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BS: Postcard from Naxos (Greece) 2013

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Roger the Skiffler 21 Jun 13 - 07:31 AM
ChanteyLass 21 Jun 13 - 09:07 PM
Roger the Skiffler 22 Jun 13 - 05:25 AM
gnu 22 Jun 13 - 02:06 PM
Roger the Skiffler 22 Jun 13 - 02:07 PM
Roger the Skiffler 23 Jun 13 - 12:02 PM
Micca 23 Jun 13 - 12:35 PM
Lonesome EJ 24 Jun 13 - 01:37 AM
Roger the Skiffler 24 Jun 13 - 05:08 AM

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Subject: BS: POSTCARD FROM NAXOS (Greece) 2013
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 21 Jun 13 - 07:31 AM

Thirty-one years ago we visited our first Greek islands. The very first was Thira (Fira/Santorini). This year, after some 50 Greek holidays, we visited our 41st island, Naxos, which involved flying to, and on the way back, spending a night on…Thira.
Naxos is a working island, the greenest of the Cyclades, with a thriving agriculture; potatoes, forage, dairy and maize as well as the usual fruit, vines and olives, with comparatively few goats and sheep. It also has lots of natural springs and historically has been a major source of emery and marble.
Many of the houses, streets, and even field boundary walls are composed of marble unsuitable for finer work, or reused from earlier buildings. Our studio was in a modern block across the road from one of the major beaches Ayos Procopios. The beach was well served with cafes and tavernas and stretches had sunbeds and umbrellas. In early June the season has barely started so it wasn't too busy. Some businesses had yet to open, though a lot were making ready; some were for sale and some looked as if they had been closed for some time. Judging from reserve stores of sunbeds, taverna tables they would be much busier in July and August. A measure of the importance of business to the island was that free WiFi was universal and good signals obtained. In our accommodation there was also free air-conditioning (so often an extra charged per day) and satellite tv. We didn't bother to try the latter, and, of course, the Greek government's decision to close down the stare tv and radio channels happened while we were there. The only mention of the economic woes we heard from locals was that Greek and Italian holiday makers were down in the last few years. German, Dutch and Scandinavian ones were everywhere. In Santorini there were large parties of Japansese and Chinese and quite a few in Naxos.
Tex-mex food seemed to have attracted the Greeks- we saw several places and adverts for others and one of the bars in our village advertised: "The best Mojitas on the island- but it is a small island". Not that small, and the population is around 20,000. The village of Ayos Procopios had everything we needed: small general stores, lots of places to eat and drink, all of them good, an ATM, a pastry shop, post box, pharmacy, bookshop, even (though we didn't need them!) a diving school and a couple of beauty parlours. The 'bus service was excellent. When we arrived there were buses 9 times a day to the main town (about 10-15 minutes, mostly spend negotiating the narrow one-way streets of the town and shouting at illegally parked vehicles to move out of the way!). After our first weekend this had been extended to one and hour from 9am to 10pm. By the time we left an extra late night bus had been added for people dining in town to get back to the villages. The buses left town on time but as we could see them go past our studio along the beach road, we realised that if they passed at quarter past the hour from town, they had two more villages to go and the driver had to have a smoke and a coffee at the turn round point, so there was no point being at the bus stop at the scheduled time of half past for the return journey, twenty to or quarter two was more likely. The taxis took advantage of people worrying they'd missed the bus by offering to take them into town at "special" rate.
We ate very well. We tried all the places in the village and some in the next village, Aya Anna, where we tended to go for a quieter beach. Freebies were normal: a bonne bouche or fruit or pud or drink, sometimes all 3! We went to one taverna 3 times as it has live music: a very good acoustic bouzouki/guitar duo. There were similar duos (only too amplified for our taste) in too other tavernas and another featured someone billed as "Ben E" (surname redacted on legal advice!) who I expected to be a soul singer, but based on what we heard as we walked past he was more Chas 'n' Dave than Sam and Dave!
        Back to food! I always try to have a different main course each night and this wasn't a problem, though I never managed to get the rabbit advertised on some menus. I also like to try new dishes and had some local specialities: an orange cake (not too unusual), Naxiot Omelette , goat kleftiko (usually lamb) and the local citron liqueur: "interesting". I was expecting fish to be expensive as there is only a small fishing fleet but it was one of our cheaper meals (dorado).Local wine varied from excellent bottles from the village of the local shopkeeper ( we tried the red, white & rose) to potable house wines to one that was more like sherry.
We did an island coach tour which took in the citron distillery (the leaves are distilled to add to raw alcohol), a pottery and major sites. The island is rich in archaeological remains. We saw a 1500 BC kouros, broken and abandoned, 3 metres long, one of the several archaeological museums, several churches including one 6th century reputed to be one of the oldest in Greece, with remains of 9th or 10th century wall paintings. In the main town we visited the remains of the Temple of Dionysus (enormous marble archway), Venetian tower, cathedrals and museum and the tunnel-like streets.
