Tag Archives: Cyclades

Greek Islands, Amorgos

Amorgos

After walking around the village we set off back to Aegiali and came across a group of walkers who enthusiastically showed us a short cut but it was down a tricky path and they had stout leather walking shoes with knotted laces and we had inadequate sandals with synthetic soles so we ignored the advice and stuck to the road instead.

Read the Full Story…

Postcard Maps of 2016

Morocco Postcard Map

January…

I really need to be careful about making bold statements because upon returning from Morocco in December 2011 I said that I would never go again.  This is what I said…

“I enjoyed the experience of Fez, the Riad was excellent, the food was good, the sightseeing was unexpected and we were treated with courtesy and respect by everyone associated with the Riad but I have seen Morocco now and I think it may be some time before I return to North Africa as we resume our travels through Europe.”

Well, now I have to eat my words because our first overseas trip in 2016 was to Essouria on the Atlantic coast of Morocco.  Why did I go back on my statement – return flights for less than £40 each are just too good to resist and nothing beats getting on a plane with temperatures hovering around zero and then getting off again three hours later into 20°, blue sky, sunshine and swaying palm trees.

April…

We like to visit Spain at least once a year but somehow managed to miss a trip in 2015 so after a two-year wait we were happy to be going back, this time to Andalucía in the far south, the second largest and most populous of all of the Regions.

After picking up the rental car we headed immediately to the Autopista del Sol,an ugly, charmless toll road which conveniently by-passes the congested coast road and moves traffic from east to west with brutal efficiency.  It reminded me of what Laurie Lee had to say about it: “The road to Malaga followed a beautiful but exhausted shore, seemingly forgotten by the world.  I remember the names, San Pedro, Estepona, Marbella and Fuengirola.  They were salt-fish villages, thin ribbed, sea hating, cursing their place in the sun.  At that time one could have bought the whole coast for a shilling.  Not Emperors could buy it now.”

June…

We travelled to Ireland in 2014 and went to the west coast and a year later we went to Northern Ireland and stayed in Belfast.  Despite Ireland’s reputation for Atlantic storms, dreary weather and lots of rain we enjoyed blue skies  on both occasions.  So good was the weather that Kim thinks it is permanently sunny in the Emerald Isle so we arranged to go again this year and this time chose the city of Cork, the county of West Cork and the south coast of the country as our destination.

north wales

Also in June…

I last stayed in a caravan in about 1970 and I said that I would never ever to do it again.  I have consistently maintained that I just do not understand caravanning at all or why people subject themselves to the misery of a holiday in a tin box with no running water, chemical toilets and fold away beds, there is no fun in it whatsoever.

I am pleased to be able to report that modern caravans are much improved and imagine my shock then when I tell you that I was so impressed with our holiday caravan accommodation in Borth because it had all of the facilities of a modern home with running water, a bathroom, electricity and a fully equipped kitchen and after preparing and enjoying a full English breakfast I walked out with a spring in my step on a voyage of rediscovery.

August…

At school holiday time there is always the threat of an extended visit from the grandchildren which can be a stressful experience as they spend a week dismantling the house and trashing the garden.

This year I decided to rent a holiday cottage elsewhere and let them destroy someone else’s place instead.  I chose a cottage in the village of Thornton Stewart in North Yorkshire and drove there one busy Friday afternoon along the A1 – The Great North Road, which many people claim is the only good thing that comes out of London.

cyclades-postcard

September…

We had not visited the Cyclades Islands in Greece since 2011 and so we were interested to see what changes there might be in five years.

We no longer choose to fly to Athens because there is always the risk of industrial action on the buses or the metro or the ferries, or getting caught up in a demonstration in the city centre as we did in 2011, so this year we flew instead to Mykonos, a popular tourist destination in the centre of the island group.

south-wales-map

October…

South Wales isn’t new to me of course, I studied history at Cardiff University between 1972 to 1975, worked a summer season at Butlin’s Holiday Camp at Barry Island and I have visited several times since but on this occasion I was travelling with my good friend who hails from the Rhondda Valley and he had promised to show me some things that I might not otherwise have expected to see.  A privileged insider’s view as it were!

