After breakfast, I went up to the swimming pool deck to ask Jimmy if he had heard any recent forecasts. He didn’t have good news. “I hear we’re in for some heavy rain today,” he told me. As if on cue, the sky darkened and the clouds burst, dousing the island with one of the heaviest downpours I’ve ever seen in Greece. There was no way I could return to my room without getting completely soaked, and it would have been extremely foolish, in any event, to rush across the rain-slicked terraces and down two sets of slippery stairs to get there. So I JUST stood under the canopy in front of the bar and watched the entire storm with Jimmy.
This was the first time I had seen rain fall on Mykonos. During our early May visit back in 2006, there were two early morning rainshowers that soaked the Platis Gialos area (where we were staying) before we got out of bed. I woke up when I heard rain falling, but couldn’t be bothered looking out the window and just went back to sleep. Both times, the rain had stopped by the time we got up for breakfast. In May 2011, a massive thunderstorm system approached Mykonos while we were at the Old Port waiting for the FlyingCat 4 ferry that would take us to Ios. However, rain didn’t start falling until we were halfway to Paros, which actually got pounded by a vicious thunderstorm while we were in port there. Seeing Mykonos get thrashed was a bit of a novelty — something totally different and new to add to my list of experiences on the island.
Rain soaks the swimming pool terrace at Hotel Tagoo …
… while tenders continue to transport passengers to and from the Celebrity Equinox, anchored off the coast near the Mykonos Old Port
While Mykonos bears the brunt of the storm, Syros island basks in sunshine
Above is a brief video of the morning rainstorm, which I shot from the shelter of the Hotel Tagoo pool bar
Above is another brief videoclip of the morning rainstorm
Afternoon walkabout: The rain stopped by noon, but the continuing heavy cloudcover suggested there might be another shower. I didn’t feel like staying in my room, so I grabbed my waterproof windbreaker and walked into Mykonos Town. It was busier than I had expected — passengers on the visiting cruise ships probably didn’t want to let the bad weather keep them from enjoying their limited time on the island, either.
I wandered around the streets and Little Venice area for awhile, then stopped into Jimmy’s Souvlaki for a yummy — and cheap — gyros sandwich for lunch. Did some more walking around after that, then headed over to Megali Ammos beach to see if Joanna’s Niko’s Beach Taverna was open for the season yet. It was, and I chatted with proprietor Joanna for a few minutes. Her highly popular restaurant is a great spot for watching the sunset while enjoying a meal of reasonably-priced Greek food, and I planned to drop by for dinner on another day when the weather was better. “We fire up the grill at 7 o’clock so that’s a good time to come by any day,” Joanna told me.
I went to take photos of Megali Ammos beach, but managed to snap only a few before it started raining again and I had to put my camera away. Luckily, it was a light rain, and didn’t last for long. It actually stopped by the time I walked up the hill from the beach, which takes about five to 10 minutes. I gradually made my way to Aroma Café, where I sat at one of the outdoor tables, sat back and relaxed with a coffee while watching locals, tourists and cruise ship passengers stroll past.
Red-trimmed houses on a street near the windmills at Little Venice
A view of the Celebrity Equinox at anchor near Little Venice
The rustic seaside buildings at Little Venice. Despite the cloudy conditions, a group of tourists is enjoying the scenery over cocktails at Veranda Club-Café (right)
Red-domed Agios Charalampos church sits on a rocky point directly behind the windmills and the Mykonos Theoxenia Hotel
Looking toward the Mykonos Theoxenia Hotel from a pathway along the coast
Approaching Megali Ammos beach, where Joanna’s Niko’s Beach Taverna is located (center left). The beach is a short walk from Mykonos Town.
Hotels cling to the hillside at the far left end of Megali Ammos beach. Though it’s close to Town, the beach is mediocre, by Mykonos standards, and can’t compare to the beautiful beaches along the island’s south coast
Looking out to sea from Megali Ammos. The beach is less than a 15-minute walk from the Fabrica bus depot area of Mykonos Town.
Tables on part of the outdoor dining terrace at Joanna’s Niko’s Beach Taverna. Joanna’s is incredibly popular thanks to its reasonably priced Greek cuisine (the taverna specializes in grilled meat dishes) and its prime sunset viewing location right on the beach.
