I was fortunate to visit two Greek islands while in Greece. The first one was Mykonos. Mykonos is famous for being the party island in Greece for its clubs and beaches. To get to Mykonos, you can take the ferry. You can take the high speed and be there in about 3 hours, or take the regular ferry and be there in about 6 hours. Either way, you have to get up early to get to the port.
Here are some pics of the hotel I stayed in Athens. Greek hotel rooms are a lot smaller than I expected. But, they're also so much more efficient. They have water efficient toilets and you have to insert your card key into a slot inside the room to get the electricity to come on.
Here's the bed I slept in. It was so comfortable! It was the only thing that I really, really wanted to bring back from Greece, only I couldn't figure out how to stuff it into my suitcase.
Okay, I have a confession to make. As soon as the bellboy left with his tip, I jumped on that bed. I also made that bed every morning. I couldn't help myself. I mean, they had housekeeping do an excellent job of making the beds every morning, but I still managed to make mine before I left the room. It's just something that I do. It doesn't feel right not making the bed before I leave for the day, even if I'm on vacation.
The bathrooms were pretty nice, too. But ladies, if you like to blow dry your hair, bring your own blow dryer and some converters and adapters. The hotel does provide blow dryers, but they might not be up to speed on what you're used to. The tub in this hotel was particularly was deep, but narrow. And there was a slight problem of the water changing temperatures, from hot to cold unexpectedly, as if someone had flushed the toilet. But it's still a very nice restroom with its modern fixtures and granite and marble surfaces.
Waking up early, we checked out and had a cab (previously arranged through a travel agent) take us to the port of Pireas in Athens. The port was busy with activity, but the waters were calm and beautiful.
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Now, the ferry ride itself was very comfortable. We were in first class, right at the front (bow) of the ship. Since we missed breakfast, we ordered some food on the ferry. The prices were low and the food was incredible! I had a delicious cheese pie and turkey sandwich and a strawberry milkshake. The service was excellent, too! The waiter was surprised when we tipped him. He couldn't understand why he was getting a tip. But he was so grateful and nice. Apparently, they don't tip in Greece. But hey, I like to reward good service when I get it. Besides, having been a waitperson in the past, I feel a kinship to the hard working service workers.
During the trip, I stayed awake, talking to the other passengers--some wonderful people from Australia (you could tell by their accents), some Italians, and a few Brits. I recognized some Americans, because let's face it, we can be a very loud people, and sometimes, our ethnocentrism tends to come out when we exclaim our disbelief at how things are so different in foreign countries. Yes, we can be very loud tourists at times.
The ferry made two stops. One of the places they stopped at was Siros. It was so cool to see some of the Greek architecture and harbor. Then the ferry stopped at Tinos. The last stop was Mykonos. There were several cruise ships in port. That's one way to see Greece. It was a little slow getting off the ferry, but with a little patience, we got off eventually.
Now, if you are adventurous and haven't picked a place to stay yet, don't worry. There will be people at the port offering you hotels or rooms to rent. I thought I'd look for a ride.
Going my way?
Luckily, we found our driver to the hotel. That's him in the front left, blue shirt and shades, arm raised. He's also the hotel manager of a great hotel with a wonderful staff.
Luved the hotel; it was about 15 minutes from the port in an area called Agios Ioannis. It was a very lovely hotel. Check out the room. It's a canopy bed with these fancy lights hanging from the ceiling. The restroom was pretty big, and no sudden temperature changes in the water here.
But the best part was the view from the balcony!
I thought I ought to enjoy the view and test out the new beach sandals.
Truth was, I couldn't believe that I was here! And the only people more excited than me were the two cute Asian girls a few balconies down, who were jumping up and down, screaming with joy. We laughed and waved at each other before heading down to check out the rest of the hotel. The pool was fantastic.
And later on, during dinner, I could see the pool from the open air restaurant. The night atmosphere was magical, with stars out, a slight cool breeze blowing, and a very mild, quiet night. Perfect for drinking Metaxa by the candlelight.
