Charming Patmos – Day 3 of our Azamara Greek Island Cruise

After braving the crowds on Santorini and Mykonos it was a relief to arrive at the quiet and charming Greek island of Patmos on Day 3 of our Azamara Cruise. Because the island has no airport, the ravages of mass tourism have passed it by and most visitors come in on the ferry from Athens or via the nearby islands of Kos and Samos.

View of Azamara Journey on Patmos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

View of Azamara Journey on Patmos, Greece

On Patmos we tried one of the Insider Access tours that are offered by Azamara Club Cruises which give insights that are a bit more unusual than the typical tourist sights. With our guide Carolyn we took the coach up the hill to the village of Chora, which is a UNESCO world heritage site, perched on the hill around the St John’s Monastery. On the way we heard a bit about the history of Patmos which is a site of pilgrimage for Christians, since it was here that St John the Evangelist was exiled from Ephesus and lived for 18 months, during which he wrote the Book of Revelations. In recent years, island has become popular with wealthy Europeans and celebrities who value the quiet and seclusion of the island and have been buying up the old houses of Chora.

Convent of Evangelismos on Patmos Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Convent of Evangelismos on Patmos

Visiting the convent of Evangelismos

The monastery of St John was built in the 11th century and on the hillside below there is a much visited cave which is thought to be where St John went to pray and meditate and perhaps write the Book of Revelations which he dictated to his scribe Prochorus. We visited the nearby Convent of Evangelismos or Annunciation, where the Sunday service had just finished as we arrived and the congregation were enjoying a coffee after the service.

Convent of Evangelinos on Patmos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Convent of Evangelinos on Patmos, Greece

The convent is a community of 40 Greek Orthodox nuns who offer religious retreats, grow their own food in the gardens and carry out their other duties of religious work and prayer. We took a walk around the vegetable gardens with fruit trees of pomegramates, figs, lemons and other fruits which are made into the ‘sweet spoon’ preserves that the Greeks offer to guests with coffee. In the gardens we saw the beehives for honey and wax candles and in the gift shop were examples of the ‘Spitha’ or Spark embroidery made by the nuns, with stitches so fine that they are like tiny sparks.

View of the Convent of Evangelismos on Patmos Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

View of the Convent of Evangelismos on Patmos

Although the small church looked old and was filled with beautiful icons and frescos it was actually built in the last 10 years to replace a smaller chapel built in the 1930s which in turn had been build on the site of the original monastery founded in the 1600s. We saw a few nuns, dressed in their long black robes, going about their business and chatting with the congregation. One of the sisters came with us to see the church but seemed happy to stay in the background and let our guide, Caroyn do the talking. When told that were were journalists who would write about the convent she was distinctly unimpressed. “It doesn’t matter”, she said ” we depend on God not man”. The frescos and icons inside the church had been created by one of the nuns who was a skilled painter, although unfortunately no photos were allowed inside the church.

Dressing modestly for visiting a Greek monastery or convent

If you visit a Greek orthodox monastery or convent you need to dress modestly;

  • Men should wear long trousers with shirts that cover their shoulders and no hats inside the church.
  • For ladies shoulders and knees should be covered. In the strictest places such as the convent skirts must be worn but in other places trousers are allowed.
  • If you are not suitably dressed, usually wraps or shawls are provided outside the church to cover bare legs and shoulders.
  • The nuns do not wish to be photographed and so you should not point the camera in their direction.
House of Morfousa Simandiri on Patmos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

House of Morfousa Simandiri on Patmos, Greece

Visiting a traditional house on Patmos

After our visit to the convent we made made the short drive back to Chora and walked through the narrow streets to visit a local house. The village was built between 1500 and 1800 when many seafarers and merchants settled on the island from Crete and Asia Minor and built fine mansions here. These are now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site and behind the high walls and small windows are surprisingly large houses and gardens that you don’t see from the street.

House of Morfousa Simandiri on Patmos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

House of Morfousa Simandiri on Patmos, Greece

The island was subject to pirate attacks in the past, so the high walls and small windows were there for protection. When a pirate ship was spotted in the bay, the house owners would cross the interconnecting flat roofs to make their way to the protection of the monastery of St John.

The house that we visited was owned by a lively lady aged 92 called Morfousa Simandiri whose family had owned the house for eight generations. There was a portrait on the wall of her ancestor, a wealthy merchant who had built the house, with many beautiful antiques, paintings and lace on display as we walked through the rooms of the house.

