Archive for the ‘Mykonos’ Category

Greece2015 MykonosThe Word Is: Cash is King! Discounts prevail, pensions and small hotels give most value; bus it to the beach; eat gyros and souvlaki and an Alpha Beer daily.

Euros and major credit cards are no problem for the savvy traveler in 99% of the venues.  Lock your Cash in a sealed envelope in the Hotel room safe or the Hotel front office safe with any good jewelry. Take only what you need for the daily missions.  Keep only one credit card on your body.  Inform your card company bank that you wish to be informed of any purchase over $XXX.xx dollars via text.

Greece2010 125Most of the restaurants on the Greek major tourist islands bring the Card Billing Machine to your table for you to swipe your card.  Use the visible ATM machines in the front of the local bank windows.  Avoid the ATM in Gas Stations or Beach Bars.


Greece2015$100 to $200 per day will get you  a room in a pension, perhaps with a continental breakfast for two people. These prices are quite normal.  The room will be in a smaller building with close proximity to the harbor, bus stations, restaurants and the port of Mykonos. Expect twin beds that might be a tad firm.

Here is the news on the ground: there are definite rip-off. Example this: Paranga Beach, on the north side of Mykonos Island is  a great sandy cove beach with a small traverna.  The beach vendor maintains the beach and offers Chaise Lounge Bed (2) and one umbrella at the sea edge. The ripoff price is 120 Euros.  What?  These should be no more that 5 Euros each  or 25 Euros max!  I would expect a full body massage at those inflated prices.

Greece2010 193A cocktail at the Little Venice area in Mykonos Town, a trendy nightlife spot, will set you back $20.00. Note, the tip is included, thank goodness.  Shopping will be a task in the evening well-lit narrow white cobblestone streets of Mykonos. Look for up to 20% cash buyer discounts on jewelry and clothing.

The Mykonos traveler will find that they are in an insulated world from the confusion and news of the day.  Make the most of it and like Zorba, ” live for the day”!  Opa.


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Dollar Strong, Island of Mykonos Awaits

Greece2010 109     The brisk breezes that move the windmills will soon usher the savvy visitors to the most famous of the Aegean Sea’s Greek island of Mykonos.  Whether you arrive by ferry-boat, hydrofoil vessel or jet, the options that will open up to you on this whitewashed mecca of bliss will keep you poised to return each year.  The European Bohemians that uncovered the Cycladic isle in the 1960’s, welcomed the yachting set, and in turn they turned up the energy several notches. Today, Mykonos is a melting pot of race, color, creed and capital.  Accommodations will vary broadly and many choose the countless bed & breakfast inns in the village, Hora, of Mykonos Town. Others may rent the lovely villas scattered among the cliffs and hillsides or find the seaside hotels on the shores of the many cove beaches. Most are affordable to each desire and disembarking ferry passengers will  be greeted by innkeepers with placards at the port.  Find your lodging and head to the cafes that ring the town harbor for the first frappaccino or Mythos beer.

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Get around this island.  Many use the mopeds, but I love the Smart Cars.  Buses from the top of the village cost a few euros and will get you each late morning to the beaches. A network of fishing boats converted to passenger ferries, or Caiiques, will take dozens to the outlying cove beaches for a similar fee. The captains are a colorful breed and will sing, laugh, or shout and swear. Not much is needed on the beachfront. Perhaps a bathing suit could be brought, but that is your call. All else is found at the tavernas on each beach. Beach club bars set the tone, as late morning hours require new age tunes to awake from the late late night activities, while three PM brings in the techno disco and the volume increases exponentially.  Peace may still be found making the right choice of beach.

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The day may end at the beach, yet with a nap and a shower, the night opens up to adventurous escapades back in Hora. The restaurants and cafes are open past midnight and at that time the clubs are just about to find their rhythm. Many are outdoors in the courtyards of the town or spill out onto balconies. There is a reasoning on Mykonos that this island has over 365 whitewashed churhes. The season begins the weekend of Easter and will continue through the second week in October each year.  Prime season is most active from June to August end, but my season is the first two weeks of September.  The “September Club”, as I call it, finds a certain mellowing out of the people, and the vibe grounds me to drink in the best of Mykonos.  I do find a moment to search out  a little church perched over the blue Aegean Sea, sit and pray for next year’s visit.

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I have alway been mystified by amber, from the first time I held a small piece to the sky, and behold, a tiny insect came to light, trapped in the yellow resin for all eternity.  Worry beads first appeared in India. They were invented to help count prayers and consisted of a series of fruit pits, punctured and strung on a piece of string. Over time fruit pits were replaced by amber, ivory, coral, semi precious stones, or other precise stones and noble metals. A tassel and a “papas” (the bead that marks the beginning and end of its cycle) were eventually added. The people of India embellished worry beads in various ways and thus created a work of art. Worry beads evolved into a collectible jewel that soon became a symbol of wealth, prestige, power and culture. They were something between jewel and sceptre . Today, they are still used to count prayers.

