2012 Greek holiday trip report: Mykonos Part 3

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There was more activity on the main harbourfront street between Taxi Square and the Mykonos Town Hall — but just barely. Restaurant staff and shopkeepers getting ready for a new day of business vastly outnumbered the handful of customers drinking coffee or eating breakfast at the harbour-view tavernas. The I saw the Orca, one of the three excursion boats that ferry passengers to Delos island, pull away from the quay and slowly motor out of the harbour. Although it wasn’t full, the Orca was carrying dozens of passengers, and I joked to myself that the town must be so empty because every other tourist on the island had decided to go to Delos for the day.

 

Mykonos Town

I saw only a couple of pedestrians and just one taxi on the road to Manto Square …

 

 

Agia Anna beach Mykonos Town

… plus two women sunbathing on Agia Anna beach beside the road …

 

 

Mykonos Town harbourfront

… but even the main harbourfront strip between Manto (Taxi) Square and the Mykonos Town Hall was quiet and fairly empty. Restaurant staff and shopkeepers getting organized for the day easily outnumbered the sparse tourists having coffee or breakfast at the cafés.

 

 

Mykonos Town Hall

A morning view of the blue-domed fishermen’s church at the harbour, and the red tiled roof of the Mykonos Town Hall directly behind it

 

 

Orca excursion boat

The Orca departs Mykonos Town harbour on its 10 a.m. run to Delos island …

 

 

Orca excursion boat

… with passengers snapping photos from its open rear deck

 

 

Pelicans and paparazzi: Mykonos Town started coming to life about an hour later. After wandering through empty streets and lanes in the heart of the town, I headed back to the harbourfront around 11 o’clock, and was happy to see scores of tourists milling about. The passengers from the cruise ship were finally coming to town! The strange silence from earlier in the morning had given way to the lively buzz of animated conversation and the sounds of cutlery and dishes clinking in tavernas, shopkeepers sweeping the cobblestone pavement outside their premises, and small service trucks and delivery vehicles making their rounds.

The busiest place was Polikandrioti street in front of the Hondos Center clothing and fashion shop, where successive groups of cruise ship passengers flocked around a big pink pelican — one of three on the island — and kept trying to touch it and take its photo. The camera-toting tourists just wouldn’t leave the poor bird alone — they reminded me of paparazzi hounding a celebrity. (Well, the pelicans are celebrities of sorts on Mykonos, so perhaps the photography and touching comes with the territory when you’re a world-famous Myconian.) A steady stream of pedestrian traffic flowed down the road as more and more people from the ship — as well as tourists staying at local hotels — poured into Mykonos Town for a day of sightseeing. Taxis slowly inched their way through the throngs as they drove along Polikandrioti street on their way to and from Manto Square.

 

Mykonos pelican

A pelican tries to flee tourists trying to touch it outside the Hondos Center …

 

 

Mykonos pelican

 … then flaps its wings to warn them to keep their distance

 

 

 

Above is a very brief video of the pelican and some tourists …

 

 

… while this is a longer clip of the pelican strolling along Agia Anna beach before rejoining the throngs of cruise ship passengers on the road

 

 

Heading for the hills: Since most of the streets in the town center were still in morning shade, I literally headed for the sunny hills to take some photos and enjoy the scenery from higher ground.

I turned off Polikandrioti street onto a narrow lane that runs between the Leto Hotel on the left and the Hondos Center on the right. The lane leads onto the big terrace at Maria’s Myconian restaurant, where I had sat for a late afternoon lunch on Tuesday and again for dinner just 12 hours earlier. Maria’s son was busy working on the terrace. He waved and bid me a cheery “kalimera!”, and asked if I was trying to find something. I said I just wanted to go up the hill above town, and he pointed out two different routes I could take — a trail to the left, or a street to the right.

I took the trail, which winds uphill alongside a tree-shaded gully and emerges on Ioannou street — the busy road that takes vehicular traffic around the pedestrian zone of Mykonos Town. From there it was just a short walk to the Bonis windmill, which I described in Part 1 of my trip report.

 

 

lane next to Ledo Hotel Mykonos

This narrow lane, between the Leto Hotel and the Hondos Center, leads to the courtyard for Maria’s Myconian restaurant. From there, a trail and a street offer two separate routes up the hill to the Bonis windmill and other superb vantage points above Mykonos Town.

 

 

Mykonos Town

The lane follows the row of trees (lower left) and leads to a trail and street that ascend the hillside above Mykonos Town. I planned to walk around the residential area below the Bonis windmill (top center) and the neglected old windmill a little lower down the hill (upper right).

