ATVs, Horses, Catamarans: Exploring the Island of Mykonos

I really like meeting up with friends from home while traveling. Of course the best way to see the world is to not be distracted by the life you left at home but I do like that little bit of excitement that traveling with someone you know brings.

We’ve been fortunate enough to meet up with several friends along this trip. In Mykonos, we met up with our friend Adam from Semester at Sea who is currently spending the summer as a chef on the only charter catamaran on the island.

Not only did it revive us to have the feeling of being with someone we knew from home, but it was great to have a semi-local tour guide.

Adam told us the only way to get around the island was an ATV. So our first full day, we set out to rent one.

We were told that only two people were to ride the ATV and Adam told them endlessly that despite there being three of us standing there, it was only for two. More on THAT issue later.

I have serious control issues. I’m pretty Type A. OK, if you know me, you know I’m REALLY Type A. Anyway, because of my Type A-ness, I told Chelsea that I would be driving the ATV.

This is how the driving lesson went:

Greek man tells me to get on the bike. “You hold this, you press this, you press this.” I do that and he starts screaming. “No you hold this, then press this, THEN press this!” Dude, I just did that. I literally have no idea what you’re saying Greek man. Adam is standing there trying to translate but cars are zipping by and people are screaming at me to move because a bus is coming. I leap off the ATV and announce that I am done and I do not want to do this anymore. Adam tells me to get on, drive up the road a little, pick him up and he’ll drive. I scream in terror the 50 feet I have to drive and Adam jumps on.

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We started zipping around the island with everyone we passed laughing at us. Our ATV could barely move with three of us on it (too much gelato!) but we finally got to his favorite gyro place, Oregano.

Chipotle, I’m sorry but I have a new lover. Gyros are the most amazing food. Creamy sauce, warm pita, perfectly cooked pork, crispy fries, tomatoes and onions. It was love at first bite.

The rest of the week I kept telling Chelsea I was working on my bikini body by seeing how many gyros I could stuff my face with before we left.

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After lunch, we dropped Adam at work and spent the rest of the day spinning around the island. Mykonos is not huge but it’s definitely not walkable and taxis are expensive and not common. ATVs are definitely the way to see it.

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Chelsea is still battling her illness and when flying into Mykonos she almost ruptured her eardrum because they were so clogged. If she didn’t see a doctor I think she probably would have had to go home. So Kostas (traveling pants! I hope you get that reference) who owned our hotel called a doctor.

Three shots to the butt later, she was feeling like a million bucks and was ready to continue the trip! Either way, we still took it easy our first night.

Don’t judge us. OK, judge us all you want. But we got margaritas and burritos at the best Mexican place we’ve hit so far! Can’t deny these girls their Mexican food, even in Greece.

Our second day consisted of horseback riding! A friend of mine from ABC recently returned from Mykonos and told me we had to do a horseback riding trip to a secluded beach.

Insert the most difficult thing about traveling abroad. I know Americans are obsessed with their phones. Myself especially. But it’s difficult when you are trying to make plans and cannot actually contact people unless you have wifi. The horseback riding instructor told us to meet at the bus station and after 15 minutes, he still wasn’t there. I went into a cafe and bought the cheapest thing on the menu so I could get their wifi password.

I had received an email from the instructor that he was at the bike rental place about a 15 minute walk away. I told him we were on our way. Twenty minutes at the rental place and he still wasn’t there. Again I begged for a wifi password and emailed the instructor so we could find each other. It would have been so much more convenient to just have been able to pick up the phone to call this guy instead of both of us going back and forth between both spots trying to find each other. But I guess this is just one of the many difficulties you have to learn to work around while traveling.

Chelsea and I didn’t have our luggage so we were forced to ride in our Greece flag tank tops and some cheap cotton shorts we had purchased. Chelsea fortunately had sneakers while I was stuck riding in Steve Madden flip flops. God, I’m such a city girl.

I was a little nervous riding at first. I rode horses sporadically as a child but it’s been about 12 years. I remember my sister telling me that a horse can feel if you’re afraid so I was trying my best to be confident and show Spring who was boss but she wasn’t having it. Right after I got on, she walked right over to another horse who did not want to be bothered. A handler had to come over and drag Spring to the other side of the paddock. Looks like she was going to be the boss.

We rode with an Aussie couple and one female instructor from Hungary. The ride was about an hour down to Fokos Beach, a secluded beach, where we took photos and a swim in the Sea before heading back up. The ride down was very scenic but Chels and I wished we could have gone faster so on the ride back up we got to trot!

