Mykonos Stories and Tips

Mykonos Town - the Brilliantly Dazzling White Maze

Paraportiani Church Photo, Mykonos, Greece

I have been to some mazelike towns before.

Toledo in Spain is a real warren, Pushkar in India is a labyrinth, and finding my way through the darkness of Paraty in Brazil was a real headache. But I stayed on Mykonos for a week and I still got lost every day.

The place was so confusing. Originally designed to baffle invading pirates it does the trick for the modern day tourist. One of the most amusing things is the tourists trying to cope as the clock ticks down to their embarkation time back to the cruiseship. The expression on their faces as they realise they don't have enough time to buy that piece of lace or wolf down the last piece of moussaka is priceless. And it is these "quick dash" tourists that keep prices high in Mykonos Town. But I was there a week and worked out a few subterfuges of how to visit Mykonos and not break the bank.

The town itself is free to wander. Traffic is kept out by barriers making it a completely pedestrian experience and the whole town is spread around the half moon of the harbour with the white architecture creeping into the surrounding hills. One of the better places to stay is Tagoo where the hill overlooks the Old Port. Here gives dramatic views of the sweep of the harbour and the twinkling lights of the town in the evening. Tagoo is a short walk downhill to the port or down to the small beach that starts the northern edge of town.

Taxi Square is the main square containing a number of looming Cycladic buildings overlooking restaurants. There are a few trendy bars in this area such as 'Argosti' but mainly when you head south from here you enter the Mykonian maze properly. Here are about 10,000 alleys all cobbled, looking exactly the same, and blending into each other. Each one is lined with souvenir shops, jewellers, galleries, boutiques and Greek bazooki music wafting through the night. Also, this is likely where you will be staying. Each lane contains at least one boutique hotel with white walls and bright blue windows.

But most people gravitate to the harbour front and the myriad of restaurants that abound here. You pay premium prices for a harbour view but at 'Yiavoutras' if you order an ouzo you get Greek snacks such as olives, bread, and sardines to accompany it. At the far end of the harbour is the Panaya Paraportiani church which is truly beautiful. It's a hodgepodge of architecture styles but with the white Cycladic colouring comes across as looking like a blamange. There are about four chapels inside and the whole area with its sea walls and open spaces is one of the most enchanting in Mykonos Town.

Even cuter is Ayon Anarion which starts from an alley not far from the church. Absolutely coated in brilliant white and smothered in white linens and laces this is where the tourists struggle to get past each other in the 2ft wide alley. This area is known as 'Little Venice' due to the number of surviving Greek wooden structures overlooking the sea. Most of them turned into cocktail bars. You can get a better view turning of near 'Verandah' bar. Here a number of restaurants are squeezed between wall and sea allowing a 2ft gap for the tourists to move through. But the view of the sea bashing against the overhanging buildings from here is superb, as are the sunsets.

At the end you will meet 'Alefandras' which is a reasonably priced tourist restaurant. You can enjoy a moussaka or Greek salad for about 16 euros. And this is also where the famous Mykonos pelican hangs out - he waddles around the town enjoying all the attention. A quick walk uphill from here takes you to a much photographed spot - the Mykonos Windmills. It's almost inconceivable that they were actually once crewed by donkeys to produce flour nowadays as they seem utterly fixed as a tourist attraction. The alleys to the east of here take you back to a H-junction. This is very important as it contains one of the few cheap places to eat on the island - 'Jimmy's Gyros'. A place that has been going for thirty years and has cornered the market in gyros/souvlaki for 2 euros.

Make a mental note where this is as it is in the middle of a busy junction and is a devil to find. But that is half the fun of Mykonos. It is like an Escher painting - you think you are travelling in one direction but end up another. You and a couple of hundred of other tourists. It's the best free show in town.

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