The prearranged taxi arrived at the Santorini villas at 10.45am for the short drive to the new port and our ferry trip to Mykonos. We were travelling on the Highspeed 4 a larger capacity ferry and less likely to have too much movement if the sea is rough. The road to the new port is not for the feint-hearted as the road is narrow and winding with buses, trucks, motorbikes and cars all vying for space. Our trip was interesting and at one stage the driver decided to pull out to overtake a bus but quickly changed his mind when confronted with an oncoming bus. GG (Frank) pulled a funny face….it was very contorted not sure whether with surprise or with the thought his life was flashing before his eyes….he was in the front seat so probably more worrying for him. This much excitement cost the small sum of 20€.
The ‘new port’ is big and berths are not well sign posted so it was decided I would step into the Hellenic Seaways office and asked the desk person where we need to be. He pointed and said “turn left”. ‘Thanks’ I replied. We walked left, a building had a sign ‘Departures’, we entered a hot, stuffy room..supposedly a departure lounge but more like a large garage with a few bench seats along the wall. I walked to the back of the room where there was more space to breathe. We stood around for a few minutes but the stuffy atmosphere was very unpleasant so Ty thought we should step back outside and sit in the shade. Ty deduced the ferry would dock a little further down the dock….hmm, ok, I thought ‘ but that is the departures lounge and assume it’s that for a reason as we need to show passports and tickets’. About 20 minutes later the ferry came in and docked up on the other side of the departures lounge!! My thinking was right and we would have been at the head of line and out of the sun now we had to join the back of the line in the sun….I had a chuckle to myself because husband was sure he was right!! He’d checked all the berths and where the buses had lined up and decided the big ferry needed the bigger berth.
Boarding and disembarking the ferry was a little like a cattle stampede. The bags were left on the car deck level under the sign for your destination, which wasn’t too difficult, but retrieving the bags before disembarking was very messy with people going every which way. We had pre booked our tickets and the cost per person for business class seating with a table was 68€. The ferry stopped at Naxos, Ios and Paros before our stop. The three and a half hour trip was relatively smooth.
When we reached the port of Mykonos the owner of our hotel met us. Helena was her name and there she stood among other collection agents holding up signs with guests names on them. We saw the sign ‘Starr’ and made a bee line for Helena who was in discussion with another couple but turned to us, we introduced ourselves, and she motioned for us to follow her. As we turned to follow she said to the young couple ‘I will come back for you, wait here I will not be long’. Weaving through cars and buses we eventually came to her little car….wedged between cars on all sides….’this will be interesting’ I whispered to Ty ‘if we manage to get into the car how she’s going to get this out’. All of us squeezed in the car and now what? Well, Helena grated the gears and moved the car a little forward, no, that wouldn’t work, a quick turn of the steering wheel, a small reverse, stop, move forwards a little more, stop, say something in Greek, turn steering wheel again, move a little to the side…no, not going anywhere here, the little dusty green car was certainly parked in on all sides. I whispered to Ty,” perhaps you guys need to get out and lift the car over the other car beside us”. Eventually the drivers of the other cars came back and moved off allowing us to drive off as well, not before abusive words were uttered between Helena and a couple of the drivers.
Helena’s little car was ok on the flat but when it turned a corner onto a steep gradient it had problems, partly due, I’m sure, to the load in the car; Helena herself wasn’t a little lady; 3 men and myself with about 70kgs of luggage in the very back made the little car really struggle. Suddenly a car came round a blind corner in front of us, Helena stepped on the brake, a car was close behind us as well, the oncoming car wasn’t stopping and passed us. Helena grated the clutch, changed gears and hit the accelerator……dust and rocks flew up around us as we rolled – backwards. Brakes slammed on again, very quickly, as Helena crunched the gears and tried again to force the little car up the hill. No, the little green car was having none of that as we started to roll back down the hill again. The car behind us hastily went round us as we rolled further back down the hill. I was thinking to myself ‘As long as we stop before the car rolls back to the main road I’m not too worried’. After a few more tries Helena finally revved the poor little things motor as much as possible and it made its way to the top of the hill. I looked at Ty and we laughed (silently of course) welcome to Mykonos and hotel Spanelis our home for the next 3 days. Helena dropped us at the hotel, hurriedly gave us our room numbers and rushed back to the port to the other couple she had left on the dock. Luckily it was quite windy so they wouldn’t be wilting in the hot sun.
