Aegean Sea Cruise plus Athens

We just returned from the Tauck adventure that began in Athens and concluded with a week aboard the sailing vessel Windstar. My wife and I have been on many cruises and Tauck trips, and this was among the best. Again, Tauck manages to combine leisure travel, adventure, and education in a very appealing package. Most importantly, when visiting these locations at the heart of the origin of Western civilization, it is very helpful to be given expert context to understand whatever ruins, church, artifact, or natural feature that we happen to be looking at. We were most impressed with the fund of knowledge on display by our tour director, Mike Furillo, and his expertise was well-complemented by excellent local guides at every stop. I learned a ton about history while I was immersed in the culture and geography...and that is not an easy feat to pull off. We have come to expect such richly informative experiences with Tauck.

Regarding the yacht, it was cozy and well-maintained. The cabins were small but adequate. The crew and staff bent over backward to accommodate every wish--and the thrill of watching the sails unfurled was a real memory. The biggest issue we had was with the WiFi and the intentional exclusion of access to key personal cloud sites such as Dropbox or iCloud. Plus, the system itself was wonky, and the entry portal to WiFi was often not working properly. Windstar did itself a favor by adopting the StarLink technology, but I'm afraid they still have a ways to go to make the product reliable and user friendly. AND--they should alert future passengers about the cloud-based exclusions.

We loved all the stops but especially Ephesus. What a magical day in Turkiye, topped off with a wonderful dinner at the Celsus Library with a string quartet to serenade us. Mykonos and Patmos were also very appealing. Somewhat surprisingly, our stop at Santorini was perhaps the least scenic. Yes, the famous blue domes were there, but overall the island is very sparsely vegetated, and the crowds were substantial. Honestly, neither my wife nor I could figure out what makes this island--beautiful in its own way, don't get me wrong--so overwhelmingly popular.

Our stop at the ancient site of Mycenae was dazzling. The architectural details still preserved there from nearly 3,500 years ago are mind-blowing. Again, our local guide did a spectacular guide in filling in the "blanks" of the historical slate to lend meaning to everything that we were shown.

The Grecian and Turkish hosts were warm and engaging, and we never encountered a language barrier (we used English exclusively). This trip is best enjoyed in May or September near the cusp of the tourist season to avoid the oppressive summertime heat!

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