No place has held my heart more than Mykonos. The Aegean blue contrasted with the whitewash, boxy buildings makes for a stunning contrast. I found the Mykonians lovely—accommodating yet not obsequious—warm and friendly with a touch of melancholy which drew me in.
Though Mykonos is a great place for relaxation and contemplation, it is also known for its lively atmosphere in the summer. According to locals, young people flock to the island in July to enjoy one another’s company and commiserate on one of the many beaches; there are so many beaches in Mykonos, each has developed its own character and entertainment specialties.
|Photo Courtesy of Sona Schmidt-Harris|
I stayed close to Platis Yalos beach, which according to a native, is known for its quiet, family-friendly atmosphere. Apparently, some of the beaches have a party atmosphere and the fun goes on late into the night. My husband, “Deke” and I are boring so quiet and family-friendly were fine by us. Another beach which is known for being quiet and relaxing is Elia Beach. I visited Paraga Beach and it was much livelier; young people played beach sports and frolicked in the sun. I recommend that you stay by a beach that fits your own personal style.
International Vacation Home Exchange offers an exclusive home exchange, Villa Hurmuses, close to Mykonos Town. Ranked by Conde’ Nast Traveller as one of the 20 greatest villas on the Greek Islands, you can’t go wrong staying at Villa Hurmuses any time of year, but for a more serene visit, I recommend coming slightly offseason in the fall. Mykonos Town, within walking distance from Villa Hurmuses, is charming and has managed to retain its character despite the popularity of Mykonos. Picturesque windmills dot the town, and delightful shops (many of them specializing in fine jewelry) line the streets.
Good restaurants are plentiful; I recommend Nautilus for the service as much as for the food. The proprietor, whom I know only as Vasyli, greeted us warmly and with enthusiasm. Our driver told us that there was no happier man than Vasyli, and that his hospitality was legendary. Most everyone who greeted Vasyli, hugged and kissed him. I embarrassed Deke, but I had to ask, “Vasyli, why are you so happy?” He said that he loved his job and he loved people. He loved what he did so much, he would do it for free; I wouldn’t believe that from most people, but I believed it from him. We were in the presence of a special man. After the meal, Vasyli drank matika with us—an alcoholic beverage made from the sap of a tree that is supposed to have beneficial digestive properties. Vasyli could drink his as a shot, but I needed to sip mine. I only take the time to tell this story to illustrate the warmth of the Mykonians; they are more than half of the reason I would like to return to Mykonos.
Departing from Mykonos Town is the ferry to the island of Delos. The mythic birthplace of Apollo, Delos was once a thriving port, particularly during the first millennium, B.C. The Odyssey and The Homeric Hymn to Apollo refer to Delos as the religious center of the Ionians. The ruins, including the “House of Dionysos,” the “Temple of Hera,” and the “House of Hermes” are definitely worth seeing, and it’s a thrill to know that you are in such an ancient place. The museum on the island is informative and interesting; there were a couple of mosaic floors which were fascinating.
Another place I recommend visiting is a Greek Orthodox monastery located in the village of Ano Mera. There is a small, ornate church on the grounds, and according to a deacon, the church houses an icon dated at the time of Christ. The deacon said that most people who come to worship at the church must stand for three hours; the few seats there are reserved for the elderly. As an American, worshipping and standing for that long is hard to comprehend; we’re just not that holy. Deke says that most Americans would only stand that long for the newest version of the iphone or the latest Star Wars movie. I say that we would only stand in line that long at the ATM machine after a disaster. Though I am indeed a proud American, I just don’t think we’re the standing-and-worshipping-for-three-hours type.
Perhaps it is the pulse of religion that helps to make the Mykonians so appealing. Whatever it is, it holds me and lures me to this day. My heart indeed bleeds blue and white. Their numbers are small; during the offseason there are only 10,000 of them. They open their island to us, and are superb hosts for their guests who are normally just passing through.
If you would like to visit Mykonos, consider an exclusive home exchange at IVHE. See how it works.
Sona Schmidt-Harris – Follow me on Twitter @Sonag2000