Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Wine Tasting in Temecula, CA, a Cool Sunset Cruise and it's time for some Football! October 19-22, 2023

Well, I'll start off with a little sob story.   I have a group of girlfriends with whom I get together to chat quite regularly, one of which is a very experienced blogger.  As I had taken some rather lovely trips and had written some rather well thought out blog posts lately I was hoping that my friends were getting notifications when I posted.  Anyway, with some research I discovered that not only are my "followers" not getting an email notification when I post (with the exception of my mother, who seems to get my whole blog by email), but I do not have a functional "Subscribe" button anywhere on my blog.  So no one can follow me.  Actually the "Follow" button just puts my blog into a reading list on blogspot or something, so if you don't go to your reading list, you don't even know I posted.  Basically, if you are my friend on Facebook, you get to see my blog because I post to Facebook, but you can't subscribe.

Anyway, the long and short of it is that it needs a complete overhaul.  I write this post about my recent experiences in San Diego with a heavy heart realizing that most of this hard work has just been for me.  My girlfriends and I were going to get together and have a "tech summit," with the plan of my getting back on track.  It's too far gone--I am hoping for a morning soon with my friend that we can just grind through my issues.  I may need a whole new platform.

Also really need a new name and a new vision.  My current name does not reflect my current concept as now my kids are grown and hardly ever do we all go somewhere together, and the whole goal is not sticking to a budget.  Anyone have creative thoughts??  FB message me--as you FB friends are the only one seeing this apparently 😭😞😞

OK sick of my whining yet.

I was lucky enough to spend last weekend in just about my favorite city, San Diego!!! We go here a fair amount.  My daughter was in school here until May 2022, and my brother in law lives here, so we always have somewhere to stay and someone to see, but we had not visited since May of 2022, when my daughter graduated.  We thought it was time to make another visit so three of us (me, my husband, and my oldest daughter) decided to make a three day four night trek down there.  Whenever you go to a city you have visited many times, finding new things to do can be a challenge.  This time we took a day to go wine tasting in the Temecula Valley, hopped aboard a sunset cruise, and cheered on our favorite football team in a Pacific Beach bar/restaurant.


Temecula, or more accurately the Temecula Valley, as Temecula is a town and Temecula Valley is a wine tasting region, is about an hour drive from the coastal cities of San Diego.  Interestingly, Temecula is actually closer to some of the eastern cities of what I consider to be the LA area, such as Riverside.  It is also considerably hotter in the Temecula Valley than on the coast so bring your water and dress for warm temperatures.

There are nearly 50 wineries in the region, all for the most part within a reasonable distance from each other.  All charge a pretty significant tasting fee now-remember the days when you could taste wine for free?--ranging in usually the 25-30$ range for about 5-6 pours, which are chosen off a fairly extensive menu.  Though of course I wish tasting was free again, I do notice that in these paid settings you usually get a little better attention than you would with the free tastings.  Pours tend to be more generous and you might even get a table and a personal server.  Often if something is open, the server will go "off menu" and pour you a little extra something.  We find that with these substantial pours, a group of 3 or so (probably easier if you are family) can pretty much try most of what is offered on a menu simply by switching glasses with each other.  If you are not much of a wine drinker, or are even deemed by some to be a "lightweight" it is also possible to share a tasting, so the 5-6 tastes are consumed by two people from one glass, same price.

Many of the wineries in the Temecula Valley are lavish estates, many offering restaurants, spas, extensive gift shops and sometimes even hotel rooms.  Very few require reservations, and most are open from about 11 until 5 or 6 or sometimes later depending on the day of the week. Because of the presence of served food on the premises, many wineries will not let you bring your own picnic, so just be aware.  Really the best thing is to find yourself a nice map on the internet, maybe like this one, do some internet research, and get yourself a little game plan.  

We visited three wineries.  Gone are the days of visiting like five or six in a day.  Really with the pours and the fees and the driving, kiddos, it's impossible.


35960 Rancho California Road

Wilson Creek is fabulous!  This is where we started our day and the only winery to which we returned following our first visit to the Temecula Valley late in 2021.  Tasting is $25 for 6 pours.  Wilson Creek has lots of area for wine tasting in a bar type setting.  The menu is extensive and deciding on 6 to try was hard!  They have a variety of sparkling wines which can be served straight or in a champagne cocktail fashion and an abundance of tasty whites, including the cutely named "Yes, dear Chardonnay" and the Golden Jubilee.  The reds are scrumptious.  Our server, John, kept pulling out more and more options--Barbera, Grenache, Mourvedre, Tempranillo, Petite Sirah, Malbec.  And if you are ready for dessert, there are more options, including the "Chocolate Decadence."

