Mykonos: An Island Paradise

Friday to Monday: leaving Athens for Mykonos and three days of sunshine by the pool and by the beach, late-late-late night clubbing and not wanting to leave.

Friday morning we roused ourselves to finish packing and tidy the apartment to be ready for our 8am departure. We closed the door behind us, leaving the keys on the table, as instructed, and went downstairs to meet Anna. Only to find that the external door had been double-locked and needed a key to open again. We were stuck.

I knocked on every door in the apartment building, finally finding someone still home on the top floor. I woke her up but she was good enough to come downstairs and let us out. We were free! No need to break any windows.

We caught a taxi to the airport, joined the queue to drop off our luggage, found some food and waited for our slightly delayed flight to Mykonos. It took off and then it descended almost immediately.

Our luggage took forever to come out. We hailed a taxi (not finding out until we got to our hotel that we could have had a free transfer) and paid €30 for the short ride. After catching taxis in Athens for next to nothing, to pay €30 took us by surprise.

Glen booked The A Hotel which was beautiful. Like nearly every building in Mykonos it was made up of white, square rooms. There was a pool and a restaurant, which we had lunch in while we waited for our rooms to be ready. The room was really nice and Glen and I had one right next to the pool. After checking in, Anna and I staked out sunbeds, read our books and then went for a swim. We were in heaven.

We caught the free shuttle to the town (the hotel being a distance away from buses and the Old Port area) at 5:30pm and went for a walk through maze-like streets towards the windmills. A cruise ship had just disembarked so we were swamped suddenly with lots of tourists. After a quick look at the windmills, we had a drink at one of the seafront bars and a light meal, then continued our walk as the sun got lower in the sky.

We found the two main gay bars (Jackie O and Babylon) which are on the waterfront (there’s a joke there about sailors I’m sure) and have a beautiful view of the port and the sunset. We sat, ordered drinks from the helpful Alex, and watched the sun go down. Definitely in heaven. After our drinks, we went to Niko’s Taverna (a recommendation from the lovely Alex) for dinner. I had a delicious fresh whole red snapper. I don’t think I’ve had fish that good in a long time, cooked to perfection.

After dinner, Glen guided us through the maze of shops and restaurants which were getting even busier the later it got. We ascended up a very steep hill and then along nearly deserted backstreets to return to our hotel for bed. I think we’d made it out til 11, just as the rest of Mykonos was getting ready to party away the rest of Friday. I wasn’t too disappointed in our choice.

“It’s a place; it’s a place I’m going to.”

Objective for Saturday: go to the ‘Shirley Valentine’ beach and the hotel she stayed in. Objective: completed.

One of my all-time favourite movies is Shirley Valentine. I can still recite it off by heart. The Greek scenes are filmed in Mykonos so we had to go to what we could. Admittedly we didn’t go everywhere that’s featured in the film (the lagoon where she and Kostas go would have been nice) but we at least went to the beach where she sits and watches the sunset and feels “awfully… awfully old.”

It’s at Agios Ioannis. The stretch of road is there but the taverna isn’t anymore. There’s an old painted sign that denotes it’s prominence though these days there’d be far fewer people who show any interest in such a landmark. The hotel Manoulas is also there and was used as the hotel in the film. (There’s a photo of some of the cast there.)

A car from the hotel took us to the beach (we gawped at the €30 price tag and wrongly assumed that every trip we’d take with them from now on would cost €30. Turns out it was just because of the distance involved). We walked along, stopped in at one of the beachfront bars, and then I went for a swim. My first swim in the Aegean Sea.

The water was beautiful, not too cold, warm enough to spend time in. I swam along the length of the beach and back again, thankful for being in such a place where the water is warm and clear.

After my swim, we walked up to the hotel, I took my photos, and then we waited for the bus to arrive to take us back to the Old Town. The bus ride cost €1.60 each. Back at the town we had 15–20 minutes to walk across town to the Old Port and catch the bus to Elia Beach at 12pm. Glen set a cracking pace, made worse by me desperately needing to pee. Anna and I thought we wouldn’t reach the bus in time to catch it but it was slightly delayed (or on Island Time) and we managed to catch it. Hooray! I had to hold on for 30 minutes.

Elia Beach

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Elia Beach is billed as one of the gay beaches. There’s a restaurant and in front of the restaurant are a lot of beach beds and umbrellas, then further to the right (facing the ocean) past one set of rocks is the ‘gay’ beach. Sadly there’s no rainbow sand, but there is a rainbow flag. More beach beds and umbrellas. Behind a mountain of rock there’s another small secluded beach which is more nude than the others and you’d only find men there.

We took up a spot between the gay and straight beaches in a cabana (like a four-poster bed) that was big enough to seat the three of us comfortably. We loved the cabana because unlike the umbrellas, you’re guaranteed shade at all parts of the day. We paid €50 for the privilege and ordered our lunch and drinks.

