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Greek Island Hopping: Mykonos on a Budget

Mykonos is a popular island destination in the Cyclades group in the Aegean Sea, known for its party atmosphere. Mykonos has been attracting tourists since the 1920s but became a socialite's paradise in the 1960s when Jackie Kennedy Onassis began to visit regularly with her second husband, shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis, and has continued to grow in popularity as various pop culture celebrities have flocked to the area. Popular beaches with bars and dance clubs attract visitors but there is plenty for the non-party crowd to explore and enjoy without needing a celebrity-level budget. Mykonos has an international airport with flights from Athens and several European locations. Most budget travellers will arrive by ferry.

As part of an island-hopping vacation, we decided to spend a couple of days exploring the area. We rented a holiday apartment at Filoxenia Apartments. We were thrilled at the space and the location -- less than 5 minutes to Ornos beach and about 2.5 km from Mykonos town.

Ornos Beach is a lovely beach with many shops, and a variety of restaurants and bars. Lounge chairs and umbrellas are owned by the restaurants and can be rented out, with the chairs closest to the water being the most expensive (30€ - 50€). We felt that was too much for the budget and laid our towels on the sand and enjoyed the beach and the clear warm waters for several hours. There were many tourists who rented scooters, buggies, and motorcycles. Many appeared drunk and unsafe, so be very careful walking in these areas, especially around the beach areas.

We decided to walk to the Chora (main town), with a constant strong wind blowing against us as we walked. We enjoyed the views along the way. At one point, we stopped for a break and chatted with a lovely local family that was heading into town. They insisted on driving us the rest of the way. This is just one more example of how generous and kind the Greek people were at every step of our journey.

Visitors to Mykonos can expect to see traditional white-washed houses, many stunning blue-domed churches and traditional 16th Century Greek windmills. There are 16 windmills on Mykonos, seven of which are on the hill in Chora where they can be seen from most areas in the town. Most were built by the Venetians in the 16th century but some construction continued into the early 1900s. Their primary purpose was to mill wheat and they were an important income source for the locals until they ceased production in the mid-1900s.

The Chora (main town) is a meanderer's delight with its narrow paved streets, delightful shops, elegant bars and restaurants, with something delightful along every street. Art and beautiful design is everywhere.

Stunning sunsets can be enjoyed from one of the many patios in the area known as "Little Venice". The architecture in this area of town was inspired by Venice with tall, narrow buildings built right against the seawall. We enjoyed a lovely afternoon sitting on one of thee terraces enjoying the breeze and views.

Beach-lovers will enjoy the many beaches with emerald, azure, and deep blue waters. The most popular beaches are Super Paradis, Paradis, Lia, and Platis Gialos. These beaches offer many activities including paddle boarding, kitesurfing, and other watersports.

We decided to visit the Monastery in Ano Mera about 8 km from Mykonos Town. We caught a local bus from the Old Port straight to the village. Ano Mera is the second largest town on the island and maintains it small town feel. The village is home to a restored 16th century monastery, Panagia Tourliani. Near the monastery is the charming town area with bakeries, tavernas, and cafés with outdoor terraces on narrow cobbled streets. We saw few tourists but felt it was definitely worth a visit.

First constructed in the mid 1500s, it did not become widely known until the 1700s when the monastery was restored after an icon of Virgin Mary was found floating in the sea in nearly Tourlos. The icon is on display and is believed to be sacred and miraculous.

The church is fairly small and the monastery itself was not open for visitors but the decor, icons, and scroll work is incredibly intricate including many dragons and ships.

I am past the age where I want to do the nightclub scene and did not visit any. Nor did we make purchases at the expensive shops, although we spotted many beautiful people laden with overflowing shopping bags (with minions carrying the overflow). Instead, we did our usual explorations and found it pretty easy to avoid the more expensive activities in our brief stop while still feeling like we had experienced what we wanted to see and do. Mykonos is a premium destination but even casual travellers can find ways to spend a few days without blowing the travel budget.


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