Yialos – the sandy beach in the old harbour of Mykonos town – is where the locals like to take their morning promenade before the tourists are up and about. They come to enjoy the still cool air, buy fresh produce from the farmers who come straight from the fields, choose a fish from the market’s marble slabs, exchange greetings and sip their first coffee.
Years ago Yialos was full of cafés, Kioukas’, Paola’s, Nikitas’, Kontarinis’ and others. Most of them were not able to survive the area’s transformation into a tourist attraction. Some became modern cafeterias and restaurants. The only traditional café that withstood the storm – perhaps because it is slightly set back from the beach and is small – is Bakoyias café, previously known as the Kavourotrypa (Crab-hole).
The only authentic café on Mykonos, it belongs to Dimitris Bakoyias from Trikkala, who came to the island in 1970 to work in the Mykobar mines. At the end of the decade he took over the café and for forty years or so has been keeping it going in good form. His wife Vasiliki, their daughter Asimina and granddaughter Vasso work in the kitchen from the morning on.
The establishment is run solely by the family, including brothers and aunts.
I got to know the place when it first opened. I preferred it in the winter, when it filled with smoke, laughter and banter. It was the haunt solely of locals, fishermen, sailors and townsfolk.
Figures such as Giakoumis Paterakis, the shepherd with his bagpipe; ‘uncle’ Lias Athymaritis, the fisherman; Nikolas Papoutsas, the grocer.
To this day I make the day trip from Paros to sample its Mykonos sausages, its omelettes, its mostra with kopanisti, its fresh whitebait and calamari wonderfully fried, but mainly to see the family’s broad smiles and enjoy the local dialect.