Arriving in cosmopolitan Mykonos by ferry is mayhem. The bow doors swing down and within minutes you pour out, Mary Poppins style, alongside refrigerated lorries, bleating lambs, overladen donkeys, crates of mineral water and petrol tankers along with a juggernaut full of the latest quads and mopeds. But there’s good reason for this exhilarating influx.
The granite island of Mykonos is known as The Bride of the Aegean, and it certainly must have been a very white wedding. “If architecture has anything to say, it has been said here,” said French architect, Le Corbusier, about Mykonos.
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Chora, its sugar-cubed town is an ensemble of whitewashed walls and multi-coloured balconies that drape crimson bougainvillea above snaking alleyways, the grounds of which are as carefully painted as their protective walls.
Posing confidently shoulder-to-shoulder, designer boutiques, cafés, galleries, cocktail bars, museums, lace shops, artists, bakers and shoemakers live in what seems like an inside space, where the ice-blue sky is the ceiling to their integrated home. Every summer, in their thousands, the bronzed and aesthetically gifted catwalk their way through Mykonos, in search of the latest labels and limited-edition jewellery to flaunt from their flawless bodies. I wondered how much longer I would be able to blend in.
Little Venice is a classy, Cycladic cliché. This row of Italianate buildings, mostly an amalgamation of romantic cocktail bars and restaurants satiating romancing couples, is licked at by the lapping blue of the Aegean. Head here for that sunset-soaked table for two.Tucked behind is one of Greece’s most recognisable landmarks. Dominating the Kastro area is the snow-white Panagia Paraportiani. Mykonos’ oldest church, this architectural contradiction is the result of five asymmetrical chapels blended into one, and is a magnet for even the most amateur of photographers. All seamlessly interlocked and facing different directions, its chapels were built between the 15th-17th centuries under the protection of their iconic dome. Inside is a protected 500-year-old silver iconostasis.
The blinding yellow sands of Mykonos’ beaches attract a diverse blend of sojourning couples, all ready to share the common language of escapism. Arriving by caique boat at Plindri (known famously as Super Paradise Beach), sculpted dancers come into focus, grooving to hypnotic beats upon sandstone headlands. Meanwhile, at Psarou Beach, celebrities recline on timber sun lounges beneath wicker umbrellas as masseurs unknot their fame.
In Kalafatis, the athletic head out to windsurf, fuelled by the warm Meltemi winds, whilst in Agios Ioannis, newlyweds chink glasses from their private rooftop spas. Beyond the buzz, one also becomes mesmerised by the landscape’s quieter side. Within just 75 square kilometres, over 800 churches and charming chapels pepper the inhospitable terrain like wildflowers; one for almost every Mykonian family. Often with their doors opened onto flower-festooned courtyards, they silently display ornate religious icons and heirlooms.
Mykonos is the island of multiple personalities. Allow yourself to get lost in the frenzied beauty of its mesmerising maze-like streets, and discover that here, you can be whoever you want to be.
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