Julian’s Travels

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. 

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?

9 Greek Islands – Symi

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 Symi.

Arriving at Symi Town is the loveliest way to begin any visit to a Greek Island. The bay has low hills on all sides and on those hills are stacked differently coloured ochre Italianate mansions, each one a slightly shade to its neighbour. The slope of the hills means these mansions appear in neat rows above one another, leaving the visitor spellbound by the man-made beauty. Added to this are lines of sail boats, small ferries, and large yachts bobbing rhythmically on the swell by the quay. 

The wealth of Symi has been based on sponge diving and shipbuilding. Indeed just over a hundred years ago, these two industries meant more people lived in Symi Town than lived in nearby Rhodes Town. Symi has always been famed for its shipbuilding and legend has it that Symi provided 3 ships for the Greeks in the Trojan War. Nowadays tourism is the main earner, with enough expats staying on the island to allow some businesses to remain open all year round. Some of the houses built in the last two centuries have fallen into disrepair and the more you explore, the more ruins you will find. 

Symi Town comprises two different areas, the lower town of Yialos and the upper town of Horio, though there’s no real boundary between the two other than an individual’s physical fitness, as the best way to get between them is the 350-step Kali Strata path, starting from behind a pizza restaurant in Yialos.

Yialos stretches around the main bay into the smaller Harani Bay, the main area for shipbuilding in times past. Some boats are still repaired here, though the majority of the vessels tied to the quay are small, multi-coloured fishing boats, piled high with nets, straight out of a photographer’s dreams. On the hill above is a Greek Orthodox Church. Heading around the headland is one of the ways to get to the community of Emborio with its quiet beach and taverna. Emborio offers great swimming and snorkelling opportunities and the water is incredibly clear – the boats almost appear to be floating on air. It’s a lovely walk to Emborio along the road overlooking the sea, but Symi Town’s land train does come in this direction too and there are also taxi-boats who call in. 

  

9 Greek Islands – Rhodes

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 Rhodes.

Visiting the old town of Rhodes is a memorable experience as there are historical sights from different eras rubbing shoulders with each other at every turn. Most of the old town is medieval and was built in the 14th Century by the Knights Hospitaller. The old town became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988 and is an incredibly popular place to visit. Indeed, when a cruise ship arrives in the harbour, avoid the main arterial streets, Sokratous and Ippoton, and head south into the warren of cobbled alleys where there are fewer shops and restaurants, and discover the many interesting sights of this area, not all of which are mentioned in guidebooks.

Starting in the north-west of the Old Town, the first major sight the visitor comes across is the Palace of the Grand Masters, which was rebuilt by the Italians after an ammunition explosion destroyed the original building in 1856. The idea was that the reconstructed Palace would be an ideal place for Mussolini to spend time during the summer, but he never came near the place. The outside appearance is true to the original building, as authentic medieval plans were used in the reconstruction, but the same can’t be said for the inside, which was designed to make a Fascist dictator feel at home.

In front of the restored palace, the Street of the Knights heads due eastwards towards the sea. Known as Ippoton, this street housed several of the Inns where the Knights were housed, based on their ethnic and linguistic background. Knights from Provence were based at the Inn of Provence on Ippoton. Also housed on Ippoton were Knights from France at the Inn of France. The Inn of The Auvergne and the Inn of England are found on the street called Appelou, which intersects with Ippoton at the Archaeological Museum.

This Museum is housed in an airy building, formerly the Knight’s Hospital. It’s not hard to like a museum where the staff have gone to the trouble of stacking the cannon balls into pyramids. The main objects of interest, for me at least, mostly dated from the 6th-Century BC. Faience vases in the form of hedgehogs, tweezers and cheese graters, terracotta donkeys, and a faience pendant of a lion, no bigger than a thumbnail. Also of great interest were objects from nearby civilisations including figurines of the Egyptian gods Bes, Thoth, and Horus looking like Aztec gods, bedecked as they were with feathers.      

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. 

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?

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.

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