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Published: January 9th 2011
The Famous Windmills Of Mykonos
Not bad at night, but would have been nice to see during the day.
CRASH!! CREEEEEEAK! BANG! CREEEAKK! THUD!! CRACK!!
Our boat was being thrashed around the Aegean Sea, as if we were in a giant washing machine.
Every joint and every wall on-board was creaking, as the Viking Star groaned in pain. Closed doors swung open, only to slam back shut, as if by an angry ghost.
The fact I was completely knackered from the swimming, quad-biking, drinking and partying on Santorini was the only reason I was drifting in and out of conciousness, rather than lying with my eyes wide open like just about everyone else on-board.
It was still horrible though. The violent swaying of the boat almost threw me off my bed the times I was semi-concious, and the whole night felt like a terrible dream - as if in purgatory, unable to fall asleep yet unable to wake from this nightmare. The room was unbearably hot - our tiny fan nowhere near powerful enough to cool down our cabin. I was also getting seasick.
But it was the noise - the relentless creaking and banging - that was the worst thing. Never have I experienced such a cacophony while trying to sleep.
The captain's decision to set sail at night
Mylopotas Beach, Ios
The best beach we went to all trip.
was a drunken and ridiculous one. We could've put up with rough conditions during the day, when we weren't trying to sleep. As it turned out, we were still sailing at lunchtime and it was much calmer.
Ios is known as the "party island", something our posse in particular was looking forward to. Understandably jaded from the harrowing night that we experienced, some R&R at Mylopotas Beach was most welcome.
With golden sand and hundreds of sun-loungers underneath bark, palm-fronged umbrellas, Mylopotas was probably the best beach we had been to all trip, and thankfully it was the one we were able to spend the most time at. The water was by far the clearest water we had encountered so far, although perhaps not as clear as the water in Crete
. The water was still refreshing and relaxing though, with a flat, sandy bottom for once.
Mylopotas is a relatively long stretch of beach and the season must be dying down as it was relatively empty. We had just hit September after all, and almost right on cue we felt a noticeable drop in temperature at the turn of the month - I could now actually put a shirt
Puts his hands in the air, like he just don't care.
on if I so desired.
Immediately behind the beach is the Far Out Campsite that houses all the young, partygoing backpackers that flock to this island. Right next to it is a swanky outdoor bar complete with swimming pool for all the hot young things that prefer proximity to the alcohol. The bar is pumping out chilled-out house music and I imagine that the big outdoor clubs situated next door could be quite the nightlife spot during peak season. While a few of the Saffa girls hung out in the pool, we preferred the beach and our sun-loungers - so we ordered our er, strawberry daiquiris to go.
After polishing off our poncy drinks, six of us walked over to the watersports centre on the beach as there was something there we had to do - a tube ride.
There were varying difficulties of tube rides available, with the hardest one called the "Mach II", where if you managed to hold on for the entire duration of the ride, you got your money back. We opted for the one below it, the "Mach I", where you get a free t-shirt.
As there were six of us, there were to
View Across The City
Over Mykonos Town and it's harbour from the top of the town.
be two inflatables towed behind the speedboat - myself, Joy and John on one, and Sags, Ruth and Aaron on the other. And so the contest began.
It's a pretty exhilarating ride, being towed behind a boat going at 80km/h while you hold on to the inflatable for dear life. It's a good bicep workout too, despite having sore arms for the next week.
But the worse was yet to come.
Speedboats create wake, and when a speedboat turns - your inflatable goes soaring into the air off it. We manage to hold on for the first couple, but have no hope when our inflatable gets propelled two metres into the air at a 90-degree angle. John and Joy completely take me out, my tired arms unable to hang on any longer. Total wipeout - 1-0 to Sags, Ruth and Aaron.
Round two and after hitting the wake again, I look to my left and find that Joy has, in a split-second, disappeared. Well, she hadn't completely disappeared - she was just two metres in the air behind us.
Holding on grimly, I was determined not to fall off again - I was also in arguably the toughest position on
Our inflatable jumps into the air, none of us would survive the landing.
outside of the inflatable, meaning I felt the full force of every turn. At one point, my face landed on my fist when we landed, effectively punching myself in the face. We hit another wave and we go higher than we had ever gone before, our inflatable flipping onto a 90-degree angle again. John lets go, as does Joy - but miraculously I have somehow managed to hang on. I kiss my guns. It is a mere consolation however - our opponents have won 3-0. It's over - definitely the longest fifteen minutes of my life.
We chill on the beach for a while longer, sharing jokes and generally lying around. Sags says something about a shotgun to which Aaron replies, "you look like a shotgun Steve. 'Sawn-Off Shotgun Steve'".
