Monday, July 14, 2014

Cruising to Greece: Mykonos

Thus far we’ve stopped in Athens, Rhodes and Santorini on our cruise to the Greek Islands. This week we finish up our voyage with a closer look at the picturesque fishing-village island of Mykonos. The island is located almost in the center of the Cyclades complex in the Aegean Sea and a prettier island would be difficult to find.  All over Mykonos you will see what is referred to as typical Cycladic cubist style of architecture… whitewashed cube-like buildings lodged closely together to form a kind of haphazard labyrinth of narrow alley ways and streets.  What’s the best way to spend your time here?  Just get lost!

Other than the white architecture, the most recognizable feature of Mykonos is the windmills. They started to build them in the 16th century to grind the agricultural harvests by harnessing the famous Mykonos wind for power. Sea-going vessels would stop to pick up the milled flour for transport all over the eastern Mediterranean. Although there were originally sixteen in number only a handful of windmills remain today and they are probably the most photographed object on the island…except for maybe Petros!

Petros the pelican is the mascot of the island of Mykonos.  You can get a glimpse of him as it strolls at an unhurried pace through the city's alleyways, although he is quite fond of the harbor area. Legend has it that more than 40 years ago an island fisherman stumbled upon a wounded pelican. He was so moved by the pelican's plight that he decided to take care of him until he regained his strength.  Yet when he was healthy enough to be set free the pelican did not leave the island, instead deciding to make Mykonos his home. (The original Petros passed away but his loss was so deeply mourned by the people of Mykonos that they introduced a substitute and the tradition continues).

Take some time to stroll to Little Venice, located on the western edge of the island, where colorful houses were built by the sea, their balconies hanging over the water. During the 16th and 17th century pirating was common and it is believed this area was used for the necessary quick loading and unloading of goods. Today it’s the perfect spot to stop for lunch or a drink while taking in the gorgeous views.

If you’d rather lounge in the sun and sand, the most famous beach in Mykonos is Paradise Beach, located 4 miles southeast of the town. The beach has facilities, and you can rent chairs and umbrellas. Most of the time, the sea is tranquil. You can get to Paradise Beach by the local bus or by taxi.

Greek mythology buffs and archeology enthusiasts might want to consider a half-day trip from Mykonos to Delos (either independently or as a ship excursion). Delos is said to be the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. Its history goes back to 3000 BC and was actually the largest city in the world at one point.  Today the entire island is a UNESCO site and the remains are in excellent condition You don't necessarily need a guide if you do your own research before visiting, however when I visited I found a guide to be helpful.

Thanks for cruising to Greece with me!

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