posted by EDITOR on 12-Jan-2017 13:14
Despite the economic upheaval in Greece and refugee turmoil across Europe, idyllic Mykonos remains a sanctuary of peace and a party playground. Marc Andrews makes a pilgrimage.
Photography Marc Andrews; and courtesy of XLsior.
For well over five decades the Greek island of Mykonos has been synonymous with gay tourism and tolerance. Here is an island of beautiful vistas, stunning sunsets and picturesque windmills. Nestled in the warm, turquoise Mediterranean waters, it offers gay beaches to rival any in Brazil, Spain or Australia, gay clubs that may be the best in the world (we’re forgetting about Berlin here for a minute) and an openness to the gay lifestyle that has made it a legendary homo destination since the 1960s.
For my fifth visit (spread over 22 years) to the island, we hired a villa in the hills with a group to have a different experience of Mykonos life. The villa at the aptly-named Panormos Beach is in a word, breathtaking. Views of the beach, the hills and surrounding villas provide serenity and sensuality. This may well be the secret charm of Mykonos and its magic – a place on earth that is both sexy and romantic.
From the swathes of lycra swimwear on display stretching from Super Paradise Beach (the island’s original gay beach) to the current hotspot of Elia Beach, this is as gay as it gets and as good as it gets. With the XLsior dance party week thrown into the mix at the end of August (conveniently timed to begin as Barcelona Circuit Festival ends), nothing else can rival Mykonos in the men, music and mayhem stakes. The parties held over the XLsior week are big productions featuring name DJs, special stages (the beach party at Elia offering up one of the loudest sound systems in the developed world) and thousands of eager, horny, gay men who want nothing more than to party the night away and get to know you better. Along with their boyfriends too, usually.
This year Mykonos finally faced a little more competition from its old rival, Ibiza. After years of winding down its “party all night” policy and policing the ones that were held very strictly, the Spanish island realised it was losing business… especially the pink pound. That meant that new parties, new rules and a less obvious policing policy were called for and so the numbers were up again this year. Ibiza also has another ace up its sleeve – the gay beach on the island is actually one of the best, offering not just sandy shores and warm water but a huge cruising hinterland of dunes and quiet paths that gay visitors have long put to very good use.
That said, Ibiza is not a particularly beautiful island with its ugly high rises and hordes of rowdy straights intent on getting drunk or high or both at the same time. >> >> Mykonos has never been caught up in its own success. Development on the island, while controlled, has always kept with the original style of the housing. The white and blue homes have been transformed into white and blue B&Bs, luxury hotels and even backpacker hostels. The island offers everything in accommodation from budget to high-end, much like its multitude of restaurants and shops – from souvenir T-shirts to designer swimwear with price tags of well over 100 euros.
Mykonos, you see, has luckily been spared the Greek financial crisis. The driver who picked us up at the airport, working for three months in Mykonos to make money, told us that, “Mykonos is another country.” Untouched by what goes on in the rest of Greece, prices are high, especially in the high tourist season of August, and demand is even higher. This year some American tourists got scared so there were noticeably less Abercrombie And Fitch T-shirts wandering about but that was more than compensated by the Italian head-to-toe D Squared mafia taking over.
On one day during our stay, though, Mykonos was practically overrun by Americans and Australians when an Atlantis Cruise came into port. It was as if half of Sydney and New York had combined to occupy this small island for the day. The only proviso was that they all had to be back on board the ship by 4am to head off to the next port, Santorini. We heard that many missed the early morning boarding call and had to catch a ferry to Santorini instead. Yes, the partying on Mykonos was that good that they just didn’t want to leave. At least that’s one particularly theory…
Our week here was not all just gay dance parties and beach catwalks. We also ventured out for an all-gay day cruise to the nearby historical island of Delos. Without a speck of shade, this island has been an archaeological site for centuries and is one of the most revered places for the Greek gods. It’s also the reason nearby Mykonos got its start in the tourist trade. Cruise ships carrying visitors to Delos would dock at Mykonos to take advantage of the many tavernas found here, and so this little island became a cosmopolitan, international hub. Today no place can come close to Mykonos (sorry Ibiza) and it’s likely to stay that way for some time to come.
This island of austere beauty is almost like a place of pilgrimage for gay men. You may visit Mykonos only once in your life, or more if you are lucky, but you will always want to return.
More: Special thanks to www.martikas.com for looking after Marc Andrews in Mykonos.
The Gay Athens And Mykonos phone app was updated this year to maximise the gay holiday experience, whether you’re travelling to the island, or staying on the mainland in Greece. The app makers say their goal is to provide gay travellers with all the necessary insights and information so they can have “the time of their life” in Athens and Mykonos.Bars, clubs, cruising spots, saunas and gay-friendly restaurants and accommodation are all included, along with photo galleries, links, contact info and maps. It’s like having a gay Greek best friend to show you around. Yassou!
Do’s And Don’ts On The Gayest Island In The World
Do hire a car and explore the island and its many splendid beaches.
Don’t hire a scooter or a quad bike and become a victim of the “Mykonos tattoo”.
Do make the effort to take a day trip to the nearby archaeological island of Delos.
Don’t miss the chance to spend a day or two in nearby Santorini admiring the sunset.
Do visit Elia Beach, which also features a small nude gay beach at one end.
Don’t forget to lather yourself – all of yourself! – in suncream. Temps can rise above 40C.
Do pace yourself during Xlsior party week. Too much party will kill you.
Don’t overdo the party treats either – high temps and getting high are not a good mix.
Do wander about the lovely and romantic old Mykonos town around sunset.
Don’t leave it too late to book accommodation, especially if you’re visiting in August.
© DNA 190
1 comments, 1572 views, last reply:12-Jan-2017 13:14
posted by EDITOR on 12-Jan-2017 13:14