Greece has had a busy agenda this year: we had elections – twice, we have had two different governments and going for the third, right before the elections fires ate up part of the Attica forests, pharmacists refuse to provide medicine for the social security patients claiming that they have not been paid for months, the new Prime Minister goes to hospital together with the new Financial Minister, pensioners do not know how much pension they are going to get!
How can one react to such a situation? Pretend to be Zorbas and start dancing or, with temperatures around and over 35 degrees, hit the seaside. This is in accordance with Melina Merkouri’s interpretation of Medea: no tragedy, no killing of children, a happy family which, after the father’s minor lapse, get together again and head to the seaside. How can a woman, even a barbarian, kill her children?
With these thoughts in mind I have started looking for the perfect island for this year.
Ikaria, Nikaria according to the locals, is very popular with the Greeks but not so much with foreign tourists. According to friends coming from the island Ikaria is a well-kept secret.
I was invited to the 100 year anniversary of the Ikarian revolution, a revolution whose existence I ignored but it says something for this tiny island’s inhabitants. During the 1912 Turkish – Italian war the Ikariotes took advantage of the conflict and rebelled against the Turkish guard (a very small guard to be honest) and declared the island an independent state with its own national anthem and flag. They were incorporated to the Greek state five or six months later but they still threaten with independence when ignored by the central government and always vote left. “The red island” among its friends, Ikaria boasts archaeological sites, lovely beaches, geological wonders, villages that wake up and start work after 10 o’clock at night (!) and endless fairs: Saint this and saint that are reason enough to have a celebration that includes eating, drinking the famous Ikarian wine and a lot of dancing. Ikariotikos is a very popular island dance performed on every occasion and often without any occasion.
Well, Ikaria is not an easy destination but definitely a different, interesting, vibrant, colourful small island.