We were each registered and given our room keys by an assistant. Our rooms were a disappointment to all of us, extremely small even by European standards, very old, shower base was tiny with a curtain, we did have a large balcony but it was so windy you couldn’t enjoy it. There was only one useable powerpoint as the other was behind the bed head. The view from the balcony was not as it was on the web page. The web marketing of the hotel was very slick but incorrect in many details. The website also mentioned access to the pool complex at the hotel next door was available when you buy a drink at their bar. However, when we enquired with Helena she said ‘you can ask but they may not let you’. So more false advertising. The hotel advertised it was 500 metres from centre….it’s about 800 so not too much difference and the walk isn’t too bad.
The weather in Greece had been unusually windy and we’d hoped it wouldn’t follow us to Mykonos but it did. As with Santorini the locals on Mykonos were very happy to have the wind as they’d previously had extreme heat with no breeze at all. Heading down the hill to town was easy…we had a tail wind, dodging the passing traffic was a different matter. At one point, on the little road, there was a stand-off between a van and a couple of cars. It was hard to get past them so we stood in a small lay by and watched as they gesticulated back and forth….eventually the larger van won out and the cars reversed back until the van could pass them. The show was over so all those walking could continue on their way.
We arrived at the edge of town and decided it was time for afternoon tea at the waterfront….Little Italy and the windmills weren’t going anywhere so there was no rush. We sat at one of the many cafes, we chose Kouros Cafe, with a view straight out to the breakwall and sea. Of course the first question Troy asked was “Do you have wi fi”. We’d come to realise that it wasn’t whether the food was good or he liked a dish on their menu or even that the view was quite spectacular….no, the main ingredient for Troy (Lord Lunchalot) was wi fi. As in many holidays there is often one overriding factor for making choices when choosing places for refreshments….ours would be wi fi.
This also meant that on occasion meal times would stretch out longer than Ty and I would usually spend sitting and eating when we were on holidays. Lunch and morning tea especially.
Time to move on to take in the other sights of Mykonos…..we headed around to Little Italy via the sea wall but, because of the wind, the waves were crashing over the sea wall making the walkway very slippery. I was still carrying my injury from Santorini so I wasn’t going to risk slipping over as a trip to another Greek hospital is not on my agenda…(previous visit to Greek hospital was in 2007 when I broke my 5th metatarsal bone and left the hospital plastered from toes to knee). If I’ve broken anything this time it will have to wait till I return home. Anyway, we had to turn back and take the long way round through the little narrow streets, passing many shops along the way, stopping at some, eventually coming out to the right of ‘Little Italy’.
It wasn’t as picture perfect as the last visit in 2010 mainly due to the restaurants at the edge of Little Italy being closed, their chairs and tables stacked up untidily away from the crashing waves. The owners would not be happy losing business at this time of the season, or anytime for that matter. They have only a short time to make their money before winter sees the tourism on the Greek Islands come to a close.
We wandered up to and around the windmills, took the usual photos. Although I’m not sure why I was taking photos I have so many from every angle from previous visits I hardly need any more and then there’s what to do with them? Oh well, just can’t help myself. Always trying for that postcard picture.
We decided to amble back to the hotel for a relaxation break before walking to town for dinner later in the evening. One thing the hotel had in it’s favour was wi fi…so that kept both Lord L and GG happy.
It was good to sit and relax for a couple of hours as our holidays are usually quite hectic. No matter how much I say I’m going to take time out to relax and write it doesn’t happen. Hmm, perhaps I need to take a holiday on my own to a villa in a cute little village somewhere in France or Italy…… although I have the feeling my husband would want to come along as well…to relax!! We wouldn’t relax ‘cos within an hour of settling in to write he would say ‘So, are you ready yet’? or ‘How long do you think you’ll be doing your writing for?’ He’s over the relaxation or the ‘I’m catching up on some writing today’ bit within the first hour. He doesn’t realise that once you get into a rhythm with writing you can’t place a time limit on it? Why am I telling you this? To explain why, very often, my blog is a few days or even weeks behind.
Back to Mykonos…..showered, changed and time to meet up with fellow traveling companions. Well one at least, as GG is generally 5 to 10 minutes late turning up to our meeting points and Troy is 10 minutes early. All present and correct we start the trek back down the hill to dinner. Tonight I have a scarf to pull up onto my head if my hair starts to blow around. I know, not really a good look but so tired of looking like a windswept wreck every time we venture out. We only made it to the edge of town this evening as we liked the look of the menu at Kavlos Restaurant earlier today. The restaurant faced the waterfront and we could look across to the other restaurants and stores that arced the seafront. Very pretty scene as the sun was setting. Food and the service was very good but it was interesting watching the waiters as they flirted incessantly with every female customer…one waiter in particular named Petros was over the top in the attention he gave to the women he came in contact with. Around 10.15 we decided it was time to drag our tired frames back up the hill and home by 11pm. The room was hot and stuffy but at least the air conditioning worked very well. This room was also a non smoking room and, amazingly, no previous guests appeared to have smoked in the room ‘cos the air quality coming out of the air con didn’t smell like stale cigarettes….2 pluses for the hotel so far – wi fi and good air con!
