Back from Crete, Santorini, Naxos and Athens – the abbreviated version
Just back last night – loved the trip, but the traveling back almost wiped out the fun. But I’ll save that for another time. For now, a brief rundown of the notable experiences and other points that are of some significance to me. A more detailed report to come.
Hubby (M) and I are in our late 50s, early 60s, and in relatively decent shape, although M has had heel spurs and other foot problems over the last several months, which has impacted our plans for this trip. M was quite the trooper, though, and managed to walk quite a bit despite the aches. We are both finding that, youthful though our minds may see ourselves, our energy is not what it used to be! I planned several possible itineraries so that we had options to choose, depending how we were both feeling on a given day. This worked out very well, as we did make adjustments as the trip went along.
We visited Crete (6 nights), Santorini (3 nights), Naxos (4 nights), Athens (3 nights).
Memorable Experiences & other notables:
-Loved Hotel Palazzo in Chania. I highly recommend it: Irini and her daughter Anastasia run this small hotel with warmth and care. The rooms are spacious, airy and very comfortable in an old-fashioned, traditional way, but has an updated bathroom. We had a small balcony overlooking Theotokopoulou St, which I loved to sit on and watch the parade below. We were there mid-September, and it was never very noisy or too crowded for us.
-Loved being on Crete and getting a better feeling for Minoan culture.
-Wandering the streets of Chania
-Discovering the archeological site up on the hill
-Elafonissi Beach – A beautiful, glorious beach and I loved walking across the short “lagoon” to get to the actual beach – M liked the beach, although in retrospect, he found the long trip there and back to Chania a bit much for one day.
-Akrotiri Peninsula – enjoyed this day immensely. We did this drive the day after Elafonissi, which we substituted for another longer day drive. The description of the pensinusla never sounded especially exciting when I read about it, but we both loved it and were pleasantly surprised. We drove throughout the peninsula, went to Agia Triada monastery, and spent a long time leisurely afternoon at the lovely Stavros bay.
-Visiting both Phaistos and Knossos (different days). We both felt very glad that we saw both palaces. I can’t imagine seeing just one or the other. Phaistos is beautifully sited and is remarkable to see because the excavation is unrestored. However, sometimes it is hard to grasp what exactly one is seeing because of the condition. I have a purist streak, though, and appreciate seeing a site unrestored. Yet seeing Knossos was fun, too, and helped us both to imagine the possibilities of what the palace might be like.
-The National Archeological museum in Iraklion, though that description is pushing it. Rather, we saw a one room temporary display – but the artifacts on display were truly choice, Phaistos disk included.
SANTORINI (the WOW island):
-Loved staying in Delfini Hotel and relaxing on our hotel balcony overlooking the caldera – we had the junior suite in Complex A.
-LOVED the views from everywhere
-The walk between Oia and Fira – beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I thank M for doing this despite some discomfort, but we both enjoyed the walk tremendously
- Going down to and swimming in Amoudi Bay. Can't say enough about this beautiful spot , whether or not you go swimming
-Participating in the SUNSET Experience. I can’t say that we saw a stellar sunset, but I LOVED being amongst the many others who gathered at every available spot to watch it. Sheer communal fun.
A note here: as others have said, it took some adjustment and getting used to Naxos , especially after the intense & stunning beauty of Santorini. But after a day or so, it seemed to take on a deeper feeling for us both, and somehow, I felt a stronger connection to Naxos than to either of the other islands we visited. Naxos is definitely more “real” – it doesn’t depend solely on tourism, and perhaps it feels a little more relaxed because of that. We also found we were able to connect to some local folks, which added to the richness.
So, experiences and moments enjoyed here include:
-Studio Kalergis – took getting used to having a self-catering place rather than a hotel with always available staff, but really enjoyed the location and the spacious room.
-Getting lost in the maze of the old town streets in Chora
-Slowing down and strolling through the town
-The wonderful drives through Naxos
Drive 1) From the Temple of Demeter – a beautiful temple in a wonderful setting; to Chalki (loved the Citron Museum and its product!); through Filoti; to Apeiranthos (loved the town. We ended up following a man with a donkey up, up, up through a maze of marble steps what I later find out is the backside of town), finally stopping to see the Kouros near Melanes.
Drive 2) Seeing the Apollon Kouros and driving long & twisty road waaay up into the mountains, driving to Koronida to look for a Mycenean tomb. We never actually find the tomb, but we find warm & helpful locals, trying to direct us toward the site; we are given freshly picked grapes by one man and another points out ripe fig trees; we find grazing goats; and raucous roosters. This was not a tourist town - no one spoke any English at all, but we found the welcome genuine.
-Sipping Kitron (or Citron) on my hotel balcony overlooking the beach
-Hanging out with Irini of Naxos Vision car rental – good car agency and we became friendly with the charming rental agent
More to come tomorrow....jet lag setting in and abbreviated sentences are becoming shorter still!
Back from Greece - A quicky Trip Report!
Back from Crete, Santorini, Naxos and Athens – the abbreviated version
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