Mykonos was my first stop on a week-long trip to Greece in October of 2017. Avoiding the busier summer months, my first trip to Greece was filled with delicious meals and out-of-this-world scenery. Truly, one of the prettiest nations I've ever been to. With beaches to rival those in the Great Barrier Reef and the Maldives, and 4000-plus years of history, the country of Greece should be at the top of any seasoned traveler's list.
Day 1 of my arrival into Mykonos started with, as usual, food. Dinner, to be precise. One of the more popular restaurants on the island, Joanna Niko's Place was filled with patrons on a busy Saturday evening. With no reservation, we waited a good half hour for a table.
Waiting for a table at the bar presented a perfect chance to try two Greek liquors: ouzo (right) and tsipouro (left). Served in its most traditional form: two large ice-cubes are put into glasses, with optional water to top the spirit off. Upon swirling, the ouzo will turn cloudy in color and become a milky white.
Tsipouro reminded me of Chinese Baijiu, and given its similar alcohol content, no surprise there. Ouzo takes getting accustomed to. If you enjoy herbal remedies and a strong taste of anise, definitely give the drink a try.
Time for food - stuffed squid on the left and grilled lamb kabobs on the right. Let me just preface with the fact that every single meal I had in Greece was downright fantastic, from the endless seafood offered in the islands to gyros on the street of Athens.
Naturally, pita and tzatziki must be consumed. Pita is spiced and flavored in Greece, and seems to be of a variation that is made with more oil. This essentially means its addictively good. The country's iconic tzatziki, made with bits of cucumber and Greek yoghurt, is refreshing and has just the right amount of sour kick.
Away from the hustle and bustle of the island's major tourist attraction, Mykonos Town, this taverna is the optimal choice for fresh, cooked-to-perfection seafood. Make a reservation in advance to avoid waiting for a table on Friday and Saturday nights, and likely during most days for the summer. Prices are more than reasonable, making it a favorite amongst local patrons as well.
Having missed our morning ferry to nearby Delos to see the ancient ruins (when jetlag hits...), we opted for a morning stroll into Mykonos Town - locally know as Chora.
Strolling through the narrow streets of the town was truly reminiscent of a movie set. Lined with fresh laundry hanging out to dry and cerulean balconies, the pebbled pathways were delightfully picturesque to explore.
Every winding path will lead from the small town's entrance to the seaside. Stop by any eatery for a drink or a meal, and enjoy the ocean breeze.
Amongst the sea of blue, a red doorway stands out opulently. The colors of Greece, forever mired in white, seems to be a mirage that materializes before ones eyes.
The Old Port of Mykonos is located right by the ocean, in the heart of town. Ferries to Delos depart from here, while larger ships and cruises depart from the larger New Port, a 15 minute journey outside of town.
Various restaurants line the beach here, but a highly rated favorite is Captain's, and for good reason.
Stopping for a light lunch, we ordered two Greek staples: melitzanosalata (eggplant dip) and saganaki (fried feta cheese - think mozzarella sticks, except better in every way).
Grilled pork is another typical dish - pork and lamb are eaten often but beef is rarer to come by on a menu. Something about cows being harder to raise, I believe.
Baklava, of course, dripping in honey, with crushed nuts between layers of fine phyllo pastry. Topped with a scoop of vanilla for a satisfying (and presumably calorific) end to any meal.
Local musicians gathered at a nearby table and began to sing.
Strolling towards the Kato Milli, (the windmills of Mykonos), we encountered an adorable square. Delights abound as one meanders through this town.
Even on this small Greek island in the middle of the Cyclades, one can find...
Continuing the stroll, we approach Little Venice (seen middle right, below), named for the houses that seem to be built on the water in this corner of town.
Hands down one of the most thrilling experiences of the entire trip - renting an ATV for 24 hours and exploring the island. Available to anyone with a drivers license, these steady vehicles are a delight to zoom around the paved roads of Mykonos with. Don't forget to lock your ride with an ancient lock, and don't lose it either, it costs 30 euros to replace, though looks to be worth less than one.
First stop on the ATV: the old lighthouse on the northwest corner of the island. Beautiful, albeit a bit windy.
The Armenistis Lighthouse was built in 1891. Visitors can't go in, but most come for the views around the structure itself.
Treat yourself to expansive views of the seaside cliffs and ocean. Rocks on the cliffs provide a great vantage point for photos.
Next stop, a thirty minute ride to the southwest, where the junction between Mykonos and a smaller connection off the main island - Ornos Beach.
Continuing along the coastline, another 15 minutes of driving gets you to Agios Ioannis Beach, a great spot to catch the sunset on the island.
The trail to the beach is slightly rocky, I suggest parking the ATV nearby and walking to the small patch of sand tucked between the rocky shores typical to Greek islands.
A great way to end a picturesque first day on Mykonos.
No day is complete, of course, without dinner. M-eating in Mykonos Town serves up its own version of Greek fine dining. People here eat 'lunch' at 2-3pm and 'dinner' after 9 or 10, so stopping by a restaurant at 6 or 7 without a reservation is relatively safe bet, especially during off seasons.
Cycladic octopus and calamari on green peas puree with black fish roe (left) and Mykonian onion parcel pie with local 'tyrovolia" cheese and red bell pepper coulis (right)
Slow cooked stuffed rabbit filet with spinach pesto on cauliflower puree with its own juices (left) and Like the Mykonian "Sun" (right, 5 min egg on fresh tomato sauce, smoked lamb and fresh fried bread with "tyrovolia" cheese mousse)
Day 2 marks our last day in Mykonos, and begins with a ATV ride to Ornos Beach for some brunch...except on the way there, one of the ATVs breaks down. Due to the humidity of the islands, especially at night time, parking the ATVs outdoors may result in it being unable to start, or unable to accelerate even as one presses on the gas petal. We ran into both problems that morning but still made it to the beach - no regrets.
With the ATV malfunction, there was only time for a quick bite. Time to try the ever popular gyros. Sakis in the heart of town (across from where we had dinner last night) serves up authentic platters as well as delicious gyros. Pork and chicken are always the two proteins on order, the former is more flavorful and fatty, but chicken will always be my preferred protein.
Time to bid adios to the island of Mykonos. Onwards to Santorini aboard the ferry.