Paros and Mykonos

The final two islands on my recent Cyclades Island hopping holiday included Paros and Mykonos. To be honest I had heard nothing about Paros before my trip and had heard that Mykonos was the Ibiza of the Cyclades (which had me a little concerned!). Paros was a 35 minute ferry ride from Naxos and we were lucky to have made the sea journey to this small island. When the winds are high and the seas are rough many ferries are cancelled, for obvious safety reasons. We had come from Naxos that morning on the ferry and were lucky because the guests who were due to arrive from Athens were delayed until the next day as no ferries were running from the mainland due to the winds.

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Naoussa

Paros immediately had a boutique feel to me. There seemed to be more French restaurants and more French holiday makers that on Naxos and the prices certainly reflected a different style of holiday maker. Plenty of jewellers and clothes shops, designer sunglass stores and French restaurants lie around every corner. We stayed in Villa Kelly in Naoussa, a beautiful, elegant hotel about 10 minutes walk from the port.

20160815_154851.jpgI’ve heard great things about Antiparos, but didn’t get a chance to visit on this trip. Leave me a comment if you think I made a huge mistake in skipping it! The centre of Naoussa is another one example of the beautiful narrow lanes and winding side streets.

Some lead to the sea, some lead to the port, to the main thoroughfare and some, right into someone’s front courtyard! We found the most delicious smoothie and granola place called Sousouro and I think I shall be putting whole walnuts on top of all my granola from now on. Regardless whether it should be there or not!

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Breakfast at Sousouro

I am not a big nail varnish, manicure/pedicure look after our hands and feet kind of gal. But there is a nail bar by the port called Vivian Nail Boutique and they are open until 11pm and do such a great job that they are certainly worth popping into to top up your holiday nails! For a file and polish I paid €9. €9. That’s it and they were so friendly and helpful in there. Check it out!

We went to Santa Maria beach from the bus terminus, which is just outside Naoussa town centre (conveniently right by our hotel!). The first bus started at 11am. We foolishly thought, ‘Oh leaving about 12:30 is plenty of time for the 20+minute journey’. Wrong. Get there early if you want an umbrella and sun beds as they fill up quickly. If you are prepared, have your own umbrella and care not for sand in your bikini, as the wind hurls it at you throughout the day, then by all means, show up whenever you please. We found a slightly sheltered spot at the far right side of the beach, where the wind surfers were practicing. Not too bad but no sun loungers ergo more sand in your face. First world problems eh.

The beach bar, Naval, serves delicious food at reasonable prices. We were waiting a good 30 minutes for our food but were in no rush, so it didn’t bother us but if you are the impatient type go early, or later. Just avoid the mealtime rush or your tummy will be growling like a hangry bear.

The main town of Naoussa has a little fishing harbour and  marina for yacht spotting. If you are not in the mood for wandering the maze to look for a spot to dine the marina and waterside have plenty of restaurants on offer. We ate at Vitsadakis. The food was so scrumptious and not pricey at all. Seafood and traditional Greek dishes. They are an ouzeria (did I just make that word up?!) and seem to have a few types of ouzo on offer. Not being a big fan, at all, we passed on the ouzo shots after dinner but if it is your thing, go for it! In fact I think it might have been a mastic. Still. No thanks!

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Viewing the yachts from the marina in Naoussa.

 

Bar prices are steep enough but if you are a romantic soul, do visit the bars with waterside seats as it is a lovely spot for after dinner drinks and chills.

Now, on to MYKONOS!!!!!!

I cannot tell you enough times just how beautiful I thought Mykonos was. STUNNING!!! Everyone raves about Santorini and, don’t get me wrong, it is a belle in the Aegean but don’t for one second underestimate Mykonos. You Greek goddess of an island you!

It is about an hour, via sea jet from Paros to Mykonos. We called ahead and our hotel offered a shuttle bus collection service. Tip: DO see if you can avail of this from your chosen hotel as it is well worth it and saves the hassle of trekking around in the heat. We stayed at the Alkistis Hotel in the Agios Stefanos area, north of the cruise ship port.

Alkistis-photos-Exterior

I have mixed feelings about this hotel. They have some great points and some not so great. I know this isn’t a TripAdvisor review but for the sake of convenience you decided to look into booking it yourself let me rant a little. The free guest shuttle service is amazing and the driver, Yrakis, is great. He will drop you to the town and collect you at a pre arranged time, at no charge, day or night. They are very friendly and helpful and have a pack prepared for you on the delights of Mykonos and include maps and suggestions for bars and restaurants. They have an on site restaurant, which we were told is one of the best Italian restaurants on the island. According to, them. BUT, fork out a little extra for a room on the lower floors. There are a lot of steps. So many steps. Don’t mistake my comment for a few steps. Fitbit said seven flights of stairs. SEVEN. I don’t mind leg day and a cardio workout in the heat is all well and good but at least four times a day up and down the steps to a room, that frankly had no resemblance to the elegance of the foyer and pool area and restaurant. Just don’t say you weren’t warned. ALL OF THE STEPS. Plus, after all of the steps, our room up in the top block was like a motel circa 1970.But the hotel is close to a lovely, public beach complete with umbrellas and sunbeds and tavernas so on a lazy day you had but to stumble out the hotel doors and down to the sand below.

