Sunday, August 28, 2011

An afternoon on Paros

Greek Trip, Day 14, Friday 1 October 2010, Mykonos to Paros

Continuing the story from  Mykonos meander, our last day on Mykonos dawned warm and bright.  We were to leave for Rhodes at 3: first by our now familiar jet cat for Paros, and then by overnight ferry from Paros to Rhodes.

P1110058 We packed our gear, and then walked around Mykonos for the last time, having an early picnic lunch in a shaded square.

The old lady from the little hair salon nearby was not impressed: she kept coming out to stand there and just look at us!

While the others finished their lunch, I strolled around. Lunch finished, we carefully picked everything up and then walked down to the waterfront where the girls had coffee. Then back to to the hotel to collect luggage and down to the ferry station.

As we sat waiting in the sun, I wondered whether I would return to Mykonos. Probably not, except to re-visit nearby Delos. However, this is very much an age thing. Youngest would go back, as would eldest. Helen wasn't with us on this trip, but visited Mykonos some months later. Like Clare, she liked the social life; Mykonos's bars and parties are very much geared to to the young.

Paros, our first stop after Mykonos, lies a short ferry ride to the south west.

Like Mykonos, it is part of the Cyclades Island group and shares their common history. It was variously (among other things) an independent city state, then part of the Delian league, later subject to the Ptolemaic Hellenic dynasty that ruled Egypt following the death of Alexander the Great, then part of the Roman and Byzantium Empires, then came under Venetian rule before becoming part of the Ottoman Empire and then the newly established Greek state.

With the exception of the two volcanic Islands of Milos and Santorini, the 220 or so islands in the Cyclades  are all peaks of submerged mountains. Soils are poor. Paros is no different. However, it's wealth was based on marble, a product greatly in demand. Again, you see the same pattern that I have referred to before, the way in which the sea and trade allowed the accumulation of wealth.

Our first impression of Paros was it's small size, but also the similarities with other islands. Compare this street scene with the one above from Mykonos. SimilP1110087ar, aren't they?

On landing in Parikia, the port and main town, we found a place to store our bags and then went for a walk. The girls found a place for coffee and a snack, while I wandered on.

This was partly a matter of choice, but also of budget. In the months prior to the trip I had chosen to focus on writing, so I really had very little cash. By Paros I was well over my daily budget, I simply didn't want to spend money.

There is an issue here that all groups need to address. With things like meals, we tended to take the bill and simply divide it equally among the group. That's fine, but doesn't work very well when people are on different budgets. I like wine with my meals, so would choose a single cheap meal plus a house wine. Nearly always, my average meal cost including wine was below the group average. Then I had to pay more. At times, it was simply easier to avoid group meals or snacks.

P1010769 While the girls snacked I wandered. I suppose the first thing that struck me was just how vacant the streets were after Mykonos. Shops were shut, with nobody about.

In my wandering I found this sign.

The first thing I noticed was the reference to the Frankish castle. Frankish? Surely Venetian. Weren't the Franks French?

This is in fact an example of one of the things that I talk about a fair bit, the use of labels in history. The Venetians weren't Franks, but the label Franks was applied more broadly to all those coming from the west.

The sign refers to the use of building materials from ancient buildings. It wasn't kidding.

P1010770 The next photo shows the walls of the castle. You can clearly see how things such as classical columns have been incorporated into the walls.

My walk finished, I rejoined the girls as we went in search of a famous Greek church, Paros's main attraction.

I am not sure why I should struggle with arcane theological differences. After all, I write a lot on current Australian politics!

Still, I do know that one of my less successful university courses was on the English reformation. There I really struggled to see the significance especially of fine distinctions within the Protestant stream.

This may seem a distraction, but if you look at the history of the Greek Orthodox Church during the Byzantine period and the relationships between the Eastern and Western Churches you will see that apparently minor theological differences can have very practical and indeed damaging results.

It took me a while to learn that you have to come to grips with two very different things: the logical structures involved and then the meanings, the beliefs attached to those structures. It doesn't matter what you as the observer think. You have to break though to understand those that you are observing.

The Orthodox Church was one of the two pillars of the Eastern Roman Empire, the state and its supporting structures the second. Later, the Greek Orthodox Church played a critical role in the maintenance of a sense of Greek identity and indeed language.

While writing this post, I had to pop out to get some fooP1110094d. In doing so, I drove past the Greek Orthodox Church in Kingsford just down the road. This reminded me of the important role that the Australian Church has played in Australia in maintaining a sense of Greek identity.

 Panagia Ekatontapyliani (also known as the Church of 100 Doors) was built in 326AD during the Byzantine period. It is in fact several churches, each with its own features. There is also a museum.

Walking though the entrance way into the courtyard that marks the start of the complex, my first feeling was one of relief after the heat. It was actually nice to just sit down under a tree and rest!

My family laughs at me a bit because of my habit of sitting and thinking. However, I find that this helps me absorb. It's also just plain refreshing when your legs are sore!

The complex contains a variety of different styles, including archeological remains. The next photo by Clare captures this rather nicely.P1110095

You can see the earlier remains popped up, the older church building using stone and mortar construction fairly typical of many of the buildings on the Greek Islands, and then the more "modern" building combining straight lines and curves.

To modern Australian eyes, the Greek orthodox tradition is very ornate, even cluttered This is true of the church decorations and of the vestments that the priests wore.

Another apparent aside. I walked outside for a break from this post and found an entire Greek family - three generations - walking back from Church, speaking mainly Greek but with an admixture of English. I was struck by the contrast between their formal black clothing and the Church colour that I have been talking about.

I have been looking for photos that might illustrate the points I have been making and have selected two.

The following photo is an interior shot of the main church. It gives an indication of age, as well as church detail. P1110102

Then the next shot moves to the right and shows the ornate flavour more clearly.P1110107

From the Church, we waked the short distance back to the waterfront to buy postcards and to find somewhere to eat dinner.  However, the continuing story will have to wait until my next post. 


Driving eldest to work, I mentioned this series and our varying reactions to Mykonos. I hope that you didn't imply, said H., that I only liked Mykonos because of its parties! So, for the record, she especially liked Mykonos because of its beauty! 

However, having reviewed some photos, I couldn't resist one:


  I wish I was still H's age!     


Anonymous said...

Well done! Love that last photo. Also the crack about "arcane theological differences".

Won't praise too much in case you then feel able to rest on your laurels, as it were.


Jim Belshaw said...

Thanks, KVD. Next post in series will be tomorrow!

Anonymous said...

Also, I've been meaning to say (but haven't had the chance for quite some months, but we won't go into that) that it is interesting to play 'spot the aircon' in your pictures.

They really seem to have populated the contemporary landscape?


Jim Belshaw said...

They do seem to breed, kvd!

Anonymous said...

re update:

Ha! And good on her; long may it be that new eyes see the world from a different perspective.


Jim Belshaw said...

My complaint, KVD, is that that time has passed me by!