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.
This morning Sea Cloud approached our penultimate port of call on our expedition through the Cycladic Isles – Sifnos. After some stiff winds and roughish seas the previous day, we were once again treated to another day of beautiful weather on this picturesque island. Sifnos has been inhabited since prehistory, with material remains spanning six millennia through successive eras - Cycladic, Mycenaean, Greco-Roman, Byzantine, Crusader, Ottoman. Sifnos’ fertile landscape benefits from natural springs and its economy has long been supported by extensive mineral deposits. In the 6th century BC the island’s wealth was based on a lucrative silver vein, part of which was used to build treasuries and monuments at the panhellenic sanctuaries across the Mediterranean. Today its former wealth is evident in the beautiful pieces of marble sculpture which are found throughout the old towns. After coming ashore, we board buses which take us up from the port town of Kamares across the island to the west side and the stunning fortified town of Kastro. Perched high on a seaside promontory, Kastro has a very thick outer wall beneath which the land drops off nearly vertical. The walls were likely built in the 13th century, but there is also evidence the site was settled during the ancient Greek period. Kastro also features the Church of the Seven Martyrs, a beautiful little chapel situated at the bottom of the cliff, down a winding stairway. As we explore meandering paths, we come out on the other side to take in these stunning views out over the Aegean Sea. After some free time, we come back to Kamares and spend an hour or so just taking in the Cycladic atmosphere. During the afternoon, Sea Cloud takes us on the final leg of our voyage, heading north back to Piraeus, the port of Athens. The captain shows us round the ship on the Restoration Tour, highlighting the various materials and repair phases that keep this beautiful ship in operation. In the evening we have a farewell party – sharing our memories in the slideshow and a final dinner together in the lounge.