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Practical Information

Mykonos & DelosPractical Information

My Go-To Office (For Just About Everything) on Mykonos

Just as you get off the ferry or SeaJet at Mykonos's Old Port, and head up the hill into the capital town, Hora, you'll see an elegant cafe-cum-Travel Agency called Sea & Sky (sea-sky@otenet.gr; Tel: 22890 28287; 24582). I've known Takis Manesis (and his American wife,  Sally), one of the current owners, for decades, and have been buying ferry and high-speed catamaran tickets from him forever. But he promised me something above and beyond this fall: that he would personally look after the needs of all my "Greek Travelers," from hotel bookings to private tours of Delos, to getting around strandings due to air or ferry strikes, etc., etc., etc. Soooooo: e-mail Takis is advance for . . . just about everything, and tell him Elizabeth sent you from GreeceTraveler.com. (The partnership has another location in town on the waterfront as well, and handles boat and air connections, excursions, car rental--the whole enchilada--but what they really care about is making YOUR stay on the island a pleasure. And the cafe serves the best Greek coffee and Turkish Delight in town, for 1 and a half euros.)

Appliances & Current

It’s 220V, AC 50Hz. You’ll need a transformer for North American appliances, and an adaptor for those from the UK. Bring these along with you: they’re impossible to find in the islands. (Early this year, while in Greece, I used a transformer for my iBook, and found it overheated with prolonged use: next time, I’ll take along a better transformer, and an extra rechargeable computer battery.)

Alpha Banks ATM

Banks, Etc.

For convenience’s sake, I generally change travelers’ checks in Athens at the airport before leaving for Mykonos. (If you’re stopping over in Athens, the main National Bank of Greece branch on Syntagma Square is your best bet.) I also do not hesitate to change checks at my hotel (generally the Hotel Eva, at Ornos Beach). In high season, there are usually long lines at banks in Hora, as well as at the Post Office, another place to exchange checks, and the wait is just not worth it (though the exchange may be marginally better at the banks than at my hotel). I use the ATM located at the Matoyianni Street branch of Alpha Bank, though there are several other Greek bank branches, with ATMs, in Hora. Bank hours are Monday through Thursday, from 8:00 a.m. till 2:00 p.m.; Friday, 8:00 a.m. till 1:30 p.m.

Books

A branch of Greece's excellent Eleftheroudakis book store chain is located in the Drafaki Quarter (above Hora) on Mykonos’s new ring road (Tel: 22890 28992) Tell Polykarpos Nikolopoulos hello from Elizabeth.

Business Hours

In high season, just about everything commercial, except banks, pharmacies, the Mykonos Hospital and the post office in Hora, is open all day and all night. Off-season, usual business hours prevail: Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, 8:00 a.m. till 2:30 p.m.; Tueday, Thursday and Friday, 8:00 a.m. till 1:30 p.m., and 5:30 till 8:30 p.m. (Please ask your hotel concierge for the hours of specific venues before setting out.)

Car Rental on Mykonos

PLEASE resist renting scooters and other flimsy conveyances on Mykonos. They spell certain death on the island's kamikaze-infested roads. Rent a car (or luxury car, even) from Car Rental Assimomitis, in business on Mykonos since 1978. Have your hotelier call for you and have George or his son, Nikos, deliver the vehicle of your choice to your hotel. They will make your departure easy as well, collecting your car from the port or airport. Say hello to them for me: it's an old, old Mykonos family, the Assimomitises, or "Silver Noses." Please contact Car Rental Assimomitis; Tel: 22890 22113; e-mail info@mykonoscars.com; Nikos's cell phone: 6947001112

Horas Post Office

Culture Shock

If you’re an American Ultra-Conservative, opposed to gay marriage, squeamish at the sight of nudity, en masse, on European beaches, and just freaked out in general by the thought of lots and lots of guys, holding hands, or more, in the streets, you may just want to give Mykonos a miss in high season. (Then again, if you’re American Ultra-Conservative, etc., etc., I doubt you’ll have got quite this far in this particular guide book.)

Mykonos, for at least three decades, has been the gay-friendliest Aegean island of all in summer, and July and August are the peak months for the influx of gay tourism. There are gay hotels, gay bars, and nude gay beaches on Mykonos—for some, a description of nirvana. I just wanted you to know, in the event you’ve been living under a sort of cultural rock for the last 30 years, that you’re going to experience a lot of “polymorphous perversity” in some locales on the island, in the height of the season, so be forewarned (or enticed, whatever the case).

