In March of 2017 while on a trip with Will in New Hampshire, he invited me to join his friends, Kevin and Laura, on a sailing expedition off the coast of Greece on a self chartered Catamaran. We would spend 7 days on the Aegean Sea, traveling between the Cyclades Islands and exploring their unique coastal communities. This would be my first experience traveling outside of the United States and I was incredibly excited.
With our flights booked and our passports finally in hand, we packed up our Osprey Backpacks and set off for Boston. Our first stop on our journey was Copenhagen, where we had a six-hour layover before heading to London to spend a few days with Kevin and Laura, who were living there at the time.
Our time in Copenhagen was short but sweet, we had just enough time to wander into the city to grab lunch. We stopped at a small corner pub, crowded with locals on their lunch breaks enjoying tall pints of ale and finger sandwiches that we came to know as Smørrebrød. These sandwiches are traditional open-faced Danish sandwiches consisting of crisp rye bread piled high with sliced boiled eggs, fresh and pickled vegetables, and cured meats and fish. With our leftover Kroner (Danish currency) we set out for dessert, having just enough for a chocolate-drizzled waffle before heading back to the airport.
Our next stop, London.
We spent the next few days with Kevin and Laura exploring local favorites. We ate french pastries from Madeline café, walked along the River Thames and visited a local pub serving traditional ales at room temp. We spent an afternoon walking around Richmond Park, one of the many Royal Parks throughout London; this park, in particular, is known for its protected herds of wild deer. Will and I spent time wandering around Borough Market, London’s oldest and largest market dating back to the 12th century, where we ate fish and chips and meat pies while browsing through the hundreds of vendors selling local provisions. We also visited the London Tower, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, House of Parliament, and walked across Westminster Bridge.
As our time in London came to a close, we checked into our flights and before we knew it we were en route to Greece. We arrived early in the morning, waiting for Kevin and Laura to arrive before hailing a taxi to the port in Lavrio where our boat awaited.
When we arrived it was near dawn so we napped along the docks of the harbor while waiting for our fellow sailors to arrive, shooing away stray cats and dogs and listening to nearby club music from Aqua Cafe, a local spot that we came to recognize as both a nightclub and a breakfast café. Once everyone arrived we boarded our boat and set off for the island of Kea.
The Island of Kea is known for its famous Lion of Kea, a large smiling Lion carved out of slab rock nestled within the Grecian hillside of a town called Loulis. Archaeologists are unsure as to whether the lion was originally carved with this friendly grin, or if its facial expression changed overtime with weathering; this Lion itself dates back to 600BCE.
While docked at Kythnos we indulged on the spinach and cheese hand pies known as Spanakopita and Baklava, a sweet and savory traditional pastry of spiced nuts layered in phyllo dough, drenched in a sweet syrup. We also headed to the Kythnos Thermal Hot Spring, the only thermal hot spring within the Cyclades Islands. The spring itself has two baths, Agioi Anargyroi and Kakavos, both dating back to the Roman and Byzantine time periods based on nearby archaeological finds.
Our next destination was the island of Serifos, where we were greeted by a fleet of rowdy French pirates. Fortunately for us, earlier that day Sam had gifted us with wooden swords that we held at the ready should the need to fight for our placement along the dock or protect our dingy arise. We explored the island by foot, visiting local shops, historical sites and stopping to gander at the fauna and flora along the nearby hiking trails.
Milos, the most southwestern volcanic island apart of the Cyclades, was our next destination. We sailed into a popular cove on the southwest side of the island for an afternoon of swimming in the pristine blue waters, climbing along the rocky cliff sides and exploring the many volcanic caves that the island is known for by dingy. It was here that we began to feel the spirit of the pirate lifestyle seeping into our bones as we sang our hearts out with a sea shanty in honor of Laura’s birthday.
The island of Sifnos brought us the opportunity to extend our explorations as we rented Mopeds and took on the distinguished identity as “The Mopedos”. We traveled across the island, zigzagging through small communities on back roads and scenic byways, stopping occasionally to take in the sights, reconfigure our navigation and pet roadside donkeys. We made our way across the island and spent some time exploring Castle Sifnos, ruins of a once fortified medieval settlement dating back to the 14th century. We followed a winding stone walkway out to the Church of the Seven Martyrs, a singular whitewashed church resting on a rocky peninsula above the Aegean Sea.
Our time on the island of Sifnos wasn’t complete without a quick trip to the Old Captain Bar where we cursed, drank colorful rum drinks and marched through the streets with our swords drawn towards the sky.
After a couple more days at sea we headed back to the mainland to explore the city of Athens.
Our time in Athens felt much like taking a step backing into our grade school history books as we were overcome by the sudden depth of history. We worked our way through the bustling streets of the city, passing vendors and street performers, restaurants and shopping centers until we stumbled upon the ruins of a time long ago. The ancient Agora of Athens, the Temple of Hephaestus, the Stoa of Attalos (Archeological Museum), the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the Roman Forum of Athens, and the Temple of Olympian Zeus all surround the Acropolis, a powerful citadel protectively watching over all of Athens.
We spent the next few days visiting as many ancient ruins as possible, eating countless Gyros and truly enjoying each other’s company. The group was brought together by Kevin and Laura, an assemblage of friends from near and far, who undoubtedly formed friendships inseparable by time and space.
Once a Mopedo, always a Mopedo.
*All photos taken by WJ + JB with an iPhone 5, videography produced with GoPro HERO7 White — Waterproof Action Camera with Touch Screen 1080p HD Video 10MP Photos*