 

 

Bonis windmill

The hillside near the Bonis windmill offers exceptional panoramic views of Mykonos Town, the southwest side of Mykonos, and other islands including Rinia, Syros and Tinos

 

 

Mykonos Town

The rooftops of buildings in the center of Mykonos Town spread out below

 

 

Beyond the Bonis: Instead of going to the Bonis windmill one more time, I turned onto the first street to my right and started walking back downhill. (The street is marked as Evagelidou Trifonos on some of my Mykonos Town maps, but it’s indicated as Pillakiou on Google maps. Whatever its name, it’s well worth taking a walk along it.)  More a path than a “street,” it led me past a number of private homes as well as buildings offering rental studios and apartments, and a few small hotels, including the 14-room Myconian Inn Hotel.

 

 

Bonis windmill

Bonis windmill viewed from a path behind the two red-domed churches next door

 

 

church near Bonis windmill

From the hillside near the Bonis windmill, you can see the peninsula at Agios Stefanos on Mykonos as well as mountains on Tinos island

 

 

church near Bonis windmill

Front view of the two red-domed churches near the Bonis windmill

 

 

Myconian Inn Hotel

Looking toward the sea from the street next to the Myconian Inn Hotel (right)

 

 

 Mykonos Town

Looking toward Mykonos Town center from another spot on the hillside path

 

 

a house in Mykonos Town

One of the houses a short walk down the path from the Myconian Inn Hotel

 

 

clothesline on a Mykonos balcony

A clothesline on a balcony on one of the hillside houses

 

 

The real housewives of Mykonos: The path ultimately winds up at the bottom of the hill near Maria’s restaurant so I didn’t follow it all the way down just yet. Instead, I turned left onto another street and started walking straight across the hill, rather than down it. This is part of the “real” Mykonos that many tourists never get to see — an everyday residential area where local families live, rather than a well-trod tourist route lined with jewellery stores and souvenir shops. Children were playing outside their homes while their mothers chatted with neighbours and hung laundry out to dry. A couple more turns and I found myself on Agios Spiridonos, another scenic street overlooking Mykonos Town. Agios Spiridonos essentially is a long, steep stairway that descends right into the town center.  Photo opportunities abound — no matter which direction you turn, you’ll see something you want to photograph. I passed a young woman who was snapping photos constantly with her big Nikon camera. “It’s so beautiful here, I can’t stop taking pictures!” she said with a huge smile. I couldn’t stop, either.

 

Bonis windmill

The Bonis windmill is partially visible above porches and balconies on some of the houses on the hillside below it at the top of Agios Spiridonos street

 

 

 Agios Spiridonos street in Mykonos Town

Stairways for private homes converge near the top of Agios Spiridonos street

 

 

Mykonos Town

Looking down Agios Spiridonos street

 

 

Agios Spiridonos street

 Judging by the colourful clotheslines, it was a busy laundry day for residents on the hillside

 

 

Agios Spiridonos street

Looking uphill along Agios Spiridonos street

 

 

The other windmill on the hill: Partway down the hill, I turned off Agios Spiridonos and followed a road that led to my left. This street ended at a dilapidated old windmill I have seen many times from a distance, but never close up. It’s slightly lower on the hillside than the Bonis windmill, but it still offers equally impressive panoramic views. I actually preferred it for views and pictures because it’s closer to all the white roofs of Mykonos Town — and it isn’t swarmed with tourists. Most visitors who do venture uphill above the town tend to head directly to the Bonis windmill, rather than this one. In fact, I was the only person there — nobody else came along. I took photos and videos and just enjoyed the superb views for awhile before gradually making my way back down the hill into town, where I strolled more streets before returning to the hotel.

 

  windmill in Mykonos Town

 The dilapidated windmill partway down the hill from the restored Bonis windmill

 

 

old windmill in Mykonos Town

Another view of Mykonos Town below the windmill, and Tinos island off to the far right

 

 

Mykonos Town

A row of two-storey houses sits along a narrow road right below the old windmill. Click on the picture to view a full-size photo.

 

 

 view toward Rinia island

The view from the hillside next to the old windmill includes Mykonos Town (foreground), the famous windmills on the hill at Little Venice (upper left), the peninsula at the southwest end of the island behind them, Rinia island (rear) and Agios Georgios island (upper right). 

 

 

buildings in Mykonos Town

The view off to the right of the old windmill takes in part of Mykonos Town (foreground), the whitewashed hotel buildings on the hillside in the Tagoo district (center) and the mountainsides above Tourlos and the New Port (rear)

 

 

Mykonos ports

The long quay of the Old Port extends across the north side of the Mykonos Town harbour, seen during a rare moment when no ships or charter tour boats are in port. The cruise ship (upper right) is docked at the New Port at Tourlos. Clouds above Tinos island provide a dramatic backdrop as a ferry ship (upper left) steams toward the New Port.

