Syros: grand summer della Grazia with bergamot and rose petals

P2_greyCo-created travel dreams endure longer; eternal conversations among the prominent architect Ernst Ziller, the Capuchins and the Jesuits are still heard in the stylish setting of Syros island for your starring role. They all become part of the destination’s lifetime… and the place becomes part of you somehow. They leave a scent of sweet life, permanent footprints on the wet sand, the magic of summer childhood innocence.

The formal marking period for the university exams set the timeframe and the short trip from the port of Piraeus did set the scene. And the marking of all final exam papers accompanied us during the fair wind sailing up to the blow of the horn signaling our arrival.

Time to disembark!
Welcome to the town of Hermes, Ermoupoli, also capital of  the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea.

One day before, one call afterwards, one confirmation in between and the plans were ready. As an authentic new generation host, Dafni invited us to Avrofilito Syros Houses – “avrofilito” means kissed by the sea breeze; a place where the breeze from the east crawls out of the sea on the hills nearby, fostering an ideal microclimate.

We discussed with Dafni about the new estate, still in progress; it took its name from the local place in the broader area, where Andreas Embirikos, the famous Greek surrealist poet and first Greek psychoanalyst used to live with his wealthy family (ship-owners) and then donated their country-house in order for a sanatorium to be built.

Syros has a dual face; industrial and novel, maximalism and minimalism, Catholics and Orthodox crowned by two captivating hills with common calendar celebrations; it owns its rich present to a wonderful past of mixed populations and traditions.

Avrofilito Syros Houses rests between Talanta and Episkopio. The stone houses of the domaine are ideally located and well oriented, as if they ensure an effective safeguarding across the town of Ermoupoli.

The island may offer some typical views of a beautiful city on island hopping with family beaches for mainstream visitors on the one hand and refined vibes of Classicism and Renaissance, bridging cultures, religions and unique snapshots surrounded by less crowded, almost hidden sandy refuges on the other. Its very essence lies in the latter and it well deserves it.

Inner vibes of  sensitivity are extracted from the terrain of San Michalis; the least known northernmost point of the island, we always love to come back. The sea, the rocks, the wind and the beloved wilderness of seclusion.

Scarce but interesting gastronomic proposals, sparse but traditional settlement, all with a common reference to St. Michael. Widely known for its delicate taste, San Michali has the distinct personality traits of the Greek parmesan with a protected designation of origin.

Going downhill to Ermoupoli, we share big moments of travel living atop the hills. Narrow ravines show us the way in the hinterlands.

As we are looking down to the port, Vrontado hill covers the left side of the eye screen with the impressive Orthodox church of Anastasi (Resurrection) in a never-ending constructive debate with the Catholic cathedral of Saint George and Madonna del Carmelo/del Carmine dominating the hill of Ano Syros on the right.

“Episcopium a fundamentis erectum”. It’s simply a matter of wonder what surprises the meandering street network has in store for you.  Amazed by the labyrinth of the fortified medieval settlement of Ano Syros, we follow the signs and we stop under the numerous inscriptions.

Overarching pragmatism in visual gratification and pastel spectrum of travel state of mind. Big moments of travel living! Blue, white, turquoise and ochre steps seasoned with basil lead you to the museum of Markos Vamvakaris (internationally known as “the patriarch of the rebetiko” music), situated on the central road of Ano Syros.

Walking through Vamvakaris Square, his classic love song “Fragosyriani” sounds as a memorable one-way ticket to Syros on the staves:
“I’m going to take you
at Finika, Parakopi
Galissa and Della Grazia
[…] In Pateli, in Nihori
(We’ll have) a great time in Alithini
And we’ll have romances in Piskopio
my sweet Fragosyriani”

Culture and gastronomy are blended in the rewarding views on the terrace of delicious tastes at the tavern of Apano Chora [Τ: 22810.80.565]. Maria now takes great pleasure in discussing with us and serving a variety of evening dishes, topped with the island’s local deli meat, so-called “louza”. The crescent moon is filled with quality house wine.

Mykonos and Tinos islands wonderly welcome the first daylight to our yard.
Open seas, open horizons!

At every step of the way, we feel the almost abrupt change from a quiet island to an industrial and commercial centre for ship building and refitting. The Industrial Museum of Syros [T: 22810.84762] serves as a narrative witness.

