Thursday, May 21, 2015

Mykonos, Greece Trip Report - May 13 - 19, 2015

Mykonos was the second part of my trip to Greece.  Six days in Santorini and six in Mykonos.  My gait here was much slower and lazier than in Santorini.  I was in relax mode and just taking things at a leisurely pace rather than trying to see everything I possibly could.  It felt more sedate and laid back here too, but of course, I wasn't out partying late at night either so I can't comment to that.  Because I spent so much time writing the Santorini report, I really didn't feel like writing this one at all while I was there, so I finished most of it when I got home.

Wednesday, May 13th:

My taxi dropped me to the port about 11:15am.  Once I asked the "Port Police", he advised me to get in the line below for the departure gate.



And my ferry arrived.  It was $61 € for economy seating and I paid a $10 € fee from the travel agency I booked through.  The staff get you on, stow your luggage and direct you to where your seat is.  I had a specific seat assigned on my ticket.  This process goes surprisingly fast for being herded like sheep.  We departed on time at 11:40am.

2:40pm I arrived in Mykonos.  The ride was rough and I was just starting to feel nausea in the last 10 minutes so it was good we arrived.  It's a long walk out to where they greet you but I found my ride with the hotel sign.  His name was Spiros (hotel owner's son).  Another couple, from Richmond, B.C. of all places were also along for the ride - small world.  Spiros told us Mykonos is the "Island of Wind".


About 10 minutes later, we were at the hotel.  Checked in and Spiros took me to my room.  He explained what I needed to know in regards to the room and then left me.  The room was so cute!  I really liked it.  I had a patio too and it was lovely.  I was happy here.




I walked down to the "Main Square" which was also the bus depot.  It is also an entrance to the labyrinth which is known as Mykonos.  As my reception desk guy Vassilis said, "Less than 2 minutes" is how long it took me to get there.



I picked up some wine and water for the room.  The first mini mart has wine from Crete that was $4.50 €.  I found in Santorini too that the wines from Crete were much cheaper.  I went back to the room and finished unpacking.

Vassilis asked if I wanted a dinner recommendation and I said sure.  He recommended "Joanna's Nikos Place Tavern".  I actually had that on my list of possible places to dine.  He told me it was the opposite way I went to the Main square, less than a 3 minute walk.  Of course, there was no sidewalk again and I was really uncomfortable on this road when there were cars, especially when they were coming in both directions.

I saw it easily when walking down the road.  It is a really tight entrance in from the road and down the stairs onto Megali Ammos beach.


View from my table

Taramasalata (Fish Roe Dip) $4.50 € & Pita $.50 €

The dip & pita was really delicious!  It was my first time ever trying it.  I found it rich, filling and salty.  I managed to eat 3/4 of it though.  Next up I ordered "Stuffed Squid".  This dish looked fantastic and I thought the price of $13 € was really reasonable  Unfortunately, I didn't really like it.  The stuffing was cheese and clumps of dry bread with no taste.  The calamari was tough and rubbery though the grilled taste of it was really yummy.  I still ate it but it did not impress me at all.


I got my bill.  Service was really nice and pleasant.  Nothing to complain about there.  I walked across the street to that mini mart and bought a couple of more things for my room, then I walked up the scary road.  Once at the hotel I went to bed.  

Thursday, May 14th:

I awoke early and went down for breakfast (included with room price) at 8am.  Vassilis greeted me warmly and showed me how to get there.


Breakfast was a buffet set up, with hot food as well, including scrambled eggs, sausage and potatoes.  No ketchup though.  Then yogurt, cereal, pastries, breads, lunch meat, cheese & Greek cheese, dolmathes, etc.  They bring you your choice of coffee or tea.  And there is OJ, and water at one's disposal.


After breakfast I went to the main square to get my laundry done.  There is no self-serve laundry on the island.  This one charged $10 € for one load - washed, dried and folded.  I found that reasonable and they said it would be ready in 2 hours.  I proceeded to walk around tentatively, not wanting to get lost in the maze at this point.



