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Category: Greece

Sifnos Island

Sifnos is a largely unassuming island part of the Cyclades, a group of islands on the Agean Sea. It is much smaller than Santorini, the famous Mama Mia island or…

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Sifnos is a largely unassuming island part of the Cyclades, a group of islands on the Agean Sea. It is much smaller than Santorini, the famous Mama Mia island or Mykonos, the luxury island visited by celebrities. Small was ideal since we were looking for a break (from a break!).

Quiet in nature and frequently flocked by Greek vacationers in the summer, Sifnos was a hush when we arrived. Small shops lined the bay, a few cars dotted the tiny streets and the ferry waved us goodbye. This tranquil state was to be continued for the next 2 days. We rented a bike and scooted ed around the rugged and abrupt rocky landscape, tiptoes the quiet beaches, squinted at the immense whiteness of buildings on the island and Robinson Crusoe’d on this petite island.

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The narrow pedestrian cobbled streets wind around the blocks of white square houses, twisting and turning with a view of the sea to offer at every corner. The view from the wide expanse of the Aegean Sea is punctuated by the little churches with blue domed roofs.

While the coastal outline of Sifnos is typically barren, within this tiny island is amazingly lush with greens and vegetation. Animals dotted the humble olive groves and veggie patches – from goats to sheep to donkeys.

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Being off season allowed us experience the Greek way of life – watching mothers hang out the clothes, children walking to school and men immersed in their construction and rebuilding of the properties. We learned that people on the island worked only 8 months a year, the other 4 months were spend repairing and reconstructing hotels, restaurants and making more pottery in time for the summer crowd.

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Sifnos Island – Famed For Pottery

It is not hard to tell that Sifnos is an island famous for the unique pottery art that decorate the gardens and balconies giving colour to the homes. After peeking…

It is not hard to tell that Sifnos is an island famous for the unique pottery art that decorate the gardens and balconies giving colour to the homes. After peeking into many shops that remained closed for the winter, we chanced upon a shop that seemed closed from the outside, but the owner peered out and waved for us to come in. He hollered, “I need to call the Guiness Book of Records, because you are the first tourists to come in 2010!”. We chuckled a laugh as he led us into his workshop. Busy at painting the clay bowls he had shaped a few days ago, he invites us to look around the shop and immediately engages us in conversation. Antoine is his name, and apparently in Australia they called him the ‘Greek Picasso’ as he made a visit there several years ago to demonstrate the art of Greek pottery. He chimes enthusiastically about pottery making whilst keeping a steady hand at the brush.

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It’s time for you to meet Antoine now…

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Athens – Where History Meets Modernity

The Cambodia or Vietnam of Europe – that’s Athens to me. Cars and motorbikes fill the streets, traffic jams are not a rarity in this condensed city. Stray dogs are…

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The Cambodia or Vietnam of Europe – that’s Athens to me. Cars and motorbikes fill the streets, traffic jams are not a rarity in this condensed city. Stray dogs are found pawing on every corner and the occasional litter is seen spewing on sidewalks. I was comforted by the sight because this is the kind of “Asia” I’m used to seeing, on the other hand, I was startled to find Athens in quite this unruly state.

But apart from the common chaos, Athens is a city with astounding history. After visiting umpteen museums and galleries, we’re reminded of the fact that Europe has done a good job in regarding stories of old. Still, nothing can be compared to what Athens has to offer. With the famous Acropolis, the famed Parthenon, Temple of Olympian Zeus, Ancient Agora and Handrian’s Gate within its parameters, stories of millenniums ago are still very alive in the witnessing of these monumental structures.

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We stood trying to picture the stories described, of people filling the theatres, governments being formed, civilization at the brink of its existence and wars being fought. The view took our breaths away as we marveled at the greatest of all archeological sites (perhaps on planet Earth!).

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Plaka and Monastiraki known to be the hub of hype is where all the flea markets are found. Storekeepers proudly displayed their goods, of which we found were mostly made in China. Bee lining from one street to another, we were offered a taste of commonality. Accustomed to what we would see in Petaling Street in Kuala Lumpur, much of the shops resembled the same aura. Half torn down buildings still in use, vendors setting up street side stores, motorbikes whizzing away creating a cloud of carbon dioxide and the familiar sounds of loud harsh wrangling of butchers and market sellers. It was a mess, a comfortable enough kind of mess that we strolled happily through.
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We settled into a vacant table after a long day of walking to savour the tasty delights of the raved about Souvlaki. Basically kebabs in simple English served with fluffy pita bread and a side salad. What’s the rave all about?! Well… it’s got to be the juicy, succulent meat of the kebabs! I personally wouldn’t want to know what kind of fats have gone into grilling this spongy meat delight. Just eat.

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