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I couldn’t help but let out an involuntary whoop as Mykonos appeared on the horizon. Despite the fact that it was already day three of my Contiki tour, it felt like the trip was really just beginning. Most of my time in Athens has been spent buried in work, running frantic errands, and attempting to get to know my group whenever I took a harried break from my laptop. But the idea of being back on an island soothed me, and the salty air filled me with excitement for the three days ahead.

Aphrodite Beach Hotel, Mykonos

We were starting our island hopping in style. The itinerary of the trip was two nights in Athens, three nights each in Mykonos, Santorini, and Ios, and one final night wrapping things up back in Athens. My whooping started up again — seriously, I need to work on my involuntary noise emissions — when I saw our beachfront digs in Mykonos. We were basing ourselves at the in Kalafati Beach, about a twenty minute drive from Mykonos Town. While at first I was skeptical of being so far from the action, within moments of arriving at Aphrodite I vowed to leave the grounds as little as humanly possible.

I mean, there was a lot of ground to cover. There were the deliciously breezy sheets of my charming whitewashed room, there were the inviting waves of the turquoise sea, and there was the shimmering calm waters of the saltwater pool. All demanded plenty of attention.

Aphrodite Beach Hotel, Mykonos

Does it get any more Greek than this?

Understandably, I spent every second of our free time at Aphrodite. While some of that was due to work obligations, some of it was due to the unmistakably magnetic pull of the ocean and the lure of beachfront bonding with some of the girls I was quickly growing to love. Much of the group joined me in this water-side vigil, while others chose to catch the bus into Mykonos town for some daytime exploring.

Our time in Mykonos had two official optional excursions and one impromptu ones thrown together by Paola and Ed, our guide extraordinaires. The first, ambitiously named The Hidden Treasures of Mykonos, involved a sunset stroll through charming Mykonos town, a traditional taverna dinner, and a night on the town with — and this is key — an included early hours bus transfer back to our hotel. Mykonos is notorious for its shortage of cabs and public transportation ceases in the evenings, so nothing short of Hercules himself coming back to life and sweeping me off my feet was going to stop me from that call time.

Photo courtesy of a fellow Contiki-er

While I admit that in such a large group it was nearly impossible to hear our local tour guide’s insights, I quite happily fell to the back and got lost in seeing the whitewashed town through my lens. I had been to Mykonos once before, on a Mediterranean cruise with my mom, and it was exactly as I remembered. I was thrilled to be getting a second look.

I wish I could wax poetic about the traditional Greek dishes we dined on that night at dinner, but frankly my brain was completely overcome with elation at our very special dinner guest, Petros the Pelican. I started letting out high pitched shrieks the moment he waddled towards the table — here we go with the unintentional peep-making problem again — and they reached a pitch heard only to canines when he boldly strode into the kitchen and demanding scraps. The unamussed chef chased him out with a spatula in hand, and I nearly passed out from the excitement.

Photo courtesy of a fellow Contiki-er

Mykonos Pelican

And then the bar hopping began. We worked our way en masse through a serious of bars, starting in little Venice and winding our way through the star-lit streets from one dance floor to another. It was our first big night out as a group, and I quickly realized how and why Contiki earned its reputation for knowing how to party. I loved seeing how our tour guides were greeted like old friends by bouncers and bartenders alike — they really do know these islands inside and out.

Our next day was spent exactly as earlier described — rotating between beach and pool lounger with laptop in hand. By the time evening rolled around, I was ready for a little excitement and eagerly signed up for the mega-club excursion Paola and Ed had arranged. While the 50€ price tag had me pulling a face at first, I gave myself a pep talk that could be more or less summed up by the acronym “,” only infinitely less annoying. While almost the entire tour group had joined the previous night, only about fifteen of us made it on this particular evening. I’m not sure if this night of debauchery is what cemented it, but this crew turned out to be my go-to group for the rest of the trip.

We were still raging when our 5am alarms went off to signal it was time to head back to the bus.

Photo courtesy of a fellow Contiki-er

Our final day in Mykonos was one of the most highly anticipated of the trip. Thanks to the low price tag, just 12 per head, every single person in our group signed on for the day part at Paradise Beach. Still smarting from the lack of sleep the night before, I was relieved to arrive to a fairly low key beach scene. But I was well aware things were just warming up.

