Mediterranean Holiday | Mykonos

As I mentioned in this post, Mykonos was a replacement port for Naples. Initially we were quite disappointed as we were desperate to visit Capri, but as there wasn’t anything we could do, we just went with the flow and looked forward to our day in Mykonos.  
The berth is a few miles from the town, so we hopped on a shuttle bus which dropped us off at the marina. 

It was another bright and beautiful day with azure skies and aquamarine water.

From there we walked along the water’s edge to the quaint cobbled streets, lined with picture perfect white restaurants, shops and churches. 

Much like Santorini, everywhere you looked there was something gorgeous to feast your eyes upon. Unlike the parts of Santorini we visited, we were much closer to the sea, which made my heart sing!

It just so happens, that Mykonos is absolutely beautiful! We would very happily spend a week in Santorini and a week in Mykonos; together they would be our perfect Greek holiday.

There was another cruise ship in, yet somehow the island didn’t feel too busy, and we even managed to find some pretty little lanes where we were the only tourists.

Like a moth to a flame, wherever there is local produce for sale, I will find it! 
After a spot of shopping in Little Venice (I bought some lovely locally handmade scarves) we headed to the famous windmills

With grumbling tummies we went back to Little Venice and we miraculously snapped up a teeny tiny table in a waterfront bar with stunning views.
We were gently splashed a few times (actually quite welcome in the heat!), but nothing compared to these people further down!
We could have sat there sipping Aperol spritzes and gazing dreamily out at the view all day and quite possibly all night, but it was time to go back to the ship. 
Not without passing some beautiful doors first.
Our time in Greece was over and it was time for a relaxing day at sea as travelled to our next destination, Valetta, Malta Naples, Italy. I’ll be back soon (I promise!) to tell you all about it! 

Mediterranean Holiday | Kusadasi, Turkey

Our next port of call was Kusadasi, Turkey. This is a popular destination due to its proximity to the ancient city of Ephesus. Initially we decided we would join a tour group in Ephesus for the day, however, when we saw the 4x4 Adventure to the Dilek national park which took in some ancient sights and breath-taking views of the Samson mountain range, we knew it was the one for us. We would still like to visit Ephesus, so that is on the wanderlust list for another occasion. 

As we were going to be off road and jostled around on the side of a mountain, I didn’t want to bring the camera, so Nathan took all of these photos on his iPhone (his is newer, therefore far superior than mine!).

We left the ship and hopped onto a coach, which dropped us off at a petrol station a few miles away, where our Land Rover Defenders were waiting for our adventure to begin. In our Land Rover we met a lovely family from Los Angeles, and we enjoyed chatting about our respective hometowns and our travels across the world. After the day in Turkey, we bumped into them multiple times, which is quite amazing considering there were approximately 3,000 people on board! So if you happen to reading this, hello, Joe, Eva, Olivia and Xander!
After twenty minutes or so, we left the smooth road surrounded by olive groves for the dirt track and started our ascent into the Samson Mountains.
We stopped for a few minutes halfway up, where we could take in the views; spot some goats herded by nomads and test the echo reverberations through the valley.
This was our driver, Erkol and his Land Rover :) 
When we neared the summit, we left the 4x4's to walk through a forest that would lead us to the ruins of the 11th century Kursunlu Monastery. 
Before we reached the monastery, we passed by the the cemetery where the monks are buried. 

To protect the Byzantine monastery from potential threats, it was (and still is ) hidden in the forest and the complex of buildings had everything that the monks could ever need. 

Our tour guide told us that once upon a time, it had been resplendent with a copper roof and vibrant frescoes on the ceiling. Unfortunately the roof was pilfered many years ago, but some of the special frescoes can still be seen.

Just beyond the monastery was a small outcrop on the side of the mountain with stunning views over Kusadasi.
The body of land one mile in the distance (top right hand corner) is the Greek island of Samos and it is the birthplace of Pythagoras and Epicurus. 
Then it was time to head back down the mountain to visit a cave where the legend of Zeus lives on. It is believed that Zeus would come here when he had provoked his brother Poseidon and he would meet with fellow gods to plan and scheme in the secret hideaway. There were some local families swimming in the water and jumping off the rocks. We, however, were content with just dipping our hands into the very cold water :)
Our final stop on the tour was to a beach. We have certainly been to prettier beaches, but we were happy, because we were on holiday! 
It was still very hot, but the sky was overcast and the sun was nowhere to be seen, so after a brief paddle, we went in search of treasure.
The beach was dotted with lots of pretty quartz-like pebbles.

After an hour or so, it was time to go back to port. We had a look at the shops, saw lots of beautiful handmade rugs and some amusing fake handbags!
After a great day, we headed back to the ship for a glorious shower (we were beyond filthy!) and then it was time to get dressed up for the Captain’s party.

I’ll be back soon with our next destination, Mykonos. 

Mediterranean Holiday | Santorini

One of the main reasons we chose this particular cruise, was that we could celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary in Santorini, the timing was perfect and we just couldn't resist.
Thankfully, Santorini exceeded all of our expectations and was even more beautiful in person than all of those gorgeous photos on Pinterest! 
Santorini is a small island without ship sized berths, so The Royal Princess docked in the bay and tenders from Santorini were dispatched to take us ashore. 
Once ashore, we decided a boat and bus tour that allowed for time in the two main areas of the island that we wanted to see would be a great option for our day. 

It was at this moment that I realised I had forgotten to bring the extra lenses for the camera, and as you can see, my favourite 50mm lens could not zoom up to the village, Oia, perched high upon the craggy cliffs. Such is life :)

I could have watched the crystalline topaz blue sea lapping at the shore for hours, but adventure awaited, so onwards and upwards we went. 
As we wandered through the quaint cobbled streets following the directions to the main square, we were thrilled to see the first of many quintessential blue and white churches. 

Then we turned around to see this truly breathtaking view over the caldera! 

Old and new. 
It was a glorious day without a cloud in sight and at just 9am it was already 20ºC.

Diminutive gates protected private properties with the most enviable views over the caldera.

 It would be fair to say that we had exhausted all adjectives by the end of the day! 
Really wishing we had bought some of this lovely glassware 

More beautiful churches and cubist whitewashed homes scattered as far as the eye could see. 

Then it was time to take a rather hair-raising (multiple switchbacks and sheer drops à la The Italian Job!) drive from Oia to Fira.

Fira is the capital of the island and it was absolutely heaving with people. So after our morning oohing and ahhing in Oia, we decided to take a break from the heat and the crowds with a locally sourced lunch of tomato fritters, squid, Santorini salad and garlic prawns. Everything was so fresh and delicious and we would gladly eat it all again! 

The view from the restaurant balcony of our home for the week! 
It was quite difficult to take photos in all of the hustle and bustle, so we just enjoyed wandering around the cobbled streets and browsing in the shops instead. 
After a wonderful day exploring stunning Santorini, it was time to head back to the ship. Which meant a tummy turning trip down the side of the island in a cable car! 
I suffer with motion sickness and Nathan is afraid of heights, so we weren't very keen on looking down, but somehow Nathan managed to record (without looking down!) a little video of our descent!

Our next destination was Turkey, which I will post later in the week!