More history and some serious beach time!
More random thoughts:
- Greek people work really hard. It is common to see the same shop owner at 10pm and again reopening shop at 8am the next morning. The same is true for the hotels we have stayed in. It is usually the same few people running the place from morning to late evening. There are tons of true mom- and-pop-type stores, hotels, and restaurants that are run by friendly Greek people.
- Toilets. No toilet paper can be dropped in toilets in seemingly all of Greece. That has taken some getting used to!
- Bugs. The critters and bigger and louder than anything at home. The crickets in the trees are incredibly loud - a lot like Florida. Luckily, there aren't many mosquitoes, but the big beetles, giant grasshopper-like things, and cockroaches are pretty shocking for someone from the PNW. We actually had four cockroaches in our hotel room in Athens! I was afraid that might set the scene for the rest of the trip but luckily it was an isolated experience.
After the mighty rock formations in Meteora, we drove about three hours on more windy narrow Greek roads to Delphi. This small town in the mountains was the site of the ancient sanctuary of the Oracle, who made important decisions throughout the ancient world. Many considered Delphi to be the center of the world. Pilgrims came to Delphi bringing gifts to the Oracle, leaving so many treasures to see in the archaeological museum. It's amazing to think of how impressive Delphi, formerly known as Pytho, would have been in its heyday, around 800 - 300BC.
We arrived to town before check-in so we parked and found delicious souvlaki. Not a very hard thing to do in Greece. Our pension, Pitho Rooms, was another intimate place with four beds in one smallish room. At least we had AC and were in the center of this small and touristy town. The setting was pretty amazing with views of the mountains and sea far below.
Like everywhere in Greece, cats roamed freely. Even with the neighborhood dogs!
Every town in Greece seems to have an abandoned hotel. This one has amazing views just on the edge of town. Great real estate.
A few random pictures from around the town.
Before dinner, we headed to the famous archaeological museum. I wonder what it must be like to unearth some ancient gift to the Oracle from 500 BC?
We had a somewhat touristy dinner outside.
No horns around the ancient site!
In the morning, we set off to explore the ancient sanctuary of Delphi. After seeing the museum, it was easier to imagine the importance of this place so long ago.
After sweating it out and putting up with far too many tour groups, we decided to drive about twenty twisty downhill minutes to a nearby workaday beach town called Itea. We found a great seaside restaurant with seafood caught from their own boat. Perfect!
We returned to Delphi, relaxed and cooled off (it was extremely hot) and had a casual dinner at a place with a spectacular view.
We were ready for a long day following Delphi. We drove about 2.5 hours to the busy port of Piraeus, near Athens. We almost came full circle! We returned our rental car after some waiting around, stored our luggage, picked up our ferry tickets, and wandered around looking for coffee and food. The port area in Piraeus isn't very picturesque. We were hot and a little cranky but were happy to finally find a place with good meat.
We did a little shopping (the girls keep finding cheap treasures in the teen stores), watched giant ships, and awaited our Blue Star ferry to Naxos. A five-hour evening ride was in our near future!
Once we cooled down and figured out the ferry process, we were able to relax and enjoy the sunset.
It was strange arriving in Naxos at nearly 11pm. Our hotel owner picked us up, gave us a ride to our apartment, and we crashed for the evening. Poor DD#2 was sick in the night making it rather restless. Still we were very very happy to wake up and look out our balcony to see this.
It was kind of fun waking up to more sunshine in an unfamiliar place. DH and I walked down the road to a bakery/coffee shop and did some shopping at the nearby Spar supermarket. We were staying on Naxos for five nights and had a mini-kitchen so groceries were in order. Our apartment was on the fringe of Naxos town (Chora) so exploring the town was everyone's first priority. All the twisty little streets with the iconic white painted buildings and ground were photogenic.
We saw the gateway to Naxos. The ancient arch.
We had a casual lunch at Naxos Grill and walked to the nearby beach for some swimming. The water had more waves than the mainland but was crystal clear. The shades of aqua, turquoise, and blue were remarkable.
We walked back to town (about 10 minutes) for a seafood dinner right on the harbor front. The food was a little touristy but the setting was great. It was fun people watching and seeing another sunset. Plus, we scored great ice cream on our way back.
Another day at the beach
After a lovely morning run, we rode the bus about 15 minutes away to Plaka Beach. This beach is supposedly one of the prettiest beaches in Greece and we could see why. We had coffee and fruit at a cafe before finding Plakafe Beach and Pool, where we camped out for hours.
We made it back the hotel for a quick swim. We had our eye on a cafe with big TVs where we could watch the women's World Cup final game. We got a good table and enjoyed watching them win over Netherlands. Not many pictures from today, but a great day all around. In fact, we plan to repeat this same beach day later in the week.
Car Rental and Island Exploration
Our hotel owner made it really easy to rent a car for the day. It was delivered to our hotel in the morning and we paid a a reasonable daily rate. We were off to explore some more remote fishing and mountain villages. The roads were extremely narrow and windy! It was an adventure with some tremendous views.
Some concrete pumpers for my brother.
We continued driving around (thanks DH for managing the roads) and stopping at various places. We decided on a little fishing village, Apollonos, for lunch and a swim.
Old vs new wind energy!
Our last stop was at an old olive press museum where we learned how olive oil was made before modern machinery.
We ate dinner at a fancy-ish place where DH had the most amazing octopus ever! The food has been so remarkable. I have felt very spoiled eating out so often. Tomorrow will be our last day on Naxos before our family splits up for the remainder of the trip. DH and DD#2 will fly to Athens where they will spend the night before taking the long flight back to the west coast. DD#1 and I will continue our exploration of the Greek islands heading to Santorini and Crete. We get a bonus week in Greece! I'm sorry that DH has work and DD#2 has soccer, but I'm thankful that I will have some one-on-one time with DD#1. I won't be able to blog until I get home but I will finish, so stay tuned!