Ahhh...Greece!

Trip Start Jan 07, 2010
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29
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Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed

Flag of Greece  , Cyclades,
Thursday, April 15, 2010

What a fantastic change of plans that brought us to Greece! While we were in Jordan, airline prices from Tel Aviv to anywhere in Spain went up dramatically (from US$350 per person to US$700!). We panicked because we certainly didn't want to get stuck in the Middle East too long but we didn't want to spend that much money to get out of it. We started checking random cities and Athens turned out to be extremely cheap--US$125 per person! And to top it off, it was cheap to fly from Athens to Madrid US$170. So we decided to hang out in Greece for a while...10 wonderful days of sun, warm breezes and the beautiful Aegean Sea.

Since this was so last minute, we didn't have a guidebook or much other than a little time at internet cafes to pick the island to go to. We have friends who went to Crete and loved it but it was 8 hours by ferry from Athens, which seemed too much, especially after so much traveling we've already done. We got a tip from a fellow traveler about Naxos and did a quick search on the internet and it seems to fit our criteria...5 hours by ferry, not too big, not too small, hiking options and cheap accommodations.

We are staying in the main town on the island, which has a small port and a nice beach, although the water is too chilly to stay in the water longer than a quick dip. The town itself can be walked across in about 15 minutes and has charming cafes along the water and a castle at the top of the town. We are staying at Pension Irene I for US$33 per night and we have a small kitchenette and a nice balcony with a partial sea view. It's very spacious and spotlessly clean. We are up the hill about 5 minutes from the beach and main part of town.

So what have we done since we've been in Naxos?? Not much. We were exhausted when we got here. It was a long, sleepless journey to get here...we left Jerusalem at 4:00 p.m. on the last bus before the sabbath (the entire country stops at sundown--no buses--no shops--no nothing except Palestinian taxies that charge about $100 double time). Our goal was to get to the airport in Tel Aviv for a flight at 7:00 a.m., for which we had to be at the airport at 4:00 a.m. (The Israelies are extremely strict about getting to the airport 3 hours before flights.) Basically we hung out at the airport with a bunch of other tourists who didn't think about the sabbath when scheduling their flights out of Israel. Then we arrived in Athens at 9:00 a.m. and went directly to the port to buy tickets for the next ferry to Naxos, which was at 5:30 p.m. We finally arrived in Naxos at 10:45 p.m. That was almost 32 hours of travel!

So, for the week we have been in Naxos, we have mainly strolled around town, had a lot of wine while watching sunsets, eaten great Greek food and one day we did a big hike to the top of the highest mountain, Mt. Zas. (3,400 feet). The hike was 5 hours round trip and the views from the top were 360 degrees from one end of the island to the other, with about 10 other islands in the distance. Fantastic!

Naxos has been a perfect "vacation within a vacation." It sounds bad but we were getting tired of traveling and seeing sites all the time. We needed time to chill out without being hassled to buy stuff. It's nice to walk down village lanes and eat at restaurants with menu prices and go into shops and buy a candy bar without negotiating. How do we say this...it is nice to be at peace. If we compare Wadi Musa in Jordan (the town next to Petra) with Naxos, there is no comparison except they are about the same size and are built on hillsides and have a lot of tourists. You would think that is a lot of similarities but the towns could not be more different. Wadi Musa is dirty, has broken side walks, zero charming shops, very few cafes, and the shop owners could care less about your business. In Naxos, the buildings are gleeming white with that typical Greek blue paint on the shutters, the windows have bright red geraniums, there are nice shops with merchandise other than magnets and the cafe owners give free wine or dessert just in hopes that you will come again during your vacation. Get this...the prices of food and accommodations in Greece are cheaper than Jordan. As they say, "Viva la Differance!." But we are happy to be in Greece!

So after 7 days in Naxos, we have decided to take a little jaunt to the island of Santorini. It's supposed to be very posh and we really didn't have a big desire to go there but some people at our pension took a short trip there and said there is a new active volcano, which we really want to see. So we are off to Santorini for a few days...more later.

Shari & Bob
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Comments

art on

Hi


It all sounds pretty good.

Are you affected by the "other" volcano yet?

You are good at finding affordable accomodations.
Although some of it is through Starworld.

How much longer is this jaunt?

April 26 I am heading back to S'p - KL - Saigon and Jakarta.

Happy trials ..........

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