Map of the Greek Cyclade Islands

Map of the Greek Cyclade Islands showing the route we took to Santorini, Mykonos, and Delos.

We exit the cab at the port town of Paraeus, grab out bags, and walk over to the ferry. Its still too dark to see the Aegean, but I can smell fresh fish and seawater. As we enter the ferry and queue up to hand over our tickets, the enormous steel structure brings back childhood memories of a carnival ride. We carry our bags up the steps and search for a seat. The boat is crowded, but eventually we find a place near Goody’s, the Greek version of a fast food restaurant. Thankfully, no smoking is allowed inside the boat–a big plus. We park ourselves in the seats, our luggage close at hand. But the atmosphere in here feels stale and the lack of windows, claustrophobic. Even though smoking is allowed on the decks, I’m willing to put up with it for open space and a view. We grab our bags and climb stairs to the upper deck. At the front of the boat we discover, to our satisfaction, many seats available and few smokers. A gentle sea breeze provides fresh air and keeps the lingering smoke at bay. Early morning light illuminates tiny islands with low, fog-like clouds as we ferry out into the Aegean. To pass time, we pull out a map and guess the names of the islands as they come into view. Most appear uninhabited, barren, with just the occasional touch of green.