Pretend that everywhere is just like here—beautiful, sleepy, delicious food; everything is just fine.

By the Numbers

  • 220
    Islands in the Cyclades island group
  • 25
    Percent of nation unemployed in 2016, when Bourdain visited
  • 40
    Percent that were living close to the poverty line

“I wanted to get away from it all. Coast gently, gently into another season of television.”

Where Zeus himself was said to live. Where his son Dionysus frolicked and presumably drank and threw orgies and dropped E and danced all night to the BC version of EDM. These days you have to go to Mykonos for that.

Sidekicks

Fearless George: A local fisherman resisting buyouts designed to welcome commercial fisherman to the Greek islands.

Lambros Tryfillis: Bar owner and guide.

Panos: Dive master and guide from Blue Fin Divers.

The Stray Bitches: An Athens-based performance group.

1. Bourdain and Lambros Tryfillis enjoying a drink / 2. Bourdain dines with the in-laws of the regional governor.

John Steinbeck said any man who pits his intelligence against a fish and loses has it coming. But the Greek fishing trade didn’t stand a chance when hit with the one-two punch.

Disaster Tourism?

When Bourdain visited Greece, the country was grappling with a striking economic downturn and the onset of a refugee crisis. And yet tourism was on the uptick.

“So people are basically saying, ‘Oh, financial crisis, beautiful islands, beautiful country,’” Bourdain said. “Now is the time to go because we can get it for cheap.”

For Greece at the time, tourism was the only constant, according to dive-master and guide Panos: “Tourism is the only thing I believe that saved Greece. Apart from this area, every other thing collapsed.”

Lingo

Rosto: Traditional Naxos style of pork.

Raki: Anise-flavored spirit believed to have originated on the island of Crete; also called tsikoudhia.

Yamas: Cheers!

“There were these chicks. They were singing. They lured the ship into the rocks—they weren’t hot, though. They were really ugly.”