Mykonos Does Have Mosquitoes

Mykonos, Greece
Photo courtesy of

The one island we didn't want to go to is where we ended up. It was my method of improvisational travel that got us here. We planned to take the SYROS EXPRESS all the way to Syros but I came up with an alternate plan. We would get off at the first port, Paros, where there would certainly be boats to Syros all day. Of course I hadn't counted on the SYROS EXPRESS being a decrepit old rust bucket of a ship. Where do they get the nerve to call these slow boats to hell "Expresses"? A more appropriate name would be SYROS ETERNITY.

I sat next to two Oriental law students and we discussed the seaworthy-ness of the small inter-island ferries. I point out the rust and the derelict condition of the ship. They laugh. "This is nothing. You should see the piece of junk they call the MYKONOS EXPRESS." We got to Paros a half an hour late and fifteen minutes after the boat to Syros had left. We were going to wait around for a six-thirty Flying Dolphin but then I came up with another alternate plan. Let's go to Mykonos. There will be lots of boats to Syros.

We bought tickets for the three pm boat. To our horror it's the MYKONOS EXPRESS, half an hour late of course. It was the very boat the two oriental law students had warned me about. They were right. The crew didn't even bother trying to make it look ship-shape. It was covered with rust though in some spots they had covered over it with white paint. The lounge looked like Chernobyl with young tourists passed out in a smoky haze. I didn't dare use the bathroom. It smelled bad enough from where I was sitting fifty feet away. Still it was an OK boat ride. The sea was rough so the movement of the listing ship was kind of entertaining and Amarandi enjoyed it till she fell asleep in my arms.

We got to Mykonos a half an hour late and fifteen minutes after the boat to Syros had left. It was the SYROS EXPRESS again. It just goes to show you that you can't outsmart the Greek ferry system. We decided to stay the night. Well, we didn't actually decide. We did not have a choice. There were no more boats to Syros until the next day so all we actually decided was to stay in Mykonos and make the best of it. We had a light lunch at Nikos Taverna and Amarandi met the two famous pelicans.

After walking the short harbor road of Kamares for ten days, Mykonos is a treat. The harbor road goes for a mile and the back streets of the village are an endless labyrinth of creperies, boutiques, bars, discos, restaurants, jewelry stores and tourist shops. We dump our bags at our friend Tom Mazarakis' carpet store and find a cheap room on a quiet residential street. Our Landlord, Dionysios is a guide to the sacred island of Delos. It's one room with a shared bath, across a three foot wide street from a guy who argues in a loud voice with a group of silent people all night long.

Amarandi is impossible but after awhile she gets into the swing of things. We wander around for hours. We have dinner at a fast-food Italian place, at Amarandi's request. The streets are packed with tourists. The outer harbor has two giant ocean-liner size cruise ships and you can pick out the passengers by their accents and loud New York voices as they wander the streets looking for bargains. Mykonos also happens to be Mecca for the male homosexuals of the world. Walking past one of the bars called Ikarus, whose customers have spilled out into the courtyard of a small Byzantine church, I see more gays at one time than I have in my whole life. Gay men of every shape and style. It looks like the most happening place on the island. The other bars are full of drunk stupid tourists, talking loudly and saying nothing. The crowd at the Byzantine church next to the gay bar seems far more interesting and culturally aware. We sit next door and have a beer and an ice-cream, watching them scope one another out. I think to myself that maybe one day I will become gay just so I can have interesting conversations. It is almost worth it. What do straight men talk about? Sports and chicks.

I don't sleep very well tonight. The islands' only mosquito is in our room and avoids my blind swatting like he had escaped the swatting of thousands of others before me. We were told by our host Dionysious that there are no mosquitoes on Mykonos but apparently through its own cleverness this one has escaped detection. We might do our part in preserving the species by capturing it alive and turning it over to the Greek ASPCA but I would be satisfied just to kill the thing. I find him in the morning resting in the shower, so heavy with our blood that his little wings can no longer carry him. I consider hitting him now, leaving his remains on the linoleum as a small shrine to his longevity and perseverance but I decide to let him live and let the next visitor decide his fate.

