Come with us to some of the greatest ancient sites and hidden islands as we make our way through the Dodecanese, Cyclades and around the Northeast Aegean Isles to the Dardanelles and the endlessly captivating city of Istanbul. Our journey is perfectly timed to take advantage of the late summer temperatures and enjoy the islands at their quieter time of year when the high season crowds have dispersed. Our private yacht, with just 34 guests, is a wonderful way to experience the lesser known islands of the Aegean.
We will begin our odyssey in Athens’ port of Piraeus, heading for the Cyclades. Our first island call is a cultural treat as we explore the legendary birthplace of Apollo. Delos is extraordinary, an unparalleled outdoor museum of archaeology with remains from the 3rd millennium B.C. to the early Christian era. Next is Naxos, famous for its glorious sunsets. Take a stroll through the Potara, all that remains of an ancient temple dedicated to Apollo, and continue up to the old castle of Hora and watch the sun go down.
Our itinerary continues in a similar vein with calls at picturesque islands that are out of bounds to the big ships. Folegandros with its charming clifftop capital, Chora, the enchanting islands of Tilos and Simi, and Kos with its white-washed buildings and 14th century fortress although our main reason for visiting is the ancient site of Askeplion.
More splendours follow with calls at Patmos where St John the Divine is said to have written the Book of Revelation, Fourni, an island that takes you back in time and Chios, a marvellously contrasting island with its medieval mastic villages that are built like fortresses. Our journey ends with a visit to Troy and navigation of the Dardenelles and Sea of Marmara that take us into one of the world’s greatest and most historic ports, Istanbul.
This heady mix of islands and ports is certainly one of our most fascinating itineraries, combining as it does some ‘must see’ sites together with little known and rarely visited places that are totally unsuitable for vessels larger than ours
Halcyon Days on Aegean Islands itinerary:
Day 1 - LONDON TO ATHENS, GREECE.
Fly by scheduled flight. Drive to Piraeus and embark the Callisto. Sail in the late afternoon.
Day 2 - DELOS & NAXOS.
Spend a morning on Delos, a UNESCOWorld Heritage Site. See the temples dedicated to Apollo and the remains of the grand houses with their mosaic floors. One of the most memorable sights is the terrace of marble lions dedicated to Apollo. Sail during lunch to Naxos. Enjoy a leisurely afternoon with a stroll to the old castle of Hora, built by an Italian adventurer in the 13th century.
Day 3 - FOLEGANDROS & IOS.
Arrive this morning at the little known island of Folegandros. Visit the clifftop capital of Chora, a wonderfully picturesque village with alleys lined with bougainvillea and hibiscus and a dramatic seascape over an edge which drops some 700 feet directly into the Aegean. Return to the vessel for lunch and sail across to Ios.We will anchor off the beautiful Manganari Beach and offer the chance for a swim in the crystal clear waters before continuing to the main town. Enjoy a free afternoon exploring Chora.We sail late this evening so you may wish to enjoy dinner ashore or an after dinner stroll.
Day 4 - TILOS & SIMI.
Close to the Turkish coast and just north of Rhodes is magical and timeless Tilos. This lovely island has still to find its way onto the pages of tour operators’ brochures so retains its time-warp and traditional atmosphere. See Livadia, a lively little town, and Megalo Chorio, Tilos’ tiny capital, rich in Crusader castles. Over lunch sail to Simi, a small, mountainous and much indented pretty island. The harbour is particularly attractive and although the island is more developed than Tilos it is still delightful. The Simians were famous boat builders but are better known today for their sponge diving.
Day 5 - KOS.
According to Myth, Kos was the homeland of the Giants. The island has given to the world Hippocrates, father of medicine, Pythagoras, and the 4th century painter Apelles. We will drive the short distance to the Asklepion, the infirmary of Antiquity, which was constructed in the 4th century BC. Among the ruins are part of the Doric Temple of Aesculapius, the altar and the Stoa which housed the famous Hippocrates Medical School.We also visit the Roman Odeon and the Casa Romana, a large restored Roman style villa, with wonderful mosaics. This afternoon is free to further explore this delightful island.
Day 6 - PATMOS.
Walk up the ancient pilgrim’s path to the town of Patmos which is clustered round the great fortified monastery of St John the Divine. The Library houses rare manuscripts and the Treasury displays one of the finest collections of Byzantine liturgical art in Greece, representing a period of more than 1000 years.
Day 7 - FOURNI & SAMOS.
This morning call into one of the best kept secret islands in the Aegean, Fourni. Little changed for centuries, it has a wonderfully peaceful atmosphere. Walk up from the harbour to the charming main square and enjoy a drink whilst watching island life. Later, sail across to nearby Samos for a visit to the Vathi Museum and the Temple of Hera.
Day 8 - CHIOS.
Arrive in Chios this morning. It is a great place to spend the day. Here, orange and lemon trees scent the air as we drive through the delightful mountain landscape on an excursion to Nea Moni, an 11th century convent. The Virgin Mary is reputed to have appeared to three hermits, resulting in the founding of this Byzantine treasure with its stunning mosaics. There is much more to see including the grand manor houses in the Kampos district of which many have been converted into boutique hotels and the medieval villages with their maze like streets behind fortifications built to protect them from pirates. Take the chance to a glass of Chios Mastiha a brandy based liqueur native to the island.
Day 9 - LESBOS.
We will spend the day on Lesbos in the capital of Mytilini. This is a charming port with much character. See the once grand 19th century mansions which are gradually being renovated, its jumbled ancient streets and the imposing Byzantine castle with its well preserved walls.
Day 10 - CANAKKALE FOR TROY, TURKEY.
From Canakkale we will visit ancient Troy. It was here that archaeologist, Heinrich Schlieman, rediscovered the ‘treasure of Priam’. Visit the town’s museum which houses an interesting collection of Trojan artefacts. Return to the vessel for lunch. During the afternoon there will be an optional excursion to the Gallipoli Peninsula to see theWorldWar I memorials which commemorate the famous battle of Gallipoli which left 600,000 dead.
Day 11 - ISTANBUL TO LONDON.
Disembark this morning and return to London by scheduled flight.
The MS Callisto has a guest list which is limited to 34, a party large enough to bring together an interesting mix, but small enough to foster a true spirit of community. Beautifully appointed and filled with amenities one would expect to find in a fine country house, the 17 cabins feature large windows (portholes on the Daphne Deck) that look out to sea. Cabins also feature:
• Satellite TV, DVD/CD player
• Marble-appointed bathroom with fine toiletries
• Plush terry robes and slippers
• Decorated with rich fabrics, handsome wood, polished brass, the yacht’s public spaces are warm and inviting. These include:
• Library with Internet access
• Lounge with audiovisual facilities
• Dining room
• Two sun decks
• Swimming platform
MS Callisto’s steward and kitchen staff seek fresh provisions from many ports of call. Guests savour just caught fish and perfectly ripened produce from local markets, resulting in menus of classic regional specialties as well as creative Continental fare. Select regional wines are complimentary with lunch and dinner (wine is not permitted to be served in Libyan waters). Meals are served at a single, unassigned seating in the elegantly-styled dining room, surrounded by large picture windows. Weather permitting, guests may also dine al fresco on the broad sun decks.
An Uncommon Advantage
MS Callisto’s compact size allows visits to unspoiled islets, pristine beaches and intimate coves inaccessible to larger cruise-liners. She is both large enough to offer every possible comfort and small enough to navigate tiny inlets and berth in exclusive harbours, taking travellers where few have gone before.