An unforgettable holiday in Ios Greece

me-in-iosI first went to Ios during the seventies, with a group of 10 other guys, all friends and all mad! For the past three years we had been taking our usual summer holidays together,usually to Paros or Mykonos but Ios was fast becoming a famous party island so we decided that summer of 1977 to head there.

We took our backpacks, our guitars and bottles of ouzo and boarded on a greek ferry. As far as I remember it was the FB/Aegean – and sadly, no longer exists.

When we arrived on Ios, we booked some rooms at a house near to the port for a few drachmas a day – this was well before the introduction of the Euro. The pain in the neck, however, was all the steps we had to climb up and down everyday that led to Chora, the main town of Ios, where all the partying happened. Anyway, our first night was amazing.

First of all, we went to eat something.It was about 10pm and the small streets of the village were full of tourists, 90 percent of whom were under the age of 30. Sometimes we had to jump over gangs of them, who were lying in the street, drinking and singing.

ios in the 70'sWe found a restaurant and we all jumped inside, it was crowded and we couldn’t find anywhere to sit. We asked the owner if there was anything left to eat and he told us that we could have what was left in the kitchen for nothing! En masse we stormed into the kitchen and found some a big lamarina (huge baking pan) with baked potatoes the typical cheap Greek food.

Fortified with this free supper, washed down by copious bottles of Ouzo we then headed for the famous Ios Club. This club was the most famous club on the island and still exists today its location on the top of the Chora with an amazing view to the blue Aegean. Every sunset they use to play classical music so you could enjoy the sunset with Chopin or Vivaldi and a Tequila sunrise.

The music was mind-blowing for us and every time I hear this music today, I am immediately mentally pulled back to 1970s Ios. Pink Floyd, Stevie Wonder, The Rolling Stones and all the best disco music of the 70s. The club was quite different to the sophisticated club/bars you might find today. No waiters, but continuous self service, with the cages housing the bottles of Retsina emptying and needing to be refilled every 10 minutes.

Crowds of young ones dancing on the huge dance floor which was covered only in a layer of cement – forget the posh floor coverings that you might find today. For those revelers who wanted to sit down and couldn’t find a chair, no problem, the natural rocks were a perfect resting place.I just Googled a bit and show pictures from Ios club as it is today and I couldn’t believe to my eyes how things have change (especially the clientele) young Greek yuppies with ties high heeled shoes ech…!! for Goad sake ,well I’m getting old I guess.

mylopotas beach iosIn the next days and weeks to follow our gang became the most famous at the Ios club. We were young and crazy and acting the fool to make others laugh and gain popularity was the way to be. I recall one such incident. The music of Santana was playing, all the other clubbers were doing serious 70s disco dancing to this fantastic band and there, in the middle of the dance floor, were we – dancing the Syrtaki ( the dance performed by Zorba in the film, Zorba the Greek). Everyone collapsed with laughter when they saw us and the owner kept up a free flow of Retsina to encourage our madness and entertain the clubbers.

After a few days we decided to move on to Mylopotas beach. In my opinion, this beach is one of the best Greek beaches. We slept under the stars in our sleeping bags at the western end of the beach. During these days the only building at Myopotas was a hotel and the excellent self-service restaurant, Mykonyatis.

At the other end of the beach, as far as I can remember there was another hotel and a few houses – that’s all! Over the next few days our gang became the biggest show at the Mykoniatis restaurant.

Let me share with you our daily programme…At 7am when the sun hit our heads, we were out of our sleeping bags, taking off all our clothes and running down towards the sea, screaming ‘Geronimo’ as we went, then, climbing onto the rocks and trying to outdo each other with our ‘athletic’ jumps and dives back into the sea – all the time very aware of any girls watching us. This was followed by sunbathing and ‘kamaki’. When hunger called, or just for a change of scenery, we took up our places at the cement tables of Mykonyatis and ordered about 10 small bottles of ouzo and a bite to eat.

As five of us were professional rock musicians we had our guitars with us and, as the ouzo began to take effect we would begin to play. The owner of Mykoniatis encouraged us to play as it drew in his customers, and in return we received as much free spaghetti with tomato sauce as we could eat. With the combination of the bright sunshine, the good food and drink served in Mykoniatis and our music everybody was having a great time, joining in with the singing and keeping us there playing until exhaustion overtook us.

However, we did not rest, we stayed there until early evening and then took the bus to go back up to the town for the rest of the night life. I won’t mention here about our Greek kamaki adventures! no need to say that we were all young, nice looking Greek boys who knew how to seduce with their music, humor and charm.

One thing I want to mention is that during this time I was studying in Paris at the Paris VIII Vincennes University and, when at the end of the summer, I returned to my studies in France I was walking along close to the University when I heard someone yelling out ‘ Homfei Bogi, Homfei Bogi’

This was the nickname (actually Humphrey Bogart if you haven’t already worked it out) I acquired whilst I was in Ios, because of my small stature, facial features and hat. I turned around and saw a guy approaching me, beaming from ear to ear and repeating ‘Homfei Bogi’. I didn’t recognise him but he remembered me as being one of the guys of the crazy gang in Ios that summer. It’s a small world, eh!

I wonder now how much Ios has changed and, although I have not recently spent a summer in Rhodes Greece or Kos (or any of the other popular tourist spots for today’s youth) I often think of the high spirits and madness of my youthful summers and when I see television coverage of crazy kids in Rhodes I find myself thinking, ‘do it boy…because in another 30 years you will have all the responsibilities of middle-aged me’