Delightful Delos

An early start by holiday standards. A frappe on the harbour, some shenanigans with cash and a ticket purchase and we were loaded onto a boat bound for the historic island of Delos.

Delos is an ancient archaeological island 30 minutes by boat from Mykonos Town. It is uninhabited apart from around 30 archaeologists who live there to excavate the site. There are no facilities and no shade. We have chosen a searing hot day to visit.

On arrival it is breathtaking. Larger than expected. A whole ancient city laid out before us. Delos is a barren island 5km long by 1300m wide. Devoid of vegetation, it is only half a metre at its highest point. It bakes in the sunshine. It is rocky and hard to imagine why a whole city was built here.

In the Hellenistic period (7th to 1st BC) it was home to 30,000 people. It was destroyed in 88BC. It housed some of the most impressive sculptures and mosaics still in situ in it’s ancient ruined houses. bits of clay pottery from ancient amphorae are scattered everywhere. It will take years for the archaeologists to excavate fully.

I tell you this unashamedly from the pamphlet I picked up when entering the island. I refused the offer of a guided tour preferring to go it alone. I feel I am too old to be dragged around by a ‘teacher’ on a school trip. I have always had an issue with being told what to do, where to be and when to be there. To be organised is hell for me. Like most things in my life, I decided this day to learn the hard way. To stumble across things and learn by accident. Good luck, not good guidance.

So I walked around in my sandals in the blistering midday sun, trying to imagine the ancient city and the people who lived there. There are few signs to assist me. Photographs of jewellery are on one of the signs which tells a tale of buried treasure. Hidden by the women in a hurry, never to return to claim them.

The mosaics are startling when found by accident as I did. The most impressive and most photographed remains are that of the lion terrace. A row of large lion sculptures sit looking down on the city. This must have been quite a place.

Time goes quickly and our boat leaves again at 1330. If we miss this one we are stuck until the late return with no water or shade. We ensure we are back on board in good time. Cruising back to Mykonos we pass the yacht ‘Christina O’ moored in the bay. Named after Aristotle Onassis’ daughter, it has entertained Winston Churchill, John Wayne and hosted the wedding reception of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco. It is now owned by a private charter company. I wonder who is on board and wonder at its history and the stories it could tell.

It is our last day in Greece. Tomorrow we fly home. I don’t really want to go. I am good for at least another week I feel. More beach, more sun, more sea. It is not to be. PCR tests all clear I have no suitable excuse to stay…maybe one day. Soon.

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