Greek Memories

The Greek flag might be the prettiest of all the flags, especially flying on an island that is blue and white forever

Greek Flags

I loved the street art in Athens, particularly.

Athens street art

But I found this beautiful piece on a Heraklion building at the ocean’s edge right across from the bus station, immortalizing Icarus for all time.

Mykonos street art - Icarus

These little shrines are everywhere

Greek orthodox shrine

made of every possible material and containing icons, candles and occasionally statuary. They’re sometimes quite big and grand

Greek Orthodox Shrine

I saw so many different shrines along our road in Crete and wanted Corey to stop at every one so I could take pictures but we all know I wouldn’t have lived to write this post had I done that…

And speaking of driving, can we talk about the parking?

Greek parking

I mean, do whatever you want. Shade is the best. Obviously.

There aren’t enough words for Greece’s beautiful beaches

Falasarna beach

Or their Greek salads.

Greek salad

Americans could learn a thing or two about that cheese – > veggie ratio. And Corey was rapturous about the oregano.

Greece you’re lovely in every way. I can’t wait to see you again.

Mykonos

Ruins upon Ruins in Delos

Rick Steves thinks travellers to Greece would benefit from a lot of prior education about the art and history of the country because “most of the cool stuff is locked up behind glass.”

He’s right about that because without a degree in Ancient Columns and Pottery Remains, I found myself flagging after Athens. There just isn’t much of anything left in Greece and all of it requires so much reading and imagination.

Delos

Every guidebook entry sounds like this:

“Over here is the remains of a (temple/sanctuary) dedicated to (Apollo/Zeus/Athena). Back in the day there were (walls/floors/statues) which have been (removed/stolen/appropriated by colonial powers) and now live in (museums/rich people’s houses). What you see here is a (replica/picture/empty space) where once there was something glorious. Imagine how great it used to be. Also, there used to be colors. But now it’s just white stone. All over the ground.”

Delos

Will I sound shallow if I say that a couple afternoons of ruined rock and crashed out columns is enough? Maybe. But it’s still the truth.

Delos is where I hit the ruins wall. I wanted everything on this island to be more than it is.

Delos

I’m also willing to admit that I did the whole trip wrong.

What we should have done is packed some food, wine and a tent, gone over on the afternoon ferry, staked out a spot on the high point on the island and put up that tent.

Then we could have eaten a picnic under the Mediterranean sun, taken a dip in the sea, watched the sun set, eaten some cheese and drunk some wine under the stars, slept on a wild remote island in the middle of Greece and woken up to see these ruined sights before there were any tourists on the island. Then we could have hopped the first ferry back to Mykonos.

THAT would be a night worth having. And maybe I’m making that option up? It sounds a 1960s version of a Greek vacation, but it certainly seems delightful, doesn’t it?

What we actually did is we bought tickets to the 10am ferry – 20 euro – and then tickets to the site itself – 12 euro – and we wandered around for a couple hours and looked at things.

And some of the things there are beautiful.

Delos

Delos was a spiritual center of the ancient world and the birth place of Apollo and Athena. At various times over the centuries it’s been a giant shipping port and a place of religious pilgrimage. Under orders from the Oracle in Delphi (her again!) all dead bodies were purged from the island and it was decreed that no one could give birth or die there. They didn’t want anyone to be able to claim the island in any way so they could preserve it’s cultural neutrality.

I didn’t cut that straight from the guidebook but it sounds like it.

These lions are famous. They were built facing east towards the lake where Apollo was born and set to guard the temple.

Lions of Delos

Lions of Delos

They are, of course, replicas. sigh.

That’s probably why I got so excited about this floor. It’s original! That mosaic floor, the one right there in the picture, was laid over 1000 years ago.

Delos

Those tiles are minute. Probably an inch across. And all laid by hand. That kind of thing blows my mind.

So after wandering around in the hot sun we had a beer, made friends with the island cats and then we went back to Mykonos. Total time = 4 hours.

