Celestyal Olympia Cruise: Mesmerizing Mykonos a major mecca for travelers

Very busy day. Checked out of InterContinental Hotel in Athens. Took shuttle ride to Piraeus. Boarded Celestyal Olympia. Met ship captain Stathis Romeos. Did mandatory safety drill aboard ship. Ate lunch at ship’s Aegean Restaurant (yummy!). Arrived at Mykonos Island about 6 p.m.

Whew!

No way was I going to miss Mykonos. Mesmerizing Mykonos is definitely one of the most popular and most-visited Greek isles.

The first cruise ship docked here in the 1920s.  But jet setters really put the spotlight on Mykonos in the 1960s. Some say Jackie Kennedy and other luminaries like Grace Kelly, Liz Taylor and Marlon Brando helped introduce Mykonos to world travelers.

It was June 10, 1961, to be precise, when America’s First Lady set foot on Mykonos for the very first time. She was said to be there for a quiet visit courtesy of Greek Prime Minister Constantine Karamalis.

After John F. Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963, his widow married Aristotle Onassis on Oct. 20, 1968, on Skorpios, Onassis’ privately-owned island. But Mykonos was said to be the Greek island that Jackie O loved.

Today, Mykonos has a year-round population of about 10,000 and draws almost 1.8 visitors a year. When our Celestyal Olympia cruise stopped in Mykonos, the place was packed. The island has a reputation for partying and celebrating one of every day’s highlights – the sunset.

People begin lining up hours beforehand at their favorite viewing places, usually with drinks in hands to watch the sun slip from sight. It is beautiful, even more than my camera could capture.

How Mykonos was created

According to mythology, Mykonos was formed from the petrified bodies of giants killed by Hercules. The island took its name from the grandson of Apollo – Mykonos.

We had only about five hours on Mykonos so barely glimpsed some of the attractions. I could have spent days exploring the wonders that seemed to appear wherever I looked.

Although I didn’t get to see him, I heard about the island’s mascot, Petros the Pelican. The story goes that a pelican was found wounded by a local fisherman after a terrible storm in the 1950s. When the pelican was nursed back to health, the bird decided to stick around. He was given the name of Petros or Peter and soon was a beloved sight around the island.

On Dec. 2, 1985, however, Petros was hit by a car. The island went into mourning until, it is said, Jackie Onassis donated a replacement pelican. Anyway, the newest Petros can usually be found surrounded by a group of tourists with cameras clicking away.

Mykonos is a very walkable island and that is probably the best way to see it. We explored our way through Mykonos Town where the streets are lined with little shops, boutiques, art galleries, cafes, stylish bars and restaurants.

We strolled through Little Venice, an 18th century district with grand sea captains’ mansions whose balconies perch over the sea. We walked up to the lovely windmills set on a luminous blue backdrop on the hillside above.

Mykonos has had windmills since the 1500s. The island has more than 330 days of wind each year. Coming from the north, the winds keep the temperature comfortable.

We stopped for a traditional Greek dinner at the lovely Roca Cookery Restaurant. Although the ship’s cuisine is excellent, it was nice to dine ashore in Mykonos.

Tomorrow, we stop at ancient Ephesus – another exciting day. Some passengers are going for a nightcap and dancing aboard the ship. I’m going to bed.

Photos by Jackie Sheckler Finch

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