Friday, September 13, 2013

Ios, Greece

Headed to Ios
Ios is a small island that sits comfortably between tourist-filled, Mykonos, and the honeymooner-filled, Santorini.  This island is really just a rock but for some odd reason, it is absolutely magical.  For the most part, this island is for hard partying 20-somethings.  It is saturated with Australians and further speckled with equal parts Norwegian, Swedish and Greeks.

View from the sea
View of the Ios port
Mylopatas is a small beach about 10 minutes drive from the port.  That is where I spent my entire week.

Ios was always.  This was my third trip to Ios, which is not uncommon.  Many tourists visit this island and come back a couple times a year, several times in a lifetime, or end up staying and working the entire summer on a whim.  As I mentioned earlier, its magical, people are drawn together and create lifelong bonds that extend beyond the boundaries of the island. Often times, these bonds are a catalyst to immigration abroad to maintain those family ties.  Several island workers live and work together in Norway or Thailand in the winter months.

Whenever I am in Ios, I stay at an amazing hotel called Ios Resort ( (Don't let the weird photoshopped chick coming out of the pool on the website scare you off).  This place is amazing.  Mike, the owner, is outstanding.  He picks you up at the port and takes you directly to the hotel via private van and offers accommodations that are extremely affordable and quite nice considering you are living on a rock with limited water, sketchy wifi, thousands of drunkards and questionable safety parameters.

Mike anxiously awaiting your arrival at the port

Ios Resort pool

At Ios resort, the rooms are super clean, the staff is extremely friendly and accommodating, the wifi is SUPER strong, Marie makes a mean club sandwich and fruit smoothy and the entire resort is guarded by a 90-lb German Shepard named Tyson, who is infinitely more intimidating than fierce.

guard dog
This "guard dog" is the most lethargic dog I have ever seen.  First of all, he is covered in about 9-lbs of fur which, I am convinced, is why he is so lethargic, because it is too heavy to for him to stand or walk, for that matter.  Tyson moves from breezy corner to breezy corner throughout the day having mastered the wind patterns in the resort for maximum air conditioning.  I almost fell over one day when I saw him "run". wasn't exactly a run, but it was definitely quicker than a walk.  He took about 4 quick steps before collapsing next to the bar, most likely from exhaustion...

Typical readiness pose....tired?
...or drunk???
I kid, I kid.  Tyson is the most loved dog on this tiny rock of an island.  He is probably pet and snuggled on daily more than any other pup around.  He lives a very good life, especially on Sunday BBQ day when he can put down an entire steak in 2 bites.

On Sundays, Mike hosts a BBQ outfitted with steak, sausages, macaroni salad and a beer for 10 euros.  They have live music and a lot of the workers from the island come to dine with hotel choice and probably a coupling of camaraderie and convenience. Dinner...done.

Life on Ios is a mixture of lazy and fun... (read: a continuous cycle of wasted drunkenness and hungover.) Dinner is generally accepted around 9:30-10pm and what follows is a miriage of bar hopping in the village until 7am.  Our particular routine was as follows....

12:30pm - wake up and eat breakfast
2:00pm - go to the beach or pool (Hermes, Ios Resort or Free)


5:00pm - go to Harmony on the cliffs to play Backgammon and listen to live music


7:30pm - walk home, shower and nap
10:00pm - get dinner

Cousins: Elisabeth and Linn.  Twinsies: Emily and Hosanna

Midnight - Start the night off at Astra for a muddled fruity concoction and live DJ

Hosanna, Emily and Elisabeth with a Hani photo bomb!

1:00am - go to Coo Bar for an espresso martini and live DJ

2:30am - go to Slammer Bar for just one shot (wink wink)

At Slammer Bar, for 5 Euros, you can don a helmet, take a tequila popper shot and get bashed on the head with either a hammer or a skateboard.  Your reward???  A free singlet (tank top).  Nice, right?  No thanks.  Alisha did though.

