9 Greek Islands – Delos

I have written seven books about the history of places I have travelled to.

I travel because my own father always said he would travel after he’d retired, but he never got the chance because he died from cancer when he was 49. I travel for him when I go to places as well as for myself.

If you are interested in history and / or travel then you should check out these books. Please bear in mind the books are travelogues rather than travel guides and so cover the places I visited and the experiences I had. 

Greek Islands

This book keeps it simple and covers nine Greek Islands: Rhodes, Symi, Patmos, Samos, Syros, Paros, Tinos, Delos, and Mykonos. They are all different and all lovely.

This is an excerpt on Delos.

Today, few people live permanently on Delos. There are no hotels on the island and no boats or yachts are supposed to moor there overnight. Ferry boats can come to Delos from Tinos, Naxos, and Mykonos, so it is best to arrive early. 

After paying the entrance fee, grab a free map, and head into the site. On the map, I followed the Blue Line around until it intersected with the Brown Line, which I followed to the Stadium Quarter. I retraced my steps and then continued on the Blue Line. I retraced my steps again and followed the Green Line to the Theatre Quarter. All this took about four hours. This is a big sight and take plenty of water with you on your journey around.

The first open area is called the Agora of the Competaliasts, who were Roman merchants who worshipped the Lares Competales, the gods or guardian spirits of crossroads. There are two small temples dedicated to Hermes here. The path continues to The Sacred Way, formed between two porticos, which leads to the Propulaea, the main gateway to the Sanctuary of Apollo. The first features in this area include The Agora of the Delians, The Temple of the Athenians and the Poros Temple. There’s also the Oikos of the Naxians (people from the island of Naxos) and the base of a huge marble base of a colossal statue of Apollo dedicated by the Naxians around 600 BCE. An oikos is a treasury where the offerings given by the people of Naxos were placed for safekeeping. Nearby, there are five further treasuries where the offerings of other cities were kept. These treasuries are close to the Bouleuterion, the Prytaneion, and the Ekklesiasterion used as assembly rooms for the deputies, dignitaries, and citizens respectively. All these different buildings/areas are shown in detail on the map, but walking around, there are so many walls and parts of columns scattered around that occasionally it’s difficult to discern where one temple or building ends and another begins. Even though there are no restricted areas in this part of the site, visitors are not allowed to walk on the walls to get their bearings.

The path continues past the Temple of Leto and the enormous Agora of the Italians before coming to the most famous part of the site, the Naxian Lions. Sadly, none of the lions on their plinths are originals dating from the 7th Century BCE. Three of the original lions completely disappeared and no one knows where to, another was looted by the Venetians, and the rest are in the on-site museum. Opposite the lions is the Sacred Lake where Leto gave birth to Apollo and Artemis. This lake was filled up in 1925 due to an epidemic of malaria, but it would be wonderful if this could be reversed and the lake restored to its former glory as it would certain bring some variety to the landscape. To the north west of the Naxians Lions the columned building housed the association of merchants from Beirut.

Bio: I am a writer. I love writing creatively especially about subjects such as British traditions, where my made-up traditions are no less ridiculous than the real thing. A list of my books, both fictional and factual (about travel), can be found here.

Julian’s Journeys

Travel is an amazing privilege, you probably realise that now you’ve been deprived of it. I know I do. We should never take it for granted. I travel because my own father always said he would travel after he’d retired, but he never got the chance because he died from cancer when he was 49. I travel for him when I go to places as well as for myself.

Julian’s Journeys is a collection of 34 travel stories. These stories are part memoir, part travelogue, and part revelation about the effect travel has on me.

The tales are very local – in Italy, the nun at a bus station in Catania in Sicily was incredibly knowledgeable about the local delicacy, mortadella. I was waiting for a bus to the beautiful town of Taormina with views over Mount Etna, the active volcano. Later in the day, the nun’s recommendation proved accurate.
In Bulgaria, I became slowly drunk when a local villager offered me the opportunity to sample his homemade slivovitz in his garden – all the while we wrote down football results on a piece of paper as the sun beat down from a blue sky.
I report a conversation I had with a super-smooth carpet-seller in Istanbul. He was giving me directions to the major tourist sights and, strangely enough, all those directions went past his shop. How amazing is that?

Britain’s re-enactors return to the battlefields after lockdown – a photo essay

They bring our history to life, and add drama and spectacle to summer days out. Now, after 18 months on the sidelines, armies of re-enactors are back in all their full period-costume glory

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