Naxos Island, June 25-28
continue to move from island to island by ferry. Our first ferry out
of Athens was traditional, but the rest are large, comfortable high-speed catamarans (photo1).
No doubt you're all anxiously awaiting an update on Emily's health, footwear, and craving for independence. Good news on all fronts:
1. Her cold vanished quickly, and the rest of us didn't catch it.
2. New footwear will meet us in Italy. The arrangement is a combination of web shopping, helpful Hector (who will also retrieve Tim's french horn mouthpiece from our house and throw it in the package -- Tim claims he wants to buzz it daily to keep his lips in shape), and a professor-friend in Rome who kindly agreed to be at the receiving/delivering end. (Yes, shoes are sold in Europe, but we're so happy with our Keen sandals + Asolo hiking shoes combination that we don't want to mess around.)
3. It's not hard to allow the kids more independence if we're conscious of it, and giving them a full day to plan themselves was a big success: They slept late, "power-shopped" in town, spent hours at a water-slide park they located on their own, visited a museum, found a geocache, played games on their laptops, and hung out at the pool and beach. Despite all the activities, it was our most laid-back day so far.
Naxos is considerably more touristy than Tinos, and we can feel the tourist season ramping up in general. We stayed in a nice small apartment in an out-of-the-way location. There was a superb view from our patio (photo 2), and the hotel was next to a beautiful, quiet, semi-nudist beach. (It's somewhat hard for us to discern what's normal and not at the beach, given the general skimpiness of European bathing wear compared to what we're accustomed to, but true nudity still stands out, especially for the kids.)
When the adults were in charge, naturally we went hiking and visited a variety of remote spots and quaint villages. The climb up "Mt. Zas" was terrific, although as usual since arriving in Greece, we fought the heat. At about 1000 meters it's the highest mountain in the Cyclades and the proclaimed birthplace of Zeus, although our guidebook mentions a location in Crete that makes the same claim. We also climbed to the ruins of a large medieval castle perched on a steep hill in the center of the island. Tim had a field day unearthing a wide variety of ancient artifact shards. Unique to Naxos are the Kouros, large ancient carved "young men" left lying in what are now random fields (photo 6).
We continue to enjoy the local food greatly, mostly ordering small dishes "tapas" style. The kids have found a number of favorites, and even picky-eater Tim has expanded his horizons considerably. There's a huge variety of dishes to try, including specialties of the different islands, and we certainly don't complain about the ever-present oil, garlic, and interesting cheeses.
Next stop: Amorgos Island