Glückliche Touristen (engl. Originalversion der Kolumne in der htr vom 24.07.2014)
It does indeed look ‘normal’. No Greek flags, no beach hats or floaty tunics, no prancing bronze Minotaurs with alarmingly large phalluses. And you’re in the middle of Mykonos in the middle of the day, meaning you’re hot as hell, and the interior of the Normal Shop looks invitingly cool and dark. So you go in.
For a second Normality is lost on you as you take off your sunglasses and squint. As your eyes get used to the dim light, you see bottles. Row upon row of them. Your friend lights up like a candle. ‘A bottle shop!’ he beams – which is what New Zealanders call liquor stores.
You dance through the well-stocked shelves like teenagers about to make your first legal purchase. Having spent the last two nights being happily touristy, drinking ouzo and retsina, eating moussaka and baklava, suddenly you’re reminded of your real selves – the people you are when not rolling on sunloungers like rotisserie chickens. Those paler, more serious and hardworking people who eat inside under energy-saving lightbulbs instead of outside under the blazing stars. The types who eat flaky pastry once in a blue moon, and who rarely mix their drinks because of knowing what their preferred tipple is and staying loyal to it.
‘Guinness!’ breathes your friend, caressing the nearest can.
‘Vodka!’ you sigh, gazing at an array of stylish bottles: the frosty beauty of Grey Goose, the striking red of Swiss Xellent and – soaring on top, literally and price-wise – the glowing perfection of Beluga Gold Line.
The busty no-nonsense shopkeeper appears, winning you over by saying that you both smell delicious. Knowledgeably, she discusses Dolce&Gabbana Light Blue and L’Eau Bleue Issey Miyake – and before you know it, blue is the theme of the day. Outside: blue sky, blue sea, blue flags. Inside: a nip of Blue Curacao, to help you make your purchases.
The sturdy walls of Guinness and the sleek skyscrapers of Belvedere disappear, as Maria manoeuvres you closer to an array of olive oil soaps. ‘Top quality! Not available outside of Greece!’ The slabs are so hefty you’ll have to pay excess baggage at the airport – but the smell is delicious! ‘Perhaps a couple,’ agrees your friend. ‘Or four?’ persuades Maria.
In the next aisle you’re offered Mastika. ‘Have you tried it?’ smiles Maria. You have: the night before, and the night before that. Thinking back to how happy you felt, the Aegean lapping at your feet and the lights shimmering in the water, you realise. You can’t possibly leave Mykonos without Mastika. It’s clearly a mistake, just like giving your email address to the barman-on-the-beach called Romeo, but what the hell! You throw two bottles in your shopping basket, knowing full well that as soon as you get home you’ll wonder what on earth you were doing, buying expensive liqueur that tastes like furniture polish. ‘And next, the ouzo aisle!’ announces Maria enthusiastically – and you follow like lambs.