But soon, I found the Windmills!  Vassilis had told me how to get there so I went and looked at those and then made my way to "Little Venice" which is waterfront and really a tourist trap, but it is a nice setting with beautiful views and a nice breeze.



As I was looking at which place I would sit at, I saw this man fishing (below).  I managed to gather from him that he fished everyday and cooked it.  And that he loved Mykonos, and Canada.  :)  He also showed me his catch of the day and wanted to see the picture I took of him.  He nodded his head in approval.



I moved a couple of chairs down to where the yellow benches were.  It was called Galleraki.  On their business card, they called themselves a "Dive Bar".  I ordered a Champagne.



I enjoyed the view and a while later I ordered something called "Toast" $4 €.  This reminded me of the "bikini" sandwich I had in Spain.  Ham & Cheese though this one had tomato too.  I saw them at other spots on the island for as low as $1 €.


Then it was time to pick up my laundry.  Everything was folded beautiful and all my clothes smelled like lavender.  I went back to the hotel and asked Vassilis if he knew of any "walking tours" that would teach me my way around the maze.  He said he knew of a private guide and called him but it was $90 € for two hours.  I told him I had found a four hour tour that was half bus and half walking for $35 €.  He reminded me it would be full of other people.  I told him I'd go look online and decide.  The next tour wasn't till Saturday which was too late for me.  I decided to scrap the idea.  I decided I'd just go get lost .  :)

Vassilis told me he had called the guy again and said he would give me a deal of $70 € for the two hours so I agreed.  I was to meet him at 2pm in the lobby.  I wandered around a bit.  I found this great bakery.



So, since Vassilis has been so nice and helpful since I've arrived I brought him a chocolate croissant and I tried the Margarita Pizza later which was very good.  I went back another time too.  They make sub sandwiches for $3 € and the leek pie was also very good.  I dropped mine off in the room and got ready for the tour.

The guide was right on time.  Vassilis talked to him in Greek and told him to show me where the restaurants I wanted to go to were.  He also told him to take me to some of the museums and give me his knowledge of Mykonos.  And with that, we left.

We started our way and he told me very little, mostly about the businesses we were passing by.  At times he had trouble with the English translation of words too.  He would start to tell me something and then tell me he didn't know the word(s).  He showed me his favourite flowering tree but couldn't tell me what it was called.  It was pretty and this was it below.  Other than that, I understood him well.


I highly recommend going into this place!

The art of people looked so real, I swore they were going to jump out at me

Comfy kitty at one of the shops


A lot of the streets were this narrow

Which way?  Left or Right?

Church of Panagia Paraportiani, so interesting!

Loved the old architecture

The port where you catch the boats to see Delos.  You can buy tickets too.




Tree did an "oopsie"

View from the other side of the port

We pretty much finished the tour at the Mykonos Archaeological Museum.  The guide told me it was $2 € and after I paid, he told me he'd wait for me outside.  I certainly wasn't expecting that.  I guess I was spoiled by my last guide on Santorini and I expected him to tell me all the relevance of what I would see.



I didn't spend much time because it was a lot of "vases" and such.  Lovely, but as I said, without a guide (especially one standing outside), it was not the most enjoyable experience.  I mentioned that at the end and the woman at the desk took me over and told me she would show me the most significant piece here which is below.


This burial container or "pithos"was discovered in Mykonos with partial baby remains in it .  The scenes on it proved that the "Trojan War and Fall of Troy" was not a myth and actually existed.  At least that was my understanding of what she told me.

After I got outside my guide explained that only "licensed guides" could show museums.  At this point, I was hot and tired from all the walking.  I asked him to show me my dining places in direct relation on how I would walk from my hotel. He made a recommendation that I liked for dinner so I let him go fifteen minutes early and found my way back to the hotel.  I understood "the maze" a little better now.  I wasn't sure I knew much, but I did know I could find where I wanted to go for dinner.  :)  Worth $70 €?  NO.  However, no big deal, I certainly wasn't going to dwell on it...


I wanted to be sure I could find my restaurant so I left early for dinner this evening.  I was there a half hour before so I chose to have a drink in a wine bar I saw on the same block as the dining establishment.


