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Trip Report Trip report part 2 Naxos

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On to Naxos
We traveled from Heraklion Crete to Naxos on Championjet 1 because it went to Santorini and directly to Naxos. We were there by 11:30.

Seajets has had a lot of criticism about late arrivals and bumpy rides. I just wanted to compliment them. Championjet 1 is a fast ferry but it also carries cars. It is large enough that the trip was smooth. It departed and arrived right on time. Our hotels on Naxos gave us a view of the port and all the Seajets were precisely on time for the whole 10 days. The bonus is Championjet has an outside deck so you can go out and see the arrival in Santorini from the deck. This wasn’t possible previously. Arriving at Santorini is always a spectacle.

We tried a new hotel ( for us) Diogenes Studios which is owned by the people at Finikas taverna. Its right on St George beach with sea views from every room. We scored the top floor studio with two balconies plus the rest of the roof top as our personal space. However our personal space was quickly violated when I stepped outside the room and found a naked couple changing into bathing suits on the rooftop. All this for 45 e per night

We stayed a week at St George beach. It is a good sand beach probably a kilometer long horseshoe shape. The far end goes to small dunes while the end where we stayed is full of oceanside small family run hotels in every price range. The water is very shallow and you have to wade out a couple hundred meters before you can swim. The bonus for St George is that it is part of Naxos town. It is a 12 minute stroll along the shore until you arrive in Naxos town waterfront promenade. You get a beach vacation with all the activities of town.

We lounged at Finikas then wandered into town for dinner. We went to a favorite taverna, Kala Cardia ( Good Heart) Its right on the waterfront promenade and is always full. We had a village salad and shrimp Saganaki and our first taste of Naxos fried potatoes. Naxos is famous for having the best frying potatoes in Greece. It’s a must have dish. They gave us an extra half liter of wine with the complementary desert. 25E

Quotes of the day
“There’s an open deck for viewing while the ship is at high speed” stan
“Why do I have to apologize, they shouldn’t be up here” stan

Next day we walked into town and the Portera and up into the old market to visit our friend the baker and his son, who own the wood fired bakery. It’s easy to find just follow your nose. The son had an interesting perspective on Greece and the changes that need to be made for the economy. He said the young children now will live in constant economic turmoil but when they grow up they will be the ones who will be willing to make the changes to fix the problems.

We spent rest of the day relaxing at the hotel and Finikas. We returned to Naxos town and went to Nostimon Hellas a relatively new high end taverna. We had fried eggplant stuffed with cheese and a dish of giant shrimp with Mextaka rice. Excellent. With wine 34E

Quote of the day
“We ate the whole loaf of bread” Stan
“I am going to pay for this tomorrow” Lolly

Next morning we took the KTEL bus to the village of Aparanthos. Return 14 E. Aparanthos is an old village high up in the mountains. Its alleys are paved in marble. We spent an hour wandering the alleys then found an artist’s shop and bought three images of Naxos. This is unique art. The photographs are antiqued and embedded into frames made with local pottery and glazed with mica and emery from the local mines. We were pleased to find these as a memento of Naxos.

We returned to Finikas for some beaching and an ouzo. In the early evening we visited Alex from Boutique hotel Glaros where we first stayed in 1996. We had another long discussion about the economy. Alex told us that they are now paying income taxes of 79% and this year the government is insisting they pay next year’s taxes in advance. The more taxes that are introduced the more the economy is based on cash. My words not Alex’s.

For dinner we went to Fountain Square to a new taverna, Jotis Greek Cusine. At first it was enjoyable sitting on the sidewalk just meters away from the cars buzzing by however in the end it wasn’t the best experience. It was noisy. They provided a starter of fresh bread from our baker friend with olive paste, rice stuffed pepper and tomato, with the main chicken special. It came complete with French fries and a baked potato. With a liter of wine 30E

“Who would have believed there was rice, fries and a baked potato? I am so stuffed” Lolly
“We are going to have to waddle home” Stan
“I just love these mistranslations on menus. I wonder what titbits are?” Stan

Next day we walked into Naxos town and bought ticket for the Domus Festival. We have been visiting the festival way up in the kastro at the Venetian Museum since its second year in 1996. During those early years Nico the owner was putting in long days making a go of it and we developed a relationship with him but in the past few years we never saw him again as staff took over his duties. As we left the Museum, Nico came walking up the stairway and we said “Nico”, unbelievable he recognized us. We had a nice chat and he told us that there is so much demand for the festival that they were opening another location at Agios Prokopios Beach that week. So now the people at the west coast beaches won’t have to make the trip into Naxos town to attend the festival. That’s good news.

