PEI

Armchair travel: John and Karen Clark's cruise of the Greek isles

John and Karen Clark from Baltic, P.E.I., who've been bitten hard by the travel bug, agreed to share their November 2016 cruise to Greece and Rome.

'We have had Greece on our bucket list for many years'

John and Karen Clark enjoyed the beautiful architecture on the island of Santorini, Greece, including this aqua-domed church. (Submitted by John Clark)

John and Karen Clark call themselves "a 50-ish-year-old couple" from Baltic, P.E.I., who've been bitten hard by the travel bug.

The Clarks agreed to share their 10-night November 2016 cruise to Greece and Rome. 

'Bucket list'

"We have had Greece on our bucket list for many years," the Clarks said in an e-mail.

'You can easily walk through town and stop at a number of cafes and shops,' the Clarks wrote of the small town of Oia, Santorini. 'It is probably the most-photographed spot in the Greek Islands.' (Submitted by John Clark )
These windmills in the village of Mykonos, on the Greek island also called Mykonos, are an iconic sight and date back hundreds of years. (Submitted by John Clark)
'Santorini — you can either take the cable car, donkey, or walk the 580 steps up to Fira,' the Clarks wrote on Facebook. (Submitted by John Clark)

They'd originally planned to do the trip in 2013 for their 25th anniversary, but the timing was bad — unrest in Greece was at a fever pitch. Even when they did book the trip in June 2015, they debated canceling it. 

"In June 2015, the day after booking the cruise, there was news that Greece may be forced into bankruptcy by the European Union," the couple added. "Our dream vacation was in jeopardy once again."

Making a final decision — and payment for the approximately $8,000 vacation — three months before their November 2016 departure the couple said they were confident the cruise line wouldn't venture into any unsafe areas. 

'Pleasantly surprised'

"We were somewhat apprehensive about visiting Athens and Turkey, but were pleasantly surprised at how safe we felt and how friendly the people were," according to the Clarks.

The Clarks enjoyed the ancient Greek ruins of the city of Ephesus, a popular international tourist attraction. (Submitted by John Clark)
The Clarks visited the ruins of the famous ancient Greek library of Celsus in Ephesus, Turkey. (Submitted by John Clark)
Ruins of an ancient Greek ampitheatre in Ephesus, Turkey. (Submitted by John Clark)
A wider view of the ancient hillside ampitheatre the Clarks visited in Ephesus, Greece. (Submitted by John Clark )

'The best combination'

The Clarks have used many different vacation methods, from hotels and all-inclusive resorts to bus tours and cruises.

"For us cruising gives the best combination of what we want out of a vacation — see several areas of the world while only having to unpack once," the couple said.

This Greek isles cruise was by Royal Caribbean International and began with one day in Rome, Italy, returning there for two days at the end.

Some of the colourful harbourside buildings in the city of Chania on the Greek island of Crete. (Submitted by John Clark)
A stunning view of homes perched on the hillside heading to Sorrento, Italy. (Submitted by John Clark)
Pretty tile mosaics line a street in the seaside town of Sorrento, Italy. (Submitted by John Clark )

Highlights

The highlights of the Clarks' vacation were visiting the Colosseum in Rome, the Parthenon in Athens and the ancient ruins in Ephesus, Turkey, they said, and enjoying Italian pizza and gelato.

"Although the weather was not ideal, we would highly recommend this trip," they concluded, adding that September or early October might have been a better choice.

"You have to be cautious when visiting any area you don't know. Do your research & use common sense, but don't let fear prevent you from exploring this amazing world!" the Clarks advise fellow travellers. 

The Clarks take the obligatory shot in front of the Parthenon atop the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. (Submitted by John Clark )
There are many beautiful fountains in Rome including this one at Piazza Navona. (Submitted by John Clark)
The Colosseum is the site of gladiator games in ancient Rome and is the city's most popular tourist attraction. (Submitted by John Clark)

About the Author

Sara Fraser

Web Journalist

Sara is a P.E.I. native who graduated from the University of King's College in Halifax. N.S., with a bachelor of journalism (honours) degree. She's worked with CBC Radio and Television since 1988, moving to the CBC P.E.I. web team in 2015, focusing on weekend features. email sara.fraser@cbc.ca