“Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost” — J.R.R Tolkien
In an age of social media and the ‘D’ list celebrity, popular culture has seemingly been engulfed with a new craze… the world of being internet famous. Flashy lives of so called celebrities are beamed out to millions of followers from across the globe via such resources as Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, and with money to be made for being popular the time of the influencer is nigh. So much so, that instead of the average individual working towards a more conventional career, a good proportion of the population now aspire to advertising unheard of teeth whitening products whilst sunning it up in the Maldives. With numerous cases of everyday people making it big, this new world is expanding at an expediential rate. Is it now more common to see people conversing in the street, or to see someone walking down it live broadcasting themselves?
Before you think I’m criticizing, let me make my tedious link. The fact is that the majority of us have engaged in the culture whether we like it or not, from middle-aged people taking selfies, to children with video channels promoting their lives to a bunch of strangers. This is the new age, and travel has somewhat become a substantial part of this modernized lifestyle in more ways than one, epitomized by the Greek Island of Mykonos.
Three types of people can normally be found in Mykonos… The rich, those who think they are rich, and those who wish they were rich. In the last few years Mykonos has really burst onto the scene, and become a hot spot for celebrities, wealthy people, and influencers alike. To call it a knock off Santorini would be unwarranted and untrue. However, with the common knowledge of Santorini’s blue and whitewashed houses set upon the hillside with views to match anywhere in the world, visitors have flooded the island in droves causing prices to skyrocket. This in turn has obviously resulted in people searching for alternative destinations, and unsurprisingly Mykonos with its striking resemblances and party scene has fast become the new go to destination.
Super yachts, speedboats, jet skis and even a helipad all litter the shoreline on the south coast showing just how much money Mykonos attracts. Nevertheless, having visited a few destinations where wealth is openly visible, the differences are quite clear. Although noticeably wealthy, places like Nice for example have a classy feel. The rich don’t shove it down your throat so to speak. The same can’t be said for Mykonos, which has an extravagant flavour to it. You get a real sense of people wanting to show off their wealth and flashy lifestyles in a “my boats bigger than your boat” kind of way… Wealthy but not so classy. The people here, young and old strive to live the celebrity lifestyle, and they want the world to know about it.
With the influx of vast sums of money and people willing to spend it, prices are high. More than likely these costs will continue to rise for the foreseeable future, with the popularity of the island only increasing year upon year. However, just because there is an expensive luxury undertone, doesn’t mean you can’t do Mykonos on a budget and still have a wonderful time. Bargains are there to be found, just as long as you want to find them.
Budget or no budget, inconspicuous or flashy, make no mistake Mykonos has so much to offer punters visiting the island. From electric blue oceans with intense colours reminiscent of a vivid watercolour painting, to dreamy beaches where you can whisk the day away. Yet there is no better place to start than the landmark of the island, five old fashioned windmills which stand proud as punch overlooking Mykonos Town. There are in fact sixteen of these windmills located around the town if you fancy yourself a bit of a treasure hunt, but it is the five sat upon the hill which provide Mykonos with its famous image. Cylindrical in shape, with thatched roofs, and a whitewash finish, their unique appearance is part of the charm. The mills handcrafted wooden frame which seemingly transports you back in time gives it that final antique touch.
In my opinion it’s an absolute travesty if people don’t visit the windmills, or the town for that matter. However, if you think you’re going to take in these views in peace and quiet, maybe even get a stunning picture or two to boost the Instagram profile, then think again. With the town easily the highlight of the island, crowds understandably swarm here in their hundreds. If you’re traveling in the holiday months prepare for a horrific struggle, but even in the so called “off-peak” periods be aware that due to numerous cruises you may end up fighting for personal space. Ideally in these periods it would be worthwhile finding out when the cruises are not going to be dropping anchor in the towns port. This would ensure exploration of the wonders of the town without feeling like you’re stuck in the London Underground during rush-hour, which is a must… more for your sanity rather than anything else.
Its vital to explore the town without crowds as its quite obvious it wasn’t designed for anything more than a peaceful existence. A labyrinth of narrow streets which weave in and out of houses, shops, cafes, restaurants and much more, provide Mykonos Town with something marvellously majestic. Typical blue and whitewashed buildings surround hand painted pathways which lead you on a magical mystery tour through this wonderous destination, and oh how easy it is to get lost along the way (you will realise this is not a dreadful thing at all).
With the sun breaking through onto the white streets around you heightening the brightness, that claustrophobic effect you can feel from other mazes around the world doesn’t occur. In fact, it seems to have the opposite effect. The soothing shadows give respite from the midday scorch, whilst giving travellers a perfectly peaceful environment. Time almost becomes an illusion, appearing to grind to a halt… Life in a typical Greek stereotype completely slows down. This in turn allows you to appreciate your surroundings more. Everything from the smells and colours provided by the flamboyant flowers, to the surprises around every little corner the place just radiates. This is far from flashy, this is a work of art.