Inextricable part of Ermoupolis’ backdrop, Neorion hosted the first shipyard in Greece. Our morning to evening mirror views redirect us to the town of Hermes from hill to hill. Among machineries and cranes, the cosy tavern of Tarsanas [Τ: 22810.77667] is almost embedded in the docks.

Contrast to be continued… from the structural settings to natural formations. Shimmers  of small gulfs for personal relaxation. Decibels to be admired, since the only sound waves come from the sound of the waves. Kokkina beach is the seaside getaway for the day.

After some rest, our architectural path starts in perfectly symmetric glory holistically depicted in the realism of the famous Saxon architect’s plans (Ernst Ziller)…  the City Hall, the very landmark of Ermoupolis in front of you.

The architectural dialogue continues as we face the Apollo Theatre, just a stone’s throw away. Distinguished vocalisations come out from the miniature of La Scala di Milano.

The following day, we prepare our breakfast and schedule the first meeting with the original pleasant aromas of thyme, rosemary and oregano, spread out in the open sea of wonder. Morning hilltop views well-kept in nature and bliss sea breeze.

Treasures of art and religion are uniquely combined to produce a medley of chef-d’oeuvres. One of the first works of the universally known painter El Greco (Dominikos Theotokopoulos) dates back to the 16th century and  is now found in the Church of the Dormition or “Panagia Psarianon”. The “wow” upper-back side of the church (which used to be the apartment for women) also looks like an astonishing boat bow.

Our desire to circle around the southern part of the island brings us on the reputable sandy beach of Agathopes. The Ono concept is getting prepared for a summer experience to the full. Agathopes is part of Poseidonia (Foinikas Bay), formerly known as Della Grazia. The bygone glamour of old summer residences and the aristocracy of historic villas is steadily restored – a great example is villa Tsiropina now used as the City Hall of Poseidonia and a stunning cultural multi-space.

Although the green and sea blue fluo are not frequently met around the island, they are secretly kept for sophisticated travel admirers. Komito has long prepared the wet stage for us and we cannot resist.

On the way up from Ermoupoli to Episkopio, a pit stop is a sine qua non for sweet refuelling with freshly made Greek loukoumi delight at Denaxa and familiarisation with the two-century craft of “loukoumi” making and halva pie (“halvadopita”).

Yiannis is the culinary king of powdered sugar, making us direct our glance and explore the small treasures of bergamot orange, vanilla, mastic and rose petals. They say that the key component of making them unique is the brackish water stemming from the scarce springs of Syros.

The epitome of elegant style and unique character is nowhere more intense than in the quartier of Vaporia, where noblesse mansions compete against the sea splendor.

Visible from the ferry as you enter the harbour, St. Nicholas church is ideally located at Vaporia donating its stoutness as an unstinting gift to the broader area. The stars pay homage to the lights of mystique.

And a whole day in the west is divided in two. Passing by the famous beach of Galissas, it starts with a private boat tour up to Grammata beach or a swim at Delfini till the time the sun path changes and the daylight fades out in Kini. Plenty of time to make little stories so as to know where you truly belong.

We return back to the high urban echelons of Ermoupoli. Somewhere between the mansions, the rocks and the horizon, there is a dock waiting for you.

Even if the nearby Asteria beach bar may be crammed, there is always space available under the sun to fly high and dive deep. Imposing dives right at the edge of the port and island waves of splash quality life!

The grand island districts go higher and higher and become larger, shedding light on strolls of awe, thanks to the international festivals organised. Youth initiatives with energy and dynamism conquer the island, which now attracts people from the mainland and visitors from abroad.

One of the 20 most significant animation festivals in the world, Animasyros is held  in Ermoupolis early in the autumn (Apollo Theatre, Cultural Centre, University of the Aegean, Miaouli Square etc.). The Stray Art Festival calls for #stRaytuned as another opportunity for a great reunion plenty of art on the walls, theatre, music.

Syros transmits waves of high life, which meet you ashore… always in style.
Dreams are forever!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Sofia Daskou says:

    Wonderful review is Syros. Well done A. Travel, live, experience ….and tell it all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Much appreciated dear Sofia! Virtually co-travelling back to Syros ⛵


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