Mrs G. and I are just back from Mykonos, part of the Cyclades group of islands that pepper the Southern Aegean Sea about 100 miles south east of Athens. But enough geography.
Like so many Mediterranean Greek islands it was invaded by Romans, Venetians and Ottomans all of whom left numerous cultural and archaeological graffiti before heading off to plunder somewhere else. Fully restored to Greek ownership, the streets are now thankfully back to Cerulean blue and white.
More recently, it’s become a tourist honeypot with cruise liners paying £50k for a one-night mooring. Each day, their numerous overloaded tenders plough over to the quayside looking like Albanian refugee boats bristling with selfie-sticks. They disgorge flocks of currency-laden day-trippers who quickly become prey to the patient yet adept local restaurant hustlers.
Mykonos town is a maze of tiny cobbled streetlets barely two selfie-sticks wide. Maps exist but are unhelpful due to the irregularity and similarity of every corner. Invaders, I was told, found the town impossible to attack for this very reason. Today, between a cacophony of jewelry shops there’s big-brand shopping and super-fine dining at sky-high prices – think Bond Street, shrunk in a hot wash. With selfie sticks…
But it’s a pretty island; offering more photo-opportunities than a royal wedding. The sunsets are heroic, the beaches are clean and the locals are genuinely very welcoming. Food-wise we found and loved Kounelas a courtyard fish restaurant in central Mykonos town (choose your own fish from the kitchen) and Kiki’s Taverna in the more remote North of the island, no power, no light or broadband, just a fire pit with sizzling chicken and unfeasibly big pork chops plus a salad bar all overseen the big man and owner Vasilis who gives you free booze until a table becomes available.
If you’re on a budget go to Paragas, the fishnchips end of the island with 25 euro sunbeds and a few nervous nudists. Pale and probably from Sheffield, they glower at you until you take your kit off. If you’re loaded then go to Panormos and after hiring your bed for the day at 90 euros, shop in Principote where I was offered a pair of sunglasses for 600 euros. No thanks.
Visit in May (sea cold) or September (sea warm) to avoid the crowds and enjoy Mikonos for three days max then catch a ferry to nearby Ikaria, Paros or Naxos to become an island hopper and broaden your Cyclades knowledge.