The Greek word for worry beads is kompoloi (Greek: êïìðïëüé), often spelled koboloi, komboloi, or coboloi and was first introduced by the Turks.  Kombolois became popular among the common people as means for meditation and to calm the nerves.

During that period worry beads were  popular among religious Greek people.  The most common name for the religious worry beads is worry knots or komposkini (Greek: êïìðïóêïßíé), meaning a rope with knots, because the religious persons use  each knot to say a prayer.

You would be hard-pressed to not see a senior citizen Greek man sitting at a tavern or ouzo bar table without a komboloi in hand.  Twirling one is not that easy.  It took me many ouzos to learn the technique! In my right hand, the tassel is held between the middle and first finger second joint, with the tassel in the palm, lying down. A flick of my wrist in a counter clockwise motion, launches the beads over my hand and wrapping around my little finger, I then repeat the motion, releasing the Papas, shield, bead and tassel. My komboloi is silver beads on a silver rope chain with dark yellow amber beads disbursed throughout. It fits my palm size. I have owned plastic ones.  Ancient Persian komboloi can run at $1,000 for large hand hewn Baltic amber. Nice!

When tourism development in Greece occurred, komboloi, being an important element of Greek culture and tradition, became again popular but this time as a souvenir sold to tourists. Then and today, komboloi can be a trinket usually made of plastics, metals, or machine-made silver platted beads and had nothing to do with the jewel of superior aesthetics and a symbol of wealth, power, freedom and prestige that used to be in the past.

In our age, when  stress, shopping, drinking, smoking, depression and antidepressant drugs have become a matter of everyday life, kompoloi made a dynamic comeback and offer many solutions to the “vices” of contemporary life. My chain-smoking Greek shipping friend stopped cold turkey with one komboloi; twirling away the vice.

They are not exaggerating  when they say “show me your worry beads and I’ll show you who you are”.  Choices include the size, color, number of beads, shield, tassel and priest head (papas). In order for a komboloi to be functional as a twirling toy, it is said that they should consist of an odd number of beads, with a sum always equal to a modulus of four, plus one.  I was told they should have forty beads in the body: representing the 40 days of Jesus on earth before ascending to heaven.  The Plaka District in Athens purports a plethora of shops. Nafplion, Greece has a museum dedicated to the art. My favorite shop was on the rim of the volcano in Thera, Santorini, Greece.  Sadly, the old artisan closed the doors some years ago, though, I will keep my komboloi close at hand.

Komboloi of every size and style

Vitina Village Bead Shop in the Peloponnese Mountains with artisan.

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Mykonos nightsThere is a group of folks who taught me to live life to the fullest.  I call them the “September Club”.  Many years ago, on the island of Mykonos, in the Aegean Sea of Greece, a birthday party of  night revellers spilled over onto my hotel’s accessible balcony. These people knew how to party. They came from all over Europe, a few Greeks and several Americans. Some were on perpetual holiday and others had jobs, like airline flight attendants, teachers and Club Owners.  They had bonded for several summer seasons in the month of September. The invite to join them could not be refused. I was part of the September Club.

MykonosThe owner of the fun bar, called Uno Bar, Michael, lived on Mykonos and was well-connected and part of the group.  He had a large speed boat and many toys.  He was good at organizing beach parties. With a well planned Saturday outing of 40 people on two commissioned Greek fishing boats, we headed for the tiny island 3 Km off of Mykonos and near Delos Island.  Uninhabited, yet home to dozens of goats, this idyllic spot and the little sheltered-cove sandy beach promised a full day of pleasure.  We were not disappointed.  Soon after the beach chairs, volleyball net and kitchen BBQ area were arranged, Ouzo and Mythos beers flowed.  The Greeks and several Europeans, a very un-modest bunch, jumped right into volleyball, sans clothing.  The same was for the two beautiful Uno Bar Waitresses, as they proved they could somersault the whole beach. They could and they did.

The highlight of the afternoon became the feast. Lamb chops, fried zucchini, feta cheese, marinated chicken in olive oil and fresh oregano were prepared. Michael’s boat had snorkel equipment and three of us headed into the cove to gather the spiny black sea urchins amongst the rocks and sea weeds. With a potato sack full, I was to learn the secret of the Greek fisherman’s Sea Urchin salad.

There is danger to this recipe. We used Diving Gloves to hold on to the spines as we applied the Dive Knife to the crown of the Urchin’s mouth area. These slender tubular black needles penetrate the palm of my hand easily and biting them out with front teeth is an art.  Yet, in little time the stainless steel 10 inch salad mixing bowl had a pound of the roe ( some believe its gonads), in the bottom. The one inch ocher colored sacks give off a salty aroma and glisten.

compliments of Fotosearch Stock

Greek fisherman’s Sea Urchin salad, ala Mykonos Beach Party

  • 1/2 kilo Black or Red Sea Urchin Roe, one pound approx.
  • One cup soft White Loaf bread cubed without crust
  • One half cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • One freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/4 cup
  • One tablespoon Sea Salt
  • One half tablespoon Greek Oregano
  • Fine ground black pepper to taste.
  • All ingredients are whipped in the Stainless mixing bowl to a semi smooth blended consistency.
  • The bowl may be floated on cracked ice.  Prepare the White Loaf Crusty bread in two-inch cubes for dipping.

