I’m not sure how we hit upon the Greek island of Mykonos for a week long trip in early June. It was only after we’d booked it that we realised its credentials as a party destination. Understandably, now we have a little person in tow, going out all night no longer made our list of priorities. We simply wanted somewhere hot, different and relaxing. My husband had never been to the Greek islands before and my only experience was a girl’s trip to Zante when I was 18 where partying until the wee hours after consuming large ‘fishbowls’ then recovering on the beach was the general theme for the holiday. Oh, aside from one ill judged attempt at a bike ride. Six girls cycling up large hills in the searing midday heat without any breakfast was not our finest hour, the result? Me having my first (and only) asthma attack. Yes, this was to be a far different trip to the Greek isles and despite Mykonos’ reputation as a party island we were to forgo the night life in search of a family friendly getaway.
Popular with gay travellers and once one of the poorest islands in the Aegeon, Mykonos has since cemented its place as a sun drenched haven for all types of clientèle and is now one of the most expensive to visit (upstaged perhaps only by Santorini). Food and drink, although of a high quality, is on the pricey side, on par with other western European holiday resorts.
Mykonos’ family friendly credentials were immediately apparent as Mrs T – then nine months old – proved an instant hit. The Greeks adore children. She has never been so popular and was treated like an A-list superstar in the vein of Lady Gaga or Angelina Jolie. Us, her parents, were mere body guards. She had locals and tourists alike fawning over her throughout our stay – at our hotel, The Myconian Ambassador and on the streets of the Mykonos town – where every few metres she was accosted and showered with compliments. All the while she was lapping up the attention and duly smiling back, blowing raspberries and twirling her feet around with her arms outstretched as she often does when she is excited. She really is a sociable young lady – with the smile, patience and public awareness Tom Cruise would be proud of.
Mykonos Old Town
Mykonos old town, known as ‘Hora’ and nicknamed the Venice of Greece, is a treat to behold. It is a very unusual place – the heart of which is essentially a maze which hugs the waterfront. It is labyrinth of cobbled streets, lined with beautiful white washed buildings adorned with blue painted doors – the epitome of a traditional Cycladic town. Inside the quaint buildings lie a range of boutique shops, cafes, bars and restaurants serving international cuisine. During our day trip there we had a large, delicious meal at the restaurant Fato a Mano where I will give them extra family friendly points for giving Mrs T a flashing disney toy (although it was after we had olive oil accidentally spilt on us).
Mykonos town is not a place to be rushed but one in which to relax and savour its uniqueness. Have a wander, pop into the shops and sit down and eat and drink while taking in your surroundings. Most of all, be open to getting a bit lost. The narrow cobbled streets aren’t massively ideal for a pushchair but the attention we received from everyone more than made up for it.
Even though we hit the town as two cruise ships of people started cluttering up the narrow streets, I would rather have been navigating through tourists with a buggy in daylight than at night time after frequenting the many loud and busy bars the island is renowned for- in particular the waterfront dance bar Jackie O’s – (no doubt that is where we would have been visiting if Mrs T had not been on the scene).
Beware of the Pelicans
Other than the bar named after her, the late Jackie Onassis-Kennedy’s presence on the island lives on in its large, living mascot – the Great White Pelican. It came as quite a shock to us to see one wandering around the cobbled streets but it is something they’ve been doing since becoming a mascot of the island in the 1950s when a wounded pelican, named Petros by the locals, was found off the coast of Mykonos. After his death in 1985, Jackie O helped keep the tradition going by donating a pelican called Irene. Since then two others, one of which has been named Petros the second, have been given to the people. They usually hang out by the harbour. We saw the one below close to the church.
Aside from our trip into the main town we had a rather lazy holiday. We could have hired a car and checked out some other beaches but the one near our hotel was perfectly adequate – what would be the point in traipsing around in the hot weather? The sandy beach of Platys Gialos was more than suitable for us: plenty of sun loungers, clean sea, lots of restaurants, a great beach bar and friendly people. What more could you want? The restaurants were very accommodating to Mrs T with high chairs at the ready and lots of cooing. During the day we mainly frequented Yiaolo Yiaolo which has free wi-fi and beach loungers (those further away from the shore were free to use).
It was perfect for us because we could wander down in an evening, when Mrs T was asleep in her pram, and choose from one of the many restaurants lining the beach. Our favourites were the family run restaurant, Avli Tou Thodori, which serves good, wholesome Greek food and the sumptuously decorated Bonasta which served (rather pricey) sushi and delicious fresh fish dishes (the seafood platter was enormous and divine). The only thing I decided to steer clear of on the trip was the Greek wine which, after persisting with a couple of glasses, decided was not the best.
If we had felt a bit more energetic we could have taken a day trip to the tiny island of Delos – an important place in Greek mythology – where twins Apollo and Artemis, son and daughter of Zeus and Leto, were born. The island is believed to have first been inhabited around 2,800-2,500 B.C after archaeologists discovered the ruins of a pre-historic settlement. There are frequent boat trips to the island leaving from Mykonos old town.
It is a trip we would definitely take if we were to go back – something we would consider in light of Mykonos’ warm, friendly attitude towards families. It is not just a party island. It also has the benefits of offering beautiful scenery, delicious food, service and weather – we had sunshine everyday, temperatures in the range of 28 to 32 degrees Celsius. All in all it was a successful, relaxing trip where Mrs T was absolutely adored. However, although we managed to get a bit of a deal on a hotel, it is a place where you need to have a bit of spending money to truly enjoy the experience.