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Mykonos: The Greek Island Experience You Don’t Want

After Bruce Willis was said to have demanded $4 million for four days of filming one of the Expendables series’ films in Bulgaria, Sylvester Stallone properly called him out and said: “Greedy and lazy, a sure formula for career failure.”

But, to paraphrase George Carlin’s There is No God, “when it comes to greed, big-time major league greed, you have to stand in awe of the all-time champion of avarice. No contest.”

Welcome to Mykonos, you’ll be sorry you came. Greece has as many as 6,000 islands, 227 of them inhabited and if you rated the 10 worst they are all Mykonos. It exists only to cheat the unsuspecting who think walking cheek-by-jowl on narrow faux Greek corridors full of tourist traps is the real Greece.

How bad is it there? The culture is to rip people off and get away with it. It should be renamed Scamos. There is no reason to go there, not the little windmills, not the phony Little Venice that has clip joints along an angry little waterfront.

Many years ago there was an ad that showed the island as a promise of retreat and an idyllic Greek setting, asking you: “What are you doing there when you could be on Mykonos?”

The question now is why anyone would go there, because it’s a haven of greed, tax evasion, taverna owners charging 1,000 euros ($1048) for a bottle of champagne and catering to the uber-rich who don’t care what they pay but also gouging unsuspecting tourists, all while police and tax inspectors look the other way.

With Greece open for tourists to take their money during the COVID-19 pandemic, the restaurant and tavern owners on Mykonos could give seminars on cupidity and how to bilk tourists and give your country a bad name at the same time and there’s plenty of examples that happen over and over again while every government vows a – yes – crackdown and does… nothing because there’s money to be made on that island, if you know how grease palms.

Ask the most recent victims, a pair of British tourists who were charged the equivalent of $617 for two drinks and some snacks. In Greece, rule #1 at a restaurant in a tourist area is to check the menu and the prices.

And you know this place didn’t report the income or pay taxes although there’s an alleged law that you don’t have to pay if you don’t get a receipt and all establishments and professionals and services are required to accept cards but many say their machines are broken.

The British newspaper The Mirror said the mother and her 19-year-old daughter refused to pay but were accosted by male staff members who also demanded a 78-euro tip ($81.80) That’s the rate for terrorizing female tourists.

They said they would file a report with police, drawing guffaws from locals who said it’s common practice to gouge tourists and the police report can be found in File 13 if they bother filling one out on their way to the restaurant to get their take and say they’re shocked – shocked – to find out tourists are being taken to the cleaners.

Yes, it does happen all the time on Mykonos and no one does anything about it and neither will Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis or his New Democracy government which wants tourists to come and advertises all the best that a beautiful country has to offer, apart from Mykonos, which should be shut down.

In 2019, a tourist at a Mykonos restaurant was charged 591 euros ($619.77) for six pieces of calamari. Unless it was the giant squid from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, that seems a tad high.

Not content with cheating people during the best of times, nightclubs on Mykonos did it during the COVID-19 pandemic, including in the summer of 2020 when there were lockdowns.

Curiously, every time there is an alleged crackdown on these places no names are ever mentioned but this time it was reported that the owners – not named – of the notorious club Alemagou, were fined 20,000 euros ($20,997), and the club closed for 60 days in the summer for allowing hundreds of people to gather at their bar.

Twenty thousand euros might be a lot of money to you and me but for these places, some of them charging 1,000 euros ($1,050) for a bottle of champagne, it’s 20 minutes’ worth of business and no word whether it was actually suspended.

The Secretary-General for Trade and Consumer Protection, Panagiotis Stampoulidis told SKAI the pictures of mobs crowding the bar, violating social distancing requirements, was an “unacceptable image.”

It should be – not just for Mykonos – but for Greece, but this will go on and on and on and the summer of 2022 will likely see more reports of tax evasion, gouging and foreigners thinking Greece’s Las Vegas that offers cardboard cutout interpretations of what should be the real image is Greece is the real one.

Many tourists who are cheated on Mykonos complained they weren’t allowed to ask for a menu or the prices – that’s when you vote with your feet and walk away – bu the real question is why this is allowed to happen.

Any answers from the New Democracy government? Plus the beaches are overrated. Stay far away.

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My name is Charles Robbins, the chief correspondent of the Chicago Daily Tribune in Constantinople.

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