Aug10

Written by:Driper
Monday, August 10, 2009 

We are now back from Greece and the Big Chill festival and had a great time. It started a little problematically as our flight out was delayed by two hours (so we only had three hours in Greece to get to the boat (going from Athens to Naxos Island). We eventually get to Athens and then down to the boat, to my surprise the ticket station is actually open at 7am on a Sunday to print our tickets for us (I was a little nervous about this because we had been told by the Greek operators it would be fine but the language barrier meant I wasn't confident we had communicated with each other very well). I hadn't told Freda that.

We are now back from Greece and the Big Chill festival and had a great time. It started a little problematically as our flight out was delayed by two hours (so we only had three hours in Greece to get to the boat (going from Athens to Naxos Island). We eventually get to Athens and then down to the boat, to my surprise the ticket station is actually open at 7am on a Sunday to print our tickets for us (I was a little nervous about this because we had been told by the Greek operators it would be fine but the language barrier meant I wasn't confident we had communicated with each other very well). I hadn't told Freda that.

Boat from Athens to Naxos

We board the boat and go back to sleep (well Freda does, I go back to learning a little Greek from my audio books). A few hours later and we arrive at Naxos and get picked up to go to our hotel that is about 5km from the port but about 9km by roads suitable for a car. Its now very warm in Naxos, a real summer for an Aussie or a heat wave for a Brit. The hotel is very nice but we do immediately notice the number of kids present (which is a little odd given the beach outside is clothes optional). We decide to unwind by the pool and order a cocktail each, then another, then drunk. Oh how I love the bartending abilities of people in the Greek islands. Long Island ice tea with about the same amount of coke as the other white spirits if that.
We hire a quad bike the next morning and go into Naxos town itself for a bit of a look at the local shopping and town. The guy renting the bikes is full of a thousand stories and tells me a few of them. It was nice to take more than 10 words to perform a transaction for once. I get could use to the slower pace of island life.

 

Naxos Eye

We go to see the Naxos Eye which you can see on arrival from the boat but we wanted to have a closer look. It was a little like Stone Henge to me, didn't seem to have a great purpose but looked like it took a lot of work to build. Unlike Stone Henge there wasn't any real detail around about the Naxos Eye so I will leave the culture lesson out which is no doubt available online. I already have a bit of a tan and that suits me, it seems that it made me dark enough to pass as a Greek for one Greek tourist who told me what was obviously a really funny story as we just finished running from the waves that crash over the walkway to the Naxos Eye. The funniest part of her story was that she told us the story which lasted about 3 minutes in Greek and so quickly I didn't have time to say anything (like I don't understand you). I still laughed but it was only then she realised neither Freda or I had any idea what she was saying that we all found it amuzing.
We wander back and decide to go down to the beach which is classified as a clothes optional beach (and no, I didn't know that when we booked the hotel, ops). Not surprisingly most people are wearing swimmers but the occasional lady is topless which having been to the Greek Islands before I know has nothing to do with the fact that it is a clothes optional beach. The next day we ride around town on our super quick quad bikes (600 cc for the rev heads), I did think at one stage I had damaged it because it was getting a bit hot and didn't seem to be going very quickly. I soon realised it was in low gear which I was told never to use, ops.
We leave Naxos to catch our boat to Mykonos, unfortunately when we get to the port and go to check our bags in while we shop we are advised our boat is cancelled. Now we are in trouble. The rest of the group are about 50km (30 miles) away. Freda had previously suggested the wind may prevent the boats from running which in my infinite wisdom I instantly dismissed as panic. I spent the next two hours working out our new method of getting to Mykonos which was a slower, bigger boat to Paros and then a similar boat to Mykonos. The main downside was the 9 hours it would take which should have taken 1. I will later become aware I should have taken the locals advice and got my refund on the tickets I couldn't use whilst on the island as from the UK it will prove difficult.
At least the worst outcome (not getting there) was not going to happen. We stop in Paros for about 4 hours and sit in a local restaurant, great food and a few drinks pass the time a little quicker than sitting around in Naxos. We spot two guys in a dinghy painting one of the Blue Star boats (similar to the boats we are using to get around the islands). They are holding onto the anchor of the boat while using a large pole and roller to paint the front, seems to work and no doubt a lot cheaper than getting it out of the water but it just looks odd.

Boat being painted in Paros

There was unfortunately one more test, the first leg had us assigned seats on the open deck. A minor problem given boats were being cancelled due to wind. People were unable to use the door without looking like they were about to take off so sitting out there was not really an option. We end up sitting in a hallway while others were sleeping on the floor. It will all be worth it, an adventure and all that. Still, at this point I would kill for a seat, bed and/or cocktail. We arrive in Mykonos and meet the gang at the hotel around 1am. We quickly raid the bar and settle into a few drinks, a few stories and make some plans for the coming days. As per usual for Greece the staff are awesome and let us stick around for as long as we want even though they are closing up (but not before giving us several beers and a bottle or two of wine).
The next day requires a quick workout in the hotel gym followed by a dip in the pool. A little wander round the shops and some planning for the next few days. We decide that tomorrow is relax by the beach day. We want to go to the beach but because it has been so windy we consider our beach options carefully and decide that Paradise beach is most likely to be sheltered from the wind. Freda and I having been here before is having some benefit as we sort of remember the beach being sheltered. We realise as we get settled we got it right, its hard to believe there is any wind around at all. We spend the day relaxing on the beach, enjoying a few drinks and perfect water. Doing what you should do in the Greek islands. Very little.