So much of a temptation to join the wine club here.  Oooooo, hold me back!  But at the end of the day, remembering our carry on limitations, we bought the Cab-Zin, the Grenache, and an Angelica Sherry.  Looks like we are just going to have to come back...

Enjoying ourselves at Wilson Creek!!


35055 Via Del Ponte

The folks at Wilson Creek recommended Wiens Cellars.  The fee at Wiens is 30$ for 6 tastes.  Wiens has more of a sit down experience in which a server comes to your table with whatever you choose from the menu. The wines at Wiens were also very good.  There was a large selection of unique whites, the likes of which we don't see so much in Northern California:  Albarino, Pinot Grigio, Fiano, Vermentino, and signature white and rose blends aptly named "White Crowded" and "Pink Crowded."  The reds include a Refugio Cabernet, a Sangiovese, a Barbera, a "Merrytage," and a signature red simply known as "Crowded".  Of course these lists are not complete.  Several sparkling wines and dessert wines are also available.

Wiens had good service and good wines.  They also let us eat our picnic lunch on their grounds.  We did not buy any wine here but it would not stop us from going back.

A more relaxed sit down tasting at Wiens Cellars


36084 Summitville St,

Quite frankly, I'm not sure how we got here because it is kind of out there on the outskirts, but Chapin Family Vineyard has a deck with a lovely view on which you can enjoy your 5 tastes for 25$.  The gentleman who served us here was very pleasant, and once again, the area was not crowded.  Slightly unfortunately, by the time we got to Chapin we were getting a bit wine boggled and I sort of felt like it was hard to get through more wine at this point, so Chapin got an unfair view from us I would say.  Chapin also has some unique reds including a "Tannat," a Montepulciano, and an Aglianico.  Whites include a Fume Blanc, a Sauvignon Blanc, and other varietals unique to the region.

I highly recommend a day wine tasting in the Temecula Valley.  I can hardly wait to return!


We were looking for something to do on the water Saturday night and this little adventure popped up on TripAdvisor. Cruise San Diego runs a nightly 1 hr and 15 minute sunset cruise out of Mission Bay.  

Check in is in a little shack on Quivira Road in the Mission Bay Harbor Marina.  It is advised to be on the boat 30 minutes in advance as the best seats do fill--learned this the hard way--don't even get me started.  Alcoholic beverages are available for purchase on board as are light snacks.

The tour is scenic and pleasant.  Staying on the bay gives you a relative amount of protection from high surf or wind.  In October, with only a denim jacket, I was quite comfortable.  The staff is pleasant and informative.  

We had a nearly perfect sunset the night we went.  At 40$, it is quite a steal and a great way to spend a Saturday night, or any night for that matter.  Sportman's Seafood Fish and Chips   is a great place to pop in for some more substantial food or just a pitcher of beer before or after your cruise.

Some friends watching the boat go by!

Enjoying the cruise so far!

How's that for perfect??


Now this is something that Pacific Beach does right.  Many of the bars in the area play "host" to one football team.  When that team plays, the big screens and the audio are tuned to that game. This is definitely done for NFL teams on Sundays but we got the vibe that bars tend to do this for certain college teams as well.  

Where were we on Sunday at 1pm?  We were at Break Point, located at 945 Garnet Avenue, where the TV's were tuned to the Pittsburgh Steelers game against the Los Angeles Rams.  Black and yellow clad members of Steeler Nation snacked on pierogies and other Steeler themed menu items such as the Roethlisburger and the Pittsburger.

Fun to be in a crowd with every one cheering for the same team.  Food and drinks were tasty and the staff was attentive.  One thing I will say for this place is that you probably should get there early and get your food order in.  There came a point at which the servers ceased to take any food orders for about 30-45 min as the kitchen was too far backed up.

Anyway, the Steelers won this game, which was cause for a round of "victory beer."  Budweiser served in red solo cups, on the house.

Break Point also has bowling and I hear their college team is OSU, or at least their schedule is on their web-page.

All TV's tuned to the same game!

Well, that's that!  I won't be traveling for a bit now, but hopefully before I post again I can get my poor blog into a little better shape!!