The Mykonos Adonis Hotel is a short walk from Megali Ammos beach, and even closer to the Fabrica bus depot in Mykonos Town
The bus depot in the Fabrica district of Mykonos Town. This is where you catch buses to the Ornos, Agios Ioannis, Platis Gialos, Psarou, Paraga and Paradise beach areas
This street leads from the Fabrica bus depot to the parking area behind the famous windmills at Little Venice (one of two free parking areas at Mykonos Town)
Aroma Café, where I watched tourists walk by while relaxing with a coffee
Irini, Bona and Savvas serve my gyros with a smile at Jimmy’s Souvlaki shop. Savvas’s father, Jimmy, founded the “fast food” shop decades ago and the place is still going strong. You can’t beat it for tasty, cheap eats — my chicken gyros and a bottled water cost only €3.
A hydro pole on Kalogera Street is covered with signs pointing the way to a hair salon and some of the most popular restaurants in Mykonos Town
More threatening clouds: Eventually I headed back to Hotel Tagoo, returning just in time to watch what appeared to be another brutal thunderstorm heading toward Mykonos. Stormclouds had enveloped nearby Tinos island, and were pushing our way, but this time it was Tinos’s turn to suffer a severe soaking. Soon, the thunderclouds began breaking up, giving us brief but regular glimpses of brilliant blue sky. We did get a light sprinkling of rain for a few seconds, though, after which a giant rainbow rose in the sky above the hotel. I stayed on the pool terrace to watch the dramatic sunset with several other hotel guests, then four of us arranged to have dinner in town and get together for drinks later in the evening with another group of people staying at the hotel.
Our dinner destination was Roca Cookery, which some guests had already tried and highly recommended. Anna told us the restaurant had been a big hit with Mykonos locals during the winter, and she urged us to give it a try, too. Specializing in Greek mezes, fish and seafood, Roca occupies the former Squalo restaurant premises next door to the Blu-blu Lounge Café, just steps from the archaeological museum above the Old Port. Roca has large, wide windows overlooking the Mykonos Town harbour and Old Port, and offering great sunset views. The service was excellent and so was the food. Our group ordered wine and a selection of mezes — Greek salad, zesty tzatziki, delicious zucchini sticks and super-tasty tomato fritters — as well as grilled red snapper. We had a fun evening of conversation and wonderful food (the red snapper was grilled to moist perfection) and I was pleased that, even though we had ordered fish (which is very expensive in Greece), my share of the tab was only €30. (I had been expecting the meal to cost me at least 10 to 15 more Euros). It was one of my best dining experiences — ever — on Mykonos.
Stormclouds shroud much of Tinos island, and threaten to approach Mykonos
After soaking Tinos with rain, the stormclouds move toward Mykonos
The view from the upper level sun deck at Hotel Tagoo as the dark stormclouds advance from Tinos toward the Celebrity Equinox, anchored near the Mykonos Old Port. The storm sprinkled light rain, but otherwise missed Mykonos entirely
The storm system passes above the southwest side of Mykonos and heads out to sea
In early evening, the clouds finally start to break up
This was the most blue sky we had seen all day! Unfortunately, it was just before sunset.
As sunset approached, the moody stormclouds add high drama to the evening sky. The sky cleared enough for us to see Giaros island in the distance.
A rainbow graces the sky high above the Hotel Tagoo swimming pool terrace
The sunset was a welcome sight after the heavy morning rains and cloudy afternoon
The stormclouds take on a fiery orange glow as the sun continues to set
We had a great view of the Mykonos Old Port and harbour from our table at Roca Cookery
Bar crawl: After dinner we went to Jackie O’ Bar, our designated rendez-vous point to meet the other people from Hotel Tagoo. We arrived much later than expected, though, and didn’t see any familiar faces. We had a drink, did some dancing (the music was great, and the place was bustling with an energetic, mixed straight & gay crowd), and then went bar hopping to Babylon (right next door to Jackie O’, it wasn’t quite as busy yet), Porta (a gay bar nearby, where about a fifth of the customers were straight women — like my companions — and all having a blast), Skandinavian Bar (jam-packed upstairs dance bars boasting a horde of straight men and women mainly in their 20s and early 30s), Remezzo (large dance space that was a little more than half full, with a predominantly straight crowd), and back to Porta and Jackie O before calling it a night in the wee hours of the morning.
The day may have started off on a bad note, thanks to the inclement weather, but it certainly ended on a high.
Saturday May 19
Lazy day: After a fun Friday night on the town, I needed some down time, and spent a quiet day being lazy at the hotel, just reading and relaxing and watching the scenery from the pool deck. The weather was good — sunny and warm with a few cloudy periods — and Hotel Tagoo was fairly quiet since most guests had decided to hit the beach and catch some sun.
