When living in Greece, I was situated either at the far west or at the far east side of the country. I never had the chance to properly visit the most famous islands of the Mediterranean. I have been to Mykonos before to visit a friend, but that was a long time ago. I stayed for 2 days and it was all about seeing my friend. The Cyclades islands may be very touristic, but they are on my bucket list! I need to see those beautiful white churches and blue roof tops. This trip is a soul searching one, so I am going to travel alone. It has been so long since I went out on my own, I need it! And what better country then Greece, my home for almost 14 years. Cyclades here I come! 🙂
A little info: the name Cyclades refers to the islands around the sacred island of Delos. There are about 220 islands and to properly see them all I guess I would need about a year and a half. I have 2 weeks, so that would be mission impossible, since I actually want to see something, instead of just hopping from one island to the other, I booked accommodation on 4 islands. Hopefully I will manage to hop on a ferry for a day trip to island 5 and maybe even island 6.
Day 1 of 15: from Amsterdam to Mykonos – tour around Mykonos Town
From Amsterdam I fly early in the morning to Mykonos, where my journey starts. As a travel agent I would have booked every part of this holiday myself, but I have been so busy that I have taken the easy way: I booked myself a flight and a package holiday including transfers, accommodation and ferry boat tickets. A transfer bus takes me to Paolas Town Hotel. I have chosen mid class hotels for this trip; the islands are quite expensive and especially if you travel on your own… and all I need really is a comfy bed.
I arrive at the hotel around lunch time, the receptionist is friendly and directs me to my room. I was smart enough to send out a message to all the places I will be staying and this hotel took note and they give me a beautiful room, the back wall being part of the hill it is on. It is decorated with bright colours and I have an amazing view. I feel comfortable here! I would love to explore the island straight away, but I skipped a night of sleep having to leave early, so I take a nap for about 2 hours and that helps.
Half way through the afternoon I make my way down by foot to the town centre, my camera being my companion. I slowly walk down through little streets instead of taking Odos Mikonou. I pass by little churches, gallery shops and other hotels. It is only halfway through May, but the temperature is around 30 degrees Celsius; the sun shines bright! I make my way to Windmills of Kato Mili. On the left there is the entrance to the Filoxenia Boutique Hotel and I see Petros the Pelican resting here. Petros the Pelican is famous, although the first Petros has died a long time ago, every pelican that has decided to live on the island is called Petros.
At the Windmills it is busy with tourists as expected: I am a tourist as well so I join the mass in taking photographs and walk round. There is a lot of rubbish lying around: this I do not like and I wish the council would empty the rubbish bins more often. But the place is still magical and the mills are landmarks on this white island.
Below the windmills there is a restaurant and I find myself a quiet corner at the back and enjoy the view over Little Venice (which of course is named after the beautiful Italian city of Venice). For a moment I hear nothing but the water of the sea and I am happy.
I continue my walk through this immense popular area and it is full of life. I am tempted to sit down for a drink at the trendy bars and cafes, but I want to see a bit more before I do so. I continue my stroll towards another landmark: the church of Panagia Paraportiani. They are actually 5 tiny churches “glued” together and are situated right by the sea. Most of the time they are closed, but people mostly enjoy the exterior. It is probably the most photographed church on Mykonos, maybe even in Greece and I think I spent half an hour only taking photographs from every side of the building, waiting for a moment when there is nobody around (which is almost impossible).
By the end of the afternoon I find a little souvlaki/gyros shop. Instead of going out for a proper dinner, this is what I really want to eat: a gyros pita (I miss the Greek food so much; but especially this). The pita bread is filled with delicious meat, tomato, onion and tzatziki and the owner laughs realizing it is my first Greek meal since a while. I return to the Windmills for a spectacular sunset and I walk back to the hotel (which turns out to be quite a climb up). I relax on my balcony with a drink and enjoy the view, the lights and I fall asleep early.
Day 2 of 15:
The next morning after breakfast I walk back down again. It is quiet in the little streets and a perfect time to take some photographs.
At the end of Akti Kampani tourist boats leave for the island of Delos and here is where I want to spend my day. I enjoy the boat trip and before I know it, the boat arrives at the little port.
