Caves where backpackers lived in 1972 (like Matala in Crete) July 2008

Selected for Google Maps and Google Earth

Words and song "Carey" by Joni Mitchell: Come on down to the Mermaid Café and I will Buy you a bottle of wine / And we’ll laugh and toast to nothing and smash our empty glasses down / Let’s have a round for these freaks and these soldiers / A round for these friends of mine / Let’s have another round for the bright red devil / Who keeps me in this tourist town… /

Maybe I’ll go to Amsterdam / Maybe I’ll go to Rome / And rent me a grand piano / And put some flowers ’round my room / But let’s not talk about fare-thee-wells now / The night is a starry dome / And they’re playin’ that scratchy rock and roll / Beneath the Matala moon

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Comments (20)

MaxFarrar on July 25, 2008

To all the people who lived here in the Spring of '72, and especially the young woman who invited me to her cave - I drank a toast to you this month (July 2008) on this spot with a bottle of Lukosade: To your health and to long and interesting lives.

SirFin on April 24, 2009

Nice to see this picture of the caves of Ios. Was there in the summer of '73, but opted for a stone shepherds hut over the caves. Took the walk every day in this photo from the hillside down to the beach and up the hill to town. I was young so it didn't seem as far as it does now in your photo! It would be great to come back as you did...I'm sure it has changed bigtime! Best to you Max, SirFin in the USA

P.S. And thanks for your toast for health and to long and interesting lives...still going strong after all these years! I credit the Ouzo I drank on Ios for that!!

MaxFarrar on April 25, 2009

Sirfin: Thanks a lot for your comments. I make the pilgrimage back to Ios every few years. It's one of my spiritual homes. But the changes are indeed huge. You can see some of them in G-E -- mainly the road that desecrates the hillside where your hut was. Some things do go on though. Electric Yannis passed away but his son carries on in the same bar. Breakfast Yannis is retired but still sits around visiting with friends. Dinner Yannis (who was a cobbler in '73) died, but his wife Margarita is still there with many grandchildren. Life goes on.

If, in the future, I ever get in touch with many people from the '72-'73 seasons in Saponokamo and Milapotas I will try to arrange a reunion somewhere.

P.S. My elixir of life was Retsina Ios.

SirFin on April 25, 2009

Very nice to hear what has happened on Ios! It was a magical place when I was there. I didn't know the town that well since I must have been there only a few weeks, maybe three at the most. Flew back to London, then on back to the States. College that fall...and life goes on! I spent a year traveling all over Europe and Morocco in my VW bus but in the end I think I enjoyed the three weeks in Greece the best. Someday my wife and I will return. How cool to have a was a special time when backpackers ruled the world! Best, SirFin

pluscher on August 10, 2009

Hi MaxFarrar, I don't know you but I was also a backpacker and lived in these caves in 1976 (I was 19 years old)and 1979. We were several people from Lausanne, Switzerland. It was a great time and a great place! All the best, Patrick

MaxFarrar on August 11, 2009

Patrick: Nice to hear from you. I bet you'd probably get a room in a pension or hotel if you were back in Ios these days, no ?!??

pluscher on August 11, 2009

Ahah! How do you know?!? Yes, I would look for a nice hotel with a good bed... But I remember the "good" nights of sleep on the sand of the cave... I don't know if I will go back one day to Ios, I think that I prefer to keep the memories of the seventies, I saw they had built a road through these hills today. Regards, Patrick

MaxFarrar on August 11, 2009

Patrick: Well there are plenty of hotels in Ios now.

Yes they bulldozed roads all over the island in the 1990's. And they built one across Milapotas Beach as you can see in the satellite image. Progress destroys nostalgia.

I spent most of my time in '72 in Rolando's Villa further down the coast before it was bought by the German artists. A man and his wife designed ornamental collectors' plates. Had they bought the villa at Saponokamo when you were there in '76 and '79?

pluscher on August 15, 2009

Hi Max, Sorry, but I don't know about the German artists. Both in 76 and 79, we went, a friend and me, for three weeks vacation on the island. We spent the days smocking pot, swimming and enjoying the beach. At nights, we were going to the village for eating nice greek food, drinking cocktails, etc... I remember a nice place called "Ios club" where classical music was played during the sunset and several nice bars with good music of that time (jazz-rock, etc). We were sleeping in the caves. In 79 we were in a cave that was occupied by some Germans in 76. The German artists ? I don't know...

David Rosenblatt on January 10, 2010

Hi Max and thanks for the picture. I was a backpacker in 1972 an lived in the caves on Ios. I didn't have a camera and so could never show my kids any pictures. Seems as if the island has grown too much since the days of only 3 restaurants when I was there.

SirFin on January 11, 2010

Hey Max, I've convinced my wife that Greece is really the place to go...perhaps one day, will walk on Ios again. Lovely island for sure! Best, SirFin

PS David...I guess I missed you by a year since I was there in '73. Didn't like the caves due to old shepherd's hut was more safe and sound!

MaxFarrar on January 11, 2010

David and SirFin: Nice to hear from you guys. I didn't have a camera in '72 either. No money for a camera or the film to feed it. When I went back there in '73 I shot a roll of B&W film in a camera I borrowed from two krazy English girls. I've lost those negs and prints. Since then have lived in England for 31 yrs and haven't found those girls yet. Will keep looking.

Ant Duke on July 16, 2010

We were there 1974. Eventually spent the entire year there - along with Supertramp 'Crime of The Century' and 'Black Sabbath 4' on a dictaphone sized cassette...year of years...

MaxFarrar on July 30, 2010

Thanks Ant Duke. I wish I could have spent a year there.

MaxFarrar on December 19, 2014

Everybody: I just discovered and scanned a roll of B&W negatives I shot in Ios and at Rolando's villa using a borrowed camera in the spring of 1973. I uploaded them to Panoramio but not all were accepted in G-E. You can see them in Panoramio.

fridos on July 2, 2015

i was there.about 15 july 1973.sleeping on the sand, behide that wall.i can remember all that crowd, climbing up to the capital thru that narrow path, like a huge colored dragon, for diner.or drink.or both....AND as i hope i`ll get there this september.greetings from greece, fridos.

MaxFarrar on July 2, 2015

Fridos: Thanks for your comment. It was a good bunch of people there in '72 and '73. But it is very hard to find the path from Milapotas to the town now, because there has been lots of development and new houses. The tourists in Ios now probably don't even know the old donkey trail exists. I have looked at your other beautiful pictures. I hope you take some nice ones of Ios in September. Please let me know when you upload them. Max

fridos on July 3, 2015

dear MaxFarrar, i hope and i promise to.have a nice day, there.fridos.

James Robb on December 26, 2015

Great picture Max...and thank you. I lived in one of these caves back in May of 1971 with a newlywed couple from Boston and a girl I met in Mykonos who was from Holland. Paradise!

MaxFarrar on December 29, 2015

Ah, those were the days, James. Glad you liked the picture. I didn't get to these caves until April '72. I spent most of my time further down the coastline at Rolando's abandoned villa.

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on July 15, 2008
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by MaxFarrar
    • Camera: NIKON E4100
    • Taken on 2008/07/07 19:22:31
    • Exposure: 0.005s
    • Focal Length: 5.80mm
    • F/Stop: f/5.600
    • ISO Speed: ISO50
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • No flash