And later on, about two in the morning, I went out to the balcony and became mesmerized by the beautiful sight of the moon shining over the bay. It was such an otherworldly, ethereal sight, like I had wandered into a dream.
The next day, after breakfast, we got up and took the bus into town. Now, you can rent a car or scooter or four wheeler, but like most of Greece, the roads are really narrow. I prefer to take the bus.
You save more money and you can take a cab back to the hotel after a long night of partying. The bus mostly run from morning til night. It's the most efficient way to get around, esp to all those great places on the island.
Greece Travel Tip #8
It's very easy to use the buses on Mykonos. The bus stops and hotels have schedules and maps of the bus routes. It's also very inexpensive compared to renting a car or scooter. The bus drivers are very friendly and they'll help you find the right way to your destination.
The bus will take you into Mykonos Town, the heart of Mykonos,
They have restaurants, shops, and even a beach along the harbor! No, your eyes are not deceiving you; that is a man in speedos. They were quite common in Greece! I was definitely in Europe.
The restaurants all served fresh seafood! Check out the octopuses hanging on the lines of that boat behind me!
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You can do some shopping in Mykonos Town.
Greece Travel Tip #9
Look around for great shopping deals, and don't forget to haggle. If you pay in cash and are buying a lot of items, you're more likely to get a discount. The further the shops are from the main streets or tourist areas, the less expensive the items! Try the mini markets also because they sell great local goods for less than what the tourist shops charge. You can find great deals just by looking around.
This being Europe, of course, the Greeks were very fashionable. Prada, Gucci, Dolce and Gabbana. Everyone wore really nice, designer clothes and shades, even the little kids! That reminds me. They have no school buses; the kids ride on the public buses for free! Can you imagine a child getting on the bus full of adult strangers? But apparently, it's the norm in Mykonos, and the bus driver and ticket person are pretty good at looking out for the kids. Still, I'm not the best person when it comes to keeping up with fashion. But I can tell you that I really like where fashion is going:
I can't wait for the topless dress to hit the rest of the world!
And when you're done shopping for the day, head back to the bus station and catch the bus to the beach. Or you can rent a tiny car or scooter.
But I prefer the bus, because there is one that takes you directly to the most famous beach on Mykonos: Paradise Beach.
The beach was fantastic with all the sand and cool blue waters. The waters were perfect for cooling down from the hot sun after tanning for a bit. There were also some rock formations that were natural platforms to jump off into the water. A few of us took turns swimming out to the formations and jumping off. Now, there were some smooth, hard rocks between the sand and the sea; but they only spread about 2 to 3 yards wide. Once you got past the rock borders, it was all smooth sand in the water.
Paradise Beach is full of clubs that blast dance music and serve drinks. You can enjoy lounging in the sun chairs or under a nice umbrella, all while wait staff bring you drinks or food.
(Click on the pics for bigger view)
It was a little crowded there, so I headed over to SuperParadise Beach, which is really right next to Paradise Beach. And of course, this being a European beach, there were beautiful topless women all around! And yes, there were also lots of men in speedos--It is Europe! I almost felt overdressed in my swim trunks, esp when I saw some nudists!
Everyone wore shades, because it made it easier to check other people out. Although, a few people didn't even bother to wear glasses while people watching. One lady kept staring at me as I laid there in the sun. I finally had to turn my towel the other way and adjust my shorts to give her a better view.
I also took some other interesting pictures on the beach. Now, I try to be careful to hide people's identities as to not violate their privacy. But I still think I got a few fun shots, like this gentleman right here.
He was one of several nudists on the beach. You know you're in Europe because they are so laid back when it comes to nudity! He was getting ready to leave the beach.
And after spending a whole afternoon getting sun and swimming in the waters, it was time to head back into town for dinner and catch the bus back to the hotel.
Of course, I couldn't resist ordering a gyro in Mykonos Town. There were a lot of great cafes and bistros and snack shops in town. They stayed open til really late into the wee hours of the morning. Everyday, we ate a different one, and they were all very good! Notice that the gyro is a plate, while a pita is a wrap, both very delicious! It's a great way to end the day exploring Mykonos; and it's an excellent way to fuel up to enjoy the night's activities!