Today we had the ultimate experience in sailing. The sea was rather rough, reaching about 6 on the Beaufort scale. Tom announced to us during the course of the day that we had reached a speed of 11.5 knots in full sail – this was a record for the season!
We had sailed all during the previous night from the northern part of the Aegean and Skyros down to the Cycladic islands, in full sail and with a full moon…how much better can it get?
While we were sailing by the island of Tinos, the winds had become even stronger, the waves higher and the sound of the wind even louder. During her lecture about the history of Greece, Elli interrupted herself to repeat a saying of her grandmother, she was from Tinos and they used to say that the wind was blowing napkins, chairs, tables or bells when it was very strong! Well, I think it was blowing tables! At this crucial moment Tom and our captain made a very wise decision. It was impossible to put the tender boats into the sea and board them to visit the island of Tinos, it would have been very uncomfortable for us all. The wisest thing was to change the program and head for the island of Syros, it has one of the largest and safest harbors of the Cycladic.
I think that Poseidon had good reason to send us to Syros instead, he knew better….as we all loved it! So plan B brought us to the capital of the Cyclades or to the “lady of the Cycladic,” as it named! Indeed she is a beautiful lady with beautiful houses, churches and marble streets! We strolled around the town gazing at the tow hills that stand above the city that have two very different neighborhoods. The top of one hill is adorned with the church of St. George of the Catholics and the other one with the Orthodox Church of the Transfiguration. So, on one hill lived the Catholic and on the other the Orthodox while further below by the sea was the church of “St. Nicholas of The Rich”….where the houses of the wealthy ship owners were built! Well, this sounded rather unusual to us! The town by the waterfront was named Ermoupolis after Hermes, the messenger of the gods and the one that protected commerce.
We wondered through the town and its marble streets soon reaching the Church of Panagia, Virgin Mary, where a surprise was waiting for us. We stood in front of an icon that was painted from Dominikos Theotokopoulos. And who was he? Well, he was a Cretan painter that lived and worked in Crete, then moved to Venice where he painted with Titian and then eventually went to Spain where he finally lived. By then his name had been changed to El Greco, the Greek. We admired a byzantine icon of his, painted while he was still in Crete, and one of the two pieces ever found!
We walked past the stunning town hall of Syros and then up to the theater that is a copy of the Scala of Milan. We also visited the church of St. Nicholas of the Rich and then wandered through some more neighborhoods that were covered with bougainvillea flowers.
The town was so inviting and authentic that a lot of us decided to have dinner in one of the local taverns where the tastes were so authentically Greek. Others had dinner onboard but walked back through the town to have a nightcap and enjoy the lovely relaxing atmosphere. The reflection of the moon on the calm sea was so soothing and poetic….Poseidon knew best!