Sunday, October 15, 2023

My Edinburgh Top Five and another Five Honorable Mentions September 2023

Well, now we have been back from Scotland for about a week and since my last post was more about drinking culture than actual Edinburgh sights, I think I owe you all a post mentioning some things to actually go and do while in Edinburgh.  So here are my FIVE must do's while in Edinburgh with an additional five honorable mentions.

1)  Take a Highlands tour.  Now literally there are like a million of them and it's a little tricky to sort through them all.  They all seem to follow about the same structure, and all the buses you see on your stops would confirm this; an early meeting on the Royal Mile followed by a scenic drive to a loch with an optional boat cruise (for an additional fee) and a return to where you left off about 12 hours later, with a few snack stops, photo opportunities and potty breaks along the way.  I happened upon a blog post that recommended the tour with a company called the Hairy Coo, which I booked through Get Your Guide.  After initially bristling at the name of the outfit-I learned that a hairy coo is simply a highland cow.  The joy of the experience is really in the journey itself, as there is nothing to "do" along the way except view the scenery, and take photographs. I would have to say that your tour guide makes or breaks your experience.  Our guide, Martin, in the full day we were with him, told us everything there was to know about Scotland, from history to economics to politics to common culture.  He did this whilst interspersing personal stories in his thick Scottish accent, leaving us positively in stitches-seriously nearly rolling on the ground at some points.  He was also quick to advise us where to eat lunch, what snacks to grab, and where the local toilets were. As mentioned above, most of these highland tours include a 90 min boat trip on a loch (mostly Loch Ness or Loch Lomond) which is not included in the price.  The ticket was about 20 pounds and what else are you going to do with the time? Also included, a stop at the Hairy Coo himself!...or herself.

Overlooking Loch Ness

The Hairy Coo herself!!

Nothing like Highlands Fish and Chips and Cider
at the Lock Inn

2)  Hike Arthur's Seat.  This trail is described in All Trails as a 2.5 mile moderately difficult loop with a 853ft elevation gain which begins and ends in Holyrood Park.  We took this trail in the mid afternoon on a Sunday.  The Salisbury Crags, which is described as one half of the loop seemed to be gated off so we just came up one side and came down the same side, which took a little over an hour.  We hiked it after spending the morning at Edinburgh Castle and then walking down the entire Royal Mile to Holyrood Park, so though difficult, it can be completed on the reserves of your energy.  We also completed the trail in sneakers, which was doable, but did get them quite dusty.  There were a lot of people on the trail, including an 80 student freshman orientation group from the University of Edinburgh.  Arthur's Seat is by far the highest point in Edinburgh and from the pinnacle the views are breathtaking.  Your can oversee Calton Hill, the Holyroodhouse Palace, Edinburgh Castle, the Meadows--basically all of Edinburgh all the way to the Firth of Forth.  It also feels pretty good later as you down your haggis or your steak pie or your fish and chips that you got some proper exercise during the day.

Made it to the top!
There are sure a lot of people up here!!

From Arthur's Seat all the way to the
Firth of Forth

From the trail with Calton Hill and the
Palace of Holyroodhouse in the foreground

3)  Find a way to learn about Scotch, and then start drinking it.  Scotch is what Scottish people drink, and it is offered everywhere with a huge variety that can get rather overwhelming if you don't have an oar to paddle through the stream.  Much in the same way that one learns about wine, what you like and do not like, one can learn about Scotch.  We came to Scotland knowing absolutely nothing about Scotch Whisky, but got a great education at The Scotch Whisky Experience.  The SWE ( I'm just going to call it that) is located at 354 Castlehill on the Royal Mile right at the exit of Edinburgh Castle and is faulted for being extremely touristy.  Well, it is touristy, but it was super educational. From 10 to 5 daily the SWE runs tours ranging from 21 to 90 pounds.  We took the Gold Tour which allowed us to taste 5 single malts from each region and a blended Scotch.  The tour takes you through an informative film, then a single tasting and instruction in how to taste, then into a very cool collection of 3384 bottles of whisky-all different!  The tour concludes as a self paced seated tasting of your remaining single malts.  There is an extensive gift shop, no surprise there.  Anyway, that last little bit is lifted directly from my last post, which was strictly about drinking.  With our new knowledge we were able to order in pubs and restaurants with some degree of authority, and we pretty much did so daily thereafter.  While still in Scotland I ordered a set of Glencairn glasses and I picked up my first bottle at Safeway (followed by my husband picking one up at Costco).  Now we are Scotch drinkers!

Putting forth our best efforts!

