Ancient Olive Press, Mountain Villages and Crashing Waves

Today is the first day we’ve had to set the alarm – being lazy has been heave!  The bus tour of the islands leaves at 9.30am so we need to get our skates on.  Firstly we walk down from the Kastro to the port making a short pit stop at the bakery where we buy pastries (Galaktabouriko) for breakfast.

Irene is our guide for the day and Yiannis is our driver.  As I’m not confident enough to drive in Greece this is a great way to see some key highlights of the island that we wouldn’t normally be able to see.

There is a small group of about 10 people on the tour of various nationalities and Irene speaks most of those languages.  She tells us that she used to work in  Coventry a few years ago. The bus leaves Naxos town and begins to steadily climb up towards the first of our stops – the small village of Damalas.

At Damalas we firstly visit the ancient Olive Press
And the pottery……
Then back on the coach to the pretty village of Halki with its Kitron distillery.  After a short guided tour and an overview of the distilling process we all get to taste the products.  Wow that stuff is good!
Halki is really attractive and we spend some time looking at the stunning villas and enchanting streets
I was fascinated by this quaint local shop.  Check out the egg box till!
Continuing beyond the valley of Tragaia we take in the amazing views
We reach the mountain village of Apeiranthos and the coach parks close to the Marble Church
At the entrance to the village we pass the 17th century Zevgoli Tower.  Built on a rock, this Venetian structure was acquired by the present owners after the Greek revolution of 1821 but is also home to a little owl.
We begin to explore the interesting little streets
We stumbled across thiis peculiar building covered in Graffiti.  It’s at times like this that I wish I could ready (and speak) Greek!
We pop into the Archaeological Museum too!
We climbed the marble steps higher into the village.
We have lunch at Taverna Platanos which has spectacular views over the valley.
I love Greek sausage so choose this from the menu  – Peter has pork.  The local Apeiranthos wine is exceptionally nice – so much so that we buy a litre of it from their shop across the road.
We have another final stroll around the main street stopping to look at the marble church too.
Back on the coach again.  Before long we stop for a photo opportunity at Keramotis – a point on the road which has an spectacular views of the coastline on both sides of the island.  We park next to the small church Ekklesia Stavros.  On the step there are figs for sale – and an honesty box.
We head off again to Apollonia on the North coast of the island.  We see the clouds begin to roll in across the mountain tops.  It reminds me of the first time I visited Naxos about 20 years earlier.  We had decided to catch the bus to the mountain village of Filoti in search of the cave where Zeus is said to have been born.  We set off in scorching heat but by the time we arrived at Filoti the clouds had descended and had soaked us to the skin.  The rain was short lived and a welcome respite from the heat.
Before long we can see the coast
The North coast of Naxos is exposed to the elements but what a spectacular show we get from the waves crashing on the shore!
 It is very invigorating to see such a violent onslaught from the waves.  We are now all hungry and have 45 minutes to have lunch.  We eat in Restaurant Apollon right next to the sea.
Our final visit of the day is to visit the unfinished statue of Dionysus at the marble quarry. He lays there abandoned and forlorn. To give you a sense of scale his foot is nearly as tall as Peter!
We take the opportunity to admire the views of the bay before boarding the coach to return to Naxos town.  It has been a thoroughly enjoyable day and I highly recommend this trip.
When we arrive back at Panorama, we find Marko at the reception desk and ask to pay for our stay.  He was on the phone and tells me that someone wants to speak to me.  It is his wife Irene who apologised for not being there to meet us but she hoped that we had a lovely time.   We’ve loved our stay at Panorama – the location is perfect and the hospitality exceptional!
For our last meal on Naxos we decide to eat at restaurant Sto Ladoxarto which has great views over the harbour.
There is a lot of activity down on the harbour this evening and we notice groups of people being ferried over to the little church by the marina.  There is a wedding taking place and we have a great view.
What a great way to spend our last night on Naxos.  After 20 years it hasn’t changed that much!

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