After visitors leave the windswept Greek island of Mykonos, it’s no wonder that they relish any chance they can to bring up their epic trip and daydream longingly of returning…..
Despite its commercial vibe, Mykonos’ allure is hard to resist. From blue skies to vibrant fishing boats peppering its shores, blinding-white stucco architecture, bursting bougainvilleas, whitewashed cube houses tumbling down to azure bays, and white-sand beaches lapped by crystalline turquoise water, the Cycladic island makes you feel as if you’ve walked into an Impressionist painting.
Add lore and myth to this enchanting mix and it’s a heady cocktail. Legend has it that Mykonos was the scene of a gory battle between Zeus and the Titans in which Hercules vanquished the giants by hurling boulders at them. Many still believe that under the island’s imposing blocks of Mykonian granite lie dead and buried Gods. Hence the name “Mykonos” (a mass of stones or a rocky place). Another tradition attributes the island’s moniker to a local hero, Mykonos, the grandson of Apollo.
The idyllic Delos island is a mere 30-minute water taxi ride from Chora. According to Greek mythology, this was the birthplace of the twin deities Apollo (god of the sun) and Artemis (goddess of the moon), which makes it one of the most sacred sites of ancient Greece. A fun little fact about Ancient Greeks is they knew how to have fun… sexually. Yep, I’m talking sex toys… the full nine yards.
Apart from its fascinating provenance, the island is proud of its spectacular makeover wrought by the local authorities. From being a favored haunt of backpackers, the island has today re-purposed itself as one of Europe’s elegant wining and dining playgrounds.
The island’s excellent infrastructure – bolstered by luxury accommodation, VIP Services, gastronomy, branded shopping, chic lounges and beach sports – has much to do with its pull. From simple bread & breakfasts to private villas and boutique hotels, the island has the whole enchilada.
Chora is the pivot around which Mykonos flows. A breathtakingly picturesque Cycladic town, it is a medley of modernity and tradition. Its labyrinthine streets, whitewashed lanes, houses and churches create a picture of enormous beauty.
Chora is also illustrative of how tourism and town planning can coexist harmoniously. Despite being chock-full of commercial establishments (shops, cafes, galleries and marquee brand outlets like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Victoria Secret etc.), commerce doesn’t undermine the town’s identity.
Despite exponential growth and development, Mykonos’ traditional Cycladic architectural style and character have not been tampered with, thanks to stringent building regulations
Hippie Fish …. , Agios Ioannis Beach , Mykonos. Around six in the evening. A sprawling, reed-thatched shack dotted with swaying pumpkin-gourd lamps, pulsing slightly with sounds from the still-chilled DJ set. The crowd? Distinctly Athenian beach bum. Shoulders the colour of conkers, pareos fashioned from Louis Vuitton leopard-print scarves, diamonds, a conspicuous lack of make-up and perfect masculine top knots. The Cycladean answer to Ibiza , if you will, with the dusty car park full of windsurfer boards being hoisted into the backs of Jeeps as lunch segues into happy hour. Meanwhile, weaving its knowledgeable way through the low-slung tables, where pewter buckets of icy rosé and plates of fried calamari have been set down, is a golden retriever with a faded red bandana around its neck.
With beaches for every taste and style, Mykonos offers a little something for everyone – from chill rows of lounge chairs and umbrellas to romantic and secluded locales to family-oriented spots with water sports to all-day parties on the sand. Take your pick or try a different one each day.
The island today rivals Ibiza as a haven for partiers. It offers some 20 atmospheric beaches, of which Psarou and Super Paradise beaches are the most popular. Located at the southern tip of the island, both beaches are mined with hotels that run party-oriented bars for beachgoers – perfect if you want to dance in the sand all night to throbbing beats.
Mykonos offers picturesque seaside cafes, local foodie heavens tucked away down winding alleyways and phenomenal gourmet dining – most with enchanting décor, iconic architecture and breathtaking views. Traditional Greek staples, local Mykonian specialties, modern takes on regional flavors and seafood are must-tries.
