Mykonos the Island of magical sunsets. Following a full but fascinating cultural trip of Greece with Globus, four whirlwind days of island hopping was calling. Our first stop on board the Celestyal Olympia was the Mykonos where we managed to get hopelessly lost in the alleys surrounding the harbour!.
Mykonos is one of the smallest, but most cosmopolitan, islands in Greece – only 85 sq kms in size with 81kms of coastline.
This small and picture perfect island has the reputation of being the ultimate fun and trendy place of the Aegean Sea. But… it wasn’t always this way. Before the 1950s the island was quite poor and depended on the sea being generous with fishing hauls. The tide turned in the ‘50s – some say because Aristotle Onassis and Jackie used to call in for a visit that started to attract the worldwide jet set.
Did you know:
Mykonos is famous for being the first gay friendly island in Europe.
The Island capital is Mykonos Town AKA Saint Tropez of the Greek Islands – considered an insomniacs paradise. During spring, summer and autumn (March to October) the population increases from 6,000 a day to 100,000!
This picture postcard town consists of cubicle type houses all completely whitewashed cobblestone streets and the pristine windmills.
Throw into this visual bright blue doors and window frames mixed with pretty backdrops of scarlet hibiscus and fuchsia bougainvillea that climb up balconies with trailing green pepper trees.
Result – one of the best photo opportunities you’ll ever get.
Of interest – the buildings are whitewashed at least three times a year to reflect the sunlight, particularly in summer when the temperatures average 30c degrees. Approaching the island you get an optical illusion. There appears to snow on top of the hills – but it’s actually white buildings that appear to flow into one long shape.
Sensational Mykonos Sunset
A September sunset created a magnificent setting that captivated hundreds (thousands maybe) of visitors to the island.
Windmills on Mykonos – The Island of the Winds
The best vantage point for viewing and photos is up near the iconic windmills that can be seen from every point of Mykonos. These icons are the first structures you see when arriving at the port of Alefkandra and are fine specimens of Cycladic architecture.
The mills were kept busy from 16th-19th grinding local wheat and barley for both island residents and overseas sale. Mykonos is also known as “The Island of the Winds” making turning of windmill blades a breeze (no pun intended), but very difficult to hold a camera steady!
Getting Married Mykonos Style
No visit to Mykonos is complete without a Greek wedding unfolding before your eyes. This took place below the windmills and along the harbour front.
The crowd was so large it was hard to work out who were tourists, guests or residents. EVERYONE was trying to get into the group photo!
Churches and Chapels by the Hundred
Although the island is small it’s home to approximately 400 churches. This number varies depending on who you ask and likewise does the size of the structures. Some are built the for 10 people and others a 100+. Then there are hundreds of houses that have a private chapel attached.
An interesting insight (for me) into the Greek Orthodox Church was that regardless of children’s Christian names they are also named after a Saint. A person’s Name Day is a very important celebration in the Greek culture – important as their birthday. The Name Day is when the saint, is celebrated.
Petros the mascot of Mykonos
Sadly I wasn’t lucky enough to see the town mascot of waddling around the streets. A large Pelican called Petros (AKA Peter) who is actually Petros the 2nd – his predecessor unfortunately met with an accident in 1985. Petros can often been seen strolling at an unhurried pace through the city’s many alleyways and cafes. Old Pete is naturally fond of the harbour area and the fish that are donated for dinner by generous fishermen.
Alleyways and Pirates
Mykonos is a beautiful town and pleasant to walk around and explore. But be warned …it’s very easy to get hopelessly lost in the maze of alleyways that wind around residential areas near the harbour.
Why do all alleyways painted with white squares look the same? Story has it that centuries ago pirates were common in the Aegean waters around the Cyclades islands (a group within the Greek Islands). The maze-like streets and alleyways were created to confuse any possible pirates who would get lost in this labyrinth.
Relief was evident when streetlights came on allowing the waterfront cafes to be quickly found and a wine ordered to recover from being a frustrated pirate!
Mykonos Shopping Mecca
Despite the best-laid plans, it’s sometimes difficult not to head for the shops wherever you are.
Though Mykonos can be expensive, there are 177 fashion stores and 91 jewellery stores that stay open until late in the evenings if that’s your thing. (Summer sales start from August)
A customary browse around the souvenir shops with handmade jewelry, iconic prints and Ouzo in bottles of all shapes and sizes satisfied my curiosity. Although a bottle of the “oh so tasty” Kalamata olives somehow found its way into my bag – after I’d paid of course!