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Chelsea was on Hector who apparently was having a bad day. When the instructor tried to pass them on her horse during trotting, Hector freaked out and darted to the other side of the path to cut them off. Chelsea does have riding experience so she tamed that bad boy! The Aussie guy did not have as good of experience and was taken for a little bit of a ride when his horse did the same.

While Spring really didn’t want to listen when I tried to give her direction, she was overall an easy ride. She only spooked once when a giant wild goat was bahing at us. Literally this huge ram looking thing with horns was just screaming at us from the side of the path.

The people of Horseland could not have been kinder to us. After telling them our luggage debacle, the Hungarian rider told us of a cheap store that is sort of like H & M and the owner drove us there and waited while we shopped for a few items. The people of Mykonos could not have been more welcoming!

That night Adam took us to Scandanvian Bar, a spot popular with tourists and locals alike near our hotel. Mykonos is apparently known for its clubbing but since Chels and I aren’t really into the club scene, we decided to stay away from the 30 Euro a night clubs in Paradise Beach.

After a breakfast of omelets and crepes (seriously, all we do is eat), we jumped on our ATV and headed for Panoramos Beach which is fairly secluded as far as Mykonos beaches go. More swimming, napping, reading and floating. I really love the beach. I need to live on one.

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One random aside – because the strangest things happen to us – we met a promoter from one of the popular clubs on the island. We chatted with her for awhile about Mykonos before she got up to continue working. She walked about 10 feet away from us and turned back and yelled, “Hey girls, am I OK in the back because I have my period. Can you see?” Well, you just told the entire beach so it really doesn’t matter if it’s there or not, does it? Seriously. The. Most. Random. Things.

It was inevitable. I caught Chelsea’s sickness. That night we were planning to go out but it exhausted me just lifting my arms. I was feeling like real crap so I slept (for 12 hours!) while Chelsea and Adam went out until 6:30 a.m.! At least one of us got to experience the crazy Mykonos nightlife everyone talks about.

Our last full day, Adam didn’t have to work so his boss let him take us to his catamaran. While he wasn’t allowed to sail it, we had an awesome day just buoyed in the harbor swimming, sunning and Adam ukelele playing. Definitely check out his blog Honey Baked Hammocks to learn more about his adventures on Mykonos Catamaran.

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All week Adam raved about this restaurant, Kikis. It is only open from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. and is quite expensive compared to most restaurants on the island. He told us the view and the food were worth the splurge so we let him lead us there.

Remember earlier when I said only two people were allowed to ride our ATV? Well, on our drive to Kikis, two of the guys we rented the ATV from spotted us. They drove up next to us and started screaming, “Stop, three people! Stop, three people!” at the top of their lungs. When we finally pulled over, they came running over toward us like they were about to fight us. They told Adam to get off and I told them we had just picked him up from work and were going to drop him at home. A five minute drive. The men sort of calmed down before saying with a maniacal laugh, “I’ll see you later.” One guy took photos of us and our ATV. He told us to smile and started laughing in a, “You’re in big trouble and I can’t wait to make you pay” kind of way. I was pretty shaken up by the entire thing. I had technically rented the ATV and they had my license. Lord only knows what they could do to me.

But karma is a real bitch. As the guys were driving away from us, they smashed into the back of a Beamer. Sucks to suck guys! We had the ATV for another 15 hours and they just got in an accident. They weren’t going to catch me.

We finally arrived at Kikis unharmed and waited about 30 minutes for a table. They give you free wine (from a box but still! I love a good glass of Franzia) while you wait. How genius is that!?

It also had a gorgeous view.

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We split grilled octopus and stuffed chicken before declaring we actually couldn’t eat anymore. OK, that’s a lie. There’s always room for gelato.

Our last day, Chels headed back to the doctor to see if she was OK to fly to Istanbul the next day. I went along to see if there was anything he could give me for the cold I was getting. A shot to the butt later, I didn’t feel great but OK with antibiotics in hand. Traveling this fast with little sleep really takes a lot out of you!

We didn’t end up getting in trouble for having three people on our ATV either. The guy who had spotted us asked where Adam was and Chelsea told him we had made him go for a swim in the Sea since he got us in trouble. She then made fun of him for slamming into a Beamer while I rushed inside to get my license back unnoticed. Guess they weren’t going to “see me later” after all. Crisis averted!

Mykonos is definitely worth the trip. While we heard it is one of the more expensive Greek islands, and a bit of an older crowd compared to others, we loved the gyros, beaches, views and great weather. From our hotel owner Kostas to George, the waiter at the restaurant outside our hotel, everyone was so helpful and welcoming. I hate going to the same place twice (too much to see in this big world!), but I could definitely see myself going back one day to splurge with a bit more money.

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