Malta Map Postcard

Also in October…

I have heard it said that you either love Malta or you hate it, there are no half measures, there is no sitting on the fence.  I love it I went several times in the 1990s on family holidays and I returned for the first time since then in 2015.  I hoped that Kim would love it too and as it happened she liked the place so much that we returned for a second time in October 2016.

November…

My sister, Lindsay, more or less lives permanently in Spain now on the Costa Blanca so this provided a perfect opportunity to go and visit her and spend some time in a part of Spain that I haven’t visited for several years.  I have never considered it one of favourite parts of the country so I was interested to see what impression it would make this time!

Greek Islands, Doors of Santorini

Santorini Blue DoorSantorini Red DoorSantorini Blue Door 2

Greek Islands, Ios and Hospitality

Homer's Inn Ios Greece

After the furrowed grey wastes of the water surrounding our islands (The UK) the huge vivacity of the Mediterranean never ceased to astonish.  Here it was splashed all-over with plum-coloured stains of weed-beds among which bald rocks just below the surface were brilliant uncut emeralds (and) water thrashing in the deep coves rose and fell, uncovering and submerging great shining boulders…”  –   Norman Lewis, ‘Voices of the Old Sea’

When in Greece in September we always make space in the itinerary for Ios because this is where we meet old friends and return to the best hotel in the Cyclades– Homer’s Inn!

Homer's Inn Ios Greece

Our normal routine on Ios is to spend the day around the port and on the beach and then visit the Chora for the sunset and for evening meal.  This year to be different we decided to visit the main town in the morning to see what it was like during the day.

Actually it wasn’t so nice and whilst the evening darkness disguises all the evidence of clubbers and boozers it was all viciously exposed early in the morning.  Discarded bottles and cans in the corners and clubs and bars that look glittery and inviting in the gloom looking cheap and nasty in the cold light of day.

We walked to the top and admired the views of the port and on the way down stopped to talk to some fellow travellers.  As we exchanged stories I saw what I thought was a lizard but quickly realised that it was a snake.  Olive brown and about a metre long it slithered by and disappeared into a tiny crack in the steps.  Later I made enquiries and was told that a local naturist had reintroduced these serpents to the island and that they were poisonous.

I am all for preserving the natural environment but that is just plain daft, as daft as Eugene Schieffelin introducing the starling into the USA or Thomas Austin releasing rabbits into the Australian outback. Daft also because although there is a medical centre on Ios for anything serious the only treatment is on the mainland and a snake bite would mean airlifting by ambulance back to Athens.

Ios Church

We walked around the steep and narrow streets and arthritic crooked alleys as far as the abandoned windmills and through the shops that line the main street through the village and then back to Homer’s Inn down the dusty track and after a short sojourn went for another walk to the harbour and along the coast road to the little church on the headland.

The road out of the village runs past the business end of the harbour and there were some brightly painted boats that had just landed their overnight catch and were negotiating sales with local people and restaurant owners in a babble of animated activity.

It looked like a good night’s work and the trading was brisk.  The fish looked interesting and on closer examination of the produce it soon becomes clear why we have to put up with stock shortages whilst the most of the rest of Europe have such an abundance of choice; we are just far too fussy about what we will eat and our preference for fish is restricted to two or three species that we have fished into crisis and near extinction whilst in Greece, as elsewhere, they will eat a much greater variety of sea food.

Ios Greece Last Night's Catch

On top of the church there was a Greek flag that was flapping uncontrollably in the wind and trying desperately to separate itself from the pole that was hanging onto it.

The blue and white flag of Greece is called ‘Galanolefci’, which simply means ‘blue and white’.  Originally it was blue with a white diagonal cross but the cross has now been moved to the upper left corner, and is symbolic of the Christian faith.

Being a seafaring nation, the blue of the flag represents the colour of the sea.  White is the colour of freedom, which is something that is very important to the Greeks after years of enslavement under foreign domination.  The nine stripes of the flag each symbolise a syllable in the Greek motto of freedom: E-LEY-THE-RI-A-I-THA-NA-TOS, which translates literally into ‘Freedom or Death’.

Flag of Greece

There were preparations at the church for a wedding and a christening and later Kim returned to see the wedding and I joined her later for the baptism to see the ceremony of a little girl being accepted into the Christian Orthodox Church, which is a major event in the life of any Greek family.

