Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Santorini, Greece Part 2 Vlychada cliffs

I wondered, had Gaudi visited Santorini? It looks like he had a hand in designing these remarkable pumice cliffs. The beach itself is coarse, black, volcanic sand.

A natural doorway, right at beach level.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Santorini, Greece Part 1

A hydrofoil ferry only took two hours to get to Santorini from Mykonos. Santorini (which is its Italian name under Venetian rule in the 13th century -- Thira is its true Greek name) is a giant caldera. Once a round island, it was blown apart by a volcanic eruption 3,600 years ago during the height of the Minoan civilization. There is a volcano in the center of the large, spectacular lagoon.
Approaching the port, villages hug the cliffsides high above the lagoon.

As we got closer to the shore, I noticed a switchback road. I couldn't quite believe they actually created a road on a cliff that steep.
Ah, but they did. The traffic zips up and down these cliffs all day and night.
Santorini is famous for its sunsets, and every evening crowds stop to admire the light, the reflections, and the colors.

Fira, the largest town on the island, has a large assortment of shops,restaurants and hotels. Many have terraces, even small pools cantilevered over the cliffside. The views they offer are surreal, especially magical in the evening hours.

Island of Delos, Greece

Just off the coast of Mykonos is the tiny island of Delos, one of the most important archeological sites in Greece. It is a vast ruined city, with boulevards lined with temples, luxurious homes and agoras. Approaching the shore, one can clearly imagine the scope and scale of the place that was said to be the birthplace of Apollo, and therefore a major cult center. It was very hot that day.

Delos is probably most famous for its stone lions (600 BC) (these are copies -- some of the originals are in the on-site museum.

The Delos Museum is small but has some beautiful relics like these.

It takes hours to roam the city. I walked down from the top of this theatre.
The Temple of Isis was built during the Roman period to venerate the Egyptian goddess.
On either side of the platform of Stoibadeion, dedicated to Dionysus, are two large phallus sculptures (300 BC). The relief scene celebrates a theatrical performance.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Mykonos, Greece

On my third day in Athens, I boarded a large ferry to Mykonos. I've never been on a cruise, so this was as close as I've gotten. It was a six hour trip and stopped at a few other islands along the way. The ferries are modern and quite civilized, with large reserved sections (where people without rservations will try to steal your seat if you leave it unattended), large screen TVs, snack bars and outdoor deck seating.

The Mykonos shoreline.
The ferry landed at Mykonos Town's port, which is famous for its nighttime partying but also has some rather charming steep stair streets like these.

My hotel was at the very quiet Elia Beach. I was intrigued by the numerous tiny chapels dotting the island.
The view from my hotel room of Elia Beach.
Around 4 AM, moonlight woke me up so I went out on the deck and took this picture.