Trip Start May 20, 2008
Trip End Sep 15, 2008

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Flag of Greece  , Cyclades,
Monday, June 16, 2008

6/16 "I'd like a ticket to Paradise, please."
"That will be 1.40 Euros," replies the bus driver.
"Wow, I thought Paradise would be a lot more expensive, but even I can afford it!"

That could be an exchange between a tourist and a Mykonos bus driver. It seems funny to ask for a ticket to Paradise but even more odd to ask for a ticket to Super Paradise. After visiting both I decided the fare is not the bargain I thought it was since I think both beaches are overrated.

The beaches are supposed to be the main attraction on Mykonos but don't get your hopes up. Each of the most popular beaches has a nice club with a mini-market, beach toys for rent and plenty of umbrellas and chairs(ranging from $16-$24 depending on the beach). The beaches are clean but the swimming can be quite a challenge on the frequent windy days. The last 3 days have had relentless winds which have cancelled many ferries, sent hats flying and inverted many a beach umbrella. The fashion-conscious crowd even had to resort to do-rags since there was no way to have good hair. I swear I even saw Toto go by a couple of times!

During my week in Mykonos I visited all of the most popular beaches and decided that the best is Elia Beach. Elia is the furthest east of the beaches making it a little more difficult to reach but worth the trouble. It is a long beach with all of the beautiful people and few kids. Like all of the beaches on Mykonos there is plenty of nudity demonstrating that some people have no consideration for the enjoyment of others.

Late in the afternoon the music cranks up at the beach as the crowd starts migrating to the bars and restaurants. Busses run from Mykonos Town to each of the beaches until the wee hours so that clubbers don't drive on the narrow island roads. Based on comments I heard on the busses everyone is in agreement that everything is extremely overpriced on Mykonos. At the clubs a regular mixed drink is 10 Euros which is $15.63!!! These Aussie girls had gone out last night to have a fun time but ended up coming back early because they had already run out of money. :-(

I had my own sticker shock every time I went to buy something. A small jar of peanut butter (creamy since I couldn't find chunky anywhere) was $10, a small container of yogurt was $3, a postcard was 80 cents (in Turkey they were 15 cents each!), a small bag of raisins and nuts was $9.50 and a bottle of Corona was $8. I also noticed that between July 11 and August 24 my little pension room rents for $156 a night!!! That's just a sampling of prices I noticed. It's easy to remember the good old days when the Euro and US Dollar were at parity.

I took the high speed catamaran from Naxos to Mykonos which was quite a nice way to travel. You are not allowed to go outside but the ride was so comfy and quick that it didn't matter. I was met at the port by my host, Andreas. On the short drive he pointed out key landmarks in Mykonos Town so I could get my bearings. Technically I stayed at the Kymata Pension but I think Andreas just owns different buildings around town rather than a single one. Where I stayed looked just like a private residence and was perfectly located right across from the windmills overlooking the harbor. It was very close to the bus station, Internet cafe and away from any noise. The room I had was perfect and I especially loved the AC!

Mykonos Town has a young crowd with lots of Americans and Australians plus the standard dose of Brits and Germans. I found little to do in Mykonos beyond going to the beach and walking the narrow lanes of Mykonos Town. The youngsters would add clubbing and eating out to the list but I'd rather spend my money elsewhere. Dressy white clothes are popular in the evenings to show off the nice tans (or the similarities to lobsters which was often the case).

Day-trips to Delos are promoted to see one of the prime archaeological sites in Greece. I opted not to do that since I've already seen plenty of ruins and that would be something I could do with the Houston group if we stop at Mykonos on our trip.

The winding, narrow lanes of Mykonos Town provide plenty of shopping opportunities. There are no street signs with the lanes being pedestrian-only so it gets very confusing trying to figure out where you are and where you need to go. Getting lost was very common so you end up walking down to the water or up to the Ring Road to get your bearings. I think the shop owners designed the town this way to keep shoppers from leaving. It was fun to wander the town except when the many cruise ships dumped thousands of extra people into the small confines of Mykonos Town.

Given lots of time at the beach I finished several books this week with my favorites being "Fatal" by Michael Palmer, "The Choice" by Nicholas Sparks and "Hide" by Lisa Gardner. I'm saving these in case any of the Ball party wishes to read them.

Mykonos is virtually all rock (granite) with no agricultural uses due to the lack of soil and rain. That makes the island pretty barren and not much to look at. The houses are done in typical Cycladic style which looks to me like square igloos with blue shutters. The style is attractive and the brilliant white does contrast nicely with the perfect blue of the sea.

Mykonos does have at least one pelican resident to continue a tradition that started more than 300 years ago when the first pelicans mysteriously arrived on Mykonos. The pelican is the mascot of the island and is/are called Petros. I don't know if there is more than one pelican or not but I saw one of these huge birds on two different occasions. The poor bird was constantly photographed by the paparazzi and harrassed as visitors tried to get photos with Petros. I'm sure Petros knows just how Britney feels!

Staying a week in Mykonos was too long for me given the lack of interesting sights and the focus on clubbing and nightlife that isn't my scene. I did enjoy visiting the different beaches but they seemed very alike to me (and not nearly as nice as those in Croatia or Turkey) and you can see from the photos that it's hard to tell one from another. I think saying you're vacationing in Mykonos sounds a lot better than the actual experience.

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