3:00am - go to Circus for some live music and a Johnny's Special

Emily, Pip and Linn in "Linn's corner".  Bartender/owner, Ben giving us his best "Blue Steel"

4:30am - wave at the boys at Rehab, maybe stop in for a shot (never again, read on)
4:45am - go to PASH for a Pash drink and live DJ

This lovely photo is what they affectionately call "strawpedo". Its a race of sorts.  You put a straw in a Bacardi Breezer to let the air flow through, then chug it as fast as you can.  This is a miraculously caught photo finish of Ben, from Circus, coming in as 1st place loser to one of the bartenders at PASH.

6:00am - go to the Bakery (aka Hollywood bar) to sober up
7:00am - walk home...its daylight...oh shit....sleep.

For the most part, this was an unwaivering routine.  However, this year I did manage to go to 6 new restaurants I had never been too, Pithari, Delphini, Far Out Sushi, Augusto, Ciao Bella and Grandma's. And, I also made it to Fun Pub ( and Free Beach Bar (, which were pleasant additions.  Oh, and how is it that I visited Ios twice and never new there was any shopping on the island.  There are a million little shops, you just need to turn left, away from the bars to find them....LOL.  Our favorite little shop was OiOi Geeza, a retro boutique clothing shop ( across from Rehab.  The owner, Mark "OiOi", is an absolute riot.

Pithari Restaurant
The ceiling was lined with bougainvillea vines...stunning

Free Beach Bar

Erik sandwich

I have been mistaken for Hosanna on several occasions in Stavanger and on Greece and this was no exception.  There was  a rumor on the island that Hosi's sister was here, so everyone kept asking me if I was either Hosi or her sister.  It was quite funny and very flattering, so I owned it posting "twinsies" photos on Facebook all week.

I also feel the need to justify that I'm not a total wastoid.  I did find a tennis partner on the island.  It was Dr. Yannis father-in-law, Kevin.  Kevin was a squash player, which, if you're an avid tennis player, you know that it is incredibly difficult to play someone who has mastered squash at a high level.  They kind of smack the ball with a flick of the wrist so it comes in with great pace and has zero top spin whatsoever. They have also mastered the art of drop shots and are incredibly fast.  His best friend, George, offered me all of the treasures of the island, plus free dinner and drinks at Delphini if I could embarrass him in tennis.  Not just beat him, but embarrass him. Needless to say, I lost, which I really hadn't expected. Unfortunately, also it seems to be a common theme in my tennis adventures abroad.

In my defense though, I don't think the score was indicative of play....that's what all losers say though.  Kevin had originally set up participation expectations of only playing one set (in case I sucked, I think), citing emphysema and knee issues blah blah blah.  However, after the first set, he offered another....then asked if we could play the following day, too.  We both agreed that it was a really good match and we had some really great rallies.  I'll tell you, the old man could run.  He was so quick and got to everything...and I ran his ass back and forth with all I had.  Emphysema, schmemphysema.

Sweaty Loser.  My record is 1-3 in Europe. Not good.  
However, I am pleased to say that now, I have played on American hard courts, French asphalt courts, German clay courts and Greek "grass" courts (they were really more astroturf than grass).

Three years ago, there was a tragedy on the island taking the life of the dearly loved business owner, Gier, from Harmony.  On Thursday night, there was lovely tribute to his memory at Ciao Bella.  His son, Ruben, came to the restaurant bearing his father's guitar and serenaded close friends and family with some of his father's favorite songs.  Gier was left handed, but Ruben is a righty, so he flipped the guitar, had it restrung and the bridge inverted to make it his own while still preserving the magic it held for his father. The collection of songs that he and his brother, Daniel, played provided the perfect trifecta of heartfelt, gut-wrenching and soul-touching emotion.

Ruben on the guitar, Daniel singing
Hosanna and the boys' mom, Liz
Elisabeth, Hosanna, Emily all gussied up
A few guest stars came out to contribute songs as well.  Clemen, the crooner,  broke out in some A cappella

Lorna did a raspy, almost blues-like acoustic rendition of "No Diggity" that was incredible.

Maya and Nash, from Harmony played a myriad of beautiful songs, but I forgot to get a photo (doh).  And the evening was closed with a tearful rendition of Hallelujah by Ruben.  The whole evening was absolutely beautiful, right down to the sunset it offered prior to dinner.

Sunset off of the Harmony patio

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