Sunday, September 25, 2022

Mykonos, Skiathos, Troy and Istanbul

 September 22, 2022 – Mykonos


Seabourn Encore approached the anchorage outside Mykonos Town under clear, but windy skies.  There were already two ships docked at the port about 1 KM from the old town.  By the time our anchor was well set, two more larger cruise ships had anchored behind us, for a total of 5 ships.


Tenders from town shuttled passengers from the anchored ships to the center of the town where we encountered substantial crowds.  We had booked a walking tour through the maze of streets in the old town.  The maze was easy to get lost in, which was by design.  The islands had a problem with Saracen pirates in the past and the narrow twisting streets and houses all the same color were to make it hard for pirates to know where to go and to keep oriented.  Without a guide getting lost would have been easy.  The town was full of shops, restaurants and tavernas and apparently is really hopping after 1900, when the cruise ships have left.


The tour wended though these streets, exploring museums, churches and the famous Mykonos windmills before stopping at a taverna for meze’s and ouzeau.  We then found a waterfront restaurant and enjoyed calamari, grilled octopus and spankopita while we watched the crowds walk by.


After a wind, choppy trip back to the ship we enjoyed a pool deck sail-away celebration with caviar and champagne as Seabourn Encore raised the anchor and headed for Skiathos.


September 23, 2022 – Skiathos


We were in Skiathos in 1999, while Patrick was on assignment in the UK.  This morning we arrived and Seabourn Encore anchored off the old town.  We had arranged a private sailing day in Skiathos and after we landed right in front of the taverna we frequented on our first trip we walked around a newer promenade to the sailboat we had booked.  We had to wait for thunderstorms and lightning to pass by for about 30 minutes before we could depart.  Just time for a quick cup of coffee.


Heading out of the harbor under power we stopped and anchored in a quiet cove out of the brisk wind and had snacks and a brief swim before heading back to Skiathos Island to another beach where again anchored and went swimming in 72-74 degree water while the skipper prepared a past lunch.  After lunch we powered back to Skiathos harbor, arriving in plenty of time to walk back along the promenade, investigate a few shops and return to the ship.  It was a relaxing, low-key day.


Our anchorage for lunch in Skiathos

New harbor promenade in Skiathos

September 24, 2022 – Tenedos Island and Troy


Once again Seabourn Encore approached our next destination just as the sun was rising.  The ship anchored off of the town of Bozcaada on Tenedos Island and we tendered into shore and boarded a ferry to the Turkish mainland for a 45 minute bus ride to the excavations at Troy.  

Turkish Fortress at Bozcaada Harbor

The tour at Troy showed us the various levels of the city, starting 3000 years ago and culminating in the 1500’s.  Unlike Ephesus, this was never a large city, but the different cities built on the ruins of previous cities seems to substantiate Homer’s Iliad and the conquest of Troy, including the burning of the city.  The Trojan Horse statue is, of course, just the imagination of the builder, since no one knows what it really looked like.


Mud Bricks from Trojan War Era, the red bricks have been hardens by a fire

We arrived back at the ferry and the weekend crowds and traffic jams forced us to get off the bus and walk to  jump the queue just to get on the ferry back to where the ship’s tenders were located.  It was close, but all the passengers got back on crowded the ferry before it left for the 30 minute trip back to Bozcaada.


As we headed up the Dardenelles we gathered for and Indian dinner on the aft deck.  The sun was warm and even after sunset the deck was pleasant.  Later in the evening we gathered in the Observation Bar as the ship sailed past Gallipoli and under the longest suspension bridge in the world, spanning the narrow passage.  The bridge is lit up with a light show that was spectacular.

Bridge over the Dardenelles at night


September 25, 2022 – Istanbul


Seabourn Encore docked on the corner of The Golden Horn just below Topkapi Palace.  We had arranged a private minibus and guide for the day, along with the other three couples.  We were fortunate in arriving at Topkapi Palace just as it opened and before the crowds arrived.  After 2 hours touring the various courtyards and displays, including religious artifacts such as remnants of John the Baptist and the staff of Moses and items of Mohammed, we stopped for coffee just inside the first courtyard.


Moving to Hagia Sophia we waited about 30 minutes in line to enter since there is a limit of about 2000 visitors at a time in the mosque.  The current building dates back to 527 AD, originally a Christian church, built on top of even earlier remains.  With the rise of the Ottoman Empire the church became a mosque and then a museum.  In 2020 it was changed back into a mosque.  Christian symbols with faces are covered, but symbols common to Judaism, Christianity and Islam are present everywhere.


Interior of Hagia Sophia Dome

Hagia Sophia mosque

Crowds inside Hagia Sophia

The Blue Mosque is closed for renovation, so we then went into the cisterns built by the Romans.  Much of the construction reused items from other cities, so there a real mix of column styles.  They have a light show in the cisterns and when it got dark it was hard to walk and maintain balance with the crowds.


550 ton Obelisk from Karnak, Egypt

Inside the cistern

Reused marble Medusa Head in Cistern

After the cistern experience we stopped for lunch at “The Pudding Palace” which consisted of traditional Turkish food, simple but good.  By the time lunch was over we were getting tired, but walked though the area where the hippodrome was and viewed the obelisks the Romans brought from Egypt 1500 years ago.  By this time traffic was heavy, so we headed back to the ship to make sure we arrived before last call.



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