The last remnant from the bottle of complimentary shampoo from Hotel Acrogialli slid through my hair, the final tangible link to the mythical Greek Island of Mykonos. My heart ached to return to that Agean diamond in the sun, where dazzling white buildings clustered around the rocky shores.
There can be nothing quite like the experience of sitting in the new light of day beside the beach on an Agean Isle eating freshly baked Greek bread with crispy bacon and coffee. There is a certain kind of magic in the atmosphere. It could be the light, or the fishing boats moored at the jetty, or the white, white buildings jutting up from the headlands, gleaming in the sun against the blue sea and sky. Or perhaps it is the mixture of the Greek language, the smiling waiters, and the abundance of delicious food which promotes a sense of bliss to those first beset by the charm of Mykonos.
A ten minute bus ride from the hotel to the main shopping area took me past flat roofed houses with blue painted doors and shuttered windows. They differed little apart from having distinctive sculptured chimneys and earthenware pots that graced their stone terraces.
The shops were mostly converted houses in a maze of laneways, each bringing endless fascination. It was easy to think I was lost, but all paths led somewhere, and eventually I always found my bearings. There were many jewellery shops, boutiques, art galleries, Greek craft and religious icons as well as outdoor restaurants and fruit stalls. Shopping was a delight to the eye along these white laneways where residents appeared to live at ease among the throngs of tourists. Amidst it all a man was leading his donkey which carried four big baskets on its back laden with vegetables and bright colourful flowers. As the donkey quietly clip clopped up the hill the flowers looked lovely contrasted against the backdrop of white stone walls. Everyone seemed relaxed and at one with the beauty around them.
The town pelican posed graciously to have his photo taken when perchance I met him coming around a corner.
Trees with vermilion and deep pink flowered branches overhung the doorways of smart boutiques, the intensity of colour once again striking against the white walls. An old lady sat peacefully on her patio framed by bright red climbing roses, as she watched the passing crowd. Greek Orthodox priests added interest to the flow as they strode purposefully by wearing black gowns, high hats and large crosses which hung to their waist.
The island is reputed to have 365 chapels. They are used for daily prayer. Candles are constantly alight in these chapels. Perhaps a deep spiritual awareness moulds the temperament of the Greek people whom I found to be friendly and affable, bound in their cultural traditions.
Greek salads of lettuce and the sweetest tomatoes imaginable, cucumber, olives and fetta cheese served with fresh crusty bread and white wine became my luncheon ritual.
Newly caught squid hung out to dry outside the seafood restaurant on the forefront waiting to be turned into the most tender calamari dishes imaginable.
“Shirley Valentine” was filmed on the island of Mykonos. George, the Manager of the hotel where some of the scenes were filmed, appeared in the movie and was only too pleased to be photographed with me. Shirley, the protagonist in the movie, was a bored English housewife, taken for granted by her husband and daughter, until one day she left for a holiday in Greece leaving only a note on the refrigerator door, saying “Gone to Greece.” It changed her life as indeed it has added a new dimension to mine.
Greek history became alive after I took the half hour ferry trip across to the Island of Delos where Cleopatra herself had had a holiday home. Here I saw the ruins of a once splendid city where trade and wealth had flourished in the 6th century before Christ. It was an overwhelming experience to actually see buildings with the original terrazzo floors and columns still standing and walk the steps up to the amphitheatre where the dramas of the day had been played out. .
I will return to the Greek Islands one day to explore with ravenous interest the historical sites and again feel the magic of the Agean and like most of the populace hire a moped to take me around.