“Cruising to the Cyclades” is Peter Sommer Travels’ first cruise in Greece in 2018. This year, to give an impression of the experience, we are providing a diary of sorts on our blog, following last year's precedents in Crete and the Dodecanese and this year's in the Peloponnese. Rather than describing every day in detail (you can check our itineraries on www.petersommer.com for that), every day we will pick one image we took that day, accompanied by some explanations and thoughts.
I am writing this from Bodrum, where our cruise is spending its final night. The day was a pleasant and interesting one, beginning with a thorough exploration of the archaeological excavations within the town of Kos. In the Harbour Quarter/Agora area, we learnt about the main features of an ancient city, at the Southern Agora, we observed some details of Greek and Roman urban architecture and in the Southwestern Excavations, we explored a Roman bath superseded by an Early Christian church complex, and re-acquainted ourselves with the splendour of Roman private housing. We finished our tour with a visit to the excellent archaeological museum of Kos.
In the Southwestern Excavations, we went to see a famous, large and very beautiful Roman mosaic showing many scenes, including the Judgement of Paris. We did indeed see it, but we also encountered a very friendly cat that had used the mosaic as a convenient spot for her morning nap - or perhaps she encountered us. Throughout our guiding, our guests - and ourselves - were somewhat distracted, as the mosaic cat decided to have a close look at every member of our group, demanding a little attention from everyone. She was a very charming distraction, and certainly a friendly one, and I suspect that our guests' various folders and SD-cards will contain more pictures of her than of anything else this morning. It was a memorable moment.
In fact, many of the most memorable moments on our tours arise from such unforeseen - and unforeseeable - instances. We pride ourselves in offering the best-prepared tours and cruises of the areas we cover, but that does not mean we can predict or plan every single moment of every single day. On a long cruise, like our current one, there are factors we will never control, most importantly the weather. Blue-skied days of mirror-like seas alternate with changing cloud patterns, with mild or stupendous winds, even occasionally with mist or rain (not on this trip, though). And that's just the weather. All kinds of things can happen to enrich our experience of the places we visit.
On this tour, there were a few such moments. On our very first day of travel, just before entering Greece, we watched a group of dolphins leaping from the waves in the distance. On Kalymnos, we happened to arrive on a local feast day, the day of Saint Helena, celebrated with a church service, traditional music and a lot of folk dancing, involving much of the local community. On Naxos, a whole tribe of antedeluvian-looking black lizards used our path to the ancient quarries for sunbathing. On Delos, recent rains led to the site being strewn with wild poppies, lending a sense of vibrant vivacity to the rocky islet. On Santorini, we enjoyed shelter from a storm. On Nisyros, we had a chance to see, hear and smell the bubbling puddles of mud in the volcanic steam crater, replenished by a wet May. Off Giali, we saw the pinkest moonrise you can imagine, and on Kos we met the mosaic cat.
All our tours and cruises bring such unexpected moments of interest, of joy or of beauty. Tomorrow, however, we have to say goodbye to our guests...
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