Mykonos here we come!
We arrived at Nice airport early morning on Saturday, December 28, to board the private jet hired by our friends Mark and Marco (M&M), for a short direct flight to the Greek Island of Mykonos in the center of the Cyclades. A truly wonderful top flying experience and a first for me! What a way to start our holidays at a villa on a hill in the island of the winds overlooking the Aegean seas. And windy it was! I learned first hand that there are two types of winds in the island, one hitting during the winter arriving from the south and sometimes accompanied by electrical storms, the Sirocco, a southern wind originating in North Africa that carries sands in the form of red rain from the deserts that boarder the Mediterranean. In the summer the wind comes from the north and the strong Meltemi, which blows during July and August, cools the days and often die down at night but could last for days without a break. Reason why windmills are a defining feature of the landscape many of them built in the 16th century and mainly concentrated in the main town of Chora, are all north-facing to harness the strong Northern winds but none of them are in operation today but some have been converted into homes, storage or museums.
Gods on the rocks
Greek mythology tells us that the island was named after its first ruler and local hero, Mykons, the son or grandson of the god Apollo. It is also said to have been the location of a great battle between Zeus and Titans and where Hercules eliminated the indomitable Giants having enticed them from the protection of the Mount Olympus. The legend goes that the large rocks all over the island are the Giants’ petrified corpses.
Slow pace and slow food
During our stay the days blended into the evenings so peacefully, with long walks to town after breakfast, delicious lunches at the villa prepared by the Georgian caretakers or sometimes at one of the few restaurants open in winter, then a restoring nap followed by board games or reading one of the many books populating the library of our hosts, or walking their dogs to distant beaches with the wind as our constant companion.
Of course we were at a vantage point to watch the glorious sunsets in the island, everyone so different and more magnificent than the other!
Dinners were truly superb and the conversations at the table shared with accomplished and well travelled guests was always so lively and interesting, followed by a screening of one of the many nominated movies that Marco needs to evaluate before the Academy Awards, what a treat!
Petros the Great White Pelican
During our daily walks to the waterfront we met the town superstar, Petros the Great White Pelican that has been the official mascot of Mykonos for over half a century, who set up home in the island after a terrible storm in the 1950’s. The stranded pelican had been nursed to health by the locals naming him Petros that in Greek means rock or stone, but metaphorically is Old and Grumpy. After his death the islanders elected a successor to carry on his heritage until today, and I confirm he is really charming and kind, not at all grumpy!
Celebrating the New Year!
Almost everybody in the island was invited to M&M’s New Year’s Eve festivity (néo étos in Greek); such is the generosity and hospitality of our hosts. Their neighbor Luis brought the Vasilopita, the traditional Greek New Year’s cake with a hidden coin which gives good luck to the receiver, that was ceremonially cut by Mark after the surprise fireworks organized by the town. On the first day of the year we woke up really late, enjoyed a fuming cup of double espresso and toasts, walked to town and lingered the rest of the day around the villa at a turtle’s pace. Mykonos during the summer months is lived on the fast lane but in winter it seems to revert into slow motion, very relaxing and conducive to reflecting on new resolutions.
It would have been faster by train!
On Friday, January 4 our vacations came to an end and we left Mykonos with a heavy heart. Only this time around we were on a multiple-leg commercial flight to Athens, from there to Zurich connecting to Nice, only to find out that our destination airport was closed due to bad weather! We received a voucher for a double room at the Radisson Blue hotel at Zurich terminal, and after waiting three long hours to recover our redirected luggage (whatever happened to Swiss precision and great service!), we had a light dinner with a good bottle of wine and on to bed. Very early on Sunday we boarded the plane back home where it had been raining cats and dogs for days, but sunny weather welcomed us on arrival! Monaco, we are back! And ready to tackle 2014 with a passion!