So far the Travel Inspirations series has taken us to Hiroshima with Abigail King and Australia’s Gold Coast with Cecil Lee. As I read these thoughtful guest posts, I’m reminded what it is that inspires me about daily life on the Amalfi Coast. I’ll be sharing some links to my writings on that topic here on Ciao Amalfi very soon. But, in the meantime, we’re off to Greece! This week Mike Sowden, writer of one of my new favorite blogs Fevered Mutterings, is taking us to the dreamy Cyclades Islands. Welcome, Mike!
“Best room on island – just 60 Euros with every day!”
There’s somewhere near a dozen of them, hugging an invisible line ten paces inland from the ferry’s gangway. (I later learn this is as far as the police will allow them, prompted by a rise in aggressively touting hoteliers in recent years). They’re waving placards and holding up photos, but I adopt a polite grimace, duck my head and walk past, straight across the painfully sunny square and into the Tourist Information office.
Half an hour later, I’ve been fixed up with a gorgeous one-bedroom apartment with veranda, double-bed and complementary Greek coffee – for 20 Euros a night. Bless you and your consistently reliable advice, Rough Guide to Greece. You’ve done me proud.
I’m on Naxos for 3 days, so I can afford to goof off for the afternoon, lazing round the blazingly whitewashed town and scorching my toes on the beach sand. It’s absurdly hot – particularly for a pasty-limbed Brit like myself – and it’s not long before I’m back in my room, seeking the twin solaces of shade and icecube-chilled water from the ensuite fridge. I open my Rough Guide again.
Now here’s the thing that struck me almost immediately and that has haunted me ever since. Naxos is the largest of the islands of the Cyclades and is the Greek islands in not-so-miniature: a wealth of olive-groved valleys, golden beaches and bone-dry mountain slopes. It’s also two destinations – the gateway port of Naxos Town, geared for daytrippers, and the interior of the island where you’ll find the Naxos of old getting on with daily life. And getting from one to the other takes time and planning – neither of which I had in abundance. So apart from some mild exploring, I stayed put.
I sipped kitron, the famous local liqueur made from citron fruit, a sibling of the lemon. (Delicious). I chased Naxian olive oil around various plates with hunks of heavy home-baked bread. I blackened to a crisp on the beach (to then spend the following week carrying my backpack on sunburnt shoulders, which probably tells you a lot about my ability to forward-plan). But Naxos? I’ve hardly seen any of it. And that’s why the ‘unexplored interior’ calls to me, like no other place, like only imagined destinations can. And that’s why I’ll be back.
Mike Sowden is a freelance travel-writer and blogger. He writes about travel for MNUI travel insurance and for his own site Fevered Mutterings. Catch up with him on Twitter @Mikeachim.