Mykonos, so the Rough Guide tells us, is the most popular and the most expensive tourist destination in greece. Our preliminary enquiries for apartments and rooms before we arrived worried us; it looked like Mykonos was going to cost us an arm and leg. We couldn't believe our luck then, when we were met at the ferry harbour by room touters, and a young woman offered us a room, with use of kitchen, right in the centre of town for a reasonable price (35E a night). it turned out to be of monastic dimensions, but with a huge patio overlooking a crossroads of little pedestrian only alleys. Lovely. Mykonos town is a maze of these alleys, sandwiched between little white two and three storey houses with outside staircases, which seem to fit together neatly like a jigsaw. Even Andreas, who has a great sense of direction, could get lost in two minutes flat. The town has great charm and caters for elegant young people who don't mind spending alot of money. Displays of expensive jewellery, beautiful clothes, intimate bars and cafes; even the internet cafe was intimate. Although early in the season there were already plenty of people about. Lots of Americans and Italians; many same sex couples and small groups.
During our stay we made day trips to two other islands nearby. Delos, in Odysseus' time, was the religious centre of ancient Greece, and later also became an important trading centre (an equivalent to the modern stock exchange). In Homer's story, Odysseus remarks that Apollo's temple has a small palm tree growing by it. Now this tiny island (only a mile long) is barren. We wondered how such a tiny place could have had such importance. It is very central in the Aegean; We climbed up the small hill behind the ruins of the ancient town and found we had a spectacular 360' view over surrounding islands and sea. You could imagine the priests and priestesses, seeing boats coming from afar, saying 'Quick. light the sacred fires; put on the Mystique perfume; we have visitors'
The other island, Tinos, is the Greek equivalent of Lourdes, and an important religious centre for modern Greeks. (most of Andreas's relatives in Cyprus have visited, for their summer holidays). It was very quiet when we were there. The long approach up the hill to the sacred church from the harbour is a wide straight road. We noticed that on one side there were parrallel tracks, like the ones you hold carpets down with, lined on one side by cats eyes. We guessed that at busy times, carpet is indeed laid down for those who wish to can crawl up to the church. Oh my gods, I think I prefer the ancient ones...they were more human.
One morning we went to Paradise beach with Carol, a fellow lodger in the town. When at home she swims every day in Tooting Bec open air (unheated!) pool. She has decided to leave her London life and is looking for a house in Mykonos. Her pleasure is swimming long distance, between islands. We watched her heave heself over a rocky reef and disappear, doing a fast crawl, not to reappear for another half hour. Phew! My brother Ben spent some happy times in Mykonos in the eighties. Cyprus is not so chic, but I think he should come there, with Karifa. They would like it.
Something for the kids
In Mykonos we saw some models of ships used by ancient Greeks. Here's a picture of a one which had forty rowers, like the ones used by Odysseus' band.
People on the island like to keep pigeons in very fancy coops. here's one. Unfortunately, they don't race the pigeons, like Mr Potter, but eat them.