The Isles of Greece: The Grand Bazaar


We pack up and leave our bags outside to be whisked to the ship while we board a bus for the Grand Bazaar.  I had been to Istanbul more than 40 years ago under very different circumstances. Then, I had two small children under the age of six and was maneuvering strollers through the Grand Bazaar. This time, it’s a more peaceful, focused  journey through the maze of frenetic and colorful stalls.  We enjoy the bargaining for souvenirs before boarding our bus for the Aegean Odyssey.

Our check-in on board the ship is seamless and efficient as a smiling staff offering us each a rose, a cold towel and an iced tea greets us.  After unpacking, we head to the Charleston Lounge where Karen, the ship’s pianist plays soothing renditions while we enjoy the cocktail of the day. We learn at the orientation reception that of about 370 passengers, we are two of 37 Canadians. Others are from Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain and the U.S. with a smattering from Denmark, Brazil and Germany.

Instanbul to Athens - Cruising to Antiquity on The Aegean 173We love small cruise ships where the atmosphere is intimate and the service thoughtful and personal. And it gives us an opportunity to meet lots of other passengers in one of the lounges or in the Terrace Café or Marco Polo dining room at mealtime.

Dinner that night in the Marco Polo dining room starts at 7 p.m. and Brenda and I are surprised to find that we aren’t first in line. Several others are ‘early’ diners like us! We decide it’s the age group. We find much in common with our fellow passengers, including the early-to-bed, early-to-rise habit.

Our waiter, Norlito finds us a nice table for two and Aida, the wine stewardess pours us wine. Norlito keeps that table for us for the remaining nights of the cruise. By the end, we consider him, and other staff members,  our friends. The food is wonderful with several courses to choose from: hot and cold appetizer courses, soup and salad courses, several main course selections and of course, dessert. One night on board, Norlito suggests we order the fish because the chef and restaurant manager bought it fresh that day from the market in Izmir. I am impressed that the ship’s food staff takes advantage of local food supplies when they can. The chef is Canadian and we feel very proud of that fact!

There is late night music with the Fantasy Trio, but it’s been a full day and we are happy to retire and look forward to our first day at sea tomorrow.



DAY 1 – Istanbul
DAY 2 – Hippodrome, Blue Mosque, St. Sophie and Topkapi Palace
DAY 3 – The Grand Bazaar
DAY 4 – Birthday in  Lemnos
DAY 5 – Mamma Mia, Skiathos
DAY 6 – Izmir, the Birthplace of Homer
DAY 7 –  Pergamon
DAY 8 – Delos and Mykonos, Islands of the Cyclades
DAY 9 – Beautiful Santorini
DAY 10 – The Palace of Knossos, Crete
DAY 11 – 4 Castles in Nauplia
DAY 12 – Journey’s End in Athens

Bonnie Baker-Cowan travelled on a Voyages to Antiquity cruise called The Isles of Greece hosted by Exclusive Tours. Read all about her adventures on board the Aegean Odyssey, a modern, slimmed-down cruise ship (only 350 passengers) making its way from Istanbul to Athens by way of Lemnos, Skiathos, Izmir, Delos, Mykonos, Santorini, Crete, Nauplia, and Piraeus.

Live your own adventure. Cruise to Classical Civilizations on a Voyages to Antiquity cruise and discover the art, history and cultures of the ancient world.
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