At Sea and Island of Tinos
The Sea Cloud sailed throughout the night at approximately 5 knots, giving all on board a gentle ride as she headed for her afternoon destination of the island of Tinos, one of the northern most of the Cycladic Islands. The area of the Aegean we were traveling in is known for its wind and this morning we were not disappointed! At 8:00am Captain Pushkarev gave the order to raise a few more sails. Once this was done the speed of the Sea Cloud increased to 7 knots as we crisscrossed the seas slightly south of the island of Tinos.
Throughout the morning the sailors were up and down the masts adjusting sails, then returning to the promenade deck for line adjustment. On several occasions we made a jibe, as the yardarms were adjusted and the sails would once again fill with wind. The seas remained steady with only a slight increase in wind, so midway through the day it was confirmed that we would be visiting the island of Tinos. This Cycladic Island is known for its finicky winds roaring up and down its very steep slopes; but today those land breezes stayed calm enough for us to make the necessary maneuvers to anchor just outside the break water of the port of Tinos.
Just after lunch we began loading our tenders for the short ride into the port. Once on shore, we transferred to two waiting busses and began a leisurely ride through town on our way to the small village of Pyrgos. Tinos is a lovely island that resisted Turkish domination long after most of the other Greek islands. In fact, Tinos was the last Christian island until the Turks took over without resistance in 1716.
One of the unusual features of Tinos is the architectural influence of the Venetians. Throughout the island there are dozens of dovecotes...ornately decorated stone buildings that housed, and still house, pigeons. The Italians who settled for some time on the island of Tinos loved the meat of pigeons, offering the buildings as a way to raise the meat of pigeons to sell. Greeks on the other hand preferred other small wild birds, and have left these unusual and lovely buildings as they have become a signature part of the architecture of the island of Tinos.
Our drive took us up in elevation and through several valleys and hills all covered in ancient terracing which often included small stone dwellings with thrashing floors near by and olive trees surrounding all...the olive trees are still tended and the fruit harvested, but much of the terracing and farm country is not used as people have migrated into nearby villages and larger towns.
Our first destination was a well known museum of marble crafts, one of several museums in the country of Greece that give tremendous history and detail to Greek centers specializing in the crafts of tiles and bricks, hydraulic power, silk and the uses of olives. The museum presented the technology of marble, a material that holds a special place in the art and architecture of Greece from Antiquity to the present.
The museum described the myriad of tools used in carving marble and several wonderfully detailed videos were in various locations around the museum to actually watch a piece of marble being cut from a quarry and worked into elaborate pieces of art including lintels, fountains, icon stands and mortars etc. The museum also placed emphasis on pre-industrial and post-industrial Tinos, which was the most important center of marble crafts in modern Greece. From the museum we walked down into the town of Pyrgos starting at the cemetery which was of course, filled with marble from the gates to head stones to pathways! We then walked into the small village of Pyrgos and took time to wander the narrow streets, admiring marble inlaid over doors, windows and into the streets all richly engraved with emblems of Greek culture.
Walking down through town, stopping for a Greek coffee, enjoying the main square on a Sunday we finally all gathered at the marble bus stop where our busses were waiting...back on board, we traveled back to the port town, stopping at the upper end of town at the “miraculous” Church of Panagia Evangelistria. It was Sunday and a small crowd was gathering for Sunday services. This church is a pilgrimage site, and soon we were among many pilgrims entering a beautifully ornate church filled from ceiling to floor with votive gifts from the faithful. Just after our arrival, 6:00pm mass began with the singing of a rich Greek voice which filled the church and outer courtyard, a lovely way to experience another culture’s faith and a joy to hear music as it filled the air.
Tenders began their return shuttles to the Sea Cloud shortly after our arrival in town. Many of us decided to spend a little extra time exploring this unusual pilgrimage site with all its trappings. The sun was moving towards the western horizon, dropping as a large red ball behind the island of Syros into the Aegean...another day on a remote and only slightly visited island weaving just a little more into the story of our trip exploring the sacred circle of the Cycladic Islands of Greece.