Big Buddha

Big Buddha on Lantau Island

Lantau Island is an expansion of the original Hong Kong territory. One of the attractions on the top of the island is the Tian Tan Buddha, completed in 1993, and located at the end of the Ngong Ping Road. The Tian Tan Buddha holds the distinction of being the largest seated bronze Buddha in the world at 34 metres (112 feet) and weighing 280 tons. Bronze panels were forged in Hong Kong and carried up to the top and assembled there. Imagine the amount of work that required. It took twelve years to complete.

Tian Tan Buddha

Fortunately, we were brought to the top parking lot so we only had to walk up 268 steps. Unfortunately, it was very foggy and at times Buddha had his head in the clouds.

The bus dropped us off then drove away.

In spite of the fog, I was able to get some interesting pictures with the help of the magic of a program called “Lightroom”.

Several terraces make the climb easier.

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Buddha sits on a lotus flower. Here is a gallery of a few pictures showing the size of the petals. A doorway is cut into one of the petals to allow access to the memorial inside the base.

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After a walk through the memorial inside, we have to walk back down.

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Our guide leads us down to the monastery below.

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A Walk Through Chora, Mykonos, Greece.

We began our walk through Chora, the major city of Mykonos, about 3:30 in the afternoon. The bus had to be parked outside of the main town area so we walked along the shore of the old harbour, southward, towards the town. One of the things a first-time visitor notices about Mykonos, like many Greek islands, is that most homes and buildings are painted with whitewash.

Chora, the largest town on Mykonos.

Since tourism is the major economic engine of the island, restaurants, taverns, and dance clubs are well represented. Museums and rental residences also add to the mix of buildings. For those who like to make their own way around, cars and scooters are available for rent.

A lively place in the summer months.

Most beaches are away from the town area.

Boats are another way to get “around” the island.

The city comes right down to the sea.

When we have walked to the older part of town, our tour guide leads us into the narrow streets.

Everything is so neat and tidy and clean.

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When we emerge from the narrow streets we see the iconic symbol of Mykonos, the windmills of Kato Mili. Since the island is in the path of a prevailing north wind, it makes sense to build them on the hill and use the energy of the wind to grind the grain into flour.

Up the hill to the windmills.

The iconic Kato Mili windmills of Mykonos.

From here we have to walk back to the bus. There is still more to see.

Looking over Chora from the hilltop.

One last look at the windmills before we leave. Seven windmills have been preserved on the island. The latest one continued to operate into the 1960s. A guide on another tour pointed out that wind power went into decline when steam and gas-powered engines were determined to be more efficient. Now we see wind power coming back into style to generate electricity to power electric motors.

Five of the seven preserved windmills.

Walking back along the shore.

On the way back we have to walk through the seaside patio of the restaurant where we meet another of the icons of Mykonos, Petros the pelican. He is the official mascot of Mykonos and is actually Petros II. There may be more than one on the island.

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Worship places often have domed rooves, some red, some blue, some white.

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other gathering places

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Mykonos Harbour

Mykonos Harbours

There are two Mykonos ports. The new one is at Tourlos, a little north of the Old Port of Mykonos City.  The cruise ships and Ferry ships dock at the new harbour which is about two kilometres from the city of 10,000 people. Most of the people of the island live in the city, also called Chora which means “the town” in Greek. Most of the fun and activity happens in the old city, also spelt Hora.

The city port

These maps and satellite image will indicate where the ports are relative to the total island.

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Since the two ports are only a couple of kilometers away, it is possible to see the Pacific Princess docked in Tourlos while walking along the shore of the city.

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There is a lot of activity around the water in this well known town.

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Like the island, the shore is rocky as well. Caution is required when navigating your pleasure boat near the shore.

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One of the reasons the island is so rocky is because the winds blow the fertile soil away. The wind however is great for sailing and windmills.

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One mast or Two? What is for you?

Beautiful even on a cloudy day.

