Demetri attended a language class on Syros, the capital of the Cyclades this last week. The class was great — he was the only US citizen in the group — and he was out each day around 2 so he could do his homework and enjoy some of the island.
There is a bit of money on Syros and it’s well populated — 22,000 or thereabouts, with most of the folks living in the city of Ermoupolis, named for Hermes, the wing-footed god of trade and business. It was the busiest and most important port in Greece for many years, even more so than Piraeus. There is also a great deal of culture in the city, including the pretty Apollo Opera House, modeled after La Scala in Milan. Demetri and his dad saw Madam Butterfly one night while we were here.
The kids, Sandy, Peter and I spent most of the days at the swimming pool at The Sunrise Beach Suites in the beach town of Azolimnos. In the evenings we enjoyed Ermopoulis and its pedestrian walkway streets, the Plateia Maniouli square, and the churches of Agios Nikolas (the patron Saint of sailors) and the hilltop Church of Resurrection.
Syros is different looking than other Cycladic islands. It has a lot of Venetian influence in the architecture, and the city of Ermoupoulis is almost all neo-classical architecture instead of the traditional Cycladic look (though there are lots of that for sure). Syros is the one island that was never occupied by the Turks — it was under Vatican protection for years and there is a strong catholic culture on the island. The Catholic Church (St. George) on the opposite hill of the orthodox Church of the Resurrection, has been destroyed and rebuilt FIVE TIMES on the same spot. Lighting hits the bell tower rather frequently.
Papou, the kids and I spent a morning in the medieval town of Ano Syros which is home to St. George, another Agios Nikolas (St. Nicholas) and winding narrow streets and a cafe with a spectacular view.
Our fabulous week came to an end with the arrival of the Naxos Blue Star Ferry, which took us back to Piraeus yesterday. Two weeks of island living was great and we’re already planning our next trip! Rhodes is in the plan for August, maybe Kos and Patmos as well. More on that later.