Before the concert a jazzy piano recital we had dinner at Metaxi Mas ( between us) in the old town. We had a Greek Salad, plus an eggplant dish with cheese and meat plus a zucchini pie with cheese and eggs. With wine 23E

Quote of the day
“They have been drinking, do you think they are going to dance” Stan
“Oh no they are going to dance. Let’s get out of here” Stan (At the concert where they serve free local drinks, raki and wine.)

Next day we took the bus out to Plaka beach to introduce ourselves to the people at the hotel we would soon be moving to. I had never stayed at that hotel and wanted to check it out. It’s a good thing that we did because the room I thought we had booked wasn’t the one we were going to be in. After some Greek/English translation issues we got the room we wanted
.
We spent the rest of the afternoon on Plaka beach which is our favourite beach. Its a long beautiful sand stretch of beach probably 3 or 4 kilometers long.

In the evening we went to Taverna to Kastro. This was the first Taverna we went to in 1996 and we have developed a relationship with Solous the owner. The food has always been good and the location just outside the Kastro walls has a view over the harbour. This is still our go to Taverna. We had an eggplant pie with eggplant onions pepper and feta in a phylo pastry. I am going to have to try this dish at home. For the main, we had Kelagoros, a veal stew with melted cheese. With a liter of wine plus a complimentary glass of ouzo before dinner and a half liter after dinner, the bill came to an astonishing 23E. Did I mention Naxos is probably one of the least expensive places for dining in Greece.

Quotes of the day
“I always know summer is coming when you arrive at my taverna” Solous
“ Come, I have a fine table overlooking the sea with a glass of ouzo for you” Soulous
“I am just a little tipsy doodle” Lolly
“Yes I know” Stan

Next day I discovered that there was a threatened airport workers strike on the day we were supposed to fly back to Athens. I figured there is no problem we can just catch the ferry. Who knew this was a big Greek holiday. When we visited a Travel agent we were told there are no seats on any of the ferries on that day. We put some pressure on the agent who grumblingly agreed to check harder and she found us two seats in First Class. It was 100 euros but that’s a cheap price to pay not to miss our International flight home. As she handed us the tickets she said, you know the strike probably won’t happen.
Sure enough it was called off and we had to go back to her to try unload the unwanted tickets. Oh well.

We had intended to walk all the way along St George beach to the airport that day and got as far as Fivlos sports club when we spotted a kid on a wind surfer with his dog on the board. As we stood there another tourist stopped and started to talk with us. Turns out she was from Seattle and knows Vancouver Island quite well. We talked for an hour about Naxos and what to see, tavernas and, American politics ( that was interesting) Eventually her husband found us and we agreed to take them to dinner.

Since they wanted to dine at our favourite taverna we went up to Tavena to Kastro again. We had eggplant in a pot from the oven, Eggplant pie and a Naxos salad with soft cheese. Dianne and Paul had the sea bass special and said it was great. My records don’t show what that dinner cost so Paul must have picked up the check. Thanks

Quotes of the day
“What’s wrong with Hillary Clinton?” Dianne
“Stan says he is capable but if he doesn’t have to be, he won’t” Lolly

Next changing hotels. On to Plaka beach

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    Of course we would walk you back to the hotel provided you were not using your walking stick. The last time we went someplace together I distinctly heard you muttering about beating me with your stick.

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    Taverna To Kastro was an interestingly set restaurant. I walked by that parking lot/intersection on the way down from the Kastro without much thought. But the hotel recommended this Taverna for dinner and described where it was. I was scratching my head trying to think where on the street there was a Taverna that I surely have walked by in the morning. When we got there, lo and behold, the Taverna took over the parking lot/intersection and turned into a large outdoor restaurant.

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    Yes indeed Taverna to Kastro is just an empty square during the day but is transformed for the evening. It can be a bit tricky actually finding it but it is worth the effort.

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    Next changing location to Plaka Beach

    Next day we took the bus to Plaka beach and moved to our new hotel Aronis Taverna and Studios. The room was beside and to the rear of the Taverna. It looked like the taverna was the primary business with the studios a late add on. The room was ordinary but the balcony looked out over the sea which is what we wanted.

    It was getting very hot so we walked up the beach road but had to retire for a rest at Mitatos Handcrafted ice Cream shop. These ice creams were made from local Naxos products and had some exotic flavours like saffron, sage and thyme. They gave out free samples as well. For the rest of our time at Plaka we measured all of our activates, by how far was it to get back to Mitatos.

    We spent the day at the beach and headed to Petrino Taverna and beach chairs.

