From Santorini (here), we took a ferry over to Naxos. Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades and the most fertile, which doesn’t mean it’s green exactly. It still has the bleached, earthen color of other islands in the Cyclades – but there is more agriculture. It also boasts the highest point of altitude in the Cyclades with Mt. Zeus jutting out prominently to just over 1,000 meters. We were determined to climb it at some point in the midst of our beach vacation
From Hora, we made our way to the ‘art hotel’ we were staying in on Agia Anna – the last of several vacation beaches in a little bay.The beach time was absolutely just what we needed. Bright white beaches, refreshing water, and reclining, cushioned beach loungers with canvas mattresses on them. You’re also given beach-side service, which means frozen cocktails and or iced coffees are brought right to you.
Naxos was our favourite island, because it was the most laid-back and least-touristy. We also found a wonderful family-owned and operated restaurant on the beach where we had some of the best meals of the whole trip (and we had countless memorable meals – memorable no longer) – aside from one meal in Hora, we had every other dinner with this family.
The most memorable was the lamb kleftiko; it’s lamb, potatoes, peas, tomato, local cheese and herbs baked in a bundle parchment paper.
Also up on this peninsular hill are the remains of the Temple of Apollo (the big frame pictured above). After wandering around Hora, we had a drink watching the sunset over the harbour, and then found yet another terrific seafood place. We were so spoiled for good sea foot. The owner recommended the grey mullet to me and it was pretty outrageous. We also usually get Greek salads and half carafes of white wine. The Greek salads here consist of huge chunks of tomato, cucumber, onion, olives, capers and herbs, then a cantilevered block of feta on top. No lettuce.
Our second-to-last day on Naxos, we set our sights on climbing Mt Zeus (1004 meters). We were up early to start the two bus journey (Agia Ana to Hora to Filoti).
Rather than buy a guide book, I took the only details we needed but the description from the guidebook was absurd and impossible to decipher.
Anyway, we we did it! It wasn’t a very tough climb, just very hot and exposed.
We were back in time for a quick swim, daiquiris and a sunset, and then went back to the same family restaurant for stuffed calamari and spit-roasted pork.
Our journey home was slightly unnecessary… we had to take two ferries: first from Hora to Santorini, then Santorini to Heraklion. We had about 4 hours between ferries, which meant we had time to return to Fira for a cliff walk and lunch.
Agios Nikolaos is in the northeast corner of Crete and has this beautiful, iconic ‘lake’ which is really a lake-shaped harbour.
We had really nice meals here before dashing home and long walks during the night. Stuffed zucchini flowers: