Sunday 11 October 2015

Shirley Valentine got it right

This morning, finally, there was colour, and warmth. Brown rocky island, white-painted houses, and blue, blue sea: cliché postcard Greek Island scenery, and so welcome after the last three ports of ugly concrete towns and rain.
Mykonos shouldn’t really exist: it’s so barren, there’s no vegetation or water, no soil to grow anything – just fish. But Onassis took a shine to it, and brought all his famous friends here, including of course Jackie O, and it became a party island full of bars and restaurants so popular that the residents earn so much during the April-November season that they can then shut up shop and jet off to the Maldives for their own beach holiday.
Though I would hate to be here when it’s heaving with rich, drunk people, today it was very pretty and appealing, all narrow winding paved lanes, bougainvillea, windmills, cats and churches. The labyrinthine layout is to break the wind and confuse pirates, and it’s traditional to get lost as you wander around – though the waterfront is always downhill, so it’s not hard to get oriented again.

It was Sunday today, so there were services going on, priests singing to the people crammed into the tiny buildings, and dressed-up locals standing around chatting afterwards. There were enough tourists to make the place lively, the water was clear, the fishing boats were brightly-painted, it was warm and there was even some sunshine, and at last I felt that I was in the Greece I had expected.

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