This morning we awoke as the Sea Cloud cruised north through the Ionian Sea on our way to Ithaka. As the sun’s radiance crept over the horizon, the crisp air slowly gave way to a beautifully warm morning. We progressed into the sheltered harbor of Vathy; its encompassing landscape features groves of cypress and dense shrubbery, amongst which rugged limestone formations are exposed here and there. We took the Zodiacs to shore and boarded coaches. Out tour of the island began, as we rolled along its narrow and meandering roads.

Ithaka has long been associated with the epic poems of Homer — the Iliad and the Odyssey — as the home of the Greek king Odysseus. These oral traditions, passed down over many generations, deal with the ten-year battle between the Mycenaean Greeks and the Trojans. The conflict was stuck in a stalemate for many years, but was finally resolved when he deceived the Trojans with the Trojan Horse. However, Odysseus’ character flaw was his pride, as he was unwilling to thank the gods for their part in his success. Thus his return journey home was repeatedly forestalled by the gods, and he did not reunite with his family in Ithaka for a whole twenty years.

Fortunately, our visit aboard the Sea Cloud was granted safe passage by the powers that be, and we enjoyed the various sights and sounds of this gloriously peaceful island in the sun. As we negotiated many tight switchbacks up and down the hillsides, we stopped by an Orthodox monastery, passed goats and old olive groves, grabbed a drink at a small crossroads village, and then returned to the harbor of Vathy and our ship.

Back on board the “pool” was open, and we took a refreshing dip in the Ionian Sea. During the afternoon we headed north, as our time in Greece and the Peloponnese drew to a close. Next stop, Albania.