Saturday, December 1, 2012

Guest Blogger, Irma Havlicek: Moseying Around Mykonos

This guest blog reminds me of one of those nests of Russian dolls.  You know the kind, where each doll contains yet another, leaving you to choose whether to play with one that piques your interest or delve deeper.  Google Alerts steered me to a blog written by Australian web producer Irma Havlicek, who’d taken a weekend off from her work at an archaeological dig on the Aegean Cycladic island of Andros to visit neighboring Mykonos with two colleagues.

I loved her take and photographs of my island and asked permission to post it all here.  Irma’s only request was that I provide a link to her archeological project’s website, ZAGORA Archaeological Project.  And am I ever happy that she did.  What a site.  And the brief film clip there is not to be missed by archaeology buffs.  

The Zagora Project is a partnership between the Powerhouse Museum of Sydney, the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens, the University of Sydney, and the Archeological Society of Athens, and made possible by a grant from the Australian Research Council.  The project picked up this past October where excavations conducted during the late 1960s and early 1970s by another Australian team led by Sydney University Archaeology Professor Alexander Cambitoglou (under the auspices of the Archaeology Society at Athens) left off.  Planning is underway for the project to continue in 2013 and 2014.

Excavations center on the 3000 year-old settlement of Zagora (900-700 BCE) on an island that today is home to some of Greece’s wealthiest ship-owning families and but a quarter mile from the holy island of Tinos (of “Target: Tinos” fame:)).  Zagora is virtually intact, having not suffered from earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or war, nor was it disturbed by subsequent settlements.  In other words, everything is where it was back then.  What is yet to be answered is why in 700 BCE (just as Greece was coming out of its dark ages) its population simply vanished? 

Hmm, a mystery.  And if we toss in the enticing tidbit that those earlier Australian excavations corresponded with the period of Greece’s Junta dictatorship (1967-1974)… But wait, this is not about my idea for a new book, it’s about Irma’s moseying about Mykonos. 

All photographs are by Irma Havlicek and © PHM. 

I was in two minds about writing a post on Mykonos…. I’ve heard from several sources that it seemed from this blog as if we are all holidaying and partying and having the time of our lives on the Zagora Archaeological Project.

Well, we are having the time of our lives, that is true. But most of the time, we are working very, very hard. Sometimes we feel so exhausted, it is difficult to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Last weekend we had the only full weekend we will have off during the six weeks of this field season. All the other weeks, we work all day Monday to Friday and a half-day on Saturday.

So, as I mentioned in the previous post here, two colleagues, Rudy Alagich and Paul Donnelly, and I decided to visit the archaeological site of Delos.  It is not possible to stay overnight there, so we went to Mykonos in order to visit Delos from there by ferry.

So, to Mykonos we went from Andros on Friday night, 16 November 2012, and made a trip to Delos on Saturday. There was only one ferry to Delos from Mykonos on Saturday at 10am, and it returned at 1pm. So the rest of the time, we moseyed around Mykonos.

I’d heard Mykonos was a busy, bustling, thriving tourist destination with a raging night-life – which is very attractive to others but not so to me.

However, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the island. The architecture of the whitewashed houses with their brightly coloured doors and stair rails, and festooned with vivid bougainvillea, was charming and lovely. We enjoyed meandering around the narrow curving paved streets (even if we kept curving back on ourselves, not knowing quite where we were….) We found Mykonos remarkably unspoiled, with little discernible development to mar the charming village nature of the place.

There were very few tourists about now that the weather is getting cooler. Much of the time we felt we had the island to ourselves. But maybe that was because we went out early each morning and it seems most of the rest of the people didn’t venture out till 10 or 11am.

Also, being off-season, we were able to book excellent, reasonably priced rooms at the Leto Hotel from the ferry, while on our way to Mykonos.

Anyhow, here are a few pictures to give you a taste of the island. Well, more than a few. For someone who wasn’t too keen originally to visit Mykonos, I sure went overboard with the number of photos I took.

Thank you Irma Havlicek and the Zagora Archaeological Project.  And yes, Mykonos does have a tendency to send its visitors overboard.:)


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