Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Side Trip to the Island of Delos in the Cyclades

Inside the on-site museu on Delos
Leaving the Old Port in Mykonos for an afternoon trip to Delos

While I was visiting Mykonos and Santorini this past fall, I took an afternoon side trip to the island of Delos, leaving on a ferry from the Old Port on Mykonos.

Temple of Isis

Unlike the huge, cruise-ship-sized ferries that I rode between Athens and the islands, the ferry from Mykonos to Delos was more yatch-sized, and it had a top deck. If you hurried and were one of the first to get onboard, you could sit on the top deck and enjoy the fresh salt breezes on your ride.
A stray cat at the little snack bar on the island. There are zillions of stray cats on Delos.

It took less than an hour to get to and from Delos. There was a tiny, shambled dock, and a fence surrounding the site, with a little booth where I paid 5 Euros for entry. The entire island is one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece.

Delos' importance as a holy site dates back to before Olympian Greek mythology: it has been inhabited since at least the 3rd millennium. It is mostly flat, in the area you reach first from the dock, but then rises to hills and small mountains. The excavation is ongoing, and most artifacts that have been recovered have been moved to the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, though there are a good number of statues in the little museum there on the island.

Mosaiic from the Insula of the Jewellery

Delos is not at all commercialized, but next to the on-site museum is a tiny cafe and some restrooms.
It is a wide open space with very few trees that I could see, and visitors walk freely among the ruins: no roped off sections here. I really enjoyed being able to trace my fingers over the carved lettering on pedestals, and winding my way among the beautiful plants and flowers.

As an artist, I drank in the richness of textures and dry-dusted colors woven in to the landscape of man-made objects, taken over by wildness.

I was glad to visit on a slightly overcast day when it was not too hot, because there was virtually no shade and the light and wind beat down on the entire island without respite.
Another view of the Temple of Isis

Wow, look at the tushy on this one!

From the Terrace of the Lions

I don't remember how much the ferry ride cost, but I remember thinking it was definitely affordable, and my hours on the island, traipsing around lost in thought, among the other site-seers was both peaceful and awe-inspiring.