Monday, September 23, 2013

Delos and Chora

We are currently on a ferry, on our way from Mykonos to Athens.  I think we're expected to get there in the evening, around 8pm local time.  Since the ferry has wi-fi, it seems like a good time to update and share some pics!

Yesterday, we toured the island of Delos, which is said to be the birthplace of Apollo and his twin sister, Artemis.  Back in the day, the island was a religious center and a center of commerce, with around 30,000 inhabitants.  It was also the central location of Delian League, the military alliance formed between Athens and other local powers following the Persian Wars.  It was evidently an very diverse city, home to people of various countries and religions.  The city even had designated spots for worship of these other religions (including a Temple to Isis and the oldest Jewish Synagogue in Greece).  We took a tour of the archaeological site, which included the ruins of the agora (town square), high end shopping and residential district, amphitheater, portico, and three Greek temples.  Cool things I learned: ancient Greeks had systems for public water as well as private, indoor cisterns, they had underground public sewer systems (which would be accessed from private homes), and they utilized arches (for functional purposes, not decorative).
View from the ferry
Closer view, with the House of Trident with the roof and columns toward the right.
Some of the residential and  shopping district
The stone walls were all dry-stacked (no mortar or anything)
Lots of marble, most of it from the island of Naxos
Atrium within the House of Dionysus.  Evidently a VERY rich family, as they had a large house,
beautiful mosaic floor, and a private indoor bathroom.
House of Trident, apparently the home of some Phoenicians,
based on the lion-heads on the columns.
Public cistern, these arches (which were dry-stacked and had no keystone),
would have been supporting a roof.
Remained of the amphitheater
View from the propylaea
Random cat, listening to the tour guide talk about the Naxian Lions
Naxian lion (recreation)
4 of the 9 Naxian Lions.  One was taken by the Romans and placed in front of the armory in Venice,
3 were destroyed, and the 9th is out of frame.
Palm tree, planted near the site of the birth if Apollo and Artemis

We then visited the local Archaeological Museum of Delos, where many of the original statues, mosaics, and other artifacts are on display.

Mosaic from the atrium of the House of Dionysus.  The image shows Dionysus (god of wine/grape harvest)
 riding a tiger, presumably returning from his travels to India. 
Naxian Lions
(some info on those Lions)
Statue from the top of the Temple of the Athenians, depicting Boreas
(god of the north winds) kidnapping the princess Orithyia

Beautiful sculptures (look of the folds!)
Statue of Artemis (goddess of the hunt), killing a deer
Not sure what this is...some guardian lion, but it reminded me of Grellah for some reason :)
The entrance to the museum was, once again, crowded with local cats, who were hungry enough to swarm around crumbs of some hard crackers.  As we left, I had to stop and check them out -- shared some croissant and water.  Very cute!  Though, one of the bigger ones was pretty grabby as I tried to distribute the croissant...
Eating crackers

After Delos, we returned to the old port at Mykonos.  Since we were near to Mykonos' main town, (called Chora), we stuck around for lunch, explored the shops, and grabbed a light dinner.  Lunch for me was the delicious shrimp saganaki (recommended to me by Erin).  Now I have to learn to make it!

View of the port
View of Mykonos/Chora from the ferry
View of the section of town called Venetia (little Venice)

View of the Church of Panagia Paraportiani
Pretty view

View of sunset from the port

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Ano Mera and Agrari

We arrived in Mykonos yesterday afternoon and spent the evening getting settled in and learning to area a little bit.  Had a nice dinner at a local taverna.  Today (Saturday), we rented a car and drove around the island.  The roads are really narrow, windy, and steep in a lot of places.  Most of the island seems to be arid, rocky hills and valleys.  Lots of rock walls and shrubby ground cover.

Anyway, we headed toward the center of the island to a town called Ano Mera.  Nearby is a place called Paleokastro, which is home to a monastery and the remains of an ancient castle.  The drive up to Paleokastro was kind of crazy, but the view was nice, and the scenery of the drive was cool.

Bougainvillea near out hotel entrance.  These were all over Santorini too!  Really beautiful AND cool because the pink parts, which look like flowers, are actually modified leaves (bracts), surrounding tiny white flower clusters.

Wider shot of the entrance

Another view

The roads of Mykonos.

Overlooking Panormos Bay and Ftelia beach

Remains of the old castle.  The monastery is hidden on the other side of the hill.

A panaoramic, just in case :)
Once we'd had enough of old castle remains, we headed back down to the main square of Ano Mera and had a snack.  Had something called ekmek during lunch, which seemed to be a Greek version of the Australian "snot-blocks".  (Tasty.)  The town seemed to be crawling with little cats.  At lunch, the waiter taught me a few Greek phrases, including "eisai gata", which means "you're clever/smart/cunning", but directly translates to "you're a cat".  Makes sense to me.
Here's a cat selling souvenirs
And being pet

Cat sleeping

A little church.  Part of the nearby Panagia Tourliani monastery, I think.

Cat sleeping

Guarding the restaurant

Being cute

Doing their thing
After Ano Mera, we headed down to Agrari beach, which was a nice spot to sit and paint a little bit.  Pretty water and a nice view of the surrounding hills.

Towards the end of the day, the sun is setting in the opposite direction,
lighting up this hill and making it very orange.

Tomorrow: a tour of nearby Delos island.