Our first excursion is to Skiathos, Greece, and Voyages To Antiquity presents a lecture from a gifted historian

ABOARD THE MV AEGEAN ODYSSEY —This is our first shore excursion day, and the weather is beautiful — 27 degrees (centigrade), blue skies and bright sunshine. We had breakfast on the back deck — this morning there were pancakes — and then took the tender into the old port of Skiathos Town.

The old port in Skiathos Town

It is a busy place, with ferries arriving regularly, lots of shops and cafes and narrow streets that wind up to the top of the town, where there is a pretty church, St. Nikolas Church, where some of the wedding scenes from the movie “Momma Mia” were filmed. The cast and crew spent a lot of time in town, and the movie runs every evening in the outdoor theater in town. At the top of the island, there are good views of the port and the city.

We looked into a few galleries, had an espresso in a cafe along the port and watched the people.

The cafe did not take Visa, or any credit cards. Our waiter, Michaelis, explained that Greeks all hate the banks. “The banks of Greece are responsible for our ruin,” he claimed, “and we refuse to give them two percent of our money!”

Baklava on the beach

We took the tender back to the ship for lunch, and then I returned alone to walk and explore the island further. One of the best beaches in Greece is found on this island — Koukounaries Beach — and there are taxis and boats that will take you there. There are also some nice beaches just a short walk from the port, so I headed for one. After a swim, I sat and enjoyed the atmosphere of the beach, children playing, men and women sunning (some of the women are topless, but discretely so). I enjoyed a coffee and massive slice of baklava — layers of phylo with walnuts and oozing with honey. It was fabulous. Then I caught the last tender back to the boat.

Skiathos is very pretty

At 5, there was a briefing on tomorrow’s port excursion and that is so helpful. Zoe, who is in charge of excursions, explains all of the details, what the weather will be, what we will see, the walking difficulties, and the things that should not be missed.

Then we had our first lecture, “Pergamon: Better than the Parthenon?”, delivered by Robin Cormack, a professor emeritus at the Courtauld Institute of Art, whose specialty is Byzantine art. While intellectual and wide ranging through art and history, this was not a dry lecture. Rather, it provided a framework through which to view the antiquities of Pergamon in a more layered way. Robin is a good speaker, and easy to follow, and it is a privilege to have such a gifted and well respected historian to provide us with background.

We dined in the Marco Polo restaurant this evening, at the Captain’s table. Capt. Andersson is a rather handsome Swede, pleasant and approachable. The company was good, the food excellent.

Photos by Barbara Ramsay Orr

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