Santorini – Naxos 2021

Our ferry to Naxos was at 11:15 AM and we had arranged the pick up with Gabi at 9:45 so we had time to stop by the post office to check if they have any pretty stamps to add to Jason’s collection. The post office opens at 7:30 AM (surprisingly early but they do close at 2:30 PM) so we headed out early. On our way passing by the street to the blue-domed church, Jason said let’s take a quick last look! Guess what? The rope wasn’t there so we were able to walk down to the postcard-perfect spot for photos! There was a photographer there with his clients so we waited for a little bit. So glad Jason decided to check it out one last time!!!

The early morning light made it extremely difficult for photos due to the church being brightly lit but the walkway where I stand was completely in shadow. Too bad we didn’t bring our flash on the trip and even if we did, we probably wouldn’t have brought it anyways since we planned to go to the post office and this was totally unexpected. Thus, I did a lot of editing to reduce the highlight and exposure of the church while bringing out the shadow and changing the color tone so the photos look more pleasing!

Postcard-perfect except for the yellow dress lady who climbed up the church for photos – please do not be selfish like her!!! She was disrespectful and the locals roped off access due to people like her!

Once we were done with photos and walked up, the rope was there at around 8 AM so we suspect the hotel or locals put up the robe at 8 AM. Like I said before to get the perfect photos, best to stay at one of the hotels in that area such as Oia Spirit Boutique Residences, Sophia Oia View, Bluedome Cavehouses Santorini, or Theodora Suites (the volcano view suites). Otherwise, be there before 8 AM but with a flash and be respectful!!!

We went to the post office but they only have the individual stamp for everyday mail not for collecting. We walked back all the way to our hotel to have breakfast and then check out. We arrived at the ferry port just around 10:30 AM and Gabi informed one of the cafe waiters of our ship name: Santorini Palace. She said sit and wait at the cafe, the waiter will announce the ship’s name when it comes and then we can walk over to the yellow roof area for boarding.

The waiter came to take our order, I just want water and he said there’s a minimum €4 charge to sustain their business. Alright, we ordered a Fanta, a can of peach lemon tea, and a bottle of water for €7. At the port, there are a lot of taxis as well as public bus to Fira.

The ship came on time but the boarding was not under the yellow roof area! There’s actually a white building located at the end of the port that said “departure terminal”!!! We knew something was wrong so we walked over to it where there was a long queue and we were almost the last ones to board.

The staff did quickly peeked at our CDC vaccination card. We filled out the passenger form as instructed when we booked the ferry ticket online via Ferry Hopper but no one check or collect it! The ferry ticket for the economy class was €35 per person (peak season so was higher than average) and it was a high-speed ferry which takes 1 hour 35 minutes from Santorini to Naxos.

The boarding process was a bit chaotic that people just rushed into the boat (no social distancing at all) and there was a long line to go upstairs. We found a space to store our luggage at one of the storage racks before proceeding up the stairs where the lady scanned the QR code on our ferry ticket. There was no assigned seat for the economy class and the staff only point to the economy section. There were quite a lot of passengers on the boat already from earlier routes (I think the boat departed from Crete). There was a storage rack on the back of the economy section but already full and no overhead bin. Even though mask is required onboard and signs everywhere, half of the passengers we saw were either wearing the mask incorrectly – under the nose or under the chin. A staff walked by once to ask people to wear their masks that was when they put it on for a few seconds and took off again once the staff is gone!!!

The boat was comfortable and clean; look like a cruise ship with a snack bar and bathrooms. The stairs to the upper level for business/first-class passengers.

The sea was so calm that day, how lucky! We were surprised that we have cellular service during the ferry ride. We got up when we were approaching Naxos so we can get our luggage but the stairs to go down were blocked by the staff. There was a little line of people who had the same thought as us. She noticed that I am pregnant, she came over and asked me to wait aside so she can bring me down via the elevator later. So kind of her but I politely refused and said our luggage is just down those stairs so we can walk down. She let the drivers go down first and then the rest of the passengers……lots of people rushing down! After we quickly grabbed our luggage from the rack, we took another flight of stairs down where the cars parked and waited for the gate to open. As soon as the gate opens, loads of people got off.

