White sandy beaches; azure blue water; sun sparkling on the harbor boats. Mykonos, an island 187 kilometers or so from Athens by ferry is a paradise for sun worshipers. World famous for its blue and whitewashed buildings, Mykonos the town is a maze of narrow, twisting streets. Closed off to all traffic except for the motorbikes and mini-trucks that deliver goods to the cafes and boutiques, one could get lost for a whole day just wandering those path-like streets.
Mykonos was one of the places I most looked forward to visiting. I’m not sure what I was expecting but I had forgotten that because my fair, Irish skin does not take well to sun bathing, I usually avoid areas where beach going is the major activity. Alas, that was Mykonos. That and the barren, rocky landscape made for an interesting but less than satisfying overnight.
Despite my dislike of Mykonos, Keith and I passed the time walking, riding the public buses to several local towns and eat some wonderful food. Never in my life have I tasted yogurt like they have in Greece. The non-fat Cabot variety I favor in Vermont doesn’t old a candle to the thick, rich yogurt of Greece often complemented with honey. Served as dessert, I’ll never think of yogurt the same again.
Before I continue to wax poetic about the yogurt, I should mention the fish. Mykonos has picturesque windmills left from the days when milling flour was a major island occupation. Though electrical generation from the incessant wind hasn’t made its way to Mykonos, the windmills remain as a tourist attraction and landmark on the island. Huddled under the windmills is a restaurant featuring fish and other Greek style dishes. Having eaten a huge lunch (Keith asked to be brought anything the waitress thought we might like and we ate like royalty), we settled for several appetizers: Greek salad (not like you get in the states – no lettuce), shrimp in feta and red sauce, feta with honey and sesame, and tzatziki . The bread and olives that preceded the meal rounded out the feast with peaches and the aforementioned yogurt for dessert.
But dinnertime wasn’t our only time to indulge in culinary delights. Wandering around Chora (“the town” in Greek), we followed a sign to espresso, baklava, and a variety of other goodies. In a delightful store, we found riches: olive oil, saffron, Greek wine, squid ink pasta, grappa with saffron, among others. In addition to the spices, wines, and oils, we settled in for a latte, baklava, and an almond cookie. I never knew there was more than one kind of baklava but we counted at least four. The Greeks know how to turn a little honey and nuts into nirvana.
So, while the beaches of Mykonos were lost on me, the culinary delicacies were not. I wouldn’t recommend it as a place to visit unless you are a sun worshipper but it was a great place to be introduced to Greek food.