MYKONOS: MA­JES­TIC, MAR­VEL­LOUS AND MADLY MEM­O­RABLE

Airports India - - CONTENTS - TEXT & SE­LECT PHO­TOS: SUBHASISH CHAKRABORTY

Mykonos is a world class tourist des­ti­na­tion and is par­tic­u­larly renowned for its pul­sat­ing nightlife and en­ter­tain­ment. Al­though slightly more ex­pen­sive in com­par­i­son to other Greek is­lands, yet Mykonos is worth a visit.

We were told that the is­land of Mykonos has evolved into one of Europe’s top ranked tourist desti­na­tions. Mykonos be­longs to the Cy­cladic group of is­lands lo­cated in the azure blue Aegean Sea.

One has to bear in mind that Mykonos’ fresh­wa­ter is scarce and the is­land re­lies to a large ex­tent on sea­wa­ter, which is sci­en­tif­i­cally de­sali­nated for use by its res­i­dents. At the end of the beau­ti­ful nar­row streets of Mau, is where the Mykonos dam is lo­cated, con­structed to meet the wa­ter needs of the is­land.

With a pop­u­la­tion of 6200 as per the 2002 cen­sus, the res­i­dents of Mykonos have a warm and friendly at­ti­tude to­wards the tourists. The town of Hora is the prin­ci­pal town of Mykonos, lo­cated strate­gi­cally on the is­land’s west­ern bor­der.

With the rapid growth of tourism

in the last few decades, Mykonos has a rather cos­mopoli­tan am­bi­ence that lures in­ter­na­tional jet­set­ters to this pic­turesque is­land. Mykonos, with its pris­tine beaches, chic tav­er­nas, a pul­sat­ing nightlife and nu­mer­ous touris­tic sites is the fa­vorite haunt of Hol­ly­wood celebri­ties, in­clud­ing many who have set up their sum­mer re­treat in this beau­ti­ful is­land. It is quite nat­u­ral to sight renowned stars strolling along Mykonos’s me­an­der­ing streets with­out any bother from the pa­parazzi. I never imag­ined in my wildest of dreams that I would come face to face with Brad Pitt and Richard Gere, which is ex­actly what hap­pened with me in one of the se­cluded beaches in Mykonos.

Our well-in­formed guide Sylvia was of the opin­ion that if you haven’t seen Mykonos you have missed out on some­thing fab­u­lous. Mykonos is the great glam­our is­land of Greece and hap­pily flaunts its siz­zling St-tropez-meets-ibiza style and party-hard rep­u­ta­tion. The high­sea­son mix of he­do­nis­tic hol­i­day­mak­ers, cruise-ship crowds (which can reach 15,000 a day) and pos­tur­ing fash­ion­istas throng Mykonos Town (aka Hora), a tra­di­tional white­washed Cy­cladic maze, de­light­ing in its au­then­tic cu­bist charms and its chichi cafe-bar-bou­tique scene. But do visit some of the vil­lages, lit­tle har­bors and its mag­nif­i­cent, re­mote beaches like Kalo Li­vadi, Kalafati and Aghia Anna.

MYKONOS BEACHES

Mykonos’ golden-sand beaches in their for­merly un­spoilt state were the pride of Greece. Now most are jammed with um­brel­las and backed by beach bars, but they do make for a hop­ping scene that draws floods of beach­go­ers. Moods range from the sim­ply hec­tic to the out­right snobby, and nu­dity lev­els vary. With­out your own wheels, catch buses from Hora or caïques from Ornos and Platys Gia­los to fur­ther beaches. Mykonos Cruises has an on­line timetable of its sea-taxi ser­vices.

The near­est beaches to Hora were over­taken by the con­struc­tion of the New Port. That leaves lit­tle Agios Ste­fanos (4km north of Hora), within sight of dock­ing cruise ships. There’s a tiny strip of sand in town, Agia Anna. About 5km south­west of Hora are fam­ily-ori­ented Agios Ioan­nis (where Shirley Valen­tine was filmed) and Ka­pari. The nearby packed and noisy Ornos and the pack­age-hol­i­day re­sort of Platys Gia­los have boats for the glitzier beaches to the east. In be­tween th­ese two is Psarou, a mag­net for the Greek cognoscenti.

Ap­prox­i­mately 1km south of Platys Gia­los you’ll find Paraga Beach, which has a small gay sec­tion. Party peo­ple should head about 1km east to fa­mous Par­adise, which is not a recog­nised gay beach but has an ac­tion-packed younger scene, a camp­ing re­sort (www.par­adis­e­mykonos.com) and nightlife that doesn’t quit. Down a steep ac­cess road, Su­per Par­adise (aka Plin­tri or Su­per P) has a fully gay sec­tion (in­clud­ing the Jack­ieo’ beach club) and a huge epony­mous club.

Mixed and gay-friendly Elia is a long, lovely stretch of sand and is the last caïque stop. A few min­utes’ walk west from here is the se­cluded Agrari. Fur­ther east, Kalafatis is a hub for wa­ter sports (in­clud­ing div­ing and wind­surf­ing), and Lia has a re­mote, end-of-the-road feel.

North-coast beaches can be ex­posed to the meltemi (dry northerly wind), but Panor­mos and Agios Sostis with their golden sand are fairly shel­tered and less busy than the south-coast beaches.

For out-of-the-way beach­ing you’ll need tough wheels to reach the likes Fokos and Mersini on the north­east coast.

Panoramic shot of Mykonos har­bour

Balmy beach scene

aa Mykonos is the most glam­orous is­land in Greece

View from the ho­tel bal­cony

The sun sets over tra­di­tional Greek houses in a vil­lage in Mykonos

The bustling jetty in Mykonos

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