I ordered a really good Greek Sparkling wine (below) for $6 € and they serve nice nibbles with it too.  I really, really liked this wine and I loved the place too.



My dinner tonight was at M Eating and I made a reservation in advance.  I think it's advised to do so.  I was seated up on the balcony.  

I took this pic earlier with the guide when it wasn't open

My view faced this fast food Gyro/Souvlaki shop (below) that I wanted to try.  It was always busy every time I went by.  Unfortunately, I never ended up making it there.  It was called Sakis and gets great reviews.


I had a glass of Rosé



This is my appetizer dish from the front and back side.  It was "Cycladic octopus on green fava and black fish roe" for $16 €.  Very good.  I am/was so surprised at how rich and filling octopus is.

My second dish was Pancetta and Pork neck for $20.00 €.  It had Caramelised pancetta and pork neck (of Duroc variety) duet, accompanied with onion ragout and aubergine mousse.


This was soooooo good!  Especially the gravy.  I could hardly dent it though.  I asked to take it and I thought he understood but he never brought it back.  :(  By this time I started talking to another table.  They were a really nice couple from the Channel Islands and we had a great time chatting.  I asked them to join me for a drink after dinner and we went to back to the Wine Bar I was at earlier.

Complimentary dessert was a very decadent, though very sweet chocolate

We shared a LOT of laughs and really just had a good time getting to know each other.  I was so happy I got to meet them, they are great people.  Their last day was tomorrow.  We said good night about a 11:30pm and I think I may have staggered a little enroute to my hotel room on that scary road.  Every time a vehicle/bike came by, I would back myself up to the side and wait for them to pass.  It probably took me a long time to walk back!

Friday, May 15th:

I was planning to go to Delos today, but honestly, I just didn't feel like it.  I thought I'd just walk around town again and see where it took me.  I was slow getting started and didn't leave until close to lunch time.  I stopped at this place below and tried a half pork gyro plate for $5 €.  The Prosecco cost me $8 €.



It was fine.  A little salty.  Nothing special or different than I can get at home.  I wished I went to Sakis instead but there was certainly nothing wrong with it.


I made my way back to the port and saw my friends from last night.  I joined them and had a Greek Iced Coffee.  Strong, but good.  They were taking the ferry to the marina so I continued walking and came across a pelican.  I don't see that everyday.


After more walking, I decided to stop when I saw this place called "Fato a Mano".  I liked the name is why I stopped.  First off, after I was seated facing onto the street (where the server is setting the table below), the first thing I noticed that this was the FIRST time since I've been in Greece that I sat in a comfy chair!!!  That is very lacking here.  So, I actually sat a while and enjoyed it.  I ordered a tuna salad.



Service was nice.  I enjoyed sitting here watching people walk on by...Next I found this cute little "Mexican" themed bar.  It (she) was busy selling iced coffees to the locals but I stopped in for a drink instead.



I had a cucumber, ginger Martini for $12 €.  The lady I talked to was from Athens was very sweet and friendly and was here working for the "season" like most.  I was going to come back here, but I never found it again.

So, for dinner tonight, I took the recommendation of my guide to a place called "Maereio's".  I could not figure out the name from the picture I had of it but when I told my hotel front desk, they knew immediately.  The guide had told me this restaurant was family owned.  The mother cooked and the two sons did front of house.  He said it was true Greek home style cooking.  Only four tables inside and one out front.  I liked this, so I had to go.  My hotel told me to go before 8pm and I'd have no problem getting seated as they didn't take reservations.  That was true.  I got there at 7:30 and was seated no problem.


I ordered Mykonian Sausage ($7 €) as my first dish and was surprised at how much was there.  I only could eat a couple of pieces and asked her (my server) if I could take it but again she never came back with it.  I later realized, I needed to ask in a different way.  One brother was behind the bar mixing what looked like great drinks and the other was doing table service.  Both were easy on the eyes and that was a bonus.


One of the specials of the evening was "Shrimp Saganaki" and not on the menu.  I thought I'd try it.  All I can say is that this dish, blew my mind!  It was so good, I was just shocked.  My mouth just exploded with flavour.  What a treat!  There were no leftovers to take.  I never had this dish anywhere else so I can't compare it.  I do know that I will be trying to re-create it at home.