Heather and Guy on Patmos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Heather and Guy on Patmos, Greece

After our walk around the streets of Chora we returned for lunch at a nearby restaurant with a fantastic view from the terrace, overlooking the bay where we could see Azamara Journey. Here we were able to try many of the tasty Greek specialities such as small stuffed pastries, Greek salad and the local fava bean hummus.

Fava Bean at the Cafe on Patmos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Fava Bean at the Cafe on Patmos, Greece

After our tour we were dropped off in the harbour and wandered around the streets of Skala, the main harbour town of Patmos. The town had a charming, relaxed air that was a world away from the crowds and commercialism we had experienced on Santorini and Mykonos. Since there is no airport on the island, most visitors have to take a long ferry ride from Athens or a flight to one of the neighbouring islands of Kos and Samos and then a ferry from there.

Shopping on Patmos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Shopping on Patmos, Greece

It was interesting to compare the distinctive architecture of each of the Greek islands we had visited on our Azamara cruise. The houses on Patmos had patterned white plasterwork that followed the lines of the stones underneath, often with natural stone corners and window facings and paintwork of washed blue compared to the intense turquoise of Santorini. Since it was Sunday afternoon, I imagine that everyone was home having a siesta and we walked along the harbour to have a sit and a swim on the town beach.

Boats in the Harbour of Patmos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Boats in the Harbour of Patmos, Greece

Returning by tender on board the Azamara Journey we relaxed and changed ready for the White Night dinner which is a tradition each cruise and the closest that the relaxed Azamara Cruise gets to a formal night. The tables were set out around the pool area and guests dressed mainly in white enjoyed their dinner in the warm night air.

White Night Party on Board Azamara Journey Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

White Night Party on Board Azamara Journey

We were entertained by the Azamara singers and dancers as the sun set over Patmos, a lovely end to a relaxing day and the end of the Greek island portion of our cruise, as tomorrow we head to the Turkish port of Kusadasi.

Sunset Over Patmos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Sunset Over Patmos, Greece

About Azamara Club Cruises

Azamara Club Cruises is a small luxury cruise line with two ships; Azamara Journey that Heather and Guy sailed on and Azamara Quest, each with a capacity of 686 guests. The smaller ship size means you often visit destinations that larger ships can’t get into and the ships can dock in more central locations. The emphasis is on destination immersion; enjoying the destination to the full, arriving early and sailing late so that guests can enjoy nights and cool places ashore, with insider access programmes and a unique AzAmazing evening included in each cruise. No itinerary is the repeated and each year the ships visit different destinations around the world. Azamara is part of Royal Caribbean Cruise group. Visit the Azamara Club Cruises website more information about a Mediterranean luxury cruise like the one Heather and Guy enjoyed.

You can also connect with Azamara Club Cruises on Social Media via:
Azamara blog | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | Pinterest | YouTube | Flickr

Joining your Azamara Club Cruise

Heather and Guy flew from London Heathrow to Athens and back from Istanbul using British Airways, although obviously each cruise is different in the best way to get there.

Heather used the Meet and Greet Parking Service booked through Airport Parking and Hotels (APH) who offer airport parking at a range of airports across the UK as well as travel extras such as airport lounge booking and airport hotel stays.

Both flights and transfers from the airport to your cruise ship can be arranged through Azamara Cruises.

Thanks to Azamara Club Cruises who hosted Heather and Guy for their 7 day Greek Island Cruise and to Airport Parking and Hotels (APH) who provided their airport parking at Heathrow.

Read More about our Azamara Greek Island Cruise

Sailing into Santorini – Day 1 of our Azamara Greek Island Cruise
Windy Mykonos – Day 2 of our Azamara Greek Island Cruise
Visiting Kusadasi and Ephesus – Day 4 of our Azamara Greece and Turkey Cruise
Istanbul the golden – final stop on our Azamara Greece and Turkey Cruise

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Pinterest Patmos Flower view

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

Windy Mykonos – Day 2 of our Azamara Greek Island Cruise

On the second day of our Greek island cruise with Azamara Club Cruises we awoke in Mykonos, well known as the island where all the beautiful people come to party. We took a 10 minute ride on the shuttle bus from the new port to the edge of Mykonos town and walked around the harbour watching the super-yachts parking up. Guy instigated a game where we each had to say which of the boats we would like to own and why. I always go for the least flashy ones and he likes anything that’s made of wood, but perhaps you would choose one of those millionaire yachts that have endless staff polishing every surface?

