REVIEW: One of the sweetest sights in the world is of Santorini, Greece. The whitewashed houses and shops shaped like sugar-cubes cling precariously to sheer dramatic cliffs in many of its villages. The scenery will hypnotize you into finding a comfortable perch at a cozy cafe to sip Nyxteri wine until sunset. It’s no wonder the island is shaped like a fishhook. It grabs your heart and soul – as do all the gorgeous Greek Isles. Santorini, Corfu and Mykonos are three pearls in the chain that should not be missed.
There are so many Greek Isles to enjoy that one of the best ways to see them easily and inexpensively is by cruise ship. Ferries are time-consuming and inter-island flights can be expensive since many of the islands are 100 to 200 nautical miles apart, and even further from the mainland. Princess Cruises has several ships that sail the Greek Isles on seven- to 24-day voyages from May to October.
On Santorini visit Fira, the largest town with dazzling whitewashed houses. You can walk the steep streets from the harbour or take a donkey, but most visitors board the unforgettable cable car ride – at least those who aren’t afraid of heights. At the top, quaint shops, restaurants and cafes line narrow cobblestone lanes. Each one is adorable and inviting selling art, leather and jewelry.
The nearby town of Oia is just as cute and only a 20-minute local bus ride away. It’s a little less riddled by tourists and yet also has quaint cobblestone lanes with spectacular views of blue-domed, whitewashed buildings. Enjoy a casual lunch on a quiet patio overlooking the sea. Try dolmades – delicate parcels of grape leaves stuffed with savory rice and mincemeat, often served with an egg drizzled with lemon sauce. Afterwards visit Kamari, the ancient port of Thera and a popular tourist resort famous for its dramatic black sand beach.
The island of Corfu is lush, fertile and covered in olive trees. The old town has a beautiful garden zone called Spianada, ideal for strolling. The pretty arcaded terrace resembles the Rue De Rivoli in Paris. Narrow, winding streets feature tiny squares, richly decorated churches and a large English cricket pitch dating from the time of British rule. For gorgeous scenery, visit the cliff-top villages of Paleokastritsa and Kinopiastes. And when you’re hungry, try Pastitsio, a baked dish of minced lamb followed by Koum Kouat liquor, a local specialty.
The island of Mykonos offers a charming labyrinth to explore. Its narrow streets lined with cubic white houses and shops were designed specifically to confuse invaders. Today the area lures tourists to the jewelry and souvenir shops and irresistible restaurants and cafes. At night, the clubs and bars are where young travellers from around the world mix and mingle.
One of the most beautiful icons on Mykonos is the Paraportianai church. It has five churches united by a graceful arched bell tower. Four chapels form the base and the fifth church is on top in a central domed roof.
Mykonos is also known for its famous windmills that capture the strong winds from the Aegean Sea. Few people leave Mykonos without having their photo taken in front of these picture-postcard icons.