Day 2 on Naxos was CAR HIRE DAY! Yes, maybe I was crazy to hire a car in Greece (they really are mad drivers), but there were so many places on Naxos that I wanted to see and that were really only accessible with a car in the short time I had. I hadn't brought my GPS (travelling with hand luggage only) and the car hire place didn't have any left so I was left with a paper map, which was a little scary because driving while also navigating is a little complicated! But thankfully, Naxos was pretty easy, as there was only one real "main" road around the island.
Not only was I having to navigate, but I also had to get used to sitting on the other side of the car, which was really really weird. I had trouble judging distances because I couldn't feel the dimensions of the car, and generally ended up driving more in the middle of the road than I probably needed to! But with the initial fears abating, I set off on my adventure! First stop: Damalas!
Damalas is one of the smallest towns on Naxos but famous for a few things - an old mill, a pottery store and an old church. It also was one of the quietest, serene places I've ever been to. It was just so lovely being there, the only person walking around. The only other people I saw were an older couple sitting under a tree having breakfast.
I hopped back in the car and navigated back to the road - next stop: Halki, or Chalki, or Chalkio depending on what you're reading. Apparently, it is the biggest olive producer in the Cyclades, which I would believe, as it was surrounded by them! But I was there for two things: the weaving shops and the Byzantine church. I went to this amazing weaving shop and watched the lady working the loom. It was fascinating! And her work was gorgeous, I could have bought up the whole shop. But only carrying hand luggage has some definite disadvantages..... So instead I bought a small zip purse, and left wanting to buy my own loom.
Next was the church. It was a bit of a walk out of the town, so I stopped first for a cold OJ - I'd developed a taste for these in Greece as the cold sugar hit was divine and kept me going all day! Sated, I found the path and walked to the church. This church was called the Church of Panagia, and was from the 9th Century. It was so gorgeous, and inside, there were all these amazing frescoes!!
I wish I'd taken a few more photos of Halki, as it was a gorgeous little place. I was just conscious of time, wanting to make it to all the places on my list before having to return the car.
I walked back to my car, cranked the air con, then head off again! Next stop Apeiranthos..... I say that but there were quite a few stops along the way so I could take in some of the absolutely gorgeous landscape. Just, wow Greece!
I pulled into the parking area near Apeiranthos around lunch time, so my first port of call was food. It was so hot so I ordered a salad and a piece of some quiche-like pie, some bread and lots of water. Simple and tasty. Then I went exploring Apeiranthos - this name apparently means "plenty of flowers". I didn't see plenty of flowers, but there was plenty of marble - footpaths, houses, everything was made from marble. It was so lovely, as it glowed in the midday sunshine. What a beautiful place. I also stopped in this shop that sold painted gourds... I love a good gourd. And I couldn't help myself - of course I bought one with pomegranates on it. I wanted another one but it was too large (hand luggage remember?!) so I settled with my smaller one. It's definitely one of my favourite souvenirs.
From Apeiranthos, I went driving around the coastal road. The views were spectacular, just mountains and ocean. I made a few stops along the way, but mostly to take photos.
I made the trip around the whole island quicker than expected and dropped the car off much earlier than I thought I would. That night, I went to a restaurant that I had spotted yesterday that looked good - it had a ceiling of grapevines over the lovely outdoor area. But as I was finishing my dinner, I felt something on my skirt and this little kitten joined me on the seat opposite. Honestly, I think it was the cutest thing I've ever seen. I only had my phone with me so the phone photo will have to suffice (plus it's a bit blurry - he moved so quick for a little fella!), but how's this for a dinner partner? Better than some dates I've been on!