We sat, we read, we swam – the water clear and warm and beautiful. I went off to buy one of those full face snorkel masks (for an inflated price of €55) so I could swim around the rocks and look at the fish. It took my a while to get used to this new type of snorkel. You’re meant to breathe through your nose, as I figured out, because breathing through your mouth takes in and expels too much air and I soon found myself gasping for breath. Once I mastered it – yes, once I mastered breathing – I was able to spot a lot of fish without fear of passing out.

Mostly grey and silver small fish but there were some black and brightly coloured ones too. I was gone a while and Glen thought I might have drowned. I remember giving my grandmother the same fear when my cousin and I used to go snorkelling off Penguin Island and Rottnest Island.

Despite there being a few beautiful people wandering about, they were vastly outnumbered by ordinary people, the ones with not the greatest bodies, or not the height-of-fashion clothes. Not to mention there were quite a few naked people around and most of the women were bare-chested. It was geat. Pretentiousness seemed to be out of fashion and people were just…hanging out (literally, figuratively). It was all comfortable and easy. Not sure what it’s like at Paradise and Super Paradise and Jackie O (the more popular beaches) but we were more than happy where we were.

We stayed on the beach until 4:25 and caught the bus back to town, getting off nearer to our hotel and walking the rest of the way. Anna and I sat by the pool for a little while and then we had an early dinner at the hotel before going for a nap. We were going out and going out in Mykonos required replenished batteries.

Going Out in Mykonos

Despite having about three or four hours in which to sleep, I probably managed 30 minutes and that was in the last 30 minutes before needing to get up. We struggled awake at 11pm and got ready. We’d booked a car to take us down to the port, me nearly dozing off on the ten-minute ride. We arrived in a buzzing and vibrant town that looked like it had no intention of ever going to sleep.

First stop was Porta where we had two drinks, danced a little and then gave it up to go to Babylon. Jackie O was busier next door – apparently out of brand loyalty from the people who’d gone to Jacki O beach during the day – but we were happier in Babylon as it was easier to get a drink and the music was better. Some killer mashups going on from their first DJ.

Drinks were very easy to come by because as soon as your hand is empty, there’s a guy ready to take your next order (and your money). In spite of this, we didn’t drink all that much, but we did get drunk very quickly as the drinks were strong and we hadn’t eaten for hours.

We danced and chatted to people. Anna got harassed by a straight guy until I told him to fuck off. He wouldn’t take Anna’s closed-down body language as a sign to piss off. I was enraged. He slunk away then and didn’t bother her again.

The crowd began to thin at about 4/4:30. The DJ had changed over an hour or two earlier and wasn’t all that good. We left then and wandered back up to the meeting point, buying water and some food at a 24hr bakery. Anna called the hotel and the car came to get us. Hooray! We collapsed into bed at about 5. We did it. We went out in Mykonos=.

Sunday, a Day of Rest

Not wanting to miss breakfast, we all staggered up at 9:30am, ate and then went back to bed for a few more hours to catch the 2pm bus back to Elia. While yesterday had been incredibly warm, the water perfect and our experience by the beach heavenly, Sunday was a little less magical.

Most of the sunbeds were gone, along with the cabanas by the beach. We took up three beds in the gay section but had to pay for four as we were in the front (the only place with three beds next to each other). The food and drink were a let down and it was windy so the water felt chilly.

I went in and out a few times but it was too cold to go snorkelling again, much to Glen’s disappointment. He also didn’t get a massage this time. Nevertheless, we made the most of the privilege we’d been given and relaxed. I read more of my book and we all bemoaned the fact that we’d soon be leaving Mykonos and Greece. I could easily have stayed a week or more. That way we could have seen more beaches and even gone to Delos (we were meant to go in the morning but that wasn’t going to happen).

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We caught the 6:25 bus back to town, showered, caught a shuttle back to town and ate at a restaurant by the edge of the water. We ordered too much food but we managed to stuff most of it down. We had a 1.2kg grilled sea bass which was delicious! It cost €85 so you’d hope so. No dessert for us, we waddled through the streets for a bit but I was tired and so was Anna. No desire whatsoever to go out just as the town was ramping up.

We caught a taxi and were in bed by 11, sad that we’d be leaving in the morning but hopeful of our return.

The Boat to Santorini

We slept late-ish (not as late as yesterday of course) on Monday, had breakfast, packed our bags and sat waiting for our shuttle to the port. We definitely did not want to leave. As we only have one full-day and two nights in Santorini, leaving Mykonos feels like we’re at the end of the holiday, a disastrous thing to think.

We were dropped off at the New Port and joined the masses of people waiting to board the ferry to Santorini. Bizarrely, I saw a friend of my sister’s from back home in Perth. He’d been in Mykonos for a week and was on the way to Santorini too. What a coincidence! as Diedre Chambers would say.

The ferry was smooth but the seats we had were underneath the arctic blast of air-conditioning. Thank god for Anna’s scarf and beach towel.

After two hours and a brief stop at Naxos, we docked at Santorini. I could definitely return to Mykonos.

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