I arrived in Mykonos towards the back end of a very sunny afternoon. I'd arrived here by plane before but now I was finding that there is nothing quite like arriving by boat. The harbour is a delight, albeit a blingy, yachty, cash rich delight.
The ever increasing array of houses and villas that ultimately threaten the beauty of this Cycladian wonder, scatter the beige and green hillside with brilliant white, and the throng of harbourside 'comers and goers' fill the air with excitement and bustle. I was staying at the Mykonos Grand Hotel. Quite famous in its own right, but also with its own private beach, far away from the masses that crowd the island's other popular and varied sun spots. It's called Agios Yiannis Beach but in the hotel bumf it's called 'Shirley Valentine Beach'. Having unfortunately seen this movie again recently, I think they can drop that particular handle, although it is quite lovely to be fair... the movie isn't, however. Waiting for me at the harbour was the hotel's courtesy coach and soon I was off.
The disembarking throng will have to fend for themselves, although it should never be forgotten how privileged we sometimes are to be staying somewhere quite so grand, while others have to fight it out with bus queues and gruff taxi drivers..... Unless, of course, they're just being tight arses and unwilling to pay a little more for this extra convenient level of service.
I arrived into the marble reception to a small welcoming committee and was whisked away into a little interview room for VIP guests to check in. I was again a little confuddled but I remembered that I was a Travel journalist of some repute and that this was all part of my new lifestyle. Again, it's hard to know if I was upgraded but the suite I was taken to was certainly very Grand indeed. Polished marble floors, bathtub, separate shower and loo, Ouzo, fruit and chocolates, a balcony overlooking 'Shirl.... Ayios Yiannis Beach, and a four poster bed draped in mosquito nets and fine linen.
I was very nice but I knew it wasn't the Honeymoon Suite this time as that was directly below me, and upon my arrival I was greeted by the sight and sound of the lucky honeymooners going at it like knives directly below me. This seemed to put off my bell hop as h quickly backed out of the room thus saving me that little moment of doubt as to whether his company was worthy of a tip. The noise of the shagging below was volcanic and I had to take a look out on the veranda as it sounded like they were actually doing it on my breakfast table. The sight I saw was quite something. A small yet large guitar shaped private pool shimmered in the lat afternoon sun. They had a barbecue area away to the right, a small garden, several different types of sun loungers, and a sun trap bedecked in white wooden panelled benches. It was was here, with her ankles waving at me in bright sunlight either side of his shockingly white bum, that they had chosen to do it. Obviously, after a very short time indeed, I retreated back into my room and waited patiently for them to reach their crescendo, and boy, did they crescendo.....
I decided, as soon as they started up again, that it was time for me to vacate altogether, head to the hotel bar for an aperitif and to watch the sun set over the isle of Delos. After a few Campari and Grapefruits, and a Mythos for thirst, I took the hotel shuttle into town. Once again, the bus was full of tanned couples excited to be heading into Mykonos Town for the first time. We were dropped off to the right of the small beach that helps makes this harbour one of the prettiest in the Cyclades. After passing the beach I took a quick left hand turn and quickly found myself in the spotless winding alleyways of the old town and heading towards Little Venice.
There are so many bars, boutiques and tavernas that it's hard to know where to begin. I just bar hopped my way through, ate a Yiros on the hoof and got tired. A good yiros is, after all, hard to beat. The overall impression of Mykonos Town was one of delight. The colour, charm and sheer volume of places to go makes it a wonderful centrepiece to the busy tourist Mecca. I was actually rather tired and at about 11 o'clock I decided to head back to the Grand. Picked up at the same spot by the courtesy bus, I was soon home. Once in my room, it was evident from the noise, that my Honeymooning neighbours were at it again. This time they were taking in the view of the bay from the luxury of their private pool, ... while they were doing 'it'. Both being afforded a perfect view due to their chosen position. Standing up, facing out, with him behind. I saw, I didn't watch, it must be pointed out, and I quickly darted back into my room for fear of being seen. I still hadn't managed to spend anytime on my balcony at all. I bet the scenery was lovely. I had discovered that they were definitely American by the vocabulary being used during her instructions to her beau. Florida or California was a good bet judging by the terrible tattoos and tan lines. I had to close the balcony doors too, as I couldn't sleep due to the continuing drill sergeant's shouted instructions ... "Left, Left, Left, Right, Right, Right, Right therrrrrre...ahhhh etc. I woke early and soon headed to the large breakfast room that overlooked the main pool and Bay beyond.
