Monday, 30 May 2011
 From Athens, we made our way to the Mykonos Island. We took the Blue Star ferry from Pireaus port. I was awestruck by the sheer size of the boat! In the ferry ticket, it was written that you need to be at the port at least 1 hour before the departure time, I think partly because of the volume of people taking the ride. The boat itself is very comfortable with plenty of lounge areas, be it inside the cabin or out in the open air. The journey from Pireaus to Mykonos island took arounf 5hr 30min and there were a number of stops in between too. I think this is the first time we chose island as our holiday destination since coming to the UK (although UK is an island itself, its kinda hard to grasp the idea since its such a large island hehe). Mykonos belongs to the Cyclades group of islands, lying between Tinos, Syros, Paros and Naxos. I guess because there are simply too many islands in Greece that they somehow need to group them ;)
 This is the exterior of the accommodation that we stayed at in Mykonos town, known as the Orpheas Rooms. As soon as we reached the port, we made a call to our booked accommodation because in the booking it is said that they'll arrange the port pickup. When hubbykun called, George (the accommodation owner) was already waiting at the port, as he has some other guests arriving on the same ferry as us. Coolness! We were given a very nice room with an all-green decorations and a sea-view balcony with a dining table. We never got a chance to use the outdoor dining though, because the weather was just too cold! hahaha. George was telling us that he has been to KL and Penang (Malaysia) last January and he really loved it there. He recommended the Long Pine Hotel in Penang that according to him has just been remodelled. He did say that he had trouble with some of Malaysian food though because he doesn't like spicy dishes. I can see how this is a problem because most Malaysian food are rather spicy I think ;) We owe a lot to George for making our stay in Mykonos such an enjoyable and memorable one!
 To be honest, I had some doubts when choosing Mykonos as one of our Greek island destinations. In travel books, Mykonos is voted as best for partying. I was a little wary of this fact because I was looking for a more romantic and quiet getaway. It turned out the crowd was very mild throughout our stay here, probably because its not peak season yet. I was a bit surprised about this at first. Isn't the long Easter break count as peak season? But I came to understand the reason why when I experience the weather here :P I reckon people usually visit Greece during summer to enjoy its amazing beaches. Seeing how cold the weather was, and how we never once dipped ourselves in the sea water, no wonder it wasn't considered peak time yet. We met a Greek girl from Crete when we were in Athens and I shared our planned itinerary. she literally got very excited when she heard that we were headed to Mykonos Island from Athens. She has been to a number of Greece islands and said that she loved Mykonos best. Only at this exact moment, was the point when I started to get excited too ;)
 Upon reaching the island and I see the white-washed buildings in Mykonos town at a glance, it really did took our breaths away! Although special in its own way, it did remind me a bit of Venice because of the narrow streets, but without the waterways. I was particularly dazzled by fact that they improvise by using all sorts of small-sized vehicles as alternative mode of transportation, for example this mini triwheel-motorbike with carrier. simply too cute!! We also waited quite a bit to get on video a small lorry to pass by this narrow lanes. It was in fact the garbage collection lorry. Kawaii (cuteness in Japanese)!!
 Mykonos windmills that have been build from as early as the 16th century, are one of the most recognized landmarks of Mykonos. There were more than 30 windmills across the island, but this collection of 5 windmills are probably the most popular ones. Just google Mykonos images and I bet this will be among the first one you'll find. These are located very near to the Little Venice area and is just 100m walk away from our accommodation, which is partly the reason why we visited this place so many times from sunrise to sunset. Not a surprise, knowing hubbykun with his different direction of lighting requirement for his photography stuff :P
 What is known as the 'Little Venice' because the buildings have been constructed right on the sea's edge with their balconies overhanging the water. When the sea tide is higher, the waves were splashing on the public footpath leading to this area. Restauranteurs took advantage of its location to place outdoor dining tables and sofas for visitors to enjoy the beautiful sea and sunset view here.