Delos (or Dilos) is one of the most important historical and archaeological sites in Greece and this island is an amazing open-air museum. The excavations are probably the most extensive in the entire Mediterranean. This part of history I have to see and I will take my time. I walk past the remains of houses, temples, altars, the Naxian Lions, the Agora of the Italians before I need to take a break. It is even warmer than yesterday, no breeze so I need to wear something on my head and drink lots of water. There is a shop/restaurant where I sit down for a while, before continuing my tour.
Behind the restaurant I find a path and I walk towards the east part of the island, but I am stopped. It is not forbidden to go there but they are understaffed and a worker tells me not to go to this part. I wish I did go, I wanted to look at the little church by the sea, but I did not want to cause a scene and there is so much more to see. I walk back and go inside the little museum where beautiful mosaics are displayed, as well as impressive statues and lots of other finds. From the museum I walk to the remains of the temple of Hercules, the House with the Masks and the ancient theatre. All is overwhelming! I am glad I came here today and that I saw this important part of Greek history.
Halfway through the afternoon I take the boat back to Mykonos. I walk along the waterside on Akti Kampani and through the picturesque streets. I have already lost count of the amount of churches that I see. I stop at Marco Polo restaurant and I decide to have a very late lunch, early dinner. I enjoy a lovely salad and have energy to go back up that hill towards the hotel (great excercise, no need to feel guilty when having an ice cream). I go for a swim before the pool closes and again I spend the night on the balcony, I love it here… I listen to some music and again have an early night. It is great to be able to have early nights as many as I want.
Day 3 of 15: touring the island by car
The next day I decide to rent a small car. I actually have a motor bike license and am thinking about renting a moped. When I lived in Rhodes I had a scooter, since it was so much easier to park in town and to get around. But it is still very warm today and the roads on Mykonos island are tricky, and since I love to take photographs I prefer to go by car and have the camera ready on the seat next to me. The island is not green; the landscape is rocky and uneven. But it is spring and there is colour on the island. It is the best time of the year for blooming bougainvillea’s.
I go north, drive by Tourlos port where the ferry boats come and go and I take a very steep road towards Armenistis lighthouse. I have a thing for lighthouses; something to do with leaving a light on for those who need it at sea. The lighthouse is closed and although old (it’s from 1891) beautiful. The view from here on the rocky coastline is spectacular. I see if there is a key hidden somewhere, because I would love to have a look inside, but I cannot find one. I stick my hand with my phone through a small window to take a pic.
I continue my drive. I already wrote that I lost count of the amount of churches in town and while driving around on the island I am dazzled by how many churches there are here. I stop at Paleokastro Monastery and Gyzi Castle and go for a walk. Behind the monastery there is a tiny little church and from here an amazing view over the island. From Gyzi castle I go to the centre of Ano Mera village. Ano Mera is known the for the Panagia Tourliani Monastery. Before I visit this, I sit down at Vangelis taverna. During this trip I make it a habit to have a very late lunch/early dinner and I order a moussaka.
Then I visit the monastery. The name either comes from Tourlos (where the port is located) or from a nun called Tourlis. To me it does not matter where the name comes from; the monastery is beautiful. It is a reference point for Mykonos and offered help whenever needed, like in the beginning of the 20th century when it served as a nursing home and orphanage. It is a very peaceful place and at the end of the afternoon there are very few tourists left, so I can fully enjoy walking around and take photographs.
I leave Ano Mera and go back towards town. I stop at Ornos and sit down by the waterside for a while. Ornos is popular for its pretty sandy beach and hip and trendy beach bars. It is vibrant and there is a pleasant atmosphere here. I drive back towards Mykonos town for sunset. I stop next to Vencia Boutique hotel where there is a path down and from the steps next to the church I enjoy an amazing sunset. I go back to the hotel and leave the car key at the reception. I enjoy my private balcony for the last time; tomorrow morning I am hopping on a ferry boat to Paros.
Mykonos: what a great start of my journey. Where I live Mykonos is named the Ibiza of Greece. But I believe you cannot be compared to any other island and you do not need to be compared: you have your own identity. You may sometimes be very busy, especially when cruise ships visit and large numbers of tourists wander around town, but I am glad I got to see you! I am glad I got to see more of you and you may be small, but there is still plenty that I have not seen. Who knows… maybe next time!
Travel Blog by Elisabeth, One Lucky Traveller
May 17, 2018
Curious about part 2 of my Cyclades trip? Click here 🙂