Our 19 hours and 22 minutes in Syros for the rebirth of Hermy the Bike
A couple of weeks ago my husband and I made a quick visit to the island of Syros. His friends gave him an old bike as a gift since they no longer used it. My husband explained that in order to get the paperwork done, we had to go to Syros for a day because Ermoupolis, which is the main town in Syros, is the capital of the Cyclades islands. I wasn’t that enthusiastic about the visit. We’ve been living on Mykonos for a few months now. I would love to visit other islands sometimes but an island that is like a capital city is not one that would appeal to me.
My enthusiasm level rose as our ferry approached the port of Syros. Colourful houses greeted us and these houses were everywhere, even up the hills. What an amazing sight and a welcoming break from all those white boxy houses on Mykonos. I’m not complaining about the white boxy houses on Mykonos – they are beautiful and practical but it’s nice to see something different sometimes.
We now had only 19 hours and 22 minutes left in Syros. Would we have time to ride around the whole island? We fell in love with Syros instantly and already decided then that we would come back another time.
First thing though we had to sort out the bike’s paper work so off we went to the place where they issued roadworthiness certificate. While waiting I looked around in the office and this little card caught my eyes:
And this pyramid looking hill. I read that one of the uses of pyramids was to harness energy. Some hills were shaped like pyramids and this way was faster than building a pyramid from scratch. Pay attention and you will see pyramid looking hills doted everywhere around the globe.
After having the bike checked, we now had to wait till 6pm to call this office who would handle the name transferring of the bike. Many places in Greece take a few hours break in the afternoon for people to have lunch and a little nap. If you’re ever in Greece during summer you will understand why. It’s too hot to do anything in the heat.
We checked into our little hotel which was in a lovely quiet street in the harbour area in Ermoupoli. The hotel owner gave us a map and highlighted some beaches for us to visit. We still had to wait for the name transfer office to re-open so we drove up to one of the hill instead.
On the top of this hilly town, Ano Syros, there was a Catholic Church St. George. The hotel owner told us that there was originally a Parthenon there. In ancient times Parthenon was built for people to gather in case of floods. This Church was built in the 1200s but was renovated and rebuilt several times. It was very beautiful both outside and inside, although we felt a bit strange that unlike Orthodox Churches, there wasn’t any icons there for us to kiss hello.
Walking was the only way to explore Ano Syros. We drove up to the top entrance to the town and began wandering around on foot. The little streets were all beautifully paved and the whole town looked like someone’s well cared for garden. Together with the stunning view I thought this town would be ideal for wedding photo shoot.
While in Ano Syros we looked over to the other hill top and wanted to visit the church there as well but we didn’t have the time.
We went back down to the harbour and randomly chose a café. There were so many cafes and restaurants along the harbour that I actually wanted to go somewhere else because it felt a bit crowded with all the tables and chairs there.
Finally when my husband sorted out all necessary things for the bike, we asked the clerk where we could go for swimming. We left our map at the hotel and had no idea where to go. The clerk told us she liked Azolimnos. ‘It’s small and cute.’ So off we went to the Azolimnos beach. It was small and cute as the clerk said, with straw umbrellas and sunbeds. Many locals were there for a late afternoon splash. We got there a bit too late though, as the sun already half disappeared behind the mountains.
My husband had a quick swim. It was a bit too cold for me so I sat down and waited after playing singing bowl for the sea. When he finished he asked me what I wanted to do. ‘I want to watch the sunset.’ On Mykonos I watched the sunset almost every day because that was where the main town was facing and we spent much time on that side. Watching the sun set seemed to have become a part of my daily routine.
