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'It Was This Epic Adventure': Historian Bettany Hughes On Smithsonian Channel's 'Greek Island Odyssey'

(CBS Local)-- Greece is one of the most beautiful and historic places in the world and on Monday night, viewers on the Smithsonian Channel will have the opportunity to experience both of these things in a new six-part series called "Greek Island Odyssey."

Historian and anthropologist Bettany Hughes traveled around the Greek Islands for six months to retrace the epic journey that was laid out in "The Odyssey" from Homer. Hughes explored 22 historical sites, 13 different islands and sailed on 27 different vessels. It was the trip of a lifetime for the historian.

"We overuse this term the journey of a lifetime, but it really did feel like that," said Hughes, in an interview with CBS Local's DJ Sixsmith. "It was this epic adventure and I had this mad idea that it would be interesting to follow the Greek hero Odysseus on his trail from what is modern day Turkey to the west of Greece. He took 10 years to do that and I took six months. I was on 27 different boats for 1,700 miles and I went to 13 different islands. I wanted to work out why his story mattered and why these different myths and legends still play out in all our lives."

"Greek Island Odyssey" begins Monday night at 8 p.m. EST/PST on the Smithsonian Channel. Hughes went on this journey in order to find kernels of truth behind these grand Greek myths and legends. The historian was moved by many of the little things she discovered on her trip.

"We went to this island where famously Odysseus got really drunk on local wine and somehow we managed to get really drunk on local wine," said Hughes. "It was made in the way that they made it centuries ago and that was fascinating. Then we went to these sites where warriors were buried in this incredible gold. We went to an another island where there had been a human sacrifice of a young girl. You hear a lot of stories of princesses being sacrificed to keep gold on site. Those were the little things that felt like they were the real kernels of historical truth. It was quite an adventure. We got stuck in two storms with killer waves and giant bees and an earthquake. We survived because this little team of the ship's crew and we helped each other out. To me that is what the Odyssey is all about, it's about being in the world and unexpected challenges and dangers are thrown at you."

Click here to see all the different ways you can watch the Smithsonian Channel and watch all of DJ Sixsmith's interviews from "The Sit-Down" series here.

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