Dinner on the first night

 

That night we decide to go down to a restaurant that Freda and I had been to before which we knew was reasonably priced and good food. I can't remember the name of the place but it is down near the windmills and seafront of the town center. The water actually laps up against the frontage of the restaurant. Later that night (well actually 3am that morning) we go to Cavo Paridiso. For some reason they don't open until crazy hours so we didn't really have a choice. Our trip to Cavo is interesting because they basically pack as many people onto a bus as physically possible then travel down small winding roads. People are sitting on each other but everyone seems happy enough. We count the number of people on the single decker bus and expect it is probably overloaded by about 20 odd people. After accepting it is 50 Euro for non locals to get in (with a free drink) we get in.
The place itself is amazing, pool in the middle of the whole place, sitting at the top of a cliff overlooking the water (not that you can tell given how dark it is). Unfortunately a lot of our photos don't do it justice and didn't turn out but there is still enough of them to give some idea of what it looked like. We (well Luke if I recall) manages to grab us a ride home with some scuba divers and we all cram into the van for a lift back, this becomes a bit of theme for how to get home on the islands.
The next day the girls all do a bit of shopping and Luke and I decide what we need to do is sit on the beach, drink and lap up the surroundings a bit more. We make our way down and enjoy hours of doing very little except order drinks. The people in the bars are so nice, friendly. Eventually the girls join us and we decide to stick around as the beach turns into a party on the beach. At first all the places on the beach are partying and eventually its they are all dominated by Tropicana Club. We move onto drinking frozen cocktails for 5 Euro each which are reasonably sized and priced given they are the only place open. Some people as you can see bring their own bottles, some of us thought we would drink it the same way they were. One thing that is a little unexpected is that during the day no one seemed to care how much, if any clothes people are wearing. As the night progresses it becomes apparent that any form of nudity is not acceptable and security (to be honest I was surprised to see any form of security).
We move on to Santorini and because we have arrived at different times and our boat was delayed we make it in time to have dinner (some of the others are already there). We decide to go a dinner cruise to see the sunset which is rated as one of the best in the world as well as a tour of the volcano. Freda and I have been to Santorini before but never saw either of these so we both look forward to doing the more tourist orientated things we didn't do last time. The sunset cruise is beautiful and apart from a misunderstanding on what open bar means and way too much narration in three languages its perfect. I cant imagine how many photos are taken by all the passengers but I dare say its a few hundred. Everyone has a brilliant time, learns a little about the islands whilst enjoying a decent meal and a drink.

Boat from Athens to Naxos

 

The next day is our volcano expedition so we all wander down to the port and onto a boat to take us round to the volcano. We are taken to the area near the base which lets out sulphur into the water and the boat stops so we can swim into the little cove. The water temperature rises as you would expect as you swim in and turns an old colour. The sulphur stains clothes so be warned if you are wearing a brand new predominantly white set of swimmers like I was. Unfortunately none of us have a water proof camera so there are no pictures of this in the photo gallery. The boat wanders round to an area where it can dock and we climb the volcano. There was about 2km of track taking you about 1km up. I did like the fact that the Greek flag was planted on a hill that was not the highest point of the volcano, it gave the impression of a laid back culture to me, we couldn't be bothered climbing to the top so we will just drop the flag here.
You can see some photos of where the boats docked which show the colour difference created by the sulphur in the water. The next day (I think) we go a little shopping and Rhiannon sets of to find the perfect place to eat for our last meal together. It turns out to be a perfect place with a great meal had by all whilst overlooking what I expect was the best view a restaurant had of the sunset. I can't remember when exactly but when we were in Mykonos we hired a couple of quad bikes and a car to get around and see the place (as well as fill that testosterone requirement to make lots of noise and go fast). Most of the us took turns in driving the quad bikes as we wandered around the island, saw some of the beaches stopped at the sights. A few of us also took the ride of our life on the Crazy Shark. It's basically a floating bag of air towed behind a reasonably quick speed boat whilst the passengers hang on for their life. As you can imaging the boys were indicating to go faster the entire time which came to a climax when the inevitable happened and it flipped. We all come flying out, limbs flying everywhere. We get back on and keep pushing to go faster but I think the shock of the girls was a bit obvious to the driver so we only manage to flip once. We hadn't managed to get Debstanbull (Nicole's mum) onto the Quad bikes or the Crazy Shark but she did want a ride on a Jet Ski so Freda and I jumped on one while Luke and Debstanbull got on another. Having been on a few Jet Skis before I knew what was required to throw Freda off, unfortunately I was given a few stern words preventing this before we got on. Still they were nice and powerful and the water was a little choppy so we still had a great time frolicking in the waves.

Crazy shark ready to launch Debs on one of the Quad bikes

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