“Couldn’t it have been avoided by a simple reminder pinned to Theseus’ travelling trunk?” I asked.

“Perfect example of parental overreaction,” replied my youngest daughter. But my oldest daughter, waiting in the restaurant below, missed the whole experience.

Earlier, in the heat of the day, she’d climbed to the top of the Acropolis – wearing patent leather Prada boots and what seemed to be a high tech dress made entirely of plastic. Now, she’d hit the sandy trail – head first – a victim of the 104 F (40 C) heat.

But in typically Greek fashion, the restaurant staff was busy creating a special spot for her. Near the kitchen, it was protected from the sun lying low on the horizon and caught the evening breeze, unlike the tourist section where the rest of us sweltered.

Even better, it seemed that the owner had three sons. They offered cool cloths, icy lemon drinks and later, crispy calamari. Soon, their friends pulled up on Honda motorbikes and there was a party going on. Her recovery was remarkably speedy.

After a few days in Athens, we headed to the port of Pireas to board our ship, the Aegean II, for a one-week stopover in Mykonos. It would be followed by a four-day cruise to Turkey and the Greek Islands.

As we perched on our bunk beds trying to free up floor space in our cabin, there was a knock on the door – it was our luggage. Six Russian porters stacked the bags higher and higher. “Maybe I shouldn’t have bought that bongo drum,” said my oldest. I suspected that the real problem was the two bags filled with platform shoes the size of butcher blocks.

As we neared the island of Mykonos, it was bathed in dazzling sunlight. Crosses on domed churches soared over white houses stacked like sugar cubes. Crystal waves decorated the blue sea. Although the island has a reputation for partying and Shirely Valentine jokes, our destination was Petatos Bay Hotel in the village of Platy Yialos, a quite corner.

There, my oldest discovered boats that ferried partygoers to discos at Paradise and Super Paradise beach. My youngest discovered Kostas, the Greek porter. I found Metaxa and the hot-tub. We floated together in clear, cool water that swirled over flat smooth rocks. Colored fish darted between our toes. In the week that passed, I visited Delos, the birthplace of Apollo, while my youngest took scuba diving lessons at Psarou Beach and the oldest danced at the Sunrise Bar.

On our last night, in our favorite restaurant, local Greek men danced until the moon was high in the sky. The aroma of oregano, crushed by their heels on the wooden floor, filled the air with bursts of its spicy fragrance.

The cruise of Santorini, Rhodes, Patmos and Crete that followed was a slideshow of culture and beauty. With just a taste of each island, we wished for more time. But our two-week experience was a wonderful blend of education and enjoyment. Some moments were small, such as the elderly vendor and donkey that shared pistachios with us. Others loomed larger like the Visa bill for a Turkish carpet, bought on impulse.

We also discovered new depths to our relationships. At the oracle of Delphi, our guide described how Pythia, the priestess of Apollo, rested the spiky leaves of the oleander under her tongue to release toxins and inspire mystic hallucinations. “Don’t even think about it,” said the youngest to her older sister who was eyeing a nearby shrub. I didn’t have to say a word.


The official site of Greek National Tourist Organisation has been offering information on events, accommodation and attractions for more than 60 years. Visit them at www.gnto.gr.