It was already six in the morning. I was trying to get a good picture of my shoes against the metro station tile wall to ornate my Instagram account and satisfy my thirst for taking pictures but never uploading them. My friends know this better. On my way to the ancient island of Finiki, or commonly known as Ios, I was going to meet my travel partner, Sonia at the port of Piraeus that very morning. We were about to start our Easter vacation and I swore a (not so secret) oath to write these lines.
A few hours later we were disembarking somewhere 36.7226° N, 25.2826° E in the South Aegean. Ios is supposed to be the hometown of Homer’s mother and is definitely the hometown of my mother. She was expecting us with her usual smile and her arms wide open to embrace us with love and a chicken “magiritsa” soup that my dad had prepared. “Magiritsa” is an essential dish when we are talking Greek Easter. For the sake of our vegan readers, I am not going to write what it is made of. Feel free to Google that if you have the… guts.
Unable to get freed from the insane life rhythm of Athens we immediately decided to visit our friend Panagiotis at Mylopotas beach. Mylopotas equals the most visited beach of the island and where all the vodkas and tequilas are consumed during the summer months. At this time of year, it was only us, some brave swimmers and an abandoned windsurfing station.
During the next 4 days, we hiked an easy 2,5 kilometers to the port’s entrance where the recently restored lighthouse stands tall. Between 11.30 and 12 o’clock we saluted and waved goodbye to 3 ferries risking our lives (hyperbole) and our photography equipment at 30 meters above sea level with the wind blowing our t-shirts out.
We even tried some yoga moves at the ancient greek style theater “Odysseas Elytis”, designed by architect Peter Haupt and built using the island’s stone and marble. Overlooking Mylopotas beach, it offers an amazing view and you can even spot Santorini in the distance.
Our appetite to explore more led us to the sadly abandoned Museum “Gaiti” of Modern Art and then to the beach of Aghia Theodoti, beaten by the mighty waves of the North. If you are a sunrise lover, this is the place for you. Be sure to stay overnight and wake up before the sun does.
If you are a night lover, Ios has you covered too. During Easter, the bars that remain open cover all tastes in music. Make sure to drink a “raki” and taste George’s tapas at “Katogi” before partying hard.
It’s Easter day and the first day of May. Custom has it that you must steal flowers from your neighbor’s yard and create a flower wreath and hang it by your front door. Fortunately, we didn’t have to steal anything. We used several flowers from our yard to create two beautiful wreaths and accompany spring out of the door. After stuffing with “batoudo”, a traditional dish from the nearby island of Naxos, hometown of my dad, we were lucky to witness the revival of the custom of “Kounia”. In the old, pre-Facebook- days, young boys and girls had the need to socialize. Make connections. Potentially marry. So they had invented a really weird and cool way of getting to know each other. They were hanging swings in remote corners of the town’s alleys. The girl was sitting on the swing and the interested boy was approaching her, singing words of love, admiration, excitement. This custom is revived every Easter day at the town’s main square, and is enriched with music and dance.
The deal with Ios is always left open. You always have a reason to come back to this island, no matter how far is your hometown. Australians, Italians and Irish have proven this in practice, making Ios their home, their business locale, their place of life. I have left back more that 50km of undiscovered paths and trails, new people to meet and hang out, awesome beaches to discover and revisit. Until next time then…