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November 02, 2012

How to do Greece with Family and Friends

By Noah Ruttenberg | Travel

The summer before last, my family and friends embarked on the Camper & Nicholsons yacht Helios for a weeklong journey through the Greek islands. After spending one night in Athens, we left from Piraeus Port and sailed to Kythnos, where we docked in an inlet separated from a bay by a thin strip of sand. It was a perfect stop for some swimming and our first of many courses of feta. That evening we dined under a colorful sunset that seemed to dye the bleached buildings of the island.

Thanks to my father’s belief that a vacation must do more than provide pleasure, our next stop was Delos, for a bit of Greek history. The mythical birthplace of the gods Apollo and Artemis, this island is one of many historic sites around the Aegean Sea. Our next port of call was Koufonisia, three small islands known for their beautiful rocks that tower above the crystal-blue waters. A tender ferried us through caves and up close to the mountain goats and sheep who seem to outnumber humans there. Then we went to Paros, where we were the only Americans and the only visitors—a rare and truly cherishable experience. It was my mother’s Mamma Mia fantasy: Lit by the sunset, we wandered through the maze of streets and enjoyed the figs and feta.

Next stop was that iconic white city found on postcards and pictures of Greece: Fira, Santorini. Perched above the Aegean, the city offers views so spectacular that I volunteered to climb up a steep hill alongside hundreds of donkeys just so I could take in the vista. We finished the day with a sampling of Greek desserts.

Our captain then took us to Milos, where the statue Venus de Milo was discovered in 1820. Our final stop was Hydra, outside the Cyclades, which offered a stark contrast to all the other white village islands. Hydra would have easily pleased us at the beginning of our odyssey, but the unfamiliar sight of red roof shingles signaled it had come to a close. Everything, from our impeccable yacht and knowledgeable captain to the figs and olive oil to the fish and lamb, surpassed our expectations. We found a beauty in the simplicity of it all.

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