A Travellerspoint blog

Friday 22nd May – to Naxos Island

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Up before 6.00 am (not Jan’s favourite time) to get the ferry. The seats in economy (no seat no.) are just loose seats at tables dotted around different parts of the large ferry. Found a table for 2 in an area which would get lots of fresh air (to combat the smokers and, hopefully, help Jan from not getting seasick). Not that we needed to worry as you could hardly tell the ferry was even moving across the water. Why aren’t there any waves??
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We had chosen Naxos mainly because it was more varied than many others and not as tourist oriented – not only does it have the normal beautiful beaches, but a wide range of types of countryside (from plains to mountains and valleys) as it is the most fertile island of the Cyclades, and reputedly had many enchanting villages and the potential for lots of walking. The island’s total population is around 18k, and only about 20 or so km E to W and 35 or so km NS. And another feature is it’s marble, which has been used in buildings since well BC.

5 ½ hours later we arrived, picked up our car and off to find the village where we are staying. The village, Mili, is very small – in the hills about 15 mins drive from the main town and port, Hora. No cars in the village. You leave your car on the road and walk down a set of steps. The village seems to be spread over the hill and doesn’t really seem to have a centre (not one we have found). The house is a bit odd. There are 2 buildings. One has the bedroom and the living area; the other, the kitchen and bathroom. A covered courtyard area ‘joins’ them. From the courtyard you can climb steps to the roof of the kitchen/bathroom, which is used as a patio and the area to hang clothes. There is also a garden, but, unfortunately, without some major gardening, is unusable. Jan had a go, just to try and get to the orange and lemon trees we had been asked to water.

Having said all that, it’s rather nice – quaint, atmospheric, etc.

The view from the kitchen/bathroom roof is great – steep, scrub covered hills with tracks winding through them on which you see goats, their herders and people on donkeys (well only once but there are many donkeys around). At sunset, the hills glow. Like this place – Naxos, more than the house though.
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Posted by Jan_n_Dave 13:00 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Thursday 21st May – Sounion - Pireaus

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Today is the day we return the car and go to Pireaus, ready to catch the ferry to Naxos tomorrow.

Yesterday was really windy so left visiting the temple until today – even windier. Still, may be the only time we are ever here. At the temple site the wind was even stronger – quite scary – and buffeted you about. Felt as if it could easily swish you over the side and down the cliff face.

Because of the wind we didn’t linger, and set off to take the car back. In the past we have had ‘issues’ finding where to return cars so neither of us (well at least Jan) were looking forward to this bit. All went relatively smoothly, except nearly ended up in Athens (not advisable) trying to find a petrol station.

Car people took us to airport where we caught a bus to Pireaus. Pireaus gets very bad press. Lonely Planet suggest you don’t stay there at all but as our ferry left at 7.30am the next morning, didn’t think we had a choice. However, booked a hotel in advance and after some wandering around the streets found it. Hotel was just near the market but by the time we had checked in and got something for lunch, the market had closed.

Wandered the streets of Pireaus for a few hours, fine in the day but not sure how we would have felt at night in some parts. Couldn’t find anywhere near our hotel to eat dinner so just ate in the hotel and had an early night.

Posted by Jan_n_Dave 02:09 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Wednesday 20th May – Sounion

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Left the hotel (Yes!!) and headed off to Cape Sounion, south of Athens. Cape Sounion is the southern most point of Attica and the temple of Posiedon is built on the rocky outcrop on the cape. The temple was built in 444 BC out of marble. 16 of the columns are still standing. It still stands out and the marble captures the different colours of the sun.

Decided to treat ourselves and stay in a rather luxurious hotel – certainly the most luxurious we have stayed in. Beautiful view overlooking a cove with a number of yachts (large and small) and further out cargo boats moored. Sat and watched the yachts come in and out and the sea and sky change colour. To the side we could also see the temple – and watch it change colour with the sky.

Enjoyed the luxury.
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Posted by Jan_n_Dave 02:08 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Tuesday 19th May – Meteora - ??

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Set off not being quite sure where we were headed to. Dave had read about a fishing village on the east coast – on the way back to Athens that sounded good. Thought we might stay there for a couple of days and then just go back to Athens to return the car.

Decided to stop in at a couple of Neolithic sites on the way. A bit hard to find and not that exciting, and some of the interesting parts not open to the public. Really needed more info – which wasn’t available in English.

Stopped at the fishing village we were heading to at about 4.30pm. Dave pretty tired so coffee and then a walk around the town to (1) see if we could find somewhere to stay and (2) if we thought it was worth staying at. Decided to go on and see if we could find somewhere more interesting and prettier. Anyway, got caught in traffic due to road works, in an area that although on the map it looked like it would be OK (many beaches along coast) was very industrial; I said turn right and I should have said go straight on, and some time later we didn’t have a clue where we were going and where we were going to find a hotel.

Headed to Marathon area where we thought there would be hotels due to a number of events held in the area during the Olympics. To cut a long story short we found a hotel along the beach that didn’t really look open but went in any way to find it was open and expensive – and really crappy. Probably built for the Olympics but hasn’t been maintained. There were ‘bungalows’ all around the large grounds with about 6 rooms in each bungalow. We were taken to one some distance from the main building and given the choice of 2 rooms – both smelt of mildew and obviously hadn’t been used for some time. Didn’t have much choice but to stay but they agreed to cut the cost a little and give us breakfast.

Dinner at a very local taverna was good – simple, but some of the best potato chips we have ever had.

Got back to our room to find there was no water - but couldn’t find anyone to complain to so filled up a couple of plastic bottles with water from a tap in the garden to wash hands, clean teeth, etc. Very tired and crapped off.

Posted by Jan_n_Dave 02:06 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Monday 18th May – Meteora

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First job for the morning was finding somewhere to get a new tyre – relatively quickly and efficiently done due to the advice of the man from the hotel. Very pleased that not too time consuming and costly.

So up to the monasteries and the rocks. So many busses at them that we decided to drive to the highest and walk to one of the lower ones and then back to the top one. Scrambled down a track with no idea if we were on THE track on just a water course. Eventually met some other people coming up so figured we were on the right track. All very green and dramatic – green vegetation against the rocks – some with monasteries on top. Walked along the road for a bit looking for the track up but couldn’t find it so walked a long way around the road (up all the way). Many buses at the second monastery we had thought to visit so back up the road to the first (and highest one), Moni Megalou Meteorou. It was established in 14th century and in the church there are frescoes with graphic representations of Christians being persecuted by the Romans.

Not many people there which was lucky as it wasn’t that big. Some cultural sites can take large nos of people –but not the monasteries. Not sure what happens to the monks when all the tourists are there – are they locked in their rooms praying? Was particularly interesting from the point of view that the monastery played an active part in the War of Independence and 2nd WW. There were paintings of various Greek heroes involved in battles. Seemed strange to think of a monastery so involved in warfare – or at least supporting it. Also a number of modern paintings which used the old style of the frescoes in the church to show the neomartyrs – those that died during the time of the Turkish rule. The language used to describe the Turks and the Germans in the 2nd WW reminded me of some of the language used in Vietnam to describe the Americans and what occurred during the American / Vietnam war.

Decided not to go into another monastery as it is really the scenery (and that people built on the top of these rocks) that is the most interesting.

Back to our room to resume the stork watch – the second stork had flown in in the morning with some twigs and they both fussed over the nest. Second stork had then flown off. Second stork (is it male of female) returned in the afternoon and again they fussed about the next and made loud clicking noises at each other - is this part of a mating ritual?
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Posted by Jan_n_Dave 01:53 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

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