“The only thing I ever wanted to do was travel. I’d like to drink a glass of wine, sitting by the sea, watching the sun go down”.
A long time ago in my late teens, I remember my mother going to the movies to see Shirley Valentine. At the time I thought it was just a movie for oldies and I never thought anything more about it. That was until many years later, in my early 30s. I was a stay at home mum with two kids of my own. I often had the television on in the background, whilst running after two young kids, but on this particular day, the title caught my eye – Shirley Valentine. I found myself thinking back to my mum and how much she loved the movie. I continued on with the housework, all the while listening to the dialogue. I soon found myself sitting, tea towel in hand, thoroughly drawn into Shirley’s world. Shirley is the champion in all of us and it was then I understood why my mother and a whole generation were wanting to drop everything and fly to Greece!
The big screen movie, starring Pauline Collins, is a movie that resonates to anyone who has ever felt stuck in a rut, caught within the bounds of routine or just felt unappreciated. The movie follows Shirley’s mediocre life in Liverpool and her disillusionment of marriage, as she ponders getting her ‘old self’ back. She then impulsively embarks on a two week journey of self-discovery in Greece. It’s a beautifully written movie that combines comedy with empathy and the message is to be true to yourself.
Shirley Valentine Beach
I was lucky enough to get to visit Mykonos and Santorini during my travels in 2015. Of course after seeing the movie, on my list was to visit the beach where Shirley sat. In fact, I was travelling alone to the Greek Islands and I kind of felt a lot like Shirley in a strange kind of way.
The movie is set to the wonderful backdrop of Mykonos in the Greek Islands. Mykonos with it’s traditional white washed buildings, narrow little alley ways and a bustling nightlife, why it’s hard not to yearn this carefree life.
So, here I was, off to find the Shirley Valentine beach. A pilgrimage that many others have also done before me and I’m sure many more after me. This famous beach is located at Agios Ioannis or what is now known to most tourists as the Shirley Valentine Beach. Tourists still come in their droves to see the beach where the most poignant part of the movie was filmed. The scene where Shirley is sitting alone at a table, with her glass of wine, watching the sunset. The scene where she addresses the audience and gives an emotive and honest look at the realities of life. I think this is what people relate to, and hence have their own little journey.
After catching the bus from Mykonos town, I was dropped off on the side of the main road. There was a long pathway leading down to the beach and once at the bottom, I immediately was on the look out for the restaurant called ‘Hippie Fish’. Hippie Fish is now where the little taverna was in the movie. As you approach you will see the only relic (a makeshift sign) that denotes that this was where the movie was filmed. I believe the sign was made well after the movie by the original taverna to capitalise on the popularity of the movie.
The beach itself looks a bit different to how it was back in the late 1980s due to development. The beach is pretty and quite peaceful, with not too many tourists. The vibe here is chilled out, with sun lounges and comfy outdoor couches. The restaurant Hippie Fish is seamless with the outdoors, more of a pavilion style building and can be a welcome relief from the hot sun.
The restaurant Hippie Fish is pretty laid back, the service is pleasant, although some staff seemed to be there just to do their job and nothing more. Which was okay by me on this day as I was happy in my own company, to just sit and relax with my own thoughts. Music pumps it’s way through the restaurant and funnily enough, at one point they were playing ‘all by myself’ which had me thinking about the Bridget Jones movie too!
The menu caters for both light meals or something more substantial. I opted for just a light dish and a couple of glasses of wine. It’s definitely a great place to relax by the beach and is very popular with families.
So here I am, finally at the Shirley Valentine beach, having my Shirley Valentine moment, minus the sunset!
Where to Find
The Shirley Valentine Beach is actually located at Agios Ioannis, a small beach town about a 15 minute drive from Mykonos Town. Catch the bus at the main bus terminal in Mykonos. The ride should cost you about 1.60 euros. The bus comes by regularly for the return journey.
The iconic beach scene from the movie Shirley Valentine on Agios Ioannis Beach.
Have you visited the Shirley Valentine Beach? Have you seen the movie?