visiting a traditional village anywhere in Cyclades, keep in mind EVERYTHING (I mean it) will be closed from 2 to 6 pm. it's traditional siesta time, when people are taking naps, hiding from the heat, work and tourists.
our guide told us "a horror story" about his friend (a Russian woman) who knocked on a local priest door during siesta time. first, she was scolded by the priest for breaking his afternoon sleep, then, after siesta was over, she was arrested by police and brought up to the village hall to apologize in front of the whole settlement for disturbing their rest.
you can take this story with a eye wink (not all villages are so extreme). but one thing for sure: Greeks take their siesta very serious: rest comes first, all other things are secondary.
so bring with you enough water, snacks, other things you might need to survive 2 to 6 siesta break.
My ferry boat experience while traveling to Tinos was the most colorful one as far as "people watching" is concerned. since Tinos is still not that much visited by foreigners, the majority of travelers on the ferry were Greeks.
My first impression was that all Greeks on the upper deck of the boat knew each other. even before the ferry departed they would come to great each other, and did that with so much noise that it sounded more than they were arguing :) after numerous greeting exchanges, they went to their tables for a morning coffee and a snack, and got quiet for a while. Around 9:45 am, the action was renewed. a group of people was wondering from table to table..... singing. those few intraverts, who wanted to be left alone, either played cards or read newspapers.
so if you are planning to catch some sleep while traveling with Greeks, just forget about it before you board (unless you can sleep under any condition) or reserve a ticket in a higher class: no singing there for sure :)
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
Tinos pilgrimage tradition is routed in antiquity, when Poseidon drove away the snakes from Tinos, then called Ophiussa or Snake Island. Naturally Poseidon became the patron of the island, and Tinos - a sacred place in the eastern Mediterranean visited frequently for Poseidon temples. It also served as a stopover for purification before going to the sacred island of Delos.
Nowadays, Tinos is famous amongst Greeks for a yearly pilgrimage (the Assumption of Mary, August 15) to the Church of Panagia Evangelistria or Our Lady of Good Tidings. The church was built in 1830 on the site where the icon had been found based on a series of visions of Virgin Mary a nun Pelagia from Kechrovounion had in 1822. the icon dated older than the Byzantine period and claimed be the work of the Apostle and Evangelist St. Luke is know for it healing miracles.
One of the most common reasons for pilgrimages is childlessness. When a woman visits the island for this reason, she promises the Virgin that she will name the child after her if she becomes pregnant. When the child is old enough, it is taken to Tinos in order to be shown to the Virgin. Therefore, there are hundreds of Marias and Panagiotas all over the country because they have been promised to the Virgin Mary of Tinos. Many pilgrims make their way to the church on their hands and knees - the 800-meter uphill path from the ferry wharf to the church.
In addition to August 15, three other festivals are celebrated in the church: January 30, the anniversary of the finding of the icon; March 25, the Annunciation of Mary; July 23, the anniversary of the vision of the nun Pelagia. On each of these days the population of Tinos increases by in two-three folds.
- Religious Travel
If you are planning on visiting the Church, or the convent, or any other Greek Orthodox places of worship, beware of a very strict dress code - your legs and shoulders have to be covered.
if you are a man, you must wear pants not shorts and shirts with sleeves (no matter how hot it is outside). a woman to enter must wear a skirt that goes below knees and a long-sleeve blouse or to cover shoulders with a shawl. the fact that you are a tourist unaware or ignorant of local traditions, will not help. to the contrary, it might make nuns very angry and you will be ask to leave the place.
in addition to hundreds of chapels, one will also see a lot of crosses or little shrines by the side of the road. they serve as signs commemorating accidents or near accidents, as well as a granted wish. should one survive a car accident, or his wish is granted, s/he builds a shrine on the spot. if he doesn't, someone builds one for him. Either way there are a lot of shrines on the side roads, where someone regularly comes to fills a little flask with oil or light a lantern.
it's a common thing in the Orthodox tradition to light candles while praying about something particular (e.g. recovery, healing, etc), whether it is for yourselves or on behalf of someone else. the candles are usually small (20 cm) and are put on the small trays in front of an icon.
in the Church of Panagia Evangelistria, candle sizes are much bigger (may be because the requested wish is a very important one). the candles sizes starts at 50 cm and can go as long as 3 meters.