Here I would find one of the most varied and incredible buffet breakfasts I'd ever had the privilege to feast upon, including champagne, I might add. A few glasses of champagne were a give and I spent many hours going from course to course to course. It was excellent, and the restaurant vibrant with happy holiday makers of every shape and style. It was a pool day, I found my spot and read and napped, ate a delicious salady lunch in the pool bar, had several refreshing Mythos beers before heading down the broad stone steps to spend the latter moments of the afternoon on the beach. Both here and by the pool, the staff keep you well supplied with bottles of complimentary cold water and ice creams or sorbets. A very welcome touch indeed. It had been a thoroughly relaxing day and I like the Mykonos Grand very much.
When I got back to my room, 'downstairs' were trying out the strength of the sunloungers, with some success it would appear, and although extremely noisy, they seemed to be holding up under the strain of a reverse cowgirl, which under such conditions, carries with it a 7.8 degree of difficulty.
As I hung my wet swimmers over the balcony to dry, I couldn't help but notice how nicely their tans were coming along. I showered went back up to the bar and repeated the same plan as the night before, only this time, I was going in search of a grilled whole fish for dinner, preferably by the water's edge. I started with the usual cold beer but quickly progressed to something more sunsetty and alcoholic. I soon caught on to the fact that I had a thirst on. Due, in no small part, to the activity of my neighbours, who were hammering the point home (?) that I was quite starved of company and that my own company was beginning to grate.
Once again, I wandered the lanes of Mykonos Town, once again I bar hopped but his time I found myself at the far extreme of Little Venice, at a restaurant by the water, fluttering a translucent turquoise under the taverna lights and with perfect views back across Little Venice and the yachts out in the harbour. There was also a fish cart with the day's catch displayed magnificently on a bed of crushed ice, revealed beneath hessian by the head waiter. There was a big plump Sea Bream with my name on it, and so that was me sorted. Just a few deep fried courgettes to start, a beer for thirst and a bottle of white wine to numb my brain, and the scene was set.
I had a feeling that it was going to be pricey but the €85 for the fish alone was quite expensive indeed. I was in the home straight so I didn't dwell on this too much, however. After the bill was paid, I went for another wander, a couple nightcaps and headed back to the pick up point. There was no doubt that the town would probably kick off after midnight but I was very much in the realms of early to rise and sensibly late to bed.
Once back at the hotel, I figured what the hell - What harm can a cocktail do? I chatted with the barman George, for a while and settled on Negronis.... followed by Gin and Tonics. At this point, other guests were starting to mosey in to the previously quiet bar and it wasn't long before I was speaking to a youngish couple who looked as if they had run out of things to say to each other. We became quite friendly as the alcohol went down and I began to sense danger. Not gougey eye, knee to the groin danger, but sexual indiscretion, hand to the groin danger. She was probably just starting to pay me too much attention and laughing a little bit too hard at my attempts at humour. He, in the meantime, was beginning to pick up on the shift in mood and was trying to get her to leave the drinking and to call it a night, but she wasn't having a bean of it. It was at this point I remembered my vow that I cant say no to anything on this particular trip. Summing up the situation sensibly and before the question could be asked, I decided that it was time to leave. This idea went down quite well with everyone and they promptly left with me. With my mind racing about possible outcomes, we shared the lift down to the suites below. The mood was quiet and you could hear the alcohol drenched brains ticking slowly over, but when the lift doors opened I was away. No time left for suggestions, nightcaps and illicit holiday fun, no Siree Bob.
