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Many hippie returns

Features | January 2018


 Matala was home to a 1960s counterculture. Fifty years on, Nigel Summerley takes a trip there

If you loved Joni Mitchell and remember her album Blue, you have already been to Matala in southern Crete. For those magical chords and that yearning voice were nurtured in this hippie mecca, which, half a century on, has changed both so much and so little. Still ‘the wind comes in from Africa’... and still they ‘play that scratchy rock’n’roll beneath the Matala moon’... And the vast white cliffs peppered with Neolithic caves still look down on a perfect blue bay. What’s changed since the dropouts, including lovelorn Joni, lived in the caves? The fishing hamlet that the hedonists colonised is now a bustling town, albeit one that, with its painted pavements, peace signs and pop-culture paraphernalia, is a magnet for young hipsters and old hippies. There’s still a Mermaid Café here – like the one Joni sang about – but it’s not the original. As two women discussed the...

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