Milos — one of Greece’s sun-soaked Cycladic islands that include the better known Mykonos and Santorini — had not been on my radar until a Greek-American friend of ours suggested it might be the perfect place for a three-generation vacation.
The three generations? My wife, Catharine, and I — first-time grandparents as of six months ago — our son, Grael; daughter-in-law, Nona; and our young grandson, Conrad, making his first trip abroad, brand new passport in hand. (Well, not in his hands — though he would have liked to have gotten hold of it, along with anything dangling and shiny.)
Because we’d all be traveling with a baby, we didn’t want anything too hectic and crowded — that eliminated Mykonos and Santorini — but we did want a good choice of lodgings, restaurants, cafes, and beaches, as well as the scenery, history, local people, and deep-blue Aegean waters that make the Greek islands just about my favorite destination in the world.
Our friend, Pagona, who now lives in Arizona but leads tours of her native Greece, assured us that Milos had all the qualities we were seeking — but had not yet been “discovered” by the trendy hordes or giant cruise ships.
I did a little research, and was quickly sold.
Home of the Venus de Milo
The name “Milos” came into better focus when I learned that it was where one of the world’s most famous statues — the arm-less Venus de Milo, now in the Louvre in Paris — was discovered.
I was also intrigued to read that the island’s landscapes — including the beach backdrops — were varied and stunning.
And that an ancient archaeological site was considered one of the most important in all of the Mediterranean.
But I wasn’t prepared for the visual feast when we arrived.
Milos’ long, curving harbor — actually the flooded caldera from an ancient volcano — rivaled Santorini’s in beauty, with hills rising on both sides, some of them lined with the Cyclades’ iconic whitewashed houses and churches, while others rose virtually unoccupied.
The harbor fills roughly a third of the smallish island, which is shaped a bit like a giant horseshoe crab, with pincers of land wrapping around either side of the water.
As our ferry approached the waterfront, we passed whitewashed fishermen’s cottages lapped by the sea, their upper levels used as housing, their lower levels used as boat storage, so that they could sail directly out in search of the morning’s catch.
As soon as we disembarked from our ferry — a seven-hour ride by slow ferry from Piraeus, the port of Athens (though the fast ferry, which the two younger generations took separately, cuts three hours off that) — we encountered a string of inviting-looking outdoor cafes across the road from a marina where yachts, sailboats, and tour boats bobbed in the sunshine.
We quickly located our personable and perpetually on-the-go travel agent, Nikos, who had rented us a house via airbnb for a week in a village up in the hills overlooking the harbor.
The house came equipped with two bedrooms (one upstairs, one down), one baby crib, two baths, a full kitchen, Wi-Fi, a parking space for our rental car, and the proverbial terrace overlooking the farm-lined valley below and, just beyond, the bustling waterfront town of Adamas where we arrived.
It would prove to be a memorable week.
Next up: a moonscape beach, an ancient village, and restaurateurs who each put on an unchoreographed show of their own.