We are so lucky to have 18 days for this trip. Last year we had 16 days for our trip to Kea, Kythnos, Serifos and Sifnos and those extra couple of days really made all the difference to a regular two week holiday. I had taken so long deliberating over which islands to visit this time but eventually decided to focus on the Little Cyclades. After spreading out a large wall map on the carpet and my laptop with Greek Travel Pages open close by, I had worked out that it would be more efficient to fly to Santorini rather than Athens. Not a choice I made lightly as I do love a few days in Athens at the end of an island hopping trip and I'm not a massive fan of Santorini. Now let me clarify that last statement - it's not that I don't like Santorini - it's the fact that millions of other people love Santorini and it's way too busy for me!
Naxos is the best island as a starting point for the Little Cyclades and it has been over 20 years since I had been there so I am really looking forward to visiting again. The plan is from Naxos to visit Iraklia, Schinoussa and Koufonissi and if we are able to - a few days on one of my other favourite islands Amorgos!
There is an Easyjet flight from Manchester that is scheduled to arrive on Santorini at 13.50 and the last ferry of the day to Naxos leaves at 15.30. If the flight is on time we should be able to make this easily. Just to prevent a little bit of the faff, we pre booked and pre paid 40 euros for a taxi to pick us up and take us straight to the port. I phoned their office to stress the importance of the taxi being on time as we had a ferry to catch at 15.30. No problem! Haha!
Thankfully the flight was on time and gave me a bit of confidence that we would easily catch the ferry. As we start heading over the coast of mainland Greece I began to get my bearings and recognise that we are flying just west of Halkidiki - I can see the three fingers very clearly and the peak of Mount Athos jutting out in the distance. Not a very clear photo however.
Does anyone else play Spot the Island from their window seat? I'm such an anorak!
Paros with Antiparos in the foreground
As we came into land on Santorini, my window seat offered spectacular views over the caldera and volcano!
Passport control was a breeze. All we have to do is get into the waiting taxi and head off to the port, buy our ferry tickets and Bob's your uncle!
As we exited the airport we were pleased to see a taxi driver holding up a card with our name. He told us to wait whilst he tracked down another couple but so far it's looking promising. The other couple arrived and the taxi driver (who had had his phone glued to his ear since we saw him) was frantically making call after call - I'm assuming to find out where the other taxi was. After 15 minutes of this, us and the other couple were getting a bit irritated - the only words we could get out of the taxi driver was "wait".
After another 5 minutes of this he told us to wait and another taxi would be arrive shortly to take us to the port. The other couple were staying on Santorini - but we had a ferry to catch but in his wisdom he decides to take them as a priority - not very happy!
After another 20 minutes we realise that the taxi isn't going to arrive so we had to make a judgement call and decided to take one of the taxi's from the stand. We were now under great time pressure to get to the port. The taxi driver understands our plight and takes those bad boy bends down to the port like he's on a life saving mission!
As we get out of the taxi the Blue Star Delos was already arriving into port. The queue for the ticket office was really long with least another 20 people queuing to purchase tickets. The temperature is quite high at this point - and so are my stress levels!
After 25 minutes in the queue Peter comes back with the tickets and we make our way towards the "cattle shed" to join the queue - I say queue - it's more of a disorganised crowd moving vaguely in the same direction. Getting off the ferry are hoards of people - thank God we're going in the opposite direction!
The sheer relief when I eventually make it under the shade of the cattle shed! Back out into the searing heat again as we head towards the BS Delos but before long we are dumping our luggage on the car deck and making our way up to the top deck. Now I can relax!
With a cup of tea in hand I can now admire the amazing views of Santorini from a distance - just how I like it!
I enjoyed the 2 hour journey but can't wait to unpack and get that first glass of wine in my hand.
We had booked 4 nights at Panorama in the town just below the Kastro. I'd booked directly with them saving a few euros off the Booking.com price. A couple of friendly email exchanges with Irene confirmed that Marcos would be waiting for us at the port when we arrived.
As we arrived at Naxos port we could see Panorama from the deck.
Down to the car deck we head - this is one of the most exciting parts of ferry travel - the anticipation of what this island and this trip has to bring. We disembark and look around for a sign saying Panorama. We couldn't see Marcos so after a while we decided to head straight up to Panorma - we kind of know roughly where it is but there is a chance we will get lost in the winding streets.
And we do! We keep trying to reposition ourselves so that we are heading towards the Kastro. It's hot, it's all up hill and my suitcase weighs a ton! After a few wrong turns we eventually find ourselves at the steps of Panorama. Coming up another set of steps is an out of breath Marcos who had been searching the whole of the port area for us!
After a nice welcome drink we are shown our room. Marcos is very informative and helpful. There is a little shared balcony outside our room and a huge roof terrace with amazing views over the port.
Irene had promised me a room with a good view and look what we got! Amazing!
We're shower and change and now it's time to relax. We head up to the roof terrace to watch the sun set. We can see groups of people already gathering by the portara but we get a much better view here!
On our way out to eat we see Marcos who passes on regards from Irene who wishes us an enjoyable stay. He also tells us about the cultural shows that take place in the Kastro. If we want to go to any of them he can get discounted tickets for us - brilliant!
Starvation has now hit us to we have a quick wander around streets below the Kastro before deciding to eat at Metaxi Mas, a little taverna sitting on one of the pretty little streets.
We have olive tapanade, Greek salad and garlic sauce with some nice crusty bread to start. I have Greek sauasage and Peter has sardines. I don't know whether it's exhaustion, elation at finally being here or starvation but we actually don't take photographs of this meal - we just relish it - our first Greek meal of the holiday. Oh it's so good to be back!