No sign of Petros around town today – maybe we’ll see him tomorrow.
Up reasonably early this morning, not because we have somewhere to be but because breakfast was only on till 9 am. Showering was a challenge so that would take a little more time…..it was hard enough standing in the small shower base but the shower curtain kept sticking to me…not just one part of my body but to all of me. How many of you have ever tried to shower wrapped in a nylon shower curtain? Let alone tried to wash your hair? Ty had to intervene and hold the curtain back so I could wash my hair. The floor was a swimming pool after each shower…we used most of the towels as bath mats.
Breakfast wasn’t too bad and consisted of cereals, toast, boiled eggs, although after watching Hotel Rescue I’m very wary of boiled eggs, cheese and hams which are the usual staple of European breakfasts and slices of cake. Coffee was not the best but that’s only hearsay ‘cos I don’t drink thick black coffee..
Day 2 in Mykonos and it’s still disappointingly windy…thinking of shaving my head because this wind is playing havoc with my hair and I’ve lost the battle to keep my hair in place….Ty said I shouldn’t worry about trying to keep a style in place – everyone has the same problem with this wind. So I wear the baseball cap we bought in Santorini – flat hair is the alternative to windblown hair I suppose.
So far this trip there have been a few wild and silly statements being made from my companions but I don’t have a head for remembering all those spur of the moment comments….although I do recall Lord Lunchalot’s first statement of the day about the street the hotel is on was ‘ At least it’s a nice, quiet two way street’! Quiet?! We’re dodging small cars, little trucks, motor bikes and larger cars on our daily walks back and forth to town. A quiet street is not one where I have to back myself up as close as possible to a rock wall to ensue the oncoming car misses me!
A little shopping was in order today. had bought 2 swimming costumes with me but I hadn’t realised that one of them was a little stretched in the top from our Aqua Zumba classes so didn’t hold certain ‘assets’ as it should…..it needed replacing. Luckily Mykonos had a Hondos Centre so in I went to find myself a new costume followed by my travelling companions. I found the swimwear section and eventually chose a couple of items to try on. I tried on one and popped out of the change cubicle to see what Ty thought…he thought it was ok but from the other side of the store I heard Troy’s voice ‘your bum looks big in that’. Other customers turned to look in my direction as Frank also made a comment….ok back into the change cubicle and on with the other costume. This one was a black one piece with a panel down the front with red roses on the black background….quite pretty. I stepped into it and peeked out to show Ty when the other 2 said ‘Come on out so we can see it as well and give our opinion’. Not sure I really wanted their opinion again. Anyway I stepped out of the cubicle and they all agreed this one looked much better, so did some of the other customers, so I had no choice but to make the purchase! I changed clothes and as I came out of the change cubicle Ty took the costume and bought it for me…that was very good and it was also discounted by 30% so that was even better. We both got a bargain.
That was my shopping expedition over. Three men is two too many to shop with when they all have an opinion on what clothing I might want to purchase or even take off the rack to look at. One nods yes and the other two shake their head in a no motion….best to find somewhere for lunch that way they’ll be focused on food, oh and wi fi. Restaurant of choice for lunch was Rouvera Restaurant. Gorging Gonzo chose the ‘NY Sunset Berger’, yes spelt exactly as I have it, and he says it was the best burger ever!!! Only thing we forgot, from previous travel around Europe, was that, in a number of countries, an eatery will place a basket of bread on the table without you asking and the diner is charged for it. So if you don’t want bread with your meal or you don’t want to pay for it ask them to take it away before they place it on the table. They won’t be happy chappies because it’s a bit of cream on top of the meal price for them. When you receive the bill you’ll notice you’ve been charged anywhere between €1.30 to €1.70 per person for a small basket of bread slices….mostly containing 1 small slice per person and 1 extra. Occasionally you might receive a few little bread rolls.
