Naxos, Second Ramble by Car

imageThe next day I have the car another 24 hours. Drive south to sunny beaches and find a grassy hill above dramatic rocks at Agiassos, reached by some dicey dirt roads. As if entering an inescapable gravitational field and then hustle over the fields full of the little white daisies to reach the shoreline. One big rock sticks out from the hill and provides the right angle to see the sun refracted into little stars dancing on the waves. It is mesmerizing and transcendent in the same way mountain lakes in the Sierra can be…

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I get out the flute and play a few tunes to honor the spot and Poseidon, lord of the deep blue sea, wondering if Odysseus rounded this point, or if a battle played out here, or if legions of summer tourists wear clothes at all when sunning on these shores.

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I give it a try, going in up to my waist, but the water is just too cold and I’m worried about coming down with something since my body and its immune system is somewhat compromised. Too much thinking! (I pay tribute to my thick-skinned Dutch friend Geert Hendriks who would fearlessly swim in beautiful water whatever the temperature.)

Drive then to Bazeos Tower for a lunch in a shady corner of a field terrace, the whole expanse a mix of white and yellow daisies.  I try to get a photo that does justice to the place and have to hunker down in the dirt and grass to get the camera positioned just-so (see the first photo)

I pick up a coffee in Halki, then head up the valley to Moni and a hike to a high chapel atop a rocky spire. While I like the view back to Halki and Filoti further up the valley, the view west is compromised by centuries of marble excavation from mountainside quarries. The mountains look ravaged and despondent and are depressing to view.

On the return, I stop at the church of “Drosiani Virgin” w/ original Byzantine wall paintings still visible, impressive, and decaying rapidly. An old woman caretaker watches me like a hawk, waiting for me to take out my camera so I can be scolded. But the camera comes out later when I discover the old walking path from Moni to Halki, a high wall on the uphill side and a lower one heading down, all awash in daisies and violet lupines.

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I take a different route back to Naxos town (Chora) via Potamia village and its access trails to the fort I will visit later on. A sign says “ancient Mycenaean burial site”, 8th c. BCE. That gives me something to think about on the drive back to the hotel.

The next morning en route to returning the car, I drive to a temple dedicated to Dionysus, god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, and of ritual madness and ecstasy in Greek mythology. The site is nothing much to look at and hard to imagine a series of major temples stood here that were revered throughout the islands. But it is the only place I saw in Greece or Turkey that had a cool plexiglas descriptive guide, with images of how the temple once looked.image

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