Journey Log: Adriatic Voyage - Croatia, Montenegro & Greece, September 20–27, 2023

Journey Log: Adriatic Voyage - Croatia, Montenegro & Greece, September 20–27, 2023
October 2023

September 20, 2023 | Venice, Italy

We arrived in Venice, gathering at the Hilton Stucky Molino for hors d'oeuvres hors d'oeuvres before boarding our luxurious floating home, ‘Le Bougainville.’ After settling into our rooms, our excitement grew as we sailed past the full length of Venice, seeing its dramatic palaces, homes and churches.

September 21, 2023 | Split, Croatia

This morning, we cruise toward Split while our photo coach, Jackie Deely, offered an introduction to travel photography. Then, our history expert, Ron Wixman, discussed the stark limestone geography of the Adriatic coast, as well as the ethnic groups of the Balkans.

Arriving in Croatia’s second-largest city after lunch, some took to the streets and alleyways of picturesque Split, visiting its historic stari grad (old town) and seeing its remaining principal gates; the ancient Diocletian’s Palace, built for the Roman emperor Diocletian at the end of the third century AD; and the temple of Jupiter, dedicated to the Ancient Roman god Jupiter.

Others headed west of Split to the small island town of Trogir, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its mix of Renaissance, Baroque and Romanesque architecture. Observing the orthogonal street plan of the island settlement, which dates to the Hellenistic period, we explored its historic town centre, lined with ancient churches.

Still others embarked on a culinary tour of Split, visiting its lively green market to sample local cheese, ham and pastries before touring the town itself.

Back aboard our vessel, we attended our Captain’s cocktail reception before sitting down to a sumptuous dinner — the perfect end to a lovely day.

September 22, 2023 | Kotor, Montenegro

We arrived in the walled, coastal town of Kotor. Surrounded by steep mountains and set in the isolated Bay of Kotor, the small town is recognized for its winding streets and medieval old town lined with Romanesque churches. Built by the Romans, it was later influenced by Slavic settlers, the Byzantine Empire, the Ottoman Empire, Venetians, Austro-Hungarians and even the French under Napoleon.

Most of us went on a walking tour of the town, followed by a boat tour of the bay. After lunch in the town of Perast, we visited Our Lady of the Rocks, perched on a tiny island, manmade of sunken ships filled with rocks.

Thrill-seekers among us instead zipped by speedboat across the bay. Arriving at Our Lady of the Rocks, we learned about its fascinating legends and lore. Noting much of the art depicted imperilled vessels, we marvelled at the 68 paintings by Tripo Kokolja; collection of silver votive tablets; and storied, embroidered votive tapestry. Although we planned to visit Blue Cave — known for its luminescent water — next, the sea was too choppy. Instead, some of us relaxed on the beach, while others had slices at a beloved pizzeria in town.

September 23, 2023 | Dubrovnik, Croatia

Today brought several ways to explore areas in and around Dubrovnik.

Those who departed the ship early passed through Dubrovnik’s Pile Gate to experience the ancient walled city in solitude. Upon visiting the Franciscan Church and Monastery, we strolled through town before driving along the dramatic coastline and through the scenic countryside to the Konavle Valley. Arriving at a family-run winery, we sampled four excellent Croatian vintages while learning about the local wine industry. From there, it was on to an organic farmstead for a farm-to-table lunch, followed by a stroll around its vegetable garden.

Others began with a scenic drive to the Konavle Valley. Traversing it by bicycle, we passed vineyards, olive groves and lovely stone homes, their vegetable gardens overflowing with ripe produce. Capping our country experience, we paused for a tasting at a family-run winery known for its crisp, refreshing whites, robust reds and sweet dessert wines.

Another group enjoyed a culinary tour, ascending to the small village of Orasac for a lesson in olive oil production. After taking in lovely panoramic views from the olive grove’s terrace, we tasted just-picked vegetables from the garden, enjoying them alongside locally produced meat, cheese and wine. We then wandered through the walled town to the harbor at Mali Ston, where we partook in a tasting of grappa with candied orange peel and almonds and a tasting of oysters and mussels with white wine. After sitting down to an authentic seafood lunch, we had time to explore Dubrovnik at leisure.

Our remaining travellers took to medieval Dubrovnik on foot, visiting the Franciscan Church and Monastery and strolling through town alongside a knowledgeable local guide. After a brief stop for coffee and cake, several of us had lunch in town, while others walked the city walls for an aerial view of the village below.

September 24, 2023 | Corfu, Greece

While at sea this morning, we attended a talk about ethnic groups in the Balkans, with insight into the Yugoslavia Wars. Next came a discussion about underwater archaeological finds.

Once in Corfu, we quickly separated into groups for our chosen excursions.

A few of us explored the Archaeological Museum of Corfu, seeing artifacts that date to 10,000 BCE, as well as an interesting pediment from a temple predating the Parthenon. We then walked through the Old Town of Corfu and had time at leisure.

Yet another small group took a mountain bike ride to Kato Korakiana. After a quick coffee break, we continued to Ano Korakiana in the shadows of Mount Pantokrator. Riding onward, we stopped for Caesar salad at an intimate tavern before peddling along the breathtaking coast.

