Was Santorini Atlantis?

Really, if you want to know the answer to that you had better check with Wiki Answers or King Minos.  What I do know is that after sailing to 20 Greek Islands, Santorini captivated us. The grandiose scale of island as well as the striking colours ranging from obsidian black to red earth to creamy white tufa.

We discovered that it is a very big island, with looming volcanic cliffs. There is no real anchoring for a small yacht like ours.  We only saw commercial ships, gulets and cruise liners. The four of us took a ferry, from Naxos leaving Mercier under the watchful eye of Harbourmaster Nikos.

The ferry sailed straight into the caldera.  We were literally in the volcano, looking up at the cliffs.  The ferry docked and we went straight onto a bus.  We were driven up steep, switch back roads a kilometer straight up to Oia.

Oia
Oia looking out over the Caldera

The lovely village of Oia, was our destination, at the northern tip of the island.  This be the home of vampires of Santorini, not to mention the pirates.. Not surprising when you remember the tortuous road up the hill and the sheers cliffs.

James and Davo - our intrepid explorers
James and Davo – our intrepid explorers

Later on we were taken to Fira, the Chora or capital of Santorini.  Here you see something scarier than vampires and that is gross insensitive tourism.  If you are interested in coming to Santorini, come outside  of the months of  July or August.  Don’t come for a day trip, stay a few days so that you can enjoy the views, black sand beaches and the sunsets. We escaped to a wonderful cliffside restaurant for moussaka, greek salad and a bit of tzatziki .

Boats and ships
Boats and ships
Our hidey hole in Fira
Our escape in Fira

We loved Santorini, but after a day trip it is still on our bucket list, another time for several days.

Black Volcanic beaches
Black Volcanic beaches

Syros Lunches and Mykonos excitement

Geoff and Debbie Davidson have arrived, James and I  have to split up to meet them at the ferry, because the traffic on the ferry comes off and splits east or west.  We take a cab back to Finikas, stow gear and jump on the next bus back to Ermoupolis.

We stroll around town and in the convoluted alleys with the best restaurants. It’s warm, blue skies and finally not blowing a gale of a meltemi. We settle on a restaurant, Archontariki Thalassa and have mezzes for lunch, sharing salads and kebabs and grilled haloumi and sit down to catch up on gossip from Sydney and the RSYS.

Debbie and Geoff - Vaporia
Debbie and Geoff – Vaporia

There seems no quieter time than Sunday afternoon on a Greek Island.  The bustle of the work week or Saturday night’s passegiata seems to go completely still and only four wander around Hermoupoli streets and laneways looking over bays and beaches. The clearness of the water surrounding us is dazzling.

We finally succumb to the heat and stop for a drink at Ploes Cafe in Vaporia.  Down an alley with a lookout of blue azure, we could stop for awhile and contemplate the catamaran that seemed to be sailing nowhere.  The meltemi had eased but it was still very strong in the channel between Syros and Tinos.

Deb at the Cafe of the Ploes Hotel
Deb at the Cafe of the Ploes Hotel

.We woke on Monday, filled the water tanks and said goodbye to Nikos, the wonderful Harbourmaster of Finikas Marina and took off for Mykonos.

The meltemi causes a jet effect once we are out of the relatively calm waters of Syros.  We can see Tinos off to the east and Mykonos down to our south east.  The wind picks up and so do the short choppy waves and confused seas. Geoff steered to give us a more comfortable ride and also because there is almost nothing Geoff would rather do than steer a boat. The winds seem to alternate between five knots and fifty knots.

Mykonos is very unlike most of the islands we have been to so far, sailing into the busy harbour after quiet Finikas was almost a culture shock. There is no lee until you are fully in the harbour, trying to bring in the sails in high winds while dancing between inter-island ferries, local sea bus ferries and fishing boats. At one point I hear a calm Geoff say ” Well Merro, do we have a plan?”.

Mykonos
Mykonos

Mykonos looks quiet in the photo above, doesn’t it?  Mykonos is Greece’s answer to St. Tropez. Dazzling, commercial, frenetic and beautiful, but the old beauty shines through.

Mykonos Windmills
Mykonos Windmills

 

Mykonos beach
Mykonos beach

A gallery of Finikas and Ano Syros

These are two of the suburbs on the island of Syros.  Finikas is a resort area and the marina is here.

Here is how our day started.  I went out early and took a few photos of Finikas Marina and some of the beautiful boats here.  One which is quite beautiful looks like it may be a canal boat.  Note the clear water under the tiller and the varnish.  It makes me think of Swanno and Richard Lawson, no one varnishes like those two.

Tiller of the canal boat, clear water
Tiller of the canal boat, clear water

The smallest fuel truck in the world came and brought us fuel. No going to the fuel wharf for us, they just drive right to us.

Small fuel truck
Small fuel truck

 

Our errands done, we wanted to  see if the bay in Hermoupolis was as quiet as Finikas.  The boats there were rolling side to side.  That was before the ferry came into the bay.  Finikas Marina is much calmer in the meltemi, although perhaps not in a southerly or westerly.  We continued on our way to the Old medieval town of Ano Syros, which was the Venetian fortress and remains the Catholic part of town.  It is above the city of Hermoupolis.  It is a town of winding streets and stairs, not only to foil pirates by battling them one at a time and also to offer protection from the wind.

 

Ano Syros
Ano Syros

 

This area is famous for being the birthplace of Greek Blues and there is a monument to Vamvarkis, a celebrated ‘rebetiko’ or blues singer.  He is known in Greece as the Patriarch of the Blues Singers.

Colorful monument to Markos Vamvarkis, the reknown Greek Blues singer from Ano Syros.
Colorful monument to Markos Vamvarkis, the renown Greek Blues singer, from Ano Syros.

The views are always at the top, aren’t they?

Hermoupolis
Hermoupolis – looking down onto St Nicholas Church

 

 

The Bay of Hermoupolis
The Bay of Hermoupolis

 

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY, Y’ALL!!!

Tinos Villages to Syros

What to do in a meltemi?  Swimming in the churned up water is not an option nor is a nice quiet sail.  We decided to take the city bus all around the hill top villages of Steni, Monastiria, Komi, Krokos to see all of the dovecotes and gardens we had read about.

 Dovecote, Tinos

Dovecote, Tinos

 

The Venetians were part of the history of Tinos creating a safe haven on the great rock, Exompourgo. The Venetians found creating dovecotes meant they would have meat and eggs but they would also garden with the collected droppings.  Over the centuries in these barren islands Tinos with it dovecotes is one of the lushest. The dovecotes or peristeriones were highly decorated with some houses looking rather romantically, just like a dovecote.

Dovecote house, Tinos
Dovecote house, Tinos

On Tuesday morning, we slipped away from Tinos town early and headed over to the island of Syros.  After days of 50 knot winds, we would have been lucky to have 5 knots for our journey.

We motored into the sleepy harbour of Finikas, with it’s lovely marina, beautiful bay and beaches and only a short bus trip to Hermoupolis.  Hermoupolis is sacred to Hermes the god of commerce, this is the largest city in the Cyclades. Also known as Ermoupoli, it has a beautiful natural bay and gorgeous buildings rising up to Ano Syros.  It has a beautiful town square, Plateia Miaouli, paved in marble lined in palm trees and cafes.

Plateia Miaouli
Plateia Miaouli
Ciity of Hermes, Syros
City of Hermes, Syros
Shadows
Shadows

There will be more on Ermoupolis, we hope you come back to take a look. Friday and Saturday we expect another meltemi but we are snug at Finikas, waiting for Debbie and Geoff Davidson to join us.  We hope Stephen and Rosemary made it home safely.