4)  Visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse.  Quite frankly I liked this more than Edinburgh Castle.  The Palace of Holyroodhouse is run by the Royal Collection Trust and is the official residence of the King (actually he owns it) while he is in Scotland.  Having visited both Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, also run by the RCT, it is evident that the company has a tried and true method for presenting these royal homes, from their included audio guides which keep visitors moving along to a steady pace to their classy gift shops.  Anyway, Holyrood Palace was finished in the late 1600's and is built on the same site as the ruins of Holyrood Abbey which was founded by King David in the 1200's. The place has seen a whole lot of Scottish history, including the murder of Margaret Tudor's private secretary by her looney husband, Lord Darnley.  Anyway, the Palace of Holyroodhouse is open every day except Tuesday and is located at the end of the Royal Mile next to Holyrood Park.  Why did I like it better than Edinburgh Castle, I don't know.  It's brighter, newer, less crowded, takes less time to see, and is in use by the current royal family who offer commentary on the audio tour. 

5)  The Royal Yacht Britannia.  Now this was just great!  The HMY Britannia was the Royal Yacht from 1952 until its decommission in 1997. During its exalted career, Britannia travelled nearly one million miles and visited 600 ports in 135 countries (thank you Wikipedia).  Though many cities competed for the chance to claim the Britannia follwoing her retirement, Edinburgh prevailed as the host city and the yacht was moored at Ocean Terminal in Leith--a 15 minute 2 pound tram ride from Picardy Square on the Newhaven line (there is actually only one tram line to my knowledge).  The yacht itself is delightful. The tour includes an audio tour, which again, keeps the line moving.  Yes, you can see the bridge and the engine room, but far more charming are the original quarters of the Royal Family-understated and humble yet cozy and personal, with family photos displayed on the walls and on desks.  The dining room seats 56 and is adjacent to a large living room complete with a fireplace which apparently was once home to a grand piano.  I just like Queen Elizabeth II and her history.  She was such a classy lady.  I loved seeing all the pictures of her on the yacht throughout its lifetime.

Okay now for some Honorable Mentions:

1)  Edinburgh Castle Well, it IS the focal point of Edinburgh and the oldest structure, so you best go.  There is a lot of historical info, a lot of info about the Scottish military, and of course the crown jewels of Scotland, which are alone worth queueing up for. 

Scotland's Crown Jewels are in the building on the right.
The last person to wear them was Charles II in the 1600's

2)  Stirling Castle.  More impressive IMO than Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle requires a 50 minute train ride from Edinburgh Waverly to Stirling.  Also a lot of historical info and great views.  The town is rather lame though so when you are done with the castle there is not much to do.

3)  Calton Hill.  Don't feel like the making the trek to Arthur's Seat?  Calton Hill is a short trek off of New Town at the top of Waterloo Place.  It takes pretty much zero fitness level to get up here and it affords pretty nice views of Princes Street and the city in general.  There are several monuments up here, including the National Monument of Scotland, a small copy of the Acropolis built to honor Scots who perished in the Napoleonic wars, whose development was abandoned due to lack of funds in 1829.  Calton Burial Grounds is also right there and worth a look. The beauty here really is in the exercise and the views.

Great views from Calton Hill!

4)  Tea at the Dome.   Ooooo did I really put this in honorable mention??  The Georgian Tea Room at the Dome is all class at its pinnacle.  I am not much of a tea person, but the detail and delicacy of the treats served on the three tiered tower is not unnoticed!  Located at 14 George St.  29.50 pounds per person.  Reservations a must.  Full bar, and we took advantage.  This experience cost more than many of the dinners we ate.

That's what I'm talking about!!

5)  Witchery at the Castle.  Restaurant located just outside Edinburgh Castle.  It's semi fancy and super romantic.  Service exquisite.  Wine list worth just ogling over.  When reserving you can choose from the opulent dark wood original dining room or the slightly more airy Secret Garden room.  Both are lovely. Try the Lamb Wellington for two.  Reservations required.

Our table in the Secret Garden..

Well, that's my take on things!  Thank you for reading my post!  I am going to San Diego soon and I hope to find out some new experiences to share!

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Drinking in Edinburgh, Scotland September 8 through 16, 2023

OK. Probably the first thing I have to explain is what in the world I was doing in Scotland such a very short time after my three week vacation in Greece. My daughter decided to complete the last semester of her college education at the University of Edinburgh, the choice of location largely being dependent on where she could take the very few classes she needed and get credit for them. So less than one month after returning from Greece my husband and I  accompanied our delightful daughter to Edinburgh, Scotland, where she will spend the time from September to Christmas.  

