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High life

Mykonos has turned into hell (I still blame Jackie Kennedy)

But further east, poor craggy Aegean islands are having it far, far worse

15 August 2015

9:00 AM

15 August 2015

9:00 AM

The wind is maddening and constant, and gets stronger as the sun falls below the horizon. The streets are lined with plastic and rubbish, the beaches covered with greasy bodies and sunbeds, and ghastly music blasts away all day and night. Motor scooters without mufflers and cars choke the tiny roads that lead to the centre of town, where literally thousands of sunburned young people wearing expensive rags down tequilas with a thousand-mile look on their unshaven faces. Welcome to Mykonos, once a brothel of an island, now reverting to type after 30 years as a gay paradise.

I am on a 125-foot schooner, the Aello, which was built in Hamburg, Germany, in 1921, by Max Oertz, and commissioned by Anthony Benakis, a great Greek benefactor. She has been totally and perfectly refitted by her present owner, a Greek ship owner, and I have chartered her for a fortnight’s cruise with my son and grandchildren. The crew is splendid, all six of them Greek. They love to sail — even under these storm-like conditions. Our one and only mistake was to come to this hideous island, now overrun by nouveaux-riche ‘cool’ people. Vulgarity rules the roost as never before. What is interesting is that average room rates for Mykonos hotels exceed those of luxury hotels in Monaco. Those are two hellholes I will never again get caught in, as God is my witness. One of the crew went out to get rid of the rubbish and ordered a local beer from a shack. It cost €20.

Mind you, Paros was wonderful, with friendly locals, tasty food and without music blasting throughout the night. I saw many friends, dined al-fresco and drank wonderful chilled Greek white wine. As I write, I’m waiting for my daughter and her hubby to get to this modern Sodom and then we’ll head back there.


What makes this trip fun is the crew and its willingness to put up the sails and to travel. I have many friends who have houses on Mykonos, but they use them like Fort Zinderneuf. They venture out only when absolutely necessary. Once upon a time this was a magical island, with unblemished beaches, very clear water and very few visitors, as Mykonos is 90 miles from Athens with an open sea between. Then Jackie Kennedy Onassis visited and bought some local trinkets. In no time at all, every house turned into a boutique and you know the rest. The building went into overdrive and houses sprouted everywhere. It got so bad that the local authority had to install traffic lights in the middle of town. Boutique hotels are dotted all over the wretched place like the Taleban outside Kabul, and large tourist boats disgorge thousands of Chinese daily — silent types that inspect the sinuous streets and myriad boutiques, never buying and never smiling. Still, all visitors are welcome here, including some who rob the place blind at night. I know two families who have been burgled while asleep, which makes it obvious that professional thieves are working overtime but stealing only from Greeks and friends of Taki.

Further east, things are far worse. Since the beginning of the year, about 100,000 migrants have arrived via Turkey, that vile place ruled by the vilest pseudo-democrat on the planet. Greek islanders have tried their best to help those wretches, but how many bodies can one put into a lifeboat before it sinks? Bleeding hearts back in London can write their bullshit, but they should come over and see for themselves. A poor craggy Aegean island can hardly feed its own people but is now expected by the bleeding ones safely back home to do more. The clowns in Athens that govern the country are so amateurish and clueless, they didn’t even know that Greece had access to €500 million for just such a migrant emergency. A Brussels bureaucrat by the name of Vincent Cochetel, famous for having the tiniest willie in the world, has criticised Greece for not doing enough. ‘Wake up and do more,’ said the bureaucrat while recovering from a penile-extension operation. But how can an island of 35,000 inhabitants take in 40,000 refugees and provide for them?

One Roger Cohen, a columnist for an unspeakable American paper, calls Europe a place without ideas. Calling unlawful immigrants a swarm has shocked Mister Roger Cohen. He also deeply dislikes the Daily Mail. According to him, ‘it’s a trumpet of what’s worst in Britain’. Needless to say, Cohen shares his houses with many migrants — in South Africa, where he comes from, in Britain and in the United States.

But I digress about a small man with even smaller and very predictable ideas. At least that Cochetel chap has the right to call small things bad names. Cohen is just lining up with the great and the good. He should come to Leros with his yacht and see the mess first-hand, then shut it for good.


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