Last week I had the extremely good fortune of celebrating my 28th birthday on Naxos. Well technically off Naxos, on a boat. Naxos is a large island in the Cyclades area of the Greek Islands and only a short ferry ride from Paros.
There are many sailing day trips that leave from the port and head to the Rina Cave and the small island of Koufonisia south-east of Naxos. I absolutely do not recommend the company we went with (Naxos Sailing Tours), the owner George will say anything to get you onto a boat which is standard but we ended up on one that had none of the advertised features. I’m talking about stuff like wifi, a GoPro, a disc with photos and footage from the day, swimming shoes etc. Now we obviously have our own GoPro and can go a day without wifi but I don’t appreciate paying the same amount for a no frills boat.
Also, George told us to be at the port at 8:20am and we didn’t end up leaving for well over an hour. It was as though George had called up his mate that morning saying he had overfill and needed a second boat. Totally disorganised. His mate was also the only sailor on our boat, so Andrew had to help sail which he wanted to do anyway but not to the extent that he wanted to be rudely screamed at in English and Greek. It was kind of horrifying to watch. At one point we became stuck in a small port and Andrew and another man on the boat were asked to dive underneath to untangle the propeller and unhook debris from the anchor. I think that goes a bit beyond the call of duty.
As frustrating as it was Andrew suggested we just try to enjoy the day and not dwell on complaining when we got back to dry land because it would put a dampener on our evening. So we didn’t. For the most part, it was a good day. Obviously I wore my most nautical outfit for the occasion.
The water is pretty rough when you first leave the port and pass the headland, but then it was smooth sailing for a while. I went and sat on the bow and it was magic.
We were lucky to have the whole deck to ourselves. There was only one other group on the boat (a lovely family from Russia) and they stayed in the seats at the stern.
Obviously we took a million photos in the ‘sailor looking out to sea’ pose.
Our first stop was the Rina Cave.
Turns out it’s not very big, so we explored around the outside as well, trying to avoid sea urchins.
I challenged Andrew to dive down and retrieve some goggles off the ocean floor, it was probably about 5 metres down. He nailed it, easily.
After the cave we pulled into a small bay to get lunch.
We were strongly encouraged to go to a certain restaurant. No doubt belonging to a mate of George’s.
It seemed pretty authentic though and we had our first BBQ lamb in Greece. Also the cheese on the Greek salad was next level amazing.
After lunch we headed back down to the beach and by that point the wind had really picked up.
After a quick dip we got back on the boat.
It was Andrew’s job to raise the anchor (it’s electronic) and it was at this point that we discovered we were caught and the sub-marine untangling jobs were carried out.
Unfortunately the wind and swell were too extreme to go to Koufonisia, but having been scarred by the rough seas on our San Blas Islands tour I was happy not to risk it!
The last stretch of our journey, just before the port, was pretty hairy. But because of our aforementioned San Blas trip I think I was immune to how bad it was. The mother of the Russian family was quite shaken though.
We reached the port as the sun was dipping low in the sky and after Andrew was yelled at a final time for some anchor/rope related issue we were finally back on dry land.
That night we headed out for an absolutely phenomenal meal (a gift from my sister!) that made up for the boat trip. We went to Nostimon Hellas which states it does ‘creative Mediterranean and Greek’. We had dolmades stuffed with octopus, then I had fresh grilled prawns and Andrew had fish stuffed with eggplant. It was all super fresh, excellent quality and delicious. Unfortunately because it was quite dark I couldn’t get good photos of the food. Using flash photography is the best way to make food look hideous.
Oh we also ordered a litre of rose:
After our meal this hilariously weird ‘happy birthday’ song started playing and three staff members danced the entire way around the restaurant and then delivered a piece of cake to our table. Because they danced right past us at first so I assumed it was someone else’s birthday as well, but apparently that was their plan to throw me off! It worked.
Then of course the entire restaurant sang happy birthday to me which is always lovely if not slightly embarrassing.
One of my best birthdays to date! Oh and even though it wasn’t George’s birthday I left him a ‘gift’ on Tripadvisor 😉