Sailing Charter in Greece - Part 9 - Mykonos and Delos

Ship setting sail from Mykonos

This is part 9 of my sailing in Greece series. You can find part 8 here.

Enjoying a drink on the boat in Mykonos new harbour

Mykonos has a reputation:

Mykonos is the great glamour island of the Cyclades and happily flaunts its sizzling style and reputation. The high-season mix of good-time holidaymakers, cruise-ship crowds which can reach 15,000 a day, and posturing fashionistas throngs through Mykonos town, a traditional Cycladic maze, delighting in its authentic cubist charms and its pricey cafe-bar-shopping scene. Read more.

Mykonos has a big boy harbor. We have to use the new port which is near where the cruise ships and big ferries dock. The big plus is that we have a market right across the Main Street where we can re-supply with beer and ice. It is a mile and a half into town but there is a bus stop near us for 1.60€ each.

Windmill in Mykonos Town

The bus drops us off at the old port which still puts us about 1/4 mile away from the main town. I must admit, the town feels touristy, especially the shops and taverns facing the harbor. The description above calling out the maze in old town is apropos -- it is fun to get lost in it! We find a nice Italian restaurant with great pizza, calzone, and salads. We wanted to find some nightlife after that but settled for a pleasant outdoor bar where we have some drinks before walking back. Ah, walking back... 1.5 miles along a harbor-side cliff with no sidewalk -- fun!

When we return to the boat, Vassilis broke the news that there was no way for us to sail ourselves to Delos. This means another day in Mykonos and 17€ ferry tickets.

The pelicans of Mykonos

It is Monday, July 1 and Julie and I walk into town early and find the fabled pelicans of Mykonos)! We also enjoy a coffee and crepe breakfast.

Gassing up the ATVs on Mykonos

Now it is time for adventure. We rent four quads to allow us to easily explore the small island and the beaches on the south coast. We start with a break at the town of Ano Mera to see the Panaga Tourliani monastery. It is common to have strict dress codes for places of worship in Europe but not so here.

From there we visit Kala Livadi and Elia beaches, which are nice but we are more interested in the main tourist beach at Paradise. We stop back in Ano Mera on our way back for lunch, and the tavernas fight for our business!

Fantastic gyro at The Fisherman Taverna at Ano Mera, Mykonos

We settle on the Fisherman taverna and we are not disappointed! Very unique gyros there -- double pitas (like a panini) with their special sauce. We finish our ATV adventure with a 2-3 hour stay at Paradise beach.

King of the Hill at Paradise Beach, Mykonos

This was a very relaxing stop. Laying out in the sun, playing with a ball in the water. We paid for it though - chair plus chair plus umbrella = 12 €.

We had planned to take Vassilis out for a birthday dinner but he surprised us by cooking a late second lunch and a full dinner. The highlight was an eggplant salad. After dinner we strolled down the harbor for a drink and share some Cuban cigars while we walked.

The next day, Tuesday, is our Delos adventure. Our first move is to drive the ladies and Matthew into town on the quads, then double back to drop them off at the rental spot. We convince the driver to take us all the way back into town and meet up with the others who purchased the ferry tickets. We wander the town maze for a bit looking for lunch we can carry with us and score some cheese and ham/cheese sandwiches.

Our guide, Amarylis Grypari, on Delos

We find our guide Amaryllis by the ferry, and we can tell right away that she will be a great guide. The trip to Delos is about 30 minutes.

View form the top of Mt. Kythnos, Delos

We stay in the island from 10:30 to 15:00 and we were engaged every minute. This island is the true archeological and historical treasure of the Cyclades. We most enjoyed the tile mosaics and hiking to the top of Mt Kythnos.

At the top of Mt. Kythnos, Delos

We explore the sanctuary of Zeus then wandered into the museum to see the original Delos lion sculptures.

The Terrace of the Lions also dedicated to Apollo by the people of Naxos shortly before 600 BC, had originally nine to twelve squatting, snarling marble guardian lions along the Sacred Way; one is inserted over the main gate to the Venetian Arsenal. The lions create a monumental avenue comparable to Egyptian avenues of sphinxes. (There is a Greek sphinx in the Delos Museum.) Today only seven of the original lions remain.

Temple of Isis on Delos

We paid our guide 230€ and think it was worth every penny. I advise other travelers to seek our quality guides like Amaryllis when exploring such a world treasure. I've had similar experiences in Jerusalem, China, and now Greece and have never regretted the choice.

In the Sacred Lake Area on Delos

After returning to Mykonos we hastily provision before setting sail for Rineia. We should have taken more time to get some veggies and water. And more beer.

Jacob and Dave working to free the fouled anchor lines - in Mykonos

Sailing Charter in Greece - Part 8 - Antiparos and Naxos

Beautiful spot to moor for the evening - between Antiparos and Despotiko

This is part 8 of my sailing in Greece series. You can find part 7 here.

Early Friday evening, June 28 2013, we left Ios to set sail for a an anchored bay visit between Antiparos and Despotiko. Wikipedia says:

The strait separating Despotiko from Antiparos only has a minimum depth of about 1m, with the intervening islet of Koimitiri. This extreme shallowness of the strait suggests the possibility of a link between Antiparos and Despotiko in former times.

