Take a last ramble around the lovely island of Naxos with Thor and me, as we vow to return to this blissful home of Ariadne and Dionysos.
NOTE: Since my 4-month backpacking trip around Greece too many years ago, I had been longing to return to this magical land of myth, history, and dramatic landscapes. I recently made a fabulous 3-week return trip there, to research additional settings for my novel-in-progress, THE ARIADNE DISCONNECT. My first post in the new series, on September 30, gives an overview of my rambles with my husband Thor from Athens to the islands of Rhodes, Santorini, and Naxos, and finally a pilgrimage to the ancient center of the world at Delphi.
Thor and I loved every minute of our stay on Naxos, maybe because it was refreshingly uncrowded and down to earth after the dramatic but tourist-packed Santorini. But we both feel that the appeal of Naxos went deeper than that. It’s a beautiful, fertile island, serene in its layers of history and myth, while its people go about the work of today. Since we had only two full days to explore, we will correct that error when we return with more ferry-hopping among the islands next fall. Already we’re counting the months until the ferry brings us back to the harbor of Naxos Town:
The harbor and the Venetian/Medieval town rising up the hill are the focal points of tourism, with fancy yachts tethered along the quay lined with open-air restaurants. Many offer fresh fish and octopus.
As we walked along the harbor boulevard, we made the acquaintance of more Greek cats, fed by locals who leave water and kibble. Here, in the background on the hill, is the famous Portara, the portal of an ancient temple of Apollo that was never finished. (Unfortunately, my camera lost closer photos of it.)
In front of a municipal building at the harbor, a modern Sphinx guards the entrance and perhaps watches over the harbor cats:
In search of a quieter restaurant, we wandered the narrow, cobbled lanes of the old city and found this lovely spot:
Stone arches pierce the Medieval walls overlooking the sea (I apologize for the blurry photo):
On the last day, in our rented Jeep from “Mama Auto,” we explored more of the upland countryside, browning in September, but still holding pockets of green. Many hillsides are terraced for citrus and olive trees. Below is a traditional “double loaf” church with its twin-barrel roof.
And, of course, in Greece there are Orthodox chapels and churches everywhere:
Windmills used to provide power on many of the islands, but most have fallen into disrepair:
The rocky soil provides plenty of stones for building fences and huts. We’re not sure how old these remnants of stone walls are, but the intricate joinery is impressive:
We kept following twisting roads higher into the hills, past this small village (with two churches):
And had lunch in the charming town of Halki. Note the old chimney next to the new buildings:
While eating at this streetside cafe, we enjoyed the sweet little kittens exploring under diners’ feet. They enjoyed tidbits of our souvlaki.
No ramble through the Greek countryside would be complete without frisky goats!
And, of course, a final visit to beautiful, deserted Plaka beach. After cooling off with a refreshing swim in that clear blue sea, I was sitting in the sand and musing about my near-future character Ariadne, who like the mythical one will find herself marooned on this island in my novel-in-progress. As authors do, I was fitting my impressions of the landscape and people into the plot, where Ariadne must face her brutal father, the Tyrannos (dictator) of the new Mediterranean League. Time-traveling in my imagination, I then became the original Ariadne sitting lonely by the sea, when she looked up to see the magnificent figure of Dionysos striding toward her. How could she resist the god of wine and ecstatic revelry?
After Thor returned from beachcombing, he confided that he felt he was channeling the spirit of Dionysos. He had been wishing we’d brought a beach umbrella so we could linger under the intense sun, when suddenly the breeze brought an umbrella tumbling toward us from far down the empty beach. We raise our glasses to Ariadne and Dionysos: “Chairete!” Rejoice!
Next week: Finally we complete our pilgrimage as we arrive at sacred Delphi, center of the ancient Greek world.
You will now find The Rambling Writer’s blog posts here every Saturday. Sara’s latest novel from Book View Cafe is available in print and ebook: The Ariadne Connection. It’s a near-future thriller set in the Greek islands. “Technology triggers a deadly new plague. Can a healer find the cure?” The novel has received the Cygnus Award for Speculative Fiction. Sara has recently returned from a research trip in Greece and is back at work on the sequel, The Ariadne Disconnect. Sign up for her quarterly email newsletter at www.sarastamey.com