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Trip Report Trip Report Naxos Greece

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My wife (lollypeter) and I visited Naxos for the 10th time this June. Our first visit was in 1996. Back then research was done by reading guide books and brochures. We independently read everything we could get our hands on about the Greek islands and amazingly both chose Naxos.
What appealed to us was Naxos didn’t have a major airport so it is serviced by small aircraft and ferries. Tourists have to work a little to get there. It had a laid back atmosphere, with a well thought out tourist infrastructure and blessed with sandy beaches. Its economy was based on agriculture not tourism. The Greeks you meet on Naxos are probably part of the permanent population. There have been some changes through the years with more sophistication being introduced such as the Venetian museum/ Domus festival, higher end shops bars and hotels, however Naxos has retained its character and has resisted cruise ships and high-rise resort development.
This year I retired and we had planned a 6 week Greek trip however we had always thought it would be wonderful to visit Italy. We took two weeks and visited Sorrento and Rome and then 4 weeks on our favourite Greek islands with a week each in Crete, Rhodes, Milos and Naxos. This is the first of 6 separate sets of reports and images.
We arrived in Naxos just after the big winds this spring had died down so the weather was perfect. The days were warm and sunny. The water was cool but actually warmer than we can remember, so swimming at St George beach and Plaka beach was just exceptional. We chose to stay at St George so we could stroll to Naxos Town ( Chora) at least twice a day. In the morning wander the back alleys, visiting markets for fresh bread, vegetables, wine and cheese. The second time is in the evening to watch the sun set over the waterfront and the Portera, then a leasurly dinner at a taverna. As is our custom we ate every second night at our favourite taverna, Taverna to Kastro. (I would go every night but Lolly insists on trying other tavernas). This time the highlights were Good Heart which has a great location on the waterfront promenade. Another was Sirocco, in fountain square which is always busy. They provide good friendly service and we were treated like guests at home. We also ate at Maros. This taverna is just down the road from fountain square and is always jammed with locals and tourists alike. Everyone is packed in so you have no choice but to talk to the people at the next table. That can be a fun evening. The presence of locals means ensures that these tavernas have authentic recipes large helpings and good prices.
At all of the tavernas I mentioned the dinner experience was slow and relaxed: once you are seated you can probably just stay, share dishes and enjoy the experience until closing. We typically share a Greek Salad, one or two appetizers and one main with a liter of house wine for about 25 Euros for two. Once Lolly discovered how good the Baklava at Taverna to Kastro was I had to bump the budget up to 28 Euros.
I have been posting images of Naxos on the forum for several years. Last year Webshots went down and I had to make an emergency change to Flickr. Thinking about process improvement, I amalgamated my best Naxos album into three separate albums: Naxos town, beaches and mountain villages. Subsequently several people contacted me to express their distress at the loss of that album. On this trip I decided to create a new “Trip around Naxos Album” with fresh images.
During our week we spent two days at St George beach/ Naxos town and a day on Plaka beach. Then we rented a small Fiat car for three days to visit as much of the island as we could. We drove to Amitis bay and looked for the tower house there. We should have rented a Jeep! We saw in the distance the village of Eggares and I thought I recalled seeing something about an abandoned stone village so we wandered wandered around in the village and countryside. I was wrong about the abandoned village but we did see small ruins of churches and a Roman arch style wall. We had a run in with a turkey who was agitated and seemed to be challenging me. I am not sure if he was protecting his girls or was trying to recruit Lolly to his flock but I think I won.
We forgot to bring bottled water. Fortunately the Naxos spring water system is still working so we were able to refresh ourselves with that sweet water from public access locations.
We then drove to Appollonas at the far North of the island and had a lovely lunch on the waterfront, then headed south to visit the villages of Filoti Aparanthos and Chalki. The next day we came back and did some hiking around Chalki and Aperanthos. Lolly then surprised me and asked if we could go to see if there was a fresh fish waiting for her at Moutsouna Bay. We drove down that long switchback road all the way down to Moutsouna and indeed Lolly got her Naxos fish feed. Since fish is not on my menu I took pictures and made do with a gyros and a beer to steel myself for the drive back up.
Lastly we did our beach tour. We visited Stalada and some of the very nice new hotels near Ag Prokopis beach, then on to Aggia Anna and our favourite, Plaka beach with its dunes and beautiful clear water. From Plaka we navigated the back roads to Migri Vigla to watch wind and kite surfers. From there we continued south to Kastraki, Glyfada and the uncompleted hotel ruins at Aiko Beach. It was windy that day so we didn’t swim but I am pretty sure that we will come back to Aliko beach as it was wild, beautiful and remote. From Aliko we then broke new grounds and visited Pirgaki and Agiassos beaches. In the early season if you are looking for a “get away from it all location” these two beaches and their villages fit the bill.
On the way back we drove through a wide valley where you could hear goat bells merrily clanking their unique rhythm far in the distance. The highlight of the day was stumbling into the village of Damalas and the olive press museum. We found this several years ago and have never been able to find it again. We spent a quiet hour in the village and museum all by ourselves.
Lesson Learned. On our last day the Olympic flight from Athens was delayed for 4 hours and people trying to catch connecting flights to the UK Germany and South Africa all missed their connections. We on the other hand got to Athens a few hours late, had dinner and a good sleep before catching our flight home the next day. This is why the regulars on the forum always recommend you get to Athens the day before your return flight.
We plan to return to Naxos again next year but in the meantime here is the new “Trip around Naxos” album. We hope it brings back good memories to the Naxos regulars and encourages others to visit the island.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157634605629689/

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