Last week I heard on the radio about the new trends of 2020. It will be trendy to measure our breath and our inner well-being next year. However there are communities where the inner soul and simple living have been in focus for centuries. Lets discover Tinos island of the island group Cyclades in the Aegean Sea. Only twenty minutes by ferry from Mykonos but still unknown for foreigners. On the other hand its well known in Greece as over one million pilgrims make a visit here every year. Every greek will visit the island at least once to see the Holy Church Panagia in the capital of Tinos.
How to get here
You will reach Tinos with ferry from Pireus or the port of Rafina in Athens. Depending if you take the fast ferry or regular you will reach the island in 2-3 or 4-5 hours. The nearest airport is located in Mykonos. If you want to discover the islands near Tinos there are direct connections to Andros, Mykonos, Syros, Paros and Santorini with the ferry.
This little island has 52 villages, 41 beaches, 650 pigeon houses and at least 750 churches according to what I heard and discovered on the web. Amazing but probably true…
This island has been inhabited since ancient times and since then various nationalities has conquered the island from the Persians to Alexander the Great. The island has also belonged to the Roman Empire and times when pirates ravaged here. In the 13th century the island was conquered by the Venetians. Many inhabitants converted to Catholicism to retain their lands. But there was a law that allowed you to keep the land if you had a church within your landmark, therefore the orthodox population built a lot of churches. During the Ottoman era the island becomes a small metropolis and is called Little Paris. As the trade flourishes with Constantinople and other cities in the Mediterranean is at that time the most populated island in the Cycladic group.
Art, culture & food
Tinos is also the island of arts as many famous painters and sculptors are born here. The painter Nikiforos Lytras and the sculptors Giannoulis Chalepas, Fillipotis Dimitrios among other artists are born in the most picturesque village Pyrgos. Another famous painter is Nikolaos Gyzis from Sklavochorio village. Many of the artists studied in Munich and became famous outside Greece. The fact that Tinos has been an island with quarries of white and green marble since ancient times has given the Tinians an excellent reputation in Greece and abroad. Around the island and specially in Pyrgos you see great work made of marble. Extra interesting is also Giannoulis Chalepas story and his home is now a museum in Pyrgos along with the Museum of Marble Crafts.
You don’t see many trees in the landscape as the Cycladic islands are very windy. There are few green areas in Tinos, so what grows here often are capers, figs, artichokes and some specials grapes as the soil is dry. However Tinians love their land and have great gastronomy and great cuisine to normal greek prices. Wine from the winyards along with the green kitchen and seafood makes you definitely want to stay here longer. Every year in the second week of May Tinians arrange a food festival, don’t miss Tinosfoodpaths if you are nearby.
When you travel through the island you also notice the small pigeon houses decorated with stars, circles, flowers or the initials of the owner. The breeding of pigeons began with the Venetians. If you had a pigeon house you were wealthy.
Did you like this post? You will find more photos and stories of Tinos and Greece on my Instagram account @photogrid.by.me .
Have you seen the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding? Did you notice the greek wedding traditions in the movie? Last week I was in one of my familys wedding events in Epirus. An orthodox church wedding is an old and beautiful ceremony and has been celebrated in its present form for centuries.
Certainly the ceremony is unique as the bride and groom do not make any promises in the church. Since the presence in the church means that they have given each other the promise to enter into marriage. During the ceremony, many acts are repeated three times to symbolize the Trinity: The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The two candles at the altar represent the bride and groom’s promises to respect each other in their new life together.
Outside the church
Meanwhile the guests wait outside the church until the bride arrives, the groom waits with her flower bouquet at the entrance. The most common thing is that the bride and the groom walk in together, followed by all the guests. Furthermore you can sit wherever you like, as there are no grooms or brides sides in the orthodox wedding.
At the beginning of the act, the priest blesses the bridal couple’s rings and places them on the right ring finger. The maid of honor (Koumbara) makes the ring change three times and the act symbolizes the promises that the bridal couple give each other. After the readings the priest brings together the bride and groom’s right hands that remain united throughout the act. The wedding crowns (stefana) which are joined by bands symbolize the couple’s love. They are blessed and placed on the bridal couple’s heads, whereupon Koumbara or the Bestman (Koumbaros) change place on the crowns three times. One piece of the readings says that the woman should obey the man, then the bride fits the groom on the foot to mark that the custom is outdated.