I booked a one-night stay at the Portara Seaside Luxury Suites for $144 and the host sent me a message prior on where to meet – take a right after we got off the ferry where there’s an ATM machine, easy enough! She was there with a sign of our name waiting for us. Although the hotel is very close to the ferry port and should be easy to find, it was nice of her to come to greet us. She walked us directly to our room and the cleaning lady was still there cleaning. We said we can leave our bags in the room and go to have lunch first then come back later. She gave us the key and asked for our departure time tomorrow – our ferry to Paros will be at 1:20 PM but the hotel check-out time is 11 AM so we asked if we can store our luggage somewhere after checkout at 11 AM. She said she can arrange something and left. There was no paperwork, no credit card deposit, nothing LOL and we found that there is no hotel lobby/reception maybe that was why!

For lunch, we went to Sarris Tavern and got there at around 1:40 PM. We were the only guests hum…..I guess it was late for lunch? They posted their daily special on the sign at the entrance and on it has “the best fish soup”. I was wondering if it would be like the fish soup we had in Santorini 7 years ago. The owner (we guess?) highly recommended it and he said if it doesn’t taste good, he won’t charge for it LOL! The soup portion was huge and they already split into two bowls for us. The soup turned out to be different…..not the watery kind; it was much thicker. The first bite was fishy but afterward was okay due to lots of black pepper. Jason and I were guessing on the ingredients besides the fish – he said pumpkin and he was right! The soup was okay but I wouldn’t say it was the best fish soup.

The owner also recommended the mussels; he said very fresh. We were cautious at first because in Santorini, there were only frozen mussels. We gave it a try and it was really fresh!

I ordered the spaghetti with shrimps; the shrimps weren’t the Mediterranean kind 🙁

The owner invited Jason to take a look at the local fish in the fridge, he really knows how to sell LOL! He said this is the best and persuaded Jason to try it. The €35 fish……..Jason regretted it! Not to say it wasn’t good but he much preferred the Chinese-style steam fish with ginger and scallion.

They even gave us free dessert – Greek yogurt with honey and fresh fruits, yum! Food prices in Naxos are much lower than in Santorini and better quality too we found! The whole table of food including that expensive fish was €73 and we rounded up to €75.

After lunch, we walked back to our room to use the bathroom before heading out to check out the old town. Our room was cleaned by this point. The room decors were black and white to give a modern style. The bed was so soft that it wasn’t comfortable at all….we missed the mattress at Canaves Oia Suites!

A mini kitchen and a “bar table”. That table is too narrow that I couldn’t even place my laptop there, very useless! The chairs were too tall that it was awkward sitting there.

Nice to have a kitchen but with good food at an affordable price, who wouldn’t dine out?

The bathroom has this sewage smell…

I have never seen black toilet paper to match the black toilet! Although the black toilet looked modern, it gave me an impression of dirty! The tub was a nightmare! I don’t get the design of it, water spills everywhere when we took a shower. I much prefer a stand-up shower stall with glass. That tub is wasting space and made the bathroom looked dirty!

Toiletries in black packaging as well.

A little sitting area:

Our sea view room was facing the Temple of Apollo, a landmark of Naxos.

From our room, it was like a 3-minute walk to get to the “old town”. Whitewashed houses with bougainvillea, narrow walkway, houses are interconnected like a maze. We don’t have any particular place of interest to check it out so we just followed our own sense and walk wherever the road led us. The old town was very quiet, few tourists we came across, it was very peaceful. Most of the stores are selling clothes and jewelry which we typically have no interest in buying as souvenirs.

The main street that you can’t miss in the old town and it’s the most picturesque.

The side streets are mostly restaurants and some are so hidden that you’ll see a lot of signs for directions.

Isn’t this so cute, a garden restaurant:

I like the sign above the door: “Memories of Naxos”.

The Naxos Cafe looked very classic and charming.

A peek inside another garden restaurant.

