I couldn’t help but let out an involuntary whoop as Mykonos appeared on the horizon. Despite the fact that it was already day three of my Contiki tour, it felt like the trip was really just beginning. Most of my time in Athens has been spent buried in work, running frantic errands, and attempting to get to know my group whenever I took a harried break from my laptop. But the idea of being back on an island soothed me, and the salty air filled me with excitement for the three days ahead.
We were starting our island hopping in style. The itinerary of the trip was two nights in Athens, three nights each in Mykonos, Santorini, and Ios, and one final night wrapping things up back in Athens. My whooping started up again — seriously, I need to work on my involuntary noise emissions — when I saw our beachfront digs in Mykonos. We were basing ourselves at the Aphrodite Beach Hotel in Kalafati Beach, about a twenty minute drive from Mykonos Town. While at first I was skeptical of being so far from the action, within moments of arriving at Aphrodite I vowed to leave the grounds as little as humanly possible.
I mean, there was a lot of ground to cover. There were the deliciously breezy sheets of my charming whitewashed room, there were the inviting waves of the turquoise sea, and there was the shimmering calm waters of the saltwater pool. All demanded plenty of attention.
Does it get any more Greek than this?
Understandably, I spent every second of our free time at Aphrodite. While some of that was due to work obligations, some of it was due to the unmistakably magnetic pull of the ocean and the lure of beachfront bonding with some of the girls I was quickly growing to love. Much of the group joined me in this water-side vigil, while others chose to catch the bus into Mykonos town for some daytime exploring.
Our time in Mykonos had two official optional excursions and one impromptu ones thrown together by Paola and Ed, our guide extraordinaires. The first, ambitiously named The Hidden Treasures of Mykonos, involved a sunset stroll through charming Mykonos town, a traditional taverna dinner, and a night on the town with — and this is key — an included early hours bus transfer back to our hotel. Mykonos is notorious for its shortage of cabs and public transportation ceases in the evenings, so nothing short of Hercules himself coming back to life and sweeping me off my feet was going to stop me from that call time.
While I admit that in such a large group it was nearly impossible to hear our local tour guide’s insights, I quite happily fell to the back and got lost in seeing the whitewashed town through my lens. I had been to Mykonos once before, on a Mediterranean cruise with my mom, and it was exactly as I remembered. I was thrilled to be getting a second look.
I wish I could wax poetic about the traditional Greek dishes we dined on that night at dinner, but frankly my brain was completely overcome with elation at our very special dinner guest, Petros the Pelican. I started letting out high pitched shrieks the moment he waddled towards the table — here we go with the unintentional peep-making problem again — and they reached a pitch heard only to canines when he boldly strode into the kitchen and demanding scraps. The unamussed chef chased him out with a spatula in hand, and I nearly passed out from the excitement.
And then the bar hopping began. We worked our way en masse through a serious of bars, starting in little Venice and winding our way through the star-lit streets from one dance floor to another. It was our first big night out as a group, and I quickly realized how and why Contiki earned its reputation for knowing how to party. I loved seeing how our tour guides were greeted like old friends by bouncers and bartenders alike — they really do know these islands inside and out.
Our next day was spent exactly as earlier described — rotating between beach and pool lounger with laptop in hand. By the time evening rolled around, I was ready for a little excitement and eagerly signed up for the mega-club excursion Paola and Ed had arranged. While the 50€ price tag had me pulling a face at first, I gave myself a pep talk that could be more or less summed up by the acronym “YOLO,” only infinitely less annoying. While almost the entire tour group had joined the previous night, only about fifteen of us made it on this particular evening. I’m not sure if this night of debauchery is what cemented it, but this crew turned out to be my go-to group for the rest of the trip.
We were still raging when our 5am alarms went off to signal it was time to head back to the bus.
Our final day in Mykonos was one of the most highly anticipated of the trip. Thanks to the low price tag, just 12€ per head, every single person in our group signed on for the day part at Paradise Beach. Still smarting from the lack of sleep the night before, I was relieved to arrive to a fairly low key beach scene. But I was well aware things were just warming up.
As the afternoon wore on, the music turned up, the drinks flowed more freely, and what seemed like the entire male population of Italy flooded through the doors. The scene was Vegas pool party meets Ibiza nightclub. And it was wildly entertaining.
I’m in the “what happens at Mykonos day parties stays at Mykonos day parties” camp, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Italian ex-pornstar MC known colloquially as “The Elephant Man” — perhaps the photo above will give you a clue why — and a Contiki-wide love affair with a certain blow up flamingo.
By the time the sun went down and it was time for our bus to pull away, my abs were actually stinging from the burn of too much laughter.
As much as I loved Mykonos, the prices were starting to wound me by the time day three came around — not the mention the lack of sleep. I was very much looking forward to returning to the healing embraces of my dear old friend Santorini. Someday, I’m sure I’ll return to Mykonos again and experience a slightly more civilized side — take a day tour of Delos, rent a jeep and drive around the island — but damn, am I glad I got to experience the sun and fun for a few days.
And I can’t think of a better crew to have done it with.
Have you been to Mykonos? What side did you see?
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