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Published: August 15th 2010
On the early morning hours of day 4, we took a ferry on the deep blue Aegean Sea to our first island.. Syros was chosen because we wanted one of the 2 islands we picked not to be too touristy, and our Greek friend George suggested it.
As we approached the island from the ferry we could see the relatively small capital town of Hermoupolis set on a hill. What cached my eyes immediately were two big churches: the catholic St George Cathedral with the blue dome on top of the hill, and the Byzantine Orthodox Church of Anastasis on the middle of the hill.
Off the ferry, the first thing we did was to get lost trying to find our way to the hotel in the intertwined maze of narrow crooked streets going up the hill. Forget about reading the name of the streets in Greek, as it provided no help to us. But, the great thing about being on vacation on an island is that no one is in a hurry to go anywhere, so there is plenty of time to eventually find our way, and so we did.
We stay, like most
do, in the neoclassical capital town of HERMOUPOLIS, right of the port. Most of the tourists here aren’t foreigners, but Greek. That was perfect, since the idea was to be able to observe a more authentic Greek life.
There is a small harbor and a multitude of taverns, and cafes, many with outdoor seating under the shade provided by bougainvillea vines which have grown from one side to the other of the narrow alleys. The town sits on a hill, so there is a lot of walking up and down narrow little streets and stairs. Starting a meal by eating a delicious Greek salad, with succulent tomatoes, never fails to help as chill, since we are generally hot until the sun goes completely down after 8pm.
On our second day here we took a bus across the island, and in 20 minutes we were already on the other side, at the Galissas Bay beach. The water was perfect, the scenario nice, although not stupendous. We ended our day by eating dinner at 10:30pm, outdoors, and by midnight we were at the harbor watching a pretty good band play on a stage. The waterfront area was alive, on a
Wednesday, the bars packed, many kids still hanging awake playfully, as we headed to our hotel almost at 1am!
On the third day we went to the beach at Finikas Bay. The bus took us around the southern coastline for a glimpse of several other small bays and beaches. Beautiful scenery of the dark blue sea against the brown rocks dotted with whitewashed churches and homes!
The medieval town of Ano Syros was delightful; giving us a glimpse of true Greek laid back island life. It sits on a hill, with the majestic St. George Cathedral on its very top. We took a cab up and had to find our way down… all the way down the hill and back to the city, since there wasn’t a single taxi in sight. We were starved and at 7:15pm and all the restaurants were still closed for dinner!!! We kept wondering how the inhabitants could bear walking up and down the hill, with the power of their legs being the only option. We were ruffling and puffing and we were only going downhill!!!
But the walk was made bearable because it was down the hill through the
very picturesque narrow alleys of the ancient whitewashed town. The flowers, little houses, lazy cats, old Greek men playing board games, women just sitting on their porches, grapes hanging from vines, ready to be picked... all combined to give us a genuine glimpse of Greek island life, not touched by influence from other cultures. You could feel that it is now as it has been for a very, very long time. There were no other foreiners around.
We found our way down to another Greek tavern and savored yet another delicious meal outdoors. We always order retsina, instead of "regular" wine, to the waiters' surprise. I'm no wine drinker, but I actually enjoy the extra dry "second time around pressed" wine! Go figure!
Today is another day. “Siesta” has become a way of life for the Calis. In the afternoon, when we can no longer stand walking under the beating sun and the heat has robed us of any energy we had possessed earlier in the day, to the comfort of the air-conditioned rooms we go to recharge. This is one of those downtimes. Thus, I must go for now.
See you from the next island.
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