You Will Experience Another Side of Greece Exploring Greek Islands
Greece is a land with many different facets. Athens is a large cosmopolitan city, with an expanse of antiquity at its centre. Try exploring Greek islands to get another perspective. There are islands to explore to understand the long history of the region. The iconic blue and white islands offer yet one more view. But most of the 227 inhabited islands of Greece are small islands enjoyed mostly by the locals.
The Aquamarine Waters Of Crete
Cruising the waters of the Mediterranean with Oceania Cruises was great for exploring Greek islands. We were docked in the town of Agios Nikolaus in Crete. From the cruise ship, it looked like a small port town. Like most of the islands of Greece, you could see the mountains not far away.
Many of the tours offered were water sports but we wanted to wander on our own. There was apparently a Little Train for a tour of the town but we never did catch up with it.
The little lake in the middle of town was a good point to stop, surrounded by lounging cats and coffee shops. It was a colourful spot.
Right by the marina we stopped at our first beach. Exploring the Greek islands you will find great beaches and crystal clear waters. The aquamarine waters of Crete were alluring but in off season we were not sure how nice the water would really be. The locals were lounging in the sun. But it might just be the obligatory “toe in the water” picture for me.
We took a leisurely stroll along the water’s edge path. There were interesting, artistic images in this little fishing town.
When we stopped, we could see the cruise ship in port. It would be a quick port day for us.
Small Hill Towns In Corfu
We have actually been to Corfu twice on two different cruises. Exploring the Greek islands you have choice for how you want to spend your days in port. On our first Corfu visit, we decided on an adventure excursion. It was a quick bus ride from the dock to the garage to pick up our 4×4 jeeps.
We got lucky and got a jeep to ourselves and since David was taking pics, there was no fight over who got the fun of being the driver. It would put my rusty standard transmission driving skills to the test!
Heading off in a convoy of 5 jeeps, the front and back jeeps had large yellow flags to ensure we could always stay together. It seemed to be a miracle that we managed to make it through the first few little towns and stop lights with our convoy intact. The narrow roads in the little towns were a great driving test before we got onto the big hills.
Exploring the Greek islands you will find mountains! We drove up and up, around and around the hair pin turns. A few times we stopped for panoramic views and pics. David enjoyed videoing my journey! Other then a few times getting started on the hills, I managed the stick shift without a problem.
Our first stop in the little village of Sokraki (100 full time residents) provided us with a local snack. I found the wine undrinkable and the Ouzo burned a path through to my gullet. A walk around the tiny streets of this little village let everyone’s adrenalin drop a bit before we got back in the jeeps.
High In The Hills of Corfu
continued our drive up to the summit and over to the other side. The summit view presented the entire island of Corfu with the Greek mainland just visible in the haze in the distance.
Exploring the Greek islands you will be in for incredible views! Our second stop in Lakones gave us an amazing view of Paleokastritsa down below. Paleokastritsa was a seaside resort spot with the most blue and clear water that we had yet seen. That would definitely be worth a return visit.
The trip back down had a few hairy parts. It eventually settled into what was probably a highway in Corfu (a road wide enough to hold two cars with a solid line along the middle of the road). The only tricky part was when we had to back up the hill to get off the road to let a bus pass. By this point we were all pros and all managed to get safely out of the way.
Dropping the jeeps at the port, it was a short walk back to the cruise ship.
Wandering Around Corfu
Leaving the ship in the New Port on this second visit, we planned to just wander the town. Following along the wall we finally made it to the Old Fortress.
Bypassing the fort, we went in search of a cafe by the waterfront. Finding a secluded spot, we wound our way down to the water level.
While enjoying our coffee, we watched the local fisherman go about his day in a slow, traditional way.
Getting Lost in Corfu
Exploring the Greek islands you may even get lost! Leaving the waterfront, we strolled along looking at the sights. We decided we would wander slowly back to the ship. This would be the first of several wrong decisions we made. As we left the waterfront area, we quickly lost our bearings.
Several times we disagreed on the direction and just kept going. As we went further and further into the local area, we started to worry. When we saw the sign for “Air Port”, David thought we should take it thinking it might be Greek for “New Port”. But we had no confidence we were still even headed in the right direction.
We made one good decision to ask a local for directions. After telling us we were far away from where we needed to be, she headed out in her high heels and gestured for us to follow. Following her like the pied piper for block after block, we steadily went away from the direction we had wandered.
Our guide was undeterred when the rain started. She plowed on as the rain poured, with none of the 3 of us having an umbrella. After saying “10 more minutes” a few times, I wondered where we may be going. When we finally made one final turn after steadily going down, the New Port was almost straight ahead.
She had totally saved us. With a wave she was off to try to head back to where she was going before we detoured her far from her original path. When we later looked at a map to find the “airport”, we realized how truly lost we had been.
Wander Off On Your Own When Exploring Greek Islands
When travelling by cruise ship, you can keep yourself totally in control. You can book the ship excursions and make sure to follow the guides. Or you can sometimes wander off on your own! You may get lost but it is usually not hard to find the big cruise ship in the dock. We got lost exploring Mykonos but eventually got our ATV pointed in the right direction. In Corfu, a helpful local went out of her way to help us out. Sometimes we have just figured out where the water was and hoped we knew which direction to find the ship.
But when we have been discovering Greek islands, we have seen a different view and pace of life than you might find in Athens or the bigger, touristy Greek islands.
Have you wandered off exploring Greek islands? What was your favourite island?
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Since it’s more or less impossible to travel outside of Europe, I’m planning on doing all the trips that were foreseen for when I turn 80…. Greece is actually one of those places. Depending on my health issue, I’m planning on going to Crete and some other small islands. Therefore, I read about your visit with great interest. I think I made the right choice… 😉
We too want to explore more of the Greek Islands. I would love to move from island to island by ferry. Looking forward to reading about your adventures.