Boys Just Want To Have Fun

I myself, an old intellectual fogey who happens to love to swim, visit Mykonos in the off-season, simply to avoid the teeming, gyrating crowds, which I fully admit I enjoyed immensely in my 20s. As I’ve said elsewhere, there’s a Mykonos for everyone, and choosing the time of year you come has a lot to do with whether or not you find it.

Doctors, Dentists, Etc.

(See “Emergencies” below for further information.) In the event of minor scrapes, sunburn, jellyfish stings, etc., use the Mykonos Hospital, located about three minutes uphill from Hora, on the Ano Mera road (Tel: 22890 23998, 23994; open weekdays from 9:00 a.m. till 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. till 10:00 p.m.). In a life-threatening emergency, arrange to be airlifted to Athens, and contact my travel agents for medical referrals. Either the Hygeia Clinic (Tel: 210 686-7000; 4 Erythrou Stavrou Street and Kifissias Avenue, Maroussi; www.hygeia.gr) or the Evrokliniki (Euroclinic) of Athens(Tel: 210 641-6600/1011; 9 Athanasiadou Street, in the Soutsou cul de sac) would be a good choice for care in the capital city.

Willy-nilly, my husband and I both have had dental work done—in extremis—on Mykonos, and can recommend with no hesitation the husband-and-wife dental team of Drs. Lambrini Boltsi (she) and Ilias Theocharopoulos (he). Their modern offices are located near the island’s high school, but have your hotel concierge call for an appointment: Tel: 22890 28421.

Driving

What I recommend is this: in the Greek islands, never, never, ever rent a moped or motorscooter. I was married to a Mykonian doctor for years, and his principle task in high season was to repair, and often pronounce dead, tourists who decided, suddenly, on vacation, that they knew how to operate these flimsy little conveyances. Resist the temptation.

Driving Plan Your Route First

Arrange, through my travel agents, to have a rental car representative waiting for you at your hotel when you arrive from Athens, or abroad. My travel agents will also be sure that your hotelier takes care of your transfer(s) from the ferry or airport as well. My days of traveling around Mykonos by bus or taxi are over, and I would not wish either of these modes of transport on you: the alternative—a rental car—is just too reasonable, not to speak of fun and convenient.

The rental car company Dean and I use on Mykonos, Maxima Car Rental, belongs to the Sotiriadis brothers. Contact Leonidas and Yannis Sotiriadis ahead of your trip and give him your dates: they’ll meet you at the airport or at your hotel with a car (Tel: 22890 27502; 26977; Fax: 22890 27196; Cell: 6945-800900, 6972-015750; leosot@otenet.gr; www.maximacarrental.com). I advise renting a closed, four-wheel drive vehicle if you plan to visit the distant beaches listed in my guide.

View From The Drivers Seat

I drive on Mykonos every year, and know the island’s roads well. You are new to the place, and so will need to exert an incredible degree of caution getting around, especially in the area of Hora. Drive more slowly than you would normally, and do not risk blind corners without honking your horn as you proceed: let them know you’re coming.

In high season, the island can become a demolition derby, and tourists driving under the influence, plus taxi drivers racing hell for leather, are the rule. I advise you to rent a sturdy jeep if you’re following my directions to distant beaches (at the end of rutted dirt roads, generally). And make sure you ask your rental car representative to mark the island’s few-and-far-between petrol stations on a map for you: and keep your tank full.

Mykonian Road Signs

Emergencies

Your hotel concierge is your first line of defense in event of emergency. In a serious medical emergency, please arrange to be airlifted out to Athens (I would phone my travel agents, for information and assistance in this regard). Check with your medical insurance provider before leaving home and take along with you the appropriate insurance and medical contact numbers in your home country. Mykonos has a 24-hour emergency service through the auspices of the Mykonos Hospital (off-hours information line: 22890 23994).

Other emergency telephone numbers: Police (Tel: 22890 22716; 22235) Tourist Police (Tel: 22890 22482) Mykonos Hospital (Tel: 22890 23998; 23994) Pharmacies (Tel: 22890 23151; 23770)

Hair!
If you stay on the island a week or so, and your hair reflects the damage, the place to go is Kammis Hair (Kamnaki area of Hora; Tel: 22890 28819). Mykonos-born Grigoris Kammis and his able assistants can help you with scissor cuts, color, highlights, perms . . . and big event styling. (The last time I visited, he had three weddings scheduled for the day.) To find the place, go to the Ano Mera bus terminus and look right and up the steps: locals on the spot will help direct you.