Heather in the Harbour of Mykonos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Heather in the Harbour of Mykonos, Greece

The first thing that struck me was that while on Santorini the roofs were domed, on Mykonos all the houses were cube in shape. The second thing that struck me was how windy Mykonos was, which meant that it was cooler than the baking heat we had experienced on Santorini, but could be a little wearing if you had to cope with it every day. Because of the wind we decided against a trip to Delos to see the archaeological remains, fearing that a 30 minute boat ride in high winds might be rather rocky.

Mykonos’ iconic windmills

Many of the other cruise guests were heading to the beaches but since we had enjoyed plenty of beach time in Greece a few weeks before, we opted for exploring Mykonos town at a leisurely pace. We soon found the 5 windmills on the hill that are the main landmark of Mykonos and took photographs of them from every angle, the best view being from the car-park that was unfortunately placed right behind them.

Heather at the Windmills of Mykonos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Heather at the Windmills of Mykonos, Greece

Below the windmills there is a line of colourful buildings dating from Venetian times, known as little Venice with balconies that overhang the water. Many of the buildings are cafes where you can sit on the balcony with a view of those picturesque windmills. Further along are terraces where the water splashes right up, but be careful where you sit on a windy day as you may get unexpectedly drenched by the waves.

The Windmills of Mykonos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Windmills of Mykonos, Greece

A wander round the narrow streets of Mykonos

With the main sights of Mykonos ticked off our list we wandered around the narrow streets, some with old ladies chatting underneath washing strung between the houses. Mostly though there were just a lot of shops and cafes, all selling everything stylish and fashionable you could wish for. We ended up having lunch at Yummy’s café which served excellent crepes and fresh juices at reasonable prices.

Walking Around the Streets of Mykonos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Walking Around the Streets of Mykonos, Greece

On our wandering we spotted Petros the Pelican, another landmark of Mykonos, hiding in a doorway. I felt a bit sorry for him as he was encircled by tourists trying to take photos and looked like he was trying to escape the paparazzi.

Petros the Pelican of Mykonos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Petros the Pelican of Mykonos, Greece

Later in the afternoon we went back into town to visit the folklore museum, an old sea captain’s house set overlooking the harbour. The museum was free but of course we made a donation and the guide gave us an interesting explanation of the collection of objects from all over Europe. I was fascinated by the drawers of votive offerings, little flat silver shapes that you would offer in a Greek church to be displayed in front of the icon as a prayer for good fortune. There were different shapes depending on what you were hoping for; in the shape of a leg if you needed help with healing your leg or a baby if your baby was ill. We also visited Lena’s House, another folk museum that had been the home of a lady from Mykonos now preserved in the original 19th century style.

Lenas House Folk Museum on Mykonos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Lenas House Folk Museum on Mykonos, Greece

Island hopping in the 1980s

As we walked back toward the ship, Guy reminisced about his student days, when he came to Mykonos on holiday with a group of friends. He remembered camping by the beach or sleeping on the roof of people’s houses and that the island seemed to be a haven for gay couples. It was unusual to see men holding hands openly in the 1980s.

Evening View of Little Venice in Mykonos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Evening View of Little Venice in Mykonos, Greece

Church in Mykonos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Church in Mykonos, Greece

We returned to Azamara Journey and enjoyed the Indian buffet in the Windows Café, enjoying eating in the warm night air, with after-dinner entertainment around the pool of Soul and Motown. Everyone was enjoying it so much that the captain held off the sailing time for 20 minutes as once we left port the wind meant that the passage was rather swaying. There was a full moon and as the ship sailed we watched the necklace of lights along the shore. As we settled into our stateroom, I’m sure the party was just getting going on Mykonos. Tomorrow we arrive at Patmos.

Azamara Journey at Mykonos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Azamara Journey at Mykonos, Greece

About Azamara Club Cruises

Azamara Club Cruises is a small luxury cruise line with two ships; Azamara Journey that Heather and Guy sailed on and Azamara Quest, each with a capacity of 686 guests. The smaller ship size means you often visit destinations that larger ships can’t get into and the ships can dock in more central locations. The emphasis is on destination immersion; enjoying the destination to the full, arriving early and sailing late so that guests can enjoy nights and cool places ashore, with insider access programmes and a unique AzAmazing evening included in each cruise. No itinerary is the repeated and each year the ships visit different destinations around the world. Azamara is part of Royal Caribbean Cruise group. Visit the Azamara Club Cruises website more information about a Mediterranean luxury cruise like the one Heather and Guy enjoyed.

