Getting Lost on the Greek Island of Mykonos… The Mediterranean Cruise

The area known as Little Venice is one of many charming sites on Mykonos.

The area known as Little Venice is one of many charming sites on Mykonos. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

The maze-like town of Mykonos (Chora) was designed to discourage invasion. It was easy for invaders to get lost in the narrow, winding streets that ran into other narrow, winding streets that ran into other narrow, winding streets.

Modern day invaders, otherwise known as tourists, also find it easy to get lost. But that’s half the fun. Except for finding a restroom when you really, really need it, there is no danger. You can easily spend an hour or several wandering along the town’s crooked roads and paths. There are beautiful white buildings slathered in stucco to admire, shops to explore, and cats to photograph. You may even find a Greek musician playing the bouzouki, a mandolin-like instrument that produces what most people think of as Greek music.  Picture Zorba dancing.

White is the common color for buildings on Mykonos, Santorini and other islands of the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea.

White is the common color for buildings on Mykonos, Santorini and other islands of the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea.

One of the main streets in Myconos.

One of the main streets in Mykonos. This road is freeway size in comparison to most routes through the town.

Routes through Mykonos are much more likely to look like this.

Routes through Mykonos are much more likely to look like this. Note the blue trim used to add color to windows and doors.

This blue Mykonos door is decorated by a cactus.

This blue Mykonos door is decorated by a cactus.

My wife Peggy on the right and two of our traveling companions, Kathi and Frances stand in front of another blue door.

My wife Peggy on the right and two of our traveling companions, Kathi and Frances stand in front of another blue door.

Bougainvillea seems to be the flower of choice in Mykonos.

Bougainvillea seems to be the flower of choice in Mykonos.

A street musician entertained us by playing his

A street musician entertained us by playing his bouzouki…

And a cat confiscated a cafe chair for its mid day snooze.

And a cat confiscated a cafe chair for its mid day snooze.

We managed to get both lost and separated. There was no hope of finding each other in the labyrinth, but fortunately we had a plan. We would meet at the island’s famous windmills. Long since retired, five of them remain hunkered down on a ridge south of town. Mykonos is noted for its winds. The locals even have names for them based on their intensity: bell-ringer, chair thrower, and knock you off your horse. We experienced a brief example of chair thrower but fortunately missed knock you off your horse.

The windmills used cloth sails to capture the winds and run mills for grinding grain. Local bakeries then turned the grain into sea biscuits, aka hardtack, which is flour and water baked several times into a consistency of hardness just this side of rock. The value of sea biscuits is they are basically indestructible. Before modern refrigeration, they were used on long sea voyages. Throw in a lime plus a generous dollop of rum and it was dinner. Producing these ‘delicacies’ was the island’s main industry.

One of the windmills of Mykonos. Dark clouds brought brief rain and a "throw a chair" wind.

One of the windmills of Mykonos. Dark clouds brought brief rain and a “chair thrower” wind. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

Three of the five windmills.

Three of the five windmills.

Following the coastline back into town we came upon Little Venice (pictured above), a community where sea captains of yore built mini-mansions perched on the ocean edge. Since it neither looks like Venice nor has canals, my thoughts are its name derived from its proximity to water. Either that or a real estate agent was involved. The community is quite colorful, however. I’d be glad to call it home.

Mykonos has some 70 churches to meet the needs of its 7000 residents, which seems a little like a lot. I am reminded of the number of Baptist churches found in the rural South of the United States. I once estimated there was one for each family. The Mykonosians had a unique use for their churches, however. They enshrined the bones of their dead relatives in the walls. I doubt the Baptists do this but it might give new meaning to the old saying, “the family that prays together, stays together.”

Scrunched between Little Venice and the harbor is the Church of Panagia Paraportiani, the most unusual church on the Mykonos. Once upon a time five different chapels existed side by side. Then they morphed together into what has become one of the most photographed sites on the island, with reason. We contributed our share of picture-taking.

The Church of

The Church of Paraportiani of Mykonos.

Another view of the church.

Another view of the church.

The small harbor area of Mykonos definitely fits the description of picturesque. It was our last stop (except for lunch) on our way back to the ship. That’s where we met Petros the Pelican that I wrote about in my last blog. Unfortunately, it was Sunday and the local fishermen had taken the day off. We satisfied ourselves with admiring the boats. The area also features a small beach that would be crammed with sun worshippers in the summer. Now all it featured was golden sand and blue sea.

Idle fishing boats in the Mykonos harbor.

Idle fishing boats in the Mykonos harbor.

The golden sands and blue waters of the Aegean Sea of the small beach in Mykonos.

The golden sands and blue waters of the Aegean Sea of the small beach in Mykonos.

 

NEXT BLOG: We continue our Mediterranean cruise adventure and visit Athens, Greece.

8 comments on “Getting Lost on the Greek Island of Mykonos… The Mediterranean Cruise

    • Yes Tasha. Tourism has to be number 1 by far. During the height of tourist season there could be three cruise ships at a time dropping some 10,000 people per day onto the island. I can’t begin to imagine how crowded it might be. Visit off season. (grin)

  1. What another wonderful glimpse into your adventures! Truly a quaint yet bustling town at water’s edge. The buildings generally painted white and the narrow crooked streets really set the ambiance here. I do see some cars but where would they navigate to?

    Interesting about hardtack. My WWII neighbor Old Man Jack, who has now passed away, talked about hardtack on the islands. Perhaps they had the same baker. 🙂

    • Certainly a lot of cars used on the island, Koji. It was the town proper where they seemed limited. We did see a small delivery vehicle. As for hardtack, various forms of it are found in most regions of the world and have been used by armies as well as navies.

  2. How wonderful would it be to live in one of those villas in Little Venice and you step onto your balcony and the sea is but a few feet below.. That sounds amazing.. Love the windmills too..Great story about them. yes, i can see myself getting lost in one of those little streetways too!!

    • It’s a kick to get lost and know there will be no negative consequences. My only regret… which was repeated over and over, was that there wasn’t more time to explore when you had to be back on ship by late afternoon. But I won’t complain too loudly, having the opportunity to visit the places at all.

  3. Gorgeous images of some familiar scenes! Took my mom on a cruise in 1992 that stopped at Mykonos for late afternoon/early evening. Much too brief a time to enjoy the place fully, so I know what you mean. Still, all these years later, I’m happy to have had the experience however brief!

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