Been a while since I posted here. Looking to get back into it, as I’ve had a lot of trips since I last wrote one up. Going to try and start this back up with my most recent trip to the Greek islands with my girlfriend. We both didn’t have a lot of vacation left this year, so we needed a destination that was somewhat easy to get to that didn’t involve two days of travel getting there. Greece has always been on my list of places to see, so it was a pretty quick decision. Planned out our itinerary which involved either really short flights or short ferry rides so travel wouldn’t take up too much of our time. First stop on the itinerary was Mykonos.
We decided that we would approach Mykonos, our first stop, a little differently than normal. Rather than coming up with a bunch of things to run around and see as quickly as we could in the three days we had there, we decided to pick some place nice to stay and just relax for our time there, maybe throwing in a few afternoon trips here and there if we felt like it. Our planning map is below. We picked the Branco Hotel for our stay on the first island.
I was able to score two direct flights for us from Newark to Athens using points. Overnight flight. As usual, I had to get to the airport way too early. My checked bag weighed over 50 lbs, as I was trying to sneak in as much photo gear on this trip as I could. I promised myself I wouldn’t run around grabbing sunrise and sunset shots like I usually do I my solo trips. (way too much camera gear), so I was dumping extra stuff into my girlfriend’s bag. Completely overpacked. Grabbed a drink at the airport bar to try and calm down.
Once we boarded and my camera gear had safely made it aboard, I relaxed. Overnight flight was great. Left right on time and got two meals. I stuck with my traditional “lots of red wine to sleep”. Got several hours.
Landed at Athens and picked up our luggage with no problems. Felt like I slept well. I can usually function the day after an overnight flight to Europe for the most part, but usually end up crashing hard at a random point late in the afternoon. As soon as we landed, my girlfriend had a notification from her credit card company that there was fraudulent activity, and that they would need to send her a new one. Only brought one card with her. Tried expedited shipping to our Mykonos hotel. We had a 3 hour layover, and our Mykonos flight was on time as well. Went to the first ATM I saw and didn’t have any issues taking out Euros. High fee (reimbursed) and 1% exchange rate fee. Small plane, but completely full.
Landed and immediately found the Branco Hotel driver waiting to pick us up, once we got our bags. Took us too a BMW SUV which seemed like the largest car on the island. There’s something to be said about not having to worry about how to get to your hotel after a long day of flying.
Since it was my first time in Greece, naturally my head was on a swivel as we drove through winding streets towards our hotel. I knew we were on the south side of the island, right on the beach. We passed a few places I recognized from our research. Made it down through some windey narrow roads close to the beach and pulled up right to our hotel. Happy it looked exactly like all the filtered photos I had seen of it. Got free non alcoholic welcome drinks, tour of the room, and a tour of the main area and restaurant. Blown away by the view. A minimalist feel to the rooms, but couldn’t have picked a better location.
After unpacking, immediately went to the beach and picked out our sun loungers. Little windy, but air temp was nice and the water temperature was perfect. Couldn’t get over how clear the water was. Lounge chairs, our first island beach drinks. I think at this point, I was finally relaxed. No more worrying about making it the destination, and all my camera gear was intact. Started to crash a little before sunset so we went back to the hotel for a nap. Caught the sunset from our window.
Usually don’t do too much planning for a trip in terms of fixed itineraries and reservations, as the exploring part of travel I think is the most fun. Figured our first day was our relax and get settled in day, so we made a dinner reservation at 10:30 pm at Zingara, the hotel restaurant. Made it easy for us the first night there. Food was great. Our first Greek salad. Steak was perfect. Wine right on the beach. Chocolate praline for dessert, as we wanted to save our first baklava experience for another place.
Wandered the beach a little at night to see what else was in our area. Grabbed a drink after dinner at a hotel bar right next to our place, which had a small crowd there, and was blasting 90s music. Bartender said everyone was probably downtown at this time of night. Worked out great for us as we were looking for a night cap and then crashing.
Threw all our video clips from that day into one video below. I have to learn to shoot more horizontal videos while on vacation.
