Monday, 29 May 2017

Delos, Greece: A Mini-Guide

One of things I didn't know about Mykonos was how close it is to another small island, called Delos.

Delos is an important island in Greek history, with it being the birthplace of two of the Greek gods, Apollo and Artemis. I studied the Greeks wayyyyy back in primary school, so some of this was coming back to me! As you venture round the island, you can see ruins of temples, statues, houses and even a really is incredible how much has lasted over such a long time.

How to get there:
We got a boat from the old port in Mykonos, which cost 20 euros for a return journey. You will need to pay in cash. There is also the option of having a guided tour included in the price, which altogether cost 50 euros. We decided not to go for this option, but to explore the island ourselves. 

Boats to Delos leave at 10am, 11.30am, and 5pm. Boats back to Mykonos leave at 12pm, 1.30pm, 3pm, and 7.30pm.

When you get to Delos itself, and if you haven't already purchased entrance to the archeological site via a tour + ticket option, you will need to pay a 12 euros entrance fee. We were told back in Mykonos that if we wanted to do this, that we would need cash. It was actually possible to use a card, but if you want to buy anything on the island, cash is preferred.

I have to warn - bear in mind the weather when you decide which day to go to Delos. If it's seriously windy on Mykonos, it might be worth leaving it til the sea is that little bit calmer. This is because we had a pretty horrific return journey back, where the waves were so rough that people were ill and they were handing out sick bags. The journey there wasn't great either, but not nearly as bad! The reason why apparently, is because you're sailing into the wind on the way there, and against it on the way back!

Getting around:
Everyone walks on the island, because it really is that small. Apparently only 14 people lived on the island in 2001, it's that tiny!

Maps are available at the entrance to navigate around the archeological site, and we were there for about 4 hours overall, which was plenty of time to walk around both sides, climb the mound and get a drink in the cafe.

Food + drink:
There are two cafes on Delos - one at the entrance right by the port, and one further on the island. We went to the further one - they have a range of sandwiches, crisps, chocolate etc. and drinks you can buy, as well as souvenirs. Prices are fairly expensive, since the island relies on tourism.

There are places to sit, and there are often animals roaming around - cats, mainly - looking for food!

What you must do:
One of the mounds, Mt Kynthos, is a popular hiking route on the island, and you get the most incredible views at the top, over the island itself, and of the sea overlooking Mykonos. Now I'm not the best hiker by any means, but if I can get myself up there, I'm going to say it was a fairly straightforward hike? There are parts that are quite steep, and some parts are rocky and unstable, and we went on a very windy day which wasn't ideal, but we made it to the top and that's what counts!

The hike took us maybe 20-30 minutes, at we were at the top probably for about 15-20 minutes due to some camera issues. Overall, you can do it in about 45 minutes, I'd say.

Again, if it's a super windy day as it was when we went, be careful - while it helped us climb upwards, it made it more unstable at the top and when climbing back down. This is when you need proper shoes, not Converse like me haha!

I really can't recommend going to the island, particularly if you're interested in history, or you fancy something a little more adventurous. The views from the top of Mt. Kynthos made the whole trip worth it for me!

M x

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Monday, 22 May 2017

Our Stay At The Mykonian Mare Hotel, Mykonos

This year for our anniversary, Paddy and I chose to go to Mykonos, and the hotel we stayed in was the Mykonian Mare Luxury Suites Hotel.

The hotel is just north of the main town of Mykonos, in an area called Agios Stefanos, which is north of the Tourlos, or the new port. It's an area which is pretty much full of hotels, as well as a particularly nice beach. Our place was right in the north-western corner, overlooking the sea, but also having a faraway view of Mykonos town. You can also see the islands of Delos and Rinia out to sea, it's such a beautiful view!

I can't recommend the service enough. The hotel offers a free shuttle to and from the airport, so we booked in advance. One of their staff was there to greet us - even after our flight had been delayed by an hour - and took our bags and put them in the minibus. The journey back to the hotel was comfortable, and our driver, Nick, was very friendly and talkative which was really nice. When we got to the hotel, he insisted on taking our bags to reception. We checked in, and whilst they got our room ready, the receptionist offered us a seat in the lobby, which by the way, is BEAUTIFUL. We were genuinely pinching ourselves.

A waiter, Giorgios, welcomed us over to a table where we could get some food. It was about 10pm local time by this point and we were starving! He brought us free welcome cocktails (which were delicious), recommended some food, and introduced us to the island. 

After dinner, Nick again insisted on taking our bags to our room, which was really kind as by this point we were so tired!

Throughout our stay, the staff were very friendly, always eager to help us out and gave us some really useful advice. We were able to get free shuttles to and from the town - but this is because we went in May, which is low season. Apparently, in high season - July and August - they charge for this service.

Can't fault them for anything!

Bedroom & Bathroom
I'm pretty sure we booked a standard room with a garden view as that was the cheapest option, but we ended up being upgraded to a premium double with a sea view! The bed was very comfortable; although it was a 'double' that was made up of two single beds that were sandwiched together. We had a room with a sofa, a vanity table and stool, a TV, wardrobe and an ensuite with a shower/tub and double sinks.

We also had a balcony with a couple of seats that overlooked the sea, though it did also overlook the car park and hotel entrance, so not exactly the sea view I'd imagined. Nonetheless, I was able to get the sunset view I'd hoped for, so can't complain!

We dined in their restaurant, Lokaya, once, on our first night. For starters, Giorgios suggested we try saganaki, which is a Greek dish of fried feta cheese with honey and sesame seeds - so delicious! I had wholewheat penne with chicken, sundried tomatoes and what I think was mascarpone (amazing) and Paddy had spaghetti with tomato sauce. We shared a chocolate mousse for pudding. Everything was very good!

Breakfast was included in our deal, and they served a buffet filled with pancakes, eggs, omelettes, meats, cheeses, pastries, fruit, cake, cookies, etc.....I could go on! It was very much worth the money, and staff were always very attentive should we have needed anything!

They had a small snacks and lunch menu, which we took advantage of when we had a pool day - I had a burger with chips and Paddy had arancini. The burger wasn't totally amazing, and was slightly more than I wanted for lunch, but I tried some of Paddy's arancini which was delicious!

There was also a pool bar where the bartender, Elias, knew how to make pretty much anything you wanted. I had a passion fruit mojito one night, and honestly, it's the best one I've ever had!

We paid around £300 for the two of us for 4 nights; this might be a little expensive, but Mykonos in general is an expensive place, and having looked elsewhere, this was the best deal we could find for something a little more special for our anniversary! We were also told that both Mykonos and Santorini weren't affected by the Greek recession as they're huge tourist spots, so they are more expensive places compared to the rest of Greece!

Food and drink (not including breakfast) were paid for on top of the hotel bill, and were a little pricey. For instance, two cocktails set us back 26 euros. We did have some drinks out in the town too, and they were of a similar price, so I assume it's the going rate!

We had such a lovely stay here, and I'd really recommend it if you're travelling to Mykonos and want a little something extra and a stress-free holiday!

M x

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