Saturday, September 20, 2014

Naxos, Greece- Part 1

After visiting Mykonos and Delos I took a boat to the island of Naxos to enjoy a more rural area of the Cyclades. Not nearly as many tourists make it to this huge island, so it provided a much more relaxed atmosphere and felt less manicured for the sake of cruise ship passengers.

Naxos boasts beautiful beaches and quaint towns as well as some gorgeous hiking opportunities. It's easy to navigate the island by bus, but make sure to ask locals about where and when to buy your ticket and catch the bus. The bus route I used sold tickets at the checkout counter of a tiny supermarket. It was an unexpected place to think of purchasing bus tickets, but it worked just fine.

With three full days to explore the island I ended up with way too many photos for one blog on Naxos! Part 1 explores the main port of Naxos and Hora, the port town where my hotel was located.

The entrance to Apollo's Temple is a popular spot for tourists. It provides an excellent view of the city and is also a pretty unique set of ruins. 

My favorite hiking experience in Naxos was climbing to the top of Mt. Zas (Zeus.) Greek Mythology tells the story of Zeus being raised in a cave on this mountain, the highest point in the Cyclades. I wish I had brought a proper flashlight to explore the enormous cave in more detail, but the light from a phone had to suffice that day. I'd never been in an underground space that large and dark before, I felt like I was in a scene from Lord of the Rings. 

There were two routes up the mountain, one being much hard than the other. Taking the easy route up the mountain and the hard route down was absolutely the best solution for me. Both routes provided stunning views and I had plenty of energy for the entire climb. Fresh water from the spring at the bottom of the mountain ended the day on a refreshing note.

The final view pictured above is of the village of Filoti, one of the adorable little towns I explore in my next blog, coming soon!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Delos, Greece

Growing up I spent years reading and studying greek mythology and am finally putting my childhood nerdiness to good use. In Greece I'm surrounded by these thrilling stories and the remains of the ancient civilization who created them. The island of Delos is told to be the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis (children of Zeus and Leto.) Pregnant Leto was driven from all other lands by Hera, Zeus's jealous wife. Leto found relief on this desolate little island which eventually became a thriving port housing a jaw dropping 25,000 people.

Today the island is the site of archeological excavations boasting the most important mythological, historical and archaeological significance in Greece. The island is easily accessible by boat from Mykonos Island, just make sure not to let yourself get trampled by the hoard of tourists rushing to get in line to buy tickets. Bring a hat, a shade umbrella, a misting fan, water, a bag of ice…I'm not kidding. As beautiful and fascinating as the ruins are, the blazing sun is merciless on the island and it will make you sweat like crazy!

The highest point on the island provides a panoramic view of Mykonos island and is also the home of many cairns, (piles of stones left by travelers.) These rock piles are often associated with Hermes, the god of travelers and thieves.