 

 

 Above is a videoclip of fabulous views from the hill beside the old windmill

 

 

Descent into town: Leaving the old windmill, I wandered back to Agios Spiridonos and slowly worked my way down the hill, turning onto a narrow lane here or walking down another one there, snapping photos and simply enjoying the scenery and the ambience (and doing my best not to trip and stumble on any of the myriad steps all over the place). I passed a few out-of-breath tourists who were climbing up Agios Spiridonos, but for the most part saw only local residents — mainly women and very young children — along the way.  Once back on flatter ground, I spent about half an hour walking around town before I made my way back to the hotel to join the other guests on their island tour.

 

Mykonos Town

A street full of steps just off to the right side of Agios Spiridonos

 

 

Mykonos Town

I encountered this beautiful display of bougainvillea vines outside a house just partway up the hillside from Maria’s restaurant

 

 

Mykonos Town

The windmills at Little Venice are in sight as I approach the bottom of the hill

 

 

Agios Spiridonos street

An Agios Spiridonos street sign on a building at the bottom of the hill. Look for it if you want to climb the steps up the hill to take in the spectacular views and see the windmills.

 

 

Mykonos Town

An orange scooter adds colour to a residential lane at the bottom of the hill

 

 

Mykonos Town

A taxi barely fits on the narrow cobblestone street that leads into Manto Square, where a taxi rank is located. (There’s another taxi rank near Fabrica bus depot on the south side of town.)

 

 

Mykonos Town harbour

A man  passes excursion yacht moored in the Mykonos Town harbour

 

 

 Mykonos Town

I have been told that this picturesque red-domed church is named Agia Anna, and that the little harbour beach a stone’s throw away is named after it

 

 

Mykonos Town

The view toward Agia Anna beach from in front of the red-domed church.  The building with the red shutters (left) is the Delos Hotel, which appears to have fallen into a state of disrepair. I haven’t seen any signs of activity at the hotel in years, and their website hasn’t been updated since 2009, suggesting it has been out of business since. It’s a shame, especially since it’s such a prime piece of real estate — no other Mykonos Town hotel sits as close to the waterfrontas this building does.

 

 

Agia Anna beach Mykonos Town

It’s now half past noon, and more sunbathers have arrived at Agia Anna beach

 

 

Cavo Paradiso Mykonos

I passed this poster on my way back to Hotel Tagoo. It advertises the season opening parties for the massive Cavo Paradiso entertainment complex at Paradise beach.

 

 

Hotel Tagoo Mykonos

It’s one o’clock — the perfect time for sunbathing on the Hotel Tagoo pool terrace

 

 

Hotel Tagoo Mykonos

Looking out to sea from the edge of the swimming pool deck at Hotel Tagoo.  The property with the curved swimming pool lower down the hillside is the Gorgona Hotel.

 

 

Beach roadtrip: Our quartet piled into a small sedan and left Hotel Tagoo shortly past 1 p.m. Our driver, Katerina, told us our first stop would be Lia beach, which I had never seen before (when we rented a car for a day to tour Mykonos during our visit in 2009, I couldn’t find the road to Lia, and we gave up trying to get there after going in circles and making several frustrating turns onto dead-end roads). 

As we motored along the highway from Mykonos Town toward Ano Mera, Katerina constantly dodged potholes and ruts in the road. The condition of the highway pavement had deteriorated significantly in the three years since I had driven the route myself, and Katerina said she was embarrassed that the municipality had fallen behind in maintaining principal roadways on the island. She said the potholes posed a serious night-time driving hazard for tourists unfamiliar with the roads — especially visitors driving scooters, or anyone driving after having a few drinks. “Please tell any friends who are coming to Mykonos to be extremely careful if they rent a car or scooter and not to drink and drive — it’s easy to get into an accident when the roads are like this,” Katerina said.

I was glad I wasn’t behind the wheel, because I got to sit back and enjoy the scenery — including great views of Ftelia beach on Panormos Bay, off to our left — while Katerina kept her eyes peeled for potholes and other road hazards.

 

Ftelia beach Mykonos

We didn’t stop at Ftelia beach during our May 2012 tour, so this photo and the ones that follow are from the May 30 2009 drive my partner and I took around the island. The pic above shows villas on the hillside across Panormos Bay from Ftelia beach (foreground).

 

 

Ftelia beach Mykonos

Ftelia beach is a wide swath of soft brown sand. Panormos Bay is off to the left, out of view in this photo, while parking for the beach is off to the upper right where a few vehicles are visible — including our little yellow rental car.

 

 

Ftelia beach Mykonos

Looking toward the left side of Ftelia beach on Panormos Bay. There was a taverna on the hillside a short walk from the end of the beach.

 

 

Ftelia beach Mykonos

Two women stroll on the sand next to the turquoise waters of Panormos Bay

 

 

Ftelia beach Mykonos

Looking toward the right side of Ftelia beach. This north-facing beach is one of the island’s “virgin” beaches — so called because it isn’t lined from end-to-end with rental lounge chairs and umbrellas, and because swimwear is optional. We didn’t see any nudists.

