Published on July 31st, 2017 | by Ann Rickard0
Greek Holiday – Part 1
Like those who have visited the same camping ground for decades and find it suddenly sold and replaced by a new resort, or those who have rented a much-loved country shack for years to learn it will be demolished to make way for a road, we feel our beloved Greek Island destination of Psarou Bay on Mykonos has changed so much, it has left us behind.
We discovered this small bay about 14 years ago, an on-line search, and came across a family-run place called Soula Rooms: inexpensive, right on the beach, owned and operated by Soula and her family. We arrived to find a series of modest but immaculate white-washed villas, a small stretch of sandy beach, fishing boats bobbing on the clear water, an unpretentious taverna next door. A Greek Island dream come true.
We have never missed a year visiting this delightful place.
Now it has changed. Not for the worse…. that could never be said. But the owner of the small taverna next door is no longer small. He is big. And fashionable. So big, so fashionable, his name reaches around the globe, and people come from great distances just to visit his once small taverna, now a swish restaurant with queues of glamorous hopefuls and a bevy of security men to keep things orderly.
The small fishing boats on the bay have been replaced by super yachts with scandalously wealthy owners whose demands are met with alacrity.
The sandy beach in front of the restaurant and in front Soula Rooms is now crowded with sun-lounges jammed so close you could anoint your neighbour’s back with sun-lotion without moving an inch.At 120 euros (approximately $175) a day for the hire of two lounges it is astounding they fill, but every day disappointed people are turned away if they arrive after midday.
To the right of the crammed lounges a small patch of free sand was available for those who did not mind sitting on their own towels (mostly Australians like us who are outraged at the thought of paying to sit on a beach.) Now half a dozen day-villas have been built on the small patch, very lovely with their own lap pools, but at 5000 euros to hire for the day it is only Saudi or Russian billionaires who occupy them.
Behind the fancy restaurant, a small boutique that once sold swimwear and kaftans is now a series of elegant shops selling Rolex, Shambala, and other high-end brand names that scare us.
Beach boys run all day delivering magnums of Dom Perignon in giant ice-buckets to tanned people on sun lounges who do not think it outrageous to pay 120,000 euros for their favourite bubbles.
We are immersed in hedonism.
But there is the glimmer of hope. Soula and her family have kept things simple on their patch of paradise and have not given in to the offers to buy them out. Their villas are still immaculate, the family welcoming. The view of the yacht-filled bay might be billion-dollar but Soula’s prices have remained the same.
Soula Rooms is a beacon of hope for those who like just the sea and sand and clear water of a Greek Island. It is a tiny oasis of reality in an ocean of preposterous ostentation.
We cling on…take the same villa at Soula’s every year, buy our cheap wine from a small shop over the hill and make our own Greek salads to eat while we look at the yachts and wonder if we will be back next year.