Author: Emilie Kretschmar
Blue was the theme on my latest tour with Penn Alumni Travel: Island Life in Ancient Greece and Turkey. Have you ever sailed the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas? If so, this will sound familiar to you- endless blue water rising to meet an equally infinite blue sky, blue waves lapping against fishing boats painted a bright azure, and blue doors and rooftops dotting the island landscape.
Blue is the color du jour in the Greek Islands and our Penn Alumni fit right in with their new Penn gear: (dark) blue hats from Penn Alumni Travel. We set sail from Athens on a beautiful 200-passenger French ship complete with its own French pastry chef. Our first stop was Delos, the mythical birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, followed by the island of Mykonos with its iconic windmills.
Santorini was a highlight for many of the boat’s passengers. Santorini’s fantastic landscape was formed after a volcanic eruption destroyed the earliest settlements on a formerly single island, and created the current geological caldera. Five islands of varying sizes now encircle a calm lagoon. The postcard views of whitewashed buildings hugging a steep cliff that many of us know and love are just as spectacular in person.
Rhodes and Patmos were the next islands on our agenda. Patmos was a pleasure. Large cruise ships never visit this quiet island, and so we felt like we had the place to ourselves. After a visit to the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. John, said to be the site of St. John the Apostle’s revelations, we had the afternoon to relax and explore the main village of Skala.
The end of the cruise brought us to the west coast of Turkey. Since my return to the States, I have come to find that many people do not realize how beautiful and modern this country is and how friendly and helpful its inhabitants are. It is one of my favorite destinations, and this visit did not disappoint. Our stops in Turkey included the ancient Greek and Roman city of Ephesus and the archaeological dig of Troy.
Visually, this trip was spectacular. These pictures are just a taste of the many pictures I took while in Greece and Turkey. You can visit the entire photo album here. But the trip was also intellectually satisfying. Each island supplied us with knowledgeable guides, and we were treated to special evening lectures from University professors aboard our ship. I was also lucky to spend the week with 10 amazing Penn alumni and friends. Each person brought his or her own interesting viewpoint to our dinnertime discussions, and we had fun recapping favorite sites-seen and towns-explored. I learned just as much from our alumni as I did the Greek and Turkish guides.
My mother leaves me with this message nearly every time I see her, and I think it’s a fitting message to leave my fellow passengers: be well, do good work, and keep in touch! (10 points if you can tell me where that sentence comes from!)
*If this post inspired you to book a trip with Penn Alumni Travel, visit our 2013 schedule here (we are headed back to the Greek Islands in October 2013). Follow us on Facebook by November 9th and you will be entered to win a Kindle Fire!