Midsummer Night's Dreaming on Naxos

Midsummer Night’s Dreaming on Naxos

What is it about this island that leads you to wild daydreaming? On a private patch of sand, looking out over the turquoise coastal waters of the Aegean, your thoughts creep silently out with the tide before you notice your mind is adrift. They say that Theseus, after escaping the Minotaur, abandoned Ariadne on Naxos while she slept on the sand. Or did she dream her dreary soldier away and summon Dionysus, the god of wine and ecstasy, in his place? Careful what you wish for on Naxos; Poseidon might be listening.

Turquoise waters of the Aegean off of Naxos, Greece

Turquoise waters of the Aegean off of Naxos, Greece

The beach is so narrow, no one’s footsteps last for long in Naxos Town, and the interior is a tangle of whitewashed passages, staircases and false turns designed for getting lost. Where is Ariadne now, with her spool of thread, to help you find your way back through the labyrinth?

Naxos, Greece

Naxos, Greece

Fortunately, Despina had a better idea, leaving a trail of little blue arrows for you to follow from the docks up the hillside through the old town to your guesthouse. Despina, who looks and acts like a grandmother now, though the sign bearing her name depicts a lusty mermaid languishing on the rocks. Despina, who has lived on this island since she was a girl, and whose eyes still glint in the sun like silver fish. Despina, whose name means an imaginative and fanciful dreamer, deeply permeable, like these whitewashed walls, to the changing atmosphere around her.

The view at sunset after sunset from Despina's rooftop

The view at sunset after sunset from Despina’s rooftop

Make your way up the hillside, past the traditional bakery that drugs you each morning with the aroma coming from its wood fired oven. Ascend the staircase to Despina’s rooftop for another sunset. How long have you been here? What shape was the moon when you first arrived? It’s a growing crescent now.