When I arrived at my suite. I was very aware that I was quite drunk. The couple downstairs were at it in the pool again but going against routine, kept looking up to my room. I must have been banging around myself, and becoming braver regarding taking in the view ... of the bay and the twinkling lights beyond. The bars along the beach were still in party and dance mode and there was generally an air of enjoyment floating around... With this, I decided to hit the freebie bottle of Ouzo and despite everybody else having a good time, I, myself, was feeling quite disconbobulated. It was here that I decided to Skype some friends in America for some company. For the purposes of privacy, I shall refer to them as Amy and Jim, and they had to contend with a very 'worse for wear' Old School Traveller, as I was later to become. Indeed, after what must have been half an hour of drunken rambling, I finished the Skype call, I think, and continued on with my drinking. The shaggers downstairs were swimming naked in post coital contentment and the view was still out of my reach. From here it gets very blurry and so I must have gently and sensibly gone to bed, sensibly dressed, freshly showered and completely without both dribble and mumble.
In the bright blue morning sky shone a sun of brightly burning gold and I had that musty fug that only heavy drinking or a bump on the head can induce. As I was getting into the whole 'Mykonos Party Island' mood, and so I strode confidently and nakedly on to my long lost acquaintance, my balcony. Being 'tackle out' was very liberating but the fella downstairs didn't appear best pleased. I must have put them off their breakfast as he just began to pace around his palatial spread like an absent minded dog looking for his bone..... Anyway, it wasn't long until he found it and off they were again. From what I can tell, they were back on the bleachers and in the position of 'For he's jolly good fellow'. Both sitting and both facing up to my balcony. This I found very disconcerting and I was left feeling that not only were they winning the battle but the war as well. However, I am made of sterner stuff and instead of waving the white beach towel in surrender, I just legged it for a reviving glass of Champagne and a full and lengthy breakfast.... Remembering to grab my swimmers off the balcony as I left. They had certainly spent more time out there than I had.
As I drank my way through a very enjoyable breakfast, orange juice, tomato juice, champagne, coffee, smoothie, Nesfrappe, grapefruit juice, yoghurt and some more champagne, my mind began to clear a little as to why the Humper's downstairs might be unhappy with me. Was it the night before that I became braver and in a show of stoic defiance decided to reveal my wonder to the world? Was I drinking au naturel out on 'my' balcony. Was I reclaiming what was naturally mine sans my underpants? Was I complaining out loud? Was I slagging them off to Jim & Amy, forgetting that my voice would carry the small distance from my bed to their boudoir? It would appear so. I think I might have done all of these things. "Oh well." I thought. It was my last day and I was to relax again, by the pool. I had done very little exploring of the island, so maybe only a half day by the pool.
I'd like to see Mykonos Town at least, in daylight. After a quick champagne, I took the short walk to my apartment to gather my poolside needs and was pleasantly surprised to find no sign of the neighbours and so managed to fire off a couple of shots out across the bay to Delos and into the mid morning sun.
The rest of the day passed without any trouble and it was time to reflect on not only Mykonos but the whole trip itself. Firstly, Mykonos is a delight and I would definitely come back but not on my own. It has a reputation as being quite a gay island and is often described as such but it's actually more of a party place. Anything goes here and there is also something for everyone. I will write further about this fabulous Island in future blogs as I was to return with much more adventure over the coming years, and would stay again at the Mykonos Grand.
I find that staying here instead of maybe in a luxury villa just helps with the ambience. I would take a villa like a shot on many others of the Greek Islands, but here, I want my every need to be catered for. I really don't want to do much. It's not a place for markets and mixing with the locals, cooking and cleaning, it's far more about late nights, early mornings, long buffet breakfasts and lazing by the pool or wonderful Aegean Sea. It's a place for hangovers, getting naked and being brought things. Their are many fine restaurants of any budgets, and you really only feel their priciness if you have visited some of the smaller islands, off the beaten track.
It is certainly a fashionable island and there is bling. The island does carry an 8/10 on the Bling Scale but don't let that put you off. The whole point of island hopping is to mix and match, after all. It's the variances between them that makes it all so wonderful. Delos and the Temple of Apollo as an example, lies a short boat ride across the bay, should you get fed up with the packed beaches, rammed head to toe with expensive sun loungers, the lary brands and gleaming yachts, but that little wonder will have to wait for another day.
As for my neighbours, I can only assume that they had checked-out, as it were.
Thanks for reading. OST
OST's dining recommendations can be found on the Mykonos Restaurant review page.