Cycladic Island number three for this trip through Greece is Ios. One of the joys for us has been the ease of traveling island-to-island on the Greek ferries. There is an almost astounding number of boats that ply the Aegean Sea moving people and vehicles and goods from one island to another. There seems to be a variety of companies and speeds and routes and types of boats, but in all it makes it easy, comfortable, and even fun to move along.
We weren’t too happy with our hotel on Folegandros; we didn’t like the location and the service just seemed to miss the mark. Here in Ios, though, we found the sweet spot. The two major settlements on the island are around the port and then up the hill in Chora, which is what all the main island villages seem to be called. Our hotel was maybe two-thirds of the way up the hill so we had reasonable access to both the port and the village. And the hotel itself was beautiful; there was a beautiful pool overlooking the sea and we had a great little balcony for watching the sunset.
Compared to Folegandros and Milos, our first two stops, Ios is much more of a party town than anything we’ve seen before. On our first day I was walking up into the village and saw a sign on a club that indicated it opens – opens – at 3:00 AM. And entrance is free if you get there that early; the cover charge only starts at 3:30 AM. Even when I was young that would have seemed crazy. Who goes out to start the night at 3:00 AM? But sure enough, when I would go out for a morning run at 6:30 or 7:00 I would see kids apparently headed home after a night (morning) of partying. Strange.The village itself was beautiful, all narrow, winding streets with whitewashed buildings. Lots and lots of bars, and some good restaurants. Like all these islands Ios has some interesting history, though in this case the line between history and myth is vague. It is here, you see, that the great classic Greek poet Homer – the blind author of the Iliad and the Odyssey – is said to be buried, and you can go to the northern part of the island to see his grave. The only problem is that historians are not at all certain that a Homer ever actually lived. This school of historians think that these works were really the results of countless and nameless tinkerers in an oral tradition and that “Homer” should be seen as simply a label given to that tradition. So if he did live, his grave is here. If he didn’t live it’s just a pile of rocks. For us the real delight in Ios was discovering Mylopatas Beach. I was just kind of randomly out for a walk late one morning after a haircut and followed the road out along the coast. The road was quite a ways up a hill when suddenly I came around a corner and saw what looked like an amazing beach below. So down I go and … Wow! Mark & I proceeded to spend the better part of two days there. Spectacular water, nice sand, really comfortable beach beds, great rocks to lie on if that was your preference (and it was mine for a while), and even a nice Greek taverna perched just slightly up the hill where you could have good food with great views. We really thought it was one of the great beaches we’ve ever seen, on a par with our all-time favorites in Thailand and Sardinia. The only downside, and we’ve seen it in a variety of places, is that businesses on the beach have come to believe that a great beach experience requires loud, pounding club music all day. It’s a mystery to me why they think that is preferable to the gentle washing ashore of waves, but then maybe I’m just getting old. OK, I am getting old, but still, I’m not the only one.
Next stop Mykonos where my brother Al and his wife Anita are joining us for the last half of our Greek adventure.