As a St. John’s University alumna, I was fortunate to
participate in the Alumni Relations Arts and Enrichment Series
travel offering, “Ancient Life of the Greek Isles” trip from
September 20 – 28, 2009, through Gohagan Travel.
Over 160 alumni from various other schools and universities
throughout the U.S. and Canada embarked on the M.S. Diamant to
enjoy the advantages of cruising on a smaller vessel that provided
more individual attention and ease in fostering introductions with
Prior to departing from Istanbul, Turkey, some passengers had the
opportunity to experience this active city during the holy month of
Ramadan. I visited the Blue Mosque during the time between
formal praying services.
The first Turkish city we stopped at while enroute to Greece was
Canakkale, where we visited the ruins of the ancient city of Troy,
described by Homer in the famous Iliad, the epic poem that
chronicled the Trojan Wars of the 13th century B.C. A stroll
through Kusadasi, Turkey provided much shopping and culinary
Ephesus, Turkey, a site where the Roman Empire made one of its
regional capitals, was a not-to-miss stop on the antiquities
trail. Ephesus played a major role in early Christianity, as
it is home to the Basilica of St. John and also is the burial site
of St. John the Apostle. St. Paul preached here to some of
the world’s first Christians in the 24,000 seat amphitheater.
Additionally, Ephesus is believed to have served as a home for the
Virgin Mary, although that particular location was not a stop on
Patmos is a quaint and small Greek island of only 3,000 residents,
and is the home of St. John the Divine Monastery and the Cave of
the Apocalypse, where St. John the Divine wrote the Book of
Revelation. This has been named the second holiest place after
Mount Sinai in Jerusalem.
Rhodes, Greece contains the Palace of the Grand Master, originally
built during the time when the city was being ruled by the
Byzantines, Ottomans, and Knights of St. John. I was able to
enjoy a traditional Greek lunch at one of the eateries in the Old
Town section of Rhodes.
Santorini, Greece, is everything you might imagine from pictures
and movies about Greece. It’s highly picturesque and is built on
very high cliffs due to a major volcanic eruption. The busy town of
Thira (also referred to as Fira) contains great restaurants and
shopping and offers donkey and cable car rides down to the port. I
opted for the cable car! While in Santorini, I was able to
appreciate the beautiful and artistic area of Oia, which included
exceptional panoramic views of the coastline.
Mykonos, containing windmills, charming shops, restaurants and
nightclubs, is a beautiful island surrounded by the blue Aegean
Sea. The winding, maze-like streets were designed to keep pirates
from attacking the city, as well as to serve as buffers against the
winds blowing in from the water. Residents live above the
storefronts in white houses with different colored doors and
shutters. I was able to enjoy a delicious eggplant salad appetizer
and cup of cappuccino with my Mom as we marveled at the crashing
waves of the coastline.
The cruise ended in Athens, from which many of us, myself included,
departed for our return home.
If you haven’t yet taken an alumni trip, I highly recommend
experiencing the many exciting destinations our program
offers. The locations are outstanding, and the memories that
you’ll carry home with you will last a lifetime!
Andrea T. Papa, ‘88SVC
Associate Director, Student Engagement and Regional Programs