Earlier this month we hosted a group of Journalists from the US as well as a photographic crew. We also sent along Ann Carr, one of our Oxford based team, who works with our amazing team of lecturers ensuring that we have great balance of knowledge on each voyage.
For Ann this was also a discovery cruise, enjoying new ports and places. We asked her to pen a few words about the highlight of her cruise around the Greek Islands.
“Never has a company been so aptly named as “Voyages to Antiquity” who really offer passengers amazing voyages to antiquity on the MV Aegean Odyssey sailing around the shores of the Mediterranean.
I was lucky enough to join the ship for a few days and be taken back in time and see some splendours of the ancient world.
So can you guess where I am now?
- The place produces virtually all its country’s supply of bananas which are small and curly, so cannot be exported;
- Eucalyptus trees were planted here over 100 years ago to prevent malaria. (This thirsty tree drinks up the stagnant ponds that mosquitoes thrive on);
- It was here that the first operational airborne force was used in combat during the Second World War;
More clues? It is the birthplace of Zeus, produces some of the best low acidity extra virgin olive oil in the world and it is a beautiful island whose residents are extremely hospitable, hold on to their own traditions and lead the way as their nation’s protagonists.
Perhaps you won’t be surprised to find that I am in Crete.
And this is only a little of what I learnt on my morning tour to Chania. We visited the charming Archaeological Museum, where flowering cacti and plum trees loaded with fruit grow in its garden. Inside is packed with mosaics, golden jewellery, pots and statues. This was followed by a tour of the Venetian fortress in Rethimnon, perched above a rocky outcrop with low sloping walls designed so cannon balls bounced off instead of damaging these incredibly well fortified defences. At this stage not a word about the Minotaur, the Palace of Knossos and Arthur Evans which was to come later on the afternoon tour, and which is all most of us know about Crete.
This beautiful island, situated further south than Morocco, is green and fertile in the West where Chania is situated, with oleanders, olives, pines and eucalyptus growing on one side of the road framing stunning vineyards and dramatic mountains, and the sparkling blue Aegean Sea and banana plantations on the other.
And oh, so much history, both mythical and real, with connections to the Arab, Egyptian, Ottoman, Venetian, Roman, and of course, the Greek empires, as well as the Battle of Crete when German paratroopers invaded the island in May 1941.
During the afternoon we headed off to Heraklion for the Palace of Knossos. This particular cruise is then followed by Nauplia, on mainland Greece, to explore the World Heritage sites of Mycenae, to be told tales of Homer’s hero Agamemnon and Epidaurus, a city sacred to the god of medicine, Asclepius.
And all this without packing a suitcase!
This was a wonderful voyage of true antiquity aboard the MV Aegean Odyssey.”