Thursday 28 September 2023

Swimming in Naxos


We started swimming here, and 'ahh, I had forgotten how good it is to swim out of Athens - the quality of the water is so different, so pure, so clear, so wonderful!' was my first thought.

This is Agios Geogios beach in the Hora in Naxos. It's a sandy beach, the sand being so fine that it almost solidifies. The water is very shallow for ages, you walk and you walk and you walk some more and then it gets shallower and then, after a while you can finally plunge. Plunging is heaven. It's bliss. We swam for a long time every day going deeper and deeper, and then we would come out

lie on our lounger and then go back in again, and so on. It's an organised beach, and this is what we like, primarily because I want shade, I never sit in the sun (Ken does though). 

Naxos is known for its beautiful beaches, and everyone we spoke to urged us to go and explore as many as we could. We had every intention of doing so, but then, as I said in a previous post we had lots of plans but did very little in the end, except relax. This beach was a ten-minute walk from our hotel, and the tavernas here were very good, so, with the exception of one trip to Plaka beach, we came here everyday, and loved it.

There was an abandoned restaurant up on this hillock, a ruin, the only eyesore in the whole area.

Three tavernas on this beach, next to each other, the tables on the sand, and a lot of us ate in our bathing suits.

We sampled all three and then found our favourite and continued going there for the rest of our stay.

You can see how close you are to the water.

On the day we visited Plaka beach, the bus deposited us here - this is the road, even though it's covered in sand.

This boardwalk leads to the beach

Five kilometres of sandy white stretch, Plaka is the longest beach in Naxos. It is also the most secluded. There are a few small hotels and apartments that cater to locals 

and there are many sections on the beach that have umbrellas and loungers but it is not difficult to find long stretches which are quiet allowing you to relax in solitude. 

It's this untouched quality, together with the fine, white sand and the crystal clear blue waters that make it such a wonderful place to be.

We stayed where the bus had dropped us off for a while, but then we decided to explore before settling down. So, we took our stuff and started walking

and walking, and walking... and this is what it was like for ages

Some interesting rock formations in Naxos, like these

There are sand dunes

This beach is also a nudist beach. There are patches where the majority of the bathers are nude, and some where they are mostly wearing bathing suits.

After walking for quite a while, we found a spot that we liked and stayed there for the rest of the morning. The swimming was very good and lying on our lounger listening to the waves lapping the shore was most enjoyable.

When we started getting hungry we got on to the sand road again, looking for somewhere to eat. We had been told that there are some very good tavernas in Plaka, so it was a question of finding one.

During our quest we came across a hotel

another one with a pool

and then we hit the jackpot, Manolis the taverna, 

and across the road, its outside seating

We found a good table, right at the front

so that we could enjoy the excellent view

and had a wonderful lunch - the food was delicious.

The bus stop was outside the taverna, and after a 5-minute wait, we boarded the bus.

Sunday 24 September 2023

The castle and the old town in Naxos

The capital of Naxos, the Hora, carries all the typical features of a Cyclades island, and quite a few of its monuments date back to various historical periods. Its heart beats in Old Hora, the fortified town with the cobble-stone alleys and the Venetian walled houses. The front doors of the grand residences still bear the coat of arms of their Venetian owners; the narrow backstreets and the galleries, the catholic churches and the fortifications have created a unique mixing of Cycladic and mediaeval architecture. 

You enter the old town, and it's steps

narrow alleyways

and even narrower ones that give you a glimpse of the sea,

small churches

white-washed houses with blue doors

or with lots of blue

while a few of the doors are a different colour

some houses have rounded walls

and some have parts of the stonework exposed

cobble-stoned alleyways


of all sizes

and shape

and quite often one after another.

some of the alleyways are so complicated they look like interiors.

One street artist has been busy

The Old Gate

which leads to the Cathedral

in Cathedral Square which is on the north side of the town very near the sea

a smaller church next to it

on the other side of the square this mansion that is in need of restoration, but how grand!

We loved walking around the old town and inside the castle and we did this most evenings before settling down to our pre-dinner drinks

and we loved walking under the arches

and I know I've posted too many pictures of them

but each one of them is different

and you think how many ways are there of constructing an arch?

and the answer is obviously that there's are infinite number of ways.

I promise I'll stop.

This building used to be the French Commercial School - Nikos Kazantzakis was a student here from 1897 to 1898.

Part of the old castle wall

Finally, we visited Avaton, located in the castle grounds,  which used to be the Ursuline Monastery,  incorporating an Ursuline school for the education of  girls of wealthy Catholic families, that dates back to the 17th century.

The building is now a museum. It also has a lift which is used extensively as taking it  means having to avoid the long, ardous walk up the old town and castle

On the roof there's a cafe

and restaurant

and it affords great views of the Hora and the area around it