Tag Archives: Naxos

Weekly Photo Challenge: Beginning

Koufinisia Greece Ferry Terminal

Greek Ferry Artemis in Paros

Beginning a Journey…

Soon after we arrived at what is euphemistically described as the departure gate our boat, the Anek Lines, Artemis, arrived on time and we made our way with the handful of fellow passengers to the top deck in the sunshine and as soon as everyone was on board it set off and slipped out of port.

The Artemis, named after the Greek Goddess of the wilderness, the hunt, wild animals and fertility (so quite a spread of responsibility), is a slow boat with a reassuring rhythmic throb of a reliable old engine and we sat in the middle of the boat and took comfort from that.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate

Naxos Cathedral Tour

Ancient Treasure…

In one room there was a pot-pourri of treasures that really deserved to be in a proper museum where they could be looked after properly.  She dragged them out of boxes and held them in her frail hands and in a rhapsodical way accompanied by extravagant arm gestures as though she were conducting an orchestra kept imploring us to “look at this, look at this!”  At one point she opened an illuminated manuscript and declared it to be five hundred years old but she turned the pages over as though it was a copy of last week’s Radio Times.

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My Personal Greek A to Ω – N (Nu) is for Νάξος or Naxos

After taking the bus into Naxos town we walked to the top of the town to find the Venetian Cathedral tour that was highly recommended in the Island hopping guidebook.  We waited around in the courtyard outside the Cathedral and not a lot seemed to be happening and we wondered if we were going to be disappointed.

Eventually an old lady in an extravagant floral blouse and with a worn out old dog for a companion ghosted in from a secret door in an adjacent room and enquired if we were there for the tour and we told her that yes we were.

She went to a great deal of trouble to explain that her English was quite poor and clutching her stomach she told us that her doctor had advised her against speaking in English because this made her ill.  I’m not a medical person you understand but this seemed highly unlikely to me and she had no credible explanation for a diagnosis of stomach cramps just through speaking English and as we set off she proceeded to speak perfectly even though it was in a hushed and croaky voice.

This was really excellent, we were the only people on the tour and we received an exceptional commentary all around the interior and the exterior of the Cathedral.  But then disaster struck as  a group of French people gate crashed the party and after a short debate about language preferences with these unwelcome latecomers she continued for the rest of the tour in about 75% French.  She apologised to us for that and lamented that “English people cannot speak French and French people will not speak English!”  This shouldn’t have surprised us of course, we know how precious they can be about their secondary World language so we just had to accept the inevitable and struggle to make sense of the French and be grateful for the few snippets of English that infrequently came our way.

There is no good reason for the French to be so stuck-up about their language, after all it is only the eighteenth most used in the World, Chinese is first, followed by Spanish and then English.  More people even speak Portuguese (sixth) and worst of all German (tenth).  The French, it seems, need to come to terms with the balance of linguistic power.

Actually, even in a foreign language,  this was an excellent tour and the language difficulty didn’t spoil it one little bit.  Our guide swept us through a museum, a monastery and a simple basilica as we visited buildings and rooms that would simply not be accessible to tourists who did not join the tour.

In one room there was a pot-pourri of treasures that really deserved to be in a proper museum where they could be looked after properly.  She dragged them out of boxes and held them in her frail hands and in a rhapsodical way accompanied by extravagant arm gestures as though she were conducting an orchestra kept imploring us to “look at this, look at this!” 

At one point she opened an illuminated manuscript and declared it to be five hundred years old but she turned the pages over as though it was a copy of last week’s Radio Times.  That sort of thing would never be allowed at the British Museum.  No wonder Lord Elgin took the marbles back to London so they could be looked after!

This was a brilliant tour that allowed us to see something that we would not ordinarily have seen.  It lasted about ninety minutes and then she asked for just €2 each.

Now, I am not usually prone to acts of extravagance but this had been so really, really good that we gave her €5 each and still walked away thinking that we had had an exceptional bargain.

I like sunsets and wanted to see the town from the ancient monument so we went once more to the islet of Palatia and joined all of the other sun worshippers who were gathering here to see the end of the day and another glorious sunset.  It was a very fine sunset indeed. The sun slipped elegantly into the sea and as its golden energy was slowly extinguished and transformed into a solar slick on the surface of the Aegean what left over light remained illuminated the town with a satisfyingly warm orange glow like the dying embers of a really good fire.

