Monday, September 19, 2022 – Patmos
This morning we approached the island of Patmos just as the sun was rising. Seabourn Encore anchored off the harbor below the Monastery of St. John, perched high above the small town.
Boarding our tour bus we headed first to the “Cave of the Apocalypse” where the Apostle John received his revelation, which was transcribed by his assistant and which became the final book of the New Testament. The grotto has had a church built around it over the centuries and there is a chapel incorporated around the actual grotto. Our guide did a creditable job of explaining much of the symbology and metaphors in the Book of Revelation. We were not told ahead of time about the restrictions on photography at the religious shrines and museums in Greece, so outside pictures were allowed, but no pictures were allowed inside.
After the grotto of the apocalypse we went further up the hill to the Monastery of St. John which was built in the 1100’s. The monastery is now surrounded by the town of Hora, which has grown over the centuries. The original papal bull giving ownership of Patmos was on display, with many other artifacts and even the preserved skulls of the founders of the monastery.
Walking back down through the town of Hora we visited a traditional Greek house dating from the 1500’s and occupied up until the 1960’s. Pretty primitive compared to our american standards.
Returning to the port area we found a taverna and relaxed with tzatziki and calamari washed down with local greek white wine and beer before returning to the ship via local tenders.
Tuesday, September 20, 2022 – Crete
As dawn approached, our ship approached Agios Nikolaos in Crete. We had a long tour for this day and several of the group decided to opt out, including Miriam.
Going ashore at 0730, we boarded buses for the one hour trip to Iraklion, the site of the Minoan Palace of Knossos. The ruins were partially excavated in the 1930’s, but most of the site is still underground. The palace is huge, more than 40,000 square meters and up to 5 stories high. The throne room has been partially restored. The palace dates to 2600 BC, but was mostly destroyed in about 1450 BC, with the eruption of the volcano on Santorini, 80 miles away. The palace was rebuilt, but not occupied after 1100 BC.
The throne room was interesting because the king sat below his subjects and on a stone throne, with a ritual washing basin in front of the throne.
Following the tour of Knossos we headed to Arilithos, a recreation of a typical Greek village of 100 years ago. Here we toured the various houses and enjoyed a Cretan style lunch while we watched traditional Cretan dancing.
Finally we headed back to the ship after a tour lasting 8 hours and prepared for our next destination, Kusadasi, Turkey and the ruins of Ephesus. The weather was stormy overnight, but Seabourn Encore was very stable and we did not even notice the wind and waves.