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The Islands of Mykonos & Naxos, Greece

September 19th, 2023


Mykonos is a Greek island, part of the Cyclades group. There are 11K inhabitants most of whom live in the largest town, Mykonos, which lies on the west coast. The town is also known as Chora (i.e. ‘Town’ in Greek, following the common practice in Greece when the name of the island itself is the same as the name of the principal town). 

Mykonos’s nickname is “The Island of the Winds”, due to the very strong winds that usually blow on the island. Tourism is a major industry and Mykonos is known for its vibrant nightlife and for being a gay-friendly destination with many establishments catering for the LGBT community.

In Greek mythology, Mykonos was named after its first ruler, Mykonos (Μύκονος), the son or grandson of the god Apollo and a local hero. The island is also said to have been the location of the Gigantomachy, the great battle between Zeus and Giants and where Hercules killed the invincible giants having lured them from the protection of Mount Olympus. According to myth, the large rocks all over the island are said to be the petrified corpses of the giants.

There are over 400 churches on this little island – it’s hard to go far without seeing one in more than one direction!

Greek Isle Number 2!

Gasoline:  2.28 per litre about 9.20 USD per gallon

Our flight from Athens was less than a half hour and on time.  Fran had arranged for an airport pick up by the hotel for €20 and George was waiting for us in arrivals.  It was sunny and super windy as Mykonos is known to be.  Christine and Mark were already in the suite as they had arrived very early by ferry from Ikaria Island.

We had booked a two bed, two bath suite here with a kitchenette at Artemoulas Suites on the south side of the island.  We divided up where everyone would sleep and then spent time catching up before going for a walk to check out the hotel pools and the nearby beaches.

It is super windy today – winds more than 45 kmh / 30 mph however the sun is shining and it’s in the mid 20’s C / mid 70’s F. At the main beach, Gialos, it was sheltered and there was no wind but the other beaches were very windy.  The main beach is very commercial and an umbrella and two sun beds is €40 for the day and runs €s75 if you want to be up front.  So at this point of the day, not worth it and for sure not at those prices.

Beaches further along on our walk:

We stopped to pick up food and drink for dinner and then returned to our room to change and spend some time catching up and having happy hour by the pool.

That night after dinner we played some cards – front desk had a double set to lend us and ending up letting us keep them.   Fran was in touch with our mutual friends Joe & Josée, who are currently “down under” and we have arranged for a video call on Friday morning.

Wednesday morning after everyone did their morning routines, we took the local bus at 10:15 into Mykonos Town.  It’s about a 15 minute bus ride for €1.80 each.  It takes you to the edge of town as most of the town is old town and it’s mostly alleys with no vehicles.  It’s quite chaotic.

Upon arriving at the first thing we wanted to see, The Windmills, we could see not one, not two but FIVE cruise ships in the harbour!!!  Ridiculous and there were people milling everywhere.  It was a slog to walk through town and it was not pleasant.

We made our way through town along the pretty alleyways with colourful balconies but due to the number of “boat people” it was super crowded.

We made it to the other side of old town to see the Panagia Portiani and ruins of an old castle and then decided we should have a cold drink in a waterside restaurant – by now it’s 11:30 and no restaurants want you to just drink, you have to order lunch and prices are expensive.  As we’d had brekkie before leaving purposely to not have to have a meal in town so that wasn’t an option.

The Church of Panagia Paraportiani is situated in the neighbourhood of Kastro, in the town of Chora, on the Greek island of Mykonos. Its name literally means “Our Lady of the Side Gate” in Greek, as its entrance was found in the side gate of the entrance to the Kastro area.

Construction of this church started in 1425 and was not completed until the 17th century. This impressive, whitewashed church actually consists of five separate churches which are joined: the four churches (dedicated to Saint Eustathios, Saint Sozon, Saints Anargyroi and Saint Anastasia) are at ground level and constitute the base of the fifth church that has been built above them.

We walked by the docks where the tours to the sacred island of Delos were sold and bought tickets to go tomorrow.  We walked further along the water front past a beach continuing to look for a place to have drinks amoungst the hordes of “boat people”.  We sat down at a place that again said we’d have to order something but the prices were ridiculous so we left.  By this time, Fran had had enough of the heat and the throngs of people and we decided to leave but Christine and Mark wanted to see some more so we went our separate ways.  Enroute to the bus we did find a place away from the water that would serve us just drinks and sat for a cold Corona and to use the toilets.  Here the beer was €7 (vs 10 by the water) but it was worth it!

