Midlife Guide To Greek Island Hopping 3 – Mykonos
Today I have the final instalment of my Midlife Guide To Greek Island Hopping and I’m going to keep it as short as I can because I sense you’ve had enough of it all now. After six very laid-back days in Ios it was time to move on; the island was closing and anyway, we’d spent enough time there. We were feeling rested and ready for somewhere with a bit of a buzz. I’d chosen Mykonos because it’s a place I’ve often thought of for a fun family time with teenage boys and then I’ve looked at the price of a villa in the school holidays and moved swiftly on. For two of us though it was absolutely doable.
So here’s another of my favourite holiday moments, in the bowels of the ferry, waiting for it to manoeuvre into the port and the doors to open. When they did it was an instant culture shock after Ios, the port was big and hectic and we were loaded onto a minibus with a group of rather entitled tourists who were complaining loudly about everything. Luckily ours was the first stop and so we gladly jumped out at our very pleasant hotel.
Orientation – Midlife Guide To Greek Island Hopping 3 – Mykonos
I’ll talk a bit about the hotel as we go along, for now we just dropped our bags in our room because Mr MC can never settle until he’s ‘mapped’ a place. So we took the five minute walk downhill into Mykonos town and started to explore. I hadn’t had time to change and I soon felt a bit out of place in my shorts and t-shirt. Mykonos is much more glamorous than Ios or Crete. Most of the people we saw around seemed to be well dressed, wealthy tourists from the US and the Middle East, either staying in luxe villas and hotels or transiting in from the many cruise ships that stop in the harbour.
If you know Mykonos you’ll be smiling at the idea of Mr MC trying to map it because in the middle ages the centre was deliberately designed as a maze to foil the pirates who regularly to raided it. We’d been going round in circles for about an hour at this point and I’d insisted on stopping for a little something to sustain me.
H&M t-shirt (2017); Boden shorts (SS13); Espadrilles (now in the sale, gifted SS21)
He decided he needed to spend more time poring over a map so we headed back to the hotel to unpack (at last) and change for the evening. You’ve already seen what I wore that night but here it is again for context.
Blue velvet trousers with dark gold side stripe; Boden halterneck top (past season); Uterque sandals SS21
While Mr MC absorbed himself with a map and an aperitif, I did a quick Google search for recommended restaurants and decided to go with The Telegraph’s suggestion so we headed to Nikos Taverna. What a pretty spot it is… and what a terrible tourist trap. Don’t go there, I’m sure my catch of the day was just a frozen fillet, the food was cold with no flavour and very expensive.
We were weary though and one tip I’d give you if you Greek Island hop is to take every first night in a new place easy. Even though you only travel for an hour or two there’s something about a change of location that really saps your energy. So we decided to head straight back to the hotel after all, Mr MC insisted, he’d cracked the map and we’d soon be back in our room. An hour later we were still wandering the streets, somehow going past the same Christian Dior shop again and again…
After a good night’s sleep everything was fresh and bright. Somehow we’d managed to bring the meltemi wind with us but it hardly matters when you have a sumptuous breakfast with endless choice and a view as stunning as this. Our hotel was the Mykonos View and it’s another one I’d recommend. It’s in a great location with a fabulous outlook.
Because this was a holiday that we weren’t really supposed to have after buying our Newcastle apartment this year I scrimped on our accommodation. We had a basic room which was fine but I recommend upgrading so that you have a view of the sunset. This was watching it over the pool one day and if you had an upgraded room you’d see this from the French Doors to your balcony…
… and if you turned to the left you’d be looking out across the old port and over the town.
Mykonos out of season is a pretty place and once we’d got over the shock of moving on from simple Ios to a town that has designer stores and a wealthy international crowd, we grew to love it. This is the pretty seafront corner of “Little Venice” – best avoided as the sun sets because you’ll be elbowed sharply in the ribs if you get in the way of one of the many influencers waiting for their perfect golden hour shot.
As soon as the sun drops though they disappear and you can enjoy a drink with the waves lapping at your feet. Probably just one though because it costs €18 for a glass of house wine.
It’s here that you’ll find the famous Mykonos windmills.
To his credit, after another day of exploring Mr MC did get the place mapped and we didn’t get lost again.
