I could not be on Mykonos and not visit the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. The island of Delos became the safe haven for Leto to give birth to the offspring of Zeus and protected her from the wrath of Hera, Zeus’ official wife.

So says the myth, and I guess that was how the Apollonian cult on this 5 square km island, just off the shore of Mykonos.


I booked a package, a bit on the expensive side, but after visiting Pompeii on my own devices, I have concluded that it is really worth experiencing historical places through the narrative of a guide.


Many were the impressive facts, but I was mostly fascinated by the idea that Delos must have been in the Roman times what Mykonos is now. A pole of attraction for the affluent, a cosmopolitan, multicultural and…barren piece of land.

Delos was the home of 30,000 people before its decline. Compare that to the 10,000 inhabitants of modern 105,000 sq. km Mykonos and you will get my point.

I would most probably not visit Mykonos if it wasn’t for a standing invitation. I have a good friend, a  photographer, who works on the island during the extended summer period. This year, on his third season here, finally everything clicked. We arrived on the island last Monday, starting out from Thessaloniki via Chalkidiki.

Somebody commented on facebook that they did not expect me to choose Mykonos for a holiday. I would rather say that Mykonos chose me. This cosmopolitan place might be associated with parties, socialites, the lgtb community, etc, but once here, one discovers a quite diverse crowd of people.

 

Also, as my friend and I realised, lifestyle is something you take with you anywhere you go. A certain interaction between person and place takes place, certainly, but a new location is yet another backdrop to our temperament, habits and character.

We have been kicking off our days with a good breakfast, quite necessary when planning long days filled with both business and pleasure. “It is important to eat a solid breakfast” has become one of our mottos these days and we have been swearing by it…

Birthday breakfast_Mykonos2016JPG

People around us say that the turnover is not as good as it usually is this time of the year. 

Bad tourism some say, referring to visitors that do not spend much while on the island. 

Bad tourism” we jokingly comment to each other when eating our home cooked meals on the beach, or the house patio without any sense of remorse. That’s what you do when you’re a hybrid between a tourist and a local.

Gemista on the beach_Mykonos_2016JPG

Infinite donut_Mykonos_2016JPGJPG

The biggest paradox about this barren island is actually the flow of money. On the one hand there is the affluent elite, the expensive brands, the luxury villas and exclusive entertainment. On the other hand, the folklore museum is falling apart, the archeological museum is closed for restoration in the middle of the summer, roads are quite badly maintained.  

Jewelry_Mykonos_2016JPGJPG

 In an ideal world, sustainability and infrastructure would be a priority. We are not there yet-sigh.

Cloth drying_Mykonos_2016JPG

IMG_0877JPG

Playful_2_Mykonos_2016JPG

In the meantime however, I am a grateful recipient of what my stay here has to offer, and that is distraction, variation and great company.

IMG_0864JPG

Oh, and I forgot to mention mosquito bites. 

I may not have come here with an intention to party, but my winged tormentors are feasting on my blood all night long leaving me sleepless in all the wrong way!

Mykonos chora by night_Mykonos2016JPG

 Mykonos never sleeps.Why should I be an exception?

My five days in Thessaloniki – between a Monday and a Friday – were just enough to get acclimatized, run errands and re-connect with family and close friends.

louloudadika

The heat was kind to me with temperatures around some comfortable thirty plus degrees Celsius. After midnight of my second day in the capital of Makedonia it poured down with amazing intensity. The roar of thunders sounded as if Zeus was standing on a nearby roof. I fed off salads, fruit and very simple food most of which I bought at my favorite grocer’s, a hole in the wall kind of place where you can find everything from soy-milk and organic vegetables to glutenfree foods, conventional vegetables, nuts and cereals.

IMG_0711JPG

On Saturday I spent the morning cleaning up the apartment and packing before I had lentil soup for lunch at my aunt’s. After hugging her goodbye I took a bus downtown to meet up with a friend. Before hopping into the car to drive to Chalkidiki for a christening, we went for a walk, a talk and a coffee at the heart of the city center and the very streets I used to roam as a student, almost a lifetime ago (the above picture is that of Pinakoti, a bakery where I used to buy wholemeal pita pastries stuffed with soy cheese or wild greens as a student….)

kapani

We set off around 17.30 with the mission of finding our way to the mountainous village of Megali Panagia. We drove past almost dormant villages through lush nature in smooth traffic. We arrived at our destination at 650 m. above sea level safe, sound and a bit hungry.

IMG_0730JPG

Our hosts welcomed us in the garden of their beautiful home overlooking a small vineyard and surrounded by hills in different shades of green. At the background the soaring peak of Mount Athos

Freshly baked pizzas were coming out of the oven and trays of grilled souvlaki and fries from the local tavern were served on the big table. The whole family was working like the parts of a well-oiled machine to accommodate the guests who were slowly dropping in.