 I think I can safely say that most of restaurants at the Little Venice area will definitely have seafood in their menu. Not only are seafood in abundance, the price are quite cheap too. Since we both love seafood, we really enjoyed them. With this, we also avoid the need to look for halal kebab etc ;) We did came across this kebab taverna though, but upon scrutinizing I saw pork gyros on the menu! hahaha this is our first time seeing this ;)
 Simply love the idea of these white-washed buildings, with only their staircase handle in bright colors. Mostly in blue, but there were also different colors such as red, green etc. I think I mentioned a couple of times before that I love the fairytale-like Kunsthauswein in Vienna. I was telling hubbykun that this Mykonos concept is rather interesting too and maybe we can do it for our house later - i.e. white paint with blue window panels and doors. But hubbykun said that our house will look like a police station then! oh no I wouldn't want that! so scrap that and I'll stick to Kunsthauswein then ekekeke. Yeah I guess this is a nice concept for a whole island, but on a single building, it wouldnt be special anymore. Not to mention that white buildings and pathways are rather high maintenance too. We saw on a number of occasions people repainting and mopping the outdoor footpath.
 At times, it did felt like we were walking in a maze. And don't we surprise if you're walking in circles when trying to locate a place. We tried asking for a map from the accommodation, but they didn't have one. There were a few large maps being put up on poles in the Chora (town) area. One such map is in front of the tourist information centre, that for some reason is forever closed during our 3 days stay here :P Anyway, I think you can get around pretty safety in the town area without a map because it is not that big an area. Also, the windmills scattered around Chora were good landmark to help you get your general bearings. We met a friendly local guy here who greet us everytime we came across each other. He greet us with salam the first time we met, and on the 2nd occurence he said "We've already met before?" and the third time he said "Hi!" and wave at us. Such a small world huh :)
 Mykonos is actually quite a small island, with one end to the other is just 15km width. Because of this, most people either rent a motorbike or an ATV (i.e All Terrain Vehicle a.k.a. Quad-bike because of its 4 wheels) to get around the island. There were plenty of bike rent shops near our accomodation. A bike cost as little as €10/day and ATV cost between €15-20/day. Btw, we had a good laugh when George said to us in his charming Greek accent "the weather is going to be bad tomorrow. The only thing u can do is ride ur bike :p". This is us lying down with the daisies at Kalafati Beach, just 11km away from Chora Mykonos.
 Mykonos harbour. We met a few Malaysian that were on a tour group while we were walking around Mykonos Chora the first day we arrived here. They told us that they were supposed to leave Mykonos the day before and head to Santorini island, but their stay were extended due to boat cancellation from too strong wind. I'm glad our boat to Mykonos made it just fine. Probably also because we were taking the big boat. The Malaysian group were taking a smaller boat. Smaller boats are actually more expensive compared to the bigger ones because they're faster and they made less stops, but they tend to be more affected by the sea conditions.
 The Church of Panagia Paraportiani, another popular landmark of Mykonos. I only found out from reading in Wiki that this impressive, whitewashed church actually consists of five other churches attached all together: the four churches (Saint Estathios, Saint Sozon, Saints Anargyroi and Saint Anastasia) are all on the ground and constitute the base of the fifth church that has been built on top of them. We were in Mykonos on Good Friday, therefore a lot of people (locals and visitors alike) can be seen at the churches. I read somewhere that most Greeks are Orthodox Christians so I guess this is also why it is celebrated in much bigger scale here. Due to this too, most of the TV channels were about Easter celebrations not just in Greece but also in Venice. Almost all the TV channels were in Greek too, except this one showing oldies English movies. We watched a black and white movie about 'Anastasia' from the Romonov royalty while we were having lunch in our room. by the way, we were really surprised to find that George left some Easter eggs and cookies in the room ;) it was really sweet of him. Really, I can't recommend this hotel enough. such great hospitability ;)