"Heaven"

When leaving, there was a line up out the door to get in.  Afterwards, I stopped at what I thought was that "Mexican" bar from earlier but it wasn't.  It was a totally different place but about the same size.   I had a drink and chat with the bartender who was Chris from Athens.  He was very nice, intelligent, spoke with great English and it was a pleasure talking with him.  And then, I took my tired body back to the hotel and to bed.

Saturday, May 16th:

Every day since I've been in Mykonos, my front desk has told me to go to the beach.  To be honest, I was so turned off with the bus in Santorini, I didn't want to, but today was the day.  It was another hot day and I had to go.  They recommended I go to Ornos beach so that is what I did.  I went to the ticket booth in the Main Square and bought return tickets for Ornos for $1.60 € each way.  I got on the 10:15am bus.


It didn't take long, maybe 15 minutes and we were there.  It seemed overcast in the morning but there was a nice breeze and it felt good.


My afternoon desk girl named Kali recommended I go this restaurant and beach bar below, so I did.




I got a chair like this and they advised there was no charge.  Wine was reasonably priced at $4 € and I sat here for a couple of hours and enjoyed the breeze.  The water was cold but I wasn't swimming, just wanted to put my feet in the Aegean sea.

I finally had enough sun and went to have lunch.  I had a Seafood Salad for $16 € and it was really quite delicious.  I was quite happy with it.  Shrimp, Squid & Octopus.

Bread was complimentary here


I took my time and then decided to make my way down to Kuzina (also recommended by Kali) for a drink.  It was really hot now about 3 in the afternoon.



I got back to the hotel about 5pm.  The bus had no air conditioning!!!  It was like an oven.  The driver had nothing open but his driver window.  Everyone was sitting there fanning themselves with whatever they had and the drive back felt very long because of it.  Horrible.

When I got back to the hotel in the afternoon, I usually asked Kali to make me a Bodum drip coffee and then I'd go have a Bailey's coffee in my room with the cool A/C.  The only English station on t.v. was CNN so I caught up on news.


Dinner tonight was at Nautilus.  They don't have a website and apparently don't need to.  I also made a reservation in advance by email.  It is right beside "M Eating" so of course I went to the wine bar, Vino's first.

But before that, I stopped at "Lena's House" which is a folk museum showing a true Mykonian house of a woman "Lena", who made textiles in the 19th century.


On my way to the wine bar, I ran into this clown on stilts in the middle of the street.  He spread his legs and motioned for me to go through under them.  That seriously made me laugh out loud.  He let me pass, the normal way and told me it was my lucky day.


Nautilus is right next door to the wine bar.


When you sit, they present you with the fresh fish they have in house for the night.  These options were very expensive.  I believe it was over $100 € for Lobster with Pasta.  I started with a Negroni drink and an eggplant starter with a Greek cheese.  I didn't pay much attention to the menu details because I thought I could get it online after, but I couldn't because they're not there.  Anyway, both the drink and appy were very good.  I ate every drop off the plate.



My entree was Seabass.  This had some puréed potatoes and a citrus butter sauce.  I also cleaned my plate with this dish.  It was very good.  Service was great.  The co-owner and also my server reminded me of a "Greek Fabio".  He had long flowing hair and tight white pants on.  He was better looking though and had a great smile.  This was my most expensive meal in Greece so far.  With the one drink & water, it was $61 € before tip.  After dinner I returned to the hotel for the evening.

Sunday, May 17th:

After talking to Spiros at the hotel, he suggested I visit Paraga beach (said it was his favourite) today and Tasos Tavern for lunch.  I got the bus at 11:15am.  I settled on chairs at a place called Kalua Bar & Restaurant for $6 €.  I did because they had pillows.  It was $2 € for a towel.



It really was enjoyable here and another beautiful hot day.  Temps were about 28 degrees the whole time I was in Mykonos, which the locals told me was a bit higher than usual for this time.  They said it is normally around 22 degrees.  It is a dry heat with no humidity so I was fine, thankfully.  I doubt there's need to say but it is much nicer at the beach than in town when it's hot.  I wished I had spent every day at the beach and then the town in the evening.




