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Lamps hanging in a market in Kuşadasi, Turkey. Image credit: Danita Delimont/AWL Images.

In Kuşadasi, Turkey, we visited the ancient city of Ephesus where I learned the first church dedicated to the Virgin Mary was built, and that rich people had slaves to warm up their toilet seats before they sat down. We visited Patmos, known as the island of St John where the Book of the Apocalypse was written, and I trekked up and down hills and steps to see the grotto where St John lived. There was also a monastery bearing his name where monks still practise – their early morning work begins each day at 2.30am. As well as its religious significance, Patmos is known for its ‘positive energy’ – and I could see why thanks to our charming guide and the fabulous views. I sampled local pastries in a café in the main square, a wonderful spot for people watching.

In Rhodes I relaxed at St Paul’s Bay with its fine sand and clear blue sea, relaxing on my sunbed. The beach was simply lovely and not at all crowded on this hot spring day. I enjoyed another traditional meal, this time in Vassili’s Tavern, finished off by Halva (a small sweet tart made of semolina). I walked it off in the medieval city.

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Celestyal Olympia’s pools at night.

The next morning in Crete was a chance to be impressed by the opulence of the Palace of Knossos, known as the island’s most important archaeological find and the centre of Minoan civilisation, as well as being famed for its fascinating connections with ancient Greek mythology.

We finished our trip in Athens with an expedition up to the top of the Acropolis to see the Parthenon; a wonderful place for gathering your thoughts and giving us time to reflect on our spectacular Aegean odyssey. “Opa!” as they say in Greece.

GETTING THERE
Celestyal Cruises has a four-day Iconic Aegean cruise on board Celestyal Olympia from £336pp including full board accommodation (celestyalcruises. com/+30 210 4583400). A flight- inclusive package including a four-night stay in Athens (Hotel Titania) costs from £799pp with Cosmos Tours and Cruises (cosmostoursandcruises.co.uk/ 0800 997 8826). Includes flights, B&B hotel and full board cruise accommodation and transfers.

Whether you’re looking for a cultural holiday or relaxing break, find your perfect cruise here.


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