Friday, 12 October 2012

Greece Part II : {I left my heart on...} NAXOS!

Naxos, oh Naxos... where do I begin?

Again, this was a bit of a gamble, coz let's face it, how many of your had actually heard of Naxos?  I certainly hadn't, until I read this post, and it was because of this post that we decided on Naxos and indeed to stay at Faros.

I must say, however, that when we first arrived on Naxos we were a bit worried that we had made a mistake.  After being collected by Papa at the port and driven the 20 or so km's down to Faros, we kinda felt like we were in the middle of nowhere.  We decided to go for a bit of a walk (as we didn't have a car/quad/scooter) and didn't really find much except a teeny tiny little tin shed of a market (that was closed for siesta!), however, we did find a couple of lovely little swimming coves that we knew we would have to come back to.  This did make us realise, however, that we definitely needed a car - Naxos is a BIG island and also wandering aimlessly in the Greek heat was not much fun.

It was this first night that our mindset started to change. We went down for dinner at the Taverna and were immediately enthralled by how delicious mama's cooking was - this was obviously good old fashioned greek home cooking - we were blown away and couldn't stop looking over the menu to see what we would order the following day (and the day after that, and the day after that - yep, we ate all but 2 meals here, it was THAT good!)

We woke the following day to the offer a lift into town with papa so we could hire a car - Nikolaus (top son who runs the hotel and pool bar)  offered to have one brought in for us, but it wouldn't have been until the following day - so we of course jumped at the chance and off we trundled into town, having to force our way through a little village on the way (horn beeping and standoffs on single-lane streets) that was teaming with people and cars for some sort of celebration (which we still never really figured out what it was).

So we finally had the keys to our little yellow toy car (as most cars are in Greece - like toys, not yellow) and our trusty map (that turned out to be not so trusty - we got lost numerous times) and set off to explore the island. Now, when I say Naxos is a big island, we were gone for 7 hours that day. This is partly due to making stops along the way and also for lunch at a lovely little cove/village called Apollonas, but also because the roads are a bit scary, narrow and windy - oh, and Naxos is quite mountainous, so we also had to deal with ridiculously steep inclines and declines!

One of the last villages we went through was called FILOTI and we instantly fell in love with it - high up on the side of a mountain, lovely big trees lining the streets, people sitting out on cafe terraces - we were sold and knew we would be back for lunch before we left!  When we did, we had an amazing wood fired pizza (the wood fired oven was literally in the middle of the restaurant, and the pizza was made on dough that was left for all to observe proving next to the oven). We also ordered our obligatory daily greek salad and some more Naxos Potatoes that were also a favourite!  We also had a tendency to order way too much food, so ended up taking half the pizza home with us!  

Whilst we were eating we spotted a little shop across the street that had a sign claiming they sold Baklava and a variety of yummy sounding greek sweets. We were a tad dubious though as there was a group of big, boisterous, Greek men sitting out the front all drinking rather large beers. But we plucked up the courage to walk in, and it was like walking into a wonderland.  Dimitris (cousin of the Faros family incidentally) had a countertop full of freshly made baklava and creme pies, a freezer full of homemade icecreams, another counter full of locally made chocolates - we were in heaven and pretty much ordered one of everything!  Filoti turned out to be one of our favourite places of the whole trip! 

The other thing we absolutely loved about Filoti, was a few minutes drive out of town on a narrow, windy road with no guard rail, was Aria Spring.  Nothing fancy, just cold fresh spring water trickling out of the mountain. The spot was secluded, quiet and peaceful and had glorious views through the valley to the ocean. We spent a long time here just contemplating life - it was a very grounding experience for me. One regret I do have is not climbing up to Cave of Zeus, which is on the path that leads up from Aria Spring. We were told it was a 45 minute walk up, which we didn't think we would have time for (and it was HOT, so not very enticing at that point) - it's definitely on the list for next time!

The rest of our time on Naxos pretty much consisted of lying on different beaches (Naxos has some of the best beaches in Greece!) and eating more of mama's food - we were SO.INCREDIBLY.RELAXED. on Naxos, we honestly could have cancelled the rest of our life plans and just stayed in Naxos forever.  It was complete and utter bliss and we really didn't want to leave.

It's funny how the things you are most unsure of can turn out to be the best things that could ever have happened...

Just another day at the beach - I have a LOT of these types of photo's :)

The view from our balcony at Faros

We woke to the tinkling of the goats bells every morning - I loved it!

The view from our favourite table in the taverna

We called him Ginger Cat - our constant dining companion

Apollonas - at the very nothern tip of Naxos

Sunset drinks on the beach

What dreams are made of...

Driving along the long stretches of white, sandy beaches

Looking back at Naxos town from Gate of the Temple of Apollo

Gate of the Temple of Apollo

Our beloved Filoti

From our table in Filoti

Wood Fired Filoti pizza

The ugliest cat we saw in the whole of Greece - he'd "been around"

Aria Spring - near Filoti

Drinking from the Aria Spring - delicious

The Aria Spring in the shade of the trees - so peaceful here...

Mountain Goats - literally (see his horn through the fence also - crazy goat)

Donkey/Ass/Horse hybrid


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