Suzanne had the opportunity to explore the stunning Greek island of Mykonos. Even after having traveled to the country several times before, she still found herself awe-struck by the wonder of Greece. From the hospitable locals and extravagant nightlife to the divine cuisine and breathtaking views, Mykonos is an unparalleled paradise in the Aegean Sea.
I started my journey to Greece aboard a British Air 767. After a long layover in London, a 4-1/2 hour flight to Athens, a 1-hour bus to the port of Piraeus, and a 4-hour fast ferry ride on Hellenic Seaways (the best! A/C, snack bar, T.V., and comfortable seats), I arrived in Mykonos, and was greeted by Federico Arduino (managing director of Aqualiving/Living International) and Hayden Kemp (Guest relations manager) holding a “Lady Suzanne” sign.
Nothing like starting off your trip feeling like royalty!
Federico & Hayden were truly a sight for sore eyes after a long trip. We drove to my home for the next 5 nights, LIV KER, which is a wonderful 3-bedroom villa in the Parenthesis villa resort in Agios Ioannis. Federico had provisioned my villa with a few essentials: coffee, water, wine, roast chicken, a Greek salad, and some bread. After dinner, I crawled into my very comfortable king-sized bed and was out like a light.
I woke the next morning earlier than usual with my body clock being off a bit. I looked out my window to find the most gorgeous view-the sacred island of Delos was golden against the deep blue of the Aegean Sea. I could hear the lapping of the waves against the shore. The Greek islands are a state of mind, tranquil, soothing, rich in history, timeless…. while at the same time very chic. Even with this being my fourth time to these beautiful islands, I’m still in awe, always…
I decided to explore the area of Agios Ioannis, where all the Parenthesis villas are located, and grab a cup of coffee. This quiet area with its great breezes, views, small restaurants and tavernas, and lovely beaches – Kapari and Agios Ioannis (made famous by the movie “Shirley Valentine”) – is dreamy. This is a great family area not far from Mykonos town (known as Hora). Three minutes from my villa was Apollonia Bay restaurant, a great little eatery with a nice menu and views, good for our clients who stay in this area and don’t want to venture out too far for a bite. Later stopped at a small convenience store owned by a long time local, Spiros, who owned much of the land in this area and wanted to make sure it never got overdeveloped – in typical Greek fashion, he refused to let me pay for my coffee, as a sign of hospitality.
Next on the agenda were villa inspections. Started with LIV ATE, sister villa to LIV KER, with a shared pool: same high standard with lots of white and teak furniture. Very stylish, open floor plan, well-equipped kitchen, bathrooms with sunken tubs and exposed stone, marble handcarved Greek designs in floor, pretty garden, satellite TV, DVD, stereo, and great views.
The foursome of LIV PHO, LIV ART (all on one floor), LIV LET & LIV AST followed. These are all 3-bedroom villas and share one large (deep) pool between the 4 of them. Same style and high standards throughout. was next, just below LIV KER. This villa works well for a family – all on one floor and large pool area.
For dinner, had a late reservation at N’ammos, a trendy restaurant directly on Psarou Beach, with great music, service and dŽcor. As the night progressed, more traditional Greek music was played, at which point the large tables of locals would start dancing and singing.
On Saturday, we saw LIV ALI & LIV OKY, also part of Parenthesis-these are 2 beautiful villas which work well for a large group. Sunset views, great art and furnishings, and in a very breezy area. LIV ALI works best as a 4-bedroom (although it has an additional small 2-bedroom studio sharing a bath. This studio can only be rented when clients rent LIV OKY and LIV ALI together). LIV OKY works best as a 3-bedroom.
Dinner that night was at Sea Satin Market (also known as Caprices) on the harbor in Little Venice, just below the famous five windmills – hasn’t changed much since I was here in 2001 (some might recognize this restaurant from the closing scene of “The Bourne Identity”).
