I used to live on the Greek island of Mykonos, many years ago when it was still relatively undiscovered by backpackers – mainly because it was one of the most expensive islands to stay on. Then, in the early 1980s it was a haven for gay men who had a good income and who lived to party on the island. The islanders learned to be tolerant to foreigners and they were their livelihood. Mykonos has changed a lot since those days, and not all changes have been for the better.
These days you can stay at the “camping” site on Paradise Beach which used to have nothing on it except people sunbathing nude (at a time when this was frowned on in other places in Greece) and one stall where you could buy drinks and snacks. Now it is heaving with almost clad tourists, both foreigners and the nouveau riche Athenians. Your idea of hell? Mine too!
You may have gathered, if you have been following this blog, that I don’t particularly go to places that are touristy. Mykonos has now changed beyond recognition since I was there and because I have fond memories of the island, I have no wish to go back and see what a hell-hole it is now in the summer months!
There are great beaches on Mykonos, one being Panormos with its views across several much smaller islands which used to be uninhabited. I once got badly sun-burned there after falling asleep on the beach with a friend. We had difficulties getting back into town because we were the only ones on the beach that day, except for the guys who ran the only taverna there. We decided to bite the bullet and walk back to town, and I had to ask why my friend had picked up a sizeable rock. “Snakes” he said. A short time after that, the guys from the taverna came along in their small ‘truck’ and we got in the back with some chickens. They let us out just above the town, so luckily we didn’t have to walk too far.
There have always been some wonderful watering holes in Mykonos and thankfully the area known as Little Venice won’t have changed very much. Pierrot’s (the gay bar) is still there, I am told, but even that won’t be the same without Carlos the Puerto Rican dancer (may he rest in peace).
Petros the pink pelican was accidentally killed by a taxi-driver the winter after I left Mykonos. He was an incredible bird, and would wander up the winding back streets past the whitewashed houses with their blue window shutters and doors and get into a fisherman’s bed if the weather was bad. I saw him, tucked up in bed to his bill one winter’s day. In summer he would go to a restaurant where he would hop onto a chair, open his bill and get fed fish by my friend Dimitrius (whom I still see around Athens).
Mykonos and the island off it, Delos has a special kind of light which I have already described in my post about Amorgos; it is intense and pure. I think you have to experience it to discover what I mean. Other than that, I think Mykonos is a victim of its own hype. Whatever you do, if you are going in August, make sure you have somewhere to stay.
If you have seen this kind of light anywhere, please leave a comment and let me know.
- Amorgos, in the Cycladic Group of Islands, Greece (lynnee8.wordpress.com)