NAME THAT COUNTRY

In the shadow of sacred Mount Parnassus, Delphi was an important religious sanctuary and known as the center of the world by the ancient people of our mystery country.
For centuries, pilgrims, including civic and military leaders, came from near and far to consult the oracle here, where the wisdom of the sun god was channeled through priestesses known as Pythia. Today, the site is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations.

 

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Talos: Mythical Droid of Crete

This 5th-century BCE Greek vase depicts the death of Talos at the hands of Medea and the Argonauts. The artist is known only as the Talos Painter.

This 5th-century BCE Greek vase depicts the death of Talos at the hands of Medea and the Argonauts. The artist is known only as the Talos Painter.

Talos was a giant bronze man, the Cretan sun god and general guardian of the island. There are many conflicting stories about his genesis, purpose and death, but his role as protector of Crete is a common thread. Zeus and Hephaestus (the god of the forge) are variously named as his creator.

Talos circled the entire island 3 times each day (to account for this, some ancient depictions show him with wings) and lobbed boulders at unauthorized ships that approached the island. Any invader who reached the shore would die a hideous death in his hot-metal embrace.

Talos had one vulnerability – a plug on his ankle, which contained the molten-metal life-blood coursing through a single artery. When Jason and his Argonauts attempted to land on Crete to resupply after their Golden Fleece adventure, they were held off by a barrage of rock-missiles. Fortunately, for the Argonauts, Jason’s wife, the sorceress Medea, was also on board. She cast a spell on Talos, which caused him to remove the plug from his ankle and “bleed” to death.

Some scholars suggest the story represents the cultural, political and technological transition from the Bronze Age and the power of Minoan Crete, which collapsed around 1100 BCE, to the rise of Proto-Greek groups, which invaded Greece in waves across the millennium prior to the fall of Minoan Crete.

Agios Sostis Beach, Mykonos, Greece

Aigios Sostis Beach, Mykonos

Aigios Sostis Beach, Mykonos

Mykonos has a well-earned reputation as the party island of Greece. Most of the tourist development on the island is on the south side, where the scene is dense with raucous revelers in the abundant bars and restaurants, in the streets, and on the beaches.
If a tranquil island experience is the goal, there are far better options than Mykonos.
On the other hand, those travelers looking to kick up their heels for a time and then recover in relative peace, we direct to the north side of the island.

About 15 minutes by car from teeming Mykonos Town, Agios Sostis Beach (St. Sostis)is a lovely, calm stretch of pristine nature. Development in the area is sparse and the only tourist facility is a rustic taverna. The mostly sandy beach is on a small cove on the west side of the large Panormos Bay. It’s very clean and gives way to remarkably clear waters. The beach is clothing-optional, with nudists tending to gather at one end.

There is no bus service to this remote beach, which helps discourage the crowds.
Still, Agios Sostis Beach can get busy in high season. It is other peace-seeking visitors who are drawn here though; and it never gets anywhere near as crowded as south coast beaches.

There are no umbrellas or sunbeds on this beach and no natural shade. Visitors should bring umbrellas and towels, as well as snacks and plenty of water. There may be a wandering vendor or two offering drinks and simple food but don’t count on it.
Kiki’s taverna serves delicious food but the wait for a table is notoriously long, often more than an hour. The Kiki’s hopeful should get a spot in line well before they open for lunch.

Now for the downside – the northern shore of Mykonos takes the brunt of the Meltemi wind, which blows across the Aegean Sea with variable velocity May-October, but especially July-August. A particularly windy day on Mykonos is perhaps not the best day for Agios Sostis Beach.

 

NAME THAT COUNTRY

This is the Lions Gate at Mycenae on the Peloponnese peninsula. Mycenae was a major center of power and cultural influence in the eastern Mediterranean from about 1600-1100BCE. Mycenean civilization was the first advanced civilization on the mainland of our mystery country. In Homer’s Iliad, Mycenae was among the city states that fought in the Trojan War over the abduction of Helen, wife of the King of Sparta (Menelaus) , who was the brother of the King of Mycenae (Agamemnon).

 

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NAME THAT COUNTRY Episode 127

In the central north of or mystery country, a collection of  monasteries perch 1,000 feet above the Plain of Thessaly at the top of titanic natural pillars. This is Meteora, first inhabited by Christian hermits seeking solitude and security in the 11th century.
These first settlers scaled the towers and lived in caves and cracks in the stone.
In the 13th century, groups of monks came to the area and began to build. Over the next several hundred years over 20 monasteries were built. Today, six of the surviving monasteries are open to visitors.

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