MYKONOS, Greece — There used to be an advertisement in American media that said “What are you doing here when you could be on Mykonos?” showing the good life beckoning on the island famed for wild partying, girls dancing half-naked on bar tabletops, music blaring and free spending that flowed as fast and as much as expensive champagne.
It’s now so extravagant as to be obscene beyond parodying, the rich – and Greek politicians and wealthy – mixed in among foreigners with money to burn, turning the island into essentially a giant playground of Bacchanalia and an orgy of excess.
That was the essence of a report on the news site Politico by David Patrikarakos entitled Island of the Absurd, painting a shameful portrait of over-the-top-past-Wolf-of-Wall-Street drunken debauchery and dissipation – all while most Greeks buried under seven years of an economic and austerity crisis can’t afford a week’s vacation and struggle to get by on slashed salaries, big pension cuts and worries whether they will have a job.
This is not their Mykonos: it belongs to the rich. Especially on Nammos Beach, where renting a chaise lounge will cost 60 euros ($72) – more than 10 times the rate even on Santorini, which is even more famous and more crowded.
A pretty good, but not great hotel, will cost 1000 euros ($1200) a night, a price which doesn’t make the bling-blingers blink an eye, because they would miss the chance to see today’s celebrities such as Olympic sprint gold medalist Usain Bolt, or Kim Kardashian, who got rich and famous for nothing really, except showing her talents on a sex tape.
Here is where models parade next to what could only in a politically-incorrect world be called chicks so hot it would be cooler to stand on the burning sands of the beach than keep staring at their micro-bikinis.
Luxury loungers that are bed-sized take over the beach: it’s not clear whether, like many Greek public beaches it’s just been usurped and the article said the main bar last year sold 35,000 bottles of champagne at 1,000 euros each – or 35,000,000 euros, some $42.06 million, enough to pop anyone’s cork.
Patrikarakos said he went there with a relative who told him many bars and restaurants were built unlawfully, a common practice in Greece where nothing is done about it. “All they do,” he says “is pay a fine each week — say between €1,000-€3,000, which is nothing compared to the profits they are raking in.”
Greece’s workers, pensioners and poor might lost their appetite watching what’s going on or reading about from their balconies where many spend their vacation as some 30 million tourists pack the country this year but those who can afford lunch at Nammos Restaurant By the Sea will have to burp up 350 euros ($420.57) for a lunch for three, for seafood and salad likely far better at a family restaurant for 10 times less at least. That’s without a beer.
But Mykonos is a high-class hedonistic heaven, unlike Greece’s other notorious party island of Zakynthos, in the Ionian, where violence and murder are on the menu too, and where British hooligans rampage while officials annually proclaim crackdowns that never come.
That’s for the ordinary: recherche Mykonos is for the extraordinary, its population of 10,000 year-round residents will swell 1,000 times that much in the summer.
While the wise seek out the family restaurants and spots more gracious than gaudy, the idle rich while away their idle time, spending like Riverboat Gamblers and packing the beaches, ignoring illegal African migrants hoping to sell them just a trinket.