By Friday of last week, following what can only be described as an ABYSMAL end to my working week, I was ready for a break.
Earlier this year, I wrote about the trials and tribulations of booking a holiday with friends and the pitfalls it can bring when you’ve no idea how to choose a destination that’s going to please everybody.
Having ultimately settled on the Greek island of Mykonos (after a good five hours scouring the internet), the countdown was on to our seven day break with our good friends, Chris and Liam; and bloody hell, did I need it.
With a new job comes more responsibility and the need for greater brain power. The consequence being that my holiday packing didn’t really begin until Friday evening following a three-hour client meeting, a four-hour journey back from Bristol and an emotional arrival home where I discovered that I’d left my Kindle (loaded with newly purchased holiday reads) at the hotel.
Having made my peace with this situation – and frantically called the hotel to have it returned – I began the process of packing my holiday finery.
I’d made a pact with myself to pack light, which of course meant I packed every item of clothing vaguely resembling summer wear, leading to a heated exchange with my long-suffering other half the following morning as we waited on our taxi…
Alex: “That’s way heavier than mine. It’s definitely going to be over the limit.”
“Nah, it’ll be fine.”
Alex: “Mine’s 14 kilos and I can barely lift yours…”
“What do you want me to do? I need everything I’ve packed.”*
Alex: “Do you honestly need three pairs of flip-flops??”
Thankfully, my three travelling companions had failed to reach their alloted 15 kilo limit for their baggage, leaving me plenty of allowance for the 21 kilos I’d decided were necessary for a week of beach-based activities.
The flight was pleasant enough although the Whitley Neill Rhubarb & Ginger gin may have had something to do with that. The transfer from Mykonos Airport to our hotel was also surprisingly seamless, so this being me I was suspicious something could go wrong at any moment. Once we arrived at the Acrogiali Hotel at Platis Gialos Beach however, with views of the sea and handily situated bars and restaurants, any pessimism instantly melted away.
After enjoying a pleasant first night meal near the hotel, we were ready for the battle of the sun loungers. Handily, Alex and Chris had agreed to meet at 7am to do the typical British ‘putting towels on the best loungers’ routine, which suited me perfectly as I have neither the will nor the energy to battle anyone for a prime location at that time of the morning.
The loungers they’d chosen were beautifully situated next to the sea, ideal for wanky Instagram shots. Not so ideal if you wanted to keep anything dry, as we were to discover when the sea swept a wave 30ft up the beach to our bags and I lost half a bottle of beer in the ensuing panic.
It’s been some time since I braved a beach. So long that I’d forgotten my main bugbears with it. Luckily for me, these came rushing back within a couple of hours of our arrival…
- Sand – in all of its forms, but especially after applying suncream, because no-one takes pleasure in looking like a sugared donut in a swimsuit.
- Children – laughing, shouting, playing and generally being mirthful. This becomes especially irksome when the joy includes swimming in the sea and proceeding to run back and forth between the loungers for 20 minutes, leaving any adjacent bathers with an ocean spray and a major strop.
- Adults (misc.) – this category includes such bellends as Captain ‘I brought no earphones, but managed to find a small portable speaker and some drum and bass’.
All this being said, I did manage to hammer a good 40 pages of my book about the horrors at 10 Rillington Place, with a cheeky beer at lunchtime for good measure, so I was willing to let the above activities slide in the spirit of enjoying the holiday.
After a day of sunbathing, it was soon time to dress up and head into Mykonos Town to seek out a recommended restaurant (as recommended to Liam by an American holidaymaker on the adjacent sun lounger).
D’Angelo is a much-lauded Mykonos destination for fine dining. Serving Italian cuisine with the iconic windmills of Mykonos next door, the atmosphere, food and service didn’t disappoint. The tagliatelle with chicken and prosciutto rolls in a pesto cream sauce was so good I shovelled it with little thought for my digestive system.
The home made Tiramisu almost finished me off and I was well and truly ready for bed once we located the bus to get back to our hotel (although admittedly my fatigue could’ve been down to the wine).
A day by the pool comes with its own pluses and minuses, as we were to discover the next day when we made the short walk to the hotel opposite to partake of their facilities.
One major upside for me is the absence of sand and the ability to navigate your day grit free, making sunbathing a far more pleasant experience all around.
The downside? Pools are also populated by adults, all of whom are within their rights to enjoy the space and will do so with little regard for anyone else.
Cue shit dance music and bottles of wine being ordered by a gathering of Welsh holidaymakers at 11am.
In spite of the pool party vibes, the day panned out really well as the evening came and we were ready to head out once again to seek out great food.
Yialo-Yialo on the beach was our restaurant of choice, where I gorged myself on a whole grilled sea bass and shared a carafe of house wine. I can’t decide whether it’s the sun burn or temporary lack of any responsibilities, but food and drink definitely tastes infinitely better when enjoyed away from home.
When Wednesday rolled around it was time for a day trip away from our hotel to explore a bit of Greek history. Something which Liam looked forward to immensely with a masters in Ancient Greek and a penchant for correcting tour guides…
We were headed for the island of Delos, a 30-minute ferry journey from the port at Mykonos Town. The mythological birthplace of Apollo and formerly a major religious centre and port (BC), it’s now an archaeological site and home only to the guards (as no-one else is permitted to reside there).
Well, I say no-one. As we were guided around the island taking in the remains of fallen statues, ancient mosaics (replicas) and other fascinating articles of the Delos of old, we were seemingly being followed by a herd of cats.
Being a cat lover this meant I was continually distracted by cats and kittens sleeping and playing in the sunshine instead of paying attention to the guide and rather than exploring the museum, I opted to stay outside giving them water, leading Alex to remark: “Check Alyssa’s pockets before we leave”.
The ferry back to Mykonos Town was choppy, but we made it back without the need for life jackets, so we were grateful. It was back in the Town that I was also able to return to a jewellers I’d remembered fondly from a previous Greek trip with my mum, auntie and younger sister. Being a lover of shiny things (as previously explained) I try to pick up at least one new item of jewellery from every trip, so my new Athena pendant is the perfect addition to my jewellery box.
We also made new friends in the form of Ryan and Hilary, a couple from Nebraska celebrating Ryan’s passing the bar. We put the world to rights during our shared transfer to the port, two ferry journeys and the evening drink that followed later that same day, covering everything from America’s love of weaponry, to the Trump administration, ghosts, murder podcasts and horror movies. Hopefully a trip to the UK is in their future.
All in all, Mykonos is yet to disappoint. The food is plentiful and delicious, the beers go down far too easily and the hotel is a slice of Greek heaven.
To be continued…