Greece is the Word! Naxos

Naxos

We stopped at Naxos next. This was our second island that we visited in the Cyclades. (well, actually third if you count our day trip to Delos). Naxos is the largest island and the greenest in the Cyclades island chain.

We booked 4 nights at the Nissaki Beach Hotel in Naxos Town. This turned out to be a great hotel for families. We had a 2 bedroom, 1 bath family suite overlooking the pool and the sea. It was right on the beach and a 5 minute walk to the center of town. There was a little market about 2 minutes away so we bought a few things to keep in our room fridge (wine, water, olives and cheese) and enjoyed we some happy hours on our patio.

We loved the hotel breakfast each morning and the yummy baked goods that waited for us each day in our room-a nice touch. I also have to give the bar and kitchen staff serious kudos for making our daughter soup from scratch when she was sick. That was very sweet.

We had a mix up with our transportation when we arrived in Naxos. We ended up walking to the hotel. Turns out to be no big deal because it was an easy 10 minute stroll!

We enjoyed Naxos Town. The people were so friendly (the guy at the mini market gave my husband some of his homemade hooch!). The food was fresh and delicious (still thinking about the honey, yogurt and Naxos potatoes!) The sights were interesting and the town was easy to navigate. We had lovely walks through The Old Market, to the Venetian Castle and the Temple of Apollo.

It was very low-key. We walked everywhere and always felt safe. The beach was not the best beach that we have ever been to but the girls loved splashing in the water and running on the beach so everyone was happy!

Next stop-Santorini!…

 

Greece is the Word!

We traveled to Greece in June 2017. We visited Athens as well as 4 islands in The Cyclades. (Mykonos, Santorini, Naxos and Paros). We chose to travel to Greece because we wanted to go to a warm, sunny, family friendly location with ancient ruins and amazing history. Mission Accomplished!

Our itinerary was this…

I’m going to start out by telling you what I would do differently if I had to plan this trip to Greece again. Then I will get to the good stuff!

Here is what I got wrong planning our trip to Greece

Allocating our time.  If I was planning this all over again, I would stay just 1 night in Athens on the front end of the trip. (I liked having a few days on the tail end). I would distribute those extra days to the islands. More time on each island!

I would add another night in Mykonos, because we all liked it. I was worried that it would be too crazy and crowded but early June was quiet so if you aren’t going in July or August, you can stay longer! It really is so beautiful!

We also really liked Paros a lot and wished we had more time there! It had upscale shops, good restaurants and no huge cruise ships. I would have added another 2 nights there.

Transportation between islands. I would consider flying whenever possible over ferry travel. I debated this in my planning stage -especially arriving on Santorini. The islands in the Cyclades are far apart!

Ferry travel. I was worried about using the smaller high speed ferries because of the seasickness factor. I read a lot about high winds but I think in June, you don’t get the winds. I would just go for it if I booked a similar trip again. We wasted time traveling between islands and it wasn’t quite as relaxing and scenic as I had imagined in my head.

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Disembarking in Santorini

Tips for traveling by ferry in Greece:

-If you have a business class ticket you don’t have to arrive super early and there is no need to worry about getting a nice seat.
-Wear sunscreen and a hat while waiting to board-you might get burned!
-Have a bottle of water because it’s hot!
-Pack light for carrying your bag up and down ferry stairs.
-The escalators worked getting on but they didn’t work on any ferries getting off.
-If your bag is carry-on size, you don’t have to leave it unattended downstairs.
-Bring a deck of cards and/or something to read.
-Wear sea bands if you are prone to seasickness.
-Be prepared for some chaos as well as pushing and shoving.

The boarding and disembarking process for the ferries was an unorganized, hot, pain in the ass. I can’t imagine what it is like during peak season! The least organized boarding was in Athens. The most organized was Naxos. The best decision we made was traveling business class vs. economy on the ferries. We used Blue Star Ferries for most of the trips. However, we did use Gold Star Ferries Superrunner from Mykonos to Naxos. Nice service on both.

Clothes.  We traveled with just a carry-on bag and that was awesome! But, next time I would take a smaller bag with just 1 pair of shorts, 1 pair of pants and more lightweight sundresses…I was so hot. Dresses are the key to hot weather, not shorts. And, they look nice and appropriate for both sightseeing and dinners out.

Here is what I got right in planning our trip to Greece

The Hotels! Woot woot! A+ for me because we were all very happy with each hotel. I could nit pick on a couple things (and I might) but for the most part, we were really happy!

The Islands! I really stressed out about what islands to choose for our first time in Greece. I though about Crete a lot as well as Hydra and Ios but I liked the way it all turned out.

The Sights! I feel like we saw the main attractions and the towns without doing too much to the point of being exhausted.

Here is what was totally unexpected

The Greeks. We were really surprised how appreciative the Greek people were for having us in their country. We really had a great experience just about everywhere we went. So many friendly Greeks!

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Greek Flag on Naxos

The food. It was delicious! Fresh, simple and quality ingredients. Great local honey, tomatoes, potatoes and yogurt. Watermelon salad is so delicious and I made it for months after we got home.

Octopus was everywhere! And in various stages-being cleaned, beaten, dried and cooked.

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The Pelicans. I saw the most enormous pelican on Mykonos. OMG! People were petting it as it meandered through the lovely alleys of Mykonos Town.

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Cats. So many cats everywhere!

The Donkey Wrangler. We weren’t planning on riding the donkeys anyway because it seemed cruel but then we saw this guy and then there was no way we were going to torture the donkeys more. Wow!

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The flu. Our youngest daughter got hit with the flu about 20 minutes prior to boarding the ferry in Athens. Now we always travel with a barf bag in her backpack!

One thing we took away from this trip is that we don’t like to be at a location for less than 3 nights. It’s too much travel, packing and unpacking. We are going to try to stick to this as much as possible during bigger trips. 

Coming up…my opinion on the different hotels and the Greek islands that we visited.