I live in DC, which is a great place to live and visit. I try to make the most of it. However, I also love to leave my home and see what the world has to offer. Come and join me!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Wednesday, September 12, 2007 I finally relax on Naxos

I slept until 9:30, which was a record for this trip. At home I am a champion sleeper. I think nothing of the clock reading 11 am when I wake up Saturday mornings. But on a trip I am more keyed up and have a hard time sleeping late. I guess nobody else has trouble sleeping late as it was quite a popular breakfast time when I arrived.

I found the yogurt this time--you know, in the big bin at the front of the table? I swear they must have removed the yogurt tub for refilling the first morning when I was getting my breakfast. Could I really be so dense that I missed it? I had yogurt with muesli and honey and it was delicious. The yogurt at Hotel Galini seems to have slightly lower fat content and a more mild taste (all cow's milk versus some goat in others?) than other yogurts, and goes down nice and easy. I also had a sesame seed-topped cinnamon rusk, which was not too sweet.

I thoroughly sunscreened myself and headed to the beach. There are chaises and umbrellas on the beach and on Monday I couldn't figure out the situation. They seemed attached to cafes, but the vast majority of people using them didn't have drinks on their little tables. Then I thought maybe they were connected to a particular hotel. Then I thought maybe it was just a public service of the town. At any rate, I had just laid on the sand on my big silk chiffon scarf that was doubling as a towel rather than deal with them.

However, as today was my beach day I wanted a chair so I decided to just sit on one and see what happened. Eventually a woman came over and asked me for 4E. I hadn't brought any money with me so I asked her if I could go back to my room and get some. She said that was fine, and I could take my time. When I came back and paid her I asked her if that hired the chair for the whole day and she said yes. Yay! That seems pretty cheap to me. I traveled for business to Myrtle Beach a couple of years ago and took the afternoon off to go to the beach. To hire a chair with umbrella was $25 for the day there.

I read my books and finally went all the way into the water (well, I didn't put my face in, but I got my hair wet). I floated well in the salty sea, but I couldn't quite get used to the chill and relax. The sandy beaches of Naxos are lovely, or at least St. George beach at the town is. St. Anna and Plaka, further south, are supposed to be even nicer I believe and are easily reached by bus but I was content with St. George. The water is perfectly clear and the sea floor almost entirely bare; there were a few plans and sea sponges rolling around. While I was there the Aegean was quite calm anyway, but the water at St. George beach is almost entirely flat because it's in a protected little alcove. The only waves we had were wakes from the motorboat taking people for a ride on the banana. The combination of perfectly clear almost still water and a blank sea floor make perfect conditions for refraction of sunlight to be projected onto the sand. It had been absolutely gorgeous the day before during sunset; during today's fitful sun it was hard to get a strong enough image to capture with the capture but I stood in the water as long as it took, camera at the ready, for the sun to come through the clouds and finally got my picture.

More sun and reading. I hear somebody ask what time it is and get the response that it's 2:00. The morning flew! Having a book is key. I decided to head for the main drag to get some postcards and lunch.

I spend a long time choosing non-cheesy postcards, and buy some more stamps from the store. I love that all the tourist stores sell postcard stamps! I had lunch at Dolphins (Δελφινιας), and ordered the organic potato salad with tomatoes, fresh parsley, capers, olives, red onion, and some sliced raw garlic. It was sensational! By far the best thing I'd had on Naxos to date.

I don't know if I chose poorly, but the food on Naxos was, on the whole, the worst I had on the trip. Meze had been pretty awful, and The Good Heart merely ok...I had been too spoiled by the wonderful food on the mainland to enjoy merely ok! After he takes my order, the English-speaking son of the owner at Dolphins compliments my sunglasses and touches my shoulder. The flirty non-Irish bartender the night before had done the same (touched my shoulder). That morning I think some guys had whistled and called hello from a cafe, though I wasn't sure if it was directed at me. This is the most action I've gotten all year--two touches on the shoulder and some possible whistles! Ay me.

I wrote my postcards, including one to myself to remind me of how great Naxos was and to remember it when I'm stuck in my workaday real life. The bill at Dolphins was 6.7E.

I wandered through the town and up to the Kastro, the old Venetian stronghold to take some pics. It looked properly weathered and old.

I loved the beautiful pink flowers against the white stucco and blue doors and windows! I know the white and blue originally started as a ward against the evil eye, but I wonder now if it is maintained for the benefit of the tourists and people wish they could paint their doors yellow or purple or fuchsia (my front door is fuchsia).