 

 

Ftelia beach Mykonos

Looking to the right as the beach curves around the foot of Panormos Bay. Alemagou is a bar and restaurant on the sand at the right-hand end of the beach (not visible in this shot).

 

 

Alemagou at Ftelia Mykonos

This photo, from the Alemagou website, shows part of the bar next to Ftelia beach

 

 

Alemagou Ftelia Mykonos

This photo, also from the Alemagou website, shows a beach view of the bar

 

 

Panormos Bay Mykonos

Another view of houses and villas on the other side of Panormos Bay

 

 

Fleeting glimpse of Ano Mera:  As we left Ftelia behind us, Katerina pointed out La cucina di Daniele on the left side of the highway. It’s one of three acclaimed Italian restaurants in Mykonos operated by proprietors Daniele and Alessandro. (The other two are Aqua Taverna in Little Venice and Aglio e Olio in Mykonos Town.) I’ve heard rave reviews about the cuisine at all three establishments, and Katerina said the one on the Ano Mera road was considered the best of the bunch by Mykonos locals.

A couple of minutes later we passed the main tourist area of Ano Mera, where the 17th Century Panagia Tourliani monastery stands behind a whitewashed stone wall next to a pleasant town square lined with tavernas. Tourliani was founded in 1542 by monks from the Katapoliani monastery of Paros, and was restored around 1767. A short way up a road on the other side of the highway is a beautiful convent I had visited last year, but our driver told me the church had kicked out the sole remaining nun and was in the process of turning the building into a monastery to educate monks, so we couldn’t pay the place a visit. That was sad news to hear, because the tree-shaded monastery courtyard was one of the most peaceful and tranquil places I’ve ever been to on Mykonos, and we’d had an interesting chat with the y0ung nun when she kindly let us in to take a brief look around.

(Although many Mykonos visitors think Ano Mera is only the “town” area immediately surrounding the square and monastery, Katerina explained that Ano Mera actually is a large municipal district — the island’s biggest in terms of area, in fact — encompassing much of south-central and southeast Mykonos including the Kalo Livadi, Agia Anna and Kalafatis beach areas.)

We didn’t stop to look around Ano Mera because we had all been there before — and since our priority, with the limited time Katerina had available, was to visit some beaches. So we continued on our way to the south coast, catching a fleeting glimpse of the town square as Katerina drove past.

 

Panagia Tourliani monastery

The Panagia Tourliani monastery sits behind a whitewashed stone wall next to a town square featuring numerous tavernas and a few shops

 

 

Panagia Tourliani monastery

The monastery was founded in 1542. It boasts a marble fountain in its courtyard, and a wooden templo (screen) which was hand-carved in Florence, Italy.

 

 

Panagia Tourliani monastery

A sculpture that stands in the monastery courtyard (it’s visible in the bottom left corner of the photo directly above this one)

 

 

Panagia Tourliani monastery

Panagia Tourliani is considered to be the patron saint of Mykonos, and is celebrated in a festival that’s held each summer on August 15

 

 

Ano Mera restaurant square

Tavernas line a public square adjacent to the monastery. Ano Mera is approximately 8 kilometers from Mykonos Town. It can be reached by local bus service.

 

 

Vardaris taverna at Ano Mera

Vardaris taverna, one of the restaurants in the square at Ano Mera

 

 

Vaggelis taverna Ano Mera

Vaggelis Taverna at the Ano Mera town square

 

 

taverna delivery scooter

A delivery scooter for one of the Ano Mera tavernas, parked beside the monastery wall

 

 

To Xempourgo taverna

To Xempourgo taverna in the square. We stopped in here for a snack — a crisp (and yummy) Greek salad that was big enough to feed both of us.

 

 

kiosk in Ano Mera square

A kiosk in Ano Mera square

 

 

church at Ano Mera Mykonos

A red-domed church near the town square

 

 

Whatever is Left taverna

The sign on the roof of the Whatever is Left grill house near the monastery. We wanted to have lunch on their patio, but when we walked onto the terrace and peeked in the open door, two female restaurant staff scurried into the kitchen and didn’t come back out. We saw them peeking around a corner, seemingly afraid of us. After calling out “hello” and waiting more than 5 minutes for someone to approach us at the table where we had sat down, we gave up and went elsewhere. When we passed by again, after lunch, we saw them serving food to two customers sitting at a table on the terrace. I have read that the food here is delicious, so I was disappointed that the staff were too scared to serve us.

 

 

apartment building in Ano Mera

A “highrise” (well, not quite) apartment building in Ano Mera. I have heard locals call it an “abomination” because the building wasn’t designed to reflect the traditional Cycladic architecture seen everywhere else on Mykonos. It truly does look out of place.

