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the rain did not ruin my greek vacation

Slowing down in Klima, Milos

The sound of thunder and crashing waves was somewhere deep in my consciousness, and in that twilight zone between dreaming and wakefulness, my brain refused to make sense of it. For a split panicky second I had no idea where I was, then I opened eyes and remembered—I'm in Klima, on the Greek island of Milos. I rolled over. "Hey," I said, nudging Jay awake, "I think it's raining!"

Our previous three days in Milos' capital, Plaka, were cloudless and baking hot, so when I threw open the window of our syrma's living room and saw, incredulously, that a storm had rolled into the quiet bay overnight, I actually laughed out loud. The contrast of seeing the rainbow-hued fishing village—one of Milos' most iconic sights—washed in gray and pockmarked with fat rain drops struck me with its beauty.

Small fishing boat in front of the syrmata in Klima, Milos, Greece

Photogenic Klima shows off during golden hour

Woman smiles while sitting on stairs between two old buildings in Klima, Greece

The feeling when you're in a gorgeous little time warp and spend the day doing absolutely nothing

I leaned over our balcony to watch the miniature boats seesawing on the waves just as an old fisherman turned the corner towards Klima's only restaurant. As he navigated his way down the slippery walkway with an enormous snapper slung over his shoulder, other fishermen cheered him on in admiration, and he waved back, beaming with pride. I smiled and watched until he was out of sight.

I don't like to romanticize. The unfortunate reality is that the Aegean has been overfished to critical levels and life is not easy for Greek fishermen, whose numbers are dwindling as they struggle to earn a living. But I took a moment to appreciate this glimpse into a Greece that still exists beyond the blue-and-white Cyclades' reputation for luxury and hedonism—one that moves at a slower pace, in another time. I sat back with my coffee in perfect contentment.

Picture of the sea in Klima, Milos in the afternoon after a storm

Waves wash over Klima's main (only) drag after a morning storm

I expected that Klima would be a special place, but I was still surprised at how quickly its rhythm got into my bones. We had spent the preceding day living inside a travel brochure: sailing around Milos on a catamaran, salt-sprayed and suntanned, cooling off in water too blue to be real and drinking ouzo with new friends. The epitome of Greek holiday bliss. But, somehow, waking up to that rainy scene felt equally pleasurable. The crash of the waves washing over the pavement below lulled me into a serenity that I hadn't realized I was missing. I spent hours simply sitting on our balcony, feeling myself unwind to match Klima's unhurried pace. I slowed down, and time expanded.

Can't get enough of that view (or maybe I'm just fantasizing about last night's baklava)

Jay and I booked four nights in the syrma on a whim just ten days before our trip, not quite sure where, or in what, exactly, we were staying. We barreled towards the village down the fairly terrifying road from Plaka, trying to keep up with our Airbnb host's motorcycle as he led us into town just after dusk. Klima, we discovered, is little more (but also, so much more) than a beachfront restaurant, a handmade souvenir shop, and a row of colorful syrmata dug into the rugged coastline. The syrmata—essentially sea-level boat garages with an upper-storey living space—have been traditional homes for fishermen and their families for centuries.

Man looks out of a balcony while an old woman sweeps the front of her house in Klima, Milos

A Klima resident sweeps seaweed from the front of her syrma while Jay ponders a way to live here forever

Many syrmata have now been renovated into vacation rentals, but Klima has managed to retain an authentic sense of community. The fishermen gave us a grudging "kalimera" each time we passed their group gathered on the corner, drinking coffee and waiting for the right conditions to row out to their boats. We watched the village's women congregate in the sea just before sunset, bobbing in the water while catching up on the day's gossip. Our elderly downstairs neighbor did not speak English, but she always gestured to the hidden algae-slick patches in front of her home to warn us to watch our step (day-trippers to Klima did not earn the warning, and we snickered each time a tourist slipped onto the wet concrete while taking a selfie). By our second morning, Jay was wondering aloud how much a syrma costs and how, logistically, we could live in Greece for six months a year.

Man practices yoga on a pier in the sea in Klima, Milos

Jay practices extreme mindfulness in crow pose on the totally-safe-and-not-at-all-slippery concrete pier

We chatted with our German neighbors over the small wall dividing our balconies. Petra and Marlena, a sweet mother and daughter duo, have been coming to Greece each summer since Marlena was a child. Petra said what she loved most about Milos was how relaxed she felt here, and that no matter where she is on the island, there is nowhere else to be. I immediately understood. There was something about Klima that allowed me to exist entirely in the present. Impressively, the two women had not even rented a car, opting instead to trek twenty-five minutes up the hill to the nearest bus stop each time they wanted to leave the village. After all, what was the hurry?

We didn't quite decelerate to that level of leisure, but we did stock up on the essentials (i.e., baklava and wine) so that we could hole up in the syrma, lingering over breakfast and spending evenings at home. Armed with a buffet of giant fresh olives, local cheese, spanakopita, and more sweet treats than two people should even want, we set up camp on the balcony. We rose with a book and a carafe of Nescafe, and closed the day with a glass of wine and Klima's spectacular sunset. It became our daily ritual. We did not get sick of it.

Morning routine, 10/10 would recommend.

Sunset with fishing boats and colorful houses in Klima, Milos, Greece

Best seat in the house

We slowed down, but time flew by. On our last day in the village, we shared one of the impulse-bought cakes with our downstairs neighbor. The old woman thanked us and gave one last insistent reminder about the perils of the watery walkway before settling back into her plastic chair, looking out at the sea. Invariably, morning or evening, she would be in the plastic chair looking out at the sea. I grinned as I realized that this is exactly how I would choose to spend my day too, if I lived in Klima.

It felt like I could distill the essence of Greece from these simple moments. Time shifted again, and the collection of tiny, unremarkable episodes crystallized into one indelible experience.

As we loaded our bags into the trunk, it was like the spell had been broken. Suddenly we were back in a world concerned with ferry schedules and rental car agreements, where a third straight meal of cheese and olives is generally frowned upon. We wound our way up the hill and out of town for the last time, reentering the space-time continuum and already missing the sound of waves lapping against the rocky shore.

Obligatory Klima selfie. We didn't slip.

Man stands in front a syrma at sunset in Klima, Milos, Greece

Strolling through the neighborhood

Colorful bench in front of seaview with boats

Billboard advertising in Klima

Cat sitting on an overturned boat

A local participates in Klima's favorite pastime of doing nothing much at all

No shoes allowed during high tide

People gather to watch the sunset in Klima, Milos, Greece

Klima's primetime show sells out every night

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