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Mykonos and Delos

The last few days of the holiday were split between the neighbouring islands of Mykonos and Delos. I’d wanted to visit the latter for many years – it is one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece. In Antiquity the island was sacred to Apollo, but was completely abandoned after the rise of Christianity, and today the entire island is an open air museum. However, there is no accommodation and very few even basic modern facilities on the island, and there is a very strictly enforced policy of day trips only. You are not allowed to stay beyond 15:00 hours when the site closes for the day. Which means that, in the absence of a private yacht (I wish!) the only access is by ferry from Mykonos.

Mykonos is a completely different proposition. It is a party island, totally hedonistic and with a strong gay vibe. There were plenty of bars where you could “dance ’til dawn” – no thanks! The old harbour was full of very large and extremely expensive yachts – apparently it’s the place that Roman Abramovich likes to visit each summer. The new port, built a short distance along the coast, rarely had fewer than three gigantic cruise ships either moored or at anchor. There wasn’t much sign of the impending Greek debt crisis – the place was swimming with tourist money and the holidaymakers were all far too busy enjoying themselves to worry about what would happen the next week. I didn’t like Mykonos at all. I felt distinctly under-glamorous and over-dressed! For me, Mykonos was bearable only as the sole practicable access point to get to Delos. I certainly wouldn’t have chosen to go on holiday there as a destination in its own right.

One day we got back from a day-trip to another neighbouring island in time for a late lunch, and then were given one and a half hours of free time in Mykonos Town before the coach took us back to the hotel. However, I’d had more than enough of the tourist traps, and one and a half minutes would have been enough for me. There was a trainee tour manager on the trip, a young lad in his twenties, who was doing on-the-job training for running the tours. He said that he would take an advance party to the bus station in the Old Town so that anyone who wanted could could catch a public bus back to the hotel. Two of us took up the option – a dizzy air-head in her fifties, and me.

We knew the buses left at quarter past and quarter to the hour. It was twenty past, and the bus station was a ten minute walk away. So first Air-head decided she needed a toilet. And it wasn’t just a quick pee. We waited nearly ten minutes for her at the restaurant. Then the trainee tour manager got us lost in the back streets of the Old Town, and admitted on my interrogation that he had a poor sense of direction! We had to double back on ourselves several times. Then Air-head saw a book she absolutely had to buy, so we had to wait for that. It was now 14:43. Trainee finally did the sensible thing, and asked the shopkeeper for directions to the bus station while Air-head fumbled with her money. I understood the response and sprinted round the last few bends, quickly bought a bus ticket and flagged down the correct bus which was already leaving!

The bus was absolutely packed with tourists heading off to the so-called Paradise Beach, and it was standing room only. The driver then put his foot down and sped off, leaving me to wave from the aisle at Air-head and Trainee who were left with a choice of a taxi or waiting half an hour for next bus. Serves them right.