Friday, December 20, 2013

Exploring Naoussa

After settling in at Stelia Mare, we headed out to explore the village. We were nervous. Before confirming our room with Stelia Mare, we'd quizzed Georgia on environment for the walk to town. Now was the test. Had we been misled again? Although I have to say that we experienced the nicest, friendliest culture in all of Europe in Greece. Even in crowded Athens. Almost every person we met went out of their way to be helpful and friendly. Time and time again we encountered gracious, friendly, gregarious, relaxed people. And our short walk into Naoussa confirmed that the village lived up to our hotel - all fabulous. We were there in mid-May, which we heard time and time again was the absolute ideal time. Complete accident on our part as we didn't even take tourist season into account - we just planned a trip over our anniversary and my birthday. The businesses and restaurants were open for the most part, yet the crowds were manageable. Naoussa is a small village, but there were enough tourists to keep it vibrant and interesting while not being so crowded that we couldn't get tables at restaurants or casually stroll the tiny lanes (with our stroller). Quite literally, every business owner we met in Naoussa, from our hotel manager to restaurant owners to shop owners, told us that we were there at the best time and that the village is not fun from June through August. While they expressed gratitude for the business during those times, they were still dreading it. Vacation saved!

We ate at this restaurant twice - Best.Grape.Leaves.Ever.
Those smiles are not just for the camera - we are really that happy!
Naoussa was just stunning. The Old Town is pedestrian only, and unlike some of the other islands (like Mykonos), business deliveries are limited to the night hours. Not once did we have to dodge a car or moped - what a relief for us coming from Naples! All whitewashed/blue trimmed buildings, stone lanes, bougainvillea, cats...everything off of the Greece postcard was part of our daily life for one, brief week. The restaurants were truly wonderful, and remember how I said that Naoussa is popular with the French tourists? Well guess what that means...shops filled with unique, beautiful things. All of this marvelousness leads down to a short walkway along the harbor, complete with the picturesque fishing boats and men working their nets. We spent our days either exploring the island or sitting on the beach and our late afternoons walking the lanes of Naoussa, shopping or just enjoying the evening, then settling in at a restaurant for a delicious dinner before retiring to Stelia Mare, where we'd put La Bimba to bed before sitting on our balcony and enjoying the restocked decanter of raki. Yep, Happy Place.

Nathan captioned this one: "White Wonderland of Naoussa"

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