The ship featured shore excursions to the ancient medieval city of Mystras, with its huge gates and many palaces. Interestingly, the original Spartans did not build grand buildings or structures like other Greeks did. They lived a rather austere existence and did not leave any landmarks or monuments for tourists to see. Today's Sparta is a modern city with little ancient history to offer travelers.
The other tour in Gythion went to the caves at Diros, which were inhabited by prehistoric man but not discovered until 1958. In addition to seeing the artifacts uncovered by archaeologists and learning something about the history of the area, the tour included a boat ride into the cave to view the stalactites and stalagmites.
After lunch, we rode the tender into town, but stayed less than an hour. The town looked very quaint and picturesque from the ship, but didn't have the tourist shops we had seen elsewhere. This lack of tourist areas made the ship seem like a real fishing village. Seeing these squid drying on a line was worth the trip ashore, and we saw many fishermen working on their nets or sorting their catch of the day.
That evening we enjoyed dinner at Colonnade outside on the deck with some of our new cruise friends. They gave us a corner table, and we could see the sparkling lights of the Greek isles as we sailed from Gythion to Mykonos. It was lovely outside, and the cuisine and service impeccable. I had grilled gambas (like small lobsters or giant prawns) and Juanda had a yummy steak. It was "Spain night" at this alternative outdoor restaurant and we loved it. I wished we had booked dinner at Colonnade earlier in the cruise. Although there is no surcharge for dining at Colonnade or Restaurant 2, reservations can only be made 48-hours in advance, so be sure to plan ahead.
After dinner, we had a deck party at 10 pm. It was great fun, with lots of live music from the 50s - 80s. Everything from Jerry Lee Lewis to the Eagles. Perfect for the many baby boomers on the ship. They also served hot bananas foster, and other snacks. I was surprised to see so many couples dancing - I counted about 50-60 people dancing at any one time.
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