The Aegean Sea seems bluer than any sea anywhere else in the world. When our Royal Olympic Stella Solaris cruise ship moved toward Mykonos, I was startled by the beautiful white buildings sitting along the hillside. Everything is white, even the trunks of trees have been painted white. Although the shutters and doors are painted blue to give the buildings a touch of color. Mykonos is only 94 miles from Athens’ port city Piraeus, yet the island seems as though it is another world.
The Greek people call Mykonos “something Old World yet modern,” the most “in” island in the Mediterranean. The setting is an artist’s dream! Their narrow cobblestone streets, some only 2′-4′ wide, wind around the mountain suddenly leading into doorways and stairways. What seems to be an alley is really the entrance to one of the local tavernas or restaurants. It is like trying to find your way through a maze. The streets were designed this way purposely, back in the 16th Century they wanted to confuse invaders.
Walking around Mykonos reminds me of Venice’s streets, except Venice had a number of romantic small bridges with gondolas floating by. In the Western section of the island, called “Little Venice” because of their resemblance to the buildings in Venice, the homes are constructed right up to the water with overhanging balconies. These homes were built in the 16-17th Century to allow pirates to transport their goods in and out quickly.
I very seldom see windmills on my trips. They dot Mykolos’ skyline yet are used for different purposes today. Mykonos’ windmills were active in the 16th century, at the time that Mykonos and Venice were the sea trade-route gateway to Europe and Asia. Many windmills were used to process the grain and prepare it for shipping.
I was excited to see the pelican Petro, Mykonos’ official mascot. He waddles in and out of stores as though he was a tourist. Pink pelicans are also seen around the beaches. You have to walk around to discover Mykonos’ boutiques, tavernas, and restaurants. Our cruise ship arrived at 3 P. M., and was scheduled to leave at 10 P. M. I prefer to fly to be able to stay overnight and really explore each of the islands. There is a lot to do on this small island.
Mykonos has 20 local beaches and is called the “Capri of Greece.” Or take an all day cruise to a deserted island for a day of swimming and fun. Jeep tours drive into the mountains to reach inaccessible parts of Mykonos. Some sights to see around the harbor: Archaeological Museum, Aegean Maritime Museum, Folklore Museum (11th Century), Lena’s House (19th Century), Paraportiani Church (17th Century), and the Boni Mill Windmill (16th Century). You can buy anything from reasonable souvenirs, paintings, to expensive diamonds and gold jewelry.
Stop at one of the tavernas or sidewalk restaurants for Greek food the way it should be cooked- Moussaka, Pastichio, Spanakopita, Greek salad, and other Greek specialties. I saw the movie “Zorba the Greek” and thought the locals always danced in the tavernas. The Greeks are spontaneous people. When they feel like dancing, the man or woman suddenly gets up and moves to the beat. But they do not dance all of the time. Eventually throughout my trip to the Greek Islands and in Athens, I did find a few tavernas where I could experience this. If you do not understand the menus, the friendly waiters will bring a few dishes to your table to make it easy for you to choose.
Just a few minutes by boat, and you can experience the 2,500 year old city- Delios! According to legend Delios was the birthplace of Appollo the Sun God and his twin sister Artemis. The two hour guided walking tour took us around the only things left on the island – their ruins. We saw the remains of the House of the Dolphin, House of the Masks, House of Dionysos, Avenue of the Lions, and other famous historic sites. I love history and discovering how the Greeks lived in ancient times. The excursion to Delios is worth the trip!
Even though Mykonos has a population of 11,000 people and covers only 55 square miles, the island welcomes 50,000 tourists a year.