We found a favourite beach spot in the next village Ayia Anna. There was a row of 6 only beach umbrellas and a stretch of uncluttered beach. All the beaches were well tended to clear seaweed, flotsam and tourist detritus: there was a drive to recycle and a daily garbage collection. We got the sunbeds free for getting a mid-morning coffee or juice and lunch at the taverna behind and got on very well with the owner who dosed us with after lunch ouzos on the house (after our free fruit!) to aid our postprandial snooze!
I mentioned how comfortable our studios were. On the whole very well designed and equipped, even supplied us with beach towels (if we had known in advance we'd have saved some weight in our luggage!). However, in the bathroom the radiator (not needed, obviously!) was high on the wall. Er, doesn't heat rise? There were lots of nice gardens, including round our studios, but few insects. Lots of small lizards were probably doing their job at keeping the critters down. There were some defunct saltpans on the outskirts of the village and the main town so there were some waders like avocets and egrets as well as the normal island birds.
In one of the tavernas the grandson of the owner, preschool I'd guess, engaged me in single combat with his little wooden sword. I defended myself with my kebab skewer but he stabbed me in the back-cheat! He was sent to bed when one of his thrusts beheaded one of his granny's geraniums!
When we had our coffee and orange cake in one of the hill villages on our coach tour, the tables were at a lower level than the café. There were steps up but the waiter (years of practice, I guess) jumped up and down the metre gap without spilling a drop from his tray! In one café S was greeted by the owner who thought she had visited before. Confusion over, I seemed to get brownie points for preferring 3-star Metaxas but told I was a "naughty boy" (at 69?) for adding ice-cream to my kataifi.
As usual, whether on beach, on our balcony or in eating establishments we enjoy people watching. Our studios were "invaded" by a party of jolly middle-aged Dutch couples celebrating wedding anniversaries. They decorated each other's doorways with balloons etc and kept the bar in business until after our bedtime! We saw the usual interesting motor bikes: one had child in front of driver and wife behind holding a stack of plastic armchairs at her back. There was also a posse of "Hell's Grandads" on their Harleys driving around. I mentioned the prevalence of modern technology (good WiFi and then my Kindle froze half-way through the holiday- had to go to the bookshop!). Some waiters took orders on their I-pads, others resorted to the tried and tested method of writing the bill on the paper table cloth. In the port, traffic police with their whistles tried to stop people parking illegally. The signs were clear: "Catering cars only with alarms" which we worked out meant deliveries to restaurants only and leave your emergency flashers on..
The bane of a quiet day on the beach has to be hawkers. It has been growing even in remote parts of Greece over the years. There were a bunch of "Thai masseur/masseuses" up and down all day. One morning we had 5 approaches in ten minutes. Perhaps the massage is supposed to relax you from the tension the disturbance has caused! There were also the traditional Africans selling counterfeit Gucci and Burberry etc handbags. One wore a black Stetson, pyjama style suit In wonderful African prints and mirror shades. However, they didn't pester us, just came past once a day and waited to be approached.   There was also an itinerant chair-mender going round the tavernas. He had a truck loaded with raffia, cane and string and did a good job reseating and tightening legs ready for the expected inrush of customers next month. There was also a disabled man putting cheap plastic toys and keyrings round tables. Fortunately he seemed to have an agreement with our favourite lunchtime tavern> They gave him a drink and he went elsewhere to bother customers.
There was a general strike in Greece while we were away in protest at the sudden closure of the Greek state radio and tv stations. We supported this by not switching on our tv or radio for the whole holiday. However, we saw no difference in the village: rubbish was collected, buses ran, businesses opened, ferries arrived. Just before we came away several friends contacted us to say they had just received the postcards we posted in Kal*mnos last September. In contrast, we have discovered some of the cards we posted in Naxos got home before we did!
Prices in Naxos were up a little bit on last year, only a couple of euros on a meal bill. Thira was a different case. We remembered from 31 years ago that it was expensive. We only had an afternoon, evening and morning there before catching our flight home so just had time to wander round the old town: even more catering for the cruise ship trade: jewelry, furs and lace for the Japanese and American tourists. Even going for a coffee we were offered free WiFi! The poor donkeys still bring people up from the old port along hairpin stepped paths and deliver goods in the tiny warren of streets. The sunsets are still spectacular over the caldera to the still smoking Nea Kameni volcanic core. We chose a sunset view restaurant (although we knew it would add several euros to the cost!) and had an excellent mean, good local wine ata price double what we'd paid in Naxos, but still less than we'd pay in London, Guildford or Ascot!
Coming in by ferry gave us great views of the volcanic layers and the white settlements perched on the top of the cliffs and it was interesting to see Ios briefly, as the ferry made a stop on the way. Judging from the boats in the harbour, it is still the haunt of the beautiful people (and their rich admirers!).
        As usual we both took lots of pictures (how many sunsets does one need?). I'll do a Photobox album of a selection when I've had time to sort them out.
Now looking forward to our next trip- "Dendros" in September, after I've got my Kindle sorted! We've had rumours that WiFi may be available in the village this year after unkept promises of previous years: we'll see. Our landlord there has assured us the hot water is working again in our apartment1.
Enough rambling.