There's not much I can say about Mykonos. I feel a sense of redemption after being critical of a place I haven't been to in twenty years. Now I know that I was right. I made a joke to Andrea that the old men are each paid a hundred thousand dollars per year to wear those blue Mykonos fisherman caps, but as the night went on I realized that those hats were all new as if they had been passed out at the beginning of each tourist season along with last season's paycheck. The island is artificially Greek. Even the whitewash on the street is latex paint. It reminds me of Tarpon Springs Florida where the former sponge fishermen of Kalymnos have created a replica of a Greek island on the swampy banks of a small southern river.

So this morning when we awaken, all I want to do is leave. The three of us wander around and argue until we find an actual traditional Greek bread shop with the only reasonable prices on the island,(besides our room) and we eat whole wheat bread and a delicious spanokopita. There is hardly anyone on the streets and it's nearly ten. Most people are probably just getting to sleep after a night of wild sex. We plan to go to continue our journey to Syros but at the last minute I decide we should go to Andros, since it is an island neither of us has ever been to. Actually, the only reason Andros wins out over Syros is because the ship is leaving a half hour sooner and looks much newer.

So we get on the ultra-modern SUPERFERRY II, an air-conditioned lounge of a ship, complete with movie theaters, video games, bars, and who knows what else? It's heaven, come to earth in the form of a Greek ferry and we talk of spending the rest of the summer riding back and forth between Rafina and the islands, never getting off the boat. We could be reading, writing, and enjoying life in air-conditioned splendor.

Then disaster strikes. The ship is pretty much empty until the moment we arrive in Tinos, the Lourdes of Greece, with its famous church to the Virgin Mary and miracle working icon. Within moments of docking the boat fills up with thousands of old women fresh from their magical cures. With few exceptions they are all over fifty years old and suffering from some malady, visible or invisible, real or imagined. The woman next to me has elephantiasis. Her right leg is as big as a tree trunk. There is a teenage boy wearing a Michael Jordan cap leading his ailing grandmother down the aisle. All the women seem to have some kind of affliction of the vocal chords and keep up a high pitched whining that never stops. Andrea thinks it must be a tour because they keep coming in waves. Just as last night the crowd at Ikarus was the biggest group of gays I'd ever seen, I don't think I have ever been in the midst of so many old ladies.

So what began as the most pleasant of ferry rides has turned into a geriatric nightmare of cackling crones all in various states of hysteria. I wonder how Andrea can concentrate on her book. The loudest most obnoxious voice of all belongs to the woman right behind her. In an ear-grating screech she tries to orchestrate the seating arrangements of all the other women in this section.

Amarandi sleeps through it all. In fact she was last awake when we were still in Mykonos walking towards the ship. I wonder what she'll think when she wakes up in a different place. Does she just accept it as something unexplainable? She hasn't been a good traveler, especially when she wakes up. She cries and cries and sometimes I feel like either I or Andrea are going to lose our temper. Today I wanted out of this family deal. My reasoning was that if God had meant for me to be a family man, he would have given me a happy family, not the crying, complaining one I have now. Andrea asks "How could I have such an unhappy child?" It's not a very difficult question to answer. I'm the only happy person in the family and I'm not feeling that great myself.

We were disturbed by the un-Greekness of Mykonos. We decided to escape the phoniness and find the true Greek experience on a more traditional island. Instead we have found it on the ferry from Tinos, for there could be no truer Greek experience than this. What could be more Greek then the two old ladies about to have it out, hurling insults at each other, fighting over a seat, after spending their holiday in prayer.

So while I watch this, on probably my final visit to Mykonos, (unless someone makes me an incredible offer), I think back on all the memories I have of the once quiet, pristine island, now an international symbol of narcissism and decadence. Of all the experiences I have had from nights of sexual discovery to my first acid trips, my strongest memory is of Goon.

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