Combine the two islands’ names and you get “Paxos”. That was to be the name of the blog until I googled Paxo and it turned out to be an English turkey stuffing, it’s also, believe it or not, another Greek island not far from Corfu. Option 2 was to scramble the letters, I then came up with Poxas, that was totally wrong too. No prizes for guessing where we are…
These two islands are neither turkey stuffing, near Corfu or anything else, they are two little spots located in the heart of the Cyclades group of islands somewhere in the Aegean sea. Once mountains they came into being many years ago when the ocean rolled in and all that was left were the peaks sticking out of the blue. Still today when you climb their highest points you get that ‘top of the mountain’ feeling or it could just be the howling gale.
Our first stop was Paros about 3 hours north of Crete by ferry. We booked a place on the opposite side of the island about a 20 min drive through the middle which had a great view over the sea and overlooking to the opposite island Naxos. Paros is surprisingly developed but not in a high-rise kind of way. It has villages and little towns all over the place even perched high up on the mountain and in the days before cars they would have had their work cut out getting up there. As far as roads are concerned they follow the same hair pin design as the rest of Greece but thankfully distances are short.
Towns have great tavernas naturally but not as cute as in Crete, none can be as cute as that. We were a stone’s throw from Piso Livadi, (try ‘Biso Livathi’ for better pronunciation meaning back valley) a nice small harbor with places to eat right into the early hours but we fell in love with another local village called Prodromos and the main town on the island Naoussa.
Prodromo’s lane ways and Taverna
Our stay on Paros was short just two full days plus whatever time we could scrounge from our arrival and departure days, squeezing it out to a grand total of three days. Just enough time for a quick visit to Naoussa which of the two largest towns on Paros is the one to see. It was white, narrow and super cutesy.
If you could hug it you would, so much so that if it was a pet you would adopt it without a thought. We strolled and the girls ooh..ed and aah..ed and I kept up in the rear taking photos, pity we didn’t have the time to sit down for a drink and take in the tiny harbour, but there will be lots more for sure, after all we are in the land of “ Yassou Spiro ena kaffethaki parakallo”.
Naxos was just across the water from where we were staying on Paros, so close I could have swam it but taking the Blue Star ferry to island hop is a way of life.
Despite being larger than Paros, Naxos is much less developed, far more rugged and with far fewer villages, whether the terrain being more mountainous is the cause of fewer villages is hard to know but large parts of the island are almost empty.
Naxo’s variety of beaches when compared to Paros is limited, again possibly due to its less complicated coastline. Where Paros has beaches facing all points of the compass with some amazing inlets, easy to get to and with their own very distinct style Naxos is limited to mainly one long slightly commercialized stretch of beach just south of Chora.
Paros with a variety of beaches and beach goers. Malene and Mon doing what they do best, and Maria makes do after she forgot her flip-flops
Many islands have a town called “Chora” which means ‘down town’ and Naxos is no different. It’s much larger than Naoussa on Paros and it’s nicely finished off with a Venetian castle on top of the hill right in the heart of town.
To get up there you need to navigate through the surrounding labyrinth of lane-ways that start down at the harbor climbing steeply up to the castle. This is a must see and take time out for a beer or coffe sitting at a little round table people watching in a lane-way no more than 1.50 meters wide.
Sitting in a lane-way cafe somewhere below the castle
The Venetians ruled many of the Cyclades islands from here in Chora, Naxos which never got overrun by the Ottoman Turks. Instead of Ottoman occupation, as was the fate of the rest of Greece at that time, the Venetians who controlled much of the Cyclades came to some kind of a financial agreement with the Turks and paid a levy instead. Many descendants of the old Venetian families still occupy homes within the castle.
We had a good time and combined with Evoia we packed a fair bit in the last 3 weeks of our travels, am sure Mon and Maria went back to Cyprus with a new lease of life.
Malene and I had a couple more days alone in Naxos, we let go of the car and decompressed in a little guest house by the beach, planning the next move.
It was time to leave, we got a tip by a couple of old local guys that there was another island just four hours away that we should check out. So for now it was good bye Naxos.
Next stop Anaphylaxis or is it Prophylaxis, I think it’s actually called Astypalaia.