When you do decide to break-out of the time warp and find the edge of the network of passageways, just be aware you might not be where you thought you were. Wherever you do pop out though head towards the appropriately named Little Venice. You could argue that the view of the windmills from here is the best on the island, but what I doubt many could argue is you’ll find many better places to sit and watch the sun go down. Little Venice is named as you can probably imagine from its appearance. A mixture of restaurants and bars which arc around the ocean, with coastal water lapping up the sides of its walkways and buildings giving a lovely Venetian ambiance.
As the sun starts to descend, the crowds begin to gather, almost to a state of breaking-point. Of course, they are all here to see one thing. Nevertheless, arrive in plenty of time and prime location on seating will be yours. On our visit we thought ahead. Found the perfect spot from the array of outdoor seating available. No obstructed views, or potential to be fighting for space. Hey, we were two hours early, but who cares when you’ve been wandering about all day. Time to relax, get comfortable, and sink a few beers in good company…
An ideal plan if it wasn’t for the daylight robbery which takes place hither. In hindsight it was perhaps evident that there would be a major price hike due to the location and popularity, but not to this extent. I don’t think I’ve ever drank a small bottle of beer so slow my entire life, and I don’t ever intend to again.
Despite all this it’s worth it when the sun reaches horizon point. While hundreds of visitor’s jostle for a view like a mob of meerkats, you can take in the wonderful aura and scenes without a care in the world, giving you an experience you will never forget.
Meanwhile, Frederick and Channel who are sat next to you will probably be on their tenth bottle of Don Perignon, whilst telling anyone willing to listen about that time they sailed around the pacific… but who cares when you’ve got an overpriced beer and such vibrant views!
Talking of extraordinary views and an influencers dream come true, Mykonos has one of the best viewpoints you’re likely to find… at least around Europe. Hidden away in a somewhat secluded and secretive location, resting high above the Town is the 180° Sunset Bar.
Immerse yourself into a birds-eye view, and let the sights bedazzle you. Alas, here you can see everything all the way from the port to the quintuplet of windmills. The views are spectacular, the bar is lavishly designed, and with a windmill and archway there is ample photo opportunities. If that’s not your cup of tea, just sit back and enjoy the views, it’s more than worth the sketchy trek up from the port side of the town.
Now if you’re into your history and like to explore, then your next port of call should be… well the port. From here journey out via ferry on a thirty-minute quest to the nearby island of Delos. An uninhabited island, widely regarded as one of the most important and mythological archaeological sites in Greece. Ruins upon ruins are scattered over this dusty landscape, some well preserved, others not so much. You could wander around for hours if that’s what you wished for, although with the ferocious heat of the suns rays beaming down on you in an over-exposed location you might choose otherwise. Due to the extensive excavations the majority of the islands most impressive artefacts and structures have been removed, many of which can be found in the onsite museum.
If you are into your history and exploring unfamiliar places, then the trip is definitely worthwhile. If, however looking at old piles of rubble really isn’t your thing I’d advise you save your money, as again overpricing is apparent.
There seems to be a reoccurring theme of high-costs and overpricing, but like mentioned previously there are bargains to be found. It really is up to the individuals on how much money is spent. If you want an all-inclusive accommodation, with your own spa pool on a balcony you’re going to end up paying for it. Meanwhile self-catering apartments which overlook the sea are just down the road for extremely competitive prices. The same can be said for food. If you’re planning on fine-dining every night then you might want to take out a loan before your trip, although that could be said for numerous places around Europe. Expensive doesn’t always mean better either. Search around the variety of tavernas, read reviews, talk to people in the know. There are some real gems out there which are more than reasonable in price. Being close to the coast unsurprisingly seafood takes up a lot of the menus, nevertheless Greek salads, moussakas, pastries and other delicious traditional food are readily available. The food it has to be said is mightily impressive, but none more so than one of the cheapest edible items you can find. The pita chicken gyros’ are to die for, and no that is not an exaggeration. Not healthy, not classy or luxurious, just straight up fresh and homemade traditional Greek comfort food. If you’re in Mykonos town then set your GPS map to find a take-away restaurant by the name of Sakis, and you can thank me later!
Mykonos. It has the beaches, it has the weather, it has culture, architecture, a party scene, tranquil waters, cuisines to make your lips smack… this list could go on an on. What more could you want from a destination.
Unfortunately, with any great destination comes popularity and eventually notoriety. The ever-increasing number of people arriving on the island is somewhat of a turn off point. People who have been visiting for years believe this is only likely to keep increasing at an unsustainable rate, until Mykonos becomes overwhelmed. Local businesses are just trying to take advantage while they can, bumping prices higher and higher year upon year. My fear is eventually this place will outgrow itself. The rich and those wanting to live the celebrity lifestyle will move on to the next trendy destination, as with any popular craze there is evidently a rise and a fall. In the meantime, Mykonos will continue to grow. It is without question an idyllic destination. However, pick and choose your travel decisions wisely, none more so than your dates of travel. Avoid the crowds, extortionate fees, and the craziness which comes with it and you’ll be rewarded with heavenly relaxation and a world of exploration. That is unless you enjoy all that razzmatazz. If you get it right the potential for an unforgettable trip is high, my advice…Take your time, and go get yourself lost in Mykonos.