RtS


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Subject: RE: BS: POSTCARD FROM NAXOS (Greece) 2013
From: ChanteyLass
Date: 21 Jun 13 - 09:07 PM

It sounds like you have had a wonderful trip. I look forward to seeing your photos.


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Subject: RE: BS: POSTCARD FROM NAXOS (Greece) 2013
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 22 Jun 13 - 05:25 AM

I didn't mention two Health and Safety issues.
In our studio shower there was a pull cord for a panic button and also in the hotel we stayed overnight in Santorini. I know they are common in care homes and sheltered accomodation in UK, perhaps they looked at the birth dates on our passports! (I did have a fall there as the bath mat slipped from under me during one of my nocturnal visits to the loo- SHE said it was the extra half-litre of wine we'd been given at dinner that night and was not sympathetic when I was limping next morning!)
   However, the usual Greek attitude to such matters was deminstarated when we were waiting for the ferry from Naxos. We were in a sort of opensided concrete waiting area with 2 channels. We were queueing in one while alongside men with pneumatic drills and angle grinders, no hard hats, goggles or steeltipped boots, perching on wobbly platforms with no guard rails were stripping back the concrete to expose the reinforecement rods. Our luggage (and the air) got covered in the dust. Two small boys, about 8 and 10, sons,I guess, were "helping" and dodging the falling shards of concrete. As the ferry approached, the port police blew their whistles to be heard above the drills and made the men take their platforms down and sweep away the detritus so the lorries could get past and so they could use the other channel for passengers.
As on previous holidays my little Greek is always received well (like a dog walking on two legs!) and I don't think I made any major errors. When I handed in the fakkelaki (little envelope) with our tip for the staff, the receptionist couldn't read what I'd written in my best Greek (We thank you for your hospitality). She did understand it when I said it out loud- I explained my English handwriting is just as bad!

RtS


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Subject: RE: BS: POSTCARD FROM NAXOS (Greece) 2013
From: gnu
Date: 22 Jun 13 - 02:06 PM

Thanks! Love this stuff! Minds me of another thread that I followed closely.


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Subject: RE: BS: POSTCARD FROM NAXOS (Greece) 2013
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 22 Jun 13 - 02:07 PM

Chantylass' mention of photos made me think to say: if you are on my photo distribution list and don't want to see them any more let me know and I'll cross you off. no point in wasting people's time.

RtS


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Subject: RE: BS: POSTCARD FROM NAXOS (Greece) 2013
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 12:02 PM

A selection of (some pretty, some just pretty weird) photos now up for the cognoscenti.

RtS


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Subject: RE: BS: POSTCARD FROM NAXOS (Greece) 2013
From: Micca
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 12:35 PM

Thanks Roger, I do so enjoy your and Sheilas Greek adventures and pix,and look forward to your further adventures!
A friend gave me copies of her pix of Santorini, Pretty amaing, those 100ft thick ash layers!!It has always fascinated mebecause of the effects its destruction must have had on climate etc in the Northern hemisphere!


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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from Naxos (Greece) 2013
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 24 Jun 13 - 01:37 AM

Thanks, Rog. One day I will give a brief snippet of our auto journey to Pythagoras' cave on Samos in April. Greece is truly magical.


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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from Naxos (Greece) 2013
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 24 Jun 13 - 05:08 AM

As both my regular readers know, I don't just enjoy myself on holiday. Oh,no. I selflessly devote quite a lot of time to carefully monitoring the trends in female swimwear and share my findings with the wider community. The June sampling is,as usual,only an interim snapshot, and will be confirmed when combined with the September survey. This year I had three long beaches to survey. Herself said I had no need to add the dunes at Plaka to these three as clearly the people who frequented them were too poor to afford swimsuits.
Patterns seemed to be popular this year: stripes, spots, abstracts. Herself, as always, ahead of the trend, and careless of confusing my results, took 3 swimsuits: one all black, one mainly blue with an abstract pattern, one mainly red with an abstract pattern. Plain red and plain green seemed to be making a resurgence. There was quite a lot of orange about, often mixed with black- possibly due to the large Dutch contingent. I only saw a couple of Ursula Andress emulators in white, neither with the presence to carry it off IMHO. Animal prints were, happily, absent this year. The younger element cling loyally to pink and Hello Kitty. Yes, there was a lot of black about, especially in the mix 'n' match category, but not as dominent as in other recent years.
I'll get in training for more hard work in September.

RtS

RtS


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