Still others took to Corfu’s countryside to learn about local wine at Theotoky Estate. After tasting bioorganic alongside cheese, charcuterie and olive oil, we proceeded to the Old Town of Corfu, gaining insight into the town’s history. After seeing the moat encircled, Venetian Old Fortress of Corfu, we continued along the esplanade to other key landmarks.

Fruit enthusiasts chose to see the cultivation and distillation processes of kumquats. From there, we sampled local liqueur, wine, feta cheese and rosemary-infused olive oil and paid a visit to the Corfu Olive Oil Museum. Reflecting on the stunning mountain ridges, azure blue coastline and picturesque villages enroute, we returned to Corfu’s Old Town to explore more.

The rest of us set off for lush, coastal Kanoni, where we took in views of Mouse Island and observed small, white Monastery of Virgin Mary of Vlachernon. Returning to the Old Town of Corfu, we walked along esplanade, seeing the Old Fortress of Corfu and Saint Spyridon Church — a single-nave basilica with the highest bell tower in the Ionian Islands.

Our day ended on a relaxing note with time to relax on the beach and swim in the Adriatic Sea. Not ready to call it a night, many of us played trivia in the lounge after dinner aboard.

September 25, 2023 | Fiskardo

After landing in Fiskardo on the beautiful Greek island of Cephalonia, we had three excursions to choose from. The most intrepid among us hiked from the harbor to the small, picturesque lighthouse. Continuing up over the headland, we passed the ruins of a Byzantine church. Arriving at Emplisi Beach, we walked onward through the “strawberry forest,” eventually crossing paths with a large herd of goat, their neck bells indicating their presence in advance. We then stopped at beautiful Dafnoudi Beach for a break and a swim before returning in a wide circuit back to Fiskardo, tired, proud and ready for lunch.

A second group of began the day at Melissani Cave. Entering through a sloping tunnel — blasted through the rock in the 1960s — we emerged at the rim of a brilliant ultramarine lake. Fed with both freshwater and seawater that travels underground to emerge in the karstic formation, the lake is also known as the Cave of the Nymphs. When the sun is right overhead, light hits the turquoise-blue water through a hole to the sky, filling the cave with magical blue light. Taking in its beauty and testing our echoes along the way, we were rowed — gondola-style — through the cave in a colourful wooden boat. Our otherworldly excursion ended with a visit to the 16th-century Sacred Monastery of Agios Gerasimos of Kefalonia, a church complex featuring a courtyard, gardens, monastery and tomb of the patron saint.

The rest of us paid an anything-but-ordinary visit to the Sacred Monastery of Agios Gerasimos of Kefalonia, where a group of Romanian nuns —so moved by their visit — sang a beautiful song in reverence. Changing gears, we enjoyed a tasting at a local winery, followed by lunch in the tiny village of Assos, which was founded under Venetian rule. On the way back to the port, we paused to appreciate the mesmerizing vista over Myrtos Beach.

Back aboard our ship, we gathered for a gala cocktail party on the pool deck, followed by a Captain’s dinner.

September 26 2023 | Itea

We arrived in Itea in the Fokida region of Central Greece, where many of us visited the Archaeological Site of Delphi. Designated a UNECO World Heritage Site, it’s where the oracle of Apollo spoke. After viewing the Athenian Treasury, Temple of Apollo at Delphi and Ancient Theatre of Delphi, some of us also climbed further to explore the stadium. Afterward, we strolled through the Archaeological Museum of Delphi, seeing the bronze Delphi Charioteer. It was dedicated in 470 BCE by Polyzalus, the tyrant of Gela in Sicily, who won the race during the Pythian games.

Others took a scenic drive along the coast, cutting inland to the historic, walled Holy Monastery of Hosios Loukas to admire the stunning Byzantine mosaics and architecture. After exploring the attached church, which is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, we returned to our vessel, taking in in views of picturesque and Delphi’s ancient olive groves enroute.

Another small group proceeded to the small, stunning port town of Galaxidi. Strolling through the streets, we snapped photos of sleepy cats and colourful houses; visited the town’s exceptional maritime museum; and sat down to a lunch at a boutique hotel. After final sips of ouzo and Greek coffee, we returned to Itea.

Our last group ascended the mountains near Delphi to MoKa Honey. Amid the apiary’s beautiful olive grove, we observed the art of beekeeping and learned about the environmental importance of the species. We then donned suits, veils and gloves to view the hives up close, while the apiary’s owner pointed out its honeycomb, pollen, worker bees, drones and queen. Capping the day, we enjoyed a light snack of apples drizzled with honey and cinnamon; a honey tasting; and time to shop its wares.

Back aboard our vessel, we passed through the Corinth Canal. With as little as three feet of clearance on each side, it was a narrow squeeze that required expert piloting. Our day ended with an enlightening— and relevant—talk on ancient and modern beekeeping.

September 27, 2023 | Athens

Today, our Adriatic voyage came to an end. After saying our farewells to fellow passengers, the crew and our Expedition Team, we made our way to the for our return or onward flights.

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