Naxos and Folegandros

Naxos (August 7)

We took a taxi to Piraeus, the port for Athens and then a ferry to Naxos, our next stop.

A NEL LINES ferry moored in Naxos (the day after we arrived)

We left Athens late in the day and arrived in Naxos after the sun had set, so we didn't really see much until the next morning.

 It turned out we had quite a view from our bedroom window. 

On our first day, we explored the town of Naxos, which was a short walk down a hill from our hotel, the Hotel Grotta.

The Hotel Grotta, on a hill above the town

Naxos waterfront

 Tonight's dinner drying outside a restaurant

  Monumental gateway from the Ionic period

 Naxos beaches - notice the mountains in the background 

Dinner in the old part of Naxos

 We spent some time at the beach, although some of the beaches get very crowded towards the late afternoon. 

The dramatic sunset - also seen from our bedroom window

On our last full day in Naxos (we were there for three days) we rented a car and drove up into the mountains. The villages and towns cling to the mountainside and there are small churches everywhere - seemingly built at random.

We stopped in a small town called Halki for refreshments and to check out a small distillery where they make a unique liquor called Kitron from the leaves of lemon trees. So far, we haven't seen Kitron sold anywhere outside of Naxos.

Kristine checks out the Kitron distillery.

A shady taverna in Halki provides relief from the heat of the day 

Another stop was at the small fishing village of Apollonas on the north coast which is now a resort town, built on a rocky peninsula.

 Apollonas on the north coast of Naxos

Leaving Naxos for Folegandros 

And with one last look back to the town of Naxos from the ferry, we were off again. this time to Folegandros

Folegandros (August 10)

 Folegandros is a small rocky island with no airport and only very limited infrastructure. It has been used until recent times as a place where exiles would be sent, as getting on or off the island is difficult. Uniquely, in modern times, it has no airport, so everyone arrives and leaves by ferry, unless they are lucky enough to have their own boat.

The port of Karavostasis, the only port in Folegandros

A large ferry unloads at Karavostasis 

 A view from the port 

 We stayed in the capital of the island, Chora, which is the only town of any size, about two miles from the port and seemingly built on a cliff. Chora is only a small town and the business center (such as it is) consists of a series of small squares which are joined by short passageways. The squares are usually quiet during the day, but bustle once the sun goes down and the tourists return from the beach, ready to eat and drink.

  The town of Chora clinging to the cliff face and the main street of the old town 

The squares of Chora are empty during the day but VERY busy at night

High above the town (and the town itself is high) stands the the Panagia Folegandrou, the Virgin Mary of Folegandros. Built in 1816 in the Byzantine style and replaces an older, smaller church which was built on the ruins of a temple to Apollo, so this is a very old site. The church is reached by a zig-zag pathway which started just outside our hotel and we felt we should make the effort, even though we had to stop several times on the way up as younger and fitter walkers buzzed past us.

The Church of Panagia, high above the town of Chora

It's a long and winding road to the top with lots of stops to get our breath, but the interior of the church was actually rather pretty

Our hotel, The Folegandros Apartments, was located near the main bus stop (very conveniently) and only a few minutes from the shops and restaurants. It was built in traditional Greek Island style but with a very modern swimming pool at it's center. 

The Folegandros Apartments and pool. Our room was #1, which is shown in picture at the lower right.  As breakfast wasn't provided, we sat outside every morning and ate our own breakfast, usually coffee, juice and greek yoghurt with honey !

On our second full day, we took a water taxi from the port to Katergo Beach, which is supposed to one of the best beaches, but the day we were there was blazing hot with no breeze and no shade, so after a couple of hours, we headed back.

Katergo Beach, Folegandros 

We only took one "excursion" while we were in Folegandros - a boat tour all around the island, with stops at various coves and beaches to swim. Inevitably, everyone else on the boat was younger (and thinner and fitter) than us, but we held our own and had a good time. The beaches in Folegandros aren't the best - they are mostly small and pebbly, but the water is always wonderfully clear and in August, warm enough to be very comfortable.

Lots of wet suntanned / sunburned flesh on the boat and swimming off the boat, which was very pleasant

This is Agios Nikoloas Beach, which is supposed to be a nude beach, but not the day we were there. Our boat is partly hidden behind the red water taxi which is leaving. The beach on the right is Livadaki Beach and is very typical of Folegandros, with a pebbly beach, no shade but wonderful clear water.

During the rest of our stay,  we either stayed around the pool or used the bus to get one or two of the other beaches, but for a couple of days, we did rent a scooter (much to Kristine's dismay) and this did allow us to explore some parts of the island not served by buses.

On the road from Chora which runs down the spine of the island. Chora is in the background.

Angali Beach, the only beach which can be reached using the road. You can see our yellow and blue tent at the right

Trying to find some shade at Angali Beach and a lonely sun worshipper at Livadi Bay early on windy morning

And one final look at Folegandros, which gives a pretty good idea of how barren most of the island looks

And after a week in Folegandros, we are ready to move on to our next destination, Santorini.