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Agios Stefanos beach

Anywho, enough about that. MYKONOS. Get your wallets ready because it could bleed you dry! Money wise I mean, not that you will bleed to death on this island. Never mind.. This island was the most pricey, in my opinion. You pay for that beauty, let me tell you. It’s no wonder it’s such a popular cruise ship stop. The absolute spider web maze of streets in Chora will ensure you rarely see the same place twice and each turn is an adventure. Mostly because you’re lost! But don’t worry, it’s a pleasant experience. I read somewhere that the town centre was built in a maze like way purposely to confuse invading pirates! Ha, screw you pirates. Good luck finding your way out in a hurry!

Mykonos has a reputation as being gay friendly. It really is. I have never seen so many good looking, tanned, toned gay guys in one place. Fewer families and a lot more banana hammocks. I felt very self conscious and I wasn’t even on the hot gay guys’ radar. I need to get back running. Fast. It also has a few tacktastic shops proclaiming that Mykonos beats Ibiza for ‘parties and poor decisions’. I did expect it to be a lot tackier than it was, sorry Mykonos. Very little tack to be seen. You can really avoid the 24 hour party side completely if you so wish. Out of morbid curiosity we wanted to see where the non stop mentalness was so took a bus to Platy Galios beach and a water taxi from there. This cost about €20 return and water taxis stop at a few beaches along the way from Platys Galios to Elia. We passed Paradise and Super Paradise and to be honest it looked like a lot of fun. In the day time. Around 2pm. Bars and a pumping bass system rolling out the remix version of Mediterranean and chart hits, tavernas and plenty of sun loungers makes for fun in the sun. It is a younger crowd and we were told that from 4pm onwards Paradise beach is wild n’loud. We didn’t stick around. I’m showing all 34 of my years here but we preferred instead to continue on to Agrari. A cuter, secluded beach with AWESOME snorkelling. I had bought a snorkel in Naxos and not used it so I was damned if I was going to cart that thing home without having tried it out, at least once. Yes, I chose fish and snorkel mask imprints on my face instead of dancing on tables in my bikini at 4pm, drinking a fruity vodka laden drink through a fluorescent straw. Not sorry!20160818_17590520160818_19313720160818_132421

Right, eating out in Chora and then finding a place to sit down and drink, cos everyone likes a sit down. Here you go…

Tip: Nip up to the windmills for your sunset photos and then you are in a perfect spot to wander down to Little Venice or the Old Port for dinner options.

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I am a demon for checking out what Trip Advisor has to say before I go out to eat in a new place. It has not led me too far wrong thus far. Similarly, I am trying not to lead you astray so the places I have listed are indeed places I have been to and enjoyed. A lot. With that in mind, go to Katerina’s in Little Venice. Go and thank me later. The food is delicious and prices are not as crazy as some of the other Mykonos eateries. Bottles of the house wine were a bit ridiculous so we got it by the glass, planning on going for drinkies later. Might I suggest the shrimp saganaki. Again, thank me later. DELISH! Rouvera in the old port is also a tasty option but some dishes are over priced. The hosts can be a little pesky trying to get your business but their menu is extensive and their mussels saganaki is scrumptious. Can you tell I like saganaki? They also have a variety of fresh fish which they will fillet on the spot for you. Get a front row table and watch the people pass by. Get a giggle as hungry dinner goers look out for a place or menu that catches their eye only to be irritated into submission or forced away by the enthusiastic hosts! Their sangria also went down far too easily. It tastes like summer and costs half your soul. Indulge, you are on your holibobs!

The final restaurant recommendation from me is D’Angelo’s Italian restaurant. I am always a tad sceptical of Italian restaurants when abroad. Having lived in Italy for years I hate to see faux Italian food masquerading as quality and slapped up to unwitting guests but this is real traditional Italian produce. D’Angelo’s is so far from the often encountered tourist trap. They even had Jovanotti’s music playing in the background. (Sigh, I love Jovanotti!) Their menu is well thought out and their attention to detail is super. The dishes are tasty and the prices won’t scare you too much. The bruschetta looked yum and the gluten free pasta dish was far from offensive, as some I have had the misfortune to taste. To the chefs at D’Angelo’s, vi ringrazio. Siete mitici!

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After all the great food you’ll be eating in Mykonos, you’ll need to wash it down with some drinkies. Again, cue the excuse ‘we’re on our holidays’!!  Ya, that gets curtailed rapidly when so many bars offer cocktails from €18. My wallet is not that deep. There are so many elegant, stylish bars around every other corner. Get dressed up for a hot night out and swish right on in. A Moet and passionfruit cocktail for €20, ah go on. But just the one now ‘cos that is absolute notions! Good job that hotel shuttle is free and I’m not keeping taxi money aside!

 

20160818_230207Skip along to the Scandinavian Bar and pick up a glass of wine or sangria for €5. Affordable and close to their own club upstairs, which is free entry if you show your receipt from drinks in the bar downstairs. Win! The music is a bit dancey for me and it is a bit of a hot box, with everyone packed in up there but it was fun for about an hour! Chilling downstairs in the little piazza, at one of the outside tables is a far more appealing option. Do that!

Mykonos and the lovely tan you gave me will not long be forgotten. You can share my heart with Naxos. No fighting now.

So while I have now come to realise that I was very late to the Greek island hopping experience, it’s better late than never. Am I right?! I am so glad I got to see what all the fuss was about and while I know I only gave you a tidbit, a sneaky peek even at but a few of the Greek delights on offer, I cannot recommend more highly a holiday destination. Taylor it to your needs. Got kids, bring them along. Naxos is a lovely spot. In need of a splash the cash kind of spot with great snorkelling and dance your socks off beaches, say hello to Mykonos! Greece has it all and a slice of this Instagramable paradise may not even have to cost your soul. You know, depending on how flamboyant you want to be. Or sell it, I don’t care, but do go Greek!

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