The bride and groom are offered three sips of wine from the same cup as a symbol for sharing on the burdens of life together and sharing on everything in life, both in joy and in sorrow. Isaiah’s dance is the first steps the couple take as real spouses when the priest leads them around the table. Koumbara alternatively Koumbaros hold in the crowns and according to Greek custom one throws rice over the bridal couple. By throwing rice you express your hope that the bride and groom together will become strong and form a family.
After the wedding ceremony, the couple turns to the guests and the closest family members congratulate them followed by the guests. In the Greek wedding tration all the guests receive a gift of traditional sugar-coated almonds in a bomboniere. The number of koufeta or almonds are uneven and indivisible. As usually five or seven, as well as the groom and the bride are now inseparable. The sweets represent health, wealth, happiness and a long life.
With this post I wish the bride and the groom, Artemis and Vasilis a lifetime of love and happiness! Thank you for letting me photograph your most important day of your new life together.
Did you like this post? Feel free to comment or ask me questions. More Greek wedding inspiration can be found here .
Is it possible to explore Kefalonia over the weekend? Kefalonia is the biggest island in the Ionian Sea. Was actually the last one in my bucket list in the Ionian, when my sister asked me to travel with her. I did not hesitate to say yes. My niece would perform in a festival and we would travel with bus from the mainland through Lefkada island to Kefalonia.
The seven Ionian islands became Greek in the 19th century. The islands were influenced by Normans French, Italians and their British rulers. However the islands are unique and have their own style. An earthquake hit Kefalonia 1953 that destroyed most of the islands settlements with few exceptions, one is Fiskardo on the north side. Consequently 75% of the population left the island and moved to other parts of Greece or abroad. Those who stayed have helped to rebuild what we see today.
In the Ionian Sea
The bus picked us up in Arta in Epirus, twenty kids and fefteen adults was ready for adventures. Our first stop was in Lefkadas town Nidri. After less than two hours of ferry travel we arrived to Fiskardo. However we kept the exploration of this little cute town to the end of the journey.
We arrived in Argostoli, the capital of Kefalonia after lunch. The city is built around the impressive natural harbour. In the 18th century, this was the third biggest port in the eastern part of the Mediterranean. In Argostoli all the buildings are new as they are all rebuilt after the earthquake. Beautiful stylish buildings with a special touch and frames around the windows and doors is very common.
In the capital of Kefalonia
After a wonderful breakfast on Sunday morning we went to the beach Makris Gialos near Argostoli with the girls. The beach is big and well organised and yes it was Sunday with a lot of girls who love beach parties.
After syrtaki dances and sunbathing at the beach we went to town. The main square or platia as the Greek says, happens to be the meeting pointing in this town. Here you have hotels, restaurants and cafeterias and bars for every hour of the day. We found our restaurant Ladokolla, they serve the delicious greek dishes in grease proof paper. Ladokolla means literally grease proof paper in Greek. Spent the evening with the girls performance in the festival just outside the city. Walked back to town admiring the foot bridge De Bosset and after the long walk by the port went back to the hotel tired and satisfied with my afternoon captures.
Exploring the Cave
Leaving Kefalonia without a visit at the famous cave Melissani was not ok. Its the most famous attraction in the island discovered 1951. The cave is located near the town Sami and is very unique as the roof of the cave is open and the sunlight give the most beautiful tones to the walls and the atmosphere inside the cave. The water in the cave comes from the sorounding mountains of Sami and Argostoli and can be up to 33 meters deep. According to Greek mythology the cave is named after nympf Melissani. Melissani was in love with Pan. As he didn’t pay any attention she drowned in the lake.
If you travel to Kefalonia you will be able to enjoy the best beaches in the Ionian Sea I almost dare to say. You have the famous Myrtos beach and plenty of beach options if you travel by car around the island. Apart from Kefalonia you can pop over to Ithaca for more beach adventures. We chose beach Agia Paraskevi on our way back.
Spent the afternoon strolling and capturing the colourful buildings and alleys in the harbour of Fiskardo as they are the few remaining in Kefalonia after the earthquake. The Norman general Roberto Guiscard who past away here 1085 gave the name to the city. The original name was Panormos which sounds more Greek. Our coffee brake at Melinas Patisserie infront of port was wonderful as the patisseries and the view is awesome. Delicious traditional greek desserts seems to be their specialty. Don’t miss this coffee place if you are nearby.
Did you like this blogpost? This was just a short preview of what Kefalonia has to offer. I recommend you to take look at my Instagram friend Julies blogpost with local tips if you dare to stay a week. I strongly recommend it. More photos of Kefalonia on my Instagram @photogrid.by.me .