"Sawn-Off Steve! That's not a great nickname!" laughed John. We were all cracking up.
OK so you had to be there, but it was good times. Anything is funny when you're on holiday.
And so Sags had now become 'Sawn-Off'.
They say there isn't really much to Ios apart from the beach and the nightlife, so having done the former it was time to do the latter.
Snaking through the labyrinth that his Ios's old town
is a labyrinth of tiny streets and alleys and we went quite a way through it to get to our restaurant for the night. Put it this way - I don't think I could've navigated my way back out.
I went with calamari for dinner - and again it was disappointing. I have to say that the food in general on this whole trip has been pretty average, even in Crete. Luckily the wet honey cake for dessert was delicious.
It was then off to the bars.
The first place we hit is Blue Note. Adorning the walls inside are the flags of all the Scandinavian countries and several football scarves of Scandinavian teams including SK Brann and Rosenborg of Norway, so I assume it is owned by Scandinavians. It was completely empty though - we were the only people in there. Lucky there were a lot of us then. And so the Long Island Ice Teas started again, again at sculling pace.
As everyone started to relax, we did some more Greek dancing, although someone forgot to tell Adam that only the last person to dance gets to drink the glass on the floor.
Aaron and Adam then did
'Flaming Lamborghinis' which reminded me of the 'backdrafts' we did back in our teenage years in Auckland. Loren then got us a round of 'Wet Pussies'.
The toilet in Blue Note has a funny sign on it's door - even funnier was the broom Aaron found inside it, after suggesting we should give it to one of the more precious members of our tour party.
Just as we started getting into the groove, it was off to the next place.
I don't remember what the place was called but it was wooden, almost as if it was themed on a pirate ship, which I guess being in the Greek Islands, is entirely appropriate. They played some good tunes in there, I remember.
What I also remember is another of the blonde Saffa girls on our tour making a beeline for my shirt buttons.
"Please be gentle" I pleaded, "with my buttons that is". Michelle duly obliged - bless her. The shirt still came off however. What can I say, my body seems to be a hit with blonde, South African girls.
Soon, every other guy from the Viking Star soon had their shirts off - again - and other male
Aaron has a go at a gas-filled, flaming cocktail.
patrons then joined in the fun, thinking it was a house rule or something.
I was quite keen to stay at this place, but soon we were on the move once again and ended up at a place called Flames. I knew this because every girl in there had a stamp on their arm saying so. The place was rammed as it was quite small. I was surprised that the nightlife here basically consisted of small bars crammed into the old town - as a 'party island' I was expecting multi-story superclubs. Perhaps they do exist, in another area of town.
Flames was probably the best place of the night - it had to be, since they played Bloc Party's Helicopter. We got talking to other travellers and holidaymakers in there including an Aussie girl and an Irish girl - and there was another girl who was drawing whiskers on everyone's face. We pretty much all had them by the end of it.
Sags, Adam and the Saffa girls headed back for a skinny dip, while I soldiered on. Eventually, I walked back to the boat with Dania, Nabila and Nadia, along with four Saffa guys on our boat, Henry,
Panagia Ekatontapiliani Church
Exterior of the famous Byzantine church in Paros.
Marshall, Phillip and Riand.
We somehow managed to navigate our way out of the hora, before stumbling onto the path back to the boat. Thank goodness for drunk-compass.
Kyriaki had told us that we needed to be back on the boat by 6am - we got back at 5.30am. Best night out on the trip.
Needless to say, everyone was pretty knackered the next day. Most of us just chilled out on the boat before we got into Paros late-afternoon.
Joining Kyriaki on her short tour of the island, we end the tour at the Panagia Ekatontapiliani Church.
The Byzantine church is rather famous and was first built in 328AD, after St. Helen had stopped by in Paros en route to Palestine in search of the holy cross. St. Helen had a 'vision of success' while in Paros and thus decided to establish a church here.
The church was destroyed and rebuilt many times over the course of the next 1682 years, and the present form has been rebuilt based on it's structure during the rule of Justin, the Byzantine emperor.
Built from the famous local marble, the church's grey interior is quite a sight and very impressive for
a building so old. The angles from which the sunlight enters the church creates a rather ethereal effect. The oldest part of the church is the bapistry that dates back to the 4th century. The whole site was very interesting.
A large group from the boat end up at the closest beach, as we all had too little time to do anything major on Paros. This is where I have another gripe about the tour; I think that it would be better to spend more time on the islands instead of having so many swimming stops. There is more to explore and see on the islands, and we go swimming once we get on the islands anyway. Jumping off the top of the boat is fun, but it does wear thin after a while.