As the afternoon wore on, the music turned up, the drinks flowed more freely, and what seemed like the entire male population of Italy flooded through the doors. The scene was Vegas pool party meets Ibiza nightclub. And it was wildly entertaining.

Photo courtesy of a fellow Contiki-er

I’m in the “what happens at Mykonos day parties stays at Mykonos day parties” camp, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Italian ex-pornstar MC known colloquially as “The Elephant Man” — perhaps the photo above will give you a clue why — and a Contiki-wide love affair with a certain blow up flamingo.

By the time the sun went down and it was time for our bus to pull away, my abs were actually stinging from the burn of too much laughter.

As much as I loved Mykonos, the prices were starting to wound me by the time day three came around — not the mention the lack of sleep. I was very much looking forward to returning to the healing embraces of my dear old friend Santorini. Someday, I’m sure I’ll return to Mykonos again and experience a slightly more civilized side — take a day tour of Delos, rent a jeep and drive around the island — but damn, am I glad I got to experience the sun and fun for a few days.

And I can’t think of a better crew to have done it with.

Have you been to Mykonos? What side did you see?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Many thanks to Contiki for hosting me on the . As always, you receive my honest opinion regardless of who is footing the bill.

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62 Comments...
  • Katie
    November 11 2014

    That pelican is seriously so cute – I love those strange birds! Very photogenic too… I also fall to the back of larger tours. I’d rather take pictures and soak it all in then try to listen when it’s nearly impossible anyways. I really hope to get to Greece one of these days. I’m drooling over your beach and pool pics. And, of course, I need to meet this pelican for myself 😉
    Katie recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 13 2014

      It took me two trips to Mykonos for a proper introduction… hope you get lucky on the first visit 🙂

  • becky hutner
    November 11 2014

    Ha! If this was a Photo of the Week, old Elephant Man would win it for me, hands down.
    becky hutner recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 13 2014

      HAHA. He was a riot. I ran away shrieking after that photo was taken.

  • Ashley
    November 11 2014

    I was laughing out loud at your reaction to the pelican, but I’m sure I would have reacted in a similar way. I think I’ve run out of adjectives to describe your photos- but they’re beautiful shots (as always!).
    Ashley recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 13 2014

      You are too sweet, Ashley! Mykonos was a dream to photograph.

  • Katie @ Second-Hand Hedgehog
    November 11 2014

    That pelican is enormous! I mean, I know they’re big birds, but seeing them up close is something else. Wow. I don’t think I’d have been brave enough to chase it away with a spatula – more like run in the opposite direction!

    Mykanos looks gorgeous – beautiful photos. I’ve never been much of a one for party places, but these photos may even convince me!
    Katie @ Second-Hand Hedgehog recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 13 2014

      This is one cheeky pelican… If they didn’t chase him out I don’t think there would be any food for the rest of us 🙂

  • Sonja at Breadcrumbs Guide
    November 11 2014

    I’m not a major fan of tours normally, but I’m glad you enjoyed this one! It helps that you had optional activities and weren’t all doing the same thing at once, I bet. I would have followed that pelican around for a while, he’s so cute!
    Sonja at Breadcrumbs Guide recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 13 2014

      I was out of my seat like a shot to paparazzi that poor bird! I loved it!

  • Leah
    November 11 2014

    Greece is so beautiful! I’m suddenly feeling the urge to be on an island, or at least near the ocean. And I LOVE day parties more than any other kind of party, so this totally looks like my jam. Where do I sign up?
    Leah recently posted..

  • Lucy
    November 11 2014

    Gorgeous shots & the tour looks super fun:) I’m hoping to head to Mykonos next year, and this has cemented my excitement!
    Lucy recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 13 2014

      Nice! I hope you’ll hit up some other islands too. They are all so different. It amazes me!

  • Colleen Brynn
    November 11 2014

    I would have whooped too. Don’t blame you at all.
    Love the shot of the drying octopus. Such character.
    Cute bathers too, those beach parties look nuts!
    Colleen Brynn recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 13 2014

      I think I got a photo like that on every island. Those drying octopi are so darn photogenic!