Baukjen dress (gifted SS21); Espadrilles (now in the sale, gifted SS21)
Having seen the best of the town, we happily spent the rest of our days on the beaches. Another tip is to go by bus, on the first day we jumped into a taxi and it cost €60 for a return journey versus €1.80 on the bus which was quick and easy from the bus station.
This was Paraga beach which was one of our favourites. It’s where the Soho House on Mykonos is based but even so, it isn’t too spoilt. There are a couple of small tavernas and they bring good food and drinks to your sunbeds if you’re feeling too lazy to move to the bar. Like everything in Mykonos it wasn’t cheap – sunbeds were €15 each for the day and a beer or glass of wine was €10. I’m just highlighting the prices because they’d soon mount up if you were there for a long holiday but when you’re island hopping and just dropping in for a few days it doesn’t matter too much.
Do you remember when I was gifted this beach dress during lockdown and I swore I’d wear it by the Med before the year was out, even though in April that seemed impossible? Well I didn’t make it to the Med but the Aegean was fine!
Kate Barton beach dress (gifted SS21)
The other beach we enjoyed was Paradise which is one of the big clubbing beaches. They had super comfy beds (€20 each) and ‘soft chill’ music playing all day… until 4pm when suddenly they ramped it up which would have been ok… if each bar hadn’t had a different DJ – even ex-clubber supreme Mr MC is looking pained here…
I know I sound so middle aged but it was an absolute racket and as the young ran into the bars and jumped onto the tables to dance, we packed up and caught a bus with all the other midlifers back to Mykonos town! By the way can you see how matte my nose is here? Here’s a beauty product to avoid – I had a little advent calendar sample of Shiseido SPF50 BB Cream in the bottom of my beach bag so when I felt my nose starting to burn I rubbed some on. Of course I didn’t have a mirror and I can see from this picture that it has a ‘little old lady powdered nose’ effect. It’s now in the bin.
Night-time – Midlife Guide To Greek Island Hopping 3 – Mykonos
Night-time in Mykonos can be whatever you want it to be. A lot of places are so outrageously expensive that you feel like they’re taking the mickey. We enjoyed popping into the odd scenic spot for a drink but but soon learned how to balance the waterfront bars with something more low key. If you veer away from the main drag you’ll soon find little souvlaki bars serving fresh, delicious food.
Even so I still enjoyed having the chance to dress up a bit… here’s the skirt you saw styled with a jumper a few weeks ago, now in more of a party mood. It was particularly good for packing because I just screwed it up in a corner of the suitcase and it came out like this.
Boden halter top (circa 2004); Skirt (gifted by JL&P AW21 – some stock here); Uterque gold sandals SS21
An elderly American couple were having drinks next to us in the bar and they liked my skirt so they insisted on taking a photo of us together which was nice of them but they obviously weren’t used to doing it with a phone so it took a while – which is why Mr MC is looking a little perplexed…
Boden halter top (circa 2004); Skirt (gifted by JL&P AW21 – some stock here); Uterque gold sandals SS21
One night we decided to do things completely differently and headed to the renowned backpackers’ Scandinavian Bar. I know some of you might feel alarmed by how busy it is but all of the restaurants, bars and clubs in Mykonos were extremely strict on the vaccine front with door people scrutinising proof of vaccine status very carefully wherever you went.
We were swiftly welcomed into a group of British 20-somethings who were taking turns to do a few dance moves in the middle of their circle. I did a quick shimmy and exited as fast as I could, Mr MC on the other hand astounded them by spinning and going straight into the splits which earned us their very jovial company for the rest of the evening (decades of karate training in case you’re wondering how he can still do that at 51).
I had a funny moment when I was chatting to one of them and discovered he’d been to Sedbergh School which isn’t far from where we live.
“Oh you’ve probably played rugby against my sons,” I said.
His face paled a little as he replied, “I doubt it, how old are you?”
“How old do you think I am?” I asked.
“Well we were talking about it and we reckon 39.”
The thing is that I’d love to tell myself that I look 39 but actually I think they were just at that point in life where in their eyes, the age of 40 is where everything ends. For them it was unimaginable that anyone older than that would even be in the Scandinavian Bar… and there will no doubt be those who will say that we shouldn’t have been. I’m now bracing myself for the tiny minority who will message me in one way or another and tell me it isn’t appropriate for a woman my age to be in a 20-something bar. But I don’t agree.