So why the crazy title of the blogpost.  Well, drinking is a huge party of Scottish culture, and you'd best know what you are doing when you get to the bar, because there is a lot to wrap your head around, and the choices are mindboggling.


A delicious flight of
single malt whisky

The spirit best associated with Scotland is Whisky.  The Americans usually call it Scotch.  The same stuff in Ireland is called Whiskey (Irish Whiskey) and in America its called bourbon.  Scotch seems to get more expensive depending on how old it is. By law, in order to be called a Scotch Whisky the liquor must mature in an oak barrel for three years and have no other ingredients besides water and caramel coloring (aside from the alcohol part I guess). Whisky can either be single malt or can be blended, the single malts being far higher quality.  Whisky can be diluted with water before drinking or can be served over ice cubes, but the far more common way of drinking it is neat and at room temperature, one to two ounces at a time (after all this stuff is at least 80 proof!) out of a special glass called a Glencairn.  Whisky is made in a distillery, as opposed to a brewery or a winery.

OK. The single malts come from a single region of which there are six: Lowland, Highland, Speyside, Campbeltown, Islands and Islay.  Each region brags its own influence over the type of whisky it produces and these differences are very noticeable.  The Speyside region, though comparatively small when compared to the larger lowlands and highlands, has by far the most extensive whisky production.  Its single malts are fruit and spice forward.  Highland single malts on the other hand are noted with heather and honey.  The Islay are extremely peat forward, due to the peat that is used to fuel the fermentation process. This makes Islay whisky taste like drinking a campfire.  Dang.  I tried it a second time just to see if I could get through it.  After the second time I said no more.  Though the Islay region is really just a speck on the map, there are nine distilleries there.

Tasting in the Collection Room
Anyway, I went to Scotland knowing absolutely nothing about Scotch Whisky.  But I got a
great education at The Scotch Whisky Experience.  The SWE ( I'm just going to call it that) is located at 354 Castlehill on the Royal Mile right at the exit of Edinburgh Castle and is faulted for being extremely touristy.  Well, it is touristy, but it was super educational. From 10 to 5 daily the SWE runs tours ranging from 21 to 90 pounds.  We took the Gold Tour which allowed us to taste 5 single malts from each region and a blended Scotch.  The tour takes you through an informative film, then a single tasting and instruction in how to taste, then into a very cool collection of 3384 bottles of whisky-all different!  The tour concludes as a self paced seated tasting of your remaining single malts.  There is an extensive gift shop, no surprise there.

I recommend it, but bring your ID!  Scotland is strict.  My 21 year old daughter was with us and forgot her ID and they would not let her drink.  That was a big bummer.

Anyway, given our new knowledge we ran a nightly ritual of getting a whisky or even a whisky flight in a variety of pubs/bars.  Most had a great selection and making a choice always proved to be a challenge.  Scotch Whisky is sipped while you relax, much in the same way one might enjoy a cigar.  Anyway, before I left Scotland I ordered a 4 pack of Glencairn glasses from Amazon which were waiting for me when I returned.  Costco has a good selection of single malts at reasonable prices.  We looked at duty free in the airport but that was good stuff and it was expensive.

A flight of Single Malt Whiskys 
served in Glencairn glasses with tasting notes 


My first Gin and Tonic was in the Heathrow airport duty free shop in 2019 and since then I am hooked!  I guess I always thought that gin was a English thing-something about being called "London Dry," but in fact, the per capita consumption of gin is higher in Edinburgh than in any other city in the UK.

Gin is just vodka with juniper flavoring, but with that juniper flavoring, believe me it tastes totally different.

In Scotland, you can really get whatever kind of gin you want in your G and T.  You just order it.  The gin comes in a glass of ice and your bottled tonic comes on the side for you to govern the strength of your libation. Nice touch.  Anyhow, the most visible gin in Edinburgh is none other than ... Edinburgh Gin, or simply EG. It's everywhere. You can visit their showroom on the west side of the castle.  Their basic gin experience is 25 pounds.  Anyway, we chose "the other guy" for a distillery tour, maybe cuz it was listed first in Rick Steves book, but we passed by their retail shop on Hanover street and decided to take a peek inside. We were floored by the variety of gin in there!  Classic London Dry, a navy strength label, a seaside label, plus oodles of flavor combos (Rhubarb and Ginger/Lemon and Jasmine/Orange Blossom and Basil), and Gin Liquors (Mulled Wine/Plum/Raspberry/Orange Blossom).  The best part, the darling girl in there let us try whatever we wanted, so we really got a great overview of what they make.  And it paid off too, cuz the next day we went back and bought three different gins, two flavored and a liquor.  So so hard to make a decision!