We did not need the bowl on cracked ice, as it lasted for five minutes and satiated about 15 people.  The rest of the September Club folks were still running around naked or sleeping after too much Ouzo!  These summers, the group has dispersed. I have seen a few a while back.  The Uno Bar has changed, and not in that great traditional spot in Mykonos.  The Urchins are still there and I now live life to the fullest, waiting for next September.


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Greek doors sport color and style

Greek IslandsI get it.  If your decorating your Greek Island villa threshold, do it with a flair.  I have searched out the antiques of the colorful doorways on these Cycladic Islands and the thrill of finding a rare door-knocker is around every corner.  The weathered brass ones have character and personalities.  The woman’s delicate hand on the wooden door reaches out for your grip, has the warmth and smoothness that makes you linger before the strike of metal on metal.  But, expect a loud retort from her, when you apply a bit too much force.  The faces on the painted metal strikers give a sad expression. Their personalities warrant kindness toward the thankless job that they do.  I use them boldly and then pass on by, relishing the joy found on the other side and leaving them behind to face the emptiness of the narrow whitewashed lane. Photography abounds here.

Mykonos is a good start to find them. The Mykonian maze of paths and terraces enjoy this unique embellishment on many doors.  More treasures lie on the little island of Hydra, just an hour and a half away by Flying Dolphin ferry ride from Athens.  They, the residents, enjoy no motor vehicles, only donkeys and small fishing boats. True bliss!   Mule hooves on the cobblestone streets compete with the door-knockers.  A nice combination in the village on this great Greek Island.

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Vacationing on Mykonos is a 9 to 5 Job:   Nine in the Morning to Five in the Morning!

I love every hour of it, and have for summers for about twenty-five plus years. Yes, I have the routine down pat. You really need to stay on the island for several days minimum to get the rhythm and fall into a hypnotic state. I drink in the hours into their own zone of continuity.  Mornings are leisurely, breakfast is light, Photo opps prevail.  Noon is the time to mobilize to the beach, Paradise or Super Paradise or out past Ano Mera Town to a secluded cove.  Taverna food on the beach fits in somewhere.  High Five Hour is for partying on the beach bar [ literally, standing on the bar to the euro disco beat].  The  sunset brings its joy. Nap time back at the Villa.  Then the rest is open.  Dinner out in Mykonos town. Then to the clubs.  Five A. M. comes around darn fast.  Repeat all above as often as necessary.



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Good or Evil, they do the trick.

The black iris surrounded by the clearest bluest color of the crystal Aegean Sea is a required staple of Greek life.  I have several. Why not? One of these items on a keychain or on a rear view mirror will ward off those pesky evil spirits and bring me great luck.  Hanging a Blue Eye on the inside of my door at my residence assures a very peaceful existance.  Ask any vendor in the Athens Plaka or the Flea Market: Monastiraki, several block down the way.  These Blue Eyes come in every size.  They are attached to leather lariats, chains, mounted on earrings, and formed into ashtrays.  I have wonderered about the various factories that might manufacture these items. How many tons of glass are smelted?  Do little villages focus all resources to tie little cords on them?  How about a museum of these?

OK, the name is Mati, some may call it  “the evil eye”.  It is a Greek staple in life, as much as a strand of Komboloi beads or worry beads(Greek: êïìðï~ëüé).  Evil Eye Beads go back thousands of years.

It was believed that, this eye saw  all the wickedness in the world and  removed poverty and ignorance. When Horus opened its  eyes the world was enlightened, when he closed, it became dark. From Egypt, the eye talisman had spread to the Mediterranean, Middle East and Europe. The bead reflects the evil intent back to the onlooker. It somewhat resembles an eye and it is said the typical blue color is a factor in protecting the user.   I know the trick to ward off the evil.

At almost every stages of human history, man has looked for the assistance of magic objects called talismans to defy evil forces.  Accordingly the  first recorded by the Mesopotamians about 5,000 years ago in cuneiform on clay tablets, the Evil Eye may actually have originated as early as the Upper Paleolithic age.  That’s old.

So, “…the technique we use for nazar boncugu – evil eye bead making is primitive. It’s totally hand made. We use a thick and a thin iron rod. We roll the base of the nazar bead on the thick rod. This is the base. We add the white and the blue of the eyes with the thin rod. Just these two rods are our tools”, according to RASIM ALTMISKARA, beadmaster in Turkey, from a work on this subject by Kemal Güzelsin.

I’m sticking with mine and I suggest a keychain or two for you!  Or: maybe you have one now?

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