We had no map so we really just followed the sun, or where we thought it was. It wasn’t as straight forward as I thought though – I thought the route would be straight up the hill and down on to Kini, the coastal town on the other side of the island. There were actually many hills in the middle of Syros. We had to follow the winding roads around the hills. I thought we were going in circles and not getting any closer to the sun and I was about to suggest going back to Ermoupoli when my husband stopped the bike. I thought he was thinking the same but the reason he stopped was this:
A man came to us and exclaimed how lucky that my husband saw the baby porcupine; it could have been run over by passing cars easily because it was so small. It wasn’t exactly his pet but it would go to his garden and he would provide it with water. He thought the porcupine lost orientation because there were a few leeches attached to its body sucking its blood. The kind man took the leeches off the tiny body before disappearing back to his garden to give the porcupine some water. He also told us that we were heading the right way to see the sunset and we could enjoy the view at a restaurant with a long name (neither of us caught the name at the time).
I can’t explain to you the joy I experienced when we finally got to the part of the island that was still lit up by the sun. The sun is there hanging over us every day but while looking for it, I was afraid I couldn’t get to see it again! For me this little escapade represented getting over the unknown. We set a goal according to what my heart desired and we stuck to it. We literally went to the light from the dark! I’m grateful for having a companion who is willing to enter the unknown with me and who shares my joy in little things like searching for the sunset.
We also found the restaurant the kind porcupine man mentioned. And guess what? It was the same restaurant from the card I noticed earlier at the bike checking place! I was attracted by the photo on the card and secretly wanted to go there for dinner but thought it would be too far away. I wonder if the little wish came true, or I had a glimpse of the future through the little card. Or, maybe the advertisement tactic worked and it influenced me to want to search for the sunset!
We were so pleased to have gone to this part of Syros. On Mykonos, we are very used to seeing many yachts while we admire the sunset. Here in Syros, on the hill in San Michalis area, only the nature existed – the ocean, the landscape and the sun displaying brilliant colours as it retired for the day. It was as if time had stopped as we absorbed the calmness of the nature.
When we went back down to main harbour town Ermoupoli, we decided to have a look what else was there apart from the long rows of cafes and restaurants by the harbour. We saw the magnificent town hall and I love how the roads and pavements in the area were made of marble.
Then of course because we were tourists we (I) must have ice-cream! I chose 2 local flavours –Καϊμάκι (ka-i-ma-ki) which is flavoured with mastic and has a gum like texture; and λουκούμι (lou-kou-mi) which is the Greek version of Turkish delight. The λουκούμι in the ice-cream was produced in Syros, which is famous for this treat.
We thought we would have an early night because on return to Mykonos my husband needed to work. But then from the balcony we heard gentle sound of bouzouki playing and we followed the music to the downstairs backstreet tavern where there was a bouzouki player. The patrons joined in with the singing and created much harmony. The musician granted my song request so I could join in the singing as well. Τι όμορφη που είσαι όταν κλαις (You are beautiful when you cry) is one of my favourite Greek songs and it was introduced to me years ago by my husband when I was crying.
The next morning we only had a couple of hours before boarding the ferry to Mykonos. Apart from having breakfast and buying lunch from local bakery, there was one more little wish from me. The night before when I was selecting postcards I saw this and I want to have a look of the real thing:
The shopkeeper told us that this place was behind Hermes Hotel which was by the harbour front. We found it easily and wish we had brought our own towel so that we could join the few locals for a morning swim. The view was as pretty as the postcard although my photography skills and phone camera were not half as good.
By the way Hermes (Ἑρμης) is name of an Olympian God. The town Ermoupoli is comprised of two words, Ermou is a deviation from Ἑρμης and poli (πόλη) means city. One day when my husband first received this bike, he started calling the bike Hermy; he said he felt this was its name. I found it interesting that Hermy had a rebirth in the City of Hermes.
It was time to say goodbye to Syros. We would definitely come back for a much longer visit, maybe even in the colder months so we could take a good walk in the hilly town and maybe enjoy the cultural event in the famous Apollon Theatre. Syros is only about 30 minutes ferry ride from Mykonos although there wasn’t any direct ferries during our visit and we had to travel via Tinos which is also about 30 minutes from Mykonos. Do visit Syros when you plan your holidays to the Cyclades and maybe even make Syros your sole destination.