Mykonos maze

The sun is rising ever higher in the Mykonos sky so we know we won’t have the old town to ourselves for much longer!

The cafes and restaurents are starting to put out their signs to catch the day trippers and the shops are beginning to lay out their colourful wares.

The meandering maze of streets seems endless and I love the cool greys, blues and white hues.

Olive oil, herbs, soaps, bags and a hundred other souvenirs begin to appear on the street, artfully designed to snag your eye, and then money!

Every door is an advertising board or tiny art work, whether in shades of green or sky blue.

Squishy blue cushions soften the solid stone walls, a common seating arrangement in the old town.

We’re heading gradually towards the sea and its line of windmills, but it is hard not to get distracted by this pretty little oasis.

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Little Venice

More mooching around Mykonos old town reveals my all time favourite shop tucked down an alleyway and smothered in postcards and paintings.

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Every square inch of this little souvenir shop is covered in paintings and postcards of this picturesque island. All azure seas and blue domes.

I’m a bit obsessed and have to be bodily dragged away by the husband . . . .

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Heading down another tiny alleyway we’re suddenly confronted with a rocky drop and the sea!

Behind us you can see the line of famous windmills, one of the iconic sights of the island.

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We also get an alternative view of the bustling little quarter known as Little Venice where restaurants hover just feet away from the lapping sea water.

You can just about make out one of the hulking great big cruise ships that flood this tiny town with 1000s of visitors each day.

Back to wandering the seemingly endless, maze like streets, throw up yet more lovely details.

More traditional gifts such as olive oil soaps and woven bags all tempt the tourists.

For such a small place, the Hora sure has a lot to investigate. So watch this space!

 

Old Town

Mykonos Town—called Hora by the locals— is the Saint-Tropez of the Greek islands. Beloved by the rich folk and beautiful people.

Put on the map by Jackie O in the 1960s the old town is a maze of white washed houses, colourful doors and glamorous shops.

Its cube like houses and the churches, with their red or blue doors, domes and wooden balconies are perfect examples of classic Cycladic architecture.

The Greek Archaeological Service acted to protect the town so the Old Town has been impressively preserved.  It’s almost like a film set!

We arrived super early in the morning to avoid the inevitable hideous crowds so we got to enjoy the picture postcard streets completely alone.

The only downside is that the shops don’t actually open until around 10am so we didn’t get to enjoy the colourful displays until the cruise ships starting disgorging literally 1000s of people !

A fairly unique feature of the Hora are the grey painted stones that mark out the meandering streets. Some of them are real stones and others have been painted to look like them.

Although blinding white is the overriding colour of the town, there are lovely splashes of vivid colours that break up the street scene.

Another thing that you’ll see everywhere are the painted staircases that most shops have.

These are a pretty architectural features that also double as displays for tourists to browse the shop’s wares. They also make very nice floral displays!

Painted doors double as shop adverts, shocking pink bouganvilla drapes itself lavishly around weathered old buildings and open squares provide an oasis of shade later in the day.

The hubby finds a furry feline friend, just one of the many moggies to be found all over the island.

The island has a population of nearly 12,500 and most of them live in the Chora, so it’s the only place on Mykonos that you’ll ever feel crowded.

Boats and sparkling waters

Leaving behind the pretty Agios Ioannis beach behind we’re heading through the tiny settlement to the mini harbour at the far end of the bay.

After enjoying the obligatory snaps of vivid bougainvillea we come across the small picturesque chapel of Agios Ioannis which sits above a tiny harbour.

There’s absolutely no one around at all so we have this sparkling scene all to ourselves.

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Various boat trips and fishing excursions take to the waters from this tiny harbour.

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The pro tanner scampers off to find some super heated rocks to roast himself on while I opt for the cooling breezes that can be found at the boat harbour.

The colour of the water in Greece is something I never tire of. A constantly shifting, mesmerising, kaleidoscope of greens, blues and golds.

It’s well worth making the ten minute walk from the beach to enjoy the bobbing boats and peaceful views out to the sea.

Shirley Valentine

Following on with our bonus week in the tiny, scorching island of Mykonos. We’re off to the island’s most famous claim to fame – The Shirley Valentine beach.

The beach and restaurant made famous by the 1980s films is actually located at Agios Ioannis.

