From Greece to Turkey Onboard the Arethusa
Are you ready to escape the cold of winter in reality or at least in your mind? A Greek island cruise is a dream trip for many and one that I highly enjoyed myself. The Greek islands are diverse, beautiful and steeped in culture and history. If you love sunshine, azure seas (deep blue) and good food, you'll definitely want to add Greece to your bucket list.
A few years back I had the pleasure of touring Greece, the Greek islands and Western Turkey with my father and my sister. We started in Athens and traveled by motor coach (bus) to the ancient city of Delphi, and then up to Meteora to see its famous monasteries, which are perched high upon rocky spires. Then we headed back to Athens where we boarded our ship.
The majority of this tour involved a wonderful cruise onboard a small ship, called the Arethusa through the Greek islands, which included stops at Silos, Mykonos, Dilos, Naxos, Santorini, Amagos, Kalymnos and Patmos. Of these island, Santorini was definitely my favorite with it's spectacular views, incredible architecture and out of this world sunsets. However, the smaller islands also have their charms.
Off the Beaten Path: The Greek Island of Patmos
Of the lesser visited islands, one that stands out is Patmos. I knew nothing about this destination before going there and it was a pleasant surprise. Having no expectations, I was able to just take in the sights, the sounds and overall ambiance of this quiet island and be present in the moment. With the popular island like Mykonos and Santorini, I had a shot list of the landmarks that I wanted to photograph like the iconic blue domes in the above photo. Doing research ahead of time helped me plan what I wanted to photograph and at what time of day for the best lighting. The upside of planning is that I generally get better pictures. The downside is that my expectations are higher and this can sometimes lead to pressure and disappointment if the lighting, weather and timing don't go my way. Overall, however, I like to have a mix of travel experiences that balance my planned expectations along with making space for spontaneity and surprises to unfold.
Patmos is located approximately 87 miles/149 km northeast of the island of Santorini not far from the coast of Turkey. I traveled there enroute from Santorini, Greece to Kusadasi, Turkey.
The major advantage of cruising the Aegean Sea via a small ship is that smaller vessels have the ability to dock in small shallow water ports where you can exit the ship directly without having to be shuttled ashore in a small boat. My ship had a maximum of 50 passengers, so it was never crowed either. I don't know about you, but I don't like wasting time waiting in lines to eat or to go ashore when I am on a vacation. With my ship I was able to come and go freely while we were docked without any hassles.
The Cave of the Apokalypsis
Patmos is famous because this is where the Apostle John was exiled by the Roman Emperor, Domitian for preaching the gospel of Jesus on the streets of Ephesus, which is located in present day Turkey. Back then it was a Greek colonial town and a flourishing coastal port. John taught that Jesus was the son of God. This did not bode well with the Emperor who insisted that he was the Lord of God and therefore John was arrested and banished to Patmos. It is believed that it was in the Cave of the Apokalypsis, where John received the Revelation in a dream from Jesus that became the final book in the New Testament.
Photography was not allowed inside the cave so I focused on learning the history of this holy site and imagined what it was like during the time of the Apostle John. Remember that he was a prisoner of a tyrannical Emperor who had instigated a reign of terror throughout the Roman Empire. No wonder John's revelation was so bleak. There was much evil back then and he was up against the most powerful forces of that time. History is important because it reminds us of the dangers of absolute power and the utter importance of free speech. Just as John was exiled for his views, we are currently seeing similar acts of censorship in the new town square of the internet coming from Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. When free speech goes, so do our other rights. We have seen this battle between good and evil throughout human history and travel is one of the best ways to learn about our past mistakes so that we don't repeat them again.
The Monastery of Saint John the Theologian
Our next stop on Patmos was at the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian, which is located on top of a hill in the village of Chora. It was built and dedicated to Saint John many years after his passing. From the outside it looks like a fortress, but you are allowed to tour the inside of this interesting Christian historical site, which also includes a museum.
If you want to get off the beaten track and you enjoy mixing history with your travels, then you will enjoy the island of Patmos. After dealing with larger crowds on Santorini, it was nice to slow down on this laid back island before we headed onward to Turkey.
World travel opens our hearts and our minds to other cultures and ideas. It expands our horizons and teaches us how to go with the flow. If you have a dream of traveling to a distant land, but you are fearful, I encourage you to let go of your fears and pursue your dreams. Traveling gets us out of our comfort zones and helps us to grow into the best versions of ourselves, and growth is an essential part of a Total Soulful Journey. If you have any questions about visiting Greece, feel free to leave a comment below or to DM me on Instagram.
P.S. - The crew and the food onboard the Arethusa were outstanding. For more information contact Overseas Adventure Travel (this is not a payed endorsement).
Coming up on Saturday's blog, Libby will be reviewing one of our favorite books, "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho. This unforgettable tale of a boy's journey from Spain to the Great Pyramids is fill with a plethora of spiritual nuggets. If you haven't read it yet, you can conveniently order it through Libby's website at YogaFitBoutique.com along with next month's bookclub pick, "The Untethered Soul" by Michael A. Singer. This is another New York Times best seller that will certainly stir your soul.
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