    Later in the evening we walked all the way to Paridiso Taverna to meet Steve a TA member who was returning to Naxos for the first time after the loss of his wife. He posted he didn’t want to eat alone. Somehow he found us and we had an enjoyable time chatting about Brits in Greece.

    We had a Naxos salad, Briam mixed vegetables and a stuffed eggplant. With wine our share came to 30 Euros. Steve had a big Squid, fortunately he didn’t offer us a bite.

    Quote of the day

    “this ice cream shop may have just become our favourite place on Naxos” Lolly
    “Ah, panties and a t shirt, I am back at Plaka beach” Lolly
    “Did you see that guys bathing suit?” Stan
    “Yes I believe it’s called a banana sling” Lolly
    “How could you possibly know that? “ Stan

    Next day we had to take the bus back to Naxos town to try exchange our ferry tickets since the strike was called off. On the way back we stopped at Aegean Palace beach bar. It is a lovely location complete with a pool and beach chairs. The sign said free admission so we stopped by. We prefer to sit in upright chairs so this was a perfect situation for us. As long as we were buying drinks we were welcome to stay as long as we liked.

    We had intended to go to Aronis for dinner that night but two things put us off. First I stopped in and asked for a taste of their house wine. Unfortunately this taverna is old style Greek, who makes their own wine. It’s called barrel wine and it oxidizes. These days most tavernas use commercial grade wine in 5 gallon containers. Quality can vary a lot, sometimes it is excellent and sometimes its just Ok but its always drinkable.

    Lolly said we really need to eat where we are staying at least once, so planning to stick to beer we prepared to go out for dinner. Just then a terrible row took place in the taverana. It a family run taverna with the old parents sitting around supervising everyone and the middle aged children really running the place. Apparently that can lead to friction. At the best of times Greeks can be loud but this was very loud. We decided to hot foot it out of there and went to Patrino.

    We had meat balls with ground up onions, mushrooms and tomatoes plus a unique dish called Naxos cake. It is made up of finely sliced cabbage with a tomato based reduction drizzled over top. We got carried away that evening and also ordered roast lamb. Petrino is one of the places that serve superb house wine. All this for 40E

    Quotes of the day
    “I told you the strike would be cancelled” Travel agent
    “ I am supposed to meet my wife here at 11 O’clock. I expect her to arrive any time within the next three days.” Solous. Who we met on the Naxos waterfront while returning the ferry ticket.
    “Here is another menu mistranslation. What do you think Legal aggravations are?” Stan

    Next day in the cool of the morning we walked all the way along Plaka beach to Migri Vigla about an hours walk. It was a delightful walk but the problem was it got hot, the tavernas were not open and we had to walk all the way back. Fortunately the mini mart was open so we could get some bottled water. We stopped at a beach bar and had a couple of drinks then stopped at the ice cream shop and finally ended up at Aegean beach bar again. It was a good last day.

    For dinner we went to Nicos and Marias taverna. I always wondered why it was so empty but then we realized it had a beach front section, hidden down a path. That’s why the main taverna was virtually empty. They had a dozen tables there, just a meter from the beach. Talk about a Shirley Valentine setting. We watched the sunset and had a Naxos Salad, plus Kalergos stew and stuffed eggplant. With wine 25 euros. We will be coming back to this taverna.

    Quotes of the day
    “Oh here is where all the people have gone” Stan
    “Try not to do that in Public again, its dark out” Stan

    Last day we flew back to Athens. By then it was 39 degrees C. Thats 99 degree F.

    We essentially had a Gyros then sat in a bar with fans blowing on us until we could check into our hotel where we turned on the air conditioner and just stayed in bed.

    We stayed at Hotel Cecil near the central market and Monestraki. It is a lower end hotel with tiny rooms and the smallest bathroom on the whole trip. Having said that it is central, cheap. the bed was comfortable and the AC worked great. We would stay here again.

    Quotes of the day
    “That was a mighty evacuation” Stan
    “If he was rich he wouldn’t be staying at this hotel” Stan
    “Its just too hot I can’t keep going”Lolly
    “ we can’t just sit in the bar drinking ouzo all afternoon” Stan

    We had a good flight home and arrived here in Nanaimo by 9pm.
    Quote of the day
    “Well other than the lightening strike that was a pretty good flight”Stan

    We are planning to it all over again in September 2017 this time with our kids.

    Here are photos of the Naxos part of the trip
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157671589993576

    Final word
    This trip report has been a labour of love. Lolly and I cuddle on the couch each evening and read the days draft and reminisce. Thank you all for sharing the trip with us.

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