Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Athens, Meteora,Delphi, Crete, and Naxos - the journey begins

Athens, Meteora,Delphi, Crete, and Naxos - the journey begins

Jun 8th, 2016, 03:16 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 13,193
No matter how hard we try to keep up with laundry, find wash, dry,and fold places, it always needs to be sent out at the most expensive hotel on the trip.
Enjoying your trip report about one of my favorite places on earth.
HappyTrvlr is online now  
Jun 9th, 2016, 08:01 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 979
So it looks like we may still get to Naxos by Saturday - just changing ferries in Santorini (maybe that won't be all bad, get a peak at the island) we shall see.

Last nights dinner at the resort was excellent - lamb shank, veal stew, tuna ceviceh,and today we went into Plaka for lunch and a trip to Spinalonga island which was beautiful and fascinating (former Venetian and Ottoman fortress and Leper colony), however, even though I was being careful I tripped and fell on the stones and sprained my wrist. holding ice to it now and hoping by tomorrow all will be well.

ironic that our two resort days have been so windy that it has been chilly so only brief dip in the sea - but certainly not complaining with the gorgeous views to just sit and drink in. Tomorrow - Knosses and Heraklion and hopefully new ferry tickets.
lauramsgarden is offline  
Jun 10th, 2016, 08:52 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 979
Our last morning at the resort (Aquila Elounda) dawned sunny and bright. Last night we had one of the best dinners of the trip at the seafood restaurant at the resort (Merabella) - bisque, mussels and rack of lamb. This morning, taking advantage of the sun I swam in both the ocean and the pool - I kept pinching myself - I'm really swimming in the Cretan sea. (I promise pictures to follow when I get home, but the water was incredibly blue). Other than getting a little lost getting out of Ayios Nicholais, trip to Heraklion was uneventful.

Enjoyed Knossos a lot - it is easy to find - just exit highway at the signs and go to the end of the road pretty much. Beautiful and awe-inspiring to be somewhere humans walked over 3000 years ago. Returning car to the airport wasn't so much fun - Enterprise rent-a-car was less than helpful and ended up standing in line for ages.

Now at Megaron Hotel across from the port about to sortie out for dinner - managed to exchange ferry tickets so fingers and toes crossed.
lauramsgarden is offline  
Jun 14th, 2016, 09:22 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 979
So I am sitting on the balcony of our hotel (Nissaki Beach hotel ) in Naxos mourning the fact that tomorrow morning we must leave paradise and return to Athens. I've just been too darned chill to keep up with trip reports and such.

Let's see, we left off in Heraklion - dinner at Psarras was so so, the Megaron was super helpful and comfortable (if the room a bit small, and the bathtub bizarrely high) but a perfect place to stay the night before a ferry, and the breakfast was absolutely amazing, I wish we hadn't had to rush away.

The ferry went smoothly - we really enjoyed sitting and reading and watching the water flow by. Great coffee/snack bar too. We had to change in Santorini and that was a little Kafkaesque (or waiting for Godot maybe). We are sitting in the ferry waiting room, no one seems to be officially on staff, people kept coming in and sitting down, there is no board that announces the ferries or if they are on time or late (ours was late) - had fun chatting in Spanish with a group of Argentinian tourists - eventually a ship comes in and everyone surges for the door. Luckily we got on the right one and an hour and a half later disembarked in Naxos.

I am in love with Naxos. Thank you thank you thank you all who recommended it. I can't say enough about Nissaki beach hotel. The location is perfect, right on the beach, the staff (all one family I think) are so nice and helpful and easy going. The restaurant is also incredible (had two really good lunches there), and the room is large and airy and comfortable. They put roses and baskets of fruit and large bottles of water in the room - and one day brought us leftover cake from breakfast. Oh and did I mention that the breakfasts here are incredible as well - so many home baked pies and breads and special dishes and they bring you cappucino or esspresso if you want - just wonderful.

The good news was we were able to get more laundry done at much more reasonable prices. The bad news was that they used some horrible sweet smelling detergent and now the clothes all reek of it - oh well, first world problems lol. I just have to wait till I get them nicely smelly again.

The first night we went to Kouvros which is right next to the hotel - one of the only truly terrible meals we've had in Greece - oh well. The next day we set off to explore the old town. Enjoyed the Venetian House museum - archeology museum was closed so of course had to shop....convinced my husband to buy a bright blue linen shirt and got great restaurant recommendations from the shop owner. Then back to the pool - I think one of the first times in my life I have been able to totally let go of stress, worries, deadlines, timetables and put my watch away and say whatever happens happens. It was glorious.

We ate dinner that night in Laberynth which departs from the traditional Taverna menu - Steve had seafood risotto with Ouzo and I had pork in mustard sauce - wonderful in a beautiful courtyard setting. Then we went back to the Venetian museum for an outdoor concert of traditional Naxos folk music and dancing complete with lute, violin and a bagpipe made from a sheep's bladder based on a prototype that is thousands of years old. The dancers were phenomenally talented, as were the musicians, it was a perfect magical night.

The next day I woke up with a rumbly tummy and Steve was under the weather as well, so we scrapped our plan of renting a car after we decided that the anxiety of dealing with curvy mountain roads when we didn't know where we were going was just something we weren't up to. Instead we looked on line and found a tour guide (Naxos sun tours I think but I will double check) - Spyros, who agreed to take us out for a four hour tour of the island. He is born and bred here and obviously loves Naxos and everything about it. We were glad we went with him as he took us to all sorts of places we wouldn't have found ourselves and gave us all sorts of background information - old roman aqueducts, lovely young couple that have restored an old olive press, the citron distillery, the Kourus statue (2500 years old, huge of marble, amazing) and the temple of Demeter as well as all sorts of views. He knew everyone and everyone knew him. Mostly I loved seeing the ancient hills, the sheep and goats and olive groves...a sense of timelessness.

We finished the day at Nostimas Hellas restaurant off of the fountain square - again not traditional taverna fare but more innovative and wonderful (especially loved lamb meatballs with cumin). I love how every restaurant offers us a free carafe of raki or citron before we leave, and often a piece of cake as well.

Today we went to the archeology museum and the church and cathedral - all well worth the time, had fun with a bit more shopping and then our second lunch at Irinis by the harbor - both were extremely good (this one lamb in parchment and Naxos potato salad).

We plan our last dinner tonight at the Nissaki hotel restaurant - and then tomorrow back to Athens for two last days.
lauramsgarden is offline  
Jun 14th, 2016, 10:00 AM
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 19
I really enjoy your updates, very informative. Thank you for sharing and taking the time to post.
Steve255 is offline  
Jun 14th, 2016, 12:12 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,123
Lovely trip report. My brother lived in Greece and when I went to visit him I noticed all these shrines along the road. When I asked his Greek friend about them he said "that's where the Nazis shot one of us". Sad. Forgiven but not forgotten is right.
SharonG is offline  
Jun 15th, 2016, 07:44 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 979
Sharon, that is so interesting - one of the guides we worked with told us the shrines were either offerings by people who had escaped injury in car accidents, or in memory of those who had died in car accidents...perhaps it is all of the above.

Our last night in Naxos was so perfect -lovely and warm with a beautiful sunset - I wanted it to never end. (I was looking up what it would cost to buy a vacation home in Naxos on the ferry to Pireaus lol). We had saved the restaurant at our hotel - Nissaki Beach - for last as it looked really good (we had already had two excellent lunches there) and it was convenient. They did not disappoint. Really innovative cocktails (Sage manhatten), fresh grilled redfish with lemon sauce, sage raviolis with grilled flanksteak and we started with an incredible salad of greens, carmelized apples and Naxian cheese - finished with orange cake. The waiter told us the chef is from central Greece. If you go to Naxos do not miss it - plus you eat in a quiet patio by the sea!

We were so sad to leave, but really enjoyed the ferry ride on Blue Star ferry back to Athens/Pireaus. Even with unreliable timetables I really like traveling by ferry. It's sort of like watery sight seeing.

Now we are back at Electra Palace, (they recognized us when we arrived ). resting - planning to take in the War museum and museum of cycladic art tomorrow - maybe another one of the Benaki's plus a stroll through the Agora if it isn't too hot. It's good to just rest up a bit.
lauramsgarden is offline  
Jun 15th, 2016, 12:47 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 3,809
SO glad you enjoyed Naxos,.. it's an island that draws you back again and again. If you have a bit of Naxos-nostalgia, you can click on this live-action webcam there -- 2 views of the beach, a view of the near-end of the harbor and of the ferry pier, and a view of the harborfront crescent. If you try it bout 1-2 pm, you'll get the sunset goldent on the buildings... if you check it before you turn off your computer at 11 pm, you'll get the dawn. I just now saw the Blue Star Ferry evening arrival, all lit up like the County fair. http://www.naxosisland.eu
travelerjan is offline  
Jun 16th, 2016, 08:20 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 979
Jan, you are too cruel (; already fantasizing about returning - but then there are so many other islands to visit!

Last night ate at Vyzantino - food was pretty good taverna fare - but the setting was more relaxed than others we passed - pretty square and music and we were too tired to venture far afield.

Today visited the National History museum (no one seems to know where it is which is a shame, it is very good and would have been useful to see first before starting off on our adventures). So much I didn't know about modern Greek history - war for Independence, the Balkan Wars etc.

Then we went to the war museum which my husband as a history teacher really wanted to see. Honestly I could have done without it although the gorgeous swords and early pistols were amazing. Just too much glorification of violence without enough of the perspective of the suffering it causes for me.

We tried the cafe at the Byzantine museum because it was close and I was glad we did! Truly excellent lunch (chicken salad with blue cheese, eggplant rolls and spring rolls shared ) in a lovely garden setting. If you are "doing museum row" definitely plan to eat lunch there.

Then we went to the Museum of Cycladic art which was more because we had an hour left before we wanted to return to the hotel and it was right there - and it was perhaps the best of all. Excellent explanations with films as well as artifacts of what life was like during different periods of Greek history from the perspectives of all different kinds of people. And then a modern exhibit by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei - beautiful wooden creations and powerful protest photos, as well as a heartbreaking photo exhibit on the refugee crisis - pictures by a variety of Greek photographers of the experience of the Syrian refugees.

Tonight we plan dinner at Mani Mani, then tomorrow hoping to take in the Agora before we fly to London to retrieve the Elgin marbles (just kidding)
lauramsgarden is offline  
Jun 16th, 2016, 01:03 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 3,809
Museum of Cycladic Art has that wonderful short video on top floor that explains ancient greek customs & rites, using Greek teenagers -- I recommend it to families, gives good background, for kids (who won't read). BTW, that tiny museum in Naxos up in Kastro has MORE of those famous mysterious Cycladic "statuettes" than even the Athens museum!

Another v. touching & poignant museum, a quick stop right in Plaka near u (Youare at Electra Palace, right?) is Jewish Museum of Greece, in a rowhouse/townhouse right on Nikis Street, #39. Simple, lit by skylight, shows the long history of Jews in Greece, how they tried to escape the Nazi scourge (thru the islands, down to Rhodes, where the trap closed).

In the Agora take a few minutes to skip thru the Agora Museum, which is in the Stoa of Attalos. In early 50s the Rockefeller foundation foundation enabled the uncovering of the Ancient Agora by paying to move all 400 houses built on top of it... THen Reconstructe the Stoa to house artifacts uncovered in the "dig." Your time is short so skip all the vases, but don't miss the glass case with "oistrakhs" = pottery sherds. They were used as ballots to vote on whom the populace wanted to Exile for up to 7 years -- hence, "Ostracize". There are actually sherds with the scratched-on names of Socrates and Aristophanes. History Lives!!

Next time you visit Greece, I'll steer you to The Melina Mercouri Foundation (free), near the Roman Forum. Its main floor has huge photo-mural story of life & career of famed actress-activist... when Military Coup happened in 1970s, she stopped her Bway show, came to front of stage & told what had happened, and said she must fight for her country. Her 1-woman crusade worldwide (20+countries) rallied nations to force out the dictators. When she became minister of Culture, she started massive education program for Greek children, and decreed all museums/ancient sites, FREE to citizens to teach their heritage. Brought me to tears. In this year, Americans need to be aware what women have been able to achieve for their countries.
travelerjan is offline  
Jun 17th, 2016, 01:00 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 979
Jan you are the best travel guide! off to the Agora and one more small shopping spree....and yes Mani Mani was wonderful and a nice change up from Taverna fare.
lauramsgarden is offline  
Jun 18th, 2016, 11:26 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 979
so here is my final offering for this part of the trip. We woke up our last day in Athens to 90 + temperatures (I think around 37 C). We enjoyed being trapped as tourists in some last minute gift shopping and then bravely set out for the Agora. Ate a light lunch in a taverna (I had to have one last dakos and esspresso fredo). It was brutally hot and the sun was reflecting off the marble making it almost blinding. It was 2 pm when we finished and we still had three hours to kill before leaving for the airport so on a whim followed Jan's advice and looked for the Jewish Museum of Athens. We discovered that it was literally around the corner from our hotel, but closing in half an hour so we hot tailed it over there and they kindly let us in. It is indeed very well put together and of course so powerful to see. Learning of all the Greek people did to help save their Jewish neighbors made me feel even more affection for them if that is possible. We then went back to the Electra Palace and gratefully sat in their air conditioning, had a light early dinner and caught a taxi to the airport. The staff at the Electra Palace couldn't have been more helpful.

The plane for London loaded on time but there the brilliance of my plan began to fall apart. Late take off due to weather in London, hour and half lines at London passport control, another half hour line for a taxi, very long and expensive taxi ride and finally got to our room at 2 am London time which meant bed was at 3:30 London time which was 5:30 am Athens time - not the smartest of plans after all.

Today, bleary eyed but undaunted we took in Westminster Abbey and the Churchill War Rooms plus a token fish and chips in blessedly cloudy and cool weather....but that is a story for another thread
lauramsgarden is offline  
Jun 18th, 2016, 12:39 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 3,809
WEll done Laura, Well done!! And now the Brit-Forum followers can enjoy your good narrative about their capital ... in more walkable weather. Your timing was superb - you left Greece just as the calendar and thermometer decree that sightseeing is over, it's beaches-only until September.
travelerjan is offline  
Jun 19th, 2016, 12:50 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 979
thanks Jan, and Clausar, and Stanbr, and happytrvl and everyone for all your wonderful help, advice and encouragement! Yamas! (it feels really strange to not be saying effkaristo and parakalo etc. I want someoone to speak Greek with!)
lauramsgarden is offline  
Jun 19th, 2016, 01:45 AM
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 895
So many nice museums and hidden conrners in Athens and so often ignored... I am happy you discovered some of them lauramsgarden, I hope you wet your appetite for more Athens in the future.
I really enjoyed this trip report, thanks for posting : )
mariha2912 is offline  
Jun 19th, 2016, 04:13 AM
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 2,180
Thank you so much for sharing your adventure in Greece with us. Just read your entire report and enjoyed it so. Safe travels for the rest of your journey.
tripplanner001 is offline  
Dec 27th, 2016, 10:36 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 20,241
What a wonderful report -- thank you so much, lauramsgarden! I've taken MANY notes and have appreciated your talent for conveying your experiences as you experienced them -- nicely done, and much appreciated.
kja is offline  
Jan 30th, 2017, 12:52 PM
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 18
My husband and I are heading to Greece for the first time this year and your trip report was so helpful. Thank you for sharing! We booked a room at the Nissaki Beach Hotel for the Naxos leg of our trip, so I was so happy to read that you all enjoyed it.
bekho44 is offline  
Jan 31st, 2017, 07:15 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 979
Have a great time Bekho44 - give Nissaki our regards (we keep "joking" about retiring there. let me know if I can answer any other questions
lauramsgarden is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:54 PM.