Thursday, July 7, 2011

Exploring the Greek Islands.

It was time for us to say good bye to Turkey and to begin our cruise of the Cyclades; a group of islands in Aegean Sea between Turkey and continental Greece. Greek islands are considered as one of the most beautiful place in the world and it didn’t take us long to figure out why. Most of them inhabited and with a rich past dating back to antiquity these islands may have a relatively simple landscape and vegetation but their villages in their traditional architecture are breath taking. Under strong northerly winds called the Meltemis navigation in this group of islands is made by waiting for the proper weather window hence sometime forcing us to be “stuck” in places of beauty to make you weep with villages made of white cement, blue doors and windows, embellished by blazing flowers and surrounded by pristine blue Mediterranean waters.

Between Marmaris, Turkey and Mikonos Island, where Claudette left us heavyhearted to go back to Canada, we stopped at the following islands; Simi, Kos, Leros, Levitha, Amorgos, Naxos and Mikonos. Each of these islands had their unique charms and it is impossible to show them all in the limited time and space we have in the presentation of this blog. But here you can see in order Claudette admiring Levitha Island, the stunning interior view of the Greek Orthodox monastery of Simi and myself waiting for Danielle and Claudette in one of Kos’ streets.

One of the unique places we visited in this first part of our island tour was the Monastery of Panagia Chozoviotissa of Amorgos on Amorgos Island. This hillside built monastery was accessible only through its long and winding stairway in order to climb the hundreds of meters between the road and the entrance of the building. A big congratulation to Claudette for climbing it since despite the fact that she has a very young hearth has accumulated many years in her legs. The site became even more famous by the production of the movie “The great blue” in the 80’s and the bay you see behind Danielle and I was used, as well as the monastery, for the shooting. Ironically we had never seen the movie but this was not a worry since one of the bars around the bay in Katapola where Chocobo moored presented the movie every week. Hence we attended a wine and movie night to make up for this cultural deficiency.

Our visit of the Monastery of Panagia may have been unique but the highlight of our stay on Amorgos Island was without contest the village of Chora built on a hilltop. Obviously used for the shooting of the movie “The great blue” this place is by my appreciation the most beautiful village I’ve seen in my life. Relatively small, we go round the town in one afternoon, its streets are calm enough to relax the most stressed stock broker. White walls and blue doors and windows are everywhere while strolling about the meander of flat stone paved streets. Greek food obviously has the place of honor in the multiple small restaurants with their tables set right in the middle of the street and surrounded by vines in which small grape buds start growing and by all kind of flowers giving the rustic look of a mountain village. And the wine, the wine!