"Exploring Macedonia" is our first new itinerary in Greece since 2018. On this occasion, to give an impression of the experience, we are providing a kind of travel diary on our blog, following precedents from Greece, Ireland and Turkey. 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.
Every day is different, and today was fantastic!
Perhaps it's because Peter Sommer Travels has such a long-standing background with gulet cruises, or maybe it's just part of our character: we love being on the water. And although Exploring Macedonia is very much a land tour, today we were on the water twice.
Alright, I'll come clear. It's a barely-hidden secret that I have smuggled at least one trip on some boat or other into each of the land tours I have designed in Greece. It doesn't always happen, according to circumstance, but on Easter in Athens (which I co-designed) we visit the island of Aigina, on Exploring Crete we have a short boat trip to and from a remote ancient city (conditions permitting) and on Exploring the Peloponnese we visit the stupendous cave of Diros by boat (again, when possible). It's only fair: after all during our cruises we also spend time on land!
Today, from our two-night base in the very maritime city of Kavala, we crossed the Northern Aegean and went to the island of Thasos. The key reason we go there is that Thasos is a place of immense historic significance, and moreover, one of the most important archaeological sites in Northern Greece. We had a wonderful time with our guests, exploring first the Archaic shrine and the enormous ancient marble quarries at Aliki in the south of the island, and then the ancient city of Thasos, which lies among and underneath the modern island capital, Limenas. There is much to see at Limenas/Thasos, and I have written about it on this blog. We saw and showed our guests most of the wonderful things described in that post: the ancient harbour, various sanctuaries, the Gate of Silenus, graced by a very optimistic sculpture, and of course the fascinating Agora. The Archaeological Museum of Thasos is a special highlight, as it is full of great things, serving as a tangible illustration of what Thasos was and why it is so important.
For us, visiting this island is an indispensable element of the tour, because Thasos has its own historic trajectory. It maintained an independent existence throughout the struggles between Athens and Sparta in the fifth century BC, changing sides as determined by its interests, and it managed to retain much of its independence when Philip II subsumed the nearby Southern Greek colonies on the mainland into his burgeoning Macedonian kingdom during the fourth century BC.
So our sunny day would have been wonderfully interesting and full of content in any case. What made it special was the joy of the sea voyage to and from the island, on smooth waters, with seagulls following our ship, gliding alongside and cawing now and then (the English subtitles for foreign-language movies nearly always translate that cawing as "seagulls crying", but it actually sounds a lot more like laughter. Our picture, by the way, shows a view of Thasos from near the port of Kavala on the mainland on our way back, just as the local fishing boats are setting out for their night's work).
And then, what made it even more special was the verdant beauty of Thasos, and the characteristically laid-back atmosphere that is so distinctive of the Greek Islands. There is a sense of serenity in these places, and time drips slowly, just like the famous Thasian honey does, sweetly and profoundly. It is a special feeling to be on a Greek Island, one we long for ourselves, and one we are glad to share with our guests.
Tomorrow, we return to Thessaloniki, with an important detour.