Walking or Swimming?

July 13, 2018 - Náxos, Greece

This is my first post for ages - we have had only intermittent internet. This is very frustrating and I will find it hard to catch up, never mind adding pictures. Sorry!

Last night David, Lucie and I had decided to take the bus to the centre of the island again, to a village David hadn't already seen, but when it came to the point Lucie decided she would rather go to the beach again with the others. The thought of those sun lounges, umbrellas, and drinks by the incredibly clear blue sea was too much of a temptation.

David and I walked down to the Promenade and along to the end to the local bus terminal - out in the open of course. David bought tickets for the right bus; he recognised the the driver  from his trip yesterday. We had a bit of a wait, so sat by the water and enjoyed the view across the water to the high peaks of other islands in the background. This time our destination was Filoti, and the trip up the winding road between dry terraces and rugged hills was spectacular. We saw quite a few abandoned houses, either completely falling down, or left half built. I wondered whether people had just moved, or been moved, out of the derelict ones into newer ones which were easier to connect to water, sewerage and electricity. We had seen villages where this had happened in Oman, but of course the economy is very different there. Maybe here people just went broke and left.

We got out at the square at Filoti which isn't really a square but just a junction of roads, one of which is lined with open air cafe/restaurants. Each one is shaded by its own enormous plane tree, and they are quite a picture with their summer foliage. We chose a cafe which had wi-fi so that David could download directions for the half-hour walk back to Halki, the town he started from yesterday. He very cleverly photographed the directions onto his phone.

After a cool drink, we set off to climb to the top of the town. The steep pathways, sometimes turning into steps, rose up between pretty white houses with blue doors and windows, often with scarlet bouganvillea flourishing outside. We went into one church with the usual custodian regarding us with some suspicion. I had on a hat (David had respectfully taken his off) and had a camera around my neck and the custodian gestured to me to do something I didn't understand. I beamed at her and covered my camera to show I wasn't going to take photos. David thought she wanted me to take off my hat which I did just in case. We bought a candle each, which mollified her, and lit it from the only one burning in the little round sand tray.

Up a few hundred more steps and we came to the Barozzi Tower with its 18th Century coat of arms, and then kept climbing until we could take photos of the blue-domed church and the tower from above. From time to time we debated whether to turn back, but always decided to see what was just around the next turn in the stairs. We passed a few tourists but very few locals. Indeed we marvelled at how on earth the locals would lug their groceries, or other household goods, up the steps. There didn't seem to be any roads which would take cars let alone furniture vans. Eventually we reached the top, or at least the foot of the last long stage up to Mount Zas where the houses stopped, and there was a small parking area with about four cars in it. To tell the truth, we were not certain which of two contenders was actually Mount Zas. From the carpark, a roughish track led up to one, and if we looked across the valley we could see another tall mountain with a road leading up to it. It is alleged that Zeus grew up on Mount Zas, and his son Dionysus had a cave there - grew up there? Was born there? It is apparently a popular place to hike to, but time wasn't on our side this time.

Having reached the top of the village and marvelled at the view, we began the long descent, and had lunch in another little cafe on the main street. I ordered a Filoti salad, and David a moussaka, both of which we enjoyed. My salad came with a strange kind of rock-hard-toasted brown half-bun covered in a mountain of  what I think was a kind of soft cream cheese which served as a dressing.

David texted Sarah and found that they were all enjoying the beach but finding the sea a bit more choppy than last time.

Following the directions on David's phone, we set of for Halki. We took a wrong turn through a stone walled paddock (field? No - much too dry and barren for a field, and filled with olive trees) but fairly easily found our way back to the track, past a closed church, between high stone walls and more and more olive trees, along progressively narrower and stonier tracks, past a sort of farm complex where we were greeted by a friendly dog, past some gateways leading goodness knows where, past what our printed guide called a large agave but which I would have called a yukka, along a very very dry riverbed which must sometimes have water through it as we had to cross a little wooden bridge before walking into Halki. It was hot, and sometimes rough going, but absolutely lovely.

When we got to Halki we still had about three quarters of an hour before the bus we were catching back to Naxos town (also called Chora, so David told me) so we walked along a winding path (well made this time) to a lovely Byzantine church which David had seen yesterday on his walk between Halki and Moni. Unfortunately we were too late to go inside, so walked back to the bus. Which was late.

Sarah had arranged to meet us at Bossa when we got back and David and I had already ordered drinks when she turned up looking very pretty in a new pink dress with a large splashy orange flower. She had discovered a lovely dress shop in the old part of the town where the narrow winding streets have become a series of shops - the Naxos market.

After a walk back to the hotel and a swim to cool off, we walked up to the square again. We had decided to have dinner at the Scirocco, the Restaurant where Sarah and Lucie had had lunch on their morning walk from the beach on Tuesday. The maitre d' greeted her like a long lost friend and found us a table for 6 even though the Restaurant was crowded. Sarah and I shared a Sampling Plate which included a number of delicious things like little fritters, chorizo, dolmadas, tsatziki ..... all very Greek.

We were glad we had to walk home after all that food.

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