Today we visited the small Dodecanese island of Patmos. It is where St. John is believed to have written the Book of Revelation in what is known as the Cave of the Apocalypse. The island is very pretty with gorgeous, wonderful views from the hills. It also not too touristy.
This morning we went to Kalymnos, the sponge divers’ island. The island is in Dodecanese island group and seems be known for the sponge divers and that is about it. We visited Nautical and Folklore Museum. It was tiny but had some nice exhibits on the sponge divers and the history of them. According to the museum curator, the death rate among sponge divers was near 25%, which is depressing to say the least.
Today we visited Santorini. We came in at sunrise and left after sunset. It is not often I get both sunrise and sunset photos in a single day, but Santorini was worth it. Santorini is a photographer’s dream place. The island group of Santorini is a collapsed caldera. The main towns on the island of Santorini, Fira and Oia, are set on the ridge of the caldera. So, it’s a rather dramatic setting. The architecture is the classic Cycladic, but not all the buildings are white stucco. Some are different colors, and of course there are many churches with the beautiful, simple blue dome. If you can find the good vantage points, which is not always a simple endeavor, then you can get some amazing photographs. Finding the good vantage points involves going down many different tiny sidewalks that twist and curve and at times look like they lead no where.
This afternoon was spent in Paros. I really liked Paros. It is small, not too touristy, pretty, and friendly. The Church of Ekatontapiliani was a highlight of our walking tour. It was a wonderful church to photograph with its beautiful stonework.
This morning we went on a hike in the Naxos countryside through a few small villages. Our destination was the Kouros, but really the journey was the best part. We walked along a rather small road, which should almost be put in quotes but they do drive on it. There was a small aqueduct running alongside the road that appears to convey water from mountain runoff and springs to farms below.
We visited Naxos today. We spent the morning walking around the town and then spent the afternoon swimming in the Aegean Sea. The town has the classic Cycladic white stucco architecture with bright blue trim and doors. The downtown area has few streets and mainly has alleys on which we continually got lost. Most porches and entries and potted plants and bougainvillea. I love how these old cities areas have no green space, so most people put as many potted plants near their house as possible. The downtown area is highlighted by a castle that is really now part of the town. Just off of the harbor is the unfinished Temple of Apollo.
We spent the afternoon in Mykonos. It has the classic white washed stucco, boxy, architecture of the Cyclades islands. Mykonos is famous for its historic windmills, which are unique and fun to photograph. It has hundreds of tiny little churches everywhere. I was underwhelmed by Mykonos. It is really touristy and famous for its party scene. As I am not into the party scene, that did not appeal to me.
This morning we visited the town of Hermoupolis on the Greek island of Syros, in the Cyclades. The entire town is picturesque. There are neo-classical buildings, building with Venetian influence, and as I am not an architecture expert, I am not sure what other styles there are. Many of the buildings are painted in beautiful pastels, and most have lovely metal railings. The alleys and streets are tiny, windy, and lined with stone. Bougainvillea climbs up houses and flowers in color that competes with the gorgeous blue sky.
Today, we visited an icon workshop. They make all the icons by hand, and they showed us all the many steps involved. First, they start with blocks of wood, the type of wood depending on the icon.
The wood is hand carved.
If the icon will have metal on it, the metal is then shaped into the desired form.
All painting is done on canvas, so the canvas is then stretched.
The foil is then added.
Bright powder pigments are used for the paint, and duck egg and vinegar are other ingredients.
The icon is then hand painted.
An example of a beautiful final product.
While visiting the Meteora area, we visited two Eastern Orthodox monasteries, Varlaam and St. Stephen. Varlaam has much older structures than St. Stephen, and Varlaam has monks, and St. Stephens has nuns. They are both beautiful monasteries sitting on top of the rock towers, in seemingly precarious positions. Before electricity, they climbed and used net baskets to get to the monasteries. I can’t wrap my head around how they reached them in the past.