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Pelicans, cats and windmills, oh my! (a day in Mykonos)

October 19, 2012

Our first day on the ship was a day at sea, and I spent the whole thing napping, working out and laying in the sunshine on the upper decks.  The only notable portion of the day was that evening, when we all got dolled up for the ship’s Formal Night, which coincided with my sister and her husband’s wedding anniversary.

With the anniversary couple at dinner.

We dined at Le Champagne, the Relais & Chateaux French restaurant on board, where I ate indulgent dishes like rack of lamb and gold leaf risotto.  (Spoiler alert: gold leaf doesn’t taste like anything, but it does make your risotto sparkly.)  Then, I played blackjack in the casino with a rowdy group of Texans and walked away $80 richer.  Big money, baby!

The next morning we woke up in Mykonos.  Even before we boarded the tenders to take us ashore I could tell it was as picturesque as I’d imagined.

But before we really talk about Mykonos, I’d like to have a word about cats.  You see, in Turkey and Greece, stray cats are everywhere.  We first encountered them in Istanbul, where there were skinny, bedraggled looking cats everywhere you looked.  I am not what you would call a cat person, and to be honest at the beginning they kind of grossed me out.

As we continued on to other destinations, the scenery changed and the cats looked a little perkier, but they were still absolutely everywhere.  A tour guide finally explained that the cities encourage them because they keep pests like rats and mice away.  And a strange thing started to happen – I began to like them.  Most of the island cats looked fatter and happier, but I still found myself stopping to pour water in little nooks for them to drink out of and on one occasion sharing some leftover cheese.  I couldn’t stop taking pictures of them.

This might not sound remarkable to those of you who don’t know me, but trust me, this is a major turnaround on the subject of cats.  You still wouldn’t find me petting the kitties like some tourists (fleas!), but they definitely grew on me.  Which was a good thing, because you literally couldn’t take a step without coming across another one.  If you’re a cat person, go to Turkey and the Greek Isles.  Athens is a dog person’s town.

But I digress…

Mykonos Town, where we came into port, is an adorable town of tiny winding streets full of shops and tavernas.  The streets are so small that I thought they were pedestrian alleys until we saw cars driving down them.  We walked around a shopped for a while – jewelry and souvenir shops were the primary options.

Once we’d worked up an appetite for lunch we stopped at Katerina’s Bar and Restaurant in Little Venice.  The owner stopped us as we walked by, and between his persuasion and the commendations from various travel websites on his windows, we decided to go for it.

Katerina’s (second building from left) and Little Venice from a distance.

I’m glad we did, because this was one of our favorite meals of the trip.  We sat on a tiny balcony right over the water looking across at the famous Mykonos windmills.

Our view from Katerina’s.

We were trying to keep lunch on the lighter side (a total joke because we always over-ordered on this trip), so we all ordered various salads for our lunch entrees.  The salads had the most perfectly fresh tomatoes and were fantastic.  However, the appetizers stole the show.  Yes, appetizers at lunch – see previous note about over-ordering.  One of my favorite dishes of the entire trip was listed on the menu as simply “Grilled Feta” and we ordered it at our waitress’ encouragement to try their house specialty.  I can’t adequately describe the bowl that she brought to us of salty, melted grilled feta cheese mixed up with crushed tomatoes and herbs and who knows what else.  We devoured it with soft, fresh pita bread.

It tastes better than it looks, I promise! (Source)

After lunch, we walked over to check out the windmills and take pictures, then continued to wander the town and shop. The town is just so charming that we enjoyed just walking around, soaking it all in.

Before heading back to the boat my mom and I stopped into a bakery for some Greek goodness.  Our favorite item (of several) was an order of Greek donuts.  These were essentially fried donut holes that had been soaking in honey all day, topped with more honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  I can’t even explain the sticky deliciousness.

On the way back to the ship, we saw this guy hanging out in the harbor:

That’s Petros Pelican, the unofficial mascot of Mykonos, and in case you can’t tell, he’s HUGE.  (check out the man in the picture for a frame of reference)  I’d never seen a pelican that size before and was totally intimidated.  Later that evening, a friend we made on the cruise told me that Petros bit her when she posed too close to him for a photo-op.  Greatest fear: realized.

We all loved Mykonos, and returned to the ship that evening with our bellies full of honey and unscathed by the pelican.  All in all, I’ll call it a victory.

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