This is a tiny beach town about a 15 minute drive from Mykonos Town and a half hour walk from Ornos where we were based.

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While the taverna where Shirley falls in love with Greece, and life itself, might be long gone – replaced by Hippie Fish, a much more upscale and expensive restaurant – the gorgeous beach remains.

The beach got pretty busy with sun worshippers and falls foul to the eye wateringly expensive sun bed prices that blight this island.

But gaining a little perspective on the bay still allows you to appreciate the views that Shirley came to love.

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Next up we’re heading on past the edge of the beach to see Άγιος Ιωάννης (San Giovanni) a tiny church.

 

Mini Mykonos

From the big city buzz of NYC our next trip couldn’t be more different – to the tiny Greek island of Mykonos.

We grabbed a week long package holiday in July to celebrate my birthday (and honeymoon mark 2!)

The reality is that New York was so expensive to eat out in that we just filled up on our free breakfast – leaving most of our spending money unspent! So it came back home with us and actually paid for this bonus week in Greece!

We stay in the pleasant Amenos Apartments in Ornos.

It’s a two minute walk to a busy town beach where you’ll pay a fortune for a beach bed (which develops as a theme across this tiny, expensively chic island)

The pro tanner enjoys a swelter around the hotel pool below!

There is not a great deal to do in Mykonos beyond its stunning old town (more of that later) which is the main reason I wanted to visit and a plethora of lovely beaches to suit all tastes.

Apart from Mykonos town itself there is only one other major ‘town’ which is Ornos where we stayed and Ano Mera, a little hill top settlement.

You can see all the main sights in a couple of days on a quad. Beyond that it’s a case of soaking up the sun and watching the beautiful people spending a fortune on posing on the beach.

We’re close to Agios Ioannis – the beach made famous in the 1980s film Shirley Valentine. So our first trip is a half hour walk from Ornos to check it out.

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I’ll share a few more snaps of this pretty stretch of beach in the next post – just looking at it makes me feel sun burnt and sandy!!

Long Island City

On our last night in NYC we hop across the water to Long Island City and Gantry Plaza State Park.

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You can get more epic views back towards Manhattan from this popular spot.

As the sun sets on our last ever night in New York I realise just how much I have come to love this crazy city!

Another feature of Long Island city is the huge glowing red neon Pepsi cola sign!

In Gantry Plaza State Park the iconic Pepsi-Cola sign sits marking the site of the PepsiCo bottling plant that sat in that very spot.

The original neon sign was placed on top of the plant in 1940 so has a long and illustrious history of watching the waterfront. It’s been updated since then but remains as a reminder of the area’s industrial past.

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The sign was granted landmark status in 2016 (after 28 years of consideration)

So we’ll end this epic trip with me basking in an eerie red light cast from a sugary soft drink!

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Lady liberty

We’re nearing the end of our epic honeymoon – and first ever visit to the good old US of A.

And we’ve saved the most iconic of all the sights till the last day – the Statue of Liberty.

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We booked our tickets online before we headed out to New York and it’s a good idea to do so as the queues to get tickets on the day are horrific – plus you won’t be able to get a crown or pedestal ticket for love nor money!

We managed to bag a pedestal ticket, but the crown ones are sold out months in advance.

Which means we’re heading all the way up to the base of the statue (or the very top of the stone bit below)

Our first up close glimpse of this giant lady is every bit as awesome as we had hoped – and she does get a lot bigger up close!!!!

Once we disembark onto Liberty Island we waste no time in heading towards the lady herself.

We get to see a life sized replica of the famous torch and admire the corner stone of the liberty pedestal.

But naturally all we really want to see is the lady herself – so here is the most famous up skirt pic of all time!!!!

The view from the pedestal itself shows just how busy it gets.

One of the bonuses of getting a pedestal ticket is that you get to go in the star shaped area on the ground which is far less crowded than just being part of the crowd who didn’t bag a ticket!! Pus you get a much better, less busy picture from the floor looking up too.

Here’s us up on the pedestal with Manhattan in the background. A bit blowy but what a view!35282724_10155407780862353_6245721392935862272_n

We have successfully ticked off another of our epic bucket list sights and it’s a great one.

Seen for free from a distance you might feel a bit disappointed by this green goddess but up close she is incredible.

