We’ll start off by leaving the busy main town and the crowds behind us, and we’ll take the lovely old road that twists and turns its way up the mountainside. “Look at that magnificent view down over the town and the port, isn’t that gorgeous! Now look to your right at those lovely dovecotes, beautiful artistic masterpieces, even prettier than they appear in photos.” After a breathtaking drive up the side of the mountains, we will reach our first stop, the village of Dio Choria, noted for its fortified style of architecture and three natural springs. A walk through this lovely village is a must. “Wow, look at these incredible tunnels and tiny streets! Can you just imagine what life would have been like here hundreds of years ago when the village came under attack? The design of this village is absolutely amazing. And it’s so quiet. Nice not to have a main road pass through the village.”
Next will be a visit to the famous Monastery of Kechrovounie (since modest clothing is required, it’s good that you brought some long trousers along), with its elegant bell tower, 10th Century Icons, and fortified layout and architecture. We’ll visit the tiny chapel that once held a hidden school, and we’ll visit the tiny cell of the nun Pelagia, the one who had the visions of the Virgin Mary that led to the discovery of the famous Miraculous Icon. “Hold on tight to the banister as we climb the stairs; the wind is strong enough to knock you off your feet. How ever do these old nuns manage to live in such a hostile environment!”
We’ll stop next at the ancient Venetian fortifications of Exobourgo, where we’ll make the twenty-minute climb to the top. This is a photographic dream for wide-angle lenses, and on a clear day, you can see as far as Santorini. “Look, to the left you can see Mykonos, with Naxos just behind. And just in front, we can see Paros so clearly. Look to your right, there’s Syros, and you can even see the city of Ermoupolis!”
Our drive continues on to the village of Loutra, where we will have an opportunity to visit the Jesuit Folklore Museum, housing a collection of wonderful artifacts depicting life and work on Tinos for the past few centuries. “Wherever did they find all of this stuff! Did you see the ancient mousetrap!” In the same small village, we will visit the Ursuline Convent, which has been fully restored and depicts life at the private school since its inception in 1862. “I don’t believe that I have ever seen such an excellent exhibit anywhere. You can actually “taste” the life that must have existed here and practically hear bygone conversations in French between teachers and students.”
Now we are going to stop and tour the old village of Volax, with its marvelous architecture, the old basket weavers, and one of the most incredible natural landscapes surrounding the village. “Good heavens, look at all of these boulders and huge rocks surrounding the village! Makes me think of marbles dropped from the hand of God. And how on earth can you build a house on top of a boulder? You know, we’ve seen so much so far, and we’ve a long way to go yet, so let’s stop here for a coffee, and you can put a fresh load of film into your camera.”
We continue on through some of the most beautiful countryside, dotted with endless rock walls and beautiful white dovecotes. Passing through the main growing region of Tinos, we’ll continue to the beach of Kolimbithra where we will stop for lunch and swimming. “I’m so hungry, I could eat a bear! Let’s have some calamari and a Greek salad. We can share an order of French Fries, and maybe share some stuffed tomatoes. I suppose that we could manage a portion of loukaniko too, since the Greek sausage is so good on Tinos.”
About two and one-half hours later, we will continue toward Pirgos, the largest village on the island. The route will include some off-road driving through wide, undeveloped expanses of countryside, or we can stay on the main road and not get lost! “It’s amazing how the landscape keeps changing on this island. Every turn in the road brings us to a new vista.”
In Pirgos, we will visit numerous marble workshops, see some beautiful marble carvings at the village cemetery, and stroll through the town to see its architecture and marble pavements. There will be enough time to take a coffee in the main square, and perhaps have a tempting dessert. But most importantly, we must set aside plenty of time for the sculpture studios. “I would like to buy one of everything here. I love the small marble sculptures of early Cycladic figures, and I adore that lovely, large bowl. I wonder if they take MasterCard?”
Before we leave Pirgos, we'll detour to the new Museum of Marble Crafts to view their outstanding exhibit of marble ... literally, everything you could ever wish to know about this important artform. We'll have an opportunity to watch the videos on how the marble is actually mined and how it becomes a masterpiece in the hands of a skilled artist. "This is a great place for gift shopping too. I can't believe how inexpensive and elegant these gifts are, and how much they'll be appreciated by the folks back home."
Heading back toward Tinos Town, there will be a stop at the village of Kardiani to admire this village built amphitheatrically on the hillside, with its central square and “frog” fountain, surrounded by trees and vegetation kept green year-round. “I think that I have now seen just about every tree that grows in Greece! What a beautiful village this is, and the view down to the sea is absolutely inspiring!”
Finally (and I am exhausted!), there will be a stop at the Valley of the Dovecotes, with ample opportunity for photos. “I must climb over this wall, just to sit a minute and drink in the view. It’s so quiet here and so tranquil, I wish that we could spend the entire afternoon just admiring the marvelous folk architecture of these unique buildings.”
We’ll return to town shortly, certainly in an introspective mood, as we recall the day’s adventure and all of the beauty that we’ve seen. We’ll need a good night’s sleep, as there is still so much more to explore!
Same time tomorrow?