Before the cruise, the last time I’d been to a Greek Island was when I was two. I went to Rhodes on my very first holiday with my parents, long before my brother came along. (He was still ‘dancing on the clouds’ as my Mum used to say). Apparently I was potty trained on a beach there and my only memory involves a favourite teddy bear going missing before the flight home, so I didn’t have much to go on. 🙂
Mykonos (and Chora/Mykonos Town) is windy but beautiful. Lots of narrow (really narrow!) cobbled streets full of white homes and shops with bright blue shutters, plenty of waterside bars and tavernas with awnings crawling with hot pink Bougainvillea…
It’s really pretty, but it’s very touristy. And be prepared to find restaurants, shops and bars to be pretty expensive. Also – and especially in summer – it’s busy. I had to take most of my pictures pointing upwards to make sure the crowds squeezing up and down the streets weren’t in shot. But let’s be real here, there’s no such thing as a street in Mykonos, it’s made up of alleyways if anything – though I’m told that the town was specifically built this way to work as a maze for invading marauders (and tourists?).
You won’t be expecting traffic when you arrive in Mykonos. Wrong! Get ready to dive into the nearest shop, scale the closest staircase or breathe in to get out of the way of the tiny trucks and cars that zoom up and down the
streets alleyways to deliver drinks to local bars and restaurants.
We didn’t see Petros the Pelican, the island mascot.
Little Venice, Mikri Venetia.
Chora’s famous windmills.
My parents day tripped in Santorini when they holidayed in Greece during the seventies (i.e. the decade before my brother and I came along and my dad sported some seriously groovy sideburns…). The white cubic buildings with blue domes on the cliff top are just the perfect image of Greece, right? You see the pictures in holiday brochures of volcanic islands rising out of impossibly blue seas and little pots of geraniums balancing on window sills and wonder whether the reality could be equally as picturesque. Well, photographers hardly need to try at all when in Santorini, that’s the truth. It’s literally as pretty as a picture 🙂
Our cruise ship tendered at Fira, Santorini’s capital. This meant we had to get a boat to take us to the island. There was one really nice wooden ship carrying passengers across the water (think of the photos!) but unfortunately, we got left with a much speedier and more modern boat. Boo.
From the port you have three options on how to get up the enormous cliff face and actually get to Fira itself: You can either ride a donkey up the steep and snaking path, walk the steep and snaking path yourself, or, you can queue up and catch the cable car. Having been warned that the donkeys were dangerous and that the walk was a trek, we caught the cable car. It was cheap enough (one way) and took less than five minutes (+ twenty minutes of queuing…).
Once you get up to the top and have walked through the narrow cobbled streets and taken a look in the jewellery shops (so many jewellery shops in Greece!), take in the view. Yow.
Fira is beautiful, but if you’re after the traditional blue rooftops you’ve got to travel further along the island to Oia.
One thing you must, must, must do when you’re in Santorini is stop at a restaurant or Cafe with views over the Calderra. Once we’d had enough of shopping (and got our traditional Christmas tree decoration – a donkey, ha!), we found a deserted bar playing music and sat down for a drink overlooking the sea.
If I had to choose a favourite moment from our holiday, it would be this one. We sat there for at least an hour soaking in the view and chatting. (Plus, the toilets at Francos were seriously lush for ‘Greece! Land of the unflushed bog roll!‘)
So once we were ready to head back to the cruise ship we were again faced with three options. Option one, be sensible and take the cable car back down to the port, Option two, ride a donkey down the (now) sloping, snaking path, or Option three, be stupid and walk down the sloping, snaking path…
We thought we’d walk. We thought it wouldn’t be that bad going down. We thought we were young and fit and could do it! But it was so hard! The cobbles are really slippery, I was slipping all over the place in my sandals and because there are donkeys going up and down it all day the thing you’re most likely to slip into is a big pile of steaming donkey pudding. Oh, and another thing about the donkeys; they don’t stop. We had to stick ourselves to a wall every time they trotted around a corner. Plus, you often have to walk behind them, which I really didn’t like doing (it’s unlikely they’ll buckaroo, they’re so used to people passing them from behind – but it was still unpleasant!).
We were knackered when we got to the bottom. I had to soak my feet. Sandals had not been a sensible idea. Even though it was horrible, I’m kind of glad we walked and experienced the donkeys. It made for a much better story than ‘ooh! we rode the cable car back down and nothing interesting at all happened along the way! My feet are fine!’