January 8, 2012

Greek Island Lovin' Pt. 1: Naxos

When I was home for the holidays, a friend asked me: ‘so what is the best place you’ve been to?’ My first thought was…’ah geeez, you’re making me choose!? Can I say…hmmmm everything?!’ Unfortunately she wasn’t satisfied with that answer, so I thought of a few: Morocco, Italy, Mexico, Spain…ok now I’m starting to name everything, but one that really stood out as one of my best holidays ever was a week in the Greek Islands.  Aahhhhhhh just the words make me all giddy inside! Not only were the Greek Islands indescribably beautiful, but I really couldn’t have lucked out more with the people I traveled there with. There was Christian ofcourse (can’t leave home without him!), Denis & Emma (Christian and I were exchange students partied for 6 months in Finland with Denis, who’s from France, and Emma, a Finn, who he met in Finland …Christian and I met there too…Lappeenranta is for lovers I tell ya!) and then there was my best friend Smithers. Smitty actually spent the ENTIRE SUMMER IN AMSTERDAM with me and spent her days sleeping behind my couch while I was at work and nights WITH ME running amok around Amsterdam…dream come true to have one of your best friends with you in Amsterdam for an entire summer? Ofcourse. Also spending a week with her cruising the Greek Islands: ABSOLUTELY! So clearly we had quite a multinational party crew to explore Greece.

We wanted to visit a less touristy island to get a real glimpse of Greek island life and we just so happened to pick Naxos! It’s the greenest and one of the biggest islands in the Cyclades. We couldn’t have picked a better typically Greek island to visit and we stayed at a super cute (and cheap! Only about 12 EUR per person per night and we could walk about 100 feet to the beach) hotel called Sigma Studios, right by St. George Beach and only a 15-minute stroll to the nearby Chora, or main town in Naxos. The five of us enjoyed delicious breakfasts right on the sand, endless Greek wine, tzaziki and Mythos beer and Greek salads that were so delicious, I probably wouldn’t even get close to nailing the right mix of feta, vegetables and olive oil. While Smithers lounged on the beach enjoying 5 EUR happy hour cocktails (I joined her later!), us couples opted to climb the highest mountain in the Cyclades—Mt. Zeus. Denis and Emma are experienced hikers, Christian and I are not, but we pulled through (even in my sundress and sandals, I live in sandals in warm weather). It was amazing, we saw rolling green flower-covered hills, mountain goats popping their heads over cliff faces and we could see the entire island from the top which was dotted with white-washed villages and hill-top monasteries. We only had two nights in Naxos, so when we spent our last night enjoying gyros and ouzo near the harbor, we couldn’t help but wish we planned just one more night in Naxos. Then we reminded ourselves that our next stop was Santorini…ooooooo Santorini!!