Livadia Beach is nice, although the grey, pebbly, shelly sand wasn't the nicest. The water was nice and calm, although a little cool as we approached the end of the day.
Someone had the splendid idea of grabbing a waffle on the way back to the boat, and so almost our whole group of fifteen people chilled at one of the waterfront cafes, looking onto the
Livadia Beach, Paros
Our group take in some late afternoon rays in Paros.
beach and harbour as the sun started to set. I went for the waffle topped with famous Greek honey - yum.
A few more people on the boat had got sick ,including Sags, from the stomach virus that was going round - it almost became a question of when
rather than if
, I would catch it. In the meantime, I decided to make the most of my health by heading out on the tour dinner.
And I was certainly glad I did, as the restaurant we were at put on the best dinner of the tour. We basically had several dishes pre-ordered for each table to share, giving us a sample of everything. Although I wasn't sure if sharing meals would be the best thing to do with a stomach virus going around, it was nevertheless a great idea in the end.
Among the dishes sampled was a delicious creamy mushroom dish, Greek salad, grilled aubergines with feta and tomato, and a spicy squid pasta. The dessert again was wonderful, a kind-of lemon cheesecake that resembled a custard square. Oh, how I miss custard squares.
Back on board the boat, things were not good.
There has been a problem
Sunset In Paros
Looking over the harbour from the Aqua Cafe.
with the sewerage system on the ship all week, creating a stench throughout the boat. Adam and Aaron's room in particular reeked and there was black sludge coming back up their toilet ("Ah! It's touching my arse!" screamed Adam). However, the stench had become unbearable on the bottom deck, and in the case of Dania, Nabila and Nadia, uninhabitable. They ended up staying in a hostel for the night.
This wasn't the only thing wrong on the Viking Star. As well as the already-mentioned drunk captain, the rude, sour-faced crew and the non-working air-conditioning system, there were also shower-heads not working properly, doors that didn't lock, broken appliances and a really noisy engine and anchor. For most, the experience upon the creaking Viking Star was a nightmare.
Put it this way, I don't think that the fact there was a stomach virus going around while there were hygiene problems on the boat was a complete coincidence.
I felt sorry for Kyriaki - she often looked stressed and downcast as all the complaints started coming her way. Everyone knew that it wasn't her fault, but things weren't good enough and she was caught between her company and her guests. She seemed
Paradise Beach, Mykonos
Not that lame Aussie drama series that came out in the 90s.
such a proud Greek, and was genuinely hoping everyone of us would have a positive experience while visiting her country.
In terms of what the country has to offer, Greece is brilliant - great weather, beautiful landscapes, history, activities and a great party. Sadly, Kyriaki was an exception in terms of the local workers - as mentioned several times, I have found most Greek service workers to be unfriendly, rude, unhelpful and unprofessional.
Like everyone else on our penultimate night aboard, I had an early night and settled in for a looooong sleep.
And so we were back where we had started a week ago, in Mykonos.
It was the final day and final night and we were all friends now, which was just as well, as 30 of us cosied up inside a small bus designed to fit a maximum of 20. Our destination was Paradise Beach, and because of our numbers, the local bus driver turned into our very own chauffeur for a small fee each, and agreed to come back to pick us up at 6pm.
Unlike Mylopotas in Ios, Paradise Beach was filled to the rafters. It wasn't the most spacious beach, with as many
Just Another Day In Paradise
The last beach trip of the tour in Mykonos.
sun-loungers as possible crammed onto it. The only place with enough space for us all, was on the far right of the beach. The amount of sausages on display there soon told us why. No naked females, funnily enough - but I suppose we are on Mykonos after all.
The beach itself was really nice, with golden sand and clear, refreshing water once again. There was a naked middle-aged man who kept walking past us all before loitering in the water in front of us, as if it was some kind of mating call. Eww.
There were some elevated rocks to the right of where we were lying that gave a great view across the beach. There were a couple of guys up there who were taking photos, complete with chest-out-and-both-hands-behind-the-head poses and lying-down-on-your-side-with-your-hand-holding-up-your-head poses. They stopped with embarrassment with us sniggering in the background but I have to say they were hilarious to watch.
It was then off to get refreshments.
As well as in the old town, there is also nightlife out here, as the huge outdoor club behind the beach attested to. It obviously wasn't open during the day, but the bars right next to it certainly
Mykonos Town Harbour
Looking towards the old town.
were, complete with pole dancers and a group of people dancing on the bar to the thumping music being pumped out on the beach. It all looked quite surreal at 4pm in the afternoon.
As our time on the beach drew to a close it was a little sad - it might well be the last time I get to chill out on a beach all year.
