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Pilgrims — some of whom crawl on hands and knees on a narrow strip of carpet — make their way up Megalocharis Street to Our Lady of Tinos
We meandered down some lanes lined with shops and restaurants, making a beeline toward the few shaded spots we could find. The sunshine reflecting off the whitewashed walls all around us was not only hot, but almost blinding. I tried taking photos of some pretty scenes we discovered, but couldn’t see images in my camera viewfinder while wearing my sunglasses. If I took them off, the brightness made my eyes squint and water so much I still couldn’t see anything. In frustration, I simply pointed the camera and clicked away, not knowing if I was managing to frame the scenes I wanted to photograph, but none of the pics turned out.
The streets and lanes closest to the seafront were mobbed with tourists browsing the shops and kiosks, so we turned off onto the wider and less-crowded Megalocharis Street, where we saw dozens of pilgrims making their way up the hill to Our Lady of Tinos church. Some were crawling on their hands and knees, while many of the people walking up the road were carrying the longest candles I have ever seen — red, yellow, gold and white tapers that stood three to four feet tall — which they would light in the church while making prayers.
Looking up marble-paved Megalocharis Street from a spot near the Theoxenia Hotel. The street ends at Our Lady of Tinos church at the top of the hill.
Looking toward the seafront from partway up Megalocharis Street
There was a steady procession of pilgrims walking or crawling up the street to the church
Some pilgrims crawled on the hard marble paving stones rather than along the strip of carpet at the side of the road
View toward the seafront from partway up Megalocharis Street
View from higher up the hillside
A pilgrim sculpture in a park near the Panagia
Approaching the top of Megalocharis Street
A souvenir kiosk near the Our Lady of Tinos church. The long red, white and gold tubes in the “Tamata – Αφιερώματα” (Vows and Tributes) display are candles that pilgrims light inside the church.
View of the exterior wall of the church complex from the square at the top of Megalocharis and Evaggelistrias Streets
View toward the arched entrance to the church property
The belltower and the top of the church facade
A closer view of architectural and design details on the church facade
Visitors approach the church’s arched entranceway …
… and begin lining up on the steps to the shrine
At times the line extended down the steps and along the red carpet leading to the church from the street
We never made it inside Our Lady of Tinos ourselves. We arrived to find a very long and slowly-moving line of people waiting to get up the stairs that led into the church, but didn’t want to spend our short time on Tinos queuing in the hot sun. So we headed back downhill, this time taking Evaggelistrias Street, where scores of shops and kiosks along both sides of the road were selling local products and every imaginable kind of religious-themed souvenir, from hand-crafted icons and paintings to mass-produced clocks, key chains, fridge magnets and other tchotchkes bearing images of the Panagia. I purchased fridge magnets for friends who had given me some from their own holiday destinations, and also bought one for myself.
The souvenir kiosk where I purchased some Tinos fridge magnets
My souvenir magnet features dovecoats and Our Lady of Tinos Church — two of the trademark sights on Tinos
Displays in front of a shop on Evaggelistria Street
Although we weren’t interested in shopping, we browsed many of the shop displays simply so we could stand under their awnings for a few moments to avoid the blazing sun. I saw a digital sign that indicated the temperature was 24 Celsius, but it felt considerably hotter. By the time we reached the seafront we were desperate to sit in shade and cool off, so we found our way back to Epineio and ordered lunch: a Greek salad, gemista (stuffed tomatoes and peppers) and fried potatoes. I was keen to sample a local brew, so I ordered a bottle of pilsner produced by the island’s Nissos microbrewery. After our walkabout in the hot sun, the refreshing ice-cold beer really hit the spot. Our meal arrived soon afterward, and the food was filling and delicious.
When the waiter brought our bill, he urged us to sit and relax. “Take your time. No rush. You can pay when you’re ready to leave,” he said. So we did, sitting back to watch people come and go from the restaurant and pass by in the square.
Our table wason the edge of Epineio’s sheltered open-air terrace, facing the small public square out front. We were close to a stone fountain that had a dolphin sculpture rising from the center, but the fixture appeared to be undergoing repairs and had not yet been filled with water. Several young boys, probably between four and eight years of age, were busy playing with Slinky-like toys inside the stone enclosure while their parents were sitting a few tables away from ours. Within less than 10 minutes, the boys had completely destroyed their Slinkys, leaving them each holding mangled messes of wire. Suddenly, the youngest lad in the group hurled his broken toy onto the ground in disgust and proceeded to urinate on it. Customers at the tables around us looked mortified, but the kids’ parents were busy chatting and didn’t even notice. I doubt I’ll ever forget the fountain after seeing that!
The waterless dolphin fountain in the square in front of Epineio restaurant
View of Hotel Aigli 1876 from our table at Epineio
Soon it was time to go, so we paid our bill (I lost the receipt, but remember the price was very reasonable), collected our bags from inside the restaurant, and returned to the port to await the arrival of the Blue Star Patmos, which would take us to Syros. The ferry departed on time, and had already pulled away from the pier by the time we reached one of the upper rear decks to take some final photos of Tinos.
Our parting impressions? Tinos has friendly people, good food, a nice main town with lots of shops and restaurants, attractive mountain and coastal scenery, and numerous activities and attractions that we didn’t have time to see — like scenic mountain villages, beaches, museums, hiking routes and much more.
We’ll definitely be going back.
Signposts in a parking lot at the Tinos port
The passenger waiting area at the Tinos port
Boarding the Blue Star Patmos for the short trip to Syros
View from one of the ferry’s upper decks of buildings along the Tinos Town waterfront, and the Church of Panagia Evaggelistria on the hillside behind them
View of the broad mountainside behind Tinos Town
Another view of the town and surrounding mountainsides
The Superferry II returns to Tinos port after travelling to Mykonos. This is the ship that brought us from Andros to Tinos (you can see photos from that journey in my post Glimpses of Gavrio, and a ferry ride from Andros to Tinos.)
Mountain villages cling to the hills high above Tinos Town
Houses on one of the mountainsides behind Tinos Town
One final look at Tinos Town as our ferry heads out to sea
Preparing to disembark at Syros, where we would spend the next 10 nights