Late in the afternoon, I got some exercise by taking a walk around the Old Port area to check out the charter yachts and tour boats, then wandered some of the residential streets in the town center. Mykonos Town was exceptionally quiet, and many streets looked deserted — probably because there weren’t any big cruise ships in port that afternoon. The only tour boat visiting the island, at the time, was the small three-masted Running on Waves sailing ship. During much of my walkabout, I felt like I had the entire town all to myself, encountering very few locals or other tourists along the way.
Late afternoon view of the Old Port area as I walked to Mykonos Town from Hotel Tagoo. The Delos Express motors toward the port while the 3-masted Running on Waves sailing ship rests at anchor to the right.
Private luxury cruising boats moored at the Mykonos Town harbour
The Harmony V charter yacht (right) and another charter vessel at the Mykonos Old Port
The center of Mykonos Town is just a short walk from the Harmony V’s berth at the Old Port
The Dolphins of Delos tour boat berthed at Mykonos Old Port
A red fishing boat sits next to the harbour at Babulas Taverna
Looking up at Roca Cookery, where we had a memorable meal
A pair of feet rest on the ledge of a balcony at the Porto Mykonos Hotel above the Old Port
A view of Mykonos Town from the harbourside next to Babulas Taverna
One of the shopping streets in Mykonos Town
With only the one small sailing ship in port that afternoon, most streets in Town were quiet with little or no tourist traffic
Bougainvillea vines form a giant canopy above a scooter parked on a residential lane
Steps lead down a narrow lane in Mykonos Town
Red bougainvillea blooms add a pop of colour above the Art Studio Gallery
Greek Night awaits: Once I got my fill of walking, I headed back to the hotel to watch the sunset. Another fun evening was in store: One of Hotel Tagoo’s famous Greek Nights, followed by dinner with other guests at the hotel.
As always, Greek Night was a blast. Guests gathered at the pool bar for some drinks and conversation and nibbled on tasty treats like mini spanakopita and cheese pies that Anna had prepared. A round of Jimmy’s infamous shooters helped loosen everyone up for the live entertainment that followed. Anna and Yiannis demonstrated some traditional Greek dancing, then turned the stage over to their guests, 16 of whom lined up next to the swimming pool to learn a few dance steps from Yiannis. Once they had mastered the basic moves, Yiannis led them on a few laps around the pool while the rest of the group cheered them on.
The sea near the Running on Waves sailing ship takes on a silvery shine as the brilliant late afternoon sun reflects on the water
Hotel Tagoo guests enjoy the early evening views from the swimming pool terrace
Big clouds fill the sky as sunset approaches, but the didn’t bring any rain. Giaros island is visible in the distance.
A fishing boat motors toward Tourlos port shortly before sunset
The big clouds tried to block the sunset, but didn’t quite succeed
Guests walk past the Hotel Tagoo swimming pool at twilight
Yiannis (front) prepares to teach some Greek dance steps to a group of Hotel Tagoo guests
The group dances in a line around the swimming pool
Above is a brief videoclip showing Yiannis giving a Greek dancing lesson to a group of guests from Hotel Tagoo
Above is a brief videoclip showing the group dancing around the hotel pool
Group meal at Matthew Taverna: As the Greek Night celebrations wound down, everyone’s focus turned to food. Several couples headed off to various different restaurants they wanted to try in town, while several more went to Roca Cookery. I joined one of two groups going to Matthew Taverna near the New Port in Tourlos. It had just opened for the season, and I was keen to check it out since I had heard lots of great feedback about their food for the past several years. The taverna wasn’t yet open when we went to Mykonos in 2011, so I jumped at the invitation to join a group of 15 other guests.
Our group got seats at a long row of tables under a big tree on the taverna’s open-air terrace, while the second group from the hotel took seats inside the restaurant. Matthew’s has a menu, but the serving staff encouraged us to visit the kitchen to see the food items on offer for the evening (most dishes are in a glass display case, and kitchen staff explain what each item is and how it was prepared). I ordered the fava and swordfish, while the others ordered a wide variety of different starters and mains, ranging from soups and pastas to moussaka and other traditional Greek dishes. We ordered several carafes of wine, and passed around a few Greek salads. Several people who got large portions that they couldn’t eat by themselves shared their dishes with me, so I also got to try some seafood pasta, moussaka, spinach pie and grilled feta. Everything was delicious, but I enjoyed my grilled swordfish the most. I thought my share of the bill — €22.50 — was very reasonable for the quality of the food and portion sizes, as well as the good service.
Most of the group headed directly to Mykonos Town for some bar hopping before going to Jackie O’ to watch the 2 a.m. drag show, but I felt too tired for another night on the town and went back to the hotel with a few others who weren’t interested in partying. I was fast asleep by midnight.