|it was a great day today. We met our guide Stuart, at the arranged location and headed out of town to explore The Hidden Naxos - not a big tour group in sight. Naxos is definitely greener than Mykonos and as a result you can see a variety of crops in the flats and on the hillsides which have been largely terraced. There will be very little rain from now until Oct/Nov. The views of the small towns were great with mostly white homes and many blue roofed churches perched on the hillsides.
Since Stuart is English but has lived here for 16 +years it was interesting to hear another perspective on Greece's problems. Over half the youth are unemployed. He talked about them having a Middle Eastern attitude towards authority and money. They don't trust banks, they don't pay taxes and by the sounds of it, they really don't stick to rules and laws. It has such a long history of others controlling the country that they can be considered a fairly new country and entered the EU as a poor country that just can't get out of debt. It will be interesting to follow the Greek/EU issue now that we have been here. Much of that political discussion took place on the side of the road overlooking a small town with many empty homes, just another sign of the times.
Something a little cheerier. Our first official stop was for coffee in a small family place in the town of Kinidaros. We are becoming quite Greek and had our cold coffee drinks, just like the locals before walking through the town. This town had flowers everywhere in all kinds of pots. The roses and other plants are in full bloom and it was a very colouful walk with lots of steps for our exercise. There were a number of abandoned and run down places. We were surprised to learn that the might get snow here. Stuart told us he burned 5 loads of olive wood last winter. Many of these homes are still very simple with modern improvements happening only over the past 30 years.
From there we drove through the countryside until we came to a very old abandoned village called Siphones. It appears that everyone just left or disappeared from the village sometime in the 50's. No one really knows or will say what happened there but no one has ever lived there since, despite farming the land. A cross and monument has been put up but the plaque with the printing has been deliberately knocked over. Stuart told us it has a pray on it but also makes reference to the demons there. All very strange.
Another stop so we could see the water on both the east and west sides of the island. It was much clearer looking east. The western slope was alive with the sound of bells on the goats and a flick of sheep being herded down the road. Next the windmills and the contrast between the old round windmill and modern wind turbines.
It was now time for lunch and we were off to Koronos, another small hillside village. There was quite a contrast from the first village in the almost total lack of flowers. Martina's Restaurant did have flowers and a special experience. We had a very authentic meal served family style - salad, bread, tzatiki, potatoes, lamb in a lemon sauce, a delicious lemon dessert, homemade wine and lemon raki. We are not starving! The momma was so nice and had to have her picture taken with us, then gave us each a photo of the restaurant.
We left by the same very narrow and windy road to continue our tour through the countryside, seeing olive trees that could be thousands of years old, more small villages and lots of terraced hills. Next stop was the Kitpon Distillery to taste the liquor made from citron leaves. At 30 to 36% alcohol, it has quite a kick. Purchases were made! One last stop at a pottery place where the fellow was making a pot on the wheel. His pieces were very nice and very reasonable. As you can imagine a few more things were purchased. As we were piling into the van, he came out with gifts for all.
Finally back to our hotel after a very full but enjoyable day. Rests were in order before heading the pavement again and dare I say it -eating and drinking! there is a great little restaurant across the street which has now become our local hang out - seems to be lots of free wine!!