After missing out on island hopping trips for the last couple of years, we set out with a lot of anticipation on the 7th June for the port at Heraklion to travel by ferry to the island of Naxos, one of the Cyclades Islands. We felt that we had done justice to the Dodecanese Islands in previous trips and were ready for a new group. There was another difference in that we took our own car in order that we could explore more easily.
But there were no other changes to the previous format of staying on 4 different islands, this time Naxos, Irakleia, Amorgos and Koufonisia and with our friend Phil joining us.
First, the ferry stopped at Santorini, which we had visited with our friends Cathy and Bruce some years before. We were quite glad not to get off as the boat emptied considerably and there were many, many buses waiting for the huge number of tourists. However, when we got off the boat at Naxos Town, the crowds there were a bit of a shock too. Fortunately, Phil’s ferry from Athens arrived soon after ours and she was hurried into our car and John drove with the help of Phil’s maps to the smaller town of Agios Prokopias. There was a nice beach beside our accommodation where soon we found a very welcome beer and Greek salad,
The next day, we explored the very attractive and picturesque old town and kastro of Naxos and the centre and north of the island, We set off for Filoti and Aperathou, stopping for coffee in Halki but we were rather put off by the number of bus tours around. However, the latter did not go further north than Aperathou and so while we missed the museums there, we enjoyed the twisty road to Skatho which is part of the emery mining area of Naxos, where we stopped for lunch. There was no menu but the Greek salad, tzaziki and the hospitality were wonderful.
We carried on, had a quick look at Apollonas on the north coast and then stopped to admire an unfinished 12m marble kouros lying on the ground.
You did not have to pay to see this amazing marble statue. For me, it looked like he had a fine resting place.
The next day, we had a day trip first to the island of Delos. Delos is a UNESCO heritage site and a sacred island.
Phil and I wandered past the Sanctuary of Apollo, Sanctuary of Dionysos, the Agora of the Italians, Lion Terrace with recognizable statues of lions, (see cover photo), House of Hermes, House of the Dolphins, a theatre, house of Cleopatra and much more. There was so much to see and just marvel at.
We looked at the hill but this was a step too far, given the size of the site. A picture would do!!!
John hoped to visit the museum but it was shut for renovation which was a disappointment. However the actual site was not!
It was with some reluctance that I left Delos and we carried onto the island of Mykonos. The first siting of six huge cruise ships in the bay was a clue to the incredible impact of tourism on the island. But that being said, i enjoyed the afternoon there. The town is very pretty
and of course, we admired the windmills.
The down side of our visit was that I lost my camera somewhere, which was a blow because I had loads of pictures of Delos and Mykonos on it. However, my fellow travellers had photos which they kindly shared with me.
The last day on Naxos was spent exploring the south of the island, including Plaka Beach which is 5km long. There is much tourist development but the roads are pretty basic. So with Phil navigating and John driving, we had an interesting journey as Google took on some decidedly challenging roads! This included looking at a development which clearly was not finished but looked as if it would have been interesting!
We didn’t quite make Agiassos beach where the Venetian Marco Sanudo landed in 1207 and then ‘burnt his boats’ so that there was no option other than to conquer the island. In the evening, We ate well in Naxos, and the menu included kaloyeros, a dish from there, consisting of beef and aubergines, which was very tasty.
The next day, the car had a huge adventure. We were travelling to the small island of Irakleia, which was the first stop for the local ferry. Our car needed to be at the very back of the boat, so it could be driven off first when we arrived at the island. We were told to park on a very narrow pier which had cars passing us on one side and a drop into the sea on the other! A couple of the cars passed with a centimeter to spare, with me closing my eyes! John reversed onto this boat and all the subsequent boats with seeming confidence and no problems. There are no pictures of this drama for obvious reasons but here is a picture of us just being in a queue!!!
and the ferry we used.
iraklia is a small island with the main town town being the port. We had a nice apartment
and met a couple from Halifax who were island hopping too but over a much longer period. We thought we might meet them on another island but we never did. We travelled on every bit of road there was very quickly and settled down to complete relaxation. The port was pretty,
as were the beaches.
Phil and I enjoyed walking. This was the choice!
Phil found a cafe which was a great surprise!
We then moved onto Amorgos which is a long, thin and hilly island. John drove along the windy and hilly road to reach the very nice Airbnb accommodation that he had booked.
We met Irene, who with her brother Giorgos, ran the airBnb. She was very friendly, offering us a gift of the local raki. Later in our stay, she and her brother gave us a gift of freshly laid eggs, which provided a delicious meal for us. We discovered that she, like a young woman we met in Iraklia, who was a waitress in a nice taverna there, had both attended Rethymnon University and studied sociology there.
The accommodation was lovely but it was an extremely windy spot. But this area was very quiet and untouched by tourism. We went to a taverna in an nearby village and were surprised to see a man arrive on a donkey. It reminded me of how Greece used to be.
The taverna itself, apart from our ourselves consisted of locals and we enjoyed wonderful meat.
On the first day, we explored the south of the island which included Phil and me walking down to a beautiful beach at Mouros.
and John then drove to the beautiful beach at the southern tip of the island, Kalotaritissas Bay.
The day ended with me eating the best sardines that I have ever eaten. They were filleted and incredibly tasty. Sadly, Phil left us the next day and amazingly got back home to Bracknell on the same day. The trip involved a ferry from Amorgos to Naxos, a flight to Athens and a flight to Heathrow. The ferry was late, the flight to Athens was late but she made it!
After she left, John and I explored the north of the island, with spectacular views of the hills,
and the beautiful sea at Agios Pavlov
and a great beach at Aigiali.
The next day, the journey to the island of Koufonisia was not one I wish to remember. The sea was rough and as a result I felt really unwell! It was a long one and a half hours for me. But I soon recovered, once we reached the island.
It is a quite small with, in my view, not really enough sand for the numbers of people who come here. That being said, it did have a wonderful coast line, in particular the walk taking me from the Melissa rooms where we stayed along the coast to Pori, which i did a couple of times. As everyone knows I never tire of blue seas, sand and rock, so this walk was my idea of heaven.
We drove on every road on the island, which was not a lot, and were amazed to find a petrol station at the furthest place it could be from the main town. Our favourite taverna, where we always ate lunch, was at Foinikas
which was close to where we stayed and to the sea and provided a simple, cheap lunch.
We travelled home by Minoan Lines and by the next evening, we were happily having a meal with Jann and Stan in Dakos taverna in Kavousi. After that, in the following days, we both had haircuts, the car was washed and we ate a nice barbecue at Pauline and Chris’s house.
The most exciting event since we came back was Isla’s first birthday. We got up early and when we were connected by video call, we sang Happy Birthday to Isla. I had baked a cake and we wore birthday hats!
She looked slightly bemused but didn’t cry which might have been a fair reaction! It must be hard when you are 1 to know what all this is about! She opened presents which was very nice. We gave her a small keyboard and some books.
What a great start to the day. Isla had been to Scotland on holiday with her parents while we were island hopping, had been half way up Ben Nevis (her Dad got to the top) and visited Deeside, so there was lots to talk about with her parents.
The solar panel project has progressed a lot but that will be one of the features for the next post. In the meantime, we fly to Edinburgh on Tuesday for a 5 week holiday, visiting family and friends in Scotland. We are looking forward to that.