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Sunday, 16 November 2008

Agape Love to Mykonos

Written by Kelly Saunders
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Agape Love to Mykonos, travel Mykonos, travel Greece, Agios Nikolaos, Alefkantra, Chora, Kelly SaundersAncient Greek philosophers in the era of Plato, Aristotle and other timeless scholars have used the term “agape” to depict a deep emotion of genuine love, endearing affection, and warmth towards another. As expressed centuries ago, I am compelled to feel the same admiration for Mykonos, the unique scenery and the charismatic inhabitants of this island.

 

Stepping onto this picturesque island you are entranced at first sight and a sense of tranquility washes over you. The warmth and hospitality of the people, their genuine smiles, the cobble-stoned narrow side streets and the vast deep blue Aegean liberates you and draws you into this sleepy, ancient town. According to legendary Greek mythology, the island of Mykonos was named suitably for the heroic icon Mykonos – grandson of Apollo.

 

At daybreak the rays of the coral sun shines on the island and radiates a spectrum of colors onto the buildings, churches, tavernas and of course, windmills. Windmill Hill, located in Chora near Alefkantra, is quite magnificent from any angle. Situated on a pinnacle cliff side they stand guard over the island behind and seem as though they are waving in the approaching ferries and seamen. Once having over twenty windmills on the island used for grinding grain they are now a noble part of Mykonos’ historical splendor though only about six remain.

Agape Love to Mykonos, travel Mykonos, travel Greece, Agios Nikolaos, Alefkantra, Chora, Kelly Saunders

Watching the town of Mykonos awaken around you is captivating. The shutters on the blue chipped windows slowly open and a curious face peers out. Animals stir and stretch. The aroma of coffee travels on the wind. The sound of children echoes through the streets. Widows dress in black and kiss the churches. The sea laps against the shoreline. Fisherman prepare their nets and the Gods yawn, for it is time to start another day.

Agape Love to Mykonos, travel Mykonos, travel Greece, Agios Nikolaos, Alefkantra, Chora, Kelly SaundersMany Greeks begin their day with a visit to the local church to pay homage to the gods and the deceased. There are so many churches on Mykonos that scores of them are not even noted on most maps and there are approximately sixty in the Town of Chora alone.

 

 

There is an immense sadness but profound respect when you observe the residents gently kissing the churches, kneeling down, always covering their legs and arms to avoid offense.

 

The general lifestyle of the locals is calm, laid-back and easygoing. They always recognize the importance of family, social circles, gatherings and festivals. With the onslaught of tourists, technology and commercial advances, the people of Mykonos still reflect deeply on the past and the importance of traditions and religious beliefs.


Agape Love to Mykonos, travel Mykonos, travel Greece, Agios Nikolaos, Alefkantra, Chora, Kelly Saunders

Agios Nikolaos blue domed church located in the Town of Chora near Little Venice


The hustle and bustle of the morning continues. Shops open their doors, cashiers sweep the sidewalks, and cafés prepare their menus. They write the fresh catch of the day in colorful chalked cursive, bakeries and pastry shops start rolling and shaping baguettes, breadsticks (bastounakia), pita dough, baklava, ravani (pound cake consistency), crepes and churning the gelato, all in preparation for the communal feasts of the day. There used to be many strict traditions of Greek dining habits and regulations for families and guests. In this era a more conventional dining ritual is performed but still respected and never missed. Traditionalists still appreciate that meal time is a social gathering to talk business, share the local gossip, and discuss the news and weather.

 

 

Agape Love to Mykonos, travel Mykonos, travel Greece, Agios Nikolaos, Alefkantra, Chora, Kelly SaundersFortunate enough to experience these exceptional meals and delicacies carefully prepared by the best cooks in the world, I had a modest nibble of precisely everything I could. The meal consisted of baked feta (the salty, bubbling feta cheese is complimented by a sweet, juicy tomato, spicy red onions and olives, a dribble of olive oil and squeeze of a lemon rind), stuffed grape leaves (Dolmades – an Arabic term meaning something stuffed), char-grilled octopus (crispy tentacles and tender meat underneath served with fresh vegetables and rice), fresh tzaziki sauce made with the freshest cucumbers and handmade yogurt served with warm pita triangles drizzled with olive oil for dipping and fish soup (Psaro Soupa) made with fresh fish, onions, vegetables, lemon juice, garlic, tomatoes and white wine. It was so incredibly succulent that I sat there for two hours relaxing, digesting and watching the people bustle around me. I enjoyed it all with a glass of locally produced wine and soaked in the scenery, the food and the culture.

Being so much more than a tourist destination, Mykonos has a timeless, exhilarating silence and naive complexity about it. This is Gods country and the reflections in the water and spirits in the mountains murmur the secrets of this town. A magical and enigmatic place that tells tales and stories of heroic and sinister mythological characters to inspire, arouse and encourage your mind to wander.

©Kelly Saunders

Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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