We caught the 2pm bus back to our hotel stopping for some groceries and beer at the bus station super market.  At the hotel we put stuff way, got things charging and changed into our swimsuits to sit by the pool.  Christine and Mark showed up about a half hour later and we had a nice happy hour there.

It should be noted that while Doug and Mark had one beer each day from the pool bar, most the time we were drinking our own beer and having our own snacks.

We heard from Dave and Annette that they did plan to come and we told them where we were staying.  Doug went to the front desk to ask if they could stay with us as we had room for them as the place sleeps up to 6.  They advised they could stay with us for €70 cash or get their own suite for €90.  We relayed that information and the next day they said they’d do the latter.

So Thursday morning we decided that instead of catching the 10 am boat to Delos, we delay to the 11:30.  We figured two hours at the archeological site was sufficient – there’s no shade, no food or water over there and we weren’t planning on doing a guided tour.  We stopped at the front desk first to arrange check out tomorrow with a shuttle to the port to catch the ferry to Naxos – our next island.

So the plan was to catch the 10:15 am bus for the 11:30 boat so we could maybe walk around town more if there were fewer cruise ships.  We walked up to the stop and the bus arrived almost 10 minutes late.  Then we were told, no room on the bus. We had to wait till the 10:45 bus which would probably be late too so Doug began to stick his thumb out hoping to catch a ride into town.  It’s only about 2 miles to the edge of town but it’s mostly uphill.

After nearly ten minutes a taxi stopped and offered us a ride for €20 (an Uber would have been €38 so it was a good price).  He dropped us right where the bus would have taken us anyway, and we made it to the boat with time to spare (we’d be told to arrive 30 minutes before the sailing – totally unnecessary as it turned out).

Today there were only three not so huge cruise ships in port and you could feel the difference from yesterday; it was quite easy to walk down the streets and you didn’t feel like you were pushing your way through the hordes.

The island of Delos is located near Mykonos, and is one of the most important mythological, historical, and archaeological sites in the country. The excavations in the island are among the most extensive in the Mediterranean; ongoing work takes place under the direction of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades, and many of the artifacts found are on display at the Archaeological museum of Delos and the National Museum in Athens.

Delos had a position as a holy sanctuary for a millennium before Olympian Greek mythology made it the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. From its Sacred Harbour, the horizon shows the three conical mounds that have identified landscapes sacred to a goddess (presumably Athena.

In 1990, UNESCO inscribed Delos, citing its exceptional archaeological site which “conveys the image of a great cosmopolitan Mediterranean port”, its influence on the development of Greek architecture, and its sacred importance throughout Ancient Greece.

The boat ride to Delos cost €22 return and then you pay your entrance fee to the site of €12.  The site is huge and after just over an hour we realized there was no way we were taking the 1:30 boat back so we’d hang until the 3pm.

The boat we caught to the island emptied with several cruise ship passengers but our boat didn’t even fill up so the island felt quite pleasant to walk around.   Doug guided us using his Organic Maps app on the phone and we hit a good number of the main spots like:

House of Dionysos:

The House of Delphi:

The House of Cleopatra (not the Egyptian one):

Agora of the Italiens:

The Lake House:

The House of Masks:

So many columns and corners of temples:

Using his Wikipedia on this phone he was also able to get us information about the site.

There was a large hill to climb up stairs on that everyone but Fran decided to do:

Wasn’t much up there but a “pile of rocks”.  Here was the view:

At 1:30 we headed to see the museum but it was closed!

(We did notice later, that our entry fee had only been €8 so they had reduced the price from 12 probably for this reason.) No one had mentioned this when we bought the boat tickets or the site tickets – seems like typical Greek lack of organization and lack of caring.  So now we had over an hour before the 3pm boat and we were getting hot and tired.  It was true there’s really no shade and no food or drink.  We’d brought snacks but read there was a snack bar and water vending machines.  Well the snack bar was closed and looked like it had been for a long time and the vending machines were sold out – probably had been for a long time although  you could hear that they were operating.