Woke up by sunlight for the first time in a long time. Weather was perfect. Breezy but not cold. Bright sun. Had to do an espresso right on our balcony before completely waking up. I had read good reviews of the breakfast at Branco, and it didn't disappoint. Breakfast at the restaurant was a la carte, whatever you wanted, all included. Fresh orange juice, coffee, spinach pie, waffles, Greek yogurt and fruit.
Decided to grab a cabana in front of the pool to change it up for the day. Located right in front of the pool, behind the bar and DJ, steps from the beach. Hard not to relax and order drinks. Why explore when we had everything we wanted right here. Perfect water, weather.
Ate lunch and listened to the DJ all afternoon. Really got into the music as it brought around the perfect vibe for the place. Hotel brought us a complimentary fruit platter to our cabana.
Wrapped up the afternoon and then headed to Scorpios, our only other dedicated itinerary item for the Mykonos portion of our trip, for our 530 sunset beach reservation. Their sunset ritual Sundays had been recommended to us, and seemed like the popular not to miss thing to do on the island. Upscale beach club, place to be seen type situation. It was a 10 minute walk from our hotel.
We showed up about a half hour before sunset. They were only letting in people with a reservation, which we had. Super easy to make one, but a somewhat hilarious interaction making it. After going through the options and obviously skipping the terrace location with a $2000 minimum spend requirement, I requested a 5:30 pm time for Sunset Beach. The next day, I got a confirmation response saying yes you are confirmed for 5:30, and please don’t worry about the drink prices. Wasn’t quite sure what that even meant, as I had never asked for any information on drink prices.
Got us a bottle of rose and waited for the sunset.
Cool experience. Very popular place. Really picked up towards 9-10pm. Decided we had been here long enough and caught a cab to the downtown part of the island. Got gyros, picked up some souvenirs, our first baklava, and another drink.
Small maze like roads with blue and white were really cool to see for the first time. Went by a few clubs around midnight but they were completely empty. Everyone must have just stayed at Scorpios. Walked around a little more then called it a night.
Looking forward to the breakfast this morning. No such thing as eating healthy when I'm taking time off. I was obviously up first, and made a trip to the balcony with my espresso to take in the morning. Seemed a little less windy today. Decided to switch up the breakfast strategy and go a little more unhealthy. Got the jam spread, poached eggs, bread, fresh orange juice, and more coffee. The restaurant was all about getting us to try everything, which I loved.
Since we ended up doing a lot of running around the previous day, we picked our sun loungers for the day and decided to hit the beach early. Water and temperature were perfect, and we loved our location, so why not take advantage of it. Only planning we foresaw for the morning involved beach, water, lounge, eat, drink, and relax.
Eventually we got a little antsy, and since it was our last full day on the island, we decided to try one other location that was recommended. Nammos was within walking distance, so we hiked over there to check it out. Again, only a 10 minute hike from our hotel.
Beach club with a bar right on the sand, loungers and umbrellas for rent, and enough yachts parked out in front along with a menu that made me realize I was happy we were planning on getting dinner back at our beach. Nevertheless, we had to grab a cocktail and enjoy the place for what it was.
Final glass of wine for the evening at Branco before we grabbed a pizza dinner at Yialo Yialo on the beach.
Woke up pre-sunrise early that morning to try and get some early morning/sunrise shots with my tripod, of the beach area and hotel. Not much in terms of shot planning, but it was fun to play with my camera for the first time on the trip. Breakfast, followed by our usual switch up to a cabana for the morning.
The concierge was kind enough to pick up our ferry tickets the previous day for our ride to Naxos that afternoon. Absolutely no wind today. Perfect beach weather made it very difficult to want to leave our setup at Branco. Experienced the DJ set on the beach one last time, which I have to say was one of the highlights of the trip. Definitely the most popular setup on the small stretch of Platis Gialos Beach. DJ Trixx's whole set is below.
Last ice tea with a brave stray cat, then we ended our Mykonos trip with a ride to the port to catch our ferry to Naxos.