IMG_0764JPG

IMG_0750JPG

It was a great weekend and a special occasion. I got to spend time with some of my dearest friends, meet some interesting new people and get acquainted with the little toddler who was at the center of everybody’s attention.

IMG_0749JPG

IMG_0734JPG

We got up at five am on Monday and after the rudimentary morning grooming we set out on our southbound trip before six o’ clock. We drove for more than 700 km with two-three stops to stretch our legs and fuel up. We arrived at the port of Rafina ahead of schedule, which gave us enough time to have a nice lunch and take a walk to the little church of St Nicolas to admire the view before boarding the ferry to Mykonos.

IMG_0832JPG

IMG_0835JPG

We arrived on the island at around 7 pm, 14 hours and 3500 calories later. The driver efficiently compensated lack of sleep with calories and kept afloat with a triple breakfast consisting of a big bowl of yoghurt, sesame bread and a cream stuffed bougatsa pastry, 1 litre of milk in various forms, a cold coffee, three slices of cheese pizza, a portion of briam, a big piece of milk chocolate coated chocolate mousse and an espresso.

 

After some grocery shopping at Delos Super Market we arrived at his solitary abode at the rocky outskirts of the village of Ano Mera, and rounded up the day with a big salad and Cretan rusks.

IMG_0864JPG

I slept on the sofa with the sound of wind in my ears, knowing that tomorrow was going to be a new day at a new place…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am  in the land of myth which is plunged in deep crisis. This must be the sandbox of a capitalist experiment, because no matter what is said in the media there is ni will to help this country come out of depression and develop.


I landed well however, and I have had the time to see people I really care about and do some useful stuff before setting out on a road trip to the south with a very important pit stop in Chalkidiki -worth googling.

Summer is here. With some moments of doubt, but maybe this is as good as it will get and to me this is good enough. I am bracing myself for the 40 something degrees of hot Greek summer next week.

Lennakatten_25062016 2JPG

 

ticket to ride_25062016JPG

Swedish summer may be volatile, but not easily tradeable. It is special in so many ways.

lennakatten_25062016JPG

I am going to part from it for three weeks, but I am sure that our reunion will be sweet.

trehörningen25062016JPG

 

They say that it takes a village to raise a child. This saying has come to life in many ways these past months. As a job-seeker I have had quite a lot of time on my hands. Much of it has gone to identifying job opportunities, writing motivation letters, brushing up my CV, sending applications, making follow-up calls and occasionally going to interviews.

I have also dedicated generous amounts of time on regular exercise with long and extended walks, everyday yoga sessions, bike rides and some weight-lifting. I have cooked and baked as usual, created recipes and blogged.

Very importantly, I have spent a lot of time with my little niece. She and I have been seeing each-other several times a week. I have seen her develop from a little belly bump to a baby with several teeth and a cheerful and humourous disposition .

It is a great thing to care for your immediate family, but the world is bigger than that. So I contacted the Red Cross to see if I would find an opportunity to volunteer that would suit my interests. I ended up going to the nearest primary school, just 5 min on feet from where I live through a program called Adults in School. I assisted the teachers in their regular classes once a week, giving them a helping hand in managing a lively bunch of first graders.

What I definitively realised from start is that there is a big need for extra resources. I think that everyone should at least once attend a primary school-class and see the reality faced by teachers on an everyday basis. I saw so great potential, but also a lot of different personalities and starting points. It is such an eye-opener to see children with attention disorders that are extremely gifted behind their agitated demeanour, children that can write page after page and others that struggle to structure their thoughts and put down a single sentence, children with difficulties in language and maths, children that get the maths, but need help with reading and writing.

It is quite funny to think that parents often expect the school to do the job. That is quite a utopic thought though, even in an advanced education system such as the Swedish one. So many children will fall between the cracks. Teachers can do a lot to teach and inspire children while at school, but learning does not stop outside the walls of an educational institution. Learning is everywhere and some children will get more support from the grow-ups in their life than others.

There is a need for closer ties between schools and homes. There is also a need for a more general engagement in all matters pertaining to education and citizenship.

The first years at primary are like a bottle neck; hence, the need for  increased resources to manage the cognitive leaps that take place. In an ideal world, by the time they finish primary school, children should have acquired some of the tools that will help them develop into independent learners and manage further learning stages.

Recently I met with my fellow volunteers who were almost exclusively retired women, which is quite typical. If you ever get the opportunity to help out at school, as a parent, or as a volunteer, I warmly recommend it.  Your engagement and presence can really make a difference. Especially in troubled times when schools are faced with several challenges.

sofiawise

Clockwise, otherwise & likewise

Chick on a Pea

a glutenfree vegetarian food lab by a chick who loves exploring flavours, people and places!

Sadness Theory

Music with passion for the environment

zee pause café

taking a moment, having a coffee, writing down some thoughts

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 151 other followers