I was going to go to the Kastro Museum, but I saw that clouds were rolling in so I hurried back to the beach to get the last bit of sun. I didn't learn anything of the Venetian occupation while in Greece, so I think that will be my excuse for going back.

On the beach it was still a little warm but clouds were covering the sun most of the time. Then some threatening gray clouds came in and it was too cold to sit on the beach anymore. I was sad as I had planned to spend sunset by the water for my last night. Oh well. I went back to my room and finished my books. Without knowing anything of the books other than their covers, I had somehow managed to choose two books (Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner and Swallowing Grandma by Kate Long) with the same theme of abandoning mothers and fantasy fathers. Odd.

I took the books back to Papyrus, the used bookstore, where I got back 6E, half the 12E I had paid. Quite a tidy profit for him. Too late I had seen that the hotel had a few lending books in various languages. I didn't check them out since I was all fixed up with the ones I had bought and didn't want any book-buying remorse! I read fast and I read a lot so I *never* buy books. I can't imagine what my house would look like if I had bought all the books I've read! I am all-library, all the way. Buying a book is quite an occasion for me.

By this time it was dark. I walked up to the Portara and then really wished I had my flashlight. The path is not lit except where the spotlights on the Portara blind you. The path that is so well-marked and well-maintained during the day becomes a bit scary at night! I tried taking some photos but my camera does terrible night photos and plus I am not good at holding it steady during the long exposure, and I couldn't find the post I had used for my self-portraits to use the timer to take a steady picture. I wandered back through town and bought some more little bottles of Kitron for gifts and then dropped them off at my room and headed out for dinner.

Since I'd had so little luck with Greek food on the island I kind of wanted to try the East-West Cafe, which has Pan-Asian and Indian cuisine. However, the only way to get to it appeared to require passing in front of the Irish bar. I knew the bartender would recognize me from the night before and for some reason (yes, I'm neurotic) I felt awkward, and knew I'd have to go talk to him and he'd want me to come in for a drink but really I just wanted dinner and I would feel bad saying no. So I tried to approach East-West from the other direction but I lost the trail. I stumpled upon the Trattoria di Susanna, whose sign advertises its pizza with real mozzarella. Pizza sounds good so I get a table. It was great! I had the Frescuria, with mozzarella, parmesan, cherry tomatoes, and arugula. The real mozzarella is fantastic. When the pizza arrives it seems gigantic, big enough for two, but suddenly there was only one piece left. The house red wine comes in a real wine glass with a generous pour and is very drinkable.

There's not a whole lot of foot traffic near the restaurant, but the motorbikes are zipping up and down the hills. There is nearly an accident when a car pulls out of an alley too quickly and the motorbike has to come to a swervey, skiddy stop. The guy on the bike merely gave the driver of the car a dirty look and started back up. I would have had (1) a heart attack, and (2) a screaming fit, in that order.

The bill was 11.40E, and it was presented to me with an orange-flavored "Jelly Pop" candy, a small fruit chew sort of similar in taste and texture to an orange slice or...I am blanking on the name. I always loved them as a kid. They are round patties, maybe 1 inch diameter, sugar coated, and very soft. Anyway, this candy was really good, not too sweet with a strong orange flavor. I looked for the Jelly Pop brand to bring some home but didn't find any in the stores or the airport.

After dinner I walked back to the square with the fountain as I had seen a small grocery store there and wanted to pick up some food for the ferry ride the next day. There is a small concession on board, but I assumed it would be overpriced and not good. It was slim pickings, unfortunately, and all I got were bagel chips and a chocolate bar. I helped some German women who came in asking for olive paste by its Italian name, which the clerk didn't know. I said to him, knowingly, "Elie," and he corrected me, "Elia." Oh well, I was close. Anyway, I had seen the olive products and led the women over there and we concluded our quadri-lingual search for olive paste.

I had grabbed my flashlight when dropping of the Kitron and walked back up to the Portara. While the walk was much easier and safer with the flashlight it was now completely deserted and I felt a little creeped out, as I couldn't see anything but the path in front of me and who knew what loomed out there in the darkness, beyond the reach of my feeble penlight. I found my self-timer post--it was much further toward the edge than I remembered and it would have been really stupid of me to attempt to find it without the flashlight. Unfortunately, it was so blustery that even putting the camera on the post and using the timer function the picture was still blurred from the wind jarring the camera during its exposure. When I came down from the hill a woman was walking toward me and I was so keyed up that I admit I gave a tiny little scream because seeing another person startled me.

Back at the hotel I packed up for my ferry the next morning. At this point I was practically having to sit on my suitcase to close it!

You can see all my pictures from Naxos and all the photos from this trip to Greece if you'd like.

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