Tasting at the Edinburgh Gin store

The other distillery in town is Pickering's Gin, which is located about a 20 minute walk south of the Royal Mile in what used to be an Old Veterinary School.  Their Gin Jolly experience takes about one hour and costs 25 pounds which includes a welcome gin and tonic, a tour and 4 tastings.  It was good but not great.  This tour had 15 people and a very goofy guide who just seemed like he was trying too hard to be funny. The tour was interesting and informative and could have stood on its own without the corny humor.  We had to stand the entire tour-that got tiring.  Before we got to taste a lot of time was wasted as each person dipped their souvenir bottle into red wax while the samples were poured into plastic cups.  They had less gin variety as they are much newer and a smaller operation, so we basically tried all they had to offer, and it was good--but no cool flavors or liquors.  You can buy their gin at the distillery.  I did not see it in the grocery or at duty free.  We didn't buy any.  I would try the Edinburgh Gin experience. 

Anyway, I looked up what is the difference between Indian Tonic and Mediterranean Tonic.  Indian Tonic has more quinine in it and thereby is better mixer for your classic London Dry gin.  Mediterranean Tonic is lighter and is to be mixed with flavored gin and gin heavier in botanicals.  Get it?  Now ya know.


Beer is also heavily consumed in Scotland.  There are Scottish breweries, mostly craft breweries, so when we drank beer we tried to drink Scottish beer.

See! Beer is yummy in Scotland too

OK that's that!  Thank you for reading my post!  I will try to get something else written about our week in Scotland.  Here are some more pictures!

And yeah..cider is great too!
Our nightly ritual!

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Naxos August 6-10 2023

Well, I hope by now you have had a chance to read my blog post on "Some Hard and Fast Truths about Greece."  That post was very general, so I am now going to delve into some more specific areas.  I have lots to write about, and the fact of the matter is I may run out of time before heading to Scotland in a few weeks, so I want to start with the area likely least known to my readers, the island of Naxos.

Naxos, with an area of 170 square miles (about one third the size of Kauai), is the largest island in the group of islands called the Cyclades.  Naxos has a population of 19000, which shrinks to a mere 7000 in the off season winter months.  Most (8000) of the people live in the town of Naxos Chora, home to both the port and the airport. Others populate the outlying villages of Filoti, Chalki, Apiranthos, Koronos, etc.  Naxos is a 30 min plane ride from Athens or a 3.5 to 5.5 hour ferry ride from Piraeus.  Naxos is also accessible by ferry to all other Cycladic islands and Crete, with day trip accessibility to Mykonos, Santorini, and twin island Paros.

A small plane can get you from Athens to Naxos

A ferry is an option too

Prior to the beginning of researching this trip I had never heard of Naxos.  So what happened?

I had only heard of Mykonos and Santorini, really, but I knew this was not the vibe I was looking for.  (See my last blogpost).  I chose Naxos because it repeatedly came up as one of the most family friendly islands with great beaches and high marks for outdoor activities.  It had both a port and an airport and it was not too far from Athens.  You gotta pick somewhere; Naxos was it.

Getting there:  Once again, you can get to Naxos by propeller plane from Athens or by ferry.  The plane is more expensive (about 100E per person on Sky Express) but easier and far faster, and this is how we arrived.  As far as I can ascertain, planes into Naxos land about 6 times per day and only come from Athens.  The Naxos airport has one gate.  The ferry port has two berths.  At either place on arrival, there are plenty of drivers holding signs waiting to meet guests.  Our driver came from our hotel, the Naxos Colosseo Apartments.  The public bus is available, at some distance from the airport.  Given the amount of luggage we had, I am glad we did not go this route and I do not recommend it.

