Naxos, June 4-7

Naxos Travel Blog

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After the six hour ferry ride from Piraeus, the boat finally pulled into the port of Naxos Town, which is about 100 nautical miles southeast of Athens. Megan and I got off the ferry and quickly found the van with Soula Hotel written on the side, which was where we were staying for three nights. We got to the hostel and dropped off our things. I was in a room with three sets of bunk beds and a separate single bed. I quickly noticed that there is a strong honor system when it comes to backpackers. There were clothes strewn around the room, though not messily, phones plugged into outlets, and backpacks left wide open. I had purchased suitcase locks before I left, but they are unnecessary. There was nobody in the room, so I dropped off my pack, changed into my swimsuit, and then Megan and I walked back into town to grab some lunch.

We stopped at a small, seaside cafe where I ordered my first Greek salad. It was excellent. You can just tell that all of the vegetables are grown locally...bright red tomatoes, crisp onions, cool cucumbers, and a large slab of feta cheese on top. The feta is completely different from the stuff sold in the U.S. Instead of small crumbles that are over seasoned with tons of herbs, it is a very clean-looking, bright white slice that has just the tiniest bit of oregano and a view drops of olive oil on it. We paid the bill and walked back down to the hostel, just beyond which was a decent beach. This was where I ruined my mom's nice Canon camera that she lent me. I had been walking around in my swimsuit, with the camera in the pocket, and completely forgot that it was in there. We walked into the water and I was waist-deep before I realized it.

The water was cool, but refreshing. It was an interesting beach because you had to walk out about 150 feet before the water was even up past your belly button. There were some nice views of the mountains of Naxos and Paros to the west. The water in the Mediterranean is also extremely salt. If you get one little bit in your mouth, you immediately become extremely thirst. The upside is that it is very easy to float around. We hung out at the beach for a couple of hours, reading and sitting in the sun, then headed back to the hostel. I showered, changed, and then we walked out to find some dinner. We eventually got to the town square, which is not on the water, but a little bit uphill into the town. We found a nice taverna and I ordered an oven-baked dish that had chunks of lamb, tomato, potato, and locally made cheese melted on top. It was a great dinner, and afterwards I tried my first "frappe," which is an extremely popular coffee drink in Greece. This turned out to be a mistake, but I'll mention that later.

We then walked back down to the hostel and picked up a couple of paperback books, then walked to a beachside bar where we ordered beers. At this point, although I was enjoying Megan's company, I began to feel extremely apprehensive and worried about the rest of my trip. It was only June 4th, I had a full 26 more days in Greece, and I would soon be on my own. I still had not met anyone back at the hostel, and I became nervous that I would feel lonely, isolated, and unwilling to travel on my own. We headed back to the hostel at around 11 p.m. I expected to either walk into a room that was full of sleeping people, or still completely empty. The beds were empty, but everyone was sitting in the back patio, reading travel books and talking. I immediately sat down with them at started chatting. I met two Canadian girls, an Austalian guy, a New Zealander, a woman from Washington state, and a guy from Jersey. We talked late into the night, and they were all great people.

On June 5th, after a rough first hostel experience since the frappe kept me up in bed with my heart pounding until 2 a.m., Megan, Max (Jersey guy) and I bought bus tickets to a small town in central Naxos called Filoti. We were going to attempt to climb a 3,000 foot mountain that is called Mt. Zas, and is the highest point in the Cycladic Islands. After speaking to some locals with difficulty, we found the path and made our way up. After a while, the trail turned into a valley of boulders, and then a huge rockfall area that had thousands of foot-sized stones that were very unstable. It was rough-going, and by the time we reached the top of that, still over 300 meters from the top of the mountain, we decided to head back down. We did sit and enjoy the view for about half an hour, then discovered a cave which we later found out is supposedly where Zeus was born. We got back to Filoti and had just missed the 2:00 p.m. bus back to Naxos Town. We sat down at a cafe, and I ordered a light sandwich and a frappe.

When we got back to Naxos Town, we headed straight for the beach, ran into some people from the hostel there, and lay out talking until about 7 p.m. I showered, changed, and we walked to a high point near the town that had a terrific view of the sunset. Up to this point, I still did not have a replacement camera, so I took a few measly pictures of the sunset with my iPhone camera. We then walked into town and ate dinner at a portside taverna, where I tried my first Greek squid. It was very similar to American calamari dishes: about 10 quarter-sized pieces of squid that were deep fried. It was a little bit disappointing. We then walked to a bar and had a couple of drinks, and I returned to the hostel at around 2 a.m., quite tired since I still had not had a full-night's sleep since arriving in Greece. That night I did not sleep terribly well, either, though it was a bit better.

On June 6th, our last day in Naxos, Megan and spent a lot of time strolling through the side streets which were packed with small cafes and shops. I bought a camera, a Kodak that cost 100 euro. I began taking pictures to make up for lost time. We walked all the way up the hill in town to find the castle, which was previously inhabited by a Venetian duke. There was a museum, and a nice guided tour, at the end of which we were served free shots of "kitron," which is a locally made citrus liquer. We then walked around town for a bit more, and watched the sunset from the high point again. I got some good pictures of it this time. On the walk back to the hostel, I ordered my first gyro since arriving in Greece. It was very delicious. It took about 10 seconds to make, and was packed with hot chicken, lettuce, onion, tomato, tzatziki, and french fries. That night, the friends I had made in the hostel and I went out for some drinks until about 3:00 a.m.

The next morning, on June 7th, I walked down and sat out on the high point one last time, and watched my ferry come from around the cape of Naxos and dock at the port. I strolled to the jetty and got on the Flying Cat 5, a high speed ferry that would take me to Ios, my next island, in a quick 45-minute trip. From this point on, I would be traveling alone.
sylviandavid says:
I love how you wrote this .... a good time ... packed with lots of visuals ... I do wish there were pictures .... Naxos is a fun island to just loaf around ....
Posted on: Aug 11, 2014
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photo by: Stigen