As the capital of the Cyclades, the town of Ermoupoli has plenty of life all year round making it a great destination for an off-season island trip.
Before the boat reaches the port of Ermoupoli on Syros, you will be able to make out the lonely church of Aghios Dimitrios, looking out like a sentinel over the wind-tossed sea. On spotting the church, the boat will sound its horn three times and then the church will ‘respond’ by ringing its bells.
Local legend has it that this call and response started in honor of a shipwrecked sailor who avoided drowning by following the sound of the church bell to shore. I myself prefer to think of Saint Dimitrios as a good old fashioned host who hurries out to greet his guests, allowing the ladies of the house introduce themselves when the ship comes into the port: the medieval Ano Syros on the left, and the neoclassical Ermoupoli on the right; two grande dames inviting you into their homes.
And while the fall sees other Cycladic islands becoming shy and retiring, these two ladies don their finest and put out tea and cakes, ready for a long chat. Two days are really not enough to cover everything, but even in 48 hours they will have a lot to tell you.
DAY ONE (SATURDAY)
10.00 – The day in Ermoupoli seems to start in the enchanting Miaouli Square. Begin yours a little further down in the utterly charming Corner Cafe (3 Vikela, tel. +30 22813.01887), which specializes in nourishing snacks made from organic ingredients. We tried the very tasty potato pie with onion, cardamom and poppyseed as well as the vegan wild greens pie with fennel and black sesame. Both are creations of Alisia from Krakow, who lives on the island all year round and works in the café.
12.00 – Resist the temptation to get lost in the surrounding alleyways and neighborhoods and hop into a taxi. The medieval settlement of Ano Syros (or Apano Chora – meaning upper village) predates Ermoupoli, and as the elder, it gets priority. Specifically, it was founded when Greece was predominantly under Frankish and Venetian rule (1207-1537), and Syros was among the many Cycladic islands that were ruled by the Venetian Duchy of Naxos. As such, the majority of the islanders had accepted catholicism although Greek remained the predominant language.
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