Getting around: We only rented a car for two days.  We came in on Sunday at noon and we were not going to have a car until Tuesday morning.  This might be a good opportunity to talk about the lay of the land.  The main town is Naxos Chora, where the harbor is.  There are not really any worthwhile beaches in town.  Beach cities, such as Agios Prokopios (where we stayed), Agia Anna, Plaka, and Mikra Vigla, are at least a 10-12 minute drive south.  Naxos has multiple inland villages up narrow and winding roads.  We needed to be back in Naxos Chora that night for a dinner reservation and again early in the morning for a catamaran cruise.  We also needed a taxi to get to dinner after the cruise at the best restaurant on the island.  Naxos has a bus route from Agios Prokopios to Naxos Town which takes about 17 minutes and costs about 2 euros and comes every 15 minutes from 730 in the morning until 2 in the morning.  Our driver told us however that the buses fill, so just because you are in line does not mean you are going to be able to get on the bus.  We were also informed that a taxi to town was about 35 euros and that we were going to need two.   Though we planned to visit the less connected areas on the days we had a car, it was pretty clear we were going to need a car the whole time we were there.  Thank God, our driver got us connected lickety split with someone who had a vehicle that could fit us (small as it was) and in just an hour, we had our own set of wheels and we were ready to roll!  Ok, so on Naxos, you really need a car.

Where to stay:  Well, we stayed in a place called the Naxos Colosseo Apartments which was a beachfront property in Agios Prokopios and the first property that pops up in Naxos on booking.com, the sight I used to book all our accommodations in Greece.  Well, this is kind of a long story but I booked a one bedroom apartment for 5 with a hot tub (which I knew was in the room).  Later I was offered a discount by a representative if a paid 30% up front, which I accepted.  Anyway, this was all fine.  The only problem is that it left me unable to write a review through booking.com.  The property is badly misrepresented.  Our room did not look anything like anything in the pictures.  Our room was like a bunker with one window and all three kids sleeping in the living room. The beachfront picture is ridiculous.  It doesn't look anything like this. I asked for another room, they didn't have one, so we made do. Now, knowing what to expect-I might even stay here again.  There is a wonderful breakfast every day, it's rolling distance to the beach, it's right smack in the middle of Agios Prokopios, and the airport/port transfer was a lifesaver.  Anyway, poke around, but I wouldn't rule it out.  You can stay in Chora but some of those guest houses are hard to find and tough to manage with your luggage.  Just a thought.  I recommend a stay in the beach towns.  

What's there to do?  Well, the beach is always a great option!  Naxos is home to some of most beautiful beaches in Greece.  We did not need to venture far from the gentle refreshing waters of Agios Prokopios, but also highly recommended are the beaches of Agia Anna, Plaka, Mikra Vigla, and Alyko (also referred to as Hawaii).  There seems to be plenty of public parking wherever you go so a car is ideal, but many of these beaches are connected on the bus line.  While many Greek beaches are pebbly, Naxos' beaches are sandy and at least Agios Prokopios have a sandy bottom.  On a windy day you can get some crud akin to sea grass in the water, but we really only saw this one day.  Remember from my last post that beaching is done a bit differently, be aware!

A gorgeous sunset on Agios Prokopios Beach

But it's pretty fun during the day too!!

If water is your thing, just about the best thing you can do is hop on a day long catamaran cruise and simply enjoy the opportunity to be on the sea and swim in the offshore crystal blue water.  There are many outfits that run such voyages, but we chose, and I highly recommend, the all day tour by Actionseaze (which I actually booked through Get Your Guide through this link)  Captain Nikolas and his first mate Bregil took us on a lovely journey north of Naxos Chora to three lovely swimming areas.  Beer and wine flowed freely throughout the day and we met darling people in our company of about 20 plus crew.  At lunch we all squished around the galley table and had the freshest moussaka and greek salad off real plates with real utensils, in a real family atmosphere.  This really ranked as just about or best day on our entire vacation.

Time to set sail!!

And there is no substitute for swimming 
in that blue water!!

Naxos has great hiking as well, and many know the best hike on the island is to the peak of Mount Zas (or Mount Zeus), the highest point in the Cyclades at 3290 feet.  There are at least two starting points, one of which will pass you by Zeus Cave, though this route, which starts in the village of Filoti, tacks on about 700 vertical feet and 1.2 miles. I say no thank you.  Far easier (did I just say that??) to start considerably higher up at the Agia Marina Chapel, where parking is available.  From this trailhead you will still climb 1300 feet over the 5km out and back.  There is little shade, but its not that hot up here, so it is more tolerable.  You will not have it to yourself.  Start early.  Bring hiking boots and water.  The last part is the toughest, but when you reach the peak you can see forever.

It's not easy!!

But reaching the top is quite satisfying!

