We woke to a soft and beautiful light before sunrise with the nearly full moon setting over the island of Siros. The decks and rigging of the ship were wet from a late summer fog upon the motionless sea. The rising sun soon burned through the remaining mists as Sea Cloud dropped her anchor outside the breakwater of the port of Tinos. Following our breakfast, we made a quick transfer to the pier using the ship’s Zodiacs and boarded coaches for an hour ride north along the island’s rugged and beautiful western coast.

Along the way, we stopped to admire and photograph a cluster of the distinctive dovecotes of Tinos. Introduced by the Venetians, doves provided both food and fertilizer to the Greeks of Tinos. Over the generations, the islanders build and refined the two-story, square structures to house the doves and to collect their guano. Built of stone and decorated with a lacey façade of slate, these structures are a distinctive cultural expression of Tinos.

Crossing the ridge of the island in the north, we descended to the charming town of Pyrgos. We made a short visit to the town’s excellent Marble Museum, showcasing the mining and working of the fine marble for which Pyrgos and the island are famous. We then descended by foot into the village, passing among the whitewashed Cycladic houses with carved marble lintels or plaques above colorfully painted doors and windows. We arrived to the memorable central “square” with an enormous and gnarled European plane tree at its center. The square is surrounded by cafes, and our guests took a drink and tried the local galaktobureko sweet.

We reboarded our coaches for the return to the main port town. Many of our guests, accompanied by our local guides, visited the very holy Church of Evangelistra to witness, at least from the exterior on this busy Sunday morning, the strong devotion and fervor of the religious pilgrims.

Back on Sea Cloud, we enjoyed our lunch while the captain left the anchorage using a combination of sails and motor. After siesta, a final swim from the ship at “Sea Cloud Beach” was offered, and twenty-two guests took up this opportunity. National Geographic photographer Massimo Bassano gave a very well-received, behind the scenes account of photographing for the magazine. We finished our day with a Filipino dinner on the Lido Deck followed by a final night of stargazing on the Spanker Deck with expedition leader John Frick.

Photo caption: Our visit to the Pyrgos Marble Museum allowed for a deeper appreciation of the processes involved in extracting, transporting, and sculpting the marble that Tinos is famous for.