A Greek baptism is a sacred and religious rite that is performed to cleanse the soul and renounce Satan. The baptism is a complex initiation that starts with an exorcism and officially ends forty days later when the baby is presented to the congregation to receive Holy Communion.

Unfortunately we weren’t able to stop for the full forty days and we began to feel a bit like intruders on a private family event so before it was all over we left the church and returned to the harbour and instead of going to the Chora, tonight we ate next to the fishing boats that were being prepared for another night at sea at a place called the Octopus where, at pavement tables next to the fishermen, we were served excellent food and fresh fish that we had seen being landed just a few hours earlier.

We stayed on Ios for four days and then prepared to move on to the island of Syros.

Ios Greece Port

Greek Islands, Amorgos – Katapola and the Chora

Amorgos Windmills Chora Greece

“I would stare out the window at these telephone wires and think, how civilisation had caught up with me and I wasn’t going to be able to escape after all. I wasn’t going to be able to live this eleventh-century life that I had thought I had found for myself.” – Leonard Cohen

Katapola was tranquil, peaceful and perfect and at this precise time might possibly have been the most wonderful place on earth and we looked forward to our three days of perfection because apart from concrete, the internet and air conditioning this place probably hasn’t changed a great deal in a thousand years.

Amorgians have a history of preserving the past and resisting progress.  There is a sense of collective defiance perhaps explained by the fact that during the dictatorship of Ioannis Metaxas (1936-41) the island was used as a remote place of exile for political prisoners.

Forty years ago the island didn’t have electricity, the tarmac roads that link the villages weren’t constructed until the 1990s and the modern ports which today welcome the large ferries are relatively recent additions.  The island has a desalination plant now to provide fresh water but up until 2015 fresh water was shipped in and delivered by tankers.

Amorgos Chora

We took the car to the Chora which cannot be seen from the sea or from the harbour but as we got closer we could see it above us like a fresh snow fall on top of a mountain.  From the outside it doesn’t look especially promising but once inside the walls of the town it is a different matter altogether.  The town turns in on itself in an introspective sort of way and inside there were narrow shady streets and lots of traditional cafés and tavernas where getting disorientated and lost is a certainty.

It was a lazy place where time goes by slowly and no one is in a particular hurry about anything.  If this was Naxos or Ios the Chora would have been teeming with shops and fast food places but this was a local town for local people and completely unspoilt by the retinue of tourist shops that can be found on more popular islands.

We explored the streets and in a very stiff breeze climbed to the very top to the redundant windmills that overlook the town and the Venetian castle that is built on top of a rocky outcrop that soars above it and its mass of dazzling white buildings.

Amorgos Chora

On the way back we were ready for a second stroll through the Chora where we ambled through the corkscrew of twisting streets returning several times to exactly the same place passing by several churches, the castle, blue doors, blue sky, shady vines and friendly cafés and I knew that this was my kind of town.

The Chora is rather like a hippie time-warp, slow, lazy, faded and bleached, pot plants struggling in the midday sun and appropriately slow mood music in the tavernas and bars – it reminded me of a favourite pair of old denim jeans and my battered blue t-shirt that I am reluctant to throw away. 

The ambience is compounded by  cultural traditions. Village life retains a centuries old pace thanks in large part to the absence of motorised vehicles. Old men while away the afternoons sitting in the summer shade chatting.  The labyrinthine, narrow lanes are the province of donkeys and wooden carts. Displays of ripe fruit – tomatoes, figs, golden apples – stand outside the little stores, the local catch is brought into the harbour daily, the wine and the raki is plentiful, good and cheap.

As we wandered around an old lady dressed all in black asked for help negotiating some difficult steps and we naturally obliged and in return for our assistance she treated us to her life story and tales of Amorgian life.  Her name was Limonique and she told us that after sixty-five years of marriage she was now a widow so I guessed her age to be somewhere around eighty-five or so.

Limonique Amorgos Chora

With the hire car at our disposal we decided now to drive around the south coast of the island.  I find that mostly it is good fun to drive a rental car but sometimes it is not.  This time it was not. Amorgos is extremely mountainous and the roads sway like a crazy roller coaster around the peaks and the valleys and the mountain passes and in some places only seem to hang on by crumbling asphalt fingernails to the fragmenting rock and loose shale.