Naxos has a Kitron Distillery in the city of Chalki, Vallindras Distillery, which is open from 10am to 10 pm.  This place was a big let down and certainly not worth making a trip for (we did not, we were coming down from Mt Zas when we visited).  The 5 minute tour and tasting are free.  There are three liquers to taste and an ouzo.  Anyway, despite the fact there were five of us, the girl poured me one half shot of each and then suggested we share the tasting!  The fifth person was literally licking the inside.  Thank you, we will take our business elsewhere....LIKE...

The Eggares Olive Press!  Located in where else but the small northern village of Eggares, the Eggares Olive Press dates back to the 1800's and is one of the country's oldest olive presses.  The delightful Spiros (who was literally like 21) took us on a very short tour.   His English was impeccable and we enjoyed the way he made jokes and poked fun at Americans.  After the short and informative tour-samples!  Lovely olives, olive oil, olive oil infused with lemon, basil, orange, chili, chocolate, olive pastes, and jams, all served over hunks of soft homemade bread.  Don't forget the honey and the cake made from the chocolate infused olive oil.  Anyway, we left here with several bags full of merchandise and left Spiros with a nice tip.  Vallindras Distillery really needs to learn from Eggares Olive Press!

Lots of happy samplers!

Where do we eat??  You have to eat on Naxos and we ate at some great tavernas!!  Axiostissa is about a 20 minute drive along winding roads south to the town of Kastraki.  There is no bus service at night to or from the restaurant.  I read in one guide book that when on Naxos, the writer made sure she made a reservation at Axiotissa every night!  Every night!  Another writer said that Axiotissa had the best food on the island.  Well, I had to see what all the hype was about.  Reservations are a must on every night of the week (we went on a Monday).  I made mine via Facebook messenger.  This was the kind of place where you wish that you wrote down everything you ate.  The food was unique for a taverna and there was plenty of choice.  The service was great and the atmosphere relaxing, almost like eating at someone's farm house.  Dinner was capped off by complimentary Rakomelo and fruit.  The cost was about 90$.  We ate in nearly 30 establishments, and Axiotissa was in our top 3 or 4 for sure.  


Incredible food!!

Running in stiff competition, however, and also on the island of Naxos is the charming
Apostolis. (Somehow this seems to be the name of a great many things on the Greek islands)  Apostolis is completely different from Axiotissa.  Apostolis is right in the middle of Naxos Chora.  You cannot take a car to the front of the restaurant, so once you have parked, you just need to be lucky enough to find it.  Apostolis has great atmosphere, with whitewashed walls and colorful lanterns under the night sky.  The area is busy!  It almost seems that there is a constant parade of people by and even through the restaurant.  Hey, this is one place that if you don't have a reservation, (mine again was made via FB Messenger) you can forget it.  The hostess told me that they were full that night and the next and half full the day after!  Anyway, at Apostolis we were first served a complimentary split pea soup.  Food here was also delicious, including a Naxian salad served in a bread bowl.  The service was friendly.  Curiously, one of the waiters here turned up serving in another restaurant on the day shift.  These kids work their tails off and they are great at what they do.  

What a cute place!

And did we mention the food is amazing??!

Anyway, I highly recommend these two restaurants.  We also enjoyed very much Nikos Restaurant in Agios Prokopios, about 5 min walk from our hotel, where we ate twice.  The restaurant is literally on the beach.  We did not have a reservation the first night but they squeezed us in.  We enjoyed it so much I walked over and made a reservation for the next night. Our table the second night was front row to the beach.   The staff was so tickled by our return that they brought us extra free desserts and a free extra half liter of wine.  Good luck resisting the adorable cats here, some of which are bold enough to jump right onto the empty table and gobble the shrimps left behind by the last diners!

A nice table at Nikos Restaurant

The Domus Festival 

There are many festivals on Naxos such as the Domus Festival which takes place at the Kastro in Naxos Chora during the months of July and August.  There are also a lot of ancient sites on Naxos such as the Temple of Apollo in Naxos Chora, the Temple of Demeter, the Kouroi of Flerio, and the Ancient Naxos Aqueduct.  Hey, we had been to Athens already.  If this is your thing, go ahead. At this point, we were saying "Greece rocks," when it came to more hot dry archeological ruins.  We hit the beach.  Windsurfing is huge on windy Naxos.  A bay full of surfers is the first thing you'll see as your plane is about to touch down.

Naxos is known for honey and cheese. Mmmmmm.

You should go.  Please, skip Santorini and go to Naxos.  You will not regret it.

I hope you enjoyed this post!  I hope I have time for another chapter before taking off for my next vacation in a little less than a week.

Okay so we did go to the Temple of Apollo..

from which the views of Naxos Town are stunning.

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