My husband and I went on the trip of a lifetime to the Greek Isles when he and two of his best friends turned forty years old. Our vacation started in Mykonos, land of the frequenting rich and beautiful people of Europe, moved to Santorini, and ended in the start of Western civilization, Athens. Mykonos is located in the Cyclades of the Aegean Sea: cyclades is the Ancient Greek word for “ring” and means “ring of islands”.
Our flight was delayed getting into Athens, so we had to buy tickets for the Seajet 2, which is a high-powered speedboat/ferry, if we wanted to make it to Mykonos by nightfall. The sea jet is very circa 1980, but it travels fast, only a two hour ride, and has airline-like accommodations, and a coffee bar. The best part was the view of the Greek islands and beautiful blue water as we were traveling.
Upon arrival in Mykonos, our hotel, Hotel Belvedere, sent a driver to pick us up. We arrived at the small boutique hotel surrounded by a white stone security wall and were welcomed inside with drinks provided by the staff. White crisp fabrics billowed and hung were everywhere and gorgeous exotic floral arrangements made the hotel lobby smell deliciously fragrant. A gorgeous pool surrounded by intimate areas of white mattresses, wooden seats, and colorful lights beckoned to us to visit.
We were shown to our room which was nice, but not the most modern or plush. We had white marble floors, two small balconies (one overlooking the pool) and a deep relaxing bathtub.
My friends and I headed into town for dinner at a lovely waterfront restaurant called Caprice. Little did we know this would be the most memorable meal of our entire trip. We had a perfect view of the sunset, which Mykonos is famous for. The restaurant served us a huge selection of grilled shrimp, fresh lobster, and grilled vegetables all on a marble iced tray. Our wine was served in a galvanized bucket full of fresh cut flowers. After dinner, our waiter Nicko gave us a bottle of “digestive aid” that contained tree sap. It is considered rude to turn down the gracious gifts of the server or owner so we suffered through a shot of the concoction.
We briefly wandered the twisty, crooked, cobblestone walkways and did a little window shopping. We enjoyed the outdoor bar at Hotel Belvedere later that evening with some fresh lychee mojitos and a bowl of almonds. All’s well that ends well.
Breakfast at the hotel was nothing short of “wow”! A nice selection of quiche, pastries, fresh fruit, dill egg canapés, toast, croissants, and yogurt was available for you to help yourself. This was included in the room fee. After breakfast we all gathered at the pool, listened to the iPod, and enjoyed a day of relaxation and fantastic scenery. We met about 20 people from around the world during our soaking up the sun. For lunch, we had my favorite caprese salad- buffalo mozzarella, thick tomatoes and fresh basil, then it was nap time.
Early that evening, I had an algae, peppermint oil wrap followed by a scalp, shoulder, face, and foot massage. There was not a formal spa, the lady only had a room at the hotel, but it felt very refreshing and my skin was silky afterwards. Later we invited some of our new friends to join us for dinner and we set out again for caprese, around 10 PM. It was a rare cold day in Mykonos and the 68°F temperatures, along the seaside, while dining outside, was not the smartest thing to do. Our dinner was wonderful, white truffle risotto, and we had some great house wines.
The night was completed with several hours of dancing and listening to world music at the “super” nightclub, Pierros Club, which was packed with attractive people and some very impressive drag queens. At the bar, several people tried to tag along with us to go back to the hotel (we later learned that the Hotel Belvedere is one of the best places to stay and they like to tag along and try to use the amenities at the hotel).
The next day, our British and Australian friends were going to Super Paradise, the gay and nude beach that is the center of partying on Mykonos. I wanted to go so badly but was outvoted by the people I was traveling with. We ended up just hanging out at the pool for another day. We called a cab and headed to the other side of the island to visit the hugely popular Nammos restaurant.
Nammos set us up at a great table and upon our arrival our friends Cindy ran into one of her high school friends from Brentwood, California. Small world, eh? To get to Nammos is no small feat. Your taxi driver will drop you at the top of a very steep hill and you have to snake down the mountain to get to the restaurant. Nammos a hip place with a great ambiance and killer menu. There are huts to rent if you want to lay on the beach, and they also serve food out there. Being a lover of Greek food and having it actually in Greece was a real game changer. Souvlaki, homemade feta, moussaka, oh my!
At Nammos, I had the crab tartare and it was perfection. Everything was nearly perfect except for the fact we were cramped very tightly at the table and the restaurant stays packed. Beware: When it is time to leave, you have to walk back up the hill to meet the cab. Good luck in the heat and with a full stomach. Other than having fields of goats and sheep to ooh and aah over surrounding the hillside, the walk was treacherous and miserable.
After a disco power nap, as it was called by one of our drunken friends, we were ready for another night out on the town. I think the reason I loved Mykonos so much is because this is totally not the typical thing I do when I am at home in the states.
Strolling through the twisty narrow streets of cobblestone is like getting lost in a maze. White washed houses are as far as you can see interwoven with a few trendy boutiques and stray cats. Blue domed cathedrals are scattered along the waterfront as well as full size pelicans often waddling down the alleys. The most familiar site in identifying the island of Mykonos are the windmills along the oceanfront.
Naxos, the largest island in the Cyclades chain, is a destination for the jet set and we traveled here one day to have lunch. The calm bay and beach were buzzing with beautiful tanned bodies enjoying the sun and swim.
Mykonos, home of windmills, chapels, blue roofs, and white buildings won me over and no vacation has ever measured up. Next stop on our Greece trip, Santorini.
Note: Hotel Belvedere rates included: American buffet breakfast, AC, satellite LCD tv, cordless phone, WIFI, mini-bar, Korres bath cosmetics and feature an outdoor swimming pool, steam room, jacuzzi baths, 24 hour gym, music & movies library, safe boxes and concierge services.
Tip: A few noteworthy museums are located on Mykonos, my favorite being the Archaeological Museum.
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