It was time well spent and we didn’t regret going and the boat ride gave us lovely views.  We got back into Mykonos town around 3:30, and went for drinks at a place Mark had seen yesterday.  We were able to do so without ordering a meal.

leaving Delos

We caught the 5pm bus back to the hotel.  Earlier in the day we’d heard from Dave and Annette and they’d made the ferry off the mainland and would be landing in Mykonos at 5:30.  They had arranged the shuttle pick up and made it to the hotel before 6pm.

We ordered pizza, Christine made a tomato, onion and cheese salad, as well as other appies, we had wine and beer and snacks and the six of us had a pleasant evening after a bit of confusion with the hotel staff about whether we could eat our own food in the closed restaurant area – that ended up being a big fat no.

Next morning, Dave and Annette joined us for coffee and we said our goodbyes – but there’s a chance we’ll meet up again over the next week as they have no firm plans.

As far as Mykonos, we’d have to say we wouldn’t come back; the island itself doesn’t have a great deal to offer to see to visit (other than Delos); it’s a pricey party island with beaches that have  loud techno music and DJ’s so it’s really for young people.  The old town is interesting to walk around (if there aren’t 5000 “boat people” walking with you).  We kinda feel like we got sucked into the hype of the place when we researched islands online and here are just TOO many people from the cruise ships!!!

September 22nd, 2023


Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades. The island is famous as a source of emery, a rock rich in corundum, which until modern times was one of the best abrasives available.  The largest town and capital of the island is Chora or Naxos City, with 7,800 inhabitants.

According to Greek mythology, the young Zeus was raised in a cave on Mt. Zas (“Zas” meaning “Zeus”). Homer mentions “Dia”; literally the sacred island “of the Goddess”. 

One legend has it that in the Heroic Age before the Trojan War, Theseus abandoned Ariadne on this island after she helped him kill the Minotaur and escape from the Labyrinth. Dionysus (god of wine, festivities, and the primal energy of life) who was the protector of the island met Ariadne and fell in love with her. But eventually Ariadne, unable to bear her separation from Theseus, either killed herself (according to the Athenians), or ascended to heaven (as the older versions had it).

The giant brothers Otus and Ephialtes figure in at least two Naxos myths: in one, Artemis bought the abandonment of a siege they laid against the gods, by offering to live on Naxos as Otus’s lover; in another, the brothers had actually settled Naxos.

It is also said that the sea god Poseidon was passing by Naxos whilst driving his chariot on the sea surface and is where he first laid eyes on his future wife, the nereid Amphitrite as she was dancing there.

Hello to a chiller island!

Gasoline on this island about €2.23 a litre which is about $8.87 USD a gallon

Here are some photos taken from the ferry – some include the “Portara” aka the Tempe of Apollo which sits on a small island off the port:

And here’s a better shot from Google:

The ferry of course arrived late but our rental car agent was waiting for us with a little Hyundai Picanta.

We parked a little ways away in order to take a walk around the old town of Chora.

BTW Naxos is pronounced like nachos!

We made our way through the narrow alleys like in Mykonos and found ourselves at the Venetian Castle at the top.  There are many alleyways and tunnels to walk through.

Today there was much less wind and it was definitely hotter – temps were nearing 30C / 87F in the sun.  After about an hour, we were back on the port side and there were several bar areas and we stopped at one that was having cocktail happy hour.  Fran enjoyed a piña colada while Christine had a Mojito and of course, the guys had beer.

Enroute back to the car (4 minute walk) we saw a supermarket and stopped to pick up groceries and drinks for that night.  It was about a 10 minute drive to our reserved “villa” and upon arrival, the employee told us we had to follow him on his motorbike to around the corner.

Here we were given a two story with a basement private villa with our own terrace with a private swimming pool!  This was not what we expected!  The place had one bedroom with an ensuite bathroom upstairs and three more bedrooms and another bathroom in the basement.  One of the downstairs bedrooms has a washing machine so we’ll all want to take advantage of that!  There are drying lines in four places around the unit and there’s plenty of sunshine. The main floor has yet another bathroom, a kitchen and living area which actually had a table with four chairs and two single beds – room enough to sleep ten!

There was a covered outside eating area leading beside the terrace and there was an umbrella, 3 sun beds and more chairs at the pool.  This was amazing – we paid €404 for three nights for this.  (The next day Fran reviewed the reservation and we had booked in the building where the reception was but they had obviously upgraded us.)

