During my three months in Greece, I jumped back and forth between the mainland and Santorini, Lesvos, Chios, Naxos, Mykonos, Crete, and Ios. But when you ask me what my favourite island is, the answer is immediate.
Imagine the Greek Islands like a big extended family. Santorini is the newlywed couple fawning all over one another and the sunset. Crete is your intense athletic uncle bashing his way through Samaria Gorge and running laps around Heraklion. Mykonos is your rich douchebag cousins spending all their money on cocaine. Naxos is your grandparents…all of them. And Ios is the collective group of everything else that’s left over, forming one giant posse known as The Too Much Fun Club.
Ios is not the real world.
On the boat from Santorini to Ios, Matt and I met two girls, Madison and Madison. Yes, really. An insta-bond was formed once Madison puked in the toilet due to seasickness and Madi and I passed out in our chairs after half a bottle of wine. We stuck together like glue over the next week, and…well, it was a lot of fun. From what we can remember.
I’d like to put up a disclaimer right now. Ios doesn’t have the myriads of ruins and other cultural delights that most other Greek Islands have. If you want to relax, drink cheap beers, and hang out with some really cool people, this is the island for you. If you’re annoyed by such things, feel free to read something more educational.
Matt and I ended up staying at Francesco’s in Ios Town. At first we were worried, because Mylopotas Beach (the main beach) is about a 20-minute walk. On the other hand, renting an ATV is crazy cheap and the bus runs back and forth all day. Plus all the restaurants, clubs, and pubs are located near town, so it worked out better in the long run.
Francesco’s quickly became our second home. Francesco and his wife and daughter welcomed us with open arms, took care of us, and became our family away from home. I’m sure they’re used to saying “good bye” to people, but I truly was heartbroken to leave them behind.
Our days were always the same: wake up late, head to Mylopotas Beach, come back to town for grub, and then head out for drinks…inevitably staying out until daylight. We were there in late April, so the weather was hot but the crowds weren’t overwhelming. It was pure perfection. It was crazy easy to meet people, and man, did we meet some cool people.
I love places that form a little community like Ios does. Two examples:
One day, on the way back from the beach, I put my wallet down on the seat and forgot about it. Thankfully I stopped into a shop on the way back to my hostel, and realized my error. I rushed back to Francesco’s, asked Mama to help me, and she called the bus driver’s wife…and then his mother…and THEN the hostel’s phone rang and it was the driver himself. He had found the wallet, assumed I was at Francesco’s, and waited for me at the bottom of the hill so I could retrieve it. Love.
Another: Matt and I had an adjoining balcony in our rooms, and the sunset over the area was incredible. I went out one evening taking photos, and noticed a girl on the hill above me taking photos from her balcony as well. The next morning at the Mojito Bar for breakfast (not mojitos, I swear), the bartender approached me. She said: “I have a confession. I saw you taking photos of the sunset last night, and you looked so beautiful in your long blue dress, that I have a photo of you on Instagram.” We’re Insta-friends now.
We were supposed to leave for Milos on day three. We went and picked up our ferry tickets. Then we sat outside the Mojito Bar with Madison Squared, laughing about the antics from the previous few days. (Just writing this is giving me major heartache.) I looked at Matt and I said, “What say we cancel our ferry and hang out here instead for the next three nights?” Matt didn’t bat an eyelash. You know a place is special when you cancel all your plans so you can soak up the island life.
If you need a break from the party scene, rent a scooter and take a jaunt around the island. It’s big and barren, but beautiful. Homer’s Tomb is supposedly on one of the far rocky outcrops. Who really knows? It’s nice to think it’s true, though.
Drink: Start your night at Fun Pub. Talk to George – he’s the man. Blue Note and Liquid for late nights. Slammer ain’t so bad either. And Flames! Oh yes. Flames. If you’re looking for class…move on.
Eat: The Nest is a Greek taverna with fantastic local foods, and the staff is wonderful. Fun Pub for pub grub. Mojito Bar for breakfast. Thai Smiles for DELICIOUS Asian food (my favourite food stop on the island). Far Out Hostel also actually had surprisingly delicious food. Quinoa!