Mykonos & Delos

Mykonos.

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?

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