As the famous Meltemi winds stormed down the Aegean Sea, expedition leader John Frick changed our course for the sheltered waters of mainland Peloponnesus. Our adaptable guides introduced us to the city of Nafplio, an Ottoman stronghold won by the Greeks in the War of Independence. Nafplio served as the first modern Greek capital from 1829–1834. Guests made the most of their morning excursion in Nafplio, which featured a walking tour, an optional 999-step ascent to the Fortress of Palamidi, and some generous servings at the local world class gelato shop.
Our weeklong expedition abord Sea Cloud has taken us through a wide range of the conditions that the Cycladic Islands have to offer. Today, with calm seas, we arrived in the charming seaside town of Kamares, the chief port of Sifnos. During antiquity, this island enjoyed a period of great prosperity as they were privy to plentiful deposits of gold and silver, and the Sifnians built fantastic monuments at Panhellenic sanctuaries with their newfound wealth. By the late 6th century BC, though, these mines were exhausted, and the islanders later fell within the influence of the Athenian Empire, aka the Delian League. Traces of the Sifnians’ former wealth are evident in the blocks of carved marble, originally from temples of the Ionic Order, which have been repurposed into present-day structures. In the Middle Ages, Sifnos was part of the Byzantine Empire until the early 13th century when the Venetians wrested control of the Cyclades after the Fourth Crusade. This medieval phase of the island’s history is evident in the charming village of Kastro, where we arrived after a short bus ride from the port. Situated atop an outcrop, this fortified settlement stands aloft about 200 feet above the rocky shoreline of the Aegean Sea below. Its thick outer wall is breached by only a handful of narrow passages, while the narrow streets and staircases within it are ripe for exploration. To the east of Kastro, a beautiful little chapel with a characteristic blue dome (the Church of the Seven Martyrs) sits proudly on a peninsula against the stunning blue waters around it. Upon returning to Kamares harbor, some of us visited a sandy beach–it was time for a swim! Afterwards, we enjoyed a fantastic buffet lunch on the ship, with a special pasta bowl on offer. During the afternoon, the weather shifted, and we were once again feeling the steady stream of 20 knot winds from the north. In the evening, we gathered one last time for the Captain’s farewell drinks, and we shared our memories together with the voyage slideshow. After dinner, we got one last surprise– Sea Cloud’s crew took us through a hearty rendition of traditional sea shanties. Cheers to the (not so) drunken sailors!