The car, a Chevrolet City Spark with an inadequate 800cc engine was hopelessly under powered and totally unsuited to this type of motoring and it was hard work constantly twisting and turning and forever shifting gears – mostly between first and second!

I had put some petrol in the tank but with the continuous high revs the tiny engine was like a hungry sponge sucking the fuel tank dry at an alarming rate  and I became concerned as the needle started to sink like a stone towards the red zone.

And it was dangerous with precipitous drops with inadequate barriers to prevent a vehicle careering over the edge, oncoming vehicles driven by locals who consider it compulsory to text while driving and then unexpected livestock.

Amorgos Driving Hazard

After an hour or so I gave in.  I really wasn’t enjoying it and could go no further so after consulting with the navigator we turned around and headed straight back to Katapola where we parked the car and resumed walking.

There was a noticeable absence of English travellers but by contrast there were a lot of French people on Amorgos because this island was one of the locations for the Luc Besson film ‘Le Grande Bleu’ which self-opinionated film critics and French film-goers rave about but which turns out to be one of those hard to understand surrealist French non-event movies that goes around in ever decreasing self-indulgent circles until it finally disappears up its own aperture.

We waited now until nearly sunset time and then as the sun began to dip, the hills turn purple and the valleys flood with shadows we took a walk along the southern shore of the harbour, past an inevitable white church and an unnamed statue and as we sat and watched the sun fall into the sea and the sky turn purple through to black we looked back on our time in Amorgos and looked forward to moving on the next day to Naxos and then to Ios.

Amorgos Greece Sunset

Greek Islands, Amorgos and a Walk Through History

Amorgos Chora

The plan today was to visit the nearby village of Tholária.

There was a bus due at a quarter to eleven but having inherited my dad’s aversion to paying unnecessary bus fares and as it was only ten o’clock, I gently persuaded Kim to walk the couple of miles by road and footpath instead.

In the past this might have been a problem but Kim now has pedometer and has been transformed into a walking fundamentalist zealot and we set off at a cracking pace towards the village several hundred feet above us down at sea level.

The road zigzagged all the way up and we could see it looping away from us in front so I was glad when we came across a stony donkey track that was a more direct route and we left the road and tackled the steps instead disturbing the stones and scattering the basking lizards as we went.  It was uneven and difficult in sandals even for someone like me who is in peak physical condition!

At every turn I hoped the village would get closer but around every turn was another expanse of steps and another receding view of the whitewashed houses and every plodding step seemed like a hundred.  I decided that when we got home I would write to the local rambling association and tell them to disregard my application for membership.

Tholária Old Ways Amorgos

As we climbed we passed through what might be loosely described as fields with rows of derelict terraces and dry stonewalls that separated the hillside into equally measured individual plots of land.  Amorgos is mostly inhospitable rock that has been baked hard in the sun for thousands of years but as recently as only fifty years ago people here were scraping away at the thin soil and removing the stones to try and make a living or to feed the family by growing fruit and vegetables.

Each islander had a personal plot and would attend every day to manage and tend the land.  They had to carry all of the water to the side of these plots and the only way to achieve this was by using a donkey. Then in the 1960s visitors started to arrive and the enterprising islanders realised that there was more money to be made renting out the back room and this was also a lot easier than a difficult twelve-hour day toiling under a hot sun.

The terraces are all abandoned now to thistles and what other few hardy plants can survive in a hostile environment and they are unlikely ever to be cultivated again.  There is no one to look after them or protect the heritage, each year parts of the walls collapse and disappear and soon they will be gone altogether and that will be a sad day.

This man seemed happy enough however…

Tholária Amorgos

Although no one will ever see it again I like to imagine what this hillside might have looked like fifty years ago with farmers scratching away at the ground, donkeys occasionally braying and patiently waiting to return to the town and fishing boats slipping in and out of the harbour below on the silver water.

This arrangement was a feature of Greek islands, a port at sea level where the fishermen work and then a village high in the mountains, medieval refuge from pirates and invaders and where farmers worked the terraces.  A good deal and as we sat and drank a cold beer I imagined the hard life and primitive economic arrangements of the past where farmers with calloused hands stained red from the colour of the earth exchanged fresh vegetables for sea food with the fishermen from the port, bronzed and salt streaked from time spent at open sea.

