I am on a island hopping adventure in the Cyclades. From Mykonos I go to Paros (and later to Naxos and Santorini). Click here to read part 1 of this amazing journey.
Day 4 of 15: from Mykonos to Paros
Today I leave Mykonos and my next stop is Paros. I have a pre-booked transfer from the hotel to the port and I have to wait quite some time before the ferry boat will depart. The next time I will book the transfers or a taxi myself. I do not like wasting precious time, I could have enjoyed Mykonos for another hour or 2. The waiting becomes even longer, since the ferry boat is delayed. Actually another ferry boat is being sent, since the other one is stuck somewhere. What can I do? Behave like a Greek, do not stress, have another drink and be patient! When the ferry boat finally arrives, it does so with literally a big splash; the Seajets ferry made an entrance! It quickly unloads and reloads so it can try to make up for lost time. After a comfortable boat trip of 40 minutes I arrive at Parikia in Paros.
The feeling that you get when you arrive in Paros is a bit like love at first sight. Parikia and the rest of the island is very picturesque and the atmosphere seems very relaxed and easy going. My accommodation is not in Parikia, but in Naousa and a transfer bus is waiting to take me and other passengers to our hotels. It is only a short drive, but I do have some stops before I arrive at the Kalypso hotel. Last stop actually, but not least! I chose this hotel for its name. Kalypso was a daughter of Atlas, she enchanted Odysseas with her singing and kept him a prisoner on her island. Calypso (with a C) is also the name of the expedition vessel of Jacques-Yves Cousteau one of my heroes.
The hotel is not in the centre of Naousa, but it is only a short walk and I prefer to stay somewhere quiet. However, it is located right by the sea and that means I can go for a swim whenever I please. I miss swimming in the Agean Sea so much, somehow swimming in the North Sea is not the same ;). Hotel Kalypso is lovely and the staff very friendly. I may not have sea view from my room, like I had in Mykonos, but I look out over the lovely little courtyard at the entrance. In this courtyard you can sit and relax between the bright pink and purple bougainvillea. I take a tour through the hotel and apart from a reception, it has a breakfast area, bar and a terrace outside. Between the trees I find sunbeds where I could relax for a while. But I am restless, so I grab my camera. leave the hotel and slowly walk towards the centre of Naousa.
It is late in the afternoon but not dinner time yet. It is very quiet on the streets, the Greeks must be having a siesta. I see a big church and decide to have a look. The Kimisis Theotokou church is the third biggest church on the island of Paros. Since it is located on a dominating location on a small hill, you can easily see it from every corner of Naousa. For sure it caught my eye. Outside the church on the square there is a group of people doing folk dancing. I have tried to learn Greek dancing when living in Greece, but I already trip over my own 2 feet when walking, so I gave up 😉 !
I walk into the church. Apart from 2 Greek ladies who are cleaning up, there are no visitors inside. The interior is really beautiful. I am not religious, but after having lived in Greece for almost 14 years, I learned to respect the Greek Orthodox faith (just as I respect other religions; my own religion is to “live and let live”). There is no coming in between the Greeks and their religion; they are very dedicated. It shows in this church, which is richly decorated. I ask the ladies if I can take photographs (without flash of course) and they say it is allowed. I want to remember this church, cannot tell you why, but I think it is special.
From the church I walk to the harbour through the picturesque streets with their white houses, bars, gallery shops and restaurants. I am just a few steps away from the little harbour. I mentioned that it was love at first sight when arriving in the harbour of Parikia, but when I arrive a the little harbour of Naousa I am head over heels: what a beautiful place! This is the place to be at night, the atmosphere and the setting are just amazing. It is still quiet, but slowly people start to come out and sit down on one of the many terraces for either drinks or dinner. In only 5 minutes I must have taken about 50 photographs, this harbour is photogenic. I walk towards the remains of the Venetian Castro and from there I can see little harbour in a different perspective. There is no wind at all today, which is very strange for the Cyclades and the water is like a mirror. I sit down with a drink, enjoy the view and just enjoy being here. Slowly the sun in setting and it creates a pretty picture.
After sunset I continue my walk through Naousa, which has become alive. The tourists are having dinner and I want to eat something too. But first I walk by a rental car station, where I confirm a car reservation for 2 days and I tell them I will come to pick the car up the day after tomorrow. I want to go to Antiparos and tour around the little neighbour island. Then I sit down at Mesogeios Restaurant, I am a bit tired and just want to eat something. It is busy and the restaurant is understaffed. But I already ordered and I will wait patiently for my meal. I drink a Greek Mythos beer (always a good choice) and after dinner I slowly walk back to the hotel where I chat with the lovely receptionist. Back in my room I read a bit before falling asleep.
