Note the blue domed church on hilltop
As the winds were howling preventing us from sailing, we rented a car for the day and took off to explore the island of Syros.
Looking WAY down on that blue domed church
Plus, we also just wanted off the boat for a change of pace.
|Winding steep steps in Ano Syros|
Entrance to the settlement was through 7 Portares (large arched opening with very heavy wooden doors). The 7 Portares were closed each night for protection of the residents, making it like a walled city.
Ano Syros was little influenced by the Ottoman Rule. This is shocking to me because the Ottomans usually were not tolerant of Christianity. The Catholic Diocese of San Georgios is on the highest point of the hill, including the Bishop's residence and offices and historical study center and archives. The Diocese's archives are on micro-film for those who wish to research.
|Very old windmill near monastery|
|2/3 way up to the church at Ano Syros|
Supposedly 2 of the portares are still in place, although the doors themselves are long gone. The tourist brochures stated that we should enter Ano Syros through one of these portares; the woman at the car rental desk also told us that it is not possible to drive a car up to Ano Syros and that we should park the car and enter through one of the portares. We searched high and low and could not find either of the 2 remaining portares. Finally, Bill parked the car at a level that had to be the closest one could get to Ano Syros (because the road headed out across the mountains away from all buildings at that point); and we began walking.
|Narrow streets Ano Syros|
|More narrow streets Ano Syros|
|Interior St. George's on top of mountain|
|Bless me, Father.......|
We continued through the nave of the church out into a courtyard of sorts. The views overlooking the opposite mountainsides and the city of Ermoupoulis and the sea were gorgeous. The views were worth the hike up all those steep narrow alleyways.
|Old water fountain|
|At somewhat lower level at Ano Syros|
We girls wound around steep stairways and narrow alleyways -- first one direction and then another. It is very easy to get disoriented in there! I have an excellent sense of direction; a trait not shared by my husband. I wondered how easily he would find his way out.
|Lost wandering in Ano Syros|
Soon we were waiting at the spot where we had first entered Ano Syros. About 15 minutes later Bill and Zachary arrived. Don't know what took them so long.
|Memorial for 2 soldiers|
I loved this unique town. Almost all of the tiny homes are still occupied. Often during our walk we saw through open shutters into tiny bedrooms and sitting rooms or kitchens. At one spot there was what was obviously a memorial to 2 men who had died. it was a simple ledge with an urn to one side and a stone marker in the center. There was a plaque on the wall off to the left with an image of the 2 men. Based upon the appearance of the uniforms it appeared they died during World War I.
Everything in this town was so clean! Almost every building was freshly painted and very well maintained. There were very few empty or neglected buildings. I would imagine the real estate here maintains value well.
|Entering San Michalis area|
|Inside tiny San Michalis Church|
At the very top of the old stone settlement there was a relatively large home plastered yellow and in good condition. There also stood the very tine San Michalis Church, which is also well maintained. Behind the tiny church was one of the original stone buildings that is still occupied by an elderly man. There was a mailbox on his stone wall, so mail must still be delivered here sometimes. He came out into his yard and spoke to us in a friendly manner, but we don't know a single word of Greek so communication was impossible.
|San Michalis candles|
|Stone paths at San Michalis|
|Stone paths at San Michalis|
We walked back along the stone path winding through the crumbling stone buildings to find a restaurant for lunch. We found one receiving a beer delivery, but they were not yet open for business. The Greeks eat lunch rather late in the day. It was 12:30 and the kids were hungry. A woman walked by and managed to convey to us that the restaurant would open in half an hour, maybe less. So we decided to sit in the little arbor area and wait. It was much cooler beneath the grape vines than out in the full sun.
|Grape arbor at San Michalis|
|Lunch up at San Michalis|
During our drive back to Ermoupoulis the kids wanted to stop at a cave. We had seen a sign for this cave as we were driving northward to San Michalis. Unfortunately, there was no sign for southbound traffic. By the time we realized where to turn for the cave, we were already past the turn-off. The mountain road was much too narrow to turn around, so we missed spelunking.
After we passed Ano Syros and drove 2 switch-backs on our return trip down the mountain, I asked Bill to stop at a market so I could buy a bottle of water. Everyone waited in the air-conditioned car while I went in to buy the water. Lo and behold, right next to the little market was one of the portares to enter into Ano Syros! Apparently, tourists are expected to enter at this lower level and walk up many flights of steps to get to the church. We entered about half-way up from this portare level. Glad we cheated because our legs were trembling from these steep stone alleyways without that additional exertion.
In Ermoupoulis we stopped at a very nice produce market and loaded up. The produce at the supermarket in Finikas where we are docked was very limited. This market had almost anything one might want in the way of fresh veggies and fruits. Next we found a kiosk to buy more internet top-up cards and ice cream for the kids. Finally, on the the way out of Ermoupoulis we stopped at a large supermarket so I could stock up on things not usually found in smaller towns. Figured we should take advantage of having the rent car to load up on heavy items like soft drinks, beer and 8 months of laundry detergent.
Back on the boat Bill discovered that the top-ups we bought for internet usage were wrong. These worked only for cell phones. So the next morning he made another trip to town and found the right top-ups. No refunds allowed (even though we specifically asked for internet top-ups), so it cost another 40 Euro. Now we have 40 Euro on the cell phone that we will never use. Hey, grandkids; want to call your parents? The car rental lady was nice enough to let Bill use the car to return to town to correct the phone/internet issue and did not charge him for the extra 2 hours. How very nice of her!
Winds are still howling but it looks like things will die down and we might be able to leave here in another 2 to 4 days. Have no idea where to head next.
(As always, click on any image for larger view.)