Throughout a Cyclades summer the meltemi wind is both friend and foe. She breathes relief, pacifying the fearsome Aegean heat, yet is sometimes so penetrating she’ll pick the wallet right out of your pocket. Yet it’s another wind, a wind of change, that has swept across Greece this summer.
During 10 insouciant days island-hopping in the Cyclades, I found coronavirus has more-or-less emptied the islands. Hotels and ferries, shorn of international arrivals, have operated way under capacity, and prices have tumbled. Now, with Greek summer vacations over, the Cyclades is desperate for international travellers to return to catch some late sunshine throughout September and October. And the islanders will tell you, it’s like seeing the Cyclades as it was, twenty or thirty years ago.
Travelling shortly after Greece permitted UK arrivals back in mid-July, I never felt anything less than comfortable throughout my four-island odyssey. My flight on Wizz Air was half-empty, allowing plenty of room to social distance. I was tested upon arrival. And sea transportation, from the moment I left Piraeus for a 9 hour voyage to mountainous Amorgos, operated on a reduced capacity. At every bar and restaurant I entered, staff dutifully wore face-coverings.