Picture of myk_harbor Mykonos is the most heavily visited of all the Greek islands. It is best known for raucous and elaborate nightlife, nude and gay beaches, and the worldwide celebrities who spend time there. Talking to other people who had been there before us, we had been warned about all of these things, along with the threats of throngs of people crowding the narrow streets and long sleepless nights due to the wild partying. Apparently, none of that happens in April. We found it to be rather charming actually, with relatively few people and a couple of innocous night clubs tucked away in hidden alleys. Among the most famous sites of Mykonos town (capital of Mykonos island) are the windmills along the water. Strips of cloth are suspended from the spokes when they are in operation, similar to sails. These five seem to be the most photographed as they sit just on the edge of town clearly visible from the harbor. There are similar windmills scattered all over the island however.
Picture of church We got off the ferry in Mykonos along with the aforementioned French tour group and walked to the nearest building which happens to be the tourist office. Our guidebook claimed that the office was open from 8 AM until midnight, as did the sign on the window. It was of course closed. That seems to just be a facet of Greek life. In fact, Kostas (back at Byzantino in Athens) told us that the reason cancer rates are so low in Greece is because there is no stress, because you never have to go to work if you don't want to. This is a beautiful philosophy but it can make travelling fairly interesting. We walked into the center of town and prepared to search the guidebooks for reasonably priced hotels in the vicinity. We never got that far though as a wandering (or maybe lurking) native offered us one of his rooms to rent. "2 minutes walking" he told us. We later learned that everything in the Greek islands is a 2 minute walk and/or a 5 minute drive no matter how far away it might actually be. In this case though he wasn't too far off. They had very nice rooms and the cost was shockingly low. We also later learned that most prices displayed in tour books were about double the actual prices in April. In the high season things would have been considerably more expensive.
Picture of balconies For those unfamiliar with Greek travel, staying in rooms in private homes is a common practice. They are known as 'domatia' and in busier times people who have them cluster around arriving ferries to advertise and market them. In this case, we stayed at the rooms of Mr. Yiannis Kalogeras (Goumenio Str) who speaks pretty good English and was otherwise very nice to us. This is the view from the front entrance to his home. Somewhere down beneath the balconies and trellises is the actual street. We left our stuff in the room and headed off into the town to explore, quite certain we would never actually find our way back again. First priority for us was to figure out how to get off the island and when it would be happening so that we knew how much time we had to spend on Mykonos. A nearby travel agency had ferry times listed to just about every island except Santorini. We went inside and asked how one might get to Santorini. Fly, we were told - the plane leaves every day at 3:00 and it costs about $25 US for a ticket. At that price we decided it was worth saving the time involved in boat travel. We bought tickets for the next day. Our next task was to figure out how to get to Delos which was the main reason we had come here. The boats to Delos seem to be operated on a completely random basis, tickets aren't really sold in advance, and the departure time for the next morning is signalled via a carboard clock with hands that blow around in the wind, making it not especially useful. We decided just to show up early the next morning.
Picture of paraportiani Besides windmills, and naked people on beaches, Mykonos is also known for the Church of Panagia Paraportiani, or the white lumpy thing in the foreground of this picture. Supposedly this is actually four churches which have been melded together into one, which might explain the haphazard architecture. The area to the right of the church is known as 'Little Venice', presumably because there are buildings very close to water. Not much resemblance to Venice really but that's what it is called. Mykonos is completely overrun by cats. We found cats in a variety of odd locations here, including atop signs hung from buildings, inside upturned chairs at closed restaurants, and.. at lunch. Lunchcat is what we named it, continuing our tradition of utterly unimaginative names for the stray animals we met on this trip. Lunch consisted of some feta cheese in marinara sauce and some truly excellent meatballs. Lunchcat was not interested in these, or the complementary bread. As far as we can tell, Lunchcat just hung out with us for a while so he would get mentioned in this write-up.
Picture of pelican This picture displays just how colorful the doors and windows to the homes here are, probably in an attempt to make up for the fact that all the buildings are white. Mykonos was purposely built to be a narrow maze of streets in order to deter organized pirate raids as well as the wind blowing in from the harbor. We spent the afternoon wandering the streets of Mykonos. This picture also contains a couple of the more tragic things associated with Mykonos. First, that little piece of sand is what they call the town beach. We suspect it might just be a figure of speech, although we were told that it was quite crowded with sunbathers in the summer. The only resident while we were there, as you can see, is Petros II, reigning Pelican King of Mykonos. Actually we're not making that part up. Petros II is the official mascot of the island, we saw him in various places with his family around Mykonos town. We also learned, courtesy of watching another tourist, DO NOT TOUCH THE PELICAN. If you do, it may turn its entire head inside-out and make a noise vaguely akin to the death-throes of a tuba. You may be wondering what happened to Petros I. That's the tragic part. He became the mascot after he was blown ashore during a storm. His reign ended when he was run over by a car. This isn't as unlikely as it sounds because we were nearly run-over on a regular basis. Cars cannot fit into Mykonos' streets so they cluster around the edges of towns. Within, people use motor scooters, often at considerable speeds through series of blind twists and turns that are definately not wide enough for two motor scooters to pass. Sometimes it is difficult enough for two pedestrians to pass.
Picture of windmills After dinner that evening we did some shopping, managed to find our room again, and went back out to experience the famous nightlife. After a bit of searching, we found three places from which music was emanating. The first was playing Rembetika music (a sort of Greek blues style), the third was playing Madonna. We chose the second by default. It turned out to be a cozy little bar where we sampled a variety of Metaxas (Greek brandy) and watched some Arabic women undergo their first experience with alcoholic beverages. For the record, they didn't like Bailey's Irish Cream but they did like tequila. Go figure. We returned to our room which was perfectly quiet even with the windows open at night. On the other hand, we were awakened at first light by the incessant use of a power saw somewhere nearby. We arrived at the boats to Delos early, where the captains were trying to determine if the wind was too strong to make the crossing. After an hour of indecision they finally decided to go. We met a couple other Americans (Randy & Bev) and were just overjoyed to find ourselves on a small boat with that darn French tour group again. Our Delos experience has its own webpage.
Picture of waterfront When we returned to Mykonos we went in search of food where we had our first and only gyros of the trip. They were excellent, but for the most part we simply didn't see them as a menu item very often. Souvlaki was far more common. We retrieved our luggage and caught a taxi for the aiport with Randy and Bev who had decided to accompany us as far as Santorini. In this case, the airport really was a 5 minute drive. It was also in some disrepair as they were building a new one next door. Next, we had our first Olympic Airlines experience. It was a very casual sort of flying. They gathered all 20 of us in the terminal at the gate (that would be gate 1, amazingly enough). They marched us out to the plane and off we went. It was about a 20 minute flight to Santorini and we got good (if shaky) views of Naxos, Paros, and Ios on our way. The mystique of Santorini was also preserved as we flew in low from the outside of the island so we were unable to see over the cliff wall into the caldera from the air.
Picture of tx_mykonos

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