The very word inspires palpitations for the repressed. So it was with palpitating heart I said farewell to Yiannis and boarded the ferry to those golden sands of sin and excess. Bill, the guy who made my coffee back home, had informed me, wide-eyed, that his mate Dave had seduced sixteen backpackers on Mykonos, and had the photographs to prove it. Great. Even the usually sober guide book promised the level-headed traveller sunsoaked beaches “filled with gyrating bodies”, and poor Yiannis, well, Yiannis shook his head like a disappointed parent when told Mykonos would be our next destination. “Mykonos? No. Beautiful holidays? Naxos.” Even the ferry to Mykonos was shinier and faster, filled with young people checking each other out before the boat had even landed…
And there we were.
The island is stunning. The water, sparkling clean, shimmered with every shade of purple and blue, like bottled perfume, or liquid stained glass. Everyone in Mykonos wears sunglasses but no hat, all part of her inherent vanity, but also essential. Between the sand, the water, and the conscientiously whitewashed architecture, Mykonos, even more so than Santorini, is ablaze.
It is impossible to tell who is famous in Mykonos, because everybody walks and talks as if they might be. Men and women are groomed and plucked within an inch of their lives before, like the fish in Finding Nemo, they join the current that compels them to parade around the city in an inevitable, unbreakable journey. It is a strangely appealing way to pass a few hours, a cross between Mardi Gras in Rio and a Year Nine school dance. Fumblingly sensual, yet curiously chaste, most of the action seems to be in people’s heads. Or maybe that’s just me…
Mykonos, as everybody knows, is famous for its embrace of homosexuality, and men openly hold hands, many arriving on the “pink tours” advertised in travel agent windows. The gay cultural influence is everywhere, from the subtle flying of rainbow flags in shop windows, to the rather less than subtle. Happy hour at the “Ramrod Club” anyone? What the locals – if there are any – think of Mykonos’ openness to all things sexual is difficult to say (there seem to be 100 foreigners for every Greek), although even the most bemused looking old ladies choose to punctuate their bemusement with the jackpotting of ringing tills.
Beneath the ritzy pretensions of the boy band wannabes, nubile college maidens, and moustachioed plastic boys, Mykonos has an awful lot of charm (not to mention its role as the hop-off point to Delos, one of the best ancient sites in the world). Even the giddily named “Paradise Beach” is almost worthy of its reputation as the beach de resistance. And for every bar, there is a beautiful whitewashed church.
The question is, as always, which one first?