  • I love Pelicans (although I am also slightly scared of them), there are lots of them here in Sydney. I never made it to Mykonos but I did party in Ios because that’s what you do there
    Katie @ The World on my Necklace recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 13 2014

      Watch out for an Ios post coming your way soon 🙂

  • Rika | Cubicle Throwdown
    November 11 2014

    Ohhhhh, that pelican!! I would have squealed too. Love all the pics on this post – everything looks colorful and happy!!
    Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 13 2014

      And that’s how we felt! Mykonos is carefree fun (until you check your bank statement.)

  • Erika
    November 11 2014

    So beautiful. Looks like an awesome time! I went on a few group tours in the UK and Ireland and they were a total blast. I’d love to go to Greece though. Amazing.
    Erika recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 13 2014

      Greece is one of my absolute favorite countries. Should be on everyone’s bucket list!

  • I love your photos – they capture your experience perfectly! Good on you for letting loose for a few days, it looks like you had a ball! I have done a group tour once and despite sometimes feeling like I lacked a bit of freedom, it can be lovely and relaxing to step back for a few days and allow someone else to organise all the planning for you!
    Christie of The Butterfly Editions recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 13 2014

      Tell me about it! It was amazing how easily I handed the reigns over once I got a taste of what it’s like for someone else to do the restaurant research 🙂

  • Emily from Let's Roam Wild
    November 11 2014

    I can’t believe the group was that big! Fortunately, though, with a group that size, you’re bound to find friends you like!
    Emily from Let’s Roam Wild recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 13 2014

      That’s the way I looked at it. Technically it was two groups, though we moved and traveled together as one.

  • Annie
    November 11 2014

    Wow, amazing pictures! I was in Greece not long ago, but with only two weeks, I headed for the islands of Heraklio and Santorini, which had some ruins of different periods to check out. Your pictures sure make me wish I could have included Mykonos. The pelican sure seemed like a pretty cool guest and that hotel seems like heaven.
    Annie recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 13 2014

      Yet another Santorini post coming up next from me 🙂 Heraklio I don’t know if I’ve ever even heard of!

  • Justine
    November 11 2014

    Mykonos looks like the perfect place to party. And it’s kind of cool that you had such a great group of people to get crazy with. It seems like a huge perk of doing the group tour thing! Your photos of the day party are hilarious, especially the one with the ex-pornstar. I probably would have run way in that situation!
    Justine recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 13 2014

      Ha, he was a treat! When Paola told us to watch out for “The Elephant Man” I had no idea what was in store…

  • Chris
    November 12 2014

    LOL, and meanwhile on this side of the world, we were in bed by about 8pm last night… 😛

    Glad you had a blast!
    Chris recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 13 2014

      If only my insomnia would allow me that kind of sleep indulgence! Sigh…

  • wes
    November 12 2014

    Do they let ugly people on those tours? I’m too old but I can get fake id.

  • Anne
    November 12 2014

    Looks like a blast! Never imagined Greece could be this wild!

    • Meihoukai
      November 13 2014

      Oh yeah — the Greek islands are a crazy party spot! Well, some of them. Just wait until my post on Ios!

  • Miquel
    November 13 2014

    It looks like you had so much fun! It’s funny how we always want to return to the places we’ve already been. The next time I get back to Europe Greece is number one on my list!
    Miquel recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 13 2014

      I think I could go back to Greece every year for the rest of my life and be happy. It’s special!

  • Shaun's Cracked Compass
    November 13 2014

    Wow am I ever missing the Islands now.

    Your shrieks are well deserved. Pelicans don’t take guff from no one. They do what they want, when they want. The chef is lucky he didn’t lose an eye or a nad.

    Any parties where people end up standing on tables is fun.
    Shaun’s Cracked Compass recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 13 2014

      It’s a pretty darn good sign of a good time, that’s for sure 🙂

  • Sky
    November 13 2014

    Oh gosh, I so jealous – that sounds like SO much fun! Plus the photos are gorgeous!
    Sky recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 13 2014

      Thanks Sky! It was a pretty beautiful island with bucolic weather… not much to complain about 🙂

  • Mohammed ATanane
    November 13 2014

    Hi Meihoukai,
    You sound had a really good week sorry for my delayed birthday wishing to you: Happy Birthday to you! well,I haven;t been there but it’s gonna be in my 2015 plans I hope you’ll have a nice weekend
    P.S. sorry for my Subscribe that it’s so lately because i didn’t you have it xD.