 We started renting the bike at 3.30pm after having lunch and doing our Zuhur prayers. Actually, renting a bike here wasn't in our plan. But since we always past through the many bike rental near our hotel, we found that is was really cheap and we decided to give it a try. I've always fancy riding on a scooter while on vacation after watching 'The Lizzie Mcguire in Rome' movie a couple of years ago! (used to love watching this TV show, I find her really funny and cute!). Anyways, among all the bike shops that we saw, hubbykun just has had to rent from this one shop that gave us a rather old bike with a very peculiar first gear :P What happened was you need to use the accelerator quite a bit in gear 1 in order to get the bike moving. But because you have to do this, the bike will jerk ahead that we kept having to adjust our sitting positions.. hahaha felt like 'mat rempit' by the sound of the it, but we were the slow-driver version and everybody kept overtaking or honking especially on the first day since we haven't get used to the idea of bike-riding yet. Well, hubbykun used to have a bike in his university years, but he hasn't ride one for almost 10 years now. I on the other hand has never ridden on a bike for more than 100 meters maybe? so I kept insisting that hubbykun slowed down because I was really freaked out at the back. I think quite a number of people must have heard me screaming here and there wakakaka. We considered asking for a bike change, but at that time we have already filled the bike with full tank petrol and since it was just a 1-day rent, it was not a big a deal. Also, no helmet were given either and to be honest nobody really wore one! In the spirit of blending in with the locals, we both agree that getting the rather old bike was pretty cool :P
 A charming restaurant at a corner of Chora. We only came across this street which is something like a highstreet in the UK selling popular brand names when we were heading to the windmill on a higher terrain of Mykonos town. It took a bit of figuring out getting to the windmill because of the winding footpaths and dead ends, but I memorized the route when taking the downhill walk back to our hotel. This made it easier when coming here the second time for the sunrise view the next day.
 This is probably the windiest area in Chora, honestly! We saw the weather forecast and it said that the weather will be very windy the 2nd day we were in Mykonos. Hubbykun was a little worried that his tripod will fell over especially for his panorama shots, but alhamdulillah everything turned out OK. Out bike did swerved a couple of times though from strong wind. George said normally Mykonos is pleasantly breezy but not as windy as that day. The wind is actually good for them especially in summer, else the island would be trifling hot.
 I'm really glad that we booked a hotel in the Mykonos town rather than the beach. Earlier on, I planned on staying near the beach. We even brought our swim suits to this trip. But when reading some traveller forums online, most people recommended staying at the town centre because it will be easier for food and there will be many more things to do. We never get the chance to use our swimsuits too. I spoke to George on the day we arrived about getting to the beach. He said "10 days ago i swim at the beach. It was not so cold. But when i go out, it is very cold. That is the problem :p". hahaha we laughed hard upon hearing this. dunno why, but we both find this guy really funny. I think he didn't mean to, but somehow the accent and the word selection and his personality always get to us :P
 This is the Old port of Mykonos town. There are actually 2 ferry ports in Mykonos, the New Port and the Old Port. The New Port about 3km away from town is where the bigger boats such as to/from Athens usually land, while the Old Port about 1km away are used by the smaller boats. So, make sure to check your ticket or ask at the ferry ticketing agency beforehand.
 Throughout the whole town, not only are the buildings painted in white, but they even paint the streets in this white circles following the stones lining up the street. Have never seen this before. Be careful though as some paint are freshly painted another layer. Hubbykun got some paint stuck on his jeans while busy squatting around taking pictures. I haven't manage to get them out even after washing machine. I guess I'll need stronger paint remover, but until now I haven't gotten around to that yet.
 On the first day that we rented the bike, we decided to just survey the surrouding area and we did not spend much time taking pictures. we check out Ano Mera town located at the center part of the island and Paraga beach which is among the closest beach to the town since we didn't have much time to drive around before night time. I got to pet a donkey at the Paranga beach! the donkey kept wanting to smell my pocket, I wonder if its because I have some chocolates in there. I'm not really sure what donkeys eat, so I didn't offer it any chocolates just to be safe. We passed through a small private airport when getting from Ano Mera to Paranga beach, although I didn't get to see any airplanes took off because the airport is on a higher ground than the roads and gated too.
 On the 2nd day of the bike rent, we had more time on our hands seeing that sunrise started at 5am.. i just love travelling in spring, the prolong daytime is so convenient! we visited 3 places: Ano Mera (7km to the east of Chora), Kalafatis (11 km away from Chora), and finally Platis Gialos (4km away to the south of Chora). As you can see all these destinations are very closeby and motorbike is more than sufficient to get from point A to point B. not to mention, it is easier to pull over wherever we felt like to.