On Matoyianni Street, in Hora, at Number 12, up the steps (where Christos Coiffures was once located, for all those who loved and lost him), Alexia Gourioti carries on in his inimitable tradition at Salonhair (12 Matoyianni St., Hora; Tel: 22890 78744; www.alexiahair.gr). She's open, in season, Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. till 11 p.m. (at least!); Sunday, 2 p.m. till 9 p.m. Weekends, Alexia stays open late, late, late. Come for cuts, color, handmade wigs, extensions, Rasta hair treatments, highlights, perms, straightening, mani/pedi's, keratin treatments and wedding hair and make-up . . . and Alexia, herself. Tell her Elizabeth sent you from GreeceTraveler.com.

The Virgin Aghios Sostis

Holidays

* New Year’s, or St. Basil’s Day: 1 January
* Epiphany: 6 January
* Ash (Clean) Monday: moveable
* Independence Day/Feast of the Annunciation: 25 March
* Labor Day: 1 May
* Good Friday: moveable
* Easter Sunday: moveable
* Easter Monday: moveable
* “Dormition” of the Virgin: 15 August
* Ohi Day: 28 October
* Christmas: 25 December
* The Gathering of The Virgin: 26 December

International “Area” Codes

* Australia 0061
* Austria 0043
* Belgium 0032
* Canada 001
* Cyprus 00357
* Denmark 0045
* France 0033
* Germany 0049
* Ireland 00352
* Italy 0039
* Netherlands 0031
* New Zealand 0064
* Norway 0047
* South Africa 0027
* Sweden 0046
* Switzerland 0041
* UK 0044
* USA 001

Maps Come In Handy

Maps

I like the Road Editions map of Mykonos (Delos and Rheneia), available from Road Editions S.A. (65 Ippokratous Street, Athens 106 80; Tel: 210 929-6950; Fax: 210 929-6955); and, for Hora, the 3-D Mykonos SkyMap (Tel: 210 894-2777; Fax: 210 898-2759; www.skymap.gr). Good maps are available at the airport in high season, as well as from travel agencies in Hora and your hotel concierge.

Mykonos Airport & Port

Getting to Mykonos, in warm weather, is easy. I let my travel agents know my Greek itinerary as far in advance as possible, and then, depending on how much time I have, I either fly (some 45 minutes, from Athens, using either Aegean Airlines, which I prefer, or Olympic Airways), or take a “High Speed” Flying Cat(amaran), operated by Hellas Flying Dolphins, from Piraeus (the journey takes a mere 3 hours as opposed to almost 6 hours for the conventional ferryboats). Please pay the small difference and travel first class on the Flying Cat: it’s such a pleasure, and still costs only c. 60 Euros per person. The view en route is spectacular, there’s a classy little snack bar on your “deck,” and the seats are wonderfully comfortable. Take along a book or two. . . .

The Flying Cat

There are also ferry and High Speed catamaran connections from the Port of Rafina, though you won’t want to take that route unless you’re visiting other Cycladic islands, such as Andros, along the way. During high season, there are flights from Mykonos to Santorini, Rhodes and Thessaloniki, and myriad ferry and High Speed connections to other Greek islands: let my travel agents in Athens make sure your hotelier sends a minivan to collect you at the port or airport, and has a rental car waiting for you at your hotel; time is one thing you won’t want to waste on Mykonos.

En Route To Piraeus

A note: Mykonos is very, very busy in high season and, for this reason, you’ll be paying more for your time on Mykonos, comparatively, than for any other segment of your trip to Greece—and risk falling between the many, many chairs vying for attention in high season. It’s a world-class resort island, and services are priced accordingly. Expect to pay more, and be willing to pay more. One summer, because initially I tried to book my hotel and transfers by myself—I am an experienced Greek travel writer after all—my fiancé and I were left in the lurch, in the middle of the night, at the new port; and then relegated to a basement room at a hotel I once wrote up, enthusiastically, in some four guide books. My travel agents came to our rescue—arranging taxi pick-up from Athens—and Dean and I decamped from Hotel Abysmal to the Princess of Mykonos after one miserable, un-air-conditioned night. That’s all it took for me to learn the lesson I now teach here: my travel agents have more clout than I do, way more. Let them give your reservation some weight, and remove the worry. (It’s also a very good idea—if you’re staying for a month or so in Greece—to arrange for a cell phone in Athens. That way, you can stay in touch with your travel agents and hotelier, should you need to call them.)

