I have origins from Mykonos Island. It is the island of my parents and grandparents. Both of them come from old Mykonian families. Both my father’s and my mother’s side of the family have very common Mykonian last names, such as Nazou, Sigala, Galouni, Kusathana and Vamvakouri. I don’t bother with nationalities. I can easily live anywhere. I’ve spent many years in Athens; yet, no one knows what’s around the corner. But there’s something important about roots; about memory. Ever since I can remember myself, I also remember Mykonos Island. These constant comings and goings to the island shaped me; I was forged by the joyful sorrow of all these arrivals and departures.
The temple of Agios Artemis -the patron saint of the island and our neighbour- is the first thing I see when I wake up in Hora, the main town on the island. Some old Mykonian women claim to remember him walking on horseback in Hora in the evenings. Well, I don’t. But it’s the church of our parish. Usually I continue in the direction of the old Plakota, a commercial street nowadays, which, however, bears many memories, like the famous bakery of Gioras –who was my mother’s grandfather- with the oldest operating oven of the island.
The most beautiful spots in a walk
I think that the walk commencing from the Windmills –the iconic feature of the island, passing through Skarpa Bar and then, via the famous Italian restaurant Barcia, reaches Panagia Paraportiani, is the most representative of the island’s main attractions.
It’s a walk that you can say -plain and simple- that brings together some of the most beautiful and emblematic landmarks (for example, Little Venice or Skarpa with the houses built on the water’s edge), as well as gives a good taste of Hora’s architecture and lifestyle now and then. Paraportiani, a complex of whitewashed churches of the 17th century, and the bits remaining of the Castle of Mykonos are also timeless landmarks. From here, moreover, you can enjoy the stunning view over the islands of Baos and Tinos. A good option at the end of the walk is the Folklore Museum, before heading out to Yalos for a snack or a coffee.
Mykonos to me is the flair; the beaches; Delos; the nights full of surprises; Ano Mera that still retains its rustic character; the Etesian winds or the colours of the dusk at Agios Ioannis with the amazing view over the island of Delos. Everything has obviously changed. In fact, everything changes every year, but as our award-winning poet and author Panagiotis Kusathanas says, “You can always unlock the soul of the island”.
“The island is only expensive if you go to the high end places”
My haunts: Astra, Argo, Sic, Caprice, Cavo Paradiso, Galleraki, Appaloosa, Queen, Nammos, Bakogia’s, Pasaji. I’ll always order the traditional Mykonian treat “Mostra with kopanisti” at Bakogia’s; roast pork at Lela’s in Ano Mera (“Oti Apomeine” grill house); pasta at Mediterraneo and wine at Ivan Ottaviani’s restaurant Sale&Pepe.
I often go shopping. I like walking in Chora; in Matoyanni Street. I buy antiseptics from my Uncle’s pharmacy -due to the virus- and a black towel from Parthenis boutique, which is I think the most elegant and convenient towel in the world.
A brand new restaurant in a large garden is taking shape in Mykonos as we speak; an entrepreneurial partnership with a foreign flair. I think this, plus four more to come, will go a long way to revitalising Mykonos’ Hora – yes, I love Hora.
The island is only expensive if you want to go to the high end places. Of course, there are brands and excesses. But, you may also find many alternatives, if you’re persistent. The island is still stratified and still fits everyone in terms of class. With 190 formal hotels and countless rooms, you will definitely find a place to set up your kingdom. It’s a democratic island (still).
My favourite art spaces are by far Meletopoulos’ garden that also hosts the island’s open air cinema. I admit that I have many memories of both Anemotheatro and Lakka Theatre, too.
Eclectic flavours and nostalgic scents
I’m very fond of coffee. I have a passion for espresso. Note some places: Life at Fabrika, but also at my friend Thodoris Veroni’s Vero in Kamnaki and at Venetis in Hora or Argyraina. You may have nice coffee at Kazarma, too. And at Araxame in Ano Mera. Nice espresso and more at Pasaji in Ornos.
I can never forget the smell of bread in the oven of Giora, a monumental wood-fired oven. What about sounds? “How beautiful flowers!” a gentleman’s quote, years before, still echoing in my ears. The demonic sound of tricycles with the carriers, too.
Mykonos lacks in regular connection that would maintain its vitality all year long, so that during winter the island wouldn’t turn into a sleeping kingdom. Mykonos’ bookstores also need support. Particularly, Aposperides, namely Sunday gatherings with books and music organised by Stegi Meletis Panagiotis Kousathanas, is a great initiative and should be further supported. A film club, like the old one, would also be a good idea.