Sunday, March 25, 2012

My Favourite Greece Moments

On Mykonos we stayed in a very quaint and small hotel called Pelican Bay. It was named after the island mascot, Petros the pelican, who walks through the town every day under the watchful eye of its caretaker. Our neighbours were donkeys, goats and chickens and we awoke to a rooster. It is said that Mykonos is the place where Zeus battled with Gigantes and that it was named after Apollo's grandson, Mykons. The Ionians built the first cities in the 11th centruy BCE.
I love the Hora (the town of Mykonos), with its white washed stones and streets that were purposefully made in a maze to discourage invasions. There are many chapels on the island. During storms sailors and pirates would promise to build a chapel if God returned them safely home. This part of the Hora is called Little Venice. In the past it flooded every year and, as a result, balconies were built from one house to another house to give a means of escape.

This is the Paraportiani, a church. Part of the church dates back to 1425. It has a door in the roof to allow an escape route if invaded.

On an island off Mykonos we visited Delos, an ancient city on an island. It was a centre of commerce and religion where people from around the Mediterannean traded goods and worshipped their gods in their own temples. We sure could learn from them today about religious tolerance! Today the island is one large archaeological dig.

The second island we visited was Santorini. Thousands of years ago, around 1450 BCE, Santorini was one island, then there was a catastrophic volcanic eruption that altered the island forever. The dome was blown off and water flooded the caldera resulting in three islands. The people who lived on the island, the Minoans, escaped although it is thought that their civilization sudenly disappeared, possibly from the tsunami that resulted from the earthquakes. Today the towns are built on the side of the cliff and the volcano continues to be active. To get to the old port you can either take a cable car down or walk down on the road that goes back and forth along the cliff. Donkeys frequent this road. On Santorini we stayed in a resort-like hotel called the El Greco in Fira. Santorini has a black beach and a red beach - the result of volcanic eruptions. We spent time in the morning on the black beach in Kamari enjoying the waves and the sun. The sand is gritty and hurts the feet to walk on.

We weaved back and forth as the taxi took us up the hill of Mesa Vuono to the ancient city of Thira. I would think that the people who lived here once upon a time would probably seldom come down since it is quite the climb up. When you look down one side of the hill you see the town of Perissa and looking down the other side of the hill you see Kamari.

Lastly, we visited Oia to see the sunset. I could live here with its troglodite looking buildings.

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