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Agape Love to Mykonos

Partaking in Living Ancient Rituals

Street in Mykonos with woman sitting outside
Street in Mykonos with woman sitting outside.

Ancient Greek philosophers in the era of Plato, Aristotle, as well as other scholars have used the term “agape” to depict a deep emotion of genuine love, endearing affection, brotherly love and warmth towards one another. It is hard not to feel the same admiration for Mykonos, with its unique scenery, and the charismatics of the inhabitants of this magical 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, the genuine smiles, the ancient ghosts of the past, whispers around corners, cobble-stoned narrow side streets, and the vast deep blue Aegean liberates you and draws you into this sleepy town. According to legendary Greek mythology, the island of Mykonos was named appropriately for the their heroic icon god 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 the windmills, causing quite the stir. Windmill Hill, located in Chora near Alefkantra, is quite magnificent from any angle. Situated as a pinnacle cliffside, the windmills stand guard over the island behind them and seem as though they are waving in the ferries and seaman approaching. Once having over twenty windmills on the island used for grinding grain, they are now a noble part of Mykonos’ historical ancient splendor and only about six remain.

Watermill in Mykonos.
Watermill in Mykonos.

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

Mykonos Church Mykonos Sailor
Mykonos Church Mykonos Town

Many Greeks begin their day with a visit to the local church to pay homage to the deceased and to the gods. There are so many churches on Mykonos that scores of them are not even noted on most maps and there are approximately 60 in the town of Chora alone. There is an immense sadness mixed with a profound respect when observing the residents gently kissing the churches, kneeling down, always covering their legs and arms to avoid offense and praying—knowing that they have possibly lost someone dear and are deeply devoted to their strict religious beliefs.

The way of life of the locals is calm, laid-back, and easygoing—always recognizing the importance of family, social circles, gatherings, and festivals. Even with the onslaught of tourism, technology, and commercial advances, the people of Mykonos are still deeply rooted in the past and their lives reflect the importance of their traditions.

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

The hustle and bustle of the morning commences. Shops open their doors, cashiers sweep the sidewalks, cafés prepare the menus; writing 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 were many strict ancient traditions in Greek dining habits and regulations in place 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, negotiate a deal, consult advice, and discuss the news and weather.

Mykonos meal Mykonos seafood meal
Some of the meals to be sampled on the island.

Fortunate enough to experience these exceptional meals and delicacies carefully prepared by some of the best cooks in the world, I had a nibble of everything I could. The meal consisted of baked feta (the salty, 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 succulent that I sat there for two hours relaxing, digesting and watching the people bustle around me enjoying the scenery and soaking in the culture, the food, and the people. Although wine is not the main attraction of the island, there is one notable producer—Nikos Asymomtytis. His specialties include a very dry bianco (white) and rosso (red) known under the Paraportiano label.

Being so much more than a tourist destination, Mykonos has a timeless, exhilarating silence and naive complexity about it. This is "God's 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.

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