Day 5 of 15: lazy day in Naousa!
I wake up very late: I cannot believe it! I guess I am more tired than I thought I was. I go out to get myself Greek yoghurt and fruit and decide to relax today. I am this person who keeps running around trying to see as much as I can, but I need a break. I find myself a sunbed by the hotel overlooking the sea. I have a magazine and my book to read, I listen to music on my phone and I just relax for a few hours. In between I go for a swim in the lovely warm sea and just like that it is late in the afternoon. I get dressed and walk back towards the harbour of Naousa. Before I enjoy another amazing sunset, I sit down at a pizza bar and order 2 slices of the most delicious pizza. I love the Greek food, but who can resist pizza now and then?! At the harbour I sit down again and I go back to the hotel once it is dark and I read a bit more in my book on my balcony (that way I did not just carry this book with me for nothing).
Day 6 of 15: Antiparos
The next morning I get up early to pick up the rental car. Today I want to discover Antiparos and I have to drive to Pounda (Pounta) to take the ferry boat. It departs quite often and it does not cost a lot to cross over. I am sure there is an organized excursion to this pretty island, but I prefer to do my own thing. It only takes 7 minutes to reach Antiparos. From town I drive south; what a lovely and pretty island this is! I can see why many want to stay here. It is quiet, serene and especially this time of year. After driving around for a while with stops here and there, I make my way to the famous cave complex of Antiparos.
The Cave of Antiparos is an amazing natural wonder, full of stalactites and stalagmites which form the most beautiful shapes. The cave is located on the southeastern part of the island and the lady at the counter tells me it was initially used as a refuge and then as a place of worship. At the entrance of the cave, stands the little white chapel of Agios Ioannis \Spiliotis, built in the 18th century. She also tells me that if I want to go down into the cave I have to start descending, since the cave closes at 3pm. I admire the oldest stalagmite in the cave, which is located at the entrance and estimated to be around 45 million years old. For sure you do not want to bump into it and knock it over…
I start my descend and go down 411 steps (about 100 meters). The stalagmites and stalactites are breathtaking. Upstairs and outside it is over 35 degrees Celsius today, but here in the cave the temperature is much cooler and the humidity not too bad. After a walk at the lowest point I stay for a little while to look around, but soon I have to make my way up again before the cave closes: great exercise I can tell you! More information about the cave you can find here!
After this work out I think I deserve a good lunch. I make my way down further south and stop at Peramataki Tavern where I have a lovely lunch. Most of the tables are empty, what a shame! The owner of the tavern tells me that the tour buses do not stop here anymore. Reason enough to take a rental car and explore this gem of an island yourself and have your lunch at Peramataki!
After lunch I drive to the west coast and go up north, back to town. The west coast is not that accessible. It is mountainous and rocky. I try every little road that I can turn on to (which my car does not always appreciate) to see if I can reach the coast, but no! Only in the far south and far north you can find public and accessible beaches. The rich and famous love it here on Paros and have their (holiday) homes at the west coast, which means most roads are private and closed.
I have seen a TV program on Netflix: Extraordinary Homes. A stunningly beuatiful house was built underneath the ground and I did get a glimpse on my way back to town. I cannot come close (and rightfully so) to have a look, but I can dream of staying here someday. It is the most amazing house on the most perfect location. I can understand why people fall in love with Antiparos. The locals are respectful, protect people’s privacy and that is how it should be. Anyway… in case the lovely owner of this underground house at Antiparos is reading this: I would love to house sit for a while in case your caretaker needs a break!
In town I park my car at the harbour and walk around for a while. I am enjoying my visit to this pretty island so much. I hardly see tourists and all life has a different rhythm here. Next to the Agias Marinas church a group of young Greeks are rehearsing for some kind of play, I do not want to intrude so I continue my walk and the church is closed, so I cannot look inside anyway. I get myself a drink , sit down by the harbour and at the end of the afternoon I take the ferry boat back to Paros.
I still have plenty of time left before the sun sets. I stop at Parikia and park my car below the Agios Konstantinos church. The next few hours I spend walking around and I discover that Parikia is just as photogenic as Naousa. But Parikia is the islands capital and busier; maybe more touristic. This part of Parikia (the area around the remains of the Frankish castle) is full of picturesque streets, old houses, lovely taverns, shops and churches. I am so happy that I spend my holiday here in spring! I probably mentioned it before, but all is in bloom and I see explosions of colours everywhere, even in the streets of Parikia.
I keep walking around for a while and from the Agios Konstantinos church I watch the sun set. Then I walk alongside the water, treat myself to a delicious home made gelato at the ice cream parlor with the same name (Gelato Home Made). I had a very late lunch and am not going to have dinner, but I cannot say no to an ice cream. I sit down by the water and then go back to my rental car and drive back to Naousa. What a great day today!
