Thursday, May 6

Irene and Petros

The day we arrived in Mykonos our hotel warned us to watch out for Irene, the island’s official mascot. Irene is a large, rather intimidating looking Pelican. She wanders the streets of the old town at will and can be often found holding court on the waterfront, surrounded by a frenzy of camera-welding tourists. We saw her several times; once standing among local rowboats on the harbour foreshore and once at dinner.

The second encounter was particularly unnerving. Garry and I were dining outdoor at a local seafood restaurant. Earlier that evening we’d stood at the fish counter and selected a large, fresh snapper barely hours off the boat. Within moments of the cooked fish arriving at our table, Irene came wandering down the laneway. I swear that pelican looked twice at our table before slowing ambling past. I was petrified. With a beak as fearsome as Irene's swaying mere inches from my arm I wasn't game to move a muscle.

We later learnt that Irene isn’t the original mascot. The first pelican of Mykonos, called Petros arrived in town in 1954 and remained resident until his death in 1986. His passing was met with calls for a new pelican to take his place, the rather pampered and somewhat bold bird that eyed our dinner. This latest incarnation of the island’s mascot was donated by none other than Jackie Kennedy-Onassis. It was later joined by a pelican donated by Hamburg Zoo. Today, three pelicans wander the streets as a third, nursed back to health by locals, has since joined the mascot brigade.

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