Today we are doing the island bus tour. Today is the first day we’ve had to set the alarm – being lazy has been heaven! The bus 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. The ancient winding streets of the Kastro are so pretty!
Irene is our guide for the day and Yiannis is our driver. I have just never plucked up enough courage to drive in Greece so this is a great way to see some key highlights of the island without the stress of having to fathom driving on the other side of the road!
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. I grab a grainy underexposed photograph of Naxos town through the bus’s dusty windows.
Once at Damalas our first stop is the traditional olive press.
Also in Damalas is Manolis Lybertas’s Pottery where we get a demonstration and the opportunity to view and buy the beautiful selection of 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. It has the perfect mixture of ’boutiquification’ and traditional old charm.
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 as we head up to the mountain village of Apeiranthos
We reach the mountain village of Apeiranthos and we park on the edge of the village. As we enter 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 are now given a couple of hours to explore the village on our own. The village has so much charm and I think this would be a lovely place to stay at some point in the future.
What is this strange building covered in graffiti?
We pop into the Archaeological Museum too!
We climbed the marble steps higher into the village, walking under several vaulted archways. The narrow alleyways lead to an arch framed viewpoint looking over the village.
It is easy to get carried away exploring but we take time to have a lovely meal at Taverna Platanos. We manage to get a table that overlooks the valleys below.
I absolutely love Greek sausage so choose this from the menu – Peter has pork which we wash down with a bottle of Apeiranthian wine. It is so good that we buy a bottle to take with from their shop across the road.
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 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. No rain today and the clouds pass us over.
We head head down from the mountains towards Apollonia on the North coast of the island. Here the coast is exposed to the elements but what a spectacular show we get from the waves crashing on the shore! It is exhilarating to see such a violent onslaught from the waves that throw themselves up onto road causing us to ‘run for it’ to get past.
We have a 45 minute break to walk along the coast or have a snack at Restaurant Apollon right on the shore front.
Our final visit of the day is to visit the unfinished statue of Dionysus at the marble quarry. He lays there looking 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.
You can book this trip through Zas Travel who’s office is in Naxos town.
When we arrive back at Panorama, we find Marko at the reception desk speaking to someone on the phone. He tells me that someone wants to speak to me and hands the phone 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 at Panorama and on Naxos.
We have had a lovely stay here and highly recommend it for it’s great location, great views and exceptional hospitality.
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!