It sounds simplistically noble and idyllic, something Voltaire or Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall would approve of but my goodness I bet it was a hard life.

Another delivery of potatoes…

Tholária Door Amorgos

After walking around the village we set off back to Aegiali and came across a group of walkers who enthusiastically showed us a short cut but it was down a tricky path and they had stout leather walking shoes with knotted laces and we had inadequate sandals with synthetic soles so we ignored the advice and stuck to the road instead.

There were a lot of walkers here on Amorgos and I couldn’t help thinking that if I was going on a walking holiday then I might choose somewhere like the Black Forest in Germany or Snowdonia in Wales not (as much as I like them of course) a barren rock in the Cyclades where the relentless sun would surely force me into a very early submission and a dash to the bar.

Back at the port we stopped for a drink and then after half an hour or so Kim got carried away and suggested another climb to the village of Potamas not far from Aegiali but up a tough and demanding road and set of steps which I think, after we had reached the church at the top, she was seriously regretting the suggestion.

Greek Taverna

Descending through the mazy streets and alleys there was time for a drink in the main square where elderly locals were beginning to gather for an end of day chat.  I wondered where all the young people were and I think I immediately answered my own question – Athens probably.

Back at the village we found a dusty mini-market because we wanted to buy some wine.  It was surprisingly expensive and the information on the labels hard to interpret but at the back of the shop a French couple were passing judgement on an obviously home-made red poured directly from a plastic bottle.

They declared it to be entirely acceptable so we agreed that if it was good enough for them then it would be perfect for us so based on this Gallic recommendation we purchased a bottle for ourselves and took it back to the room and sat on the balcony for a couple of hours and waited patiently for the next inevitable sunset.

Sunset Playtime on Greek Island of Amorgos

Mykonos Town, The Curse of the Cruise Ships and Shirley Valentine

Little Venice Mykonos

“There is nothing quite like this extraordinary cubist village, with its flittering, dancing shadows and its flaring whiteness. It’s colonnades and curling streets, houses with extravagant balconies of painted wood, lead on and on, turning slowly inward upon themselves to form labyrinths, hazing-in all sense of direction until one surrenders to the knowledge that one is irremediably lost…. It is not cozy, it does not try to charm. It brands you like a hot iron.”  –  Lawrence Durrell

It was two mile stroll from Ornos to Mykonos town and as we approached the bay and the port we were confronted with three hideous cruise ships menacingly lolling about on the water like an invasion fleet.  These weren’t in Mykonos the last time I was there.

Unfortunately these floating hotels seem to be turning up everywhere – ugly, monstrous and completely incongruous, dwarfing the town and spoiling the view of the harbour and the sea front, one of them was an eleven-deck eyesore resembling a block of 1970s council flats, no style or charm, just a floating unattractive leviathan.

These loathsome giants spoil everywhere they visit; Santorini has become a crowded nightmare, Dubrovnik is overwhelmed, Venice is sinking under the weight of tens of thousands of people.  I hate these cruise ships not least because I immediately knew that it would unleash hoards of cruisers swarming from the ship for a quick culture break in between continuous gluttony at the all day, all you can eat on board troughs.

In the Colossus of Rhodes, Henry Miller wrote prophetically: “I began to get the feel of it, what Greece was, what it had been, what it will always be even with the misfortune of being overrun by tourists.”  Well, he would have shocked today because this was quite unlike the Greece that he knew in 1939 as all these people descended on the old town centre to ram-raid the jewellery shops and plunder the over-priced boutiques but to bring little benefit to the rest of the local economy by stopping for lunch or a beer.

Mykonos Street 1

Mykonos town is a lively place and one of the top tourist attractions in the Cyclades, not as spectacular as Santorini, as historical as Naxos or as dramatic as Ios, but with an enviable location facing west with the town rising up from a gentle shelving crescent shaped bay full of traditional fishing boats competing for moorings with the pleasure boats and yachts.

Once in the town it was clear the damage the cruise ships have done.  I had recollections of quiet mazy lanes, whitewashed walls with blue doors and windows but it has now been turned into a giant shopping mall with designer clothes and expensive boutiques and slow progress through the streets as thousands of people were dawdling through and walking at a pace as though crossing a ploughed field.