 We found pink pelican while walking around town. I read in travel books that 'Petros the Pelican' is the official Mykonos mascot for over 50 years. At first, we were just taking video of me standing near the pelican, but a kind local uncle approached us and demonstrated that we can pet the pelican. This is my 1st time petting a pelican, and the huge beak was quite unnerving. I was kinda scared and always on prepared-mode should the pelican find a sudden need to attack me :P We found another 2 pelicans near the tourist information centre too. I understand that the town treat this pelicans are taken care by the townspeople and there are 3 of them. I guessed we met all 3 then? what's the other 2 called then.. 'Petra' and 'Petri'?
 Platis gialos beach is one of the most popular beaches in Mykonos. we saw a few people sunbathing or simply lazying under the bamboo-covered mini huts. we felt a little overdress with our winter coats! even though you see in the picture that it is really sunny and you probably can get some decent tan, but honestly it was really cold that I need them on! even when riding on the bike, definitely will need to keep your jacket/coat on :P we started off not wearing our coats when we first ride the bike, but upon seeing how cold it was, we decided to made our way back to the hotel in order to get our jackets. wise decision indeed ;)
 anywhere we drive around to, there were abundance of wild daisies. the bright yellow color is very beautiful. This one is taken in Ano Mera. This town is famous for one of the oldest church in Mykonos and for the ancient fortress on a hill near the church. Again, on both occasions that we were in this small town, the fortress entrance was always closed. At this point, we came to the conclusion that either all attractions are closed due to the public holidays or it could be that they only open during the peak season? somehow the latter sound a little less likely.
 While riding back home, we came across a market selling gigantic fruits and we got some really fresh and juicy apples and oranges. I called it the 'snow white apple' because its size :P we also came across this beautiful mansion with colorful vases and interesting shapes arches, but since it was a private property, we could only take pictures from afar.
 This is the taxi station, which is located near the Old Port harbour. The taxi collection have a rather impressive car models in my opinion ;) parking is quite an issue especially in the town centre. which is why, it's best either to rent bikes or just get a taxi if you need to get somewhere. George was saying the parking issue is usually caused by the Greeks coming from the mainland with their cars. It will be cheaper to rent a car in Mykonos itself rather than bringing the car on the ferry we were told, but somehow people still do it.
 I was telling hubbykun that these white cube buildings remind me of cake marzipan and it felt like we were walking in a gigantic wedding cake. hehe. the cube-size with non-smooth edges also remind me of hensel n gretel somehow. While we are on the topic of food, I find that Greece produce lots of olive and nuts products. they must do really well here, because these are very cheap compared to the UK. We especially enjoyed munching the almonds, hazelnuts and cashew nuts as snacks. I guessing they treat nuts like how the Brits treat eating potato chips. Hubbykun was saying that nuts are really good for the brain and no wonder they're so brilliant and all ;)
 This is among one of the nicest windmill around and understandably it belongs to the Folks Museum. We would have loved the opportunity to climb up and see the interior of the windmill, but for unknown reasons the windmill was forever closed? :P I don't even know where the Folk Museum is located to be honest because the buildings next to this windmill looks like a residential area. Or is the windmill in itself the museum? no idea :P
 Another shot on Ano Mera. Its beautiful that this town is located in between both sides of the island, so you can see beaches at both sides of the roads. I also saw people playing sailboats, the wind must be good for sailing or else people wouldn't have attempted it in this cold weather :P Finally, during our last night stay in Mykonos, we found out that the stores in the town centre are opened until very late. So you have plenty of opportunity to do your shopping even during the night. remind me like in Malaysia where shopping malls are opened until 10pm+ unlike in the UK where everything closes by 5/6pm :P The town was really lively and colorfully lit at night. Added with the white painted building, it was really beautiful. no wonder there were so many people can be seen and shops are willing to open till late. We didn't take any night shot photos because it was a bit crowded, so mostly hubbykun did video shots which I think gave a much better experience too. we even saw a clown entertaining the crowd during that time. All in all, we had great fun and I can't recommend Mykonos enough if you're planning on enjoying the Greek islands.
Our next destination, the multicolored beach :)