- Religious Travel
This is for the one that is new in Greece and sits in front of the menue, not knowing what to expect under the title of the dishes.
So, here I present you some of the local specialities:
1) THE GREEK SALAD, a salad made from tomatoes, pickle, peperoni, lots of red onions, some feta cheese, olives and sometimes capers.
The salad sauce has olive oil in it. My husband seems to be able to just live from this salad. Be it apero or main dish, it never tires him.
I do have to laugh sometimes, when I see a greek salad. When I was still in school and almost finished, we had our finals- travel here in Greece. A schoolfriend who wanted a greek salad, but lacked the right word for it, ordered it as a "mixed salad". That got him a very peculiar look from the waiter, so he repeated it again: "one mixed salad, please". The waiter disappeared with our order, and from the kitchen came a suspicious sirring and whirring. When he appeared with our dishes, my colleague got his greek salad ... but mixed (blended). One small pile of blended olives, one of pickle, one of feta, one of tomatoes.... We laughed so hard at the expression on his face!
2) TZAZIKI, a mixture from yoghurt, cream, very fine cut pickles and garlic. Refreshing to eat on a piece of bread or on any other dish like vegetables or meat.
3) FAVA, a mousse made from beans. The taste is quite neutral, it is being seasoned with lime juice and olive oil.
4) FRIED EGGPLANT, eggplant slices are dipped in dough and fried in oil. Very good tasting apero.
5) OCTOPUS, as Apero or main dish. In this case it was served grilled and as a salad. If you only ever eat calamares where you don't see what it was, don't be surprised to see that the arms of the octopus have these suction cups on it ...
- Food and Dining
continuation of the local dishes tips.
11) FRIED LITTLE FISH, this is exactly that. You can eat the fish whole (with head and bones), all crunchy and fine.
12) CRAB SALAD, well, this one was more like a crab coctail, but generally you have some crab meat in it (peeled) and a sauce. This sauce was something like mayonnaise all over...
13) SEAFOOD - a very special apero we got in the Pension Irini where we stayed. Thomas makes one of the best cooks i know. This is his creation, mixed seafood (mussels, shrimps) in garlic butter. Hmmm!
more dishes (no picture):
14) MOUSSAKA, it has some similarities with lasagna, its contents are: eggplant, potatoes, grounded beef, tomato sauce in layers and a covering of thick white sauce. All put in the oven and baked.
- Food and Dining
this is the continuation of the explanation of local dishes in Greece:
6) FRIED CALAMARI, this is something that found its way into restaurants all over the world. It is still something different, if you can get them fresh. You can buy fried calamari in switzerland, but these rubber rings are no comparison to the fresh product that has been fried in fresh batter.
7) GRILLED CALAMARI, sometimes, when the menue only states calamari, it is possible, that you get the whole calamari and grilled. I liked it that way, too.
8) GRILLED OCTOPUS, a close relative to the calamari, but you mainly eat the arms.
9) RABBIT, Tinos has many rabbits living on it. If the hunter was successful, you may get to taste some. With tomatoe sauce and onions plus french fries on the side. Apropos fries: the fried potatoes come in different shapes and sizes here, not all are long and thin. We also had them as round thin plates (thicker than chips) too.
10) YOGHURT WITH HONEY AND WALNUTS, although we had this for breakfast it is also a nice dessert. Yummy!
- Food and Dining
Funny that "wind" should be a local customs tip ... Anyway, there is no shortage of wind on Tinos. When we were there, we had one day where the ferries did not circulate because of wind forces between 8-9.
The - sometimes quite strong - north wind is also called "doctor of Tinos" and is said to be responsible for the healthy climate on the island.
The wind does shape the vegetation as you can see in the picture. That "flat" tree is actually a stone oak. All the trees in that area look like that, bent to follow the earth.