After a week of culture, sightseeing, and lots of driving in Romania, we flew to the Greek island of Mykonos for some R&R and for our proper holiday to begin. For our week on this sun-soaked island, we decided to stay 3 nights at Semeli in Mykonos Town or Chora and the other 3 down by Platis Gialos beach at the new Branco Mykonos. This way we don’t need to rent a car and navigate the narrow windy roads especially at night and no need to stress over parking which is quite difficult in town. Mykonos to Greece is like Ibiza to Spain. It is known to be the glamorous party central of the Cycladic islands. But in reality, Myknonos is not only about beach clubs and crazy parties, it has a quiet charming side in the enchanting cobblestone maze of Chora with its whitewashed houses and bougainvillea trees as well as a superb shopping and dining scene. Chora gets crowded during the day when cruise ships dock and spill out hundreds of tourists onto these narrow streets. After 6pm, most of the cruise ship visitors leave and it is time to venture out in town where the shops open till 2am to satisfy some retail therapy after a sun drenched day at the beach. I absolutely love the pace of life here! Everyday we woke up around 11am and then mosey down to one of the many beach clubs to claim our sunbeds. Then sunbathe till around 3:30pm before going for some lunch. After lunch, back to the sunbeds till sunset at around 8:30pm. Clean up and then walk around town before having dinner at 11pm. Some more shopping or drinks after dinner. And then you do this all over again the following day. It is not for everyone but I can honestly do this everyday and stay here all summer!
At one end of Mykonos Town is Little Venice or Alefkana. This is an 18th century district filled with former merchants’ and captains’ mansions with large balconies sitting precariously close to the edge of the sea. The name Little Venice came to be because of how this area is reminiscent of Venice in Italy. These old mansions now house cafes, restaurants, bars, and shops. It is one of the most scenic and romantic areas of the island with the best sunsets. Not far from Little Venice are the iconic windmills of Mykonos. Originally built by Venetians in the 16th century, there are 7 of them sitting on the hill in Chora and were used to mill wheat until the middle of the 20th century.
Panayia Paraportiani Church by the water next to Little Venice began its construction in 1425 but was not finished until the 17th century. This large whitewashed church is actually the combination of five separate churches where four of them form the base on top of which the fifth was built. Its name in Greek means “Our Lady of the Side Gate” because it was built at the side gate of the bygone fortified walls of the Venetian Kastro area. Set on a hilltop, it has excellent views of Mykonos harbour and of course the gigantic cruise ships that come everyday. I am curious as to what it looks like inside but unfortunately it is not open to visitors.
Our original plan was to visit the island of Delos, but the hotel miscommunicated with the boat company and we ended up just sailing close to Delos and the neighboring island of Rhenia. The island of Delos is actually a mere 45-minute ferry ride from the port of Mykonos town. It is one of the most important mythological and archaeological sites in Greece, being the birthplace of twin gods Apollo, the sun god, and Artemis, the goddess of hunt. It is often referred to as the “Sacred Island”. According to Greek mythology, when Hera found out that her husband Zeus’s lover, Leto, had become pregnant, she strictly forbade any land to accept her. Zeus turned to his brother Poseidon, the God of the Sea, who created a small island called Delos for Leto to give birth to her twins. Delos has been inhabited since the 3rd millennium BCE and was a major shipping hub as well as an important religious pilgrimage site for the Ionians. This was the place where the Delian Festival and games were held every four years. Once upon a time, no one was allowed to die or give birth on the island due to its sacred importance as the birthplace of gods. This rule also ensured that no one could claim ownership through inheritance. Even existing graves were dug up and reburied on neighboring islands. With the arrival of the Romans, Delos was eventually completely abandoned. Excavations of the ruins here on Delos began in 1872 and in 1990 Delos became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Coming to Mykonos, you simply cannot skip hanging out at the beach clubs. In the next post I will talk about some of the beach clubs in Mykonos. Stay tuned!
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