CYCLADIC SISTERS OF MYKONOS
The Cycladic Sisters, Mykonos, Delos, and Rhinia, each with her own personality, are among Greece's most precious treasures.
The visitor who ventures to the Cyclades will experience the sacred and the profane, the sublime and the absurd, the Ottoman and the Venetian, the glorious ideal and stark reality, the goddess and the harlot, the perfect beauty of the sun god, Apollo, and the wild revelry of the wine god, Dionysius. In short, the visitor will experience Greece.
The magic of Greece is in its very ambiguity, in the tensions that pull it from one wonderful, delicious extreme to the other. The senses are pleased and pampered by the serene beauty of Greece found in the depth of its vistas, the spectacular sunrises and sunsets, and the radiance of the light that even the poets cannot adequately describe. The senses are titillated and tempted, also by Greece's extremes, found in the food and drink, flesh, nightlife, music, and the burning sun.
These tensions intrigue and mystify the visitor - the barbarian who comes to the shores of Greece - but they are perfectly understandable to the Greeks who live everyday with the conflicting realities of life in the land of the gods.
Perhaps this tension is best exemplified in the islands that form an ancient triangle in the very heart of the Cyclades. They are cosmopolitan Mykonos, Sacred Delos, and mysterious Rhinia. Taken together, these sisters with their distinctive and contradictory personalities give the visitor a tantalizing taste of Greece known only to the Greeks.
Within this triangle, one can sun bathe nude or topless on some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece, literally dance until dawn at discos, take a magical, chartered cruise through the islands, go back in time with the ancients on an island declared "sacred" by the Greek government, and/or spend an enchanted day alone on an uninhabited island where gentle waves caress a pristine shore, luscious watermelons hang from vines, and where the pure air is so still you can hear yourself breath.
Mykonos is famous world-wide for its chalk-white beauty and its vibrant night life. Celebrities and dignitaries from all over the world make this island a destination to shop, sun bathe, party, and island hop, and cruise ships from all over the world come here. It is not unusual when walking through the white-washed streets of the town center, called Hora, to see a world famous model or movie star gazing into a jewelry store while munching on a cheese pie, looking very much like Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffanys." The glorious golden and jewel-studded rings, earrings, bracelets, and necklaces displayed in the windows of the jewelry artists of Mykonos will bedazzle even the most sophisticated celebrity.
The contrasts on Mykonos can best be seen early on a Sunday morning, between 6 and 8 am. During these times, worshippers returning to their homes share the streets with night people who have recently left the clubs and discos. Widows covered by traditional black dresses and head scarves pass young women scantily attired; each group stares in amazement at the other, saving their caustic comments for when they are safely out of earshot. Men and women selling produce from their donkeys stand far from young rent boys trying to make one more score before the "night" ends. Music from nearby clubs plays softly, perhaps in deference to the hundreds of church bells tolling all over the island.
Orthodox priests walk about in long, black robes that "swish-swish" as they dust the cobble-stones. Walking behind the priests giggling uncontrollably are tipsy drag queens with heavy make-up and orange-colored hair, their long gowns "swish-swishing" in unison with the robes.
Shopkeepers open their establishments early on Sundays. The visitor sees one of Mykonos' famous icon makers and peaks into his studio. The walls are decorated with magnificent works of art in the Byzantine style, each an original, and beautiful icons of St. George and the Dragon and of the saints are on display. A few doors down the visitor comes upon a leather shop featuring expertly-made handmade leather handbags and sandals, side by side with harnesses, vests, gloves, and ominous-looking whips.
If Mykonos represents secular pleasures sought by the jet set, Delos is its opposite and is the most sacred of the Greek islands. At the very geographical center of the Cyclades, Delos is its spiritual center as well and was once the religious, cultural, and commercial focal point of ancient Greece. It was the jewel of the ancient world, a thriving commercial hub, and the "summer home" of the rich and famous of the time. Although the island is a collection of ruins, they are splendid, magnificent ruins, and one can see Delos' past glory everywhere, especially in the exquisite, world-famous mosaic floors of the ruined palaces.
Mykonos streets The third sister is Rhinia, a haunting, mysterious island four times the size of Delos and separated from it by a small strait. Called alternatively "Great Delos" and "Big Delos," Rhinia is really two sections connected by a narrow isthmus. Both parts are uninhabited and by Greek law, no one is allowed to live on Rhinia or build a permanent home there; there is no running water or electricity and there are no roads on its rocky, hilly terrain. (There are rumors, however, of a few hearty souls who make the island their home) Very few tourists know about the island or have an interest in going there on a day's excursion, so, if you plan it correctly, it is possible to be the only person on one of its four pristine, sandy beaches.
The Cycladic Sisters, Mykonos, Delos, and Rhinia, each with her own personality, are among Greece's most precious treasures. The visitor ventures to the Cyclades will experience the sacred and the profane, the sublime and the absurd, the Ottoman and the Venetian, the glorious ideal and stark reality, the goddess and the harlot, the perfect beauty of the sun god, Apollo, and the wild revelry of the wine god, Dionysius. In short, the visitor will experience Greece.
This Guide to Mykonos is written by Aurelia, author of A Lone Red Apple. It's a lovely novel set in Mykonos and Delos and makes a delightful read for your trip to Greece!
GREECE TOURS & TRAVEL
MYKONOS HOTELS & RESORTS
GREEK ISLANDS •
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