Strolling the Naxian Coast

DSC_0532[1]

When we decided we were going to Naxos, one of the things I was most looking forward to was spending some time on the beach!  Having come from landlocked Kansas and after a long, cold, and dreary winter, I was more than ready for some sun and sand.

DSC_0511[1]

Creepy-cool abandoned building on St. George

Naxos is famous for its numerous beautiful beaches, some of which have been ranked as among Europe’s most beautiful.  We were lucky to get to experience lots of sunny, warm weather so that we could fully enjoy laying out in the sand and walking along the coast.  It wasn’t quite warm enough to swim, but just being able to be outside without a jacket was good enough for me!

DSC_0514[1]

After a delicious Greek breakfast at our hotel, we got up and around as early as possible to start our long walk down the coast to see as many different beaches as we could.  The first beach we visited was Saint George Beach because it just so happened to be right in front of our hotel.  It was not the prettiest of the beaches, but it was still pretty darn gorgeous as you can (hopefully) tell from the photo.  The water was crystal clear and the sand formed soft waves underneath it.  It was an incredibly shallow beach.  I could walk out really far and still the water was below my knees.  It was kind of surreal.

DSC_0520[1]

Agios Prokopios

The next beach we came across was Agios Prokopios, which was a slightly more refined beach, with lighter sand and bluer water.  We decided to stop for a bit at this beach when a small dog (who had already been following us for over an hour) randomly latched onto my husbands leg and started eating his shorts.  That thing would not let go for anything.  We finally got tired of it and went into a restaurant hoping it would eventually go away.  It even came inside the restaurant after him several times.  Finally, it latched onto another family who also happened to have a dog so we could enjoy some peace and quiet and relax.

DSC_0533[1]

Agia Anna

After lunch, we stopped at Agia Anna, which was my favorite of the three.  It had several interesting rock formation in addition to the lovely turquoise waters.  We hung out there the longest.

DSC_0544[1]

We had originally planned to move onto Plaka, but we saw the dreaded dog over there waiting at the other end of the beach again, so we decided to save ourselves the headache and just backtrack through the other beaches.  It had been some time since we’d been on any kind of beach vacation, so it was a wonderful and relaxing change of pace.

DSC_0546[1]

We spent the whole day hiking, walking through water, and stopping in between to lay in the sand.  It was just enough to build up a pretty big appetite for some delicious Greek food and exactly what we needed to get through this last term before a long summer break.

Food, Booze, and Hospitality: The Off-Season in Naxos

DSC_0594[1]

I had a great time in Santorini, but it really took me by surprise when I fell head-over-heels for the lesser-known island of Naxos.  The largest island in the Cyclades, Naxos is best known for its incredible beaches…but there’s a whole lot more to it than that.  From the moment I laid eyes on the iconic view of Portara (all that remains of an ancient temple of Apollo) I had a feeling I was in for a treat.

DSC_0584[1]

I was immediately blown away by the kindness and hospitality of the people in Naxos. Never in my life had I received such a warm welcome as I did at our hotel, Kymata Hotel.  I cannot talk that place up enough.  They offered to pick us up at the port for free, and as soon as we arrived, everyone at the reception got up to greet us and thrust huge, homemade loukoumis (the Greek equivalent of a Turkish Delight) into our hands, along with a shot of Raki!  It was amazing.  I should also mention that it is conveniently located right on St. George Beach and has an incredible breakfast buffet.  If you’re staying in Naxos, this is where you should be!

DSC_0507[1]

The adventure didn’t end there.  We soon learned that in addition to having incredible people and beautiful beaches, Naxos is also home to a fantastic food scene.  All of the best Greek food we ate on our entire trip was in Naxos.

DSC_0508[1]

Dakos:  the most incredible dish of the trip!

 The best part?  Every single restaurant was eager to give us something to try on the house, whether it was a dessert, glass of wine, or an appetizer.

DSC_0607[1]

Incredibly delicious honey-cinnamon Raki

We trudged back to our hotel every night with full stomachs and happy hearts.

DSC_0560[1]

Another highlight for us on this wonderful island was our day trip into the tiny mountain village of Halki.  The bus ride through the mountains was nothing short of extraordinary and the postcard-perfect views of the village were only made more amazing by the tantalizing scent of spring flowers.

DSC_0562[1]

We stopped by the local citron distillery, which has been a specialty of the village for centuries.  The citrus-flavored liquor was delicious and we couldn’t resist buying a bottle to take home with us.

DSC_0568[1]

Before heading back to the main part of the island, we stopped for a nice lunch at a beautiful little cafe.

DSC_0572[1]

DSC_0574[1]

One of many Greek salads on the trip

With each moment, I just kept falling more and more in love with the place.  My heart was already heavy on our last night there at the thought of leaving.

DSC_0576[1]

If you are planning a trip to the Greek Islands, especially if you are going to the nearby Santorini, please do yourself a favor and check out Naxos!  It’s a short ferry ride away and was my favorite part of our trip to Greece.  It may not have the poetic views of Santorini, but it is plenty beautiful and has a soulfulness that Santorini simply doesn’t.  I really hope to return someday.