Syros is one of many Greek islands located in the Cyclades, just south of Athens or as we did, a short ferry ride on the Blue Star Ferry from Mykonos. A Greek island, Syros is located between Paros and Tinos and part of the Cyclades group. Syros has mostly neo-classical buildings, old mansions and white house’s cascading down to the harbor. It’s one of those islands that is much less crowded with tourists and boasts more Greeks than many of its neighbors. It was our 8th or 9th time visiting Greece and the Greek islands, and our first time on Syros.
A friend from Santorini recommended we stay at a hotel called PLOES. Never knowing what to expect, even if referred by friends, we had no idea what we would find. What we did find was pure heaven. It’s not just a hotel, it is an old estate built right into the cliffs overlooking the most amazing sea and sunset view. Imagine after walking and hiking steep streets, cliffs all day only to return to absolute luxury after a lovely dinner and glass of Greek wine only to be lulled to sleep by the sound of the sea below. Fantastic! Only to be awakened by the aroma of the in-house chef baking Greek pastries and brewing that wonderful Greek coffee.
Syros is one of those villages where each shop closes from 2 – 5 (ish) and if it happens to be a particularly warm or sunny day they open whenever they like. So if you see something the first time, buy it right then as you may not have the chance again. I usually hunt for tile or something else I can hang on my already crowded walls at home. But this time I went on the search for the have to have “Briki” or copper coffee pot. Which I am still trying to get the hang of. It’s a process to make this coffee as it can only froth (three times) not boil.
We’re not religious, but the old churches and cathedrals are a must see. We stepped into one late at night, lights were on, candles all aglow, incense burning when out of the shadows
appeared an elderly woman and began giving us what we can only hope was the history of the church. She was speaking Greek only and mine is limited, she was either giving us history or collecting money for the homeless. So we gave her a Euro or two Just in case she was a nun and smiled as we said, “Kalinixta”, Greek for goodnight and we headed for the casino.
You’ll need a “diplos” (double) coffee once you set off to explore this amazing little village. As mentioned the houses just cling to the hillside, mostly white with some pale pastels that just seem to glow during sunset. For our “strolls” start out early as to reach the top can be a bit daunting. But well worth it when you finally reach the top of Ano Syros. This was built in the 13th century and here you can visit the Catholic basilica of San Giorgio. The views are spectacular and it isn’t until you look down that you realize how far you’ve actually walked and what a winding 600 steps and some 103 stairs actually looks like. No wonder I was feeling a little winded. There were many more steps as well, but I won’t “tire” you with that, just come along and enjoy the journey.
I suggest you start your evening at one of the many harbor front tavernas serving up authentic Greek dishes, wines and atmosphere. How do I paint a mental picture for you, my readers of the atmosphere? Think wide marble paved pedestrian walkways, lined with brightly lit shops painted all white accented only by the bright colors of candy and fantastic honey dipped Greek pastry. Prices vary and you can spend as much as you like or as little as you want. Like most of Europe, dinner starts later than we’re used to, but it’s all about time and place. If you want to eat at 5, go ahead, but it’s better when the sun is gone and café’s are packed with locals. Don’t worry about calories, they’re in everything we eat, and if you do like I always suggest, don’t skip dessert and be sure to walk, enjoy the setting, do NOT take a cab.
Kala Taxidia (Happy Travels)