OTT Mykonos & sacred Delos

The day we were scheduled to leave Naxos for Mykonos, we woke up to to pretty strong winds and an angry sea. Conditions were rough, and our ferry arrived two hours late to the port. Apparently it was waiting for the wind and sea to calm down, which I don’t think it ever did. Pretty frustrating when the journey from Naxos to Mykonos was only supposed to last 30 minutes, but at least it wasn’t canceled entirely. We were on Sea Jet 2, a high-speed catamaran that fit less than 400 people, so much smaller than the ferries we had previously taken, and more susceptible to the motion of the ocean. And once we departed it was almost immediately apparent why it was so late/hesitant to arrive. As the thing jetted straight through waves and massive swells, it flew into the air, falling heavily on one hull then the next, people yelling as we crashed back onto the water. It did not exactly feel like a safe trip. Before long, passengers were pulling out their sick bags for a bit of a vom, and this lasted for the vast majority of the trip. Thankfully, I didn’t get sick, but I was torn as to how I felt about the journey. On the one hand, it was a bit frightening, but on the other hand it was super fun like an amusement park ride; in the end, I enjoyed it more than I didn’t. I had hoped that this windy weather would be a one-off thing (if for no other reason, it was killing my ability to make my hair look nice), but not the case. Mykonos proved very windy until the day we left to return to Dubai, so I’m not sure if it was a seasonal thing, or if we just had a bit of bad luck with the wind at the end.

04myktown
Crisp white and blue streets of Little Venice.

I was actually arriving to Mykonos with a bit of hesitation. The time in Naxos had been so relaxing and cruise ship-free, that I wasn’t looking forward to all of the crowds and overflowing beaches again. However, once I started exploring Mykonos Town and Little Venice, any worry I had been feeling disappeared in a snap. I could tell that I was going to fucking. love. Mykonos. The Cycladic buildings were the whitest and bluest that I had yet seen, it wasn’t all steep hills and steps, there were cosmopolitan bars and boutiques at every step, and the vibe about town was endlessly lively and upbeat.

It is also worth noting, however, that this was by far one of the most confusing little towns to get around that I have ever experienced. It wasn’t large, but the layout of the streets made no discernible sense. It wasn’t just me and my non-existent sense of direction, either; even the boyfriend, who is usually very good with directions, was continually stumped trying to find his way around. At one point, I headed off from the harbour by myself in search of a pair of sandals, and, thinking I was heading inland, was instead spat back out harbour-side in almost the exact same spot 10 minutes later. With not a clue how as to how.

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Little Venice’s sunset restaurants and lounges.

Mykonos was very much unlike the other islands though, in that there was much less outdoorsy stuff to do (other than beaches, of course). No archaeological sites to visit (with the exception of the neighboring island of Delos) or walks/hikes to take on (that I was aware of). But it wasn’t a disappointment, because Mykonos was serving a totally different purpose, offering up an atmosphere that I hadn’t experienced since a visit to Ibiza 10 years ago.

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It’s not Mykonos without some fantastic gay bars – Jackie O’ and Babylon (Jackie O’ was a beautiful bar with shamelessly fun music).
15_58caprice
In Caprice, my favorite spot to watch people stumble past the door as they got drenched by massive waves crashing on the walkway.

An average day was spent waking up late, moseying off to a beach or two through the morning and afternoon, maybe having a little fun at a beach bar, then back to the hotel in Mykonos Town to prepare and relax for the evening. A little before sunset, head down to Little Venice, grab a seat at a sunset restaurant with bellini in hand and watch the sun dip into the sea in a blaze of glory (and roll your eyes at the fools clapping at the sunset). Afterwards, find some dinner at any one of many nice little Greek spots and try not to be too gluttonous. It should be around 10-11pm now, so may as well start to get into the swing of things and get the night started in an upbeat bar or lounge – Caprice was my favorite. Sure, sometimes the music was a bit on the cheesy side, but it was never not fun, and had a great atmosphere, with a nice view of the sea crashing into the walkway just outside of the harbour-facing door. The mega clubs (Cavo ParadisoParadise, and Space) don’t really get going until 1-2am with headlines starting at 3 or 4am, so perhaps before jumping into the taxi or bus, you’ll want to knock back a double espresso for an energy kick (or not; it’s disgusting). I saw Marco Carola at Cavo Paradiso, but Erick Morillo, Avicii, and others were also around while we were. Dance around ’til sunset, and eventually head back home. Rinse and repeat.

It was a lifestyle I could get used to. And fast.

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Mykonos Town at sunset, preparing to rev up for a long night ahead.
21cavoparadiso
Super club Cavo Paradiso

That being said, I think in any future trips to Mykonos, I would focus on the beach parties, and probably end my night with Caprice, or somewhere like it. The mega clubs are fun, but I don’t think I’d go out of my way to return to them, unless there was a headliner that I really wanted to see. The beach parties, on the other hand, are another thing entirely. While I can head out to a big nightclub almost anywhere in the world, I’ve not witnessed a beach scene like Mykonos’ anywhere else. It’s something to experience. Sadly, I didn’t get to visit a great deal of beaches (waking up so late meant I missed most of the water taxis that dropped you from beach to beach), but what I saw had me hooked. I was impressed by the different personalities and atmospheres that really made each beach unique.

19paradise-tropicana
Early afternoon – quiet time at Paradise beach and Tropicana.

