Astypalea is very unspectacular. It is also tortuously hard to get to: an eleven-hour boat voyage or an impossible to book plane trip from Athens. The island itself is mostly barren with little vegetation or points of interest, except its spectacular looking capital perched on a hill (complete with a fort at the top) where, however, there is very little to do and see, except gaze at dramatic views of the sea. The beaches are few and relatively decent: again nothing breath-taking by Greek standards. The pictures at the ‘Greece’ set of my flickr pictures should give an idea.

Still, I had there one of the best holidays in my life. At night the sky is full of stars, which shine bright and clear even for my myopic eyes. There is beauty to be found in small things everywhere. Moreover, there were just enough people in mid-July to make it lively but uncrowded. The mix of people was nice and balanced: not too many families, not too many couples getting it on everywhere, not too many screaming kids, not too many pensioners, not too many gangs of despondent males, not too many lonely types, not too many triplets of silly-acting divas. The food was really good and very cheap. The place we stayed (Mouras Aparments in Livadi, a seaside hamlet) was clean, tidy, 30 m from the beach and very good value for money.

Above all, we ended up making friends with lots of people everywhere we would go: restaurants, shops, cafes, beaches, the bar we would make our haunt (out of the just four available). Especially the bar was animated by an amazing DJ tuning his set to his dancing audience (us), an overzealously generous barman (free tequila shots for all dancers times five) and an extremely friendly and warm crowd. This is the Mylos bar, by the way, and dancing starts late (after 2 am). Hence, we saw dawn break twice in less than a week, on our last night we had to leave early (around 2.30 am). In the airport gate and on the tarmac (before boarding one of those preciously overbooked flights), we shook hands and kissed with a bunch of people, including that guy in the bar who forced the bartender to learn how to mix martinis. From me (very embarrassing).

That’s just the facts. The feeling would be harder to convey (I have to rush to the bank). And I hope it will stay with us for some time.

New Age freaks claim that Astypalea is a chakra (or whatever) of positive energy. The empirical basis for such a conjecture seems to be there.


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