Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hiking the Greek Islands, Part 5: Mykonos

Quote of the Day:
There is nothing like walking to get the feel of a country. A fine landscape is like a piece of music; it must be taken at the right tempo. Even a bicycle goes too fast. ~Paul Scott Mowrer,
The House of Europe

Mykonos was our 5th island after Tinos, Naxos, Amorgos and Santorini in our September get-away hike on the Greek Islands:

Hiking the Greek Islands, Part 1: Tinos
Hiking the Greek Islands, Part 2: Naxos
Hiking the Greek Islands, Part 3: Amorgos
Hiking the Greek Islands, Part 4: Santorini
Hiking the Greek Islands, Part 5: Mykonos

After saying good-bye to our tour group in Santorini, the two of us trouped on for another day and-a-half to explore Mykonos and near-by Delos.

Mykonos, with a population of 9,320, is known as a party island with lots of bars and clubs, gay and straight, for late nights. The days are for lounging and sunning on one of the many beaches, some of the most famous accessible by small boat. There are crowds of people everywhere and local buses are packed for standing room only on many of the rides from the beaches into Mykonos Town.

Wall to wall chaises, typical on the more touristic Greek Isles, were just outside our hotel, and stretched along the Platys Gialos beachfront that featured one restaurant after another.

For dinner that first night, we opted for a less touristy area, just north of here, and enjoyed a great low-cost meal that introduced us to what has become our favorite Greek desert--Karidopita, a delicious cake with walnuts. Be sure to ask for it the next time you visit a Greek eatery.

The next morning, we took the 25 minute ferry ride to Delos.

Oh, Delos. Delos is an outdoor archeological museum, once having been the most holy religious center for all of Greece. After a purification ceremony in 426 BC when all graves were exhumed and remains moved to a near-by island, no one was allowed to be born, live or die there. It does have a great museum which features objects that have been removed from the site to protect them against the elements.

There is also a nice giftee shoppe on Delos. One of us bought a small, ceramic vessel shaped like a pomegranate. It's decorated with two bands of a checkerboard pattern, common to the 7th century B.C., and a file of black painted water birds. The pomegranate was native to Greece and symbolized the fertility of the earth and good luck.

Here's all that's left of some centuries-old Roman notable.
"Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare.
The lone and level sands stretch far away."
"Ozymandias" by Percy Bysshe Shelley

One of tramps stands at the propylees, the vestibule of a Greek Temple, admiring a body-less statue. Woman to woman, bridging the eons.

Step right up, folks. Pausing on the way to the museum to point out an altar featuring a bullhead.

Inside the museum, the work goes on. A statue is being reconstructed.

The famous marble Delos lions, removed from the Terrace of the Lions, replaced by plaster replicas, are ensconced inside the museum. They originally numbered 16, but only 9 have survived. They are reminiscent of the Avenue of the Sphinxes at Luxor, Egypt.

We could have spent several more hours, but suddenly realized the last ferry would be leaving soon...

The weather had changed and the bartender on the ferry had to stack seasickness bags on the counter before she served up the drinks. We got a good tossing around...

and by the time we were back on Mykonos, the monster wind, the meltemi, was whipping us about as we made our way around the port.

Pelicans, long a perennial tourist attraction, had abandoned their usual haunt at the dock for the protection of this inland shelter against the fierce onslaught of the meltemi.

We made our way up into Mykonos Town for the evening. Again, we say, the sea was angry that day, my friends. We sat at one of the many watering holes in Little Venice to enjoy the sunset and a powerful drink made of Jamaican coffee, rum, and a whole bunch of other stuff. It was delicious, but it kept us up all night.

The winding streets of this island can be most enchanting at night.

Under the spell, one of us bought a gold and silver ring with a mini-mosaic panel that flips from one design to another. It's really two rings in one, plus a necklace.

The door closes on our escapades in Greece, but we can always lift that gorgeous Venetian, ringed knocker and re-enter for more.

But for now, thaaaat's it, folks.... For sure, our adventure continues. Who knows where????