It has become a Walt Disney EPCOT World Showcase version of a Greek island town and that is a shame because just as in Florida where people visit  London, Paris and Rome and believe that they have actually been to England, France and Italy a lot of these visitors will come ashore at Mykonos town and think they have been to Greece and really, let me tell them, they haven’t.

Mykonos Pasta

And when I say thousands of people I am not exaggerating because throughout the summer the cruise ships deliver an average of six thousand invaders every day which literally doubles the population of the town.  To put that into perspective that is like half a million people visiting the Australian city of Melbourne every day or over one million descending on Calgary in Canada.

We walked and elbowed our way around the town and patiently waited for a gap in the crowds for our photo opportunities and then emerged at the old port which thankfully retains an element of character and charm on account of the fact that the cruise ships and the ferries use the new port about half a mile away and it has thankfully escaped redevelopment.

Mykonos Then and Now

By late afternoon the little town began to empty as there was a stampede for the shuttle boats as the mother ship gave a blast of its mighty horn to alert shore-goers that the troughs had been refilled in preparation for evening meal.

Mykonos once had a famous resident, a pelican called Pétros  who arrived injured one day and stayed waddling around the streets, going from one restaurant back door to another in anticipation of fishy scraps from the kitchens and stopping every now and then in a good-natured and obliging way to have a photograph taken with the holidaymakers.  When Pétros died the people of the town decided to replace him but the new Pétros  is not nearly so obliging he was nowhere to be seen to today.

My daughter with Pétros in 2005…

Pefkas Stork Mykonos

It is only a small town so after a while we began to recognise places as we ran out of new streets and so we strolled back to Ornos and back at the Anemos Apartments we wasted a couple of hours at the side of the pool.

The following day we tackled another long walk this time to the beach resort of Agios Ioannis  which is an unremarkable little place but is famous for being the location of the film ‘Shirley Valentine’, not that she would recognise it of course because thirty years of development has irreversibly changed the character of the secluded bay where Shirley had her holiday and met the owner of the taverna, Costas.  Costas wouldn’t recognise his taverna either because it is now called the Hippie Fish and the beach outside is decorated with rows of sunbeds.

Anyway, Shirley Valentine is one of my favourite films and I was glad of the opportunity to visit the filming location.

Over evening meal we declared the visit to Mykonos a great success and later we packed our bags ready for our next stage of the adventure and a ferry-boat ride to Naxos and then to Amorgos.

Walking in Mykonos

 

Click on an image to view the gallery…

Greek Islands, Return to Mykonos

Mykonos Bell End Detail

We had not visited the Cyclades Islands in Greece since 2011 and so we were interested to see what changes there might be in five years.

We no longer choose to fly to Athens because there is always the risk of industrial action on the buses or the metro or the ferries, or getting caught up in a demonstration in the city centre as we did in 2011, so this year we flew instead to Mykonos, a popular tourist destination in the centre of the island group.

I last visited Mykonos in 2005, eleven years before, I booked the same apartments so I was curious to see how things might have changed.

It is strange how we get drawn back to places that we are familiar with and have enjoyed and we would be doing this several times again this holiday.  Kim had never been toMykonos so at least it was a new experience for her.

It was an early morning flight, we arrived around lunch time and Poppy from the Anemos  Apartments met us exactly as agreed and drove us the ten minute transfer to the rooms.  She seemed familiar with wild hair and a face like a Rubens cherub – forty years after he had painted it.  It was good to be back and nothing much had changed at the hotel.

My children in 2005…

After settling in we walked the short distance to the beach where things had changed a great deal.

Eleven years ago I remember a sandy expanse where we played frisbee and beach tennis but now there was no room for any of that sort of thing because the entire beach was covered by beautiful suntanned, tattooed people lying on luxury sun-beds complete with canvas awnings which made the sea front look like a regatta of sailing boats, flapping away rather like a flotilla of yachts.  People had been here for several days and judging by the bronzed bodies had done nothing else but hire a flotation bed for a day at an inflated sum and sleep for eight hours or so wallowing in the sun waking every now and again to apply more sun cream.

