Mythological Secrets of Greece: Mykonos

We departed Athens very early in the morning aboard a high speed ferry to the island of Mykonos. Our early departure meant that by the time we arrived on the island, our rooms were not ready. We thereby opted to spend the day poolside and begin our exploration in the early evening.

In Greek mythology, Mykonos was named after its first ruler, Mykons, the son of the god Apollo and a local hero. The island is also said to have been the location of a great battle between Zeus and the Titans as well as where Hercules killed the invincible giants having lured them from the protection of Mount Olympus.

Mykonos @EvaVarga.net

Mikri Venetia (Little Venice)

From our hotel, we took a small bus to the city center, Chora, where we met up with our local specialist for a walking tour of the historic town. We began in Mikri Venetia or Little Venice (pictured at top in collage), where rows of fishing houses line the waterfront with their balconies hanging over the sea.

The first of these was constructed in the mid-18th century with little basement doors that provided direct access to the sea and underground storage areas led people to believe that the owners were secretly pirates.

Some of the houses have now been converted into cafes, little shops, and galleries. Little Venice is considered one of the most romantic spots on the island and many people gather there to watch the sunset.

Kato Mili (Lower Mills)

Our next stop were the windmills, a defining feature of the Myconian landscape. Though there are many windmills dotted around the island, most are concentrated in the main town. Standing in a row on a hill overlooking the sea (pictured at bottom in collage), their sails would harness the strong northern winds.

Built by the Venetians in the 16th century, the wood and straw capped windmills were used to mill flour. They remained in use until the early 20th century. Today, many have been refurbished and restored to serve as homes to locals.

Mykonos Alley @EvaVarga.net

As we were led through the narrow alleys and streets, she pointed out the many tiny chapels and churches – over 800 in total – most all of which have red domed roofs (in contrast to the blue domed churches on the island of Santorini).

She explained that when sailors would arrive safely at the shore, they would build chapels in honor of their name saints to express gratitude for their safe arrival. Thus, each is privately owned and thus closed to the public.

Mykonos Chapel @EvaVarga.net

The most cosmopolitan of all the Greek islands, Mykonos is well known for its splendid beaches. During our stay here, we enjoyed a full day relaxing on the beach. On the southern side of the island, where we were staying (Plati Gialos), there are several nearby sandy beaches.

We opted to begin at Elia Beach, the farthest away and planned to work our way back. To reach any of these shorelines, the fastest and easiest way is by water taxi. Comfortably seated – relatively speaking – we were on our way.

Known locally as the windy island, Mykonos certainly lived up to its name. Strong wind swept across the shore all day. We all enjoyed the water and took turns lounging on the chaise under an umbrella (these were available for rent at 10€ each, thus we opted to secure only two). The sand was so strong, however, it bit into our skin – free exfoliation! 😉

Mykonos beaches @EvaVarga.net

At the dock where the water taxi dropped us off was located at the center of the beach. From here, we had the option of walking left (West) or right (East). We chose the right as our tour guide had informed us in advance that clothing was optional to the left.

After a few hours of incessant wind, however, we gave up and headed back. Along the return route, the water taxi stopped briefly at each beach we had previously bypassed – Agrari, Super Paradise, Paradise, Paraga, and finally our home beach at Plati Gialos. Had it not been so windy, we likely would have stopped.

This is the first in a five-day hopscotch exploring the Mythological Secrets of Greece:

The Acropolis & Ancient Athens 

The Island of Mykonos  (this post)

The Island of Delos

The Lost City & Paradise in Santorini

Nea & Palea Kameni

Hopscotch-2017-67808Find more homeschool related topics to explore at the iHomeschool Network’s Homeschool Hopscotch

 

On Wind & Sail: Letterboxing in San Francisco

One of the benefits of homeschooling is the flexibility of our schedule. When Patrick has business meetings out of town, we are often able to accompany him. This works not only to his benefit – he has company on the long drive, we often share in the task of driving so the other can catch up on work, and he can take advantage of the carpool lane – but to ours.

While he is engaged at his conference, we hit the road to explore the city or surrounding area. This is just what brought us to San Francisco earlier this week.

We assumed that we would be staying in downtown or the financial district as we had in the past. Come to discover, this conference took place near the airport in Millbrae. Not exactly convenient for walking. Though the proximity to the BART would have been ideal – our plans for the day provided only a small window of time and we wanted to squeeze in as much as possible.

A las, I made the decision to drive back into SF proper myself and take our chances with parking. Our first destination was Golden Gate Park. In all our previous visits to the city, we had not previously explored this gem. My goal was to locate the Roald Amundsen or Gjoa Monument as well as two historic windmills.

On Wind & Sail: Letterboxing in San Francisco @WellTraveledFamily.netIn October 1906, Roald Amundsen and his crew arrived in San Francisco aboard the 69-foot Gjoa. Previously a herring boat from Tronso, Norway, she had been retrofitted for Amundsen’s quest to discover the famed Northwest Passage. The Gjoa took the small crew up and over Canada, east to west, finally arriving near Herschel Island, in arctic Canada.

To get word back to the outside world of his success, Amundsen left his men behind in the icebound ship and skied some 500 miles into Eagle, Alaska, where he telegraphed the good news home. As he and his crew arrived in San Francisco a few months later, they were hailed as heroes.

This epic quest was not Amundsen’s only feat, however. He led the Antarctic expedition (1910–12) to become the first to reach the South Pole in December 1911, an epic race against Robert Falcon Scott. In 1926, he was the first expedition leader to be recognized without dispute as having reached the North Pole.

We had visited the Gjoa ship at the Maritime Museum in Oslo. It was exciting to experience this full circle. Not far from the Norwegian granite stele is located a short distance from two windmills.
On Wind & Sail: Letterboxing in San Francisco @WellTraveledFamily.netBuilt between 1902 and 1908, the two historic windmills that overlook Ocean Beach at the far west end of Golden Gate Park were originally designed to provide water for the fledgling park at the beginning of the last century.

Fresh water was essential to transform the sand dunes of the Sunset district into the green that it is today.  The ground water inland was insufficient, so the coastal winds were harnessed to pump deep water closer to the ocean shore.  The windmills were in use only until 1913, when they were replaced by more efficient electric pumps.

The North windmill, known as the Dutch Windmill, was the first, built in 1902 to fill the artificial ponds within the boundaries of Golden Gate Park. The South windmill, known as the Murphy Windmill, was the largest of its kind in the world, with gigantic 114 foot sails, each cut from a single log. These sails turned clockwise, unlike traditional Dutch windmills which turn counter-clockwise.

While in Golden Gate Park, we also enjoyed one of our most favorite pastimes, Letterboxing – the ultimate scavenger hunt. Hunting letterboxes in San Francisco is always enjoyable – the boxes tend to be well maintained and the stamps are amazing! Often, intricately carved or multiple stamps that “stack” within one another.

We hunted three boxes (Aphrodite, Artemis, and Breathe) and were delighted to find all three with ease. My girl has become quite adept at locating the boxes – often without the complete set of clues .. a real sleuth.

We also picked up a hitch-hiking stamp and hope to be planting it in Ashland next week. :)

To learn more about letterboxing, visit AtlasQuest.