Europe 2016 – Day 27-28 A Sea Day and a Day to See Delos

As much as we had enjoyed the previous 26 days, with all the places we had been, we were very much looking forward to a sea day on the cruise.  It was our first do absolutely nothing day in over 3 weeks.  We enjoyed the ship’s captain guitar playing.  We ran around the ship looking for Jim’s “lost” tablet, only to find it in the room. We slept late (wow was that nice).  We lounged up on deck, and since we hadn’t really been in the sun for almost a month, Jerie got burned.  We attended a violin concert, went to the theatre and watched the movie, Hail Caesar (we wouldn’t recommend that),  and  watched the finals of the French Open.  That evening we went to the speciality restaurant La Trottia.  Since we have traveled with NCL before, we had a free dinner.  The food was excellent with wonderful service.  Jim did have a very creative Caesar salad.  We had idle time after dinner so we wandered to the Casino.  Jerie fell in love with the Fairies slot machine and we put $25.00 into the sliding coin game.  We all yelled when a bundle of cash fell down, Yup, we won $8.00.  We are still having issues with our room toilet.  It flushes 5 minutes after you push the button. (we have our own bathroom ghost)…but it was to bed as we had a tour tomorrow morning.

We arrived on the island of Mykonos in Greece and docked close to the town of Chora.  We took a water taxi from the ship pier to the city pier and then transferred to a ferry-boat to the island of Delos, the birthplace of Apollo.

We were given ear phones and transmitters so we could hear our guide, Constantine. Jim’s ear phones is tangled around his ear and Jerie helps him, then she looks at Cindy and say, “You have the ear phone in backwards”.  She gives an eye roll that only a child can give to a parent when they have been together too long.  It is extremely HOT…there is a girl on our tour who is extremely burnt from yesterday’s sea day.  She is already suffering in the sun.  The water is very clear and blue.  It takes about 20 minutes to arrive at the island.

Delos is  Unesco site and one of the driest islands in Greece.  It was founded in 1200 BC by the Ionians.  In Greek Mythology, it was not only the birthplace of Apollo but his twin Artemis who was born much earlier (because there is no logic in mythology).

At its peak, the island had 30,000 residents,  It became an important port with 150-200 ships docking each day, as the island has no natural resources so everything had to be imported.  There was a push to make the island diverse, and it became very prosperous.  Merchants obtained much of the wealth.

The roofs of the buildings were flat, slightly slanted to a center court in the house, that contained a collections pool.The walls are dry stone, with no mortar.  The plaster used to cover the walls had bits of ceramic in it.

At one time the water level was 7 meters lower, so a portion of the city is now buried in the bay.

Due to its place in mythology, Delos was considered a holy place so no one could die or give birth on the island.  When someone was about to die, they were taken to the neighboring island.  It was called the Island of the Dead.  Interestingly, it is also the island where all births took place.  When the Athenians took over the island, they insisted that since no one was ever born on Delos, then there were no natural citizens. With the Athenian influence, Cleopatra became a very popular name.

The outdoor theater held 6-7 thousand people.  Only the 1st row of seats had backs.  The theater was free as it was funded/sponsored by the merchants.  Plays took place on a wooden stage with mostly male actors.  However, they did have sound props.

We walked through part of the city that has been excavated.  You can tell where the houses were, but the buildings had no roofs and the walls were deteriorating.  There is a large effort to save the site from further erosion.

Excavation work began in 1875 and only an estimated 10% of the city has been revealed.

Due to the holy aspect associated with Delos, many foreign armies would stop and give an offering to Apollo or good luck.

The island was attacked by Persia and 2/3 of the residents were killed.  The same army and commander came back 10 year later and killed 90% of the remaining population.  This begins 2000 years of looting, as there were no permanent residents left on the island.  In 1990, it was added to UNeSCO World Heritage List.

In mythology, Delos was a cursed island.  Zeus had an affair and his mistress became pregnant.  Athena, Zeus’ wife found out about the affair and said that wherever the mistress gave birth, it would be cursed with darkness.  However, Zeus asked his brother, Poseidon, to protect his mistress.  She came to Delos to give birth, and there was sunshine due to Poseidon.  There was a small museum that displayed several statues.

We hopped back onto the ferry.  We would have some time before we had to be back to the ship, so we asked a couple sitting next to us what we should see.  They gave us really good information.  We had also noticed a teen-age girl who had been on several of our earlier cruise excursions.  We asked if she was alone.  She explained that her family had gone to the beach but she had wanted to go to Delos.  We told her she could come with us to explore Mykonos.  There is a law that states, all buildings must be painted white.  The buildings reminded us of The Flintstones.

We walked to the Church of Panagia Paraportiani.  It means Our Lady of the Side Gate.  Construction was started in 1425 but was not completed until the 17th century.  It is actually 5 separate churches which are joined, four are on the bottom, with the firth being built on top.

We walked down so that we could touch the Aegean Sea.There was a cute little boy playing an accordion for tips.  Cindy could not resist putting money in his can.

We walked to the famous windmills of Mykonos.  There are 16 windmills on the island, of which 7 are on the hill above Chora.  Most were built by the Venetians in the 16th primarily to mill wheat.

We walked back through the very narrow “alleys”.  It was very easy to get lost.  The flowers were beautiful against the white buildings.

Back to the ship and another wonderful sunset.