Greek Islands

May 20, 2022


Finally explored the famous Greek islands Mykonos and Santorini, along with less touristy Syros.

May is supposed to be ideal, but, sadly, it was unseasonably cold coupled with nonstop wind and intermittent rain. Not in the plan.

So: daily jacket over long shirt over polo over t-shirt, shedding a layer or two when the midday sun allowed — and that is when these cool but sunny photos were taken.

Syros ~ Σύρος

From Athens, a four-hour ferry ride can take you to the small island of Syros, one of the many "undiscovered" islands that are not yet overwhelmed with tourists. Nice to see a more authentic place that is not totally converted to a Greek Disneyland.

At the pinnacle of the stacked town of Ano Syros sits the Cathedral of St. George, which in this unusual enclave is Roman Catholic and not Greek Orthodox.

Ermoupoli is the main town. At its pinnacle is the (Greek Orthodox) Cathedral of Saint Nicholas. It was a charming town to explore with many beautiful buildings.

On the left is a lane in Ermoupoli.
On the right is one of the least bad of the budget hotels where I stayed.

Mykonos ~ Μύκονος

When huge ferry arrived in Mykonos, I faced a cold, blasting wind. Apparently, it's called the windy island for good reason. Overall, although it was good to visit for two days, Mykonos failed to live up to my perhaps overly high expectations.

Imagine all the cliché brands from a high-end mall transported to a pretty, white-washed Greek maze of lanes, along with wildly overpriced restaurants and souvenir shops. Add some deafening discos that could just as easily have been in South Beach Miami. Still glad I visited.
The famous row of windmills in Mykonos.

The old town had a labyrinth of lanes.

Clever entrepreneurs have set up businesses where would-be IG/TT influencers pay large sums to rent a gown, plus professional photographers, make-up, etc.
Left: Panagia Paraportiani, the most photographed church in Mykonos serves as the backdrop for the lady in red.
Right: The same pursuit playing out at a perfect photo-op in Santorini.

Delos ~ Δήλος

A short boat ride from Mykonos is the little island of Delos, once the political and religious and political center of the Aegean and home to a vast array of archeological treasures still being uncovered.
As a visitor for one afternoon, I did not think Delos came close to rivaling the scale of the Greek antiquity that you can see in Athens. Still the remnants of such a sophisticated and advanced ancient city are remarkable.

The Terrace of the Lions once had as many as a dozen snarling marble lions guarding the Sacred Way dedicated to Apollo.

Santorini ~ Σαντορίνη

Another ferry goes on to the most celebrated and certainly the most photographed Greek island: Santorini. The two main towns — Oia and Fira — seemed to be made for the camera. From a distance, they are spectacularly beautiful.

That's the good news. The bad news is that, at the street level, you have exorbitantly priced restaurants, costly gelato stands, tacky souvenir shops, boring jewelry stores, "galleries" selling identical art, and paths to the nearby rooms with great views at astronomical rates.

I saved a fortune by using dull, distant, economy lodging with tiny showers and clinging, vinyl shower curtains. But who cares? Santorini's vistas were breathtaking.
Closer photos do not capture the height of the cliffs that Oia and Fira cling to.

Obligatory photo of yours truly and it was the warmest afternoon of this trip.

Almost the same view but just after sunset.

Everywhere you turned another fantastic view, but to be sure...

I had to try to replicate the ultimate iconic Santorini shot featuring the blue domes.

Last night on the island I went to see and participate in the long-running, interactive musical "The Greek Wedding." Lots of fun.

Bottom line:
Bad weather always puts a damper on a trip, especially when expecting sunny Greek isles.

Absent the rain and cold, of course, I'd have enjoyed this trip a lot more. And I was naïve thinking that Mykonos and Santorini would be more than shells now filled totally by the tourist industry. In contrast, "real" Syros was an unexpected treat.

Weirdly enough, looking back at my many photos and these highlights, I'm now appreciating this trip far more in retrospect than I did (spoiled, cranky, and cold) at the time.

PS ~ Athens

When I was in Athens in June 2021, tourists were rare. The Parthenon was nearly empty. Plaka, the charming area at the base of the Acropolis, was sadly lacking in customers. (See photo on the left.) But, nearly a year later (May 2022), tourists had returned en masse. Cafes in Plaka, like the one above, were full. While I enjoyed the travel tranquility, it's nice to see places coming back to life.