I recommend the grilled octopus or sea bass, and for dessert, the puff pastry with fresh blackberries. A stroll through the winding streets of Mykonos town (Hora) followed, with a stop at “El Pecado” on the harbor. This was the “it” place for music & ambience. Hayden recommends clients call him in advance to reserve a table so they’ll have their own private waiter.
Sunday started off with brunch at Apollonia Bay restaurant, followed by a swim at the brand-new pool at Villa Kerithium. I later joined the rest of the crew at Agios Ioannis beach, where we rented beach chairs & umbrellas (inexpensive) and lunched at Manoulas, one of 2 tavernas on the beach. At night, a little shopping and dinner at Spilia, a small family run restaurant I discovered while here in 2000. The food is homecooked and reasonable, and surely has the best moussaka on the island. Tried to order their acclaimed flan dessert, but due to popular demand, they were out of it – maybe next time! Hopped in a 5-euro cab and 10 minutes later, I was home.
On Monday, I awoke to calm seas (the only day I’ve been here so far that hasn’t been windy). Started the day with Maria, the Aqvaliving rep. We began with LIV VOI, a nice, basic house, with lots of outdoor seating, gorgeous sunset views & pool (with steps on 1 side & submerged seating on the other). No AC, no TV. The villa works best as a 4-bedroom as the studio rooms are very small. (Located next to Blue Rock, which was occupied).
LIV LEM was our next destination, just across the bay from Agios Sostis Retreat. Truly a piece of art – I can see why it’s been featured in interior design magazines. Live-in housekeeper, Balvil, was great and proudly showed us around his home. Has it all: great lap pool, incredible kitchen with gas stove, Surround Sound stereo system, satellite TV, DVD, interesting art. Even has an intercom system. I loved the 3-sink subterranean bathroom which looked into the pool from beneath the surface, very aquarium-like. There’s a wonderful herb garden with the fragrance of lavender, all surrounded by spectacular ocean views! (Please note that clients will need a 4-wheel drive vehicle). LIV LEM is meant for the client who wants complete privacy; best for adults.
After a sunset swim at Kapari Beach, I headed to “La Cucina di Daniele” to sample the restaurant’s superb cuisine. Daniele has been hired by Federico as head chef for our clients who opt for this additional service and, I must say, they’ll be in for a treat! Daniele himself is from Siena, and has been a chef for over 20 years. (Federico tells me that competing restaurateurs on island have tried in vain to copy his innovative dishes-imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!)
As an example of Daniele’s cuisine, this was our menu:
– Beef Carpaccio with fresh asparagus and crispy potatoes – Green Leaves salad with Burrata cheese – Fresh Foie Gras sauteed with Marsala wine & Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena – Risotto with fresh asparagus and Vanilla Tahiti – Fresh Duck caramelized with citrus fruits – Guinea fowl in salami with Julienne vegetables & white truffle pate – Mascarpone cream with strawberry marinated in Aceto Balsamico & Basil, served with chocolate pearls Valhrona – Hot dark chocolate mousse.
Tuesday brought another beautiful day in paradise. Started the day by visiting the most remote villa that Federico offers, LIV DRA, located in Lia Bay in the eastern part of the island. Traditional Mykonian design throughout: stylish, comfortable, fantastic bathrooms, views, great lap pool with jets, excellent privacy. About a 20-minute drive to town. For the client who really wants to get away from it all.
LIV GRA was next, which is close to Agios Ioannis beach. This spacious villa is great for large groups, with 4 bedrooms in the main house & another 2 bedrooms in the guest house. Amply-sized pool (with steps), great views of Delos and the sunset. Basic but comfortable furnishings, lots of sitting areas, good location – close to town.
The last 2 villas I saw were in the Agrari Beach area, convenient for families or groups who want to be close to a beach with water sports and a taverna. Federico’s family villa, Infinity, was in the process of having work done, yet still looked fantastic: stylish, artistic, colorful, well furnished, and very private. Next was Agrari Beach House, an excellent 4-bedroom choice for small families. Consists of a main & guest house. Close to beach, child-friendly, ocean views & BBQ area. Not extravagant, but comfortable.
That was all the time I had for my Greek Odyssey.