Dispatches from the Road: Mykonos


Rossi Anastopoulo

 

Depending on who you ask, Mykonos is a party paradise, a tourist trap, a quaint haven, or a natural paradise. 

In truth, it's all those things. 

We arrived by ferry in the morning, disembarking in a chaotic press of passengers trying to locate their luggage and their friends and their bus into the old town. The air smelled like salt and the cliffs rose high, covered by rocks and groves of olive trees. 

Mykonos' main town, Chora, is a winding white labyrinth in which you're just as likely to stumble across a world class fashion boutique as you are a washing line hung with freshly laundered sheets. Everything, truly, is blue and white - the churches, steepled with azure blue domes; the glimmering Aegean and its frothy whitecaps; the sky, stretching in an infinite canopy and punctuated, occasionally, with fronds of clouds. 

Inhabitants - tourists and locals alike - drift through in pursuit of nothing more than a good time. A glass of cold retsina, a nap in a shady grove, a night spent dancing until sunrise. It's not a hedonistic pursuit of pleasure, the way I imagine somewhere like Ibiza is. Rather, a common belief that this life we have is good and should be treated as such. 

We, too, danced all night under the stars, on a rocky jut of cliff stretching out into the dark sea, where the glint of the full moon reflected back at us. We slept on sandy beaches, drank frappes under billowing umbrellas, watched the sun sink beneath the Aegean each night, glasses of wine in hand and plates of feta before us. 

In the mornings there was kaffe, and tsoureki too, if we were lucky and someone had stopped by the bakery. I walked through Chora each morning, passing last night's revelers stumbling through the streets or simply passed out on the rocky little stretch of beach in the old port. I often stopped in the little chapel near our house to light a candle and offer a silent prayer to the Panagia. Passed by the famous windmills, offered them a quick nod. Practiced my abhorrent Greek on the old ladies I came across who didn't look too mean. 

One morning I took a boat to Delos, that ancient crossroads where kings ruled and empires fought for control. It's nothing more than ruins now, of course. But ruins that lie quietly under the Greek sun, teasing secrets and legends from eras past. The famous lions still stand guard before a city that's long since disappeared. The columns of temples still stretch towards gods who have faded from memory. 

Salt draws out the flavors of food, heightens our senses as we taste it. I think it does the same thing with life in Mykonos. Maybe that's why each experience there feels so vivid. The brine of the sea that hangs in the air, the tang of feta, the sharp bite of olives, the crust of salt that forms on nearly everything. All of it amplifying each sun-soaked day and balmy night. 

Of course, if you ask my Yiayia, the trip wasn’t a totally success. Neither of us came home with a husband.