About 2:30,  I made my way for lunch.


Saganaki Cheese, it was sooo good

Greek Meatballs and the Fries were delicious!

My server understood that I wanted my leftovers to go!  I told him I wanted to take it with me, home and he nodded and brought it back, no problem.  I went and caught the bus back to the hotel.  The bus was full as the last stop on this route is "Paradise Beach" and so it seemed everyone was going there and I had to squish in and stand.  It was fine after we got there though and I got a seat.  The different buses all run on one route, in a circle.

When I got back to the room, I realized I was a bit red and burned.  I put some aloe gel on and had a bit of a nap.  I had dinner reservations this evening at a place called "Bakalo" but I ended up sleeping through them.  I was not feeling very well.  About 10pm I ordered some salad & pasta from a place called D'Angelo which was close by and delivered.  I had a few bites and slept through until morning!

Monday, May 18th (a.k.a. Last Day):

I got up and ate leftovers for breakfast and got ready to go to Paradise Beach today.  I was feeling much better after all the rest.  The bus price for all three beaches I've visited was the same, $1.60 € each way.




And finally, the reward



I plopped myself at a sun bed at Tropicana.  The chair was $4 € and so was the umbrella.  No towels but there was a store you could buy one at.  It was hot again today, the water was cold but very refreshing.  I ordered a bottle of white wine on ice for $18 €.  I didn't finish it but I didn't have to worry about service either as it wasn't very good today, almost non-existent.


I had had enough sun by 2pm today so decided to head back to town.  A lady I shared my seat with on the way here was also waiting for the bus.  We started to talk and she was from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil and was here by herself on this leg of her trip and just arrived yesterday.

It turns out our hotels were right across the street from each other so I offered to show her where the laundry was and then take her to the Windmills.  We met 10 minutes after we returned to our hotels and were on our way. As I was pointing out the laundry, I unfortunately caught my foot in a pot hole and twisted my ankle. I showed her how to walk to Little Venice and took her to Katerina's for a drink/snack.  The view is very nice here and she really liked it.



We shared some Grilled Feta

and Calamari


We finished with coffees. She had a Greek coffee, and I had a Greek iced coffee with milk.



We picked up her laundry and agreed to meet outside our hotels at 8pm for dinner.  I told her I would take her to Maereio's and she seemed interested.  We made our way and I showed her through the maze.  We joked that she got a tour guide for free.  The place was full but someone had just left outside so we managed to snag that coveted table.


I ordered a Mojito, which was very good and refreshing.  Brazil agreed with me.

We shared some Saganaki cheese because she had never tried it before and loves cheese.  We enjoyed it  Since Shrimp Saganaki was one of the specials again, we both had that too.  I know I already posted a picture of it, but it warrants another one!


They brought us a complimentary Semolina Dessert with chocolate.  I let her have mine after I had a taste since I don't do desserts often.  She enjoyed it.


After dinner, I took her to my favourite Wine Bar and showed her the restaurants I had dined at.  The "Greek Fabio" waved and smiled jubilantly at me as I passed by.  She remarked that I was like a celebrity in Mykonos.  That made me smile but I reminded her that I had been there 6 days now.  :)  

The wine bar greeted us kindly.  My ankle was killing me so the owner made me an ice pack which helped immensely.  We drank Debina Sparkling until just before midnight and walked the scary road back, in the dark.  We hugged good bye and told each other how much we had enjoyed the day together and went on our merry way to the room.  I was really happy I met her to spend my last day with.

Tuesday, May 19th:

Check out was noon and Vassilis came and got my luggage.  Just a note, I paid $100 € a night on Expedia but I found that other guests only paid $70 € using different websites (Booking.com), so choose carefully.  We hugged good-bye and then the owner Mihali (Michael in English) drove me to the airport ($10 €).  More hugs good-bye and I prepared for my 17 hour travel day home.  I had a splendid time in Mykonos.  I went at a perfect time of year and I will remember this trip fondly for a long time to come.