Look at how low this road is and there’s someone living above? Jason’s head touches the ceiling LOL!

It is perfect for my height hahaha!

First time seeing lime green door and window….not sure if I like the color but definitely eye-catching.

Beautiful sign pointing to Naxos Cafe (where we pass by earlier):

One thing we found interesting is that the main water shutoff is located outside the house! We wondered if naughty kids turn off neighbor’s water LOL? I like how they painted their electric meter box to match!

A hotel with this beautiful bougainvillea tree.

We turned and turned and eventually got up to the Venetian Castle of Naxos. There’s not much to do there unless you want to visit the museum.

A church up the hill:

Then, we started to walk down on the other side of the castle.

What a tree crossing to the neighbor’s house!

Another tree almost covering the house, at least it provides shades?

We got down to the town where there are more restaurants and shops (still mostly clothing and jewelry shops).

Best use of space!!!

An upscale store in black and white:

An old door with character!

The street leading down to the waterfront, another low ceiling path 😀

Souvenir shop that looked more interesting to us:

You can’t get lost in the old town with beautifully painted maps like this:

A nice house entrance, I guess they put water bottles there to block people from sitting there for photos?

We came across this glass shop called: Yalopolis. They have very nice glass decors at an affordable price!

We got a smaller version of the mushroom and house candle holder below:

We like the tilted cat with a tail and asked the owner if they have it in purple color. He said those are the colors they have. It’s hard to control how the color comes out of the oven so each one is unique! We got the one in red color, that’s why there’s an empty space next to the black cat.

We highly recommend this shop for unique and beautiful glass souvenirs! It’s much better than buying those mass-produced magnets.

Eventually, the maze lead us back to the main street and by this time, the lighting is much better for photos without bright spots on one side of the street.

More restaurants….there are lots of restaurants in Naxos compared to sourvenir shops.

Another sign pointing to Naxos Cafe, I guess it’s famous?

Naxo’s old town is quite small compared to other islands so spending an afternoon there was enough to explore it. That was one of the reasons I decided to stay one night only…..we are not beach people so not much for us to do in Naxos. There are more towns and villages inland as Naxos is the largest island of the Cyclades island group but their public transportation is very limited (unlike in Paros). I am pregnant when we visited and we weren’t comfortable riding on a scooter so that limited us to the old town area.

For dinner, we went to Naxian Capriccio Restaurant along the waterfront. After having fresh mussels at lunch, we know Naxos have fresh mussels so we ordered it again. Their mussels were even better, bigger, and cooked perfectly! We also ordered fried calamari, yum yum!

For main, I was sick of seafood spaghetti and I tried to limit my seafood intake so I ordered the Greek “burger”. Guess what, no bun, no tomatoes, no lettuce 🙁 It was two marinated beef patties (I don’t like the strong herb taste) and fries. I wish there was some veggy!

Jason ordered the seafood rice and looked at how many mussels they gave!

The waterfront street is filled with restaurants and not all are tourist traps!

We walked across the street to take sunset photos.

When I got back, free dessert on the house again. I wonder if that’s a Naxos tradition. The cake tasted like rice pudding with caramel sauce to balance the sweetness. The total bill for our dinner: €57 which we rounded up to €60, paid with the credit card. We enjoyed the food in Naxos the most!!!

Once we got back to our room, we had the big cherries we bought at the grocery store. The cherries tasted more like a plum than a cherry, and even the meat inside looked more like a plum. It was weird but interesting as this was our first time tasting cherries like this.

At around 10:30 PM, I wanted to go to the Temple of Apollo to take night photos of the Milkyway above Naxos town. Jason thought I was crazy but he went with me anyways haha! The walk wasn’t bad, there were still a lot of people at that time, and the pathway was lit up. We walked up the temple, I set up the tripod and took a test shot. There was a big Blue Star Ferry ship docked and made the sky covered with smoke 🙁 We waited a little bit for the sky to clear up but that didn’t help much. I gave up and decided to head back; Jason got a big mosquito bite, yikes sorry hun!

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