Ithaka

Jun 15, 2018 - Sea Cloud


Early this morning, Sea Cloud sailed into the deepest harbor of the Ionian Sea, on the island of Ithaka. It is named Vathi, which means deep, and indeed it is not only the deepest, but also one of the most beautiful places! 

We used Zodiacs to land at the picturesque town of Vathi, where we started a tour of the island. The scenery was stunning, even with the overcast sky and rain. We gazed at small narrow roads, alongside the beautiful coastal area, dotted with olive trees and cypress trees and leading down to tiny beaches with turquoise water. 

As we listened to the narration of our Greek guides, we realized that this was once the home of Odysseus, the famous king of Ithaka and hero of Homer’s The Odyssey. It was incredible to think that we were here, on an island we knew from the Homeric epics! Odysseus fought in Troy for 10 years, then traveled for another 10 years to reach his homeland, while his wife Penelope faithfully waited for his return. The story is still well-known today, after surviving for thousands of years, first through word of mouth and later through the written word. 

As we drove around one of the high mountains of Ithaka, gazing down into the port of Vathi, we had an incredible view of the sea and the mountains of mainland Greece. We visited a 17th century monastery filled with Byzantine icons and frescoes. The drizzle continued, but when we stepped outside of the church, we saw that the rain had stopped and the sun was glowing over the whole island. From the bell tower, we enjoyed a glorious view over the harbor, mainland Greece, and the nearby island of Cephalonia. 

From here, we drove to the village of Stavros, where we were able to view the three coves of Ithaka as mentioned in the Odyssey. We saw a model of a building associated with the ancient history of the island, and a modern bust of the famous Odysseus! Afterwards, we enjoyed a nice Greek coffee and ice cream while gazing at the view.      

We drove back to the capital town of Vathi, where we wandered around the narrow streets and stores. It was all so charming—like a postcard city! Finally, we returned to the Sea Cloud for another great lunch. We looked back at the island of Ithaka, which was once again overcast and rainy (our timing here had been great!). 

As the famous Greek poet said, Ithaka is not about the destination, but about the journey of our life that we must enjoy in every way!

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About the Author

Laura Giannola

Cultural Specialist

Laura grew up on the island of Corfu, and after high school lived for extended periods in England and Germany. She completed undergraduate studies at the National Guiding College and worked for a number of years as a travel agent on Corfu. She has been guiding visitors to Greece since 1997, often guides VIP guests of the Greek government, and also conducts archeological tours for the municipality of Athens. Her knowledge and effervescent manner have made her a great favorite with our guests.

 

About the Photographer

Lauren Buchholz

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Lauren’s wanderlust has taken her from the Appalachians to the Rockies to the Southern Alps.

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