delphic oracle, which was regarded as the most trustworthy, was at its peak. It was delivered by the Pythia, the priestess, and interpreted by the priests of Apollo. Cities, rulers and ordinary individuals alike consulted the oracle, expressing their gratitude with great gifts and spreading its fame around the world. 

The oracle was thought to have existed since the dawn of time. Indeed, it was believed to have successfully predicted events related to the cataclysm of Deukalion, the Argonaut's expedition and the Trojan War; more certain are the consultations over the founding of the Greek colonies. It was the oracle's fame and prestige that caused two Sacred Wars in the middle of the fifth and fourth centuries BC. In the third century BC, the sanctuary was conquered by the Aetolians, who were driven out by the Romans in 191 BC. In Roman times, the sanctuary was favoured by some emperors and plundered by others, including Sulla in 86 BC.

Let's Sail the Aegean Islands and Discover Greece starting at Athens, GreeceRuins of the ancient temple of Apollo at Delphi, overlooking the valley of Phocis, photo by Skyring licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 

There is so much to see, experience, and learn in Greece, for those that have time, I highly recommend to stay on and discover more about the country.  I will leave the country for now and explore more in the future.

Oh yes we will charter the boat depending on the group size, if we can get 10 people or so, we should be chartering a Oceanis 50.

Let's Sail the Aegean Islands and Discover Greece starting at Athens, GreeceOceanis 50 boat

Itinerary

Day 1 Singapore to Athens, fly to Mykonos
Day 2 Sail Paros Island
Day 3 Sail to Antíparos Island
Day 4 Sail to Ios island
Day 5 Sail to Sifnos island
Day 6 Sail to Folegandros island
Day 7 Sail to Santorini
Day 8 Fly to Athens from Santorini, explore Athens
Day 9 Explore Athens
Day 10 Free and easy Athens
Day 11 Fly from Athens to Singapore