7 Night Cruise sailing from Athens to Istanbul aboard Azamara Journey.
Live the Mediterranean life at summer’s peak with five late or overnight stays. You’ll fall in love with the cliffside villages and colorful beaches of volcanic Santorini, and want to miss the sunset from Oia town on the caldera’s edge. From Mykonos, you can visit the treasures of Delos, enjoy lunch at a seaside taverna, and later join the nightlife for which this island is well-known. Patmos is quite different, with beautiful beaches, an aura of peace and some say a spiritual presence. Here you can walk in the footsteps of St. John in the winding streets of old Chora town and see the 12th century frescoes and rare icons at St. John Monastery. Ephesus paints a picture of ancient life in a once powerful city, a story that continues to unfold as excavations continue.
Highlights of this cruise:
Piraeus (Athens), Greece
Athens has quite a reputation to live up to. Named for Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, the city is credited with being the cradle of European civilization and birthplace of democracy. Ruins and relics of its glory days are scattered throughout the modern city, popping up where you least expect them. Its crowning glory is the Acropolis, perched atop a hillside, and covered in carved and columned temples of varying degrees of antiquity. Not quite so old is the Plaka, an appealing neighborhood for a stroll down cobblestone streets, past old mansions and a plethora of outdoor tavernas ideal for watching the world go by, while munching tasty Greek snacks.
Your daydream of a Greek island meets reality in Santorini – its whitewashed villages cling to cliff sides, and bright blue roofs reflect the sea and sky. So beautiful is it, that you can almost believe the myths that claim it as the birthplace of gods. Born itself as a volcanic cone, the island blew its top in 1450 BC, its center sank, and it assumed its current crescent shape, outlined by three main islands. The capital, Fira, a pedestrian haven with narrow, meandering cobblestone lanes, is reachable only by cable car, donkey, or for the fit and fearless, a flight of 600 steps.
Mykonos is living proof that picture postcard destinations do exist. Its many charms include its iconic windmills, fabulous beaches, and an irresistible traditional town with a maze of twisting streets and alleys originally designed to confuse marauding pirates. Dazzling sunlight reflects off of whitewashed houses and hundreds of small chapels. Other adornments include shaded courtyards and balconies lush with flowers, and a lively nightlife that some claim is the best in Europe. Nearby you can visit the uninhabited island of Delos, birthplace of Apollo, fittingly the god of sunlight, music and beauty.
Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey
Kusadasi is your port of access to an age-old civilization. Ephesus was once the second largest metropolitan area in the Roman Empire, eclipsed only by Rome herself. Explore this city of construction both monumental and mundane. It was famed for the Temple of Artemis, one of the wonders of the ancient world; the Library of Celsus, with its thousands of scrolls; and its amphitheater, with a capacity of 24,000 spectators. But you can also imagine yourself in the sandals of a resident as you stroll the streets, past marketplaces, and into bath complexes that offered piped-in hot water, massage, and sauna.
Istanbul is supremely exotic, warmly welcoming, and quite unique – after all, where else can you tour Europe and Asia on the very same afternoon? Must sees include Haghia Sophia, decorated in 30 million tiny mosaic tiles, the greatest church in Christendom for 1000 years, then a mosque and now a museum; and Topkapi, palace of sultans, complete with harem quarters. And of course shopping in the Grand Bazaar, a medieval version of a mall, for unusual gifts to take home, stopping along the way in a café for a cup of Turkish coffee or mint tea.