My two days in Mykonos zoomed by with a lightning speed, and just after midnight last night I hopped to Thessaloniki.
My first impression of Mykonos was not a favourable one. I found the party capital of the Aegean overcrowded and overdeveloped. Yes, the cubic white-washed architecture speckled with bright red gerania and magenta bougainvillaea is absolutely spectacular, but one can barely see it behind heaps of touristy stuff for sale, designer boutiques, bars and visitors themselves, who arrive in great numbers to enjoy the softer September sun and all-night beach parties.
In contrast to the bigger, less commercialized, appreciably cheaper Naxos that has the same cuteness about its old town and gorgeous beaches, but half the crowds and the fuss, I wondered what people saw in Mykonos at all.
As one proud Naxonian told me, Naxos feeds itself, but Mykonos has nothing but the famous windmills.
True -- local agribusiness in Naxos is extensive, and they have their own potatoes, corn, many veggies and fruits, as well as meat and cheeses. There are as many butchers on the island, it seems, as there are Starbucks on Yonge street. I spent over three hours in the mountain village of Halki. It's tiny, so I wondered far into the olive groves and vineyards just to pass the time until my bus back into town.
One other thing that annoyed me in Mykonos is the myriad of motorbikes and those four-wheel quad buggies that pollute like hell and gave me a headache when I was walking to my hotel at night.
My studio, although very nice, was not in the centre of town due to price considerations, and I huffed and puffed up a steep heel in the dark breathing diesel fumes with no clear idea where I was going. That was a mistake. Location, location, location. I should have stayed somewhere in a more favourable part of Chora, the main town, like these absolutely gorgeous Portobello Studios.
On day two, however, I reconsidered my position. First of all, I saw Mykonos in the morning, when the town was still fresh, and businesses took it easy. The harbour was beautiful, framed by its white boats and steep hills above. Old fishermen were mending their nets in front of a church, and locals were buying fish and veggies from the stands at the old port.
I also realized that it's silly to arrive to a notorious resort and expect it to be quiet. When in Mykonos, do it like the rich and famous. So, instead of rolling my eyes at scenes like this -- it took the dude good 15 minutes to shoot a perfect picture of an orange juice against the sea,
and this one -- the lady pushed in front of everyone enjoying the sunset and insisted her derrière features as an obligatory compliment to the sinking sun
and chuckling at the cult of male genitalia -- Mykonos has been the destination for gay tourism for decades,
I went shopping, then to the beach to work on my tan and lounge on a comfy chaise with a glass of white wine. There I met a family of super-friendly Brazilians, with whom I ended up hanging out all day. In fact, we had so much fun, I missed my boat to Delos and, truth be told, made in to the airport just in time to check in my bag and board the flight. Phew, that was a close one :).
Cheers to the good times!
Here goes my archaeological interest -- wheee. I swapped the third most important site in the whole of Greece and UNESCO heritage for a party, and haven't got the slightest regret about it. In fact, I was kind of bummed out I could not stay for the full moon bash at Cavo Paradiso the night after -- the famous Paradise Beach venue that often features well known European DJs.
I now know exactly where to stay, eat, tan and party in Mykonos to enjoy the island as one should. In fact, I'm thinking that now that I know all the main Cyclades, how amazing it would be to do a grand return to all of them. Three weeks, perhaps, starting in Athens, then Crete (not part of the archipelago, but it's on the way), then Santorini, Naxos, Mykonos and Milos.
Maybe not all of the islands at once, and not necessarily in this order, but roughly to follow this route. It's going to be really enjoyable to travel knowing the best spots and not waste any time looking around. A project for one of the years ahead??
More photo impressions of Naxos are on flickr in this album,
and an album on Mykonos is right here.