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Mykonos & Delos

Mykonos and Delos

Mykonos & Delos

The Cyclades, all 30 or 40 stony white knuckle-bones haphazardly tossed upon Homer’s wine-dark Aegean Sea, are well-named. Feminine nouns one and all, their names are pure poetry. In fact, Greece’s Nobel-Prize-winning poet, Odysseus Elytis, simply ticked off a catalogue of them in his great poem, “Axion Esti,” with little need for further narrative: they sing off the page. Mykonos, Sikinos, Serifos, Folegandros, Andiparos, Despotiko, Anafi, Poliegos, etc. For Greeks and Philhellenes alike, Greece is the islands, and the islands are Greece. Once seen, once visited, they engender a longing that no other place on earth can satisfy. Once beguiled by what Mykonos’s enticing, pink twilight does for the human face, or stunned by Delos’s abandoned and ruin-rich metropolis beneath the midday sun, you will find you must return.

Mykonos's magical September sunset.

Pronounced, in Greek, kee-KLAH-theez, the island group’s name derives from kyklos, the Greek word for “circle,” and the root of such English words as cyclone and cycle. Scattered in the middle of the Aegean, the Cyclades were believed to encircle Delos, the holiest Greek isle of antiquity, already a flourishing shrine in the second millennium B.C., and revered as the birthplace of Apollo. Early Bronze Age sailors, instrument-poor and loath to leave the sight of land, used these marble outcroppings in the sea as way-stations en route from Ionia to mainland Greece. Today’s travelers use local ferries, with their rich strings of set summer routes, to island-hop from one Cycladic pearl to another; leaving Mykonos when they tire of its varied delights, for Paros, Syros, Siphnos or Santorini. . .finally plunging farther south to Crete, whose waters are warm well into October many years.

Bronze Age shrine near Platy Yialos