This post is written by Katie, about her solo trip to Turkey and Greece.
Today I took the public bus to go hike Mount Zeus, the highest peak in the Cyclades.
I woke at 8am after a good, full night of sleep. I got ready, and left the hotel at 8:45am to go buy my bus ticket and some snacks for breakfast and on the trail.
I was at the bus station by 9:10am to catch the 9:30am bus to Apiranthos (the first bus of the day to Apiranthos). When the bus arrived, I was surprised to see that it was a coach and not a normal city bus. I was also surprised to see that no seats remained, so I had to stand for the 40 minute journey across mountain roads. Perhaps I should have walked to the main, port bus stop – then I likely would have gotten a seat.
12 of us exited the bus at Aghia Marina. I started off up the road we had been dropped off at, assuming that it had to be the best idea! I eventually discerned from a another woman (who was not actually hiking) that I wanted the red 2 route.
I was at the head of the group, but I became confused and wandered into a pasture thinking it was the trail. After correcting myself, I finally found the Aghia Marina church, and the trail head (marked by the first of many white signs with maps).
There was a group of 5 people at the sign, who generally seemed to be around my parents age (some older, some younger). I followed them up the trail, and started chatting with them. They were going at a comfortable pace, so I eventually introduced myself and invited myself to join them for the hike (they did not seem to mind). It seemed safer and smarter than hiking alone.
The trail to the peak was never too strenuous, and was easy to follow from Aghia Marina. It took us 2h15m from the bus to reach the peak. Most of the hike up was scenic, with fields of flowers and ever increasing views of adjacent islands.
I was amazed by how many islands cold be seen from the summit! It was truly amazing!
We decided to take a different, more strenuous, route down. This route went past a cave and ended in Foloti. The turn off was to the left after descending 5 minutes from the summit. From the start, this route was relatively easy to follow, but was very steep. It went through a canyon-like area. We finally found the cave when we were almost to the valley, and put our headlamps on to explore it for a short while. It was somewhat creepy in the cave, as there were random sharp drop-offs and the dripping water made strange sounds. There was an arrow in the cave pointing to the left, but we decided not to explore. On a different note, this cave is supposedly one of the possible birth places of the Greek God Zeus.
We walked about 20 more minutes until we reached a road. We followed this road for about 30 minutes until we were in Foloti.
Walking on the road – both in the cities and in the mountains – is always concerning. The locals drive with abandon at high speeds, passing at questionable points.
There were many springs on the mountain that are supposedly safe to drink. I drank the tap water on Naxos with no problems.
Once in Foloti, John, Jenny, Riota, and I found Peter and Carol at a taverna. They invited me to join them for lunch, and I agreed. We enjoyed two pitchers of local wine (just 3 euros each) as well as Greek salads, pizza, and bread. We each put in 10 euros for the feast.
We caught the 4:30pm local bus back to Naxos port. I had bought a return ticket that morning at the supermarket, but it ended up being a bit more expensive than if I had bought it at the kiosk in Foloti. Oh well.
The bus back was standing room only again, but I had a seat this time. Once back at Naxos port, I parted ways with my friends for the day and headed up to the Temple of Apollo.
The Temple of Apollo is right by the port. I chilled up there for a while before walking back to my hotel. I rested there for a while before heading back to the port to pick up my online reservation ferry ticket from a travel agent (I went to Passenger Travel) and then head to watch the sunset from the Temple of Apollo.
I found a good perch and chilled for 40 minutes. The sunset was nice, but nothing amazing. I do feel there is something about watching sunsets (and sunrises) that connects us with nature. Personally I only watch sunsets (and sunrises) while on vacation and while camping – I never take the time to watch them in my everyday life. Maybe I should change this!
After sunset I went back to the hotel to make grilled cheese and plan out my next day. I had hoped to find some postcards with Mount Zeus on them to send to family, but I found none despite visiting about 5 different shops with postcards. I did stop at the 5′ Market near the hotel to grab some juice, and the family working there was so sweet once again. It’s one of those business you really want to succeed.