First, we headed over to Paradise Beach. This is where you’ll find Paradise Club and Cavo Paradiso open later on, from about midnight. During the day, you can party at Tropicana, which is a massive bar lining basically the entirety of the beach. We did not stay here long, and the crowd seemed to veer on the younger side; it reminded me of a college party in a way. We meant to leave Paradise and head to Elia beach (supposed to be very nice and on the quieter side) but found out there were no more water taxis heading there that day. We passed back through Tropicana later in the day, to catch a taxi back to Mykonos Town, and it had definitely become a full-on party, but I was glad we didn’t stay there.

mykonos-sparadise-pano
Midday revelers at Super Paradise

Instead we took the next water taxi, which dropped us at Super Paradise Beach. This place was mental. It had a more sophisticated look than Tropicana, but I’d have to say that it was the most over-the-top place I experienced in Mykonos. The crowd seemed to have wider mix of ages, and it didn’t have quite the same college party feel that Tropicana had. Everyone here was up for some afternoon fun, and by 4pm, the dance music volume was ramped up, club lights went on, podium dancers took to…podiums, people were dancing in the sea, and it was kind of indescribable, but in a good way. Added bonus: fantastic people watching, really, really good. If you go to Mykonos and don’t go to Super Paradise, you are missing out. Even if it’s not your thing, I think it’s worth checking out once. Super Paradise beach has another smaller, quieter bar/club called Pinky Beach, if Super Paradise bar itself is a bit much.

44psarou
So that’s where all the yachts went – Psarou beach

A lunch time wake up lead us to Psarou Beach and Nammos restaurant and bar. Psarou was stunning. One thing I was looking forward to with Mykonos was checking out all of the crazy yachts in the harbour, but upon arrival there was nothing impressive at all. I was confused. Upon making it to Psarou, I found my yachts. The waters were littered with ridiculous boats moored cliffside under chic villas. The clientele vibe here is definitely older than Paradise and Super Paradise, and definitely much more upscale. Like the other beaches, the music went up a few levels and BPMs at around 4pm to get the party rolling, but it was still not quite the debaucherous affair that Super Paradise was.

We decided to have lunch at Nammos, which served up modern Greek and international dishes. I would say this was probably one of the most expensive places we dined at during the trip. And what do I get for it? A live slug in my $20 green salad. Seriously! Was the salad good until I got to the slug slugging around at the bottom of the dish? Yes, it was pretty good. BUT A SLUG. C’mon, dude. And I don’t think they believed me that they served the salad to me with the slug already in it (I am sure it came from the greens, which the boyfriend joked, at least I knew it was very fresh!) because they kept pointing up at the palm tree after they took the dish away and were inspecting it. But it did not fall into my dish from atop a palm tree. It just didn’t. Sorry. My lobster ravioli was good though, and bug-free. Although every time I bit into lobster with that texture all I could imagine was eating slug.

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One of the many haunts to choose from at Platys Gialos beach.

Platys Gialos was probably the least extreme of all the beaches we had the opportunity to visit in Mykonos. We were only there for the early part of the day, before the scene started heating up, but it was a large beach lined with a good selection of restaurants and bars. This is also one of the main water taxi stations, so a good place to start (in the morning) if you want to beach hop. It seemed to me like a nice middle ground beach: one that didn’t look like it would become a major party come late afternoon, nor an incredibly upscale yacht crowd (however still Mykonos chic).

While I didn’t have the chance to visit the northern beaches, they are apparently quieter/less crowded, but also much more windy (popular with wind surfers, etc.) You also should have your own transportation to get there (we didn’t, which is the main reason we didn’t visit them) because they are off the main roads, and buses don’t service them. There are only about 30 taxis on the island, so you can’t really rely on taxi availability to bring you back, either.

03delos
Arriving at Delos – this is but a portion of the extensive site.

The one historic/archaeologic site that Mykonos did was have was an extraordinarily impressive one. The would be the island of Delos, a couple kilometers off shore from Mykonos. This is one of the most impressive and important sites in all of Greece, and certainly not to be missed if you’re into that sort of thing. We are. A morning ferry (another perilous boat ride in rough waters) will get you over to Delos in 30-40 minutes, where even before leaving the boat, you’ll be impressed by the extensive ruins to be explored. We spent about 4 hours here, which was barely enough time (shorter than we intended, but because the water was only getting rougher as the day went on, the last ferry was canceled and everyone had to get on the 2pm ferry back to Mykonos. The trip back took almost an hour and a vast number of the passengers were clutching sick bags and falling ill).

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One of many, many incredible mosaics to be found. This one in the House of Dionysus features Dionysus riding a tiger. Badass.

While not as expansive as Petra (where you can literally spend days), you could easily while a day away exploring Delos’ seemingly endless ruins of homes, theaters, hilltop climbs, temples, mosaics (my fave bit), and agoras. There is a small museum on the island that houses a number of statues, mosaics, and other items that were excavated from the site. It’s an impressive collection and very much helps color the picture in your head as to what Delos must have been like in its prime as a cultural center. The site is still under excavation, and given its size, I think will continue to be for quite some time.

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Statues from the House of Cleopatra. The statues depict the residents of the home.

And that, sadly, is where my Aegean adventures end (you’re probably happy to see the end of this lengthy, never-ending story, though). For now. I don’t think I’ll rest contentedly until I concoct a plan that allows me to  visit the islands on a regular basis. This is not the last they’ve seen of me, of that I am very sure.

MYKONOS PHOTO ALBUM

DELOS PHOTO ALBUM

51myktown
Gyros pita, ’til we meet again.
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