Eleven years ago it was possible to pitch up with a towel and a can of Mythos from the mini-market and just go for a swim.  Not now.  There is a real pressure to select a sun-bed, all of which belong to a restaurant with an extortionate daily rental charge and an expectation to spend money in the bar. €30 a day for two sun-beds!  I would rather lay on a bed of nails!  I calculate that a fortnight holiday spent on the beach would cost €420 just to lay on the beach!  I wondered just how much money people have to waste!

How wonderful it must have been to wander down a beach from a taverna to the sea as Lawrence Durrell or Norman Lewis might have done without all of the obstacles of sun-loungers, running the gauntlet of the looky-looky men or dodging the pedaloes.

Greece Mykonos

Another noticeable change was the cost of living.  Our benchmark is always the price of a Greek salad, which we expect to be about €6 and a 500ml bottle of Mythos at around  €2.50.  In Mykonos this time they could be as much as three times that much! Three times!

Maybe the increase in prices was a consequence of all the beautiful tattooed people with more money than brains lying on the sun-beds and ordering their cocktails by smart phone, maybe it was because of the financial crisis that had raised VAT by 200% since last we came or maybe it was because of all the cruise ships who daily spew thousands of peoples ashore who have even more money to burn!

To be honest I felt out of place, rather like someone who has ordered a slimline tonic when Richard Burton was at the bar buying a round of drinks.  Like a Yankees supporter who finds himself at tbe Red Sox end of the stadium!

I have to say that I prefer the sound of the sea rearranging the pebbles on the beach to the boom-boom of the beach disco music, the hum of insects to the buzz of motor cycles and the scent of sweet jasmine to Hawaiian Tropic sun tan butter.

I was making comparisons with my previous visit but of course if this was my first time I would have nothing to compare it with.  Kim couldn’t join me in this distraction but if she returned in ten years then she would probably do the same.  Nostalgia I find is cyclical and not just a thing of the past.

Mykonos Shops

Later in the day as afternoon tipped over into evening the place became less crowded, the beach people packed up and left to go and admire themselves in the mirrors and the sparkling lights of the tavernas began to twinkle into life.  We naturally avoided the expensive ones on the seafront and found somewhere we liked a couple of blocks behind.

Here we selected a simple table with a check tablecloth and ordered reasonably priced rustic food and wine and listened to the conversations around us.  There was a constant chatter of people who, just as throughout the day children gather shells in a bucket, had collected random thoughts in their heads and then, just as children return their shells to the sea at the end of the day the adults sat and gave up their recollections to each other over evening meal.

It was wonderful, even though Mykonos is never going to be my favourite it was so good to be back in the Greek Islands.

Mykonos Table and Chairs

Green Doors of Europe

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Santorini Greek Door

Santorini Island, Greece

Venice Italy

Venice, Italy

Portugal Door 3

Algarve, Portugal

Northern France Wimereaux

Wimereux, France

Valletta Malta

Valletta, Malta

Dingle Ireland Green Door

Ring of Kerry, Ireland

More Doors…

Doors and Windows of 2015

Sardinia – Doors and Windows

Brittany – Doors and Windows

Blue Doors of Essaouira

Doors of Catalonia 1

Doors of Catalonia 2

Doors of Catalonia 3

Doors of Catalonia 4

Doors of Dublin

Doors of Northern France

Doors of Portugal

Doors of Siguenza, Spain

Blue Doors of Europe and North Africa

Wooden Door of Catalonia Besalu

Catalonia, Spain

Door Detail Dinard Brittany France

Brittany, France

Dublin Doors 2

Dublin, Ireland

Milos Greece

Milos Island, Greece

Doors of Ronda 1

Ronda, Spain

Burgau Algarve Portugal

Algarve, Portugal

Essaouira Derelict Doors

Essaouira, Morocco

Amsterdam by Delph

Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Black Forest, Germany

More Doors…

Doors and Windows of 2015

Sardinia – Doors and Windows

Brittany – Doors and Windows

Blue Doors of Essaouira

Doors of Catalonia 1

Doors of Catalonia 2

Doors of Catalonia 3

Doors of Catalonia 4

Doors of Dublin

Doors of Northern France

Doors of Portugal

Doors of Siguenza, Spain