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Trip Report Nine days in Naxos

Nine days in Naxos
After the rough year health wise we made a decision to enjoy life with greater intensity and to become a bit less cost conscious. In that frame of mind we booked Boutique Hotel Glaros at St George Beach. Glaros was the first hotel we stayed at when we first want to Naxos in 1996. It has undergone modernization and renovations and everything is beautifully designed. It has modern bathrooms, a mouth-watering breakfast buffet and luxury concierge personal bath items. Unfortunately the cancelled ferry sailings meant that we lost one of our two days at Boutique Glaros. Lolly is insisting that this is grounds for us to return and stay three nights on our next trip.

We also missed meeting Seniorita Suzie a forum regular who we planned to meet for drinks. This was their last night.
On our first day we just wandered around Naxos town mostly along the waterfront premade and up into the old market area and hung out at Finikas Beach bar at St George. We went back to the waterfront for sunset and although it was quite windy we did find a sheltered bar with a view of the harbour and sunset. We walked up high in the old town to Taverna Kastro. We were warmly welcomed by the owner Sulous with a chat over an Ouzo. They have a new chef and the menu is now more sophisticated than in the past. The food was excellent.
The next day we moved to Plaka beach at three Brothers. They kept our old room for us. The hotel is directly across the road from Plaka beach and was perfect for three beach oriented days. Each morning we went for an early walk up the beach and sunned and swam for an hour then returned to the hotel for an early lunch and the afternoon on the beach. One day we walked to Aggia Anna and spent a couple of hours at a beach bar just far enough away from the crowd so it wasn’t too noisy. Each evening we visited our favourite tavernas at Plaka including Petrino, Three Brothers and Nikolas and Marias. They all had magnificent sunsets and the latter two had tables on the beach. What a wonderful setting for dinner.
Our Plaka beach time came to an end so we returned to Naxos town to stay at Kymata hotel. I had visited that hotel a few times in the past but we had never stayed there. This hotel is frequently mentioned on the forum so I thought it would be a good idea to stay there for a firsthand experience. We had a second floor room with a 180 degree sea view. We quite enjoyed the hotel and its friendly staff however there was 38 steps up to the second floor, which is becoming harder for us as we age and as our knees deteriorate.
That pesky wind came up again for the last three days of our stay in Naxos so beaching wasn’t on the agenda. We took the KTEL bus to Chalki and walked around the countryside on a masonry path which I believe was constructed for the Olympics. It is quite picturesque in this area and we enjoyed a couple of hours taking it all in.
The next day it was still windy so we took the bus back to Chalki and did a different walk/hike. This one was much more urban that went through a couple of small villages out in the countryside. We can highly recommend the walks around Chalki.
On our flight to Crete at the beginning of the trip Lolly sat beside a lady. They started to talk and we discovered she had been born in Naxos and is now working in Belgium. She told us that her uncle owns a farm with goats and sheep and they make cheese. Apparently they have opened up their farm as part as a destination for a small tour company. She told us we had to take the tour and say hello to the cheese making farmer. “Say hi from Maria from Belgium”

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Since it was still windy we thought this might be a good plan to take the tour. We could not find any literature on the tour nor the name of the company so we visited Naxos tours on the waterfront. When we explained what we were looking for they said they had never heard of a tour like this but we were welcome to join their round the island tour which runs daily. That particular tour is popular and goes to several great sites, however we have visited all those sites independently several times over the years so that didn’t appeal to us. We continued along the waterfront and found Zas tours. They knew about this tour company and gave us a telephone number to call. This is how we found Philema tours. It turns out this is a new company. The owner Maria, was a tour guide for Naxos tours but when she discovered the bus driver was getting 200 euros to drive the tour bus and she was getting 30 euros per tour she quit and designed several unique itineraries that included local farmers, wineries and olive oil producers.

Fortunately this was the cheese farm day so we were able to get to meet Belgium Marias uncle. This is a small tour with a maximum of 7 people plus Maria and the driver. For this trip we had one other couple with us. They were from New Orleans and were convinced they didn’t have any accent at all.

The farm was way out in the country in an area we have never visited before. As soon as we arrived they herded about 20 goats into a nearby pen and we were allowed us to feed the noisy, rambunctious crowd of goats and play with their farm dog Harry. Harry was quite put out that the goats were getting more attention than he was. This close encounter with goats allowed us to ask why some goats have a bell while others didn’t. We thought that the most intelligent goat was a natural leader and the other goats would follow the bell. It turns out, the naughty goats get the bells so the farmer will know where they are at all times. Naughty goats climb trees, are escape artists. Climb fences, butt people, dogs and anything else that’s handy, and are always pushing to the front of the food trough. Lolly has since been threatening to hang a bell on me when I am not on my best behaviour.

We moved inside and were greeted with a big farmhouse table laden with food. There were spinach and cheese pies, zucchini fritters plus two egg and cheese dishes bread olive oil and homemade wine.
We discovered the only way you can get a Greek host from refilling your wine glass was to leave it full when you have had enough. I think I learned that lesson a bit late in the process but I wasn’t driving.
Behind the table was a large caldron of milk on a heater. This was fresh milk from the goats which had been simmering on the heat for the past two hours. The farmer brought out a stick and started to slowly stir the milk and it began to lump up. They had plastic baskets/molds and the farmer began to add the curds to the baskets. Each of us got an opportunity to fill the baskets and pat down the curds into a solid mass. Each basket was then submerged in the Whey and the cheese was coaxed out of the moulds turned upside down and reinserted into the mold. The cheese is stored in a separate room in coolers and is aged for several months. Apparently the little local products store where we buy spices, wine, ouzo Kitron and cheese is actually the business that purchases the cheese from this farm. That made our day, to discover the cheese we made today, would eventually end up in a shop we know well.

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The tour next went to a winery. Apparently the wind in Naxos makes it very hard to grow grapes but what survives makes a high quality wine. We toured the grape field then were taken to a lovely sheltered picnic area where we had a wine tasting of 5 different wines. I am estimating that each pour was at least 2 ounces. Then they brought out two bottles of their home made wines.
By this time it was dark and we still had a half hour drive back to Naxos town to our hotel. We can heartedly recommend Philema Tours.
Next morning we flew to Athens.
Images of Naxos
https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/albums/72157711294807761

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Oh dear. I inadvertently said Marie is the owner of Philema Tours. I have been firmly corrected by Lolly. Her name Eleni.

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With your great review of Philema tours, and the boost it will give to their business, I’m sure Eleni will forgive you! I am getting one of my own creaky knees replaced next month so that I can return to Greece next year. I will be sure to book one of these tours.