 

 

A look at Lia: Around 1.30, we reached Lia beach. There was only one car in the parking lot — probably belonging to the woman who was sitting on a towel near the far left side of the beach. She was the only person there. The beach was otherwise totally vacant, with not a single lounge chair or umbrella in sight. However, we did see a fellow organizing umbrella segments beside a building set back from the beach, so it’s likely he was preparing to install the sunbeds. The only restaurant at Lia, Taverna Luna, was not yet open. Katerina told us it serves excellent food, and I remembered other guests at Hotel Tagoo talking about how much they had enjoyed the food, so I hope to someday get back to give it a try.

 

Lia beach Mykonos

Looking toward the left side of Lia beach. You can barely see her, but a woman is sitting on the sand near the rocks. She had the entire beach all to herself.

 

 

 Lia beach Mykonos

Lia boasts a broad beach of brown sand with views toward Naxos island

 

 

Lia beach Mykonos

Looking toward Naxos island from the middle of Lia beach

 

 

Above is a brief video view of Lia Beach

 

 

Here’s a videoclip I shot from the car while Katerina was driving us from Lia to Kalafatis beach. It shows what a typical Mykonos beach access road looks like. Around the 00:34 mark, there’s a brief glimpse of the sea and three round hills. Kalafatis beach, our destination, is located on the bay in front of the two hills seen on the left.

 

 

Cape Kalafatis area of Mykonos

I shot this photo from the car while we were driving from Lia to Kalafatis. The hill in the center of the photo is part of Cape Kalafatis. Agia Anna beach (one of three Mykonos beaches with that name) is down there; Kalo Livadi beach is in the vicinity, too.

 

 

Kalo Livadi

We got this fleeting glimpse of Kalo Livadi Bay and beach as Katerina drove down the road leading to Kalafatis beach and bay

 

 

Kalo Livadi Bay

Another view, from the car, of Kalo Livadi Bay and villas on the hill above it

 

 

On to Kalafatis:  I always enjoy the drive to Kalafatis — the road that winds down the hill to the beach offers exhilarating views of the sea, the south Mykonos coast, and islands like Naxos in the distance. The first time I drove there, I found the views so distracting I had to pull off a long straight section of the highway and get out of the car so I could safely take a better look at the scenery. Other motorists — people driving cars and scooters — did the same thing, obviously captivated by the scenery. That straightaway section ends about three quarters of the way down the hill at a fork in the road — Kalafatis and Agia Anna beaches are off to the left, while the route to the right leads to Kalo Livadi.

Katerina turned left and, while driving down the next straightaway section of road, pointed out a restaurant coming up on our right — Aneplora. “I know it looks like a waiting room for a bus station, but don’t be deceived by the outside.” The interior is lovely, she said, and there are excellent views of Agia Anna beach and bay from the dining room windows. Katerina was stunned to hear that I had never been to Aneplora. “You have just got to eat here sometime — they serve some of the best Greek food on the island,” she said. 

Katerina stopped the car a short distance past Aneplora where two more roads branched off the main one. As I remembered from my own island drive several years before, the road to the right leads to Agia Anna beach and the Hotel Anastasia Village, while the dirt road to the left takes you to a rustic fishermen’s settlement in an area called Divounia at the south end of Kalafatis bay. There are several good places to eat here, and the one I have heard rave reviews about for years is Markos Fish Tavern. In fact, two guests at Hotel Tagoo had dined there just the day before, and said their fish lunch was wonderfully prepared and delicious. They highly recommended Markos, and Katerina did, too. Yet another restaurant to add to my “must try” list!

 

Kalafatis road on Mykonos

The view from partway down a long straight section of the main road to Kalafatis and Kalo Livadi. I shot this photo during our drive around Mykonos in 2009.

 

 

Kalafatis beach Mykonos

Looking toward Kalafatis beach from a villa near the spot where I parked on the road

 

 

Kalafatis bay on Mykonos

This was another part of the view from the side of the road on the hill

 

 

road to Kalafatis beach on Mykonos

This photo of another long straight stretch of the road is from a video I shot from the car. Aneplora restaurant is on the right, at the bottom of the hill.

 

 

Aneplora restaurant

Another photo I culled from my videoclip. This shows the sign and driveway turnoff for Aneplora restaurant.

 

 

 

Aneplora taverna Mykonos

This photo, from the Aneplora website, shows the view from the restaurant terrace

 

 

Kalafatis Mykonos

Looking toward the Divounia and Cape Kalafatis area from the fork in the road just past Aneplora. A road off to the right takes you to Agia Anna beach, while the dirt road at left leads to a small fishing settlement nestled between the two hills.

