I am back in Georgetown after two weeks abroad, but this morning, in spirit, I am still in Greece, remembering the magical moments spent on Tinos.
When I was a little girl, my family and I used to go to Tinos often. My maternal grandfather, a Greek philosophy professor, decided to take a sabbatical there when my mother was 16, and moved the family to the island for two years, in a gorgeous, simple, very old stone house. The last time I was there, I was 14. Why I haven’t gone in so long, I don’t know.
Returning to this magical, religious, non-touristy island to spend a week of vacation was heaven. I haven’t taken a week-long vacation in 5 years (mistake I won’t make again), and the Tinos lifestyle was ideal for a real break. There is no radio, no TV, no internet, in the house (and no dishwasher and no washing machine). The days, as a result, seem quieter, longer, more peaceful. The news of the day focuses on how many cats and goats are around, what color the sky is, and which direction the wind is blowing.
I thought I would be bored after a week, but I really wish I could have stayed longer. In a week, I just began to re-discover the island. Here were some of the highlights of my trip:
- There are so many villages to visit on Tinos, all with its distinct personality. My two favorite (other than Triandaros, where my grandma’s house is), are Pyrgos, known for its marble, and Volax, hidden in the middle of giant, rounded granite boulders.
- Tinos is known for its churches. I really think there are more churches than people. Not all of them were open, but all of the ones I saw were beautiful. My favorite was a small one on the way from Triandaros to Kalivia beach. A lonely church on the side of the road, gorgeous white with a blue steeple.
- The most amazing beach ever (maybe my favorite beach in the world) is called Kalivia. It is somewhat out of the way (signs for this beach are in Greek only…), hence not too crowded, offers lounge chairs, straw umbrellas (you know my feeling about the sun…), and, most importantly, the Beach Bar. This exterior bar is owned and operated by Marcos, a Greek who looks like a German and whose nickname is “The German, who lives on Tinos in the summer and in Davos in the winter. He knows everyone, is the perfect host, and makes his signature drink, the “Kalivadi,” with home-made raki, brown sugar, and lime. Deliciously refreshing…
- I ate one Greek salad per day (sometimes two per day) in search for the perfect one. And after a week, I have to say the best one was at Taverna Lefkes in Triandaros.
- My favorite restaurant (not that I tried them all) was Bourou, near Konia beach. I ate dinner there three times… moussaka, ochra, rooster, spaghetti carbonara, everything was delicious.
- My drink of choice (other than the Kalivadi at the Beach Bar) was Boutari wine. Some of my favorite moments were those spent on the terrace, with view of the port, with a good book and a chilled glass of rosé.
- While I did disconnect and take a break, I still had to find an internet café and check in once in a while with “the real world.” Para Pente Café was perfect, quiet, free wi-fi, offering delicious Greek yogurt, and delicious frozen cappuccinos. The magical view of the port and the ferrys made checking email almost delightful.
- I did leave the island one day, to visit Delos, known to be one of the places on earth that receives the most intensive sunlight (no shade there, wear a hat and sunscreen!). According to Greek mythology, this island is where Apollo and Artemis were born. The island developed into a flourishing trade center, which one still can get a feel for thanks to the excavations. Delos was like a huge outdoor Greek architecture and culture museum. Beautiful.
When I go back, hopefully soon, I want to visit Panormos, Kolimbithra beach, Arnados, Santa Margarita, and Ag. Fokas. And go to Santorini (where the Boutari winery is). And more. Between now and then, I will brush up on my Greek, my Greek history, and my Greek mythology. After all, my parents made me take ancient Greek (in addition to Latin) in school. Now I know why, and I feel like I should have paid more attention in class…