How do you gather the courage to finish a 3 mile morning hike up an almost 90 degree slope? You envision the rewarding end goal waiting for you on top of the peak; a dreamlike view of the seemingly endless Aegean Sea.
The Armenistis Lighthouse
In our Converse and Vans, we trekked up rugged residential paths up to The Armenistis Lighthouse. The sea-view homes we passed were prime real estate by the Aegean Sea. They are often rented by top celebrities like Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, and Cristiano Ronaldo. One of the houses even had a personal helicopter parked in its driveway in the place of a car, a luxury I wish I had access to on the way down the mountain.
At the top of the lighthouse, you can see boats arriving and departing from Mykonos. I felt a heightened sense of location even more than I did overlooking Athens from the Acropolis. From the Armenistis Lighthouse
, we were alone. There were no other tourists to crowd our space, nor metropolitan areas to block our view. It was just us and the sea, the Aegean Sea, whose breeze gave me chills and made me feel overwhelmingly warm with love at the same time. Perhaps that explains why my shirt was much darker than it was when we first embarked on the hike.
Don’t be a tourist
Our next stop were the The Windmills at Chora. Before I could begin exploring the next spectacular sight, I had to locate some Wi-Fi as I had a video-chat job interview for a videographer position atop the mountain.
Shortly after, I got off the phone, I spotted a white sign with large blue letters laying alongside one of the giant windmills. Written in large capital letters were the words ‘Don’t Just Be A Tourist.’ Immediately, I fell in love with that saying. It encourages people to not succumb to visiting the flashy places without really engaging what the place has to offer. In my opinion, you won’t learn much about a culture just by jet-skiing or playing laser tag. You have to look deeper and engage in activities that help connect you to the local lifestyle. It is so vital to interact with locals as much as possible.
It wasn’t until we ended up at the world renowned Paradise Beach that I got to dive head first into the Aegean Sea. The water was crystal clear, allowing me to see my toes embrace the rocky sand. At first, Paradise resembled any local Florida beach, but at night, it mirrored a wild South Beach Miami party scene.
Visitors piled in to the beach’s Guapaloca Club where parties are hosted every day from April through October. Since the vacation season doesn’t technically start until June, it was much less rowdy. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by the club’s host Spiros, a giant man with muscles as stiff as the rocks surrounding the beach and eyes as blue as the sea. After he asked us about the purpose of our stay and what the club had to offer, we asked him about his life. He told us he only works at the club in the summer, and for 6 months he has the strenuous job of partying with visitors from all over the world, then he returns to his day job in Sparta for the rest of the year. Apparently he’s so good at what he does that he’s basically a household name across the island.
Without getting into too much detail, Mykonos knows how to throw a good party. However, the nightlife is just one way to enjoy in its grandeur. The island’s relationship with the water is unshakable, making it impossible not to build a deep appreciation for it. All it takes is an Aegean Sea breeze, and the rest is history.
You can learn more about Brittany’s study abroad with AIFS below: