Sunday, 25 September 2011

Naxos ~ Paradise, thy name is Plaka

After a last hearty breakfast at Stelia Mare on Friday morning, we took a cab to the harbour to get our ferry to Naxos.  The waves were a little choppy that morning, but the huge Blue Star ferry took the rolls quite well.  Since it was only a 40 minute ride, we just bought economy tickets and stayed on deck admiring the sea views and wondering how some sail boats didn't capsize in the huge waves.

We landed at Naxos right on time at 1pm and took a taxi to our little family owned hotel, Spiros, which is actually in the adjacent village of St Georges. We were given a lovely room with a tiny kitchen, 2 balconies overlooking the sea, a spotless bathroom with a standup shower in the corner that is actually part of the bathroom.  It sounds strange to take a shower on the floor of your bathroom, but it actually works quite well as the floor dries quickly.

After freshening up, we took our first walk to St Georges beach, which is about 3 minutes from us. Because it is the end of the season, the beach was fairly empty, but there were still people enjoying the last days of sunshine and warmth.  We walked along the boardwalk to a taverna near the end of the beach called Paradise and enjoyed a simple lunch of kebabs, fries, salad, tzaziki and sangria while watching the kitesurfers battle the waves.

We spent the afternoon lazing on the beach, having a mohito and just enjoying the spectacular scenery, the warm sun and the cool water.

After making our way back to the hotel and taking a shower to wash away all the salt water, we headed to the port to get some sunset pictures and find a place for dinner.  The sunset was mind blowing, a bright orange ball slowing sinking behind the mountains of Naxos, creating a light show in the sky and on the water that no artist can ever recreate.

We then explored the tiny streets of Naxos town.  We found an exquisite cheese shop which makes the soft Naxos cheese and we asked the wonderful lady behind the counter where we might find a good place to eat that had mostly Greeks as patrons.  She suggested Maros on a little street down from the main square and we made our way there.

We enjoyed good hearty Greek food but enjoyed our conversation with the man seated next to us ever more.  He is a high school teacher, with degrees in history and philosophy, as well as his Masters from a London University, who had to leave Athens this year to come and teach in Naxos due to the economy.  We spoke for almost an hour about how the austerity measures being imposed on Greece by the EU in return for the bailout have affected the citizens of Greece.  George has little faith that Greece will find a way out of this economic hole anywhere in the near future and he fears that Greece will be the next Albania or Bulgaria.  He can't make any plans for the future and says he can't even think about getting married or having children because he does not know if he will have a job after his 2 year contract in Naxos is up.  He lives in a studio apartment, doesn't own a car and has had his salary cut by 20% with more cuts coming.  He told us that the Greek people are very discouraged, especially the youth who have no dreams to work towards.  It was a very eye opening conversation which showed us the other side of the issue.  In my work as a Financial Advisor, I have read many research reports explaining how Greece has to cut back if they are to make their loan payments to avoid default.  George showed us the other side ~ how these cut backs directly affect real people.  He feels there is truly no way out and that the government has no clue how to fix the problems they created by borrowing and spending so recklessly.  In spite of all this, we also spoke about family and children and parents and health, all the things which are so important to everyone, everywhere, no matter their background, culture, religion or language.

These meetings are such a large part of why we enjoy travel ~ the more you travel and the more people you meet, the more you realize how different we may be in some ways, but how alike we are in the ways that truly count.

We slowly walked back to our hotel and had a wonderful nights sleep.

Morning came and the sun was shining.  After a hearty breakfast at our hotel, we walked to the bus station to catch the bus for Plaka beach.  We have decided not to rent a car on Naxos after our harrowing adventure in Paros.  After waiting about 30 minutes, we decided to share a cab with another couple and we were at the beach in about 10 minutes.

To say Plaka is paradise is an understatement.  Beautiful sandy beach as far as the eye can see in either direction, with interesting rock formations and the most picturesque spot for lunch I can ever imagine.  Plus, there's a large section where the "au naturel" people congregate so of course we made a beeline right there.  We enjoyed an afternoon of sun, sand, water, R&R, and I even got a fantastic back massage right on the beach.

We had lunch at Paradiso, under a huge tree right on the beach.  Greek appetizers, kebabs, wine and doesn't get much better than this.  We lazed away the rest of the afternoon back on the beach, in the way nature and God intended us to!

We made it back to our hotel around 5pm where we took a little nap by the pool (hey, it's hard work doing nothing all day!) and then took our showers and headed out for another beautiful sunset by the harbour.  We sat at the Citron bar enjoying this lemon liqueur native to Naxos and watched the sky change colours over and over again in the space of an hour.  We wandered around and found To Kastro, a Greek restaurant high above the harbour where we had a very nice dinner under the stars and overlooking the sailboats in the harbour below.  We ambled back to our hotel a few hours later, finally stopping for some loukamades, the tiny balls of fried dough covered with honey and cinnamon at a little cafe off the beaten path.  We were in bed by midnight and dreamt of beautiful Plaka beach, where we are returning today.


1 comment:

  1. WOW. What a superb blog Jo (and Den)! Love the pictures and the writeups of the places, people, food, beaches, sunset, etc... Perhaps we can link up for a trip sometime in the future... sounds like you guys vacation much like we do. :) Hugs to ya both.