Friday, April 03, 2009

Naxos - Spring Break On An Ancient Greek Island

A few days ago... I'm seriously losing track of time, we took a ferry out to the Island of Naxos. It was great, and definitely one of the most beautiful places I've been in my life. The coast is beautiful and covered with little cafe's and bars, and while it was tempting just to stay and hang out there the whole time, we took a trip inland, and it was one of the most worthwhile things that we did.

Naxos has been inhabited since the neolithic age and was home over time to the Myceans, the Greeksand a Venetian lord who built a castle there. (Please click the photo to enlarge - I don't have an 8.1 megapixel camera so that everyone can look at the thumbnails : )

Here is the ferry that we took to get there. It was a pretty long voyage (5 or 6 hours), and I can't believe how many islands there are!

Here is the Arch of Apollo, one of the first things you see as you approach the island.

Some Naxos sheep:

Above is a cube outside of a cafe on the water front. I'm not sure if they are actually called cubes, or if we just coined the term. At any rate, they seem to be everywhere in Greece. Below is a shotgun shell that I saw on our trip inland while walking through a path outside of a village:

The mountains at the center of the island were stunning, and well worth the somewhat nervewracking bus rise inland across roads that you would never imagine a greyhound class bus could traverse.

Lupins - the wild flowers were amazing throughout the whole island. In addition, there were also lots of bushes, palm trees and cacti:

The water of the South Agean is beautiful:

The weather heated up enough to go swimming, and it was great! That is me waving, in case you wondered... ; )

There are so many great stories that I don't have the energy to tell, like getting the most amazing 10 course traditional greek meal ever for only 10€ or running into goats in the dark the first night we were there... or the little hostel called 'The Windmill" where we stayed, or seeing shepherds inland, but as I said, I just can't right now... maybe I'll get around to it sometime.

I'm back in Athens now at the Pagration youth hostel... the entire thing is kind of crazy this time of night... we are on the third floor and as I'm writing this, about six people in various stages of intoxication have run past... the whole of Athens is kind of a party town really... although in a strange way I feel pretty safe here... there are pick-pockets for sure, Katy lost 125 euro, and a girl I was just talking to next door got her passport stolen, but as far as violent crime goes, it doesn't seem like a dangerous place. Now, for a girl, it's a bit different, and that goes for all of Greece really... I tell you what, on Naxos... I've never expirienced anything like it before. It's Yontz, me, and five girls, and they got hit on on average about 20 times a day... each. It was unreal. Kind of like Italy, but much more agressive. So... it was interesting.

Some other interesting observations about Greece:
• People honk a lot... and it's not just on the road that they apprear to be angry... they sound like their about to have a fight whenever they talk to eachother. I'm beginning to think that it's just the way they communicate though, and not so much an expression of anger.
• Contrary to what we were told be certain individuals in Italy, they don't hate Americans, in fact, they positively love Americans. As one man I talked to on the trolly told me "Americans are wonderful people, bad leaders, wonderful people... it's the same here though." And that seemed to be the opionion everywhere.
• Unlike Italy, about 90% of people speak English, and, also unlike Italy, they don't really expect you to even try to speak Greek before they will admit that they speak English... perhaps because Greek is so different from English compared to Italian, but it's generally much, much easier to communicate here. I have to say it's easier to understand the average Athenian than the average Philidelphian - and that would be Philidelphia Pennsylvania.
• Greece has Starbucks: indeed, we are only a block from Starbucks, McDonalds, KFC and TGI Fridays.
• Greece has really cheap food. When I found out that they are part of the EU, I was afraid that I might go bankrupt, but, even though they use the accursed euro, everything is much, much cheaper here than the rest of Europe (except for coffee and wine, interestingly). You can get a huge kebab for as little as €1,70.... I think the economy is bad... here, compared to Italy at least, where it seems like everyone is richer than we are, the Greeks seem about the same.
• Sunscreen is really expensive. I get the idea that it's not a usual item for Greeks, because I had to buy it over the counter at a pharmacy in a little tube for 14,90€. I think they have a conspiracy to extort us fair skinned nordics.

So... in conclusion, I like Greece very much, and while some aspects of the culture are a little over the top, it's a really fun place.

As is often the case, I'm to tired to edit this right now, so I aplogize for the many spelling and gramatical errors that no doubt abound.

- Andrew

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