 

 

Markos Fish Tavern Kalafatis Mykonos

The sign points the way to Markos Fish Tavern, at the end of the dirt road at left

 

 

Kalafatis beach Mykonos

Kalafatis beach starts coming into view

 

 

Windsurfing area: Kalafatis beach was just a short distance from the turnoff to Markos, separated from the road by a long line of tamarisk trees. Many beachgoers park their vehicles on the side of the road next to the trees, while others keep driving to the end of the highway where there’s a small parking lot next to the Thalassa beach bar and taverna, part of the Aphrodite Beach Hotel.

Although there had been dozens of cars parked along the road next to the trees, the beach was almost empty, with only a few people occupying lounge chairs. A couple of dozen people were eating lunch at the restaurant, though. I was surprised that nobody was windsurfing — Kalafatis is the prime windsurfing beach on Mykonos, and last time I was here dozens of people were riding their boards in the bay.  It’s also a popular diving area, and home to the Kalafati Dive Center, which offers scuba diving instruction and organized dives, snorkelling trips and private boat tours around the island as well as to Delos, Rinia and Dragonissi islands. Guides take divers to some grottos and shipwrecks, including the Anna II, a freighter that sank near Kalafatis in 1995.

One of the dive center’s scuba classes was in progress close to the Thalassa restaurant, where three of us headed to check out the menu and views while Katerina chatted with a friend who works at the Dive Center. The restaurant prices looked reasonable, and the plates of food I saw a server delivering to a table looked scrumptious. The views looked just as good — diners can see the full beach and the fishing settlement across the bay, and can look right out to sea. Since we had all eaten lunch already, we didn’t stay for a meal, but the other two hotel guests said they would come back for lunch another day.

 

Above is a videoclip I shot from the car during our approach to Kalafatis beach

 

 

Kalafatis beach Mykonos

Kalafatis beach is located approximately 12 kilometers from Mykonos Town. It’s the longest beach on the island.

 

 

Kalafatis beach Mykonos

A scuba diving class takes to the water (left). The Kalafati Dive Center has been operating at the beach for the past 10 years.

 

 

Thalassa beach bar

The Thalassa beach bar has an enormous outdoor restaurant terrace with fantastic views of Kalafatis beach and bay

 

 

Cape Kalafatis

Looking toward the fishing settlement on Cape Kalafatis, from the sea- and beachview dining terrace at Thalassa beach bar and restaurant. Locals call the two hills on either side of the village “Aphrodite’s Breasts.”

 

 

Kalafatis fishing village

A telephoto view of the rustic fishing settlement nestled between “Aphrodite’s Breasts”

 

 

 

Above is a brief videoclip with views of Kalafatis beach and bay

 

 

Big gay beach: After some picture taking and a short walk on the sand at Kalafatis, it was time to hop back in the car and continue our tour. Our next destination was Elia beach, which we reached in only 10 minutes. Though it’s over 10 kilometers from Mykonos Town, Elia is one of the island’s most popular beaches. It draws a mixed crowd of open-minded visitors, and for the past several years has been the beach destination of choice for gay travellers (Super Paradise used to be the gay beach in Greece, but Elia is by far the bigger draw for the gay crowd these days).  It’s also popular with people, straight and gay alike, who enjoy sunbathing and swimming in the nude.

I had not been to Elia since 2005, when we stayed at the Myconian Imperial Resort for four nights during an island-hopping holiday. I was stunned to see that fewer than half of the lounge chairs and umbrellas had been set up on the sand; seven years earlier, rental sunbeds had lined almost the entire length of the beach. This time, the west half of the strand was completely vacant, while only a couple of dozen people were relaxing on the sunbeds already put in place toward the other end of the beach. It was quite windy and nobody was in the water, where big waves churned seaweed and other natural sea debris against the shore. The beachside taverna appeared to be doing a brisk business, though, and probably for good reason: Everybody I know who has eaten there has raved about how good the food is. It’s another restaurant on my list of places to try on some future visit to Mykonos.

Although the scenery still looked as great as I remembered from 2005, there was one very noticeable difference: a huge construction site on the hillside above the Myconian Imperial and its adjacent sister hotel, the Royal Myconian Resort. Someone told us that the owner of those properties (they also own the Myconian Ambassador at Platis Gialos and the Myconian K Hotels just outside Mykonos Town) was constructing another premium hotel & villa property. When I got home after my trip, I checked the Myconian Collection website and, sure enough, found a link to a separate webpage for the Myconian Villa Collection, billed as an “exclusive villas resort.” The website boasts that one of the properties, “The Grand Villa Elia,” is the largest villa in all of Greece, with 33 guestrooms. That may be where I’ll host a big celebration bash for my family and friends when I win millions of dollars in the lottery. (Never hurts to dream, right?)

 

 

Another videoclip I shot from the car. This one shows the drive down the bottom part of the road that leads to Elia beach — just past a series of sharp hairpin turns. I had to edit out the scenes I filmed on the turns because the motion of the car going around the tight corners made the video impossible to watch without getting dizzy.

