We found our way back to the bakery. We continued walking downhill. The town is very quaint. There is a church that is closed, right in front of it a big tree. Its leaves have already started to fall. And indication that winter is around the corner. There are stores that line the main street, one was selling beautiful ceramics. There was a cafe where some tourists are having coffee break. We found ourselves at an interesting street corner. We decided to venture in.
We found ourselves in the historic center of Chalki. It was mostly lined with restaurants and it was time for us to find food. We bumped into a specialty store that sold weaved pieces. Cholo was incredibly excited. It was called Penelope’s Workshop. The workshop sells knickknacks of every kind, jewelry, and their big-ticket items woven fabrics. Penelope’s fabrics are handwoven with patterns that have been handed down for generations in her family. Cholo had an eye on one piece of woven fabric, but he had to back down because it would cost him €100.
We happened to pass by Gianni’s Taverna. The ambiance alone was amazing. We sat outside, under a canopy of grape vines. We’re glad it wasn’t raining today. Although the seats were a little damp from the downpour the previous day. The weather was cool, but you’ll feel the temperature drop further if you are in the shadows. Cholo and I shared a Chalki special of lamb stew with rice and some grilled feta cheese. It was so good. We downed it with some Coke. We spent our lunch together with a village cat.
We found ourselves in the town of Chalki, 25 minutes drive from Naxos Chora. We drove through the picturesque landscape of the Naxian hills. It was a fairly easy drive – roads were asphalted with very few cars on it. Chalki was highly recommended by Maria, the woman who served us dinner the night before at a small restaurant near our hotel in Mikri Vigla. When we entered the town, it was indeed charming. We found the designated parking lot and took it from there.We had no immediate plans on what to “see” in Chalki. I read up about it the night before, but there wasn’t much said about it except it had a few Byzantine churches. So, we decided to just walk around and see what is in store.
We started walking downhill from the parking lot. I saw a bakery and I told Cholo that I wanted to check it out and buy stuff just in case we get hungry. I bought a bar made of nuts and berries and mini croissants. We were milling around the door of the bakery when I saw a rusty billboard, the marking somewhat faded. I read it and got the jest of it. I told Cholo that there seems to be a Byzantine church along this route and he exclaimed “Let’s Go!”
Agios Georgios Diassoritis is a Byzantine church built around the 10th century. According to rumors, it was built on top of a temple dedicated to Zeus. It was a common Christian practice then to build on top of an existing place of worship to eradicate past religions. But it is but a rumor. We passed rural dirt roads (with no signs), fields of olive trees, and run down houses until we got to the Church. It’s mind boggling to realize that this church has been here since the 10th century.
The church is located in the middle of fenced farm lands. I dunno who owns the piece of land this stands on, but it’s an absolute blessing that we got to see this. According to the guide book, there are amazing frescos painted inside the church walls. Unfortunately, it was closed when we got there. I only got to see the paintings when I checked it online when I got back to the hotel. It is very serene here. You can just sit on a rock, under an olive tree and take it all in.
We also found a faded billboard showing a 6.5 km route map of a medium hiking trail that circumnavigates Chalki – interconnecting other Byzantine churches in the area. We talked to a lady “house sitting” one of the houses in front of the billboard if it is doable, she says it is IF you wear the right footwear. Alas, Cholo was only wearing strappy leather sandals and she also told us that some routes were already closed for winter. So, maybe next time.