Why do they live so long? The diet is typically Mediterranean. Fresh veggies, fish, olive oil and dairy (mostly goat milk-based feta and yogurt) are what people eat. There is a lot of credit given to the “greens.” I think this means salads and the particular plants that grow wild around here. For one thing instead of plants like sneezy ragweed growing along the roadside, here herbs like rosemary and oregano grow wild. We also saw women gathering something that looked like arugula along the road. With this mild climate great produce is almost always available.
We noticed people have a mostly nocturnal life style. They get up late and then take a nap from around 4 until 8pm and dinner starts much later. We ate at 10pm and we were the early birds. Old folks dance until the wee hours along with the young and very young. We noticed a real sense of joy and community.
Why do we like Ikaria? I don’t know, maybe because it seems authentically small town Greek and laid back. It’s a carefree, upbeat place where people watch out for one another. It is beautiful. Our inexpensive room at the Cavos Bay Hotel is perched right over the Aegean Sea. Joanne loved watching the intensely blue, clear water. It is easy and fun to exercise. By the end of each day we’d walked many kilometers and done some strenuous hill climbing but we didn’t mind. Here, at the end of the trail at a small Taverna (restaurant) there awaits a fresh Greek salad, fragrant sourdough bread and grilled seafood. Nearby some Swiss tourists have pushed aside the tables and are attempting some Greek dancing. Maybe they’ve found the secret for longevity too.
The Cavos Bay Hotel – Armenistis
Paschalia Taverna – On the main street in Armenistis
Reading: Here is a very good New York Times article called “The Island Where People Forget To Die” (great title!), about the Blue Zone concept.