The party scene of the Mykonian high summer season draws a cosmopolitan crowd of like-minded vacationers looking to unwind. The island has no shortage of places to go out, from beach bars by day to nightclubs headlined by world-renowned DJs ‘til dawn.
Mykonos draws a fashionable crowd, so it makes sense that the shopping is equally fabulous, from celebrity-frequented luxury boutiques to jewelry shops specializing in ancient and Byzantine replicas to highly sought after house-designed leather sandals and hand-woven textiles.
The blue-crystal water and the peerless beaches – a different one every day, if you so choose – are part of its charm, along with the meltemi, the strong, dry north wind of the Aegean. But above all there is the peculiar rose-gold Mykonian light, which makes even the most hungover and sunburned among us look beautiful. Ask any local and they’ll nod their head and assure you this is directly related to the neighbouring island of Delos – in Greek legend, the sacred isle upon which Apollo and Artemis, along with light itself, were born. Think of it as luminary Prozac. The shoe designer Brian Atwood has been holding his birthday party on Mykonos for the past six years (last year’s theme was Purple Haze and many guests, including Lindsay Lohan, Valentino and Peter Dundas, wore purple wigs). As he puts it: ‘Sitting on a beautiful sofa with a cocktail in hand or meditating while watching the sky change from orange to red to blue is part of the reason I’ve been coming here for so long.
LE CORBUSIER, bespectacled modernist pioneer and urban planner, arrived in the Cyclades in 1939 and concluded that one could not call oneself an architect without having studied the houses of Mykonos. ‘Whatever architecture had to say, it said it here,’ he declared, among the one-room whitewashed cubes. But if anybody put Mykonos on the map, it was Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, who came with her younger sister Lee Radziwill in 1961 and vowed, upon leaving, that she would one day own a house here. Her future husband, Aristotle Onassis, had been visiting Mykonos with Maria Callas and assorted shipping tycoons since the 1950s.
If you want to party hearty, Mykonos is still very much the place to come. Try Cavo Paradiso, the 3,000-capacity clifftop Club where DJs David Guetta, David Morales and Satoshi Tomiie (among many others) played last year. But if the idea of starting your evening at 3am fills you with an almost existential sense of gloom, as it does me, don’t worry. Be a hedonist over lunch, a long, rosé-fuelled feast that might start at, say, four in the afternoon and end at around 10 at night.
For such an experience, go to Nammos on Psarou beach – the Grecian answer to St Tropez’s Le Club 55 – where a meal can cost more than the villa you rented. Much more. Last summer a photo of a Lebanese party’s lunch bill at Nammos found its way onto social media: €59,000 (about 42,000), of which was for booze. Whichever restaurant you choose, the vibe is largely the same. Imperceptibly, the music gets louder and louder, and before you know it, someone in a crocheted tank top and bikini bottoms is up on a table throwing shapes, nimbly navigating the magnums of Cristal while you jiggle away with whoever you have just befriended. This year, though, Nammos has a rival in the form of Scorpios, a brand-new restaurant/beach club in Paraga named after Onassis’s island with Bedouin-style decor, an organic menu and swaying palm fronds. (Better book a table now.)
Hire a speedboat at Agios Ioannis to go to the lagoon on Rhenia, Delos’s sister island, which won’t be deserted – count on at least a couple of superyachts getting there before you – but has to have one of the most beautiful, unspoilt beaches in the Aegean, with its turquoise shallows and white-powder sand. Sadly or fortunately – depending on how you look at it – there is no such thing as a private beach on Mykonos.
AFTER TWO DAYS HERE YOU SEEM TO LOOK FITTER AND THINNER, AND ENERGY LEVELS EXPLODE …….
Source : Blue Collection , Neeta Lal E.T , www.cntraveller.com
Athens – Mykonos – Greece
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