Today we leave Naxos and will be catching the Blue Star Naxos to the little island of Iraklia – the beginning of our exploration of the Little Cyclades. We haul our luggage down the ancient winding streets of the Kastro to the port where we have a cup of tea whilst we wait for the ferry.
It was so good to see Naxos again after 20 years. I had seen her from the deck of a ferry in recent years which only served to whet my appetite.
The Blue Star Naxos arrives on time. We are herded into the cattle pen but thankfully it’s a very quick turnaround. It is only an hour from Naxos to Iraklia and as the ship sails along the South West coast of Naxos we take in the views of its stunning mountain ranges.
As we approach Iraklia we turn between two pieces of land and sail down the long throat of the channel until the port is suddenly revealed to us. The port is small – almost too small it feels for a ship this size. It is immediately obvious that this is not an overly touristic island. It is so pretty it almost brings tears to my eyes.
Peter, I think was quite enchanted by the view of the port as he stayed on deck to take photographs. I headed down to the car deck and hauled our 2 suitcases off just in case the ship decided to do a quick departure as it had done on Naxos.
We are staying at Hotel Aiolos and we had confirmed that we would be picked up from the port. We looked for the Aiolos van but couldn’t see it anywhere. The small number of cars, bikes and people that had disembarked with us had disappeared within a matter of minutes and all that was left was a couple of fishing boats and Peter and I.
We didn’t have any mobile data so weren’t able to phone the hotel. Peter set off on foot to see if he could find the hotel which we knew was up the hill within walking distance of the port. After 15 minutes or so he returned, not being able to locate it. We set off to the nearest taverna where I’m sure that on an island of this size everyone knows everyone. All I need to do was say “Aiolos and point to the port the lady understood exactly. She made a phone call and then turned to me and said “Aiolos” and mimed driving so I knew that Michael was on his way.
Five minutes later Michael arrives in his van. He had been there but in the general chaos of disembarkation along with thinking that the ship was going to sail off with Peter still on board we had missed him. A photograph that Peter had taken from the top deck showed that Michael had been there but our faffing (Peter’s faffing) had made it seem that we hadn’t arrived on the island.
As we drive out of the port, Michael points out the local taverna’s that we should visit. The one that we had asked help from is the best taverna for fish he tells us.
He gave us a brief tour of the island, telling us where everything was including two good beaches – Livadi beach and St Georges Beach. He told us that they have a good cave to visit on the island but it is a long walk. Apparently the Agios Ioannos Cave makes the Cave of Antiparos look small! However, if we did decide to visit we would need our own torches or candles as the cave has no electricity.
We arrive at the hotel which is at the top of a ‘very steep’ hill. This is surely going to keep us fit! The benefit of being so high up is that the views are amazing. Michael leaves our cases outside the hotel and ushers us to the restaurant where he gave us a glass of Raki and Greek biscuits. Now this is my kind of welcome drink!
The breeze has picked up so after unpacking we decide to do some hand washing which dried very quickly. We walked down the hill to the port to buy a few basics. The walk back up to the hill even with the cooling breeze, was quite challenging.
We spend the rest of the afternoon on the balcony and then decide to eat in the hotels’ restaurant which was a very good call. The food here is absolutely exceptional – traditional Greek food but with a modern twist. As we watch the sunset, Michael brings us a complimentary dessert and a glass of delicious cherry flavoured wine. What a perfect end to a wonderful day!