Naxos, Greece—Olive Oil, Ancient Statues, and Golden Hour in Chora

Our third day on Naxos we set out to explore more of the island’s historical and traditional sites, including an olive oil museum, ancient architecture, and local food fare.

Day 3:

Naxos, Greece - day 3 trip itinerary from Orkos Blue Coast to Eggares Olive Oil Museum, to Apollonas Beach and Naxos City

Eggares Olive Oil Museum

There is nothing more quintessentially Greek than the olive tree! And Greece has the oldest olive tree in the world (believed to be between 3,000 and 4,000 years old) which still produces olives—expensive ones. It sits majestically (41 ft in circumference, 15 ft in diameter), a wise and twisted giant, in the village of Ano Vouves on the island of Crete.

The oldest olive tree in the world – Vouves, Crete, Greece (photo courtesy of Argophilia)

Although we haven’t made it to Crete yet, while in Naxos, we stopped to visit the Eggares Olive Oil Museum. The lovely host knowledgeably walked us through the history of olive oil making, and the evolution of technology throughout the ages. At the end of the tour, about a dozen tourists, including us, crowded the minuscule shop for a mini-tasting (olive bread, olive oil, olives—you get the idea), while we talked with the owner’s teenage nephew, who proudly declared that Greek olives are THE best—and I kind of have to agree with him. We stood in front of the shelves lining the stone walls, then we greedily and giddily plucked local treasures: olive oil cans, beauty products, and handcrafted linens and tableware. I chose something I haven’t had before: green olive preserves, a sweet concoction perfect as a topping for Greek yogurt, alongside a handful of walnuts. Yummy and healthy(ish)!

Naxian Marble Quarries

Naxian marble, known as Naxos crystallina is renown for its particularly durable nature and preferred by sculptors throughout the ages. Its less porous consistency makes Naxian marble more durable against erosion, while its 2% quartz and 98% calcite composition gives it extra brilliance. The quarries stretch along the mountains side, and can be seen up close (tours are available) or from the road.

Naxos, Greece - marble quarry

Tower of Ayia

Built sometime in the 17th century as a summer home for one of the wealthy Greek families, the tower stands in semi-ruin, yet still a site to see. The tower was strategically built for optimal defense and panoramic views of the water. We haven’t visited the tower but couldn’t help but notice its impressive stature.

Ancient Statue of Dionysus

A brown indicator sign pointed to the path that led to an ancient statue of Dionysus. The statue is a depiction of a young wine god, which dates from around 7th or 6th century BC. Being that I love wine, I thought Dionysus would be benevolent toward me. However, it was not so. Instead I witnessed the notoriously volatile nature of the Greek gods. Was it that I hadn’t consumed enough Greek wine this trip that made him mad?…

I headed up the stone steps ahead of David toward the statue. The path wasn’t well kempt and thorny bushes threatened my sandaled toes as I rushed upwards. I passed a few other visitors and heard David talking with them as I pressed on. Within seconds I also heard an intense and persistent buzz. Then I caught a glimpse of something black and large and vicious orbiting my head; I shook my head attempting to use my ponytail to ward off the bug to no avail. “RUN!,” I heard David from below instruct me. And in another second I understood why: the bugs—plural—were a swarm of nasty a&&***s with wings, aka giant angry stingy hornets. I shook my head hard, leaving my sunglasses behind as a sacrifice to Dionysus, and ran down the steps.

Unfortunately, the combination of head shaking (I wasn’t wearing a hat this time), buzzing, and me wearing open-toe sandals (which I usually never wear on vacation exactly because I walk or hike everywhere) didn’t end super great. I lost my balance briefly, stopped to regain it, while planting a shin into the thorny bushes and scarping a few toes. I persevered and made it to safety, while David warned the next set of visitors not to go any further (a courtesy I would have appreciated from the previous group). Within minutes, a throbbing pain in my neck and head made it clear that I hadn’t escaped a few stings. So, word to the wise: check out the info and photos online and skip the trek.

Naxos, Greece - statue of Dionysus - Atlas Obscura
(photo courtesy of Atlas Obscura)

Apollonas Beach

To relieve my pain, we stopped at Apollonas Beach down the hill from evil Dionysus and settled at one of the cafes by the clear Mediterranean water. We watched cormorants diving for fish while we waited for our lunch. I paid for a glass of ice cubes, which I applied to the swelling sting sites on my head and neck, and for a glass of ouzo, which I applied as an internal analgesic.

Cormorant fishing at Apollonas Beach, Naxos, Greece

Dinner and the Golden Hour in Chora/Naxos City

We embraced our tourist status and walked portside, popping into stores filled with souvenirs and reminders that cats and warding off the evil eye are Greek staples. Dinner was grilled fish with Naxian potatoes and a fresh salad at Pikantiko Grill House, a touristy yet lovely café featuring Mediterranean specialties, a view of the water, and decent Google ratings. And even if I was still reeling from my earlier experience, or maybe because of it, we indulged in a bottle of Greek wine. To further sweeten the deal, we sampled ice-cream from Waffle House (no, not the same chain as in the U.S.). A short walk from the main drag, we found a local cheese and meats store—Naxos Cheese Koufopoulos, and we stocked up.

As the sun started to paint the water and sky in deep shades of gold, orange, and purple, we admired the picture-perfect waterside cafes at the end of the promenade and the lovely yachts and cats (catamarans that is) coming in for the evening.

Back at the AirBnB, we finished the day in the company of our feline friends, the orange tabby and a young black and white kitty.

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