Mykonos, a small island in the Greek Cyclades, is a popular spot on the tourist trail. It has a circumference of only 10 kilometers or six miles, and with only 30 taxis available on the entire island, cycling is actually a good way to tour the island. This wind swept piece of land with hills, mountains, pristine shoreline and magnificent beaches is a feast for the eyes, and cycling allows one to see the island up close in all its glory.
Yummy Pedals is yummy!
Yummy Pedals, the only cycling operation on the island, is run by the intrepid Dimitra. Easily contactable by e-mail (more info at end of page), we arranged for a 3 hour bike tour plus snack (thus explaining the “yummy” in Yummy Pedals) for the reasonable price of 50 EUR (around 55 USD). The tour fee includes bike rental, helmet, water, insurance, and guided tour as well as the aforementioned yummy snack of fresh squeezed lemonade and homemade muffins. Pickup and drop off at your accommodation can be arranged at an additional cost. We paid 15 EUR (around 17 USD) for these return transfers. This was well worth it for us, keeping in mind the dearth of taxis and public transportation on the island.
Cycling is exercise
Our tour was graded a three out of a possible five, indicating that it would be moderately difficult with some elevation and hills. We joined six other riders ranging in age from twenty to sixty, and after adjusting the bicycles and helmets, and applying sunscreen we set out for our adventure. The roads of Mykonos are rather empty, as there are only 10,000 or so permanent residents, thus our bike ride was for the most part traffic free, allowing us to concentrate on the lapis blue skies and the bright white houses dotted across the brown hillsides. All houses in Mykonos must be whitewashed, with wooden shutters, most often painted blue. There is very little vegetation in Mykonos, and virtually no agriculture. Most people make their living from tourism.
Churches, more churches and a monastery
Our multi-lingual tour leader, Dimitra, showed us a different side of Mykonos from the perspective of a local resident and it is interesting to discover the rural and traditional sights of this popular Greek island. There are over 600 churches on Mykonos, and indeed every few hundred meters, one sees the red painted domes or arches or yet another small chapel. Apparently, most of these churches are private, and belong to a family! There are few larger churches scattered across the island. Unfortunately, we could not peek into the smaller chapels because most of them are locked. Along the way, we were given time to visit the Greek Orthodox Monastery of Panagia Tourliani (admission 1 EUR/ ~1.20 USD).
The monastery originated in the 16th century and is housed in an eighteenth century building, adorned by an intricately carved bell tower. The baroque iconostasis, or altar screen, was created in Florence and is quite massive and impressive. The monastery is located in the town of Ano Mera, a picturesque village complete with village square and taverna (small Greek restaurant similiar to a tavern). We enjoyed our yummy snack outside the walls of the monastery to the accompaniment of Greek music, thanks to that taverna.
Visit the beach of Fokos
After licking off the crumbs and finishing every last drop of lemonade, we continued on our way to the beach of Fokos. The ride to the beach on a winding gravel path included a long and enjoyable downhill. Arriving at the secluded beach, there were only a few other couples or family groups, allowing us the feeling of privacy and quiet. A quick dip in the cold Aegean Sea was so refreshing that it was no trouble at all making the return trip (quite a lot of it uphill), arriving back at our starting point in 30 minutes.
Start and end the tour at the Vioma Farm vineyard
Yummy Pedals begins and ends all bike rides at the family vineyard known as Vioma Farm. At the vineyard, aside from petting a donkey and admiring the chickens and the grapevines, one can sit and enjoy a wine tasting or a snack of local cheese, olives, or a salad, all for an additional fee. It is a lovely way to rest after the invigorating bike ride, and catch one’s breath.
A day well spent in the outdoors
Enjoying the great outdoors, seeing Mykonos up close, with the added benefit of interacting with a local - Dimitra who is very friendly and knowledgeable - was sightseeing at its best. If you stop in Mykonos, even for a day or two, Yummy Pedals and the Mykonos Bicycle Tour should be on your agenda.
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