Experience the Aegean with the Yachtsman’s Paradise Cruise
15th October 2015
Whilst the Western Mediterranean is home to the delights of Italy, Spain and Morocco; the Eastern Mediterranean is home to a beautiful collection of ports in Greece and Turkey. Sitting between Greece and Turkey is the cove-like Aegean Sea, whilst the narrow Strait of Dardanelles will carry you to Istanbul.
As well as popular ports such as Valletta and Mykonos, you will also have the opportunity to visit lesser-known ports such as Skiathos, Skopelos and Canakkale. The seven-night Yachtsman’s Paradise itinerary embarks from Istanbul on May 7th, 2016. This week, Star Clippers takes a closer look at the highlights you can experience during this Eastern Mediterranean cruise.
Turkey’s most populous city is home a thriving hub of culture, with many ancient monuments, golden beaches and thriving markets. Istanbul’s monuments date back to Byzantine, Ottoman and Roman periods and one landmark definitely worth visiting is Topkapi Palace. Here, you will find relics such as Prophet Muhammed’s tooth, beard hair and his swords – which were crafted by Ottoman goldsmiths. Istanbul also holds the gateway to the Black Sea and is home to a range of parks, including the Sultanahmet, which hold many exotic varieties of tulip.
On the bank of the Strait of Dardanelles lies the Turkish city of Canakkale, which provides an opportunity to visit the ancient city of Troy. The city was uncovered by archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann in 1871 and later transpired to be the site of the most famous siege in history. 3,500 years have passed since the battles commenced and many of the walls have since eroded. A reconstructed horse will help you to imagine the opposition to Achilles’ invasion.
Myrina, Limnos – Greece
Upon entering the Aegean Sea, your first port of call lies on the island of Limnos. It is here that it is claimed Hephaestus landed after being hurled by Zeus from Mt. Olympus. Not so much of a hardship for him, however, as the island’s volcanic soils proved ideal for growing grapes and subsequently producing fine quality wines. A climb up to the island’s castle will reward you with breath-taking views over the island and beyond.
Unfortunately, you will be unable to disembark in Mount Athos, but a sail-by will provide a fantastic close-up of this secluded island. Mount Athos is home to 20 secluded monasteries, where monks from around the world visit to escape the modern world. Entry to pilgrims or tourists is extremely limited, but witnessing these monasteries on the side of the mountain will take your breath away.
After sailing around Mount Athos, you will dock in the ancient Greek mainland village of Ouranoupolis, known as the “City of the Heavens”. Its isolation and long golden beaches makes it a perfect location to relax in total peace and tranquillity. As women are not allowed into the monasteries of Mount Athos, many choose to stay in the village. The village’s Byzantine Tower was built in medieval times by monks of Mount Athos to protect the area from enemy raids.
Skiathos is part of the Sporades islands and has been held highly in tourist regard for many years. The island is filled with wonderful flower-decked homes and extensive gardens overflowing with fruit trees. Skiathos’ beautiful golden beaches are the perfect place to soak up the glorious Mediterranean sun.
Located on the west side of the Aegean Sea, the Sporades Island of Skopelos is home to more than 360 churches and chapels – the oldest of which dates back to the 11th century. 120 of these churches can be found beneath the ruins of the Venetian Castle. Elsewhere on the island, you will find an abundance of olive, almond and fruit trees – all of which add to the natural charm.
The small island of Poros is home to Greece’s naval academy, and this becomes apparent on hearing the music of the marching band. A visit to the Temple of Poseidon will provide one of the most memorable views of your journey. If you’re lucky, you may be able to witness a stunning sunset from here over the island. A water taxi will take you to Galatas, where you can embark on an excursion to the fragrant lemon groves of Lemonodhassos.
Having explored some of the lesser-known and picturesque destinations that Greece has to offer, your cruise comes to an end in the city of Athens. This doesn’t mean your adventures are at an end, however, as ancient city has much on offer to explore. Delve into the Greek mythology and learn about the various stories of the gods. No journey to the Greek capital would be complete without venturing up to the Acropolis, which not only provides a historical insight, but also a mesmerising panoramic view.
Whether sailing around the Mediterranean, Caribbean or around Cuba – Star Clippers cruises provide a traditional way to see some of the world’s most spectacular locations. The fleet’s three ships were the first built in nearly one hundred years to utilise wind as a main source of power.