We left at 8:15am and we continued the tour of the northern part of the island passing through picturesque villages with white houses hanging on the mountain slopes We stopped in one village, named Apiranthos, and we had our typical Greek breakfast with coffee and pies having a pleasant walk on the village winding narrow streets deserted at that hour of the morning. During the walk we entered an interesting sort of antiques/souvenir store situated in a picturesque square. In the cafÃ© the lady tried to convince me that the water is good that she drinks it for 23 years, a fact that definitely did not convince me to try it. Picturesque old men were having their coffee with a Greek chat in the silent morning. After breakfast we left the village and stopped in the nearby one where we parked and followed the sign to an 11th century Byzantine church. The stroll to the church was magnificent, through olive and fruit tree orchards, yellowed by the heat of the mid summer. The whole landscape reminded us of St Remy in Provence. The church is looking like it was taken out of a story, the most beautiful church we saw in Greece in this trip, surrounded by olive trees and covered inside by frescos. We took too many shots of everything around, including the charming road to the church. Naxos is a very green island compared with what we saw before, a green that contrasts very nicely with the white house on the slopes or the white chapels hanging in the top of the hills.
At 12 50pm we arrived in Naxos Town, after we passed Halki and we stop for a little while in Potamia. The Blue Star ferry was in the port so we rushed to return the car, got tickets and we boarded the ferry to Santorini. On the way to the ferry I was able to grab some pictures in the harbor, including one with the locals offering domatia and I was scolded by one of them who said that is illegal to shoot video with them and they may call the police. I could not figure out why but I don’t think they were very serious about the incident. The ferries are here like trams but with a very intense and precise schedule. When you see their huge size you cannot imagine that they can keep such a tight schedule on, sometimes, rough seas and they are almost all the time on schedule this being totally unlikely for the trains in LIRR. It was always like this but now you feel that things are way better buttoned up than before, only the prices went up several times, especially after the Euro replacing the Drahma. But comparing with the Western European prices, I can tell that Greece kept a lot of prices at comparable levels, irrelevant of the complains that we kept hearing from the locals we spoke with. Especially the food, slightly more expensive now than before is not as the far cry level of pricing like in Cote d’Azur or Tuscany. And it’s better and tastier! Of course, you do not take in consideration the exchange rate of the US$ of US$1.6 to E1. Eventually he gave us a Matiz for E25/day that is the going price in the island, acting like he did us a favor, but it was not the case. Probably we could have got a much better car for the money.
We went to the nearby agency to get a hotel and after looking at the offers the guy decided to show us several so we followed his car to a place that it was obviously not on our liking and we ended up on Perrisa’s black sand, at Palace Bay Hotel where after some negotiations we got an apartment with breakfast for E110/night. The guy who came to arrange the beds turned out to be Romanian, and working relatively illegally in this transitional period till Romania get all the rights in the EU. Latter on he told us several things about how he got there and how things really are working in this business in Greece. We dropped the luggage and we drove all the way to Fira, the capital of the island, about 30 minutes away from Perissa that is located toward the south-east part of the island. .We arrived in Fira at 5:00pm and we were able to park right in the parking place of the upper town. This was surprising everywhere in Greece and was speaking volumes for the low number of tourists. It was July and we expected that everything would be booked, prices would be in the sky but we could find easily accommodation, restaurants at any hour and parking places wherever we went. In spite that we saw lots of tourists, the Greeks were saying that the number of tourists is low, asking us, like they did in Plaka, Crete, where the Americans are, their number being obviously depleted this season. They thought that the recession kept them home but we argued that we thought that mainly the exchange rate was the main cause of their absence. We walked in Fira, that it may be spectacular with the restaurants and houses literally hanging in the caldera of the volcano, but it is one of the touristy places I may have seen. Rows and rows of jewelry store, followed by art stores and many other gadget stores were sharing the main streets with restaurants. We stopped in a travel agency, the Black pelican, to check the schedule and pricing for the boats to Crete and we got conflicting information, but the bottom line is that it is not slow ferry except at 2-4am going to Crete so the main option are 2-3 Flyingcats that leave late in the afternoon. The donkeys caring people down the caldera were strolling in town. From there we tried to find a good vantage point to take some nice sunset shots with the blue domes of the churches in front and we were directed to the nearby village, Fira Stefani situated with Imerovigli, another village, a little north of Fira. So we walked to Fira Stefani where we stopped in front of the blue domed church, admiring a beautiful sunset. Latter, on our way back to Fira, we stopped on the way at a nice restaurant on the road for dinner and walked back in Fira. The view of the houses and restaurants hanging in the caldera is magical in the night when all the lights are on. Latter we took the car and drove towards Perissa where our hotel was located, where the night life was in full swing at the bars lining the shore.