We decided the Mykonos pigeons were very well behaved as they didn’t bother diners at all. The Aussie pigeon would terrorise you for a crumb, be around your feet and, if you accidentally dropped a morsel, another 20 would turn up. Pigeons and sea gulls can be the bane of outdoor dining in Australia. The Mykonos pigeons didn’t seem interested in the eateries or the diners.
Lunch over GG had some shopping to do plus we’d over eaten again so needed a walk. Gorging Gonz had purchased a certain brand of olive oil moisturiser last time he was in Mykonos so the challenge would be finding it 5 years on. I was also pleased the focus of attention had moved to someone else for a change! After wandering around the pretty alleyways and stopping at each herbal shop we finally found the brand of product. GG went in to the store to ask if it was still available. We waited outside, I like olive oil in cooking but the smell of olive oil soap is quite strong and particularly unpleasant to me. About ten minutes later out he strode swinging a small plastic bag….shopping successfully completed.
It must be afternoon drinks time and by the sea was a good place to have them. We chose Kavlos again. The order was 2 gin and tonics and 2 vodka lime and soda or in the case if Mykonos, vodka, soda, a slice if lemon and sugar in the bottom of the glass! Drinks duly arrived, 2 with pink straws, 2 with yellow straws. The waiter seemed confused on what coloured straw went with which drink so it was left to us to try and sort it out. Well, that didn’t work because we couldn’t agree and just when we thought we had it right someone would say ‘no, this isn’t gin’ and we would start the process over again. I chose what I thought was vodka only to be told ‘no it isn’t that’s gin’ so my glass was swapped again…turns out I had been right. Only discovered after Ty and Troy ordered another G&T each and the coloured straws in their drinks were the ones they thought were the vodkas! Vindicated….I knew I’d drank a G&T instead of the vodka I’d ordered!!!
Whilst we were enjoying our drinks a couple at the next table asked Lord Lunchalot to take their photo, Troy agreed and then they got chatting. This couple came from a town not far from Troy’s home in Queensland. What are the chances of going half way around the world and meeting people from your local area?? The world is definitely shrinking. Although I never meet anyone from my town…but then that may have something to do with me keeping a low profile when I’m overseas and there are other Aussies around. I don’t feel the need to ‘hook up’ with fellow countrymen.
This evening we dined at Salparo Restaurant, on the waterfront, of course. My choice was the Salparo Salad which contained caramelised pear, feta cheese and rocket…..very tasty and healthy as well. Our waiter was a rather large, thickset, unhappy man. He glared and scowled at everyone as if we were an imposition on his time. I’m not sure that the career path he has chosen is the right one for him…
Dinner over we decided to move on to a little Boulangerie for cake and coffee…it’s like an eatfest isn’t it??? Before I do that though I should go to the ladies room. This was an experience ‘cos many loos in restaurants in Europe are, for want of another word, interesting and this one was no exception. Through a section of the kitchen, nothing strange about that, turn left and go up the stairs, turn right at the top and you’ll see the toilet, were the instructions. The stairs were actually a blue metal spiral staircase, very slim in design and a little greasy so care was needed going up, at the top was a storage area and beside it the loo…one for ladies and one for men. Ok, negotiated going up the stairs without too many problems but coming down was another matter. Very greasy, not keen on holding the hand rail either, God knows what bacteria would be living on that, but no choice because there was no room for error getting back to ground. My concern was someone might try to pass me on the stairs…..no chance!! Thank goodness for the antibacterial hand wipes that go everywhere with us.
We leave Salparo and cross the road to the boulangerie, I purchase a Christmas bauble to replace the one I dropped last year along the way. We had almost finished our cake and coffee whilst GG was still ordering his. Eventually he placed his tray on the table, on it sat a very large slice of cake, a custard filo, a muffin and a drink. My goodness he can eat….makes he full just looking at the amount of food he tucks into.
Whilst we were eating Lord Lunchalot expressed a concern that he hadn’t heard from his mother since 10.30am our time yesterday. He said ‘I keep sending her pictures but she isn’t responding’. I couldn’t resist so I replied ‘your mum is probably staying quiet do you’ll stop bombarding her with photos’. He didn’t think my reply was amusing….the rest of us did. Well, generally people will place one or two pictures of places visited on Fb or MMS a picture but not LL he puts as many as he can in whatever timeframe he has available!!
Still no sign of Petros the pelican today and this is our last evening on Mykonos – tomorrow we embark on our Greek Island cruise. We were looking forward to seeing the crazy bird and its antics especially given we’d told Troy all about him. Perhaps Petros had been replaced by the busker with the cool Labrador wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses.