September 11 – 13
Our ferry to Naxos didn’t leave until early afternoon and the ride would only last a couple of hours, so we dawdled a bit in the morning, enjoying our last breakfast, returning the ATV to Diamantis, packing for the journey and then sitting around the pool as we waited for the shuttle to pick us up for the journey to the port.
Arriving there with time to spare, we grabbed a table at one of the restaurant/cafes facing the harbor and ordered a drink apiece before boarding the ferry.
We’d connected with the proprietress of our lodging, Anemomilos Hotel, (located about 5 miles out of Naxos town in the seaside community of Aggia Anna), who’d advised us they would pick us up at the port upon our arrival. Keeping in mind that thanks to Jenny Manetta, we’d already earned a reputation with her of being flakes due to our reservation mix up; we’d soon solidify that impression upon our arrival.
We landed about 2pm and waited awhile for the pickup. As we would encounter often in Greece, a friendly gentleman performing his own shuttle service asked about our situation and after some discussion volunteered to call Anemomilos. As it turned out although I thought I’d been clear that we were arriving on the ferry from Santorini, the shuttle had come earlier in the day. So, they dispatched a taxi for us and paid for the 10-euro cost of the ride once we arrived at the hotel. This on top of a phenomenal rate of just 35 euros a night, which ended up being a still very reasonable 53 euros a night as I had to pay the three nights for our two-night stay.
We walked up the beach a bit, checking out the neighborhood, stopping for a moment to watch a wedding ceremony/reception in process at a beach side restaurant and discussing our plan for the next day. Naxos is a big island and one we wanted to explore, but having had to cut a day out meant our ability to do so would be limited. We resolved to head into Naxos town the next day and see what we could see and leave it at that.
For dinner, we walked around the corner and down the block to Avli, highly rated in Trip Advisor and so good we’d eat there again the next day.
That night Joanna ordered a salad comprised of various types of seafood and I would get the Spetsofai, a local sausage in tomato sauce.
Our waiter was quite friendly, spoke excellent English, and the meal was delightfully good. Along with the wine we ordered the tab came to 23.5 euros.
The next morning, we hopped on the bus into Naxos town and started exploring. We started in the Bourgo, the lower part of the city and worked our way uphill to the Kastro, the mighty fortress of the Venetians who ruled Naxos from 1207 until it fell to the Turks in 1566. Unfortunately, a couple of the sites we wanted to see (Domus Venetian Museum and Mitripolis) were closed that day or for the season.
We wound our way back down hill to the harbor and then walked out the causeway to the Temple of Apollo (Portara); according to myth, the god Dionysus built this for Aariadne, the daughter of King Minos of Crete.
The more prosaic story is that is was part of a temple begun by the ruler Lygdamis in 530 BC in homage to Apollo and abandoned when he was overthrown in 506 BC.
A thousand years later the Venetians carted off much of the temple’s marble to build their hilltop Kastro, the remaining doorframe and lintel, constructed from slabs weighing 20 tons each were too heavy to move.
We walked back across the causeway, stopping to watch kids swimming in the clear water; along this section of shore just north of the Portara are some of Greece’s oldest antiquities, the submerged remains of houses and steps constructed by Cycladic peoples who lived on the island as long as 5,000 years ago. If you choose to swim off the rocks below the temple door, you can take a look at these underwater antiquities.
With the rest of the afternoon before us and no real time to get out and explore the rest of the island, we returned to the Anemomilos and enjoyed a rare moment of leisure given our usual mode of being on the go all the time, a couple of hours of pool time, soaking up the sun with an occasional dip in the water.
For dinner we returned to Avli with the goal of sampling a number of the small plates, which we did to great success, enjoying peppers stuffed with Xinomizithra (Greek cheese), Calamari, Naxos Gruyere Saganaki, toasted Pita bread and Tzatziki, and meatballs, all accompanied by wine for a total of 31.90 euros.
The next morning we killed time before our short ferry ride to Paros in the afternoon, by walking down the beach to the last bus stop, this stretch of coast lined with small restaurants, campgrounds and resorts.
At the end of the road, we turned around and on the way back, stopped in at Mitatos for some ice cream. We found the tables there interesting, pieces of cut granite placed on top of old Singer sewing machine stands. The snack was quite good, creamy and rich, definitely home made.
We checked out of the Anemomilos, confirming with the proprietress that by formally cancelling the reservation with Booking.Com she would receive the full amount of the rental. We apologized for how flaky we had appeared and left on good terms, planning to take the bus into town but instead, a taxi when one stopped looking for a fare on his return, offering us a bargain rate to ride.
It had been a brief but enjoyable couple of days in Naxos. We regretted the change in schedule, which deprived us of an extra day here; one we could have put to good use exploring this large island, known for its natural beauty. But we’d spent the time well in Santorini so not feeling too cheated, we bade farewell to a place we may return to someday, if only to convince the folks at Anemomilos that we actually are seasoned travelers.
Anemomilos Hotel: https://www.hotelanemomilos.com/anemomilos-naxos
Temple of Apollo: https://www.greeka.com/cyclades/naxos/naxos-excursions/portara-naxos.htm