Wednesday, 12 October 2016

MY BIG FAT GREEK HOLIDAY (Part III): DELOS ISLAND


My recollection of Greek and Roman mythology is just about the same as remembering events in my life when I was about five. I think I was 15 when I had a high school subject dedicated to learning about Grecian and Roman Gods. More than two decades later, I only hear about the Gods in connection with astrology.


Unlike any other holidays I've had in Europe, this one in Mykonos was not intended for any booked walking or boat tour. I wanted to go by how I felt. For the most part, I did not want to do anything scheduled. I didn't even want to think. Nor talk. My daily life involves all of these I didn't want any of it while away. 


But when you're constantly on the go whether physically or mentally, it becomes unbearable at some point to just sleep or lie on a sun lounger the whole day. Curiosity doesn't and couldn't rest. 


I love history--what came with it, and what's left of it. While I don't live in the past, I believe I have inhabited some periods of it, hence the appetite for people, places, and events I've read about since childhood. Someone once described me as an old soul. I like that. It inversely corroborates my biological age. 


As Athens was just a stopover, Delos Island was the nearby archaeological site to visit. We were the last passengers to get on the 35-minute boat ride from Mykonos. It was unplanned; we were just checking the timings when we arrived at the port just in time for a boat to depart. We were not prepared at all for the striking heat concentrated on bare land.




Spot the intruder



Part of an agora












Delos was a major religious centre and port during the 1st Millennium B.C., and is regarded as the mythological birthplace of twins Apollo and Artemis. The French School of Athens has been excavating since 1872 and they have come into major archaeological finds comparable to those in Delphi and Olympia. The artefacts can be found in the Archaeological Museum of Delos in the site itself. Delos is in UNESCO's World Heritage List since 1990. 







Terrace of the Lions of  Delos


















































Aboard the boat for Mykonos, with Delos in the background



For more information on how to get to Delos, click HERE. Information is also available at the new port. Prepare for lots of walking under the sun (the only covered area is a small cafe and the museum which are both far from the entrance), water, sunblock, and patience to go thru all the artefacts in situ. There are guided tours if you wish. The area is massive, being once a cosmopolitan Mediterranean port. I suggest that you read about the island beforehand to find out which spots on the site to take a closer look at, and promise me that you'll take better photos.













A chapel atop a rocky hill seen on the way back to Mykonos








I needed a respite from a work life that's increasingly stressful and tedious. Getting away from the desk always works wonders, until you're back. The story repeats itself. But hey, that's life. 


Click PART I and PART II if you missed both.





Wednesday, 5 October 2016

MY BIG FAT GREEK HOLIDAY (Part II): MYKONOS TOWN



After dropping the idea of Santa Eulalia in Ibiza, It was a choice between Mykonos and Santorini. Everyone swears by the views of the latter. I've seen images online and I couldn't agree more. But if sunsets were the attraction I'm after, I'm partial to wintry ones. I think the sun setting over freezing waters and snow is fantastic. What Santorini lacks, Mykonos has: beaches right on your doorstep. 



In Mykonos, I was drawn to contrasts between blood reds, greens, blue paon, Mykonian blues, and whites set against clear and bright cloudless skies which reflect its overcast shadows onto the sea at times. The Cycladic town is distinctly rough around the edges, built with imperfect lines and silhouettes, whitewashed to government-mandated colours, but certainly not without a natural beauty to show off.


It's side street heaven. Where the roads in the centre of town are the width of a double bed, motorists and pedestrians share the right of way.  Balconies spill over streets, in clear violation of planning boundaries in big cities, but negligible for spatial reasons and are actually architecturally charming. 



Here are some impressions I made.








A distant view of Mykonos Town on a boat coming back from Delos







Little Venice


Mykonos regulars say it's a must to have cocktails or two at Little Venice. I agree--only when it's not crowded, which I think will never be the case. I was put off by the non-stop comings and goings of punters by the narrow strip. I can't eat or drink when someone's posterior is almost brushing against my cutlery. Try it anyway if you're into crowds. 











Queued up almost for archery



The 16th-century Chora windmills are a distinctive feature of the Mykonian landscape. They were used until the early 20th century for milling flour. Some refurbished ones currently serve as homes or depository of important Mykonian historical documents. These ones are atop a hill overlooking the sea and Little Venice.













The obligatory pose by the windmills 



You can have your windmill cake and eat it, too

















Another distinguishing feature of Mykonos is the number of churches and chapels dotted around the Chora or main town, and surrounding villages. It is estimated that there are around 800 in the whole of the island, with 60 in the centre of town alone. Some are really old and have been designated as historical monuments by the Greek government, and some are privately erected by the locals as a form of devotion to their patron saints or certain events. I visited this Catholic one pictured here, located near the windmills. I usually find the coolness of chapels comforting. This one was exceptionally warm. It was probably me burning as the last time I went to church was in January this year.




















Panagia Paraportiani or Church of our Lady



A church on top of a rocky hill. I have mentioned in posts from previous years that I don't like grand cathedrals. I prefer chapels and small churches situated in the most unexpected places





















When a holiday destination is shown on social media with only its most appealing (oftentimes filtered) parts, I look for its imperfections which some visitors can be detached from because it's not what they came for, but they're characteristic of the place which add to its uniqueness that I will not find anywhere else.









Blues and blue greens everywhere. 























For sale, anyone?



I may go back next year. Perhaps a move from Agios Ioannis to Megali Ammos. In the meantime, I shall remember the good times through a Greek-made pareo I purchased as a souvenir printed with 'summer in Greece' --in Greek of course.


If you missed Part I of My Big Fat Greek Holiday, click HERE.




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