Despite what college pictures might tell you, I’m not much of a party gal. Now that I’m 31, I much prefer brunch and a good beer during a college football game to getting all decked out and “WOO!ing” until four in the morning. Some might call me boring; others, old. I call myself smart as hell because I’m not depending on the grease from McDonald’s breakfast for my next day survival. So when we booked our cruise and saw that Mykonos was one of the stops, we weren’t exactly fist pumping and raving around our house. It was more of a “Sweet, lazy beach time” reaction. No Speedo side planks with Ricky Martin for us!
The morning after Athens, we were still sore from our 32K step day, but I forced my dead body to go to the gym in the morning anyway. We were determined not to gain the “average 1-2 pounds a day” that Serbian Hercules (gym trainer) told us about. We had breakfast at our little Park Cafe by the indoor pool, though the food quality seemed to go down every day that we had eaten there. I had a grilled zucchini, onion, egg, and cheese ciabatta (really white bread) sandwich, and Elliot stuck with his McMuffin deal. Meh.
There were a lot of early departures to take the tender to Mykonos, but we were in no rush to head to the island. We saw that there would be no ferries to the ancient island of Delos on Monday (the day we were there), and there really weren’t many sights on Mykonos that I wanted to see, so there was no rush to head over. While we waited for tender #7, we hung out in the casino where we heard a little boy excitedly say to his sister, “It’s like a video game bar for grown ups!” Yeah, a bar of shattered hopes and dreams, kid.
The tender over to Mykonos was choppy but only took three minutes, and we were wandering the pristine streets of Mykonos Town in no time. Once we got off the boat, we saw that there were in fact ferries that were running routes to Delos, and I was pissed that every website I had viewed said otherwise. Delos is the island birthplace of Artemis and Apollo and has no full-time residents. The only people on the island are the antiquities staff and the workers in their handful of cafes that cater to the tourists. When the last ferry leaves at night, the island is uninhabited save for the ancient ruins and the ghosts of the people who once lived there. It’s said that the ruins are like no other on account of being saved from the everyday hazards of people and pollution. Even though we knew we could now go over to Delos, we still decided to have a relaxing Mykonos day instead. Elliot had been such a good sport with my Athenian sightseeing that we needed to spend a day doing something he wanted, and that was relaxing on the beach.
Mykonos Town is just steps away from where the tenders dock and its white buildings were so pristine that they were almost blinding. They enveloped narrow cobblestone streets and practically reflected the sun; its cleanliness was a welcome departure from our day in Athens. The number of upscale stores like Louis Vuitton was also unlike anything we had seen on our previous islands.
The cafes were busy with passengers from our cruise and a Princess cruise liner that had anchored nearby. Mykonos Town was infinitely more chill than Athens, and we enjoyed strolling the streets while it was still relatively quiet. We didn’t have much planned for our Mykonos stay, so we hailed a nearby cab to go to one of the more popular beach destinations on the island, Super Paradise Beach. Our trip took us down winding mountain roads reminiscent of Santorini and were almost barren save for the occasional dotting of houses that reminded us of Cabo de Gata in southeastern Spain. Mykonos’s population is only a scant 11,000 people year round and swells to almost 50,000 when all the summer holiday travelers and jet-setters come to play. You may have heard Mykonos’s name mentioned in magazines or on TMZ in connection with celebrity visitors; Ricky Martin is a frequent visitor for example. It’s where he was planking on the beach in a Speedo (see above). Because of course he was. Because of its party reputation, the island has become a haven for the rich and fabulous seeking overpriced drinks and insanely fit human beings.
Super Paradise Beach was similar to Bitez Beach that we visited when we were in Bodrum (another jet-setter’s paradise), in that the beach chairs went right up to the water, and there was an outdoor bar to get your drink on. It’s tucked into a cove, immediately adjacent to Jackie O Beach (Yep, a real thing) and is only accessible by the mountain road that we had traveled on and the occasional speedboat that drove right up onto the sand to deliver hordes of young people looking for a good time. You had to pay 18 euros to get a “premium” spot by the water (second row of chairs), so we coughed up the dough and settled into our island paradise for a few hours. The sand was more pebbly than anticipated, but the water was like glass; you could see all the way to the bottom even when swimming in water that was 30 feet deep. The water was a moderate temperature but dropped off in depth pretty soon after the shoreline ends. There were a ton of Americans sitting around us, and everyone had a drink in their hand despite it being only 10 in the morning. Work hard, play hard, y’all.
Chill house music was coming from the bar behind us and quickly lulled us to sleep in the hot sun. We really felt like we were in paradise, and it was the perfect relaxation balm to our hectic schedule the day before in Athens. We got a few zzz’s and a swim in and got a mojito at the bar with a bartender that looked exactly like my cousin, Sean. The people watching was just fantastic, and more than once we saw scantily clad women with zero body fat hanging all over older men that I can describe as “NOT in shape”. There were no misconceptions as to what those relationships entailed, and it made for some epic observation chatter between me and Elliot.
It was starting to get packed, and we were getting hungry, so we boarded the party shuttle bus to head back to Mykonos town. We were the only two heading back to the city, so we got to be dropped off at the location of our choosing. Elliot and the bus driver bonded over electronic jazz music, a genre that I didn’t realize Elliot was so knowledgeable in (?) and talked about the recent Greek financial crisis. The driver, a young Greek guy in his twenties, didn’t seem too worried about it having an adverse effect on the Mykonian residents. They rely on tourism for their livelihood, and the majority of the tourists come from outside of Greece. It was interesting to get the perspective of someone who is directly affected by the government’s actions in Athens.