In (hopefully) many years to come, will I look back over my life and think, ‘I’m glad I went to bed early every night that time I went to Mykonos so I didn’t feel tired the next morning’? Or will I reflect on what will probably feel like the relatively young period of midlife and smile as I remember dancing and chatting with people half my age and be glad that I lived my life while I could?
The thing is that your body ages but your soul shouldn’t and so sometimes I just tell my ageing bones to crack on and keep up. You don’t have to agree; what you do is up to you but letting your hair down and having fun once in a while is an incredibly good way to protect your mental health. The thing is though that fun doesn’t always come to you, sometimes you have to go out and find it.
We had some really interesting conversations that night and I’m aware that it’s easy for us to talk to teens and 20-somethings at the moment because we’re used to it. There may come a point when we aren’t so we’re making the most of having a bridge between the generations.
Anyway – those are my thoughts for the day. This is what I was wearing that night but it isn’t a very good photo.
Halter top (circa 2004); Kate Barton trousers (gifted SS21)
You’ve seen this dress from the following night when we were, unsurprisingly, feeling rather weary. We spotted that the new James Bond movie was showing at the open air cinema so we had a quick dinner and then went to buy tickets.
Old rose dress (gifted SS21)
What a lovely evening it was, a real Cinema Paradiso experience, although I confess I didn’t stay awake all the way through – shooting and fighting movies always do that to me.
Before we knew it we’d reached our final night and with a midday flight we decided to make it a relaxed one.
Dress from Cleverly Wrapped (gifted SS20)
We went back for a second time to Pasta Fresca Barkia where you can watch them making their own pasta every day…
… and they gave us their most romantic table for two with its own little balcony. You’ll have to add your own caption to this – I’m not sure what he was doing…
So Mykonos, would I recommend it? Yes if you’re looking for somewhere chic and lively. I’d suggest going out of the main holiday period, it’s busy in October so I can’t imagine what it’s like in high season. It certainly isn’t laid-back, authentic Greece but I’m really glad I’ve been there. The way we briefed our trip worked out well because we had three completely different experiences; a period of distraction, a period of rest and then a period of fun. It was just what we needed to recalibrate our relationship as we stepped away from parenting into life as a couple.
If you’re heading towards an empty nest over the next few years I really do suggest you plan something like this. Obviously you need to think of your fledgling first and if they’re a teen who might struggle to adapt to uni life it’s probably best to be on hand. However if you know your child is unlikely to look back as our boy hasn’t then take the opportunity while the warm weather’s still in Europe.
A tailor-made tour operator recommendation
I usually love planning trips like this but this year I just didn’t have time so we used a small travel consultancy to organise everything. We didn’t receive any discount or special privileges, this is a genuine recommendation. It cost £2,482 for both of us and when I did a quick comparative costing before we confirmed our booking I worked out that we could have saved about £500 if we booked everything directly ourselves. However that excluded transfers, seat reservations on planes and ferries and the very generous luggage allowance and that all adds up.
At a time of uncertainty like this when travel plans can change at the whim of Covid it’s worth having the ABTA cover and somebody who can unravel everything for you if you need them to. It was also a huge relief having someone to deal with the changes in ferry timetables that occurred while we were out there and rearrange the transfers accordingly too.
The company we used is called Eshores and they offer tailor-made holidays all over the world. Our travel consultant was Michelle, just make sure you brief her well and I’d advise saying that you don’t want to stay anywhere that the big tour operators use. Tell her about yourself, the kinds of places you like and what you enjoy doing and she’ll come up with an itinerary that you can talk through together and amend until you feel it’s right.
They have a small offer for Midlifechic readers – you can choose either a £50 discount or free airport lounge passes if you mention Midlifechic when you get in touch. Would I use them again? If I didn’t have time to enjoy doing it myself and certainly if Covid continues to disrupt travel they’ll be the first people I’ll call. Either way, I hope I’ve given you some inspiration and an appetite to travel again. More than ever it’s important for us to be mindful about where we go.
We’re over in Newcastle at the moment; we’ve had some friends to stay and now we’re hoping to spend some time with Mum-in-Law. Mr MC’s been over quite a bit but I haven’t seen her for ages so I’m enjoying catching up with her news. It’s great being back in the ‘toon’ too… but I’ll tell you all about that next week. Have a great weekend whatever you’re doing, I’ll be back with a new post next Friday.