Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Naxos, Greece

Naxos was our love/hate affair with Greece island hopping mainly for the reason of Ana's father contacting some sort of lung infection that put him in the hospital for three days. Ximena also fell victim to the same virus, but escaped with a round of antibiotics. Speaking of escaping, Ana's dad was ready to escape from the hospital. We all got a firsthand taste of how Government hospitals operate in Greece. They weren't bad, but then again we have been living in Egypt and Ethiopia over the last seven years. Blood tests, X-rays, checking in and out were mostly smooth and efficient. A tourist settling a bill has been a more complicated story.

The quality time we did have on Naxos was spent in a car winding up and down narrow lanes along the edge of cliffs with stunning views of valleys and waves crashing against rocks. As the driver, I didn't take my eyes off the road too many times. In the end, we left some unexplored terrain. At some point we will remedy our lost time and return to the beauty of Naxos to learn more about Bacchus and Ariadne.   

A small cup of local fresh wine helps with the nerves after driving around Naxos. Speaking of wine, I had several glasses of retsina during our trip. Retsina wine is of the white variety with a pine taste. While in Ethiopia, our friends Andreas and Lorna introduced us to it. I don't know many folks who like the flavor.
Naxos still life: goat cheese, fresh wine, aged wine, pizza, and olives is the perfect hotel room dinner. So, about the pizza. Pizzadelia serves up some of the best pies we've had. The owner uses local cheese and toppings on thin crust and bakes it with love. The owner and his brother also make a fresh red wine each season. We couldn't get enough. Another one of our favorite eateries that will leave you with a couple of extra kilos was Maro's Taverna. Tasty home cooking (the drunken pig) with excellent service. It was hard to try anything beyond those two places.      
The winds arrived and made the island shake.
Sweet ride.
The central part of Chora still consists of older building and a castle.
Sign painting is still practiced on the island. To gain entrance into the restaurant, one must duck under the arch as show by the painting. 
Plan on getting lost.
Who's there...
Another restaurant with romantic signage.
Bring your own brick, a knockoff of Egyptian architecture.
Another hand painted sign spotted next to our hotel. A cornucopia of goodness.
The internet states Olympic Air has ceased operations and was bought out by Aegean Airlines...I beg to differ.
When we were researching Naxos, this very parrot was on someone's blog. Now it is on mine too. Time to start a movement for Rusty the red parrot.
The castle from afar.
The port.
You can't escape Naxos without running into something associated with the Temple of Apollo.
Chora from the Temple of Apollo.
Agii Apostoli is a cruciform, domed Byzantine church of the 10th-11th centuries and of rare architectural style, being the only two-storey church found on Naxos. Source: http://www.naxos.gr/en/
Just driving around.
Looking for bees.

If you look for it, you will find it.

A common sight on the road.
Someone loves the beach.
One of the many views from the road. We were surprised that we didn't roll down the hills.
Sand = Yummy.
Ximena's Greek pediatrician has cool art on her walls.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Santorini, Greece

Images of Santorini, the stuff honeymoons and wall calendars are made of. It is on many people's bucket list. It is a destination you save up for, you know, that unforgettable trip to the Greek Islands that you come back in debt from. We were prepared to drop our daughter's college fund on some fun in the sun. And what we discovered was you can get along pretty well on a shoestring budget. We rented a car, stayed in a highly rated hotel, and ate fairly well for a lot less of what we would have spent and any city in America for the same amenities...and it helps both the wallet and mentally to travel right at the beginning of the season. 

We'll let the photos speak for themselves.

One of the advantages of a 5 am flight is arriving during sunrise.
While Ana and family was camping out waiting for our hotel to open, I snuck off with a camera to capture a couple of shots.
Couldn't have asked for better weather.
And I thought there were a lot of mosques in Egypt.
The first day was spent walking around Fira.
One of the advantages of renting a car was the ability to drive to one of the many rock covered beaches.
A wedding/honeymoon destination for sure.
A top view of a couple of cave houses.
Workers were out in full force preparing for the onslaught of the season. We thought it was pretty manageable, people wise. I did imagine a game show with me on how long I could last during high season. Ana doesn't think I would last a week. She is probably right.
All steps lead to something good.
One of my money shots of Oia.
Keeping the theme of Greek dogs going.
Ximena is thinking of becoming a nun.
It really is inviting.

At the edge of Oia.
It was obligatory to taste wine. One of the more interesting wineries is Art Space. You get to sample both art and wine within a cave setting. The owner let us taste his products. We left with a bottle of Nychteri (Nychta translates to night) a blended dry white wine that gets its name from the grapes being harvested at night. The plan was to take the bottle back to Egypt. That idea lasted less than four hours. By 5 pm we were on the balcony of our hotel with the open bottle and a plate of cheese and olives. Maybe not the ideal pairing, but it worked for us.   

Vinsanto is a Santorini original that was co-opted by Italy. Raisin wine, tasty raisin wine at that. Grapes are harvested late in the season and sundried. An insane amount of grapes go into one bottle. I sampled several vinsantos and decided on a bottle from Venetsanos Winery. A mere 1400 bottles were produced though this label reads: 1403/1400...overproduction on an excellent vintage isn't such a bad thing.
The other money shot of Oia.
One of the best finds on Santorini was spotting a sight for the Industrial Tomato Museum. We followed it, paid our admission fee, and learned about the history of Santorini tomamto canning.
In 1952, the original factory contents were swept to sea after a series of heavy rains.
Because of the soil, Santorini tomatoes are extra salty.
One of the perks of visiting the museum is the staff will start a couple of the machines to enhance the moment.
View of the ferry port.
Look, another church!
Nothing makes a child happier than freshly washed stuffed animals.
The Fira view.
Donkeys are highly regarded in Santorini.
For sale.
The results of taking an unmarked road.
Big birds. A different kind of Swan Lake.
Already giving me attitude.
Getting ready for the sunset.
No filters.
I like these.
Might be unusual to live in one.
With Greek dogs, come Orlando featuring chunks in gravy.
Some more wine tasting. This little cellar was just off the road and for a couple of Euros you can taste just about everything. If you have your own bottle, bring it! They will fill it up for you.
Another game of follow the dirt road leading to a beach.
View of the island as we left on a ferry to Naxos.