You can also connect with Azamara Club Cruises on Social Media via:
Azamara blog | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | Pinterest | YouTube | Flickr

Joining your Azamara Club Cruise

Heather and Guy flew from London Heathrow to Athens and back from Istanbul using British Airways, although obviously each cruise is different in the best way to get there.

Heather used the Meet and Greet Parking Service booked through Airport Parking and Hotels (APH) who offer airport parking at a range of airports across the UK as well as travel extras such as airport lounge booking and airport hotel stays.

Both flights and transfers from the airport to your cruise ship can be arranged through Azamara Club Cruises.

Thanks to Azamara Club Cruises who hosted Heather and Guy for their 7 day Greek Island Cruise and to Airport Parking and Hotels (APH) who provided their airport parking at Heathrow.

Read More about our Azamara Greek Island Cruise

Sailing into Santorini – Day 1 of our Azamara Greek Island Cruise
Charming Patmos – Day 3 of our Azamara Greek Island Cruise
Visiting Kusadasi and Ephesus – Day 4 of our Azamara Greece and Turkey Cruise
Istanbul the golden – final stop on our Azamara Greece and Turkey Cruise

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Read about our cruise stop on Venice with Azamara Club Cruises

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

Click to subscribe to our monthly newsletter, news and reader offers

HOHT newsletter

You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

Sailing into Santorini – Day 1 of our Azamara Greek Island Cruise

The Greek Islands bring back happy memories for my husband, Guy, as we spend this week together on a Greek Island and Turkey Cruise with Azamara Club Cruises. Guy went island-hopping in his student days and visited many of the places such as Santorini and Mykonos that form part of this cruise, although his student budget in those days could not stretch to some of the luxuries we are now enjoying on Azamara Journey. Our early morning flight from Heathrow brought us to Athens and an easy transfer to Pireus where we boarded Azamara Journey and settled into our luxurious stateroom, our home for the next seven days.

Stateroom 7032 on board Azamara Journey with Azamara Cruises Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Stateroom 7032 on board Azamara Journey with Azamara Cruises

The first port of call was Santorini, a group of islands that were formed in a volcanic eruption many thousands of years ago and form the outer ring of the volcano with the sea covering the central caldera. The main island of Thira or Fira has no port large enough to take a cruise ship, even a small one like Azamara Journey, so we tendered into shore and took the cable car up to the top of the cliff (€5 per person 1 way). Neither of the alternatives of a donkey ride or a walk up the steep cobbled path to the top in the hot sun were very appealing and even in the cable car, the rich smell of donkey droppings wafted up from the path below.

Beautiful sea views

We didn’t linger too long in Fira, but found the crowded bus station with expert drivers backing their buses into impossibly small spaces. We joined the many people asking the bus conductors “Is this the bus for …?” and eventually found the one for Oia – pronounced Ee-ah. (€1.80 per person 1 way every 30 mins). Who’d be a bus driver on Santorini, driving along narrow, winding roads, trying not to be distracted by the sea view?

Heather in Oia, Santorini, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Heather in Oia, Santorini, Greece

As the buildings of Fira town thinned out we passed bright white and local stone holiday villas, with domed roofs proclaiming “caldera views” – some of them looking rather smart places to stay. Beside the road all we could see were dusty cactus clinging to the pumice stone and a few patches of purple flowering thyme.

There’s a walking trail that runs between Fira and Oia that I would have happily hiked in May, but in the heat of the midday July sun it would have been a quick way to get sunstroke. As we got closer to Oia we could see the flat plain below with square fields marked out and fewer houses apart from those perching on the side of the cliff.

Most people’s idea of Santorini is formed from the photos of white houses and blue domes that they think epitomize Greece, but are actually mainly found in Oia. The town is strung along the cliff-top and there is one main pedestrian stone paved street (beware it can be slippery) that stretches in both directions from the bus station along the top of the cliff overlooking the sea.

Oia in Santorini, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Oia in Santorini, Greece

Shopping and people watching

With shopping ranging from the sometimes tacky to the mostly tasteful and the achingly trendy, this is a place to shop for jewellery and gifts, hang out in bars and cafes and take plenty of photographs. It’s also the place that everyone comes to watch the sunset and take those picture postcard shots as the sky turns pink and the light is golden. This is the place you’ll find stylish fashions with everything you need to look the part on your Greek cruise or your hot, hot, hot Greek island holiday.

