Greek Island Hopping: Naxos

(June 2014)

After a heavy night of partying at Paradise Beach, the bus journey into Mykonos’ old port and the hour delay to board the ferry on to Naxos wasn’t the most pleasant. Thankfully Charlotte’s fail-safe hangover cure (a can of coke and a lie down – albeit on a concrete floor) seemed to do the trick and although we were exhausted when we arrived into Naxos, the warm welcome from the friendly owner of the Hotel Dimitra made the torturous journey worthwhile.

Thankfully the small hotel was situated in a quiet beach area – Agios Prokopios – and although I can’t vouch for it’s sedateness in the school holiday months, during our time there in June, we barely saw more than a handful of people roaming around the beach front. Perhaps if we’d arrived straight into Naxos we would have found it a little boring but after overdoing it a little in Mykonos, we were ready for two days of peace and tranquillity.

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That first evening, still feeling a little worse for wear, we showered and walked down to the row of restaurants lining the beach front and opted for dinner at La Trattoria (part of the Ostria Hotel) which served a mixture of Greek and Italian cuisine. We filled up on pizza and pasta, and couldn’t resist the offer to try one of the local beers – Mythos – in the hope that it might perk us up a little. We felt a little guilty going straight back home to bed that night, feeling that we should have been making the most of exploring the area since we had such a small amount of time there, but tiredness got the better of us and we dragged our weary bodies to bed.

A bit of culture 

The next day we woke up feeling refreshed and in the mood to explore. That was the great thing about travelling with Charlotte, we just seemed to be on the same page the whole time – both wanting to relax at certain points, other times laughing like school girls (and behaving just as badly) or wanting to enjoy a bit of culture and learn about the beautiful islands. That day, we wanted to enjoy a bit of culture and so during breakfast we grabbed some leaflets from the hotel reception and sifted through the various options before settling on a visit to Mount Zeus.

As we sat waiting for the bus, we spotted a quad bike hire place next door and always one for a bit of adventure, I wandered in to see how much they would be to hire. They weren’t too expensive and considering how long the bus was taking to arrive, I was very keen to hire one out. Charlotte was a little dubious though so whilst I did my best to convince her, we decided to check how much it would be for petrol for the trip we were planning to do. However we soon discovered that the bikes weren’t really powerful enough to make the hilly journey and so when the bus pulled up round the corner, we made a quick dash for it and our decision was made for us.

Twenty minutes later we were back in Naxos port and as the bus on to our next destination (Filoti) wasn’t due for another half an hour, we decided to purchase on our ongoing boat tickets for the next day and then walked over the causeway at the end of the port to the Temple of Apollo.

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Then it was on to the beautiful village of Filoti.

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Despite being told that we could walk to the bottom of Mount Zeus from the village, it soon became apparent that this wasn’t really possible as it was more like a two hour trek than a short walk as we’d hoped. Still, stubborn as we are, we decided to attempt it anyway. Half way out of town, the sun blazing down on our shoulders, we shuffled slowly in our sandals along the dusty road. As I was thinking to myself “What are we doing?!“, Charlotte said “Let’s go back“. Once again we were perfectly in sync.

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And so we headed back into the village to relax with a coffee, then lunch and finally a beer. Soon our next bus was ready to depart and take us on to Apiranthos, an even more beautiful town than Filoti, whose name means ‘Plenty of Flowers’.

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There wasn’t all that much to do in either of the villages, but still it was nice to wander around the cobbled streets, stopping for a refreshing orange before spending hours in one of the local art shops which sold the most stunning handmade bronze statues.

Cocktail night

Back at the beach that evening, we dressed for dinner and ambled along to the beach, anticipating what Saturday night in Agios Prokopios would bring.

We settled on the Mojito Bar and nabbed a table at the front overlooking the beach and what would soon be the perfect position for viewing the sunset. It seemed that no one else had got the memo about Saturday being party night, but as we tucked into our fajitas and sipped on mojitos, we soon realised that the long day of sight-seeing had gotten the best of us and so we were more than happy to kick back and relax, listening to the melodic sound of Tracy Chapman singing ‘Fast Cars’ in the background. When the World Cup game cut in a little later though, we decided to take our mojitos ‘to-go’ and instead listened to our own music on the comfort of our hotel balcony.

It wasn’t long before dreamland pulled us in and we drifted off to sleep already thinking of the next and final island on our itinerary – Santorini.

Tips for Naxos:

  • Hire a car! There’s quite a lot to see on the island and although the buses are cheap and fairly reliable, it does take a while to get around.
  • Don’t have too high expectations. Don’t get me wrong, Naxos is beautiful but in comparison to the more cosmopolitan Mykonos, the restaurants were a little disappointing and the area is a little more ‘shabby chic’ than our abode in Mykonos.
  • You pay for what you get! Our boat ride over from Mykonos had cost around 29 euros, whereas for our onward journey we opted for the cheaper ferry (only 19 euros) which took longer and was PACKED with people jostling for a view as we arrived into Santorini. In hindsight, I would have preferred to pay an extra 10 euros for a more relaxed arrival.

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