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Ano Mera

Panagia Tourliani Monastery in Ano Mera

In the centre of the island of Mykonos, about 8 kilometres east from the main town is a lovely little village that has grown up around a monastery that was built in 1542 and dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

The village is the second largest on the island and is called Ano Mera. The monastery is called Panagia Tourliani.

Inside the whitewashed walls, the old chapel has been turned into a museum.

One of many restaurants.

Souvenirs and food near the Museum.

The monastery bell tower.

Three bells over the main entrance.

A lineup to enter the chapel.

The chapel is small. When several buses arrive at once, the lineup to get in gives time to explore the courtyard in front of the entrance. (not even one busload could get inside)

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The first glimpses into the chapel.

The space is quite small and there is so much detailed work crafted into every available space. The lights are dim and the camera flash is not permitted.

Crystal chandeliers and a carved wooden rood screen. (iconostasis)

The Bishop’s Throne.

A fresco of Jesus on the cupola dome.

The images below show more detail of the carved wooden rood screen, iconstasis, that separates the holy altar space from the nave, worship space. Also, notice the incense burners hanging on chains.

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Mykonos Port

Tourists on Cruise Ships are Welcome

Tourism is a big part of the economy of Mykonos so they have built a modern port for cruise ships to dock and disembark passengers. Luxury tour buses are ready to transport them around the island with qualified guides to describe the history and features of the island.

Mykonos Port

This is how it looks through my old iPhone 4s. It was old in May of 2016 when these pictures were captured.

Buses come and go with tour passengers.

Ferry service to the mainland and other islands.

The Pacific Princess cruised from Istanbul to Mykonos in 18 hours. They left at 6:00 PM and arrives at Noon the next day. The beauty of cruising is that while the ship was doing its thing, we were travelling, eating a delicious dinner in the dining room, watching live entertainment in the theatre, playing games, sleeping, waking up, exercising, eating breakfast, and getting excited about our choice of a tour on this famous island. All of this without having to check in or out of a hotel, pack and unpack luggage, or be up extra early to get on a bus.  <Thanks to Google for the maps used in this and other posts.> Istanbul, Turkey is at the centre top, and Mykonos is in the bottom third about 1/4 of the way from the left edge. Cyprus is in the bottom right just above the Google logo.

18 hours from Istanbul by cruise ship to Mykonos Port.

Using a telephoto lens I can share my first view of the island from the port. Click image to see full “web” size.

Some images are a little hazy. Some are more clear. Click image to see more detail.

The island is very rocky and for the most part, sparsely populated, except in the summer when the tourists arrive.

Satellite view of the harbour.

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Cruising around the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea.

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Kalafatis beach on Mykonos Island

For a more quiet beach experience away from the commercial centre, this beach on the southeast corner of Mykonos island may be just what you are looking for. When the winds are blowing it is a good place for surfing. when it is calm, it is ideal for snorkelling. It is 12 kilometres from the main city (Chora) also called Mykonos.

Kalafatis Beach

Kalafatis beach is in the bay on the southeast. (upper right quadrant)  The Pacific Princess docked near the Mykonos Seabus terminal directly across the island on the west side.

Map of Kalafatis on east of Mykonos Island, Greece

We were seeing the island from a luxury tour bus, with stops to walk on the beach and buy a coffee.

Our Tourist bus.

The sand is a golden brown.

A walk on the beach.

I found a spot on the second floor of the restaurant (above) to take a picture of the fishing village across the bay. It is a long walk but they say the seafood restaurant is the best on the island.

A little fishing village between the two hills.

It is a rocky island.

Our bus is waiting to take us on to the next point of interest.

A rural view of Mykonos.

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Istanbul 2

Views from the streets of Istanbul

There are many ways to travel around the city of Istanbul. Modern electric streetcars seem out of place in the older style homes.

Electric streetcars

There are other ways around such as the tour bus I was riding in and fighting for space on the narrow roads with the cars.