The edifice is said to be the unfinished Temple of Apollo and the famous Portara, the temple’s gate and Naxos’ trademark, doubles as a sun worshipping monument and it certainly looked spectacular tonight framed against the burning sky.  We stayed until it was dark and the orange flame of the sunset had been replaced by an inky blue sky that provided a dramatic backdrop to the sparkling lights of Naxos town.

Later we walked back out of the town and had another excellent meal at Nico’s restaurant where we ordered far more than we could comfortably eat and feeling good after an excellent day and having consumed more alcohol than was sensible we hired a vehicle for sightseeing on the following day.

But that’s another story… Read it here…

Greece 2011, The Ferry Journeys

My friend Dai Woosnam has suggested that I illustrate the blog with some maps and I am always happy to oblige and fulfil a request!

Greece 2011, Paros to Amorgos

Greek Ferry Artemis in Paros

“The flavour of the place is pleasant and alert, as you gaze over the rail (of the ferry) you may have a Byronic twinge of nostalgia and decide that one day you might return to settle among those mazy streets and silent dusty squares.”  Lawrence Durrell

We had to set the alarm today because there was an early ferry at half past nine so we woke, packed and went downstairs to be the first on the breakfast terrace.  After several cups of tea and an above average continental breakfast we paid up, said goodbye and rejecting the offer of transport walked to the port.  Turning down the lift was something we quickly regretted because the pavement was uneven, our bags were heavy and even though it was early it was already quite hot.

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Island Hopping 2006, Paros

Paros Greek Islands

We had a really early start, it was still dark when we got up and packed for the trip to the harbour. Then I had a panic attic when the transport didn’t arrive at the arranged time but the girls displayed admirable calm. My low patience threshold was tested and after phoning the apartment owner (waking him up!) and just about to drive to the port myself in his car the driver turned up twenty minutes late and reeking of last night’s alcohol excess in Thira.

I spent the short journey constantly checking my watch and we arrived at the ferry with just about ten minutes to spare and that was close because these boats, believe me, don’t wait.  Back to Blue Star today so a big boat to take us to Paros.

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Island Hopping 2006, Groundhog Days

Sleeping Cat Amorgos Cyclades Greece

Because we are essentially creatures of habit, one of the reasons that this island-hopping holiday appealed to me was the chance to move on quickly and not get too settled in one place.

Because we are comfortable with that which is familiar it seems to me to be a feature of holidays that extend even beyond a few days that this inevitably happens and habit quickly creeps in. I call them groundhog-day holidays. It’s not long before every day we are going to the same shops, eating in the same restaurants and picking the same spot on the same beach and getting annoyed if someone has got there ahead of us.

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Island Hopping 2006, Beaches and Sunbathing

Ios Church Bell Greece Cyclades

The day started with a big breakfast, it was exactly the same breakfast as the day before but we just ate more.  We had a plan that if we filled ourselves up with bread rolls, meat and cheese that we could probably skip lunch and save some money.  The cats were around again and Sally was feeding them my ham so I had to reload the plate several times.

After breakfast we set off on what became a long walk along the beach, we walked south past the village and down to the sand dunes and white sandy beaches. There were some interesting sculptured rocks and we stopped to explore and to sunbathe for a while. There were rock pools with fish, small crabs and other marine life. This reminded me of seaside holidays when I was a boy when rock pools were the highlight of holiday entertainment. We walked on; past a busy little harbour with an assortment of tiny fishing boats and onto a little church built on the top of a hill, painted brilliant white and with a ragged flag performing acrobatics in the wind.

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Island Hopping 2006, Naxos

Arriving in Naxos

I did my only important job of the day and got up early as usual, checked the sky and satisfied that the sun was shining sat on the balcony waiting for the others to join me.  I didn’t have to wait long and we had a breakfast in the hotel that was substantial and very good value at only €3 each. Joining us for breakfast this morning was the loudest cat in the world with a really shouting mew.   It liked the ham that Sally insisted on feeding it but not the children from across the road who kept on chasing it around!

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Island Hopping 2006, Piraeus to Naxos

Blue Star Ferry Athens to Naxos

I was aware that we had to get up very early and consequently I had a restless night and woke prematurely sometime before the alarm because it was on my mind that we had to catch the seven thirty ferry to Naxos.

It was still dark when I got up first at about six o’clock and then used my banging about and switching the lights on technique to wake the girls. Not very sophisticated I have to concede but it worked well enough. Packing a rucksack is quite straightforward and the girls had already perfected the back-packers art of cramming without folding so it didn’t take long to get ready.

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