In the wake of an exhausting few days on Mykonos we set sail for Naxos. The Mediterranean ferries are huge beasts which are thrown around like sports cars. When I saw my first couple berth I was convinced they were going to crash headlong into the pier.
The first photo in this gallery is a sister ship to one which we caught while the second photo is “World Champion Jet II” which we later travelled on from Santorini to Piraeus (Athens). The huge jet boat is a catarmaran proudly built in Western Australia. Most of the ferries reverse to the wharf after executing a frantic U-turn, drop a huge drawbridge like platform down and take cars and trucks into huge garage decks. I couldn’t resist taking a photo of a sporty red car which surprised me when I realised it was a variation of those tiny Smart cars we see these days in the city. Despite this ‘industrial’ like façade the ferries can range from airline like comfort to outright 1st class cruise ship luxury.
Once on Naxos we settled in to our terrific hotel (Polemis Studios & Apartments) just 50 metres from the beach at Agia Anna and then decided to take a stroll along the sand. As the sun set we had a bite at the local corner restaurant which was a huge win because it became our food heaven of choice. “Salt & Sugar” is the go to café if you are in this area. By the time we ate we caught a gorgeous sunset from our table then headed for a night’s rest. Next door to S&S is Margarita’s Mini-mart where, while stocking up on supplies, I found I could grab a bargain rental car for just €20/day. (I actually think I hit a tired agent unawares late on the Sunday night for this deal.)
Next day we had wheels and a renewed bout of energy so we took off for to see some island sights. First was the ruins of the Temple of Sangri, circa 530BC. This temple is at Yiroulas, Sangri and not to be confused with the next stop. We then headed into Naxos city where as you enter the harbour by boat you cannot miss the never finished Temple of Apollo Portara considered the icon of Naxos. To get to this edifice one has to walk across a large but thin breakwall connecting an islet to the main island. This creates a popular swimming spot and a nice place for a coffee.
Here in this section of the gallery is one of my favourite pics. I am sitting on a rock, itself from the ruins, contemplating life here 2500 years ago. I am in genuine awe and wonder that the ruins we have seen and are about to see are real and not some modern recreation for tourists. Still in the city we attempted to enter the citadel that Naxos was built around without much joy. We did manage to squeeze in a few photos though from high above the township.
On Tuesday we got up early (0900 – well, that’s early for tourists!) to take advantage of our last day with a vehicle. We planned a route across the island then northward to the top tip. This turned out to be one of the best road trips we have done. A short distance from the city as we rose towards the mountain tops we came across a little known exposed sewerage pipe on the side of the road. What’s so special about a sewerage pipe you ask? We know the Romans gave us plumbing. This pipe was laid some 2500 years ago. Try and get today’s plumbers to guarantee their pipes for that long.
A bit further up we sighted some marble quarries high in the hills almost 15 kms from town. How did they transport these massive blocks of marble to the town back then? We were going to ask the stone masons at a factory but they weren’t equipped for tourists and didn’t speak a word of English.
A view to behold
As we travelled along the spectacular views just kept coming until we came across a small church at a 4 way intersection high on the mountain top. Shane and I have travelled to many places across this planet but we both agreed that the view from this point will always sit high on our list of magnificent scenic sights. Trust us when we say that no photos could show the full beauty this wonderful view that nature has provided.
Further down the road was came to the Kouras of Apollonas. The “Kouros of Apollonas,” also called the “Colossus of Dionysus,” is a 10.7 meter (35 foot) tall unfinished statue of light grey, Naxian marble, weighing approximately eighty tons. It lies on its’ back high above a small cove where we stopped for a lunch break on a beachside café.
The end of the day?
That pretty well seemed like the end of the trip but in finishing the loop around the top of the island every corner opened up another spectacular view or a surprise like the Tower of Ayia. We even found time to try a few off-map excursions which exposed us to otherwise unnamed secluded beaches on the NW coast. Eventually we found ourselves back at Salt & Sugar for another wonderful sunset and a great dinner.
That’s it for Naxos
This has been our favourite island to date and a return visit could easily occur. Next up comes the pretty but ‘touristy’ Santorini. Again a spectacular place but at what cost?
Garry & Shane