Updated: Apr 27, 2020
This essay was first published in Greek newspaper Kathimerini as “Greek Holiday Trilogy,” “the experiences of a carefree American traveler to Greece, through his first visit to Santorini, the search for a secret beach in Sifnos and a spell at a beach club in Ios.”
Once upon a summer’s weekend in Sifnos I found myself hunting down an isolated beach on this island which has much appeal and gastronomic goodness but not too many secrets—or does it? So when somebody told me I might dig a beach north of Kamares (the main port) called Vroulidia, I went.
The hairpin turns were layered up on top of each other like icing on a Kardashian wedding cake—they just wouldn’t quit. On a high portion of the road ahead of me I noticed two lovely and lightly-dressed women trudging along under the very hot Sifnian sun. The road then turned to dirt and barely clung to the mountain’s edge. The blue sea views were swoon-inducing. I drove as far as I could, but finally had to leave the car under a cliff and continue down to the sheltered beach on foot.
It was too windy for swimming, you know how that goes, so I ordered a lemonade from a lonely beachfront taverna which according to Google Maps is located at “Unnamed Road, Sifnos.” (Perfect.) But after a little while the two ladies turned up—one was German and the other Austrian, and between the three of us they could have made a movie called Uncommon Pallor. There was no one else around, and it wasn’t long before we were exchanging travel tips, joking and taking turns leaping into the luminous water from a makeshift jetty. We kept ordering small homemade nibbles from the taverna kitchen and everything was so good and the owner so nice and smiling that we decided to prolong our unforeseen elation by staying for dinner.
With the sea in front of us we shared a whole grilled fish—something I never would have ordered on my own—that was probably the best piece of fish I have ever tasted. And you haven’t tasted capers until you’ve been to Sifnos. Our après-feast cocktail came in the form of a crescent moon peeking through a ridiculously fuzzy violet sky, and as I drove my new and pale and happy friends back to Kamares nobody asked what time it was, or much cared. Not along that unknown road, anyway...
And then the gods said, Let there be Ios!
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