Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Miaouli Square - Ermoupolis

On our way to Sifnos in 1985 (not that we knew that was where we were headed), we'd arrived in Athens, went to the docks in Piraeus and bought a ticket for the first available boat, irrespective of where it was going. We knew nothing about any of the Greek islands, so it was fairly unimportant where it was going - just as long as it wasn't any very well-known name amongst the package-holiday crowd: the first stop was Syros, we discover, is famous for it's Loukoumi, (which I tested and approved!)

After getting off the ferry and being accosted by the then usual crowd of kids touting rooms, we accepted help from one who took us to a house right on the main Miaouli Square in Ermoupolis, exactly opposite the grand and imposing town hall. At that time it cost the equivalent of around £3.00 per night, even in that central location. (Mind you, the rooms were basic backpacker standard and the bathrooms communal.) And, it seems, more recently, prices there are still very reasonable, mostly because "You will meet very few foreigners on Syros. Most of the people coming here are Greek."
Off the main tourist radar is my kind of destination!

The house we stayed in is the one on the left in this image (from where I took this shot looking over the square), which, as you can see, was also just a block or two back from the delightful harbour front, where we dined on fresh crab, also for next to nothing. Breakfast we took opposite in the square and it was never any busier than is shown in the video above.

It looks like Ermoupolis has remained much as it was in my fading, sepia photos from that visit 25 years ago and seeing these images again, plus all the new stuff on the internet brings back some good memories, though I'm sure the reality is not always equal to the nostalgia.

My impression of Ermoupolis was a slightly Venetian flavoured (complete with decaying grandeur) junior Paris Sur Mer, only Greek, of course. With Greek island weather.
The best information about Syros, as with most other destinations in Greece, is from Matt Barrett, who says:
"One of the most interesting and lively places to visit is the agora (marketplace), especially in the morning. There are fruits and vegetable shops, fresh fish, and bakeries with fresh baked bread, cookies and cakes. Check out the Prekas Traditional Shop which sells local products like capers, sun-dried tomatoes, cheeses, dried figs, marinated artichokes, loukoumia, nougat, local honey, olives, pasta, oil, local spirits, wine, herbs and candies. Its the closest thing to a natural foods shop and in many ways better. Its on Venizelou Street just down from Miaoulis Square."
What more could one want for daily life? I can see exactly why he says that, "I think if I was going to live year-round on any island I would choose Syros."

See more of the island ...

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