We had opted to take a tour of the ancient ruins on the nearby island of Delos. From the ship we walked to where a number of smaller boats were waiting. Once everyone was onboard, it was about a 30 minute ride to Delos. We got a nice view of Mykonos as we left it behind. At first glance on Delos it was hard to comprehend what were looking at, so initially we had a somewhat underwhelmed feeling. Then it began to sink in, the mostly granite building remains date back to the 6th century BC and the archeologists have found evidence of stone huts that take the civilization on this island back to the 3rd millennium BC - that’s 30th century BC to 21st century BC, or the earlier part of the Bronze Age.
The island also holds an important place in Greek mythology as the birthplace of Apollo and his twin sister Artemis, offspring of Zeus and Leto. The story goes that Zeus’ wife Hera banished Leto from the earth, but Poseidon took pity on her and provided her Delos to give birth. The Ionians made this island their religious capital around 1000 BC and because of its location it became an important trade location. In the 4th century BC the Athenians “purified” the island by removing all of the graves and banning both births and burials. It became a prosperous island, basically considered the treasury of Athens. The peak of Delos’ affluence was during the latter part of the Hellenic period to the Roman era (roughly 400 BC to 100 BC). After we toured around the site with our tour guide, we went into the museum on the island where the smaller artifacts were stored as well as some of the mosaics and statues that had been moved inside for protection. We had some time after we had finished at the museum, so we went back to look more closely at some of the ruins we had seen earlier in the day. One of the ruins we went back to was the theatre, built in the 3rd Century BC. The theatre has been badly damaged by earthquakes over the centuries. Many of the upper seats have been tumbled out of their original positions and there has been no attempt yet to put them back in place. In its day it would hold an audience of more than 5000 people. The upper section of the theatre provides a wonderful view of the Aegean Sea - great backdrop for a show. Only one nearby building complex of four houses had been partially reconstructed to give a sense of its former glory. This relatively small reconstruction gave a understanding of the ancient affluence. What was also fascinating was the extent of the water system, with an elaborate cistern and drainage system. Impressive, actually. It truly is amazing what is on Delos, more or less as they found it. It is no wonder that this archaeological site is one of the 17 Greek sites listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
After our visit on Delos we boarded the same small boat to take us back to Mykonos. The Aegean was much choppier, or was it we were just going faster? Not sure, but the boat was bounced pretty good up and down the whole way. Gary chose to stand near the front to enjoy the scenery and the sea air. For that pleasure he got well and truly soaked. It was fortunate that it was such a very warm and sunny day because he ended up dry by the time we reached Mykonos. Salty, but dry. The approach to Mykonos was very pretty - the afternoon sun, the beautiful blue sky, the equally beautiful blue-green sea, the mostly white buildings and small pleasure boats made for a view that will make lasting memories for us. Mykonos is a beautiful but strange place to navigate with many small streets and lane ways that change direction and elevation as if on a whim. The word that comes to mind would be “maze”. We were told that the streets were designed to confuse pirates in whatever century they were built. That has the ring of an urban legend, but it could be true - one thing for sure is that the streets are confusing. It was nice to wander around the streets, taking in the views and checking out the local shops. We found our way to the remains of an old windmill that was high enough on the island to provided us with lovely panoramic views. From this vantage point we could see the four windmills that are the trademark image for Mykonos. That was our next destination...well, we meandered there in the Mykonos maze. From the windmills we walked to the area known as Little Venice, which did resemble its namesake - with the buildings perched right on the edge of the Aegean Sea. This area was full of restaurants and bars, and clearly would be a a busy nightlife spot on the island. Would have been interesting to be here long enough to sample Mykonos after dark.
Mykonos is a lovely place, and quite different in style from Santorini. Our afternoon visit gave us a flavour of the island, but we would have enjoyed a bit longer. Having said that, we wouldn’t have given up the visit to Delos. That was for sure worth the experience. When the time came that we needed to think about heading back to the ship we walked to the designated shuttle bus area. There were plenty of buses identified to go back to Celebrity Solstice, and it was only a short wait to board one and another short wait while that bus was filled. The whole setup seemed well organized.
We were back onboard Celebrity Solstice by mid-afternoon and took a late light lunch at the Oceanview Cafe. After that we went out to the Oceanview Bar located aft on Deck 14 for a refreshing drink with a nice view of Mykonos from that spot. We wandered around the upper open decks to enjoy more views of Mykonos as the ship set sail for our next port of call Istanbul. We went back to our room after that to rest a bit and get cleaned up for dinner. Our plans for this evening were a bit different - this would be our first dinner in one of the specialty restaurants onboard. We had made three reservations online soon after we booked our cruise, selecting the nights we thought would be best for our specialty restaurant experiences. Each of these restaurants had a cover charge, that we paid online at the time of making the reservations. Tonight’s venue was “Silk Harvest” with an Asian flair to the cuisine. We had to settle for an early reservation - the latest time available for us to book was 6:30pm. That was a bit earlier than we’d prefer but we wanted to try this restaurant and were looking forward to it.
All of the specialty restaurants are on Deck aft, and Silk Harvest is the smallest of them, located on the starboard side. We weren’t disappointed, our dinner at Silk Harvest was excellent with a wonderful combination of Asian dishes. The service was terrific, and a very welcome change from the main dining room. One of the servers recognized us from the cruise in 2006. He was Marlon, our assistant waiter in the main dining room on Celebrity Millennium. He came over to our table and we spoke with him briefly. We found it quite surprising that he actually remembered us from the cruise 3 years prior on another ship. We had noticed other staff that were on our previous cruise who would say “oh, yes, I thought you looked familiar” if we started the conversation - which must be the standard cruise staff come back to play nice with the passengers. Anyway, our first specialty dinner onboard Celebrity Solstice was an unqualified good experience. We took a stroll around Decks 4 and 5 after dinner with no particular agenda. We had again decided to skip the evening’s show so our ultimate destination became Cafe al Bacio for double espressos to end our evening. With our early start to the day we had decided we weren't going to make this another late night.
After our relaxing time at Cafe al Bacio we made our way back to our room and we could really feel movement on the ship. The sea was obviously rougher and the ship was rocking some. With modern cruise ships, the relatively short keel requires arm-like stabilizers extended either side of the ship to maintain the ship’s stability while sailing. The motion that we could feel this night was the battle between the sea and the electronic control of the stabilizers. While walking on the ship when this was going on it was easy to momentarily loose balance if you happened to be in the midst of a making a step as the ship rocked one way or the other. This was the first time we had really felt this kind of movement on a cruise ship. Tonight, there was no doubt we were on a ship - not just a floating hotel.
Our day in Delos and Mykonos had been great but it had also been tiring to be out in the sun a lot without much shade. That was particularly so on Delos. The sea breeze in both Delos and Mykonos provided welcome relief, but sometimes hid the fact that we were in direct sunlight all day. Our arrival time for Istanbul on Friday was scheduled for 1:00pm, but we didn't want to sleep in so we made it an earlier night for a change. We now were leaving Greece for a while on our way to Turkey, but we’d see more of Greece later on this cruise.
WHITEonline is the digital home of Gary & Linda White. We’ve been married since 1980 and live just outside Toronto in Ontario, Canada. Linda was born and raised in Toronto while Gary was born in London, England and moved to Canada at the age of 11. We enjoy travelling and taking photos while we travel. WHITEonline provides the opportunity to share some of our photos & experiences.