    • Meihoukai
      November 15 2014

      Thank you so much Mohammed. It was a great birthday, and I have a post coming out about it today!

  • Laura
    November 13 2014

    This sounds like sooo much fun! I met a few people traveling Australia that used to be Contiki tour guides and they had some debaucherious stories! Glad it lived up to it’s reputation for you.
    Laura recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 15 2014

      Oh, I LOVED grilling Ed and Paola on their best and worst tours. It was a riot!

  • Joyce
    November 13 2014

    This looks absolutely amazing! I love your beach photos, and the beautiful white homes littering the side of the water is awesome–like what I would see in my dreams. Too bad Mykonos is pretty expensive…


    Joyce recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 15 2014

      It really is. I couldn’t believe what I was paying for drinks and food! But it’s worth it for a short term splurge 🙂

  • Kate
    November 14 2014

    Mykonos looks like a prettier version of Zakynthos (where I lived for 6 months after I left to go travelling), not that Zakynthos isn’t pretty, but Mykonos just seems a little more scenic!
    Gorgeous pictures, as usual!
    Kate recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 15 2014

      I’ve never even heard of Zakynthos, Kate! (Which means I like it already.) 🙂

  • Rebekah
    November 14 2014

    Those pictures look amazing! Especially that pelican. Its so cute
    Rebekah recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 15 2014

      He might just have been the highlight of Mykonos, ha!

  • Tash
    November 19 2014

    My aunty in Aus told me about Contiki last year…and it’s been in the back of my mind ever since. Recently, all of these Contiki ads keep appearing all over my Facebook, and now I read this?! Looks as if I’m destined to go with them sometime next year!! 😉 How easy is it to meet people then? if I were to travel alone, would I be experiencing everything alone? From what I gather it seems pretty sociable, but I know none of my friends would be able to come with me so I’d have to go alone…It’s the only thing putting me off really! I’d love to go back to Australia and experience it for real with them 🙂
    Tash recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 19 2014

      Hey Tash! I went by myself and as you can see, I was not alone again from the moment I checked in for the trip. About half the people were traveling solo, I’d say, so there are tons of others in the same boat. It’s a generally social setting and the guides go out of their way to make sure everyone is having a good time. You’d be great!

  • Lucy
    November 19 2014

    Loving your epic Greek adventure….it’s given me much food for thought in my own 2015 travel planning:)
    Lucy recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 19 2014

      Love hearing that, Lucy! I’m itching to go back already myself…

  • Emily in Chile
    November 19 2014

    The Elephant Man! He was there in 2006 when a friend and I spent 4 nights at Paradise Beach. It was a lot of fun, but I couldn’t survive much longer than that…I remain in awe of the livers of the people who work at the bar there all summer.
    Emily in Chile recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 19 2014

      Seriously! Did you read the most recent Earning Abroad installment about summer bartending in Portugal? I. would. die.

  • Lindsay
    May 31 2015

    Hi Meihoukai,

    I loved reading your posts about this trip! I’m considering a Greek Island Hopping tour this summer…maybe with Contiki! It looks so fun and exciting from your posts – and your writing is really great 🙂

    Sounds like there’s quite a bit of partying but this only added to the trip. I’m trying to decide how party-focused I want my trip to be. I like to go out a lot but sounds like it’s fine if you need to have some early-ish nights too? Would love to know what you think on that 🙂

    Also did you go to Paradise Club in Mykonos? Looks like it from your pics. How was that?! I’ve read amazing things.

    -Lindsay 🙂

    • Meihoukai
      June 2 2015

      There were definitely some on the trip who were not partying quite so hard! They mostly laughed at the rest of the crews antics and were good sports about the overall atmosphere. The nice thing about this Contiki is that there is plenty of free time to do what you wish, so a lot of people kind of go off and do their own thing, or you can stick with the group. We did go to Paradise Club – it was a really fun day! I think from what you describe you’ll have a great time and this would be a fun fit for you!