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When Kit Parks of the Active Travel Adventures podcast took the Cyclades and Saronic Islands cycling and sailing tour, she’d never been to Greece, but was bowled over by the beauty of the islands, the sea around them and, as she mentions numerous times in her podcast about her trip, the food.

In the podcast, she offers lots of observations and advice, most of which involve trust and flexibility.

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Trust the locals

Kit starts her story even before she starts the tour, with a pre-tour lunch in the port at a local restaurant. Initially, Kit thought their waiter was being rude, because he rejected what she and her sister, who joined her on the trip, wanted to order. Instead, he declared, he would give them a much better menu. Worried they might get overcharged, the two women decided to go with the flow and see what happened.

It turned out that the waiter brought them a wonderful meal – “exquisite” is the word Kit uses – that was distinctly cheaper than what they had wanted to order. Her advice: “Trust the locals.”

Foto: CC/ | Active Travel Adventure

Trust the crew

“Trust the locals” extends to the crew on the ship as well. On Kit’s Cyclades and Saronic Islands tour, the ship’s crew included two tour leaders, both conveniently named Dionysus. As Kit tells it, these two were extremely helpful. They told stories, for example, relating ancient Greek mythology to the places the group passed through. When it became clear early on that the group included lots of what Kit calls “water babies,” the tour leaders would make sure to add a stop in a cove where they could “take a quick dip in the crisp water.”

Foto: CC/ | Active Travel Adventure

Be flexible

Kit talks about the crew’s flexibility as well as the passengers. When the ship’s cook had to leave the ship due to a family emergency, it was no problem: Stefanos, the ship’s engineer, stepped into her place, cooking the dinners for the rest of the trip. In Kit’s experience on several Boat Bike Tours, the crew is very flexible, with everyone able to do more than one job and pitching in as necessary.
That flexibility is needed from the passengers sometimes too. On Kit’s Greek island tour, the weather wasn’t great at the beginning of the tour – it was windy, making the open water portions of the route quite rough. No problem: the captain decided to do the entire route backwards, meaning that the ship could stay in calmer waters until after the high winds passed. One day they even visited an island that wasn’t on the itinerary to avoid biking in a high-wind area.
Kit’s advice: “Leave it to them.” The captain and crew know what they’re doing and they want to make it the best trip possible. Trust them and stay flexible with your expectations.
The guests on her trip had no problem being flexible. “People who choose to go on these kinds of tours are self-selected to be cool,” says Kit in her podcast. “They’re really chill. I’ve never seen a princess or anybody who bitches about any mishaps.”
The guests, by the way, were very international, and all but one spoke English – though he traveled with a friend who could translate for him. They became a close and friendly group very quickly, sharing this adventure together.

Foto: CC/ | Active Travel Adventure

Choose an ebike

Kit rode an ebike on this trip, while her sister rode a manual. Each day, the distance was about 15 to 22 miles (25-35 kilometers) and on every island the group would bicycle uphill to a high viewpoint. That means it wasn’t as easy as Boat Bike Tours’ trips in flat-as-a-pancake Netherlands, and while five of the guests started on manual bikes, only two stuck with the manual bike every day of the trip. The other three switched to ebikes when one was available.
In Kit’s view, the ebike was the best choice on this tour, mostly because with an ebike you can enjoy the scenery more, rather than focusing on making it up that next hill. While she kept it in “eco” mode (the lowest setting on an ebike) most of the time, she did have to shift it up to “tour” mode sometimes, and on one big hill she turned it all the way up to “turbo” mode.
That doesn’t mean that ebikes are easy, though. They still require work, and while you get some help from them, they’re also heavier.

Foto: CC/ | Active Travel Adventure

Train ahead of time

Training is key, according to Kit. After all, you’ll be spending about four hours on a bike every day, and it’s not flat terrain on this trip. Not only should you do some cardio and train your leg muscles. In Kit’s words, you also need to “get your bottom used to sitting on a bike seat that long.”

Foto: CC/ | Active Travel Adventure

Listen to the podcast

In her podcast, Kit tells a lot more about her impressions of the Greek islands she visited – she uses the word “beautiful” a lot! – and her admiration for how well-run and well-thought-out Boat Bike Tours are. She gives lots of good advice as well. Give it a listen, and if it makes you want to take the Cyclades and Saronic Islands tour – or any of our Boat Bike Tours – get in touch!

Are you dreaming of your own journey to the Greek Islands?

Would you like to discover the Cyclades and Saronic Islands by bike and boat? Do you have questions about this or another trip from our program? Our travel experts are here for you. You can reach us at 1-203-814-1249 in the US or +31-20-72-35-400 in the Netherlands. Or send an email to [email protected]. We are happily looking forward to hearing from you!

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