Antiparos to Naxos

While we love exploring towns on foot, finding restaurants, and climbing hills, it sure is nice to have a periodic break where you are captive on the boat and sharing a bottle of wine and food you prepare as a group.

Chris makes fried cheese - YUM!

I experimented with a saganaki (fried cheese) recipe with decent success, and we cooked up a tasty dinner of sliced sausage with veggies alongside mashed potatoes. There were beautiful ships in the bay, including a giant slate grey yacht flying the British ensign. Vassilis and the rest of us enjoyed this view over a fine bottle of cheap Greek rosé wine.

Reupplying in Naxos - FIX us up!

Our next stop after a morning sail for about 4 hours on Saturday was the island of Naxos. This is easily the most built out of the islands we have visited, and it is large with tall mountains (Mt Zeus is over 3,000 ft). Our first stop was a grocery resupply, with the priority being a large flat of Fix beer.

We also dropped into a local souvenir shop that specialized in the local liquor Kitron plus some of the local red wines. Kitron is tasty and the dry variety reminds me of Cointreau.

Heading out to explore Naxos Chora

Before dinner we hiked up the hill to the Castro and the Venetian House museum. What a treat this was! For 5€ each we got a private guided tour.

Best museum tour ever - free drinks at the end

This may sound a bit steep, but our guide was extremely knowledgeable and there was ample spirit tasting at the end. She also gave us a strong dinner recommendation.

C'mon, say cheese -  at the Temple of Apollo in Naxos

Before dinner was a visit to the Temple of Apollo for a sea-level sunset and more photos. The temple is at the end of a narrow isthmus and offers a great view of the harbor.

Dinner at Maro's Taverna in Naxos Chora, on the advice of our Kastro tour guide

We picked up Vassilis on our way back at the pier then up to the maze that is the town to find our dinner spot, Maro. People were so helpful with directions but we needed Vassilis to guide and translate. I wish we knew enough Greek for simple directions like this. Maro did not disappoint, with highlights such as drunken pig and spaghetti with a big slab of slow-cooked pork.

A brief sidebar to talk about the things we were glad we brought, and the things we wished we had brought:

Glad we brought

  • Starbucks Via instant coffee (though we should have brought more)
  • Ranch mix (useful for dips, ad-hoc salads - wish we had brought more)
  • Drink mixes (like Crystal Light)
  • Sticheln Deck
  • 12 volt car adapters for charging USB devices
  • Bluetooth speakers for on boat music
  • Cheap sunglasses
  • Baby wipes (should have brought more)

Wish we brought

  • Clothes pins
  • Clothes line
  • French press for making coffee

Church in Filoti, Naxos

On Sunday in Naxos we needed to find rental cars to explore the island. Dave and I thought we had a good line on 2 cars to rent for 25€ a bit off the main drag to the south of the city, but alas they did not seem in a rush to open. We looped back toward the pier and found more expensive options. Persistence paid off as we found 2 soft top Chevy Matize for 25€ each. Traffic is much more of a pain on Naxos than other towns -- this is definitely more urban. We worked our way across the middle of the island to see a cool church in Filoti.

These are sleepy, non-touristy villages with beautiful churches and main streets. We continued on to the coastal town of Moutsouna.

Enjoying the water in Moutsouna, Naxos

We enjoyed watching some local kids play around, jumping off the pier into the cool water.

Carving up a yellowfin tuna at Moutsouna, Naxos

The taverna had just brought in a big yellow fin, using an electric saw to take him apart. We have drinks at the tavern but with time running short we head back across the mountains to visit Mt Zeus on our left. We had hoped to see the Temple of Demeter, but alas it was closed.

Next stop, Mykonos!!

Evolution card game is live on Kickstarter

Evolution Card Game

The re-imagining of the game Evolution is now live on a Kickstarter.

North Star Games was kind enough to provide me a prototype of the new version and I'll share some brief thoughts on the game after a few plays.

Evolution is a card game where each player starts with a single "naked", un-evolved species and evolves and expands the population through the use of trait cards. Traits can improve the species' ability to eat (including becoming a carnivore and attacking other species, preferably your opponent's!), defend itself, and overall survive in a changing environment.

There are some nice mechanisms that make decisions tough:

  • you've got to decide whether to use cards to add new traits or discard them to grow the species body size or population
  • you secretly decide at the start of the turn to play a single card which will help determine how much plant food is available for everyone to eat. Depending on how your animals are evolving, you may be more or less inclined to increase the food volume
  • you've got to pay attention to the other players and be prepared to develop defensive traits once the carnivores evolve
  • as you increase the number of species in your pool, their position can matter as some traits can help support adjacent species

The goal of the game is to have many species with large populations, with the primary scoring mechanism the accumulation of food cubes that your species consume.

The artwork and other design elements from the Kickstarter campaign look very nice -- certainly much better than my print and play prototype! If the theme suits you and you like highly interactive card games then this might be a great fit for you. I for one will be backing the project as it will be a nice two player game to play with Julie but will also scale to more players.