 

 

 Elia beach Mykonos

 

Looking toward the left side of Elia beach. The white buildings at upper left are part of the Myconian Imperial and Royal Myconian hotel complexes. New luxury villas are under construction on the hillside to their right.

 

 

Elia beach Mykonos

Villas clinging to the steep hillside provide a dramatic visual backdrop to the beautiful beach. There are spectacular views from the top of the mountain; you can see Kalo Livadi beach to the north as well as a long way down the Mykonos south coast.

 

 

Elia beach Mykonos

The right half of Elia beach, where sunbeds had not yet been installed.  About a 15-minute walk from the rocky peninsula at the end of the beach is a quiet small beach called Agrari.

 

 

Missed turn: Katerina had planned to drive us to Agrari beach next, and thought she remembered a shortcut, but she missed a turn and we wound up going down some dead-end roads instead. That’s one of the problems of driving on Mykonos — there aren’t enough signs indicating the way to the various beaches. Road signage on Mykonos is haphazard, at best, and it’s easy to miss turnoffs. Often the signs are posted on only one side of the road, so if you’re driving from the opposite direction, you won’t see them at all. That’s why we missed a sign pointing the way to Agrari beach, which we never got to see even though Katerina twice stopped to get directions from local residents working outside houses we passed along the way. Had we approached from a different direction, we probably would have noticed a road sign. We gave up on Agrari and agreed to go to Super Paradise beach instead, which Katerina had no trouble finding.

We got to Super Paradise just as clouds were rolling in and beginning to block the sun. The beach was the liveliest I have ever seen it in mid-May, with the area next to the Super Paradise bar being the busiest. Dozens of people were enjoying the beach and the great music from the bar; everybody looked relaxed and laid back, and didn’t seem to mind that the clouds were bringing an end to their sunbathing at 3 in the afternoon. This was the most people I have seen at Super Paradise in mid May. It was also the sexiest crowd of all the Mykonos beaches I have visited. With an abundance of fit, gym-toned, muscular and very good looking straight and gay people of both sexes primarily in the 20 – 40 age group, Super Paradise provided a visual feast of eye candy.

I wished we could have stayed longer, but Katerina had to start heading back to Mykonos Town to get ready for work. No worries: since it looked like the cloud cover wasn’t going to break, the other two hotel guests and I both agreed we’d be happy returning to town. Our tour had been terrific, and we had seen a lot in a relatively short period of time.

 

road to Super Paradise beach

I shot this photo through the windshield on our way to Super Paradise beach

 

 

Mykonos countryside

Another view, from the car, of the countryside we passed on the way to Super Paradise

 

 

I shot this short clip while Katerina drove down the final few hundred meters of the road leading to the parking area at Super Paradise beach. The road is much, much steeper than it appears in the video!

 

 

 

Super Paradise beach Mykonos

Super Paradise is one of my favourite beaches on Mykonos. It can be reached only by private vehicle, taxi or shuttle boat — there is no bus service to the beach.

 

 

Super Paradise beach Mykonos

Looking out to sea from Super Paradise beach

 

 

Super Paradise beach Mykonos

Looking along the right side of Super Paradise beach.  The white building part way up the hill at the end of the beach is the Coco Beach Club restaurant and bar. See my August 16 2011 post for photos of the bar and its views overlooking the beach.

 

 

 

Here’s a very brief clip showing part of the drive back up the steep beach road

 

 

Back to town: We left Super Paradise at 2:48 p.m. and reached the Remezzo area of Mykonos Town by 3:15. Katerina dropped me off on the edge of town so I could walk around there for awhile, then drove her two friends back to Hotel Tagoo.

I was feeling peckish, so I stopped into Antonini taverna at Manto Square to have a light lunch — a Greek salad and a Coke. I had a great front-row seat for people-watching, since the square is one of the busiest places in Mykonos Town. Some of the people I enjoyed watching the most were the six French tourists at the table next to mine. They had ordered mezes — more than a dozen different items in all — and it was fun to watch the waiters bring the various dishes to their table. All of the Greek food looked delicious, and everyone in the group kept commenting about how much they were enjoying their meal. 

After I left Antonini, I wandered through part of the town center and stopped into a cafe for a coffee. From there, I strolled over to Little Venice. The seaside cocktail bars were bathed in brilliant warm sunshine, but almost all of the tables were empty because waves pushed ashore by the strong wind kept spraying water and mist right across the terraces. I walked over to the Paraportiani church and explored some of the wind-sheltered lanes around there, then followed the waterfront back to Manto Square and gradually made my way back to the hotel.

 

Manto Square Mykonos

The taxi rank at Manto Square (also called Taxi Square). Restaurants around the square are great spots to get a drink or meal if you enjoy people watching — Manto Square is one of the busiest places in Mykonos Town.

