Ios — One beautiful place, man.
That hurt, Ios.
If I told you that I was purposely hit in the head with a skateboard in Ios you probably wouldn’t believe that it was my favourite leg of the trip would you? Well, hear me out.
Ios is much smaller then it’s Cyclade counterparts. It’s population is estimated to be around 2000 (happy tanned Greek people) but fluctuates dramatically throughout the tourist seasons. The landscape is similar to Mykonos in the fact that it could do with some moisturiser (it’s dry as a bone). However given it’s smaller size, there’s a lot more undulating hills and cliff faces which make for a remarkable adventure. We hired quad bikes so we could explore the island further. The locals told us it would only take just over an hour to accomplish a round trip, so we did.
The feeling, the view and the atmosphere on that round trip was incredible. I remember it vividly today as I write this. It felt like we had the island to ourselves as we climbed the colossal mountains, unknowing to what was on the other side. Once we had reached a peak we would turn the corner to the most charming royal blue beach, usually isolated at the base of a winding, sloping road. The weather was in the high thirties with the sun bearing down. As we would zig zag down, the cool air designed the perfect temperature. At the base of each rolling hill we would park our bikes and go for a lazy swim. The water was sharp and unblemished, truly high definition. It was pretty clear from day one; The beauty in Ios is infinite.
I tried to incorporate my meditation practice as much as possible while I was travelling. Sometimes it was tough with an early morning of commuting, but in most countries I managed to take the time to sit down and breathe mindfully. Our hotel was perched up over looking Mylopotas Beach from the east. The buildings are masterly crafted into the hills so we had a unique terrace area with a king size sun bed. I can still recall that exact view in my head as I opened my eyes from the fifteen minute guided meditation. The waves were rolling in, the sun bouncing and beaming off them and the richly textured mountains directly opposite. It’s a view that will stay with me forever.
The locals in Ios are totally aware of the beauty that surrounds them. So when it comes to the working day, they open for a couple hours in the morning, close, then open for a couple more in the evening. I needed to source a new simcard because my Italian sim wasn’t being recognised (Probably Telstra’s fault). We rode to the only phone shop on the island and yep, closed. But they were due to be back any minute, awesome. We weren’t the only people waiting however. There was a disgruntled, presumably English man, also waiting. When the shop owner returned this gentlemen exploded. Apparently his phone was ‘chewing’ his credit (he only bought $20 per month mind you) and was unloading on this poor woman. Now, you could argue it may have just been an awful day for him but when he finally left the giving the shop the bird and cursing the shop owner mentioned it happened regularly, almost weekly. It made me think; this guy is in THE most beautiful place in the world and can still be an ungrateful, unpleasant, piece of turd. He certainly wasn’t deserving. Anyway, back to the good vibes.
So here I am thinking this place literally can’t get any better. If it does there’s a huge danger of accidentally kidnapping myself and living out a few years here on cheese and beer. But then we went to Harmony. Only a few (brutally inclined) metres from our hotel is this gorgeously square Spanish building. Inside, the most delicious Mexican food I’ve ever tasted. We locked ourselves in for quite a session. I’m still not sure we found the bottom of the sangria jug, it was never-ending. My greatest takeaway from Harmony; Before you die, own and operate a business in Ios one day.
With momentum we headed into town to meet an old friend (TVB – the most infamous DJ in Ios). Well seasoned he was as it turns out. We started with two for one vodka red bulls at the Redbull bar (which I’m still not sure was legally endorsed) in which we met a new friend Tasos, who had learnt our language purely from watching English hollywood films. Then, Todd, (our DJ friend) took us on the tour de shot. We bounced back and forth through a few different places which each having their own unique way of delivering a house specialty. Leading us into Slammer Bar. By this stage I was relatively cut so was totally up for anything. They grabbed a motorbike helmet, put it on me, poured a shot then started chanting until I drank it. Once I’d drank it, BOOM! shot to the head. First it was a bat or something, then a skateboard, then a fire extinguisher. With a rattled head and heavy blood alcohol level we pushed on. I don’t really remember much else from that night but apparently it went something like espresso martini > cafe patron > sleep outside a club.
Nursing a heavy head in the morning it was our last day in Paradise. We had one last box to tick while we were here. Sunset at Pathos. Which is prized as the best sunset in the Cyclades. Again, it delivered more than one hundred times only. We scored this nice little booth overlooking the infinity pool and as the the sun blissfully dropped out of the sky, they played this familiar but not so familiar Opera score, a daily ritual apparently.
My favourite part
The beauty found in Ios is like nowhere I’ve witnessed it before. If this isn’t on your things to do, change that, hastily.
One symptom of travelling I found was being so much more aware than I am at home, in a familiar environment. I would pick up on every subtlety as my senses were ignited. If there was one thing I brought home (aside from a plethora of dirty clothes for Mum) it was a more appreciative outlook on the little things. I hope this can serve as some useful info when embarking on your own expedition overseas.
A big shoutout to Kayla, Jess and Daniel for joining me in the jacuzzi.
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