Installment: Mykonos, Greece by Elliott Hester
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no trees exist on the island. The landscape is arid, rocky, and
devoid of grass. Even weeds are scarce. Nevertheless, with the deep
blue Mediterranean surrounding it, and the rich blue sky draped
above, Mykonos allures like an rough uncut gem.
is overrated anyway. All I needed was a sandy beach where I could
chill out, backstroke in clear water, watch gentle waves slap against
the shore, and party as the sun sets. With 30 beaches to choose
from each with its own personality and style Mykonos,
perhaps the most famous of all the Greek islands, did not disappoint
is the case with many visitors, my first and most interesting excursion
took me to Paradise. Paradise Beach, that is. The most popular strip
of sand on the island, Paradise has all the trappings of a typical
tourist beach (inner tube rides, scuba diving lessons, ferries to
other beaches, etc). But somehow the action is not obtrusive.
get here, I rode a motor scooter from Mykonos Town, past isolated
farm houses and tiny Greek Orthodox chapels, all of which wore the
uniform whitewash of every building on the island. Some 30 minutes
after departing, a winding road led me down to the beach.
was a smorgasbord of humanity. Rows of thatch umbrellas sprouted
from the coarse sand, providing shade to beachgoers from France,
Sweden, Italy, Greece, England, the U.S., and countless other countries.
Young backpackers lay beside middle-aged tourists. The beautiful
people mingled among mere mortals. Men and women, straight and gay,
lounged on beach chairs or towels while eating salads and gyros
sandwiches procured from one of several beachside restaurants.
is always the case at European beaches, I tried not to stare at
topless women. But it became difficult to look away when two statuesque
Italians strolled along the beach wearing nothing but thong bikini
bottoms. They stopped suddenly, directly in front of my beach chair.
Lost in the throes of conversation, the two women gesticulated with
a ferocity that shook more than the foundations of propriety. Everyone
stared. Even the nudists.
my periodic sidelong glances had revealed a number of unclothed
sunbathers. Most congregated near the right-hand side of Paradise.
Every so often one of these brazen souls rose from a beach chair,
walked through hoards of people all of whom pretended not
to look plunged into the sea, and sashayed back to his or
her chair as if public nudity were as common as the tattoos on their
lies the difference between male and female nudists. Women emerged
from the ice-cold Mediterranean looking supple and vivacious. When
nude men emerged from the same chilly waters, however, they appeared
withered and defeated. This fact, as well as a healthy lack of courage,
prevented me from parting with my Speedos.
around 5:00 P.M. dance music blasted from speakers at Tropicana
beach bar, which is located smack dab in the middle of the beach.
The daily beach party had begun. I gathered my belongings. The nudists
put on some clothes. Together with perhaps 100 others, we made our
way to the bar.
won't dwell on the fact that 3 Belgian revelers plied me with way
too many Kamikaze shots. I won't go into details about climbing
on the bar and dancing with two Greek girls who were half my age.
And I refuse to recount the embarrassing tale of how I slipped on
an alcohol slick, fell to the floor, stood up, continued dancing
and drew thunderous applause from the crowd. Suffice it to say I
had a funky good time.
next day I drove my motorbike to the 2nd most popular beach on the
island. Super Paradise delivered precisely what the name implies:
more paradise. More sand, more nudists, more partying.
soon the music, Kamikaze shots, and ensuing hangovers got the best
of me. I set out on my motor scooter and found nearly 2 dozen beaches
that offered an escape.
most developed and wind-protected beaches (Gialos, Psarou, Elia)
lay at the southern edge of the island, not far from Paradise and
Super Paradise. Ornos, the busiest of all, boasts countless hotels
and tavernas that are perfect for people watching. Platys Gialos
was packed with families who seemed happy to distance themselves
from the nudists. Every inch of sand at tiny Psarou Beach was occupied,
mainly by Greek socialites, their children and nannies. Elia, and
the sandy alcoves nearby, are billed as "gay friendly,"
although much of the island can be considered as such. And Agrari,
one of the most beautiful beaches on Mykonos, lay in sleepy splendor.
Lia (not to be confused with Elia) quickly became my favorite. Located
on the east coast, it's a small isolated beach poised between 2
rocky hillsides. Harder to reach than many beaches on Mykonos, Lia
has the right combination of zest and serenity. The water here is
as clear and cold as at any beach on the island. La Luna, the Italian
beach restaurant sits far back from the sand, quiet and inconspicuous.
I sat on the wooden deck, listening to soft jazz and munching on
day before leaving the island, however, I made my way back to Paradise
Beach. Relaxed and refreshed after 2 weeks of therapeutic beach
hopping, I lay in a beach chair among thong-clad women, tattooed
men, and nudists of every age and sexual orientation. At 5:00 P.M.
like clockwork the music started pumping.
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