We were pretty much left to our own devices before meeting up back in town for dinner, so I took the opportunity to take the early bus into town for a quick sightseeing tour around the city. It was to be my only chance, as I was leaving pretty early for the airport the next morning and everyone else was staying an extra night.
I got dropped at the harbour which is a sight in itself and once in the town, I went a-wondering.
Mykonos was certainly the biggest of all the old towns I had walked around in the islands - and the narrow, snaking pedestrian streets and classic whitewashed buildings with blue shutters and frames and dressed with balconies of bougainvillea, also made it arguably the prettiest as well.
Streets Of Mykonos Town
Classic white-walled street in town. Suburbia, Greek Island style.
up to the top of the town, I was rewarded with a great view across the city and the harbour.
Walking back through the market streets flanked with shops selling all sort of souvenirs (including an awesome shop that was completely plastered in the paintings that it was selling) and food, I arrived at Little Venice, where the sea laps at the edge of the restaurants and bars that lived there, which included the restaurant we were to dine in that night, Alefkandra.
I was still a bit early, so I continued my tour that took me to Mykonos's famous windmills. Night had fallen at this stage and although the windmills still looked stunning at night, it was a real shame I couldn't spend some more time walking around the place in daylight - I think that the buildings would probably blind you, but the place would feel and look completely different.
The food we had on our last meal together pretty much summed up the food on the whole trip - decidedly average. Apart from the huge group photo at the end, the highlight of the meal had to be the sleazy restaurant hawker Lazarus, who launched a full-on
Little Venice, Mykonos
Where the water laps right up against restaurant and bars.
romance campaign on Bronwyn, the object of his affection. He bought her a rose, took several loving photographs and even proposed to her with tissue-paper engagement ring. He wasn't the only one at it either, as one of the waiters was also quite enamoured with her.
We then hit the bars for the last time.
We started out at Down Under, which given the number of Kiwis in the group, didn't really meet with approval. The place however, was nothing like a Walkabout and was a decent place to start the night.
To say the drinks were expensive was a slight understatement - tiny cocktails were 5€, and cocktail 'buckets' - of which were less than a litre and were polished off in less than a minute by all of us - were 35€. Having got out some extra cash before arriving at the bar, it wasn't long before I had to make another cash-dash. It wasn't cheap, but it had to be done and before we knew it, we were doing Jaeger bombs off the floor Greek-style, dancing with David Guetta (it's true, he was there) and finally mastering our carefully choreographed dance routine to 'We No Speak Americano'.
We bring out the Bolt while Loren is busted trying to undo my shirt again.
We sooned moved on and after finding 'Jacuzzi' (which actually had a jacuzzi in the bar) a bit too up-it's-own-arse (read: expensive), we had a beer at an old-fashioned, wood-finished, 30s-style bar before heading to Skandinavian Bar (what is with all the Scandinavian themed bars and clubs in the Greek Islands?). The place was absolutely rammed, but going off. I was sloshed.
On the way in we spotted Dan, the Aussie guy from the hostel who came out with us in Athens
. Crazy coincidence. Also in attendance was quite possibly the campest guy I have ever seen. Blonde, a little fat and wearing a black singlet with skin-tight leather pants and a black glove that ran the length of his arm, he ballet-pranced all over (and upon) the bar, a one-man tribute to Madonna. He was hilarious
. He was a real-life "Daffyd, The Only Gay In The Village" from Little Britain
Adam and John however, tried their best to follow his lead with a spot of pole-dancing.
I know that Mykonos is known famously as a gay mecca of sorts, but - and simply as an observation, I might add - I have never seen so many gay guys in one place. We passed one bar on the waterfront that was completely overflowing with men, with more than a little man-love
Adam and John show us their skills in the Skandinavian Bar. It is Mykonos, after all.
I then remember a devouring a delicious savoury crepe, taxiing back to the boat with the rudest taxi driver I have ever met in my life, and some drama regarding some of our peeps getting separated - before crashing in someone else's bed. And no, the owner of the bed was not sleeping in it with me. I'm not revealing why, you'll have to ask Davies about that.
I think we were the last of the tour group to get back to the boat - another great night out to sign off the tour.
I was the only one of our posse heading back to London the next day - Gkee and Davies were heading to Turkey while the rest were heading to Ibiza. I had a long trip ahead of me back to London - I had stops in Verona and Cologne, which would've been bad even if you weren't hungover...
Overall the tour was one of the best holidays I have ever been on. Having seven of your mates with you certainly helps, but we met some awesome people, visited some awesome places, and had some awesome times - all in awesome weather. Now if
The Only Gay In The Village
If Daffyd existed in real life, this would surely be him.
only our boat was awesome...
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