 

 

Mykonos Town harbour

A quiet afternoon at the Mykonos Town harbourfront

 

 

FlyingCat 4

The FlyingCat 4 highspeed ferry backs out of the Mykonos Old Port near the Alexander, an excursion boat that takes tourists on day trips from Naxos to Delos and Mykonos. See my March 17 2012 post for more photos and information about the FlyingCat 4, and my April 1 2012 post for information and photos of the Alexander and the Naxos Star, another Naxos excursion boat that makes trips from Naxos to Delos and Mykonos.

 

 

SeaJet 2 highspeed ferry

Another highspeed ferry, the SeaJet2, departed the Old Port around the same time

 

 

Mykonos folklore museum

The Mykonos folklore museum building on the waterfront near the Paraportiani Church

 

 

 Little Venice Mykonos

Tables at one of the seaside cocktail bars at Little Venice

 

 

Little Venice Mykonos

Although it looked like a beautiful time to relax at Semeli Bar and enjoy the scenery …

 

 

Little Venice

… which includes the landmark windmills on the nearby Alefkandra hillside, it was too windy and wet to comfortably sit by the seaside. Waves kept spraying mist and water onto the chairs and tables on the cocktail bar terraces.

 

 

Here’s a short videoclip I shot showing the almost-empty cocktail bars at Little Venice

 

 

ILO ILO cafe

Stools and tables in the narrow streets outside the ilo ilo café and dessert shop

 

 

Mykonos Town street

A narrow passageway between two streets in Mykonos Town

 

 

houses in Mykonos Town

Adjacent balconies on two houses near the Paraportiani church in Mykonos Town

 

 

courtyard in Mykonos Town

Souvenir shops in a quiet courtyard near the Paraportiani church

 

 

sailboat at Mykonos

Clouds cast long striped shadows across the Aegean Sea as a sailboat approaches the seashore near the Tagoo district of Mykonos shortly before sunset

 

 

Delicious dinner: I sat back and relaxed with a glass of wine at the Hotel Tagoo swimming pool bar while watching the sunset and talking about Mykonos restaurants with a woman who was also on a solo visit to Greece. When I told her that Avra is one of my favourite upscale restaurants in town, she suggested we go there together — so we did.  Since the wind had turned increasingly chilly, we both grabbed jackets from our rooms and walked briskly to the restaurant. Was it ever cold! We were relieved when we reached the maze of narrow streets and lanes in town, where the wind was blocked by buildings.

Avra is on Kalogera Street, but has relocated one block down the road from the building it occupied the last time I had dined at the restaurant. The new site — in the former Chez Maria premises — is a very cozy space with a charming tree-shaded courtyard as well as interior dining areas. Owners Niko and Sarah gave us a warm welcome when we arrived, and Niko took us upstairs to show us a brand-new rooftop dining terrace that was nearly finished construction. It promised to be the perfect place to enjoy a romantic dinner under a star-lit sky. Tonight, however, the cloudy sky meant no stars could be seen. In fact, it began to drizzle while we were chatting with Niko on the terrace, so we hurried back downstairs. We could have dined in the courtyard — it was sheltered from the wind, and the tree protected most of the tables from the rain — but we decided to sit indoors just in case the weather got worse.

As expected, the service was impeccable and the Avra cuisine was outstanding.  For a starter, we had the sesame feta. Wrapped in thin pastry, then deep-fried and topped with sesame seeds, the feta is served with grapes and rose petal jelly. Our Avra salad came next — a huge bowl brimming with rocket lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, avocado, walnuts, figs, and shavings of fresh parmesan cheese. Our third selection was a seafood pasta with shrimp, oysters, mussels and squid in a garlic tomato sauce. All three dishes were absolutely delicious, but the sesame feta was our runaway favourite. Even though we both had arrived at Avra feeling quite hungry, we could barely finish all the food.

The drizzle had stopped and the winds had eased up by the time we left Avra, sometime close to midnight, so we decided to take a walk through the town. To our shock, the streets were deserted. Only a few bars were open, and none had more than a couple of customers. It was the quietest I had ever seen Mykonos Town at night, and I couldn’t believe how dead it was, especially considering that it was a Thursday night. Neither of us felt like going into any of the bars, so we just returned to the hotel.

Wednesday was over, but the beach tour with Katerina and the superb meal at Avra had given me one of my most memorable days on Mykonos yet.

 

 

Mykonos sunset

The May 17 2012 sunset, viewed from the Hotel Tagoo swimming pool terrace

 

 

Avra Mykonos

Part of the courtyard dining terrace at Avra restaurant in Mykonos Town

 

 

Avra restaurant

This photo, from the Avra website, shows another view of the courtyard terrace

 

 

 

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3 Comments

  1. I really enjoyed reading your blog and going through the pictures.

  2. I loved reading your blog and looking at your videos and pictures. My husband and I are anxious to visit in only 4 short weeks!

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