A Tale of Two Cruises - early winter 2009 travel blog

Grand Princess

Mykonos

monk's church

another view

Solstice

blue doors

another church

church and boasts

harbor

another view

jumble

blue dome

pelican

tender

typical lane

windmill with ship

row of windmills


A zilllion years ago a volcano erupted in what now is the Agean Sea. Remnants of this eruption formed a circle of jagged little outcroppings known today as the Cyclades. Mykonos is the most well known of these islands, but until the 1960's the few people who lived there were quite isolated from the rest of the world. The arid island is rocky and has so little top soil that no trees grow there. Locals dug the rocks up and made fences and rocky terraces, trying to prevent the erosion of what little soil there was. They made a living from fishing until important ruins were found on nearby Delos. Archologists who tried to travel to Delos often got stuck in Mykonos waiting for the ferry and they took note of the eighty beautiful beaches on the island. Then word got out to the beautiful people and celebrities like Jackie Onassis vacationed in Mykonos. They liked the island not only for its beauty, but for its isolation. The locals did not have TV's or see films and they treated the vacationing stars like ordinary people.

As we sailed through the Cyclades, we could see the Celebrity Solstice anchored in the port. We were happy to get a good look at this ship, since it is the one we will be taking back to the US when this cruise is over. It was docked in the only available spot in this tiny harbor, so we had to take tenders to shore. This can be problematic when the seas are rough, but the sailing has been smooth thus far. Mykonos is noted for being windy and its scenic windmills are a symbol of the island, but you wouldn't have known it today.

The harbor area is very picturesque with fishing boats bobbing in the water surrounded by white sugar cube buildings, most with blue windows and doors. Traditionally the locals whitewashed their homes every year to reflect the harsh summer sunlight and keep insects at bay. Today all buildings erected here must follow this same fashion making it impossible to tell a new one from one that's been here forever. Many of the buildings are vacation rentals and stood empty today. This island with 10,000 residents also boats 1,200 churches. You might think they are a religious people, but the fact that property with a church on it is taxed at a reduced rate probably has a lot to do with it. We drove up to the Pangia Paraportiani monastery, a real church crammed full of icons, where a handful of monks still live.

Although the weather was pleasant today, it was clear that the season is over. Only the shops and restaurants closest to the harbor were still open and one could imagine that when the cruise ships left at the end of the day, it would be a quiet place indeed until next spring when they all come thronging back.

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