Day 7 of 15: touring the island by car
The next day I start my tour in the north of the island in Paros Park. Since I have a thing for lighthouses I have to visit Cape Korakas. I thought I could just leave my car outside and visit the lighthouse 😉 but you cannot get there by car. So I park at Monasteri Beach and from here various walking paths lead to the lighthouse. I advise you to wear good shoes! I am not prepared and believe me, that is not me, because Elisabeth the travel agent normally prepares for everything (well… at least for her clients). I walk on flip flops, so I take the shortest path and it takes me about 45 minutes to reach the lighthouse. I am sure the walk can be done a lot quicker, but I have to be careful not to slip and slide. The walk is great though and the natural surroundings very beautiful. The lighthouse is pretty and just like the one in Mykonos I cannot go inside, since this one is closed as well. But the walk was worth the visit for sure! I will hang a photograph of this lighthouse in my home.
Before I get back in the car to continue my day tour, I have a quick look at the Agios Ioannis church. It looks out over Monasteri Beach, which is situated in a quiet bay and makes it the perfect beach for a safe swim. Next to the church is a little history museum and at the entrance a huge parrot is sitting and nibbling on a sesame bread ring. Another visitor tells me he belongs to a tavern owner, but is free to fly around and that he always returns home. The parrot is posing for a few pictures.
I return to my car. I seriously need more time here on Paros, there is so much more to see and I would love to stick around in Paros Park for a while, but I better make a move if I want to see more of the island today. If you want to know more about Paros Park, then click here!
From Paros Park I drive to Lefkes, taking my time to get there. I stop quite often to take photographs. Now that is an advantage of travelling by myself: I can stop a 1000 times if I want to without annoying anyone ;-). Lefkes is the most mountainous village of Paros and the first capital of the island. It is pretty impressive when you walk around its beautiful narrow streets with white joints. I see old wash houses that are still used today.
While walking I hear lots of cicadas and at nightfall apparently you can hear owls as well. The village attracts many tourists during the summer months, but today it is quiet. From Lefkes you can enjoy the most wonderful view: the sea and Naxos in the background. The houses in Lefkes are built amphitheatrically. The first residents were immigrants that came from Crete and locals who chose to built their village on the mountain, in order to be protected from the pirates.
When being in Greece I follow the Greek rhythm as much as possible. That means I have lunch around 3 of 4 pm. I find myself a table at Flora Tavern from where I enjoy the most amazing view and a delicious meal. It is busy on this Sunday afternoon. I do not see any tourists, but mostly locals who are enjoying themselves. To me this a good sign: authentic food. People on Paros are so friendly and in this restaurant as well, it makes traveling on your own so much easier. I know that being able to speak, read and write Greek helps me, but still… it is the people that make you feel comfortable and welcome.
It is late in the afternoon when I finish my lunch. I decide I literally want to go to the top of Paros, to Agioi Pantes. This morning when being at Monasteri Beach I had a chat with a lovely couple from the UK and they said the mountain is an explosion of yellow from the broom bushes which are in bloom this time of year. I ask for directions at Flora Tavern and drive all the way to the top. They were right; it is absolutely stunning.
I cannot say I feel very comfortable when reaching the top and being all alone in this remote place. The huge antenna’s and satellite dishes dominate the mountain top at 770 meters and maybe this is where this uncomfortable feeling comes from or maybe from the dark clouds that are hovering over the island. But I am just being silly so I do get out of the car and walk around for a while. The little church of Agioi Pantes, that was probably built a long time before modern world arrived, is closed this time of day. I have to climb over a fence to reach it. Oops… maybe that is not allowed?! But I want to see it and from the church I admire the 360 view over the island.
From the mountain top I go down to Piso Livadi. The drive is beautiful and although a few rain drops fall along the way, the sun does its best to come out again. In Piso Livadi I park my car and walk around the harbour. If only I had a boat… but then again I would need a captain since I am clumsy and I would shipwreck it. I treat myself to a warm drink before I drive back to Naousa and I follow the east coast as far as I can.
I return my car at night before the car rental office closes. This way I do not need to hurry in the morning, since I will be leaving for Naxos tomorrow. I am not in a hurry to go back to the hotel. Naousa invites me to walk around a bit more and to enjoy another beautiful sunset. Late at night I return to the hotel and the next morning I pack my suitcase again, ready for the next destination: Naxos! One week has passed, one week to go! I love Greece, I love life in the Mediterranean… Can I move back, can I choose Paros to live?
Travel Blog by Elisabeth, One Lucky Traveller
May 21, 2018
Do you want to travel with with to Naxos? Click here for part 3 of my Cyclades travel blog.