Destination: Greece: Mykonos
Escape to Mykonos
As the mother of three teenagers, all with a different idea of what makes a great holiday, planning our annual summer getaway is never simple. Top of their lists are “chillaxing”, and finding one-off boutiques and cool bars. Top of mine is a tranquil sea, sandy beaches, guaranteed sunshine, pretty walks, delicious casual restaurants and friendly locals. The holiday requirements get further complicated by the fact we travel with another demanding family where outdoor sports, clubbing and sightseeing rank high. Over the years our two families have sampled the South of France, Tuscany (Porto Ercole), southern Spain (Soto Grande) and Sardinia to name a few, all in the quest of the ideal summer landing spot. Last summer our motley crew tried Greece, specifically Mykonos. And for the first time this year, we came back.
Mykonos checks all our crucial boxes: beautiful beaches, e.g. Agrari, Elia and Lia; laid back atmosphere; guaranteed sunshine (and stunning sunsets); fun restaurants like N’Ammos or Hippie Fish for lunch, Katrin for chateaubriand dinners, and Sea Satin for the local catch of the day; and an exciting, affordable night life (Paradise, Space). The island is beautiful yet authentic, even somewhat rustic in parts (for one, the trash needs to be collected more often). The island has real character—it certainly kept us from getting bored.
Signs of Greece’s economic turmoil are hard to find. According to Edward Prendergast, of high-end jewelers Ilias LaLaounis, Mykonos is slightly immune to the mainland’s woes. One of the town’s priciest shops (Linapiu) recently stayed open until 3 a.m. because it was so busy; Louis Vuitton opened a pop-up shop this summer; and Prada is rumored to be following suit next summer.
Our two families rented a villa on the southern part of the island near Aghios Ioannis Beach. The gentle wind is constant on this side of the island but not over-powering, as it was at last summer’s rental at Panormos Bay in the north. (I did miss the close proximity to hidden gem Kiki’s for fabulous long lunches just above Agios Sostis Beach and near Panormos.) If we weren’t staying in a villa, a great option would be the serene De.Light Hotel. This year we walked in the evening when it was cooler, timing our departure so we’d arrive at Kapari Beach around sunset. Some of us went swimming. Others watched the reddish-orange glow slowly dip into the distant surf.
While the teens enjoyed the nightlife, heading out around midnight only to return between 3 and 6 a.m. depending on how the music was, I took advantage of the quiet mornings. The town of Mykonos, which is over-run with tourists in the hot afternoon is virtually empty around 10 a.m., when it was just me and the shop-owners. I really liked meandering through the narrow alleyways discovering cool streets such as Matogianni (check out local Greek jeweler Apriati for quirky, beautiful handmade pieces) and Dilou street where Dimitris Halvatzis sells pretty cotton tops in mesmerizing pastels, as well as fun platforms. I adore the Byzantine-inspired jewelry at Lalaounis and fell in love with the pharmacies that carry fragrant local skincare brands unavailable elsewhere. Don’t miss Cine Manto, a shaded outdoor cinema that serves dinner and shows English-language films every night at 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.
Beyond the town of Mykonos, other favorite finds included Ynot Café, in Ornos, which is run by charming caterer Takis Kafantaris, talented masseur Vassilis Georgious who works by day at Lia Beach but also makes house calls (30 694 826 2277) and Belle Petite nails boutique, next door to Ynot Café. Those who like to get on the water should contact Lo Yachting (loyachting.com), which has everything from a small motorboat to a 100-foot yacht. While I’m not sure exactly where we’ll end up next summer, I do know it will be somewhere in Greece, maybe even Mykonos. Third time’s a charm, I’m sure.
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