Travel: αντίο Mykonos!

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It was with heavy hearts that we bid farewell to the sunny days and blue waters of the Island of the Winds. We all would have liked to stay for eternity, but the girls had to catch a flight out of Northern Greece, and I was set on visiting Meteora, as well as hiking Mt. Olympus, the home of the gods. I was, however, quite forlorn that we had to leave our good friends behind. 😥

Since the island is fairly far by ferry (as you may briefly recall), this meant the day was primarily a travel day. The operative plan was for us to go directly to the car rental agency, where we would hop in our vehicle, and arrive at Meteora by dinner time.

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Unfortunately, the ATV rental service on the island had required the driver’s licenses as a deposit. And either they forgot to return the documentation when we turned in the vehicles, or the girls forgot to double-check that they had been received.

 

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Lo and Behold! We arrive at the car rental agency to discover that C and B didn’t have their licenses. As they were both over 25, they were the only two eligible for the mid-size rental we had booked. Unfortunately due to government restrictions, we were not allowed to rent the car we wanted, and the only cars allowed for those under 25 (incl. me) were compact, manual cars.

2013-06-08 13.02.22This basically left us stranded, as I never had the opportunity to learn how to drive a stick-shift. Fortunately (or in apologetic compensation), the ATV company was kind enough to hand the licenses over to a ferry crew member, who would meet us back at the port when the earliest ferry got in the following morning.

In the end, we stayed in Athens at a hostel for the night. As you can imagine, I was not very pleased, since I knew this would completely skew the tightly scheduled plans we had arranged for the next 3 days :(.

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Travel: Labyrinth of Mykonos

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With nothing strategically planned for our days on Mykonos, we enjoyed sleeping in and emerged from our cabins when the sun was high. Having made some friends the previous night, we decided as a group to rent ATVs and Mopeds which would allow us to travel around the island at free will.

 

The roads are very irregular and as a result we got confused and lost multiple times. However, after some significant effort, and retracing our steps, we found our way into town.

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Our first insight into Chora was a bright pink Pelican. “Petros” is considered a “celebrity” of the town’s waterfront, and took up his permanent residence on the island after a storm in 1954. This is his successor as the original bird has passed away.

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In the distance, on a hill overlooking the water, we encountered the Windmills. An iconic feature of the landscape, they were initially built by Venetians in the 16th century in order to mill wheat. Construction continued into the early 20th century, and they were the primary source of income for Mykonos’ inhabitants. In the present day, they have been refurbished and serve as residences, museums, or even storage space.

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Finally, we ventured into Little Venice. Dating from the mid-18th century, these houses originally belonged to rich merchants are captains, and the little basement doors provided direct access to the sea and storage areas. Because of this, suspicions arose that the owners could have secretly been  pirates!

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In the recesses of the maze-like narrow streets, we found my favorite confection! Crepes!

The day was polished off with some aimless wandering amongst a geographic cropping  on the coastline. We climbed on large rocks, played photographer and model, and explored the crevices and creatures that the island has to offer.

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Travel:Three Beautiful Days on Mykonos.

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Since I met up with friends from the US of A, my originally planned schedule was modified, and unfortunately this meant foregoing some of my days that were originally planned for Athens. On the bright side, we got to enjoy some lazy, hazy days under the Grecian sun on the beautiful island of Mykonos.

Approximately an 8-hour boat ride from the Athens port, who would have thought that the Greek Islands are so far from the mainland and from each other?!

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Nicknamed the “Island of the Winds,” it has a total area of 85.5 square kilometers and has an elevation of 341 metres at its highest point. Mykonos’ origins date from 3000 BC, as archeological findings suggest the presence of the Neolithic tribe Kares. However, the first real settlers,  the Ionians, did not arrive until the early 11th century. 

Historically, the island was a pawn on the board of the Mediterranean Sea.

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Originally under the reign of the Roman Empire, Mykonos became part of the Byzantine Empire until the 12th century. It then became occupied by the Ghizi overlord in 1205 with the fall of Constantinople  during the Fourth Crusade. By the end of the 13th century, the island was ravaged by the Catalans, and then finally given to the Venetians in 1390.

Fast-forward to 1537, when Mykonos was attacked by Hayreddin Barbarossa, an infamous admiral of Suleiman the Magnificent, resulting in occupation by the Ottoman fleet. The island remained under the leadership of the Kapudan Pasha until the 18th century when the Greek Revolution against the Turks broke out in 1821.

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Mykonos was central during this insurgence, led by the national heroine Mando Mavrogenous, an aristocrat who, guided by the Enlightenment, sacrificed her family’s fortune for the Greek Cause. Greece officially became an independent state in 1830.

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We finally arrived on the gorgeous island of Mykonos in the early afternoon. Grabbed some bites, and caught some Vitamin D on a gorgeous beach amidst a beautiful view of vibrant blue water.