That evening Fran and Doug made a nice salad for dinner and after dinner called it a night early.  We watched a bit of TV before going to sleep and we slept very well.  The bed was comfy and the pillows were great.  We did use the AC as the villa was quite warm inside having been closed up when we arrived.

Saturday morning, breakfast was delivered around 9 after the guys did their runs and Christine and Fran took a long walk along the nearby beach – about 600 metres / 2000’ away.  The sky was clear again and there was NO wind this morning. The sea was calm and very soothing.

We heard from Dave and Annette and they will be following us to Naxos tomorrow and Doug arranged for them to stay in the villa with us and they will stay alone for the two following nights in a different suite as we are heading to Paros.

Fran did a couple of loads of laundry before we headed down to the beach.  Christine and Mark went ahead and saved us two umbrellas and 4 chairs for us all and we enjoyed several hours at the beach (here they cost ten euros per set for the day).  It was super sunny and quite hot in the sun but the wind had picked up and under an umbrella, it was quite pleasant.  The water was just about a perfect temperature to cool off but not feel gold.   At one point Fran and Doug went to get groceries and we all returned to the villa around 4:30 for a refreshing fresh water swim and showers before dinner.

That night Christine made us pasta with veggies for dinner and Fran made a fruit salad.  We all went to our separate rooms early that night and did not play cards.

Sunday, we went to explore the island a bit.

Bezeos Tower

We first drove inland to do the 700 m / 2100’ hike to Zas Cave – aka Zeus’s childhood home cave.  It was HOT (32 feeling like 35 with 60% humidity) and it was up hill at least half the way scrambling over rocks for not much reward:

We were so thankful the car had air conditioning!  Next we wanted to visit a fishing town on the east coast of the island but we wanted to make it a little more challenging – a dirt winding road through Danakos and Lygardia brought us there.

old equipment from nearby emory mines

It was quite small with a small beach and several restaurants.  We took a short stroll along the waterfront.

We then headed inland to the village of Aperathos, supposed to be the prettiest town on the island.  Most of the town is non vehicle and it’s got a lot of alleys but a lot was residential with the more touristy part with shops and restaurants being near the entrance.

Again it was quite hot and muggy and we stopped after about a half hour trying to find a place to sit and have a snack with some breeze.  We found one and had some cold beer and shared a Greek salad, tzatziki and fresh cut fries.  By now it’s after 3:30 and we wanted to go for a swim before our dinner plans.

Dave and Annette were coming to join us and we all arrived at the villa at the same time as they too had rented a car.  We all were hot and sweaty and a dip in the private pool was called for by everyone.  It felt so good.  They ended up staying in one of the lower floor rooms and after we left, got their own suite in the building we were supposed to have had.

While still at home in Canada, Christine had read about this restaurant on this island called Rotonda – supposed to be up high and have amazing views, especially at sunset with excellent food.  So we all got dressed up a bit and made our way about 40 minutes to the restaurant.

The Amazing Chocolate Pie:

What an enjoyable evening we had. Our appies and meals were excellent, the drinks were different (those of us that had cocktails rather than beer), the wine with the meal was good and 3 of us had dessert (Fran especially skipped the appies to save room for chocolate pie!).

The sunset was not that great as the clouds had come in over the late afternoon but the views were far and it was still very lovely.  You eat more or less outside and there was a gentle breeze at all times.  The restaurant is beautifully done, the staff was very good and the company was fun.

Fun thing:  every time we ordered something, drinks, appies, food more drinks, we’d get another little bill that was collected in a tiny jar and at the end of the night all tallied up for payment:

We were home by 10:15 and we all crashed.  (the hotel had brought our breakfast over since we were leaving before 9 the next day.

Next morning, our last day on Naxos, Doug and Mark went for their runs, Annette and Dave stayed back and Fran and Christine walked down to the beach for a short walk and a morning dip.  It was warm and we could feel the humidity building.

After breakfast at the villa, we said our goodbyes to Annette and Dave, finished packing and were on our way by 8:40.  We had to drop off the car at 9 and the ferry to Paros was at 9:30 – it’s a 45 minute crossing.

We drove a total of 156 km / 96mi on the island of Naxos in our rental car.

We enjoyed Naxos much more than Mykonos – the crowds were substantially less, it was less expensive and the island has more to explore.  Having that villa certainly added to our experience by the nearby beach helped a great deal.