Shopping in Oia, Santorini, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Shopping in Oia, Santorini, Greece

The burning heat

Did I mention the heat? It was absolutely boiling hot 35 degrees + and if you insist on visiting in July and August, my recommendation would be to walk the streets of Oia, take your photos and then to find a nice shady café for lunch or a cooling drink. Walk, rest, drink every 30 mins or so until you have had enough of the people watching and the wandering and the shopping. There isn’t a great deal else to do but Oia is a pretty enough place to hang out for a few hours.

Apart from the obligatory visit to Oia are some archaeological remains to see at Akrotiri but we decided to give that a miss because of the heat. Seriously, if you are there in July or August, plaster yourself in high factor sun cream wear a hat and drink plenty of water. After a walk around Oia I felt like I’d been in a sauna.

Dinner at Pyrgos

After our very hot walk around Oia we had lunch followed by a cooling swim at the pleasant Lioyerma pool and café which is at the furthest end of Oia, close to the windmills. Then we took the bus back to Santorini and from there got the taxi to Pyrgos where we were having dinner at Kalisti Taverna. Because we were a bit early we decided to walk up to the Kastel where we found an old church at the top with a fortified gateway and some great views over the flatter side of the island.

Greek Salad at Kalisti Taverna Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Greek Salad at Kalisti Taverna

Our dinner at Kalisti Taverna was part of the Azamara Club Cruises “Cruise Global Eat Local” dining experience where you eat in restaurants with excellent food and a local flavor. We enjoyed delicious Greek specialties such as Greek salad with tomatoes, olive, feta, nicely presented in a grilled cheese basket. There was a garlic aubergine salad, fava bean puree and baby tomatoes stuffed with rice and local cheese. This was the meze style starter course and then we had roasted lamb chops with baklava for desert, all washed down with an excellent award winning Santorini wine. At 9.30 pm we were swiftly transported back to Azamara Journey just in time for the ship sailing out of Santorini at 10pm. Next stop Mykonos where we arrive tomorrow.

Fava Bean Hummus in Santorini, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Fava Bean Hummus in Santorini, Greece

About Azamara Club Cruises

Azamara Club Cruises is a small luxury cruise line with two ships; Azamara Journey that Heather and Guy sailed on and Azamara Quest, each with a capacity of 686 guests. The smaller ship size means you often visit destinations that larger ships can’t get into and the ships can dock in more central locations. The emphasis is on destination immersion; enjoying the destination to the full, arriving early and sailing late so that guests can enjoy nights and cool places ashore, with insider access programmes and a unique AzAmazing evening included in each cruise. No itinerary is the repeated and each year the ships visit different destinations around the world. Azamara is part of Royal Caribbean Cruise group. Visit the Azamara Club Cruises website more information about a Mediterranean luxury cruise like the one Heather and Guy enjoyed.

You can also connect with Azamara Club Cruises on Social Media via:
Azamara blog | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | Pinterest | YouTube | Flickr

Joining your Azamara Club Cruise

Heather and Guy flew from London Heathrow to Athens and back from Istanbul using British Airways, although obviously each cruise is different in the best way to get there.

Heather used the Meet and Greet Parking Service booked through Airport Parking and Hotels (APH)  who offer airport parking at a range of airports across the UK as well as travel extras such as airport lounge booking and airport hotel stays.

Both flights and transfers from the airport to your cruise ship can be arranged through Azamara Cruises via their Choiceair service

Thanks to Azamara Club Cruises who hosted Heather and Guy for their 7 day Greek Island Cruise and to Airport Parking and Hotels (APH) who provided their airport parking at Heathrow.

Read More about our Azamara Greek Island Cruise

Windy Mykonos – Day 2 of our Azamara Greek Island Cruise
Charming Patmos – Day 3 of our Azamara Greek Island Cruise
Visiting Kusadasi and Ephesus – Day 4 of our Azamara Greece and Turkey Cruise
Istanbul the golden – final stop on our Azamara Greece and Turkey Cruise

Pin It

Read about our Cruise stop on Santorini with Azamara Club Cruises

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

Click to subscribe to our monthly newsletter, news and reader offers

HOHT newsletter

You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

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