Naxos is my summer
Chicago, Manhattan, Trinita, Patousa, Cocktail, Carambola, Okay, Number One. Counted one by one, all of them bought from Dragazokatinas grocery shop at the plaza of my grandmothers’ village at Sangri, Naxos. Sitting there on the stone benches we were counting our swims. Agios Prokopis, Alyko, Mikri Vigla, Psili Ammos… my father, the more Naxian of all of us, although he wasn’t born in Naxos, carried us and our 80s swimwear on Dori, our VW beetle juice, and with Joe Dassin’s cassette in our ears, went to the beach. Until our backs were sunburnt and salt watered our skin. Endless summers there, at the belly button of Cyclades.
Naxos spoiled me. The beaches are sandy and blue. When in sixth grade went swimming with school to Schinia’s beach, I refused to go into the sea. Up to now Naxian beaches are the benchmark. In any part of the world I‘ve been to. Because of Naxos my palate is also extremely spoiled. Wherever you have fries, either offered or in a tavern, they’re always fresh and delicious.
And then in high school years friends started to arrive. All rooms filled with teenagers, camp beds, even lying on the floor up to the house’s terrace. And the adventure begins. With the joy of being the host I got to know every corner of the island. Naxos could be a tourist trap. It asks for your days and your willingness to explore., otherwise it doesn’t work. You have to walk through its authentic villages, swim alongside the endless miles of coastline, search for the crocks in every tavern and walk to the sanctuaries scattered around its soil from antiquity to the Venetian domination. Mystras of the Cyclades, as they call the island, is a bottomless well full of secrets. The whitewashed alleys of Kastro in Hora, the marble village of Apeiranthos, the emerald port of Moutsouna, the sandy dunes of Plaka, the golden sunset from Portara, all earthly materials of a precious mix in the middle of the sea.
Even today the joy lies in the passion of hospitality. At the awakening of the magical Ayiopetra retreat that rises above the Temple of Dimitra and the genuine tastes of Axiotissa in Kastraki. In the warm loaf of the oven at Apeiranthos and the orange pie of Christina in Glykia Zoi. At the atmospheric concerts of Bazaios Tower and creative Cycladic cuisine of Barozzi. In citron liqueur under the plane trees of Jazz & Blues in Hora and in the traditional distillery of Vallindras in Halki. In the homemade galaktoboureko and unbelievable meatballs of Galani in Halki. The exquisite cocktails and seafood dishes at Nissaki on the cliff of Agios Georgios and the divine sweets of the Aktaion pastry boutique. The prickly pear jam of Era and the Naxian recipe of “kalogeros” at Johnny’s Tavern.
Naxos is my summer. Is my mother and my brother. My friends and my walks. My adulthood and my books. My flavours and my music. These and thousands more. On this island you lose counting. Whether it’s dips, ice creams or just memories.