Delos

Now, on the ferry we did make friends with the Caldwells from Oregon who regaled us with tales of their 7 week tour of Greece and told us about spending Semana Santa in a remote part of Greece, driving through tiny towns that all had baby lambs spit roasted in front of their homes in celebration. Their stories made the whole trip worthwhile.

Delos itself I found hot, dusty, dry (in climate and content) and very very ruined. I needed something to make it come alive and I didn’t really find it. Perhaps next time, I’ll try for the 1960s vacation version.

Delos

Fortunately the final portion of the vacation was my favorite! Crete is next.

Chillin’ on Mykonos Island

We flew from Athens to Mykonos because we’d heard plane flights were slightly more reliable forms of transportation than the ferry. Ferries are subject to weather whereas airlines always fly.

Well.

Theoretically this might be true but the reality – per usual – was somewhat different. Perhaps because we flew Volotea? Perhaps because Greece where the motto clearly is “Calm down please, you will get there at some point”?

Either way, we got to the airport with at least an hour and a half to spare only to encounter the longest slowest most chaotic check-in process involving a very unclear set up. There was a line, and then there was another line, everyone was everywhere and the check in process was taking about 13 minutes per person…

After we’d been in line for over an hour, our flight was scheduled to leave in about 20 minutes and we were supposed to already be boarding but clearly we were still in line surrounded by people also headed to Mykonos. The airline attendants tried a couple of times to marshal everyone flying to Mykonos to the front of the line but that line jumping enraged multiple foreigners of all nationalities, all of whom were wearing straw hats and flip flops and had been standing in line forever so they could get their island beer drinking started already.

There are no more angry people than the ones trying to get to a beach vacation.

In blatant defiance of the attendants, a French girl in front of us used her suitcase to block an entire group of people from swarming our line and we kind of swooped in right behind her and finally got checked in and at our gate with about 5 minutes to spare.

Was there anything happening at the gate? No. Were we boarding? No. So, we got a plane beer and some Pringles and settled in.

Flying Volotea

Half an hour later we finally got on the plane, and then we sat there and sat there. Then the captain came on the overhead announcement to announce that the runway of Mykonos was too crowded and it would be 2 hours and 45 minutes before we could even take off.

Dude… cue the outrageous outrage all over the plane. “Are we going to deplane??” “I can’t possibly sit here for 2 more hours!” “This is ridiculous!” “How can they do this!!” etc. etc. etc.

Corey just shrugged and said “We’re flying the Chicken Bus of the Sky. What do they expect?”

Flying Volotea

What indeed.

20 minutes after the outrage had died down to furious muttering, the plane took off. “Just kidding about that 2 hour and 45 minute delay! Hahaha!”

And 30 minutes after that, and only an hour or so late, we landed on Mykonos.

Mykonos

You guys! It’s so pretty!!!

Mykonos

Everything you think of when you hear “Greek Island” is happening here in Mykonos Town where it’s just blue and white forever.

Mykonos City

Mykonos

Mykonos

We stayed just down the road from Mykonos Town at the Harmony Boutique Hotel, which I would recommend.

Welcome drink, check

Harmony Boutique Hotel

Pool and ocean: check and check
IMG_1892

Walking distance from the town but not actually in the town, check

Mykonos

We spent a solid day here just relaxing, There isn’t much to do but shop, go to the beach and see these windmills

Mykonos Windmills

So I did all those things and still had lots of time to sleep and eat sea food and read a book by the pool.

This grilled sea bream was delicious

Sea bream

As was this tzatziki

tzatziki

And we could see the sunset from our poolside chairs

Sunset on Mykonos

This was our first day where we did basically nothing and just relaxed. I hear some people take vacations and this is all they do! I think it’s remarkable and I recommend it highly.

But we clearly aren’t those people because we left this idyllic beachside town the next day and went to Delos. Are you ready for more crashed out columns?? Cuz that’s my next post…