When your traveling cousin who has been galavanting around the world for 6 months nudges you to buy an impromptu ticket to visit him in Mykonos, you say yes. Granted, I wasn’t too far from him when I bought the ticket, but going to another country on a whim felt spontaneous and whimsical as traveling should always feel like. After braving the chilly town of Zermatt where I succumbed to purchasing a overpriced yet warm sweater, Mykonos was charting boiling temperatures entirely on the other end of the weather spectrum. And I welcomed that gladly.
When it comes to the European party island scene, Ibiza considers itself on top, as it should with the huge names in EDM that they rake in as regular resident DJs. Mykonos is vying for a very close second— just ask the bros in tank tops emblazoned with “Mykonos f*cks Ibiza” in large neon block letters— but I’d like to make a case that Mykonos is so, so much more than their beach party rep. To note a few things: the beautiful people breezing around on ATVs throughout the island, eating your weight in gyros from a street vendor sent from the gods themselves, dancing your heart away at Jackie O's until the sun comes up around 6 AM, and washing away your sticky baklava-residue-coated fingers with the sweet turquoise waters of the Aegean sea.
Staying at the Drafaki Hotel was just the beginning of my whimsical time at Mykonos. More specifically, being plopped down onto an island via a small plane and being picked up at the airport by the Drafiki Hotel owner and long time resident of Mykonos, Anargyros. The Drafaki Hotel is a small but cozy spot with plenty of character; the kind of place that warrants regular customers who come year after year and have their faded pictures taped to their lobby walls.
The Drafaki Hotel is less resort-pristine-picture-perfect and more down-to-earth-chill-out-with-locals, and although I love an infinity pool as much as the next gal, I am not a woman to turn down cheap lodging with my cousin. Relaxing as the picturesque typical island resort may be, I'll admit that my most hilarious and real memories come from the gritty and unassuming establishments such as the Drafaki Hotel where I can chat with storeowners and newly made friends to get the low-down on what’s best around the island.
In the months of summer, finding shelter on an island that only has a limited number of lodging means that it's not uncommon for people get stranded with no bed to sleep on. This means that plenty of European teens hoping to party it up for the week ended up camping out on beaches or sleeping in rented cars. As laid-back as you'd hope Mykonos would be, the trip still requires a bit of planning. Although it's far from impossible to pull off, having a bedroom is an absolute godsend after a night of drinking and tanning.
The town of Mykonos itself is small and easily accessible, yet some of the best beaches and therefore, beach parties, are located at various ends of the island. And in case it wasn't clear yet, Mykonos isn't exactly the place you can casually hail a cab anywhere. So the options include: ATV, moped, ferry, or bus with a heavy preference toward whichever mode of transportation in which you can multitask by simultaneously working on your tan while taking yourself from one side of the island to another (ergo, ATV or moped).
Gyros, souvlakia, moussaka, and tsaziki to your heart’s content. Olive oil, feta cheese, and greek yogurt to top everything off. Try to reason your way into thinking that baklava after every meal is okay because, hey, you’ve sweat out a lot of calories at the beach. Evening out your tan isn’t an easy feat, they say.
It’s not often that you’d hear of someone coming to Greece for the cuisine exclusively; the primary reasons for tourism generally include: history, architecture, beaches, and the fact that Greece tends to be cheaper to visit than most of its other European counterparts, all of which are fair arguments. But after gorging myself on cheap but fulfilling Greek cuisine for several days, I find it hard to imagine a life without Greek food moving forward. I will continuously dream of the best street gyros for eternity. No doubt about it.
And so, when so much of yourself is left behind on some Greek island, what are you to do?
Keep dreaming about it day after day. And write up a blog post about it. About closing out Jackie O's for the third night (morning, technically) in a row. About going to Elia beach and flipping over rhythmically to keep up with the harsh sunlight. About drinking Red Bull at all hours of the day to keep up with the pace. About watching the Greek sunset from your balcony window while chowing down on a gyro you bought on your walk home because you knew you'd pat yourself on the back for having bought it later that night. The Mykonos withdrawals begin now.