A gift from the French to the American people, Lady Liberty is a figure of  Libertas, a robed Roman goddess.

She holds a torch above her head with her right hand, and in her left hand carries a tabula ansata inscribed in Roman numerals with July 4, 1776 – the date of the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

A ceremony of dedication was held on the afternoon of October 28, 1886. President Grover Cleveland, the former New York governor, presided over the event.

On the morning of the dedication, a parade was held in New York City; estimates of the number of people who watched it ranged from several hundred thousand to a million.

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All in all an incredible way to finish off our first ever visit to America. A heady, hectic and intoxicating place to be.

Coney colour

There’s so much to see at the colourful Coney Island that it warrants two posts!

We take a wander around Luna Park the largest of the amusement parks, full of high octane, scream inducing, rides.

Steeplechase Park was an amusement park  created by George C. Tilyou which operated from 1897 to 1964.

It was the first of the three original iconic large parks built on Coney Island, the other two being Luna Park (1903) and Dreamland (1904).

The rather creepy face of Tillie, a man with a huge grin and far too many teeth, came to symbolise the Steeplechase Park and would become synonymous with Coney Island.

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He is just one of the many haunting faces of ‘fun’ that can be found dotted around the place!

As well as hair raising rides and ‘fun’ characters there are the usual try your luck stalls including the famous whacamole!

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The hubby decides to try his luck at whacking the crap out of that pesky mole….

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Here’s another hell nope ride for your enjoyment…

Here it is getting higher and higher…

And then whirling, it takes flight!

Another highlight of Coney Island it is has an actual BOARDWALK!! Yes! The star of so many 60s ballads and tunes.

Packed full of diners, sweet treats and sun drenched tourists, it’s a magnet for crowds.

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Above is one of the places original attractions – Deno’s Wonder Wheel.

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The boys of summer are loitering about above – sun seeker gets his kit off!

The sand and sea seems like a world away from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan but your are still technically in Brooklyn.

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Garish colours abound all around the boardwalk, from tourist tat shops to painted walls.

I’m a big fan of a painted wall and I am spoilt for choice in Coney Island.

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Here’s the famous wonder wheel doing its thing.

More traditional American thrills with the spookarama ghost train. Feels just like being in a 1980s film 🙂

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In fact we even find a replica of the famous Zoltan machine from the famous Tom Hank’s film Big.

 

 

 

 

 

Coney island

Our next iconic trip is to the home of cheesy Americana nostalgia – Coney Island!!

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I’ve grown up on US TV shows and films that reference this mythical seaside hot spot and it represents to me the golden heyday of technicolor America – and I am not disappointed!

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Coney Island is actually a series of amusement parks,the largest of which is Luna Park above.

It’s also home of the cyclone – a historic wooden roller coaster that opened in 1927!

The coaster was declared a New York City landmark on July 12, 1988, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 26, 1991.

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There’s even a real life freak show – albeit renamed and re-badged as a circus side show But it has all the traditional characters advertised in garish, cartoon style.

It’s not open when we arrive so we have to be content to peer through the shutters.

Coney Island is home to the International Hot Dog Eating Contest on the 4th July. A event that combines American’s twin loves of competition and eating fast food!

I am giddy with all the over the top garish advertisements for all manner of seaside treats.

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Hot dogs, candy floss, buttered corn on the cob. It’s all there for the hungry tourists. Although they manage to take something relatively healthy – the apple- and make it super bad!

Everywhere is a rainbow of signage and consumerism. All shimmering in the June sunshine as the temperature gauge kept on rising.

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Oversized donuts, bumper cars and the famous mermaid parade all combine to the heady atmosphere of Coney Island.

The area started to sink into decline after the second world war with all the original amusement parks being demolished and plans for a casino and luxury apartments all being punted as ideas for the old tourist haunts.

Many of the old rides and attractions have gone for good and many vacant lots still exist, Coney Island is a long way from its hey day but in August 2018 it was announced that a boutique hotel was to built and the amusement areas extended, so there may still be life in the old dog yet!

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The Coney Island Art Walls are just one of the attractions hoping to bring back the visitors of old.

The walls feature artwork from renowned local and international artists in many different styles. Many of which are political or satirical in nature.