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The traffic in the harbour is monitored by radar.

Parts of the old Roman walls are visible from the streets near the harbour. Some people have trusted them to hold up their modern home.


Living on the edge.

As in most cities, the people who live and work in the core area rent apartments.

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It is convenient to live near work and places of relaxation.

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When you have to travel a little farther, the metro rail system bridges Europe and Asia. Many famous museums and places of worship are located in the centre of the city.

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Istanbul from the Bosphorus

Istanbul from across the Bosphorus

The Bosphorus Strait connects the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea. The Dardanelles is the strait that links the Marmara Sea to the Aegean Sea. These two straits are part of the boundary between Europe and Asia.


Istanbul is built upon both sides of the strait. Part is in Europe and part is in Asia.  Four bridges span the Bosphorus Strait. Below, the Golden Horn Metro Bridge is the newest and was opened in February 2014, two years before this picture was taken. This bridge is for the metro rail line. It has a station in the centre and a pedestrian walkway to each shore. There is also a tunnel under the strait.

Golden Horn Metro Bridge

The European part of Istanbul.

Time spent near the water in spring can be relaxing. Fishing is common in these waters because fish migrate seasonally in and out of the Black Sea. The waters are also busy with boats ferrying across the strait, and ships carrying cargo into and out of the Black Sea.

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Blue Mosque

Sultan Ahmed Camii

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, in Istanbul Turkey, is just over 400 years old. Situated a short walk from the Agia Sophia mosque, it borrows some features of the older mosque. It is one of only three mosques in Turkey to have 6 minarets. The main worship space is covered by 5 domes, a central dome surrounded by four others. There are also eight secondary domes. The four minarets near the four corners of the Camii have three balconies. I use this as a feature to distinguish this mosque from the older Hagia Sophia.

Most of the tourist attractions on our tour were within walking distance of the Hippodrome.

Blue Mosque viewed from the Hippodrome

Sultan Ahmed Camii

The mosque viewed from the harbour.

The architect has succeeded in designing and building a mosque of overwhelming size, majesty and splendour in only 7 years. (1609-1616) It is possibly the last mosque built in the “classical” period.

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In 2006 Pope Benedict XVI visited the mosque. He was the second Pope to visit a mosque. He is quoted as “thanking divine Providence” for the visit and saying “May all believers identify themselves with the one God and bear witness to true brotherhood.”

So much to see from the Hippodrome.


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Topkapi Palace Museum

Overlooking the Golden Horn, where the Bosphorus Strait meets the Marmara Sea, this seaside palace, the Ottomans called “The Palace of Felicity”, is now a museum containing the Mint and the Imperial Treasury.  Originally called the Sultan’s New Palace, and later changed to Topkapi which means Cannon Gate. Built in the last half of the 16th century, it was converted to a museum in 1924.

The Gate of Salutation, entrance to the Second courtyard of Topkapı Palace

This is the entrance to the second courtyard of the palace.

The Gate of Salutation, entrance to the Second courtyard of Topkapı Palace

Inside the second courtyard is the audience chamber.

Tower of Justice in the background, Imperial Council Chamber in the foreground.

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The gate of felicity is the entrance to the inner court. Inside the third court is the Audience Chamber, also known as the Chamber of Petitions

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A few of the trees in the palace have been hollowed out by fungus infections. In one case two trees have grown up side by side and self-grafted themselves together to support each other.

one of the hollow trees

The buildings have no climate control decorative grills over the windows provide some ventilation and privacy for those inside.

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There were many parts of the Palace that were not included in our tour  such as the mint and the Harems or kitchens. We were quickly ushered through the treasury exhibit but were not allowed to take any pictures.

Security is difficult since the buildings were not designed with that in mind. Some items have been stolen. Read the Wiki link at the end of this post.

Every Museum needs a gift shop.

– Where do You want to go today? –

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