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Saturday, June 16, 2007

A STUDIO BY THE SEA

June 9/07
NAXOS

I'm sitting on the porchof our sea-side bungalow on Naxos. We arrived a couple of hours ago after a 7 hour ferry trip, sunning ourselves on the deck most of the way though it got blowy later on. The ship was like a cruise liner, once again we were so impressed with the service and posh condition of the quarters.

Our studio at Iria Beach Hotel is right on the beach and we have a huge room with a kitchenette for only 40 Euro a night. Once we got settled we went for a swim. The beach is pure fine sand and the sea is cystal clear and clean.

The hotel is a few kms. from Naxos town but there's a bus service. Agia Anna where we are located is a small village with many beach tavernas ad fascilities at hand. The beach here is a long arc of sand. There are plenty of sandy beacheson Naxos so its a good spot to spend a few days for some R & R. We'll be here til Monday, then we're going to Amorgos for a couple of days. I've decided to return here to Iria Beach for a few days afterwards in order to take the round the island tour. This iss and interesting island and I don't want to miss the opportunity to see around. It will also be nice to have a couple of days all on my own after such a busy time spent with friends, always on the go and sometimes being the tour guide.

On the way here, the ferry stopped in at Paros port. I was amazed at how the town has grown since the last time I visited there some years ago. All these islands are becoming very populated and touristic. Paros is famous for the pure white marble from whichit became prosperous from the early cycladic period. The famous Venus de Milo was carved of Parian marble.

Naxos is only a short distance away. It's the largest and most fertile of the cyclades and one of the most beauitufl. It's the island where, according to legend, Theseus abandoned Ariadne after she helped him escape from the labyrinth in Crete. (She was soon whisked away by Dionysos, the god of wine and ecstasy). Ever since, Naxos has been famous for its wine. There's also another traditional drink here called "Kitron" made from citron fruit (like a large lemon) introduced to the Mediterranean area by Alexander the Great who brought it from Persia. Up until the Christian era it was the only citrus fruit cultivated in Europe. It was known for its medicinal qualities and was a symbol of fertility and affluence. The ancient Greeks called it the "Median apple" (From Medea, the ancient Greek name for Persia). Apparantly it's very good after a sea-food dinner. I'm going to try and buy some as it's impossible to buy outside of Greece.

Tomorrow we'll venture into town. Hors is the main port with two historic neighbourhoods: Bourgos where the Greeks lived and Kastro where the Veneitans lived. At the entrance to the harbour is anislet where Naxos' most famous landmarks, the portal (or Palatia) of the unfinished Temple of Apollo stands. (Ariadne was also supposed to have had a palace there)

In the town itself, especially up the hllside form the prt in Kastro, are some attractive Venetian dwellings, some with the insignia of their former owners on the doors. It has a medieval atmosphere with vaulted streets and cobbled lanes. Close by is the Venetian castle and museum with the Kastro ramparts by the gates.

Tonight we are off to explore our beach village and we shall find a good taverna overlooking the sea where we can eat mezedes and drink some retsina.

NEXT:AMORGOS, Aegiali Bay

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