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F + 16 : Marbles vs. Meltemi 0 : 1

Sun was rising just before 7 am over the Holy Island of Delos we visited yesterday

The rising sun woke us up this morning in Delos. The sea could not be calmer, we were the only boat in the bay and the breeze so gentle it was barely noticeable. Looks like another ordinary day but it is not. We are in a hurry. Weather forecast indicates that there will be a severe storm over Santorini early next week. Latest on Saturday, 3rd of September, we have to leave and escape towards the Sardonic Gulf. Otherwise we will be trapped in Santorini and forced to return by ferry to Athens.

According to WindFinder, the Storm will reach its Peak

On Tuesday, 6 September around Lunch Time

To reach Santorini earlier, we have to skip the day reserved for visiting the marble quarries in Paros and sail directly to the island of Ios. This way, we get to Santorini on Thursday and have the full Friday for excursions. We do not want to miss the Bronze Age village of Akrotiri and the vineyards which produce the fantastic reds and whites we had all week.

The Miners followed the Veins of the Marble deep into the Mountains of Paros

Sadly, we will miss the ancient marble quarries on Paros. They have been mined since the Proto-Cycladic period. Archeologists believe that 150’000 slaves toiled in these mines in Roman time. Miners followed the marble veins deep into the mountain and created large caves. Parian marble has a beautiful radiance - light can penetrate to 7 cm depth. About ¾ of all statues in the Aegean are made from Parian marble. The Venus of Milos, the Hermes of Praxiteles, the Nike of Delos, the Temple of Apollo as well as the Sifnian Treasure in Delphi are all carved from Parian Marble.

Venus of Milos which now can be seen in the Louvre

in Paris was carved from Parian Marble

With the collapse of the Roman world in the 7th century, quarrying came to end. Nobody ordered marble any more. There were no ships to transport it either. Much of the skills of carving statues was lost until rediscovered during the renaissance. Quarrying operations only resumed in the 19th century. But underground mining is expensive and cannot compete with open quarries. The Greek companies went out of business by the early 20th century. A few enthusiasts are now building a national park for the quarries. Their website is up and looks promising. I hope they succeed.

Shipping Marble in the 19th Century was Labour intensive - the Blocks were small

After seven hours of sailing, we arrived at Ios by 17.30 h in a beautiful bay at the southern tip of the island. We had outsailed the Meltemi today and won the 24 hours we need. We will keep an eye on the storm though. But for today, we outfoxed the Meltemi.

And just when we thought that life could not become better, we crossed Onassis’s old private yacht, the Christina O. Beautifully restored, she sat elegantly at the bay entrance. What a coincidence! I wrote about her 2 days ago.

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01 sept. 2022

Delos was beautiful. Barnaby has a bug affinity to Dionysus so visiting the temple of Dionysus was very special. Fantastic day.

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