Jun 04, 2019 - Sea Cloud

Coming to Ithaca always makes me think about Odysseus and his 10-year-long voyage back home. But besides its mythical essence, Ithaca has an incredible beauty with its emerald waters, green mountains, and peaceful atmosphere. For Odysseus, the end of his adventures; for us, just the beginning.

When you set out for Ithaka
                ask that your way be long,
                full of adventure, full of instruction.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
                angry Poseidon –

                do not fear them:
such as these you will never find
                as long as your thought is lofty,

                as long as a rare emotion touch your spirit and your body.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
                angry Poseidon –

                                you will not meet them
unless you carry them in your soul,
unless your soul raise them up before you.

Ask that your way be long.
                At many a Summer dawn to enter
                with what gratitude, what joy -
                ports seen for the first time;
to stop at Phoenician trading centres,
                and to buy good merchandise,
                mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
                and sensuous perfumes of every kind,
sensuous perfumes as lavishly as you can;
                to visit many Egyptian cities,
                to gather stores of knowledge from the learned.

Have Ithaka always in your mind.
                Your arrival there is what you are destined for.
But don't in the least hurry the journey.
Better it last for years,
                so that when you reach the island you are old,
                rich with all you have gained on the way,
                not expecting Ithaka to give you wealth.
Ithaka gave you a splendid journey.
                Without her you would not have set out.
                She hasn't anything else to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka hasn't deceived you.
                So wise you have become, of such experience,
                that already you'll have understood what these Ithacas mean.


—Constantine P. Cavafy

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About the Author

Patrycja O'Brien

Assistant Expedition Leader

Patrycja O’Brien was born and raised in Poland, when the borders during the communist time where still closed and travelling was only a dream that could never come true. So following her interests in biology and biochemistry she earned a Master’s degree in biotechnology and also studied languages, fitness and dance. As soon as the times had changed, she completely changed her life, leaving an established carrier in logistics management of a big international company to pursue her travel inspirations, which found her working for a few different travel companies. She lived in Egypt, Cuba and finally southern Spain. It was there that she joined Lindblad Expeditions – National Geographic as assistant expedition leader on Mediterranean and Caribbean sailing voyages in 2008. She likes scuba diving and her biggest interests are whales and dolphins so in her free time between contracts she used to work as a whale-watching guide in Baja California in Mexico.

About the Photographer

Massimo Bassano

National Geographic Photographer

Massimo Bassano has worked as a freelance photojournalist since 1990. His work appears in National Geographic Traveler and National Geographic online edition, as well as many publications throughout Europe. Massimo's photographic subjects know no bounds—his recent assignments have covered social issues, international travel, fitness and health, fashion, and portraiture. In 2004, he was awarded a Ph.D. in journalism from the Italian Association of Journalism.

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