The guy dropped us off in Mykonos Town, which was much busier than earlier in the day. The streets were starting to swell with crowds, and people had to squeeze down the streets that reminded us of Santorini: stark white buildings with royal blue shutters. We found a restaurant called La Casa that had outdoor seating and settled in for lunch. I once again ordered moussaka but mixed it up with a tabouli salad, while Elliot got chicken souvlaki and awesome fried potatoes. We also tried the Mykonian sausage, a very fatty meat that packed a lot of flavor (probably because it was so fatty). We washed everything down with some Alpha beers and watched as a tricycle truck (think pickup truck but with only three wheels) attempt to squeeze down the street. The whole spectacle was reminiscent of the tomato trucks at Tomatina in Bunol years earlier. Only this time we didn’t get nailed in the eyeball with projectile pre-ketchup.
Much like the other Greek cities we had visited, the streets were lined with souvenir shops (including one that sold Hard Rock Mykonos shirts for a Hard Rock that didn’t actually exist), and expensive art stores. We ducked into one to buy a magnet and a miniature replica attic vase for my growing travel knick-knack collection at home. Every store worker requested cash for payment, and it was obvious that people were feeling the squeeze from the 60 euro a day ATM limit the government had imposed.
After lunch, we found a loungey, house music playing bar nearby and sat outside for a drink. There was an excessive amount of staff members for the few number of customers, and the ratio of pierced noses to unpierced was staggeringly towards the pierced side. It was like it was a requirement to work at Ode (the name of the bar). I ordered a low calorie mimosa and Elliot had something called a Mediterranean Fizz. The bar is located on a busy street, so we were able to take in some quality people watching while pretending to be fancy. The strangest incident was when a gust of wind knocked over this Asian woman to the ground. She let out a squeal and just laid there while the two people who we thought were her husband and son just stood there staring at her. We were about to get up and help her when her friends rushed up and helped her to her feet. Apparently the two guys weren’t her husband and son and were just two asshole strangers whose idea of helping is staring at people lying on the ground. Once we saw that the woman was okay, we had to stifle our laughter at the whole situation. The gust of wind that knocked her over was more like a breeze, and it was totally something that would happen to me. I sympathize, lady.
We walked back towards where we pick up the tender to the ship and bought a mini bottle of Greek white wine and a beer. We sat on a stone sea wall and took in our last bit of Mykonos with an adult beverage. I mean, how many times can you say that you drank Greek wine while sitting on a sea wall on a Greek island? I can now say that I have at least once. It’s so choice; I highly recommend it if you have the means.
On the tender back, we saw Gemma (of “I can see your Halicarnassus” fame) cozying up to Alex, one of the other entertainment workers on the ship. Elliot and I were so pumped up and thought that we had unearthed some ship scandal. We had had a working theory that those two were hooking up and were way more excited than we should have been at seeing our theory confirmed. It was like we were middle school girls gossiping.
We took a walk around the boat upon our return and showered up for dinner in the dining room. Up until that point, we had been sitting at a two person table by ourselves, being all sorts of anti-social and creepy with our observations and running theories of other people’s lives. That night was busier than most, presumably due to the earlier ship departure time, and there wasn’t a two person table available. We agreed to be seated at a table with other diners, and had such a great time talking with everyone that we were at dinner for over two hours! At our table was a couple from San Francisco, a Latin/Ancient cultures enthusiast and teacher from Finland named Marja-Liisa, and two young Australian girls from Sydney, Hannah and Kat. I sat next to Marilisa and enjoyed discussing how different our two countries are in terms of education and also shared our favorite archaeological sights we had taken in on the trip thus far. She had gone to the island of Delos that day and said that it was as spectacular as I had imagined. Sigh. I guess that means a return trip to Mykonos…
Hannah was a Museum Studies major, and we were entertained by her stories of volunteering in the coin room in the British Museum and how fucked up the Cairo Museum is. When she was there, the basement was flooded and ancient papyrus scrolls (papyri?) were just floating on top of the water. There were also wooden sarcophagi placed in direct sunlight, which even a layman knows is a huge no-no when it comes to preservation. My mind was blown when I heard this. Her and Kat were very well travelled and had all sorts of advice to share about what to expect from different museums. She said that the next day’s stop, Crete, had the Heraklion Museum, which she considered the best one she has ever visited. She and Kat also shared how they, much like us, had been speculating about different people on the ship. Gotta love creepin’! We had such a great time eating with everyone that we decided to get a drink together at the Viking Crown Lounge. While there, we met another couple, Gabriel and Shannon, who were from Austin and a couple from Plymouth that was on their honeymoon. We were all excited that we had met people our own age and were flabbergasted as to how we hadn’t run into each other before that night. It became even more mind-blowing when we realized that we were ALL on lifeboat 7 and had been squeezed in like sardines only days prior at the emergency drill meeting. How had we not talked to people when that was happening???? Elliot and I shared how there was a ship organized bar crawl on our Baltic cruise and that we were surprised Royal Caribbean didn’t do something similar, especially because the average age on this trip was significantly lower than the average age of 70 on our Baltic cruise. Instead of making Mohammed go to the mountain, we decided to make the mountain come to Mohammed and planned our own bar crawl for the following night. We agreed to meet at the R Bar on the fourth level at 8:00 and to bring anyone else that we thought might want to join in. After a few drinks and lots more laughs, we went back to our stateroom to prep for our early rise in Crete the next morning….