Shore Excursion to Picturesque Mykonos

Shops and restaurants in Mykonos Town are alight for the night’s business.

MYKONOS, Greece — I had been in Athens a couple of times but had had no real experience of the Greek islands until I stepped off a cruise ship at Mykonos in late March 2012.

View of Mykonos’ hillside houses, all painted white.

The ship was the Louis Cristal, one of a fleet operated by Cyprus-based Louis Cruises. Sailing into the Mykonos port in the late-afternoon sun, we got a good look at the island’s oft-photographed brightly trimmed white houses. The island’s iconic windmills were not that easy to spot from a distance, but they came into view later.

Just the same, Mykonos looked like the travel posters — a very satisfying discovery, I might add. The island, part of Greece’s Cyclades group of islands, measures only 30 square miles and is home to about 10,000 people.

Typically for a cruiser’s shore excursion, we were allotted four and a half hours at the destination. The cruise line provided shuttle buses for the short rides between our dock and Mykonos Town.

It was windy standing on the ship’s decks riding into the port, and it was often windy during the visit, making it clear how

 

the island could use windmills. (They were used from the 16th to the mid-20thcentury for milling wheat.)

Close-up of a Mykonos windmill, with evidence of another kind of power source — electrical wires — clearly visible in the background.

The walk from the shuttle drop-off point into the town center was relatively short, with the white houses on hillsides to my left and the Aegean waters in the harbor to the right.

This island has been and remains a popular resort site. Accordingly, it is loaded with shops and restaurants on the main thoroughfares, especially at harborside, and in the tiny winding backstreets, too.

One business has taken its name from the Broadway show, “Mamma Mia!” although the show’s story is set on a different Greek island.

At least one proprietor came into a square to urge passengers from our ship to choose his establishment. I had no idea if this meant business had been bad on Mykonos, but my guess is this is how one restaurateur deals with the slow season. The Louis Cristal’s visit preceded Easter and its passengers did not amount to crowds in the streets.

The real beginning of a typically very busy tourist season begins after Easter. In a year’s time, the island sees around 800,000 visitors.

I had one more or less serious goal on Mykonos — to see as many of the windmills as I could, partly because of their unique appearance.

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