A Greek Gata

Mykonos Animal Welfare

Not only are there too many primates on the island for my tastes (in high season), but the four-legged residents also suffer, winter and summer, from the evils of overcrowding: Mykonos’s stray cat and dog populations can use your help, and lending a hand, adopting, or making a donation are great ways to contribute to a better life for all living beings on the island. Go to www.mykonosanimals.com, or call this Registered Charity at Tel: 22890 29042 for information.

Nightlife

Every year, the hot clubs change, but I can honestly say that whatever you’re looking for in terms of nightlife, from a quiet walk for two on a moonlit beach, to a beach-long rave of monstrous proportions, to a mostly-locals island paneyiri, or feast day celebration, you will find it on this island. There’s a publication put out annually that’s available in Hora at the News Stand/International Press (Tel: 22890 23316; open 9:00 a.m. till midnight, in summer) called “Mykonos Guide 2007” (or -8 or -9, etc.) compiled by Athinorama, a very good Athens-based publisher. Just ask for “the Athinorama Guide to Mykonos.” It will list all the clubs, with blurbs detailing who goes where for what, and the list will be exhaustive.

Phones & Internet Connections

As I’ve said elsewhere, by all means, arrange for a cell phone through my travel agents well in advance of your arrival. You can then purchase phone cards anywhere in Greece. They come in various Euro denominations, and bear a number which you code into your phone to buy minutes. Calling from your hotel can be very expensive, and using phone cards that you insert into Greek pay phones is inconvenient: there are not many of these phones, and they’re usually located precisely where you are not.

The luxury hotels usually offer internet access in their lobbies, but I prefer to head into town to the smokey, funky E@rth Internet Café, located at 4 Zani Pitaraki Street, near Alefkandra (Tel: 22890 22791; stekimyk@otenet.gr). The coffee and hot chocolate are great here, the clientele is cool (and/or hot), and the connections are fast.

Cycladic Texting

Post Office

The Post Office is located in the Lakka District of Hora (Tel: 22890 22238; open weekdays 7:30 a.m. till 2:00 p.m.).

Shopping

Just about everything I have to say about shopping, all my tips regarding specific, trusted Mykonian merchants, is contained in “A Halfday Walking Tour of Hora: Everything I Love About Hora in One Fell Swoop.” On Mykonos, one shops for 22-karat gold jewelry, fine watches, handwoven sweaters and shawls, and original oil paintings. I have surrounded myself all my life with “things Mykonian,” and the shops listed are where I have shopped myself, for years and years: you cannot go wrong.

Michalis Karvelas Efimerides

I have a few additions not mentioned in the walking tour of Hora, though. Just up from the port, about halfway along the harbor, at No. 4 Petrou Drakopoulou Street (ask which little alleyway this is), you’ll find a little gallery called Efimerides: Objets D’ Art (Tel: 22890 79180; efimeridesgallery@myk.forthnet.gr). Run by charming Mr. Michalis Karvelas, this little gallery-in-the-wall has some whimsical, buoyant—many of the pieces are sculptures of ships—small sculptures and paintings, and is worth seeking out.

Apokalypse (Tel: 22890 24267), just catercorner from the News Stand/International Press, is a gallery where iconographers Mr. Mercourios Dimopoulos and Ms. Maria Adama paint and sell their very-high-quality icons. A stone’s throw, too, from the News Stand is Photo Express Mykonos (Tel/Fax: 22890 26350; photoexpress@internet.gr), a reliable shop for all your photographic needs (and the place I get my digital images transferred to CD when I’m on the island).

Time

Two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, which means seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (e.g., New York).

Water

Mykonos is a water-poor island that has to ferry in this essential liquid in high season using special tankers. Tap water is just barely palatable, as a result, as well as in short supply. It’s fine for brushing teeth, and for showers, but I always drink bottled water, from glass bottles, when possible.

Weather & The Sun

Two of the great hazards of Mykonos in high season—and I, idiot that I am, have experienced both—are heat stroke and severe sunburn. If you get into trouble due to overexposure to the sun, don’t second-guess the situation: seek medical attention. (Traffic mishaps, “sun poisoning” and travelers’ diarrhea are the main tourist complaints on the island, and the good doctors up there on the hill have seen it all before a thousand times and are well equipped to help you.)

Note too, even if you’re a strong swimmer, you still may find the blustery northern wind of summer, the Meltemi, hard going. Don’t swim out too far and risk danger. When an offshore wind is blowing, take it easy.

The Old Man And The Sea


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