Cyclades: Paros, Greece

Click here for part 1 of my Cyclades blog: https://oneluckytraveller.com/2018/05/17/mykonos-greece/

Day 4 of 15: from Mykonos to Paros

From Mykonos I go to 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. Mmm… next time I better organize the trip myself, I could have enjoyed Mykonos for another hour or 2. The waiting becomes even longer, since the ferry is delayed. Actually another ferry boat is being sent, since the other one is stuck somewhere. But what can I do? 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. The island is very picturesque and the atmosphere relaxed, easy going. My accommodation is not in Parikia, but in Naousa. 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. 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.

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The hotel is not in the center of Naousa, but it is only a short walk and I prefer to be staying somewhere a bit quiet. It is however situated by the sea and that means I can go for a swim whenever I please. The hotel 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 on the lovely little courtyard at the entrance. Here you can sit and relax between the bright pink and purple bougainvillea. The hotel has a breakfast area and bar and a terrace outside. Between the trees I find sunbeds and that is where I could relax for a while. But I am restless pretty quickly, so I grab my camera. leave the hotel and slowly walk to the center of Naousa.

It is late in the afternoon but not dinner time yet. It is quiet on the streets. I see a big church and walk towards. The Kimisis Theotokou church, which is the third biggest church in Paros, is dominating location on a small hill makes it easy noticeable from every corner of Naousa. For sure it caught my eye. Outside the church there is a little square and there is a group of people doing folk dancing. I have tried to learn Greek dancing, but I already trip over my own feet when walking, so I gave up 😉 ! I walk into the church; apart from two Greek ladies who are cleaning up a bit; there is nobody inside. The interior is beautiful. I am not religious, but after having lived in Greece for 14 years, I learned to respect the Greek Orthodox faith (but I respect other religions just as much; my religion is “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 need to remember this church, don’t know why, but I think it is special.

From the church I walk towards the harbour. I walk through the picturesque streets with their white houses, bars, gallery shops and restaurants. It’s only a few more steps towards the little harbour. I mentioned that it was love at first sight when arriving in 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 is just amazing. It is still quiet, but slowly people start to come out and sit down on one of the many terraces. In only 5 minutes I must have already taken about 50 photographs, this place is just amazing. I walk towards the remains of the Venetian Castro and the view on the little harbour is just amazing from here. There is no wind at all, 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 and slowly the sun in setting and creates a beautiful scenery.

Almost sunset at Naousa

After sunset I continue my walk through Naousa. The place has become alive. The tourists are ready for dinner and so am I. But first I walk by rental car station ML Rent A Car; I made a reservation online through work and I tell them I will come to pick it up the next morning. I want to go to Antiparos and to 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 and 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 something for brunch 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, grab a magazine and a book and lay down for a few hours. I go for a swim in the lovely warm sea and before I know it, it is already late in the afternoon. I walk back towards the harbour of Naousa. Before I enjoy another amazing sunset, I sit down at a pizza bar and order 2 bigs slices of yummy pizza. I love the Greek food, but who can resist pizza now and then?! At the harbour I sit down again and go back to the hotel once it is dark and I read a bit more in my book (that way I did not carry it with me for no reason).

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Day 6 of 15: Antiparos

The next morning I get up early to pick up the car. I want to discover Antiparos and I have to drive to Pounda (Pounta) to take the ferry. It departs quite often and it does not cost a lot to cross over. I am sure there is an 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 this time of year. After driving around for a while with stops here and there I make my way to the famous cave complex.

The Cave of Antiparos is an amazing natural wonder and 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 worship place. At the entrance of the cave, there is a small 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. So I take 411 steps down (about 100 meters) and admire the oldest stalagmite in the cave (located at the entrance and estimated to be around 45 million years old).

More information: https://antiparos.com/explore/antiparos-cave/

The stalagmites and stalactites are breathtaking. Up and outside it is over 35 degrees and here in the cave the temperature is much cooler and the humidity not too bad. After a walk at the lowest point I have to make my way up again: great exercise! I think I deserve a good lunch now. I make my way down south and stop at Peramataki Tavern where I have a lovely lunch. Most of the tables are empty, what a shame; the owner says the tour buses do not stop here. Reason enough to take a rental and explore this gem of an island yourself and have your lunch at Peramataki!

After lunch I drive to the west coast and will go north, back to town. The west coast is not that accessible. It is mountainous and rocky. I try every little road that I can find (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 beaches. The rich and famous love it here and have their (holiday) homes which means most roads are private and therefore closed. I have seen a TV program on Netflix: Extraordinary Homes and a stunning house was built under the ground and I did get a glimpse on my way back up. I cannot have a look, but I can dream of staying here. It is the most amazing place every. I can understand why people fall in love with this island. The locals are respectful, protect people’s privacy and that is how it should be. Anyway… in case the lovely owner of the 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. How I love being here on this pretty island. 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. 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, park my car below the Agios Konstantinos church. The next few hours I spend walking around and I discover Parikia is just as photogenic as Naousa. But Parikia is the islands capital and busier; maybe more touristic. This part of Parikia is full of beautiful streets, old houses, lovely taverns, shops and more. I am so happy to be here in spring, I probably mentioned it before, but all is in bloom and there are explosions of colours everywhere… even in the streets of Parikia. From the Agios Konstantinos church I watch the sun set. Then I walk along the waterside, treat myself to a delicious home made gelato at the ice cream parlor with the same name: Gelato Home Made 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. Now 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. From here various walking paths take you to the lighthouse. I advise to wear good shoes! I an 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 track, which took me about 45 minutes. I am sure you can do it a lot quicker, but I have to be careful not to slip and slide. The walk is great though and the surroundings very pure. The lighthouse is pretty and just like the one in Mykonos I cannot get in… but the walk was worth the visit! I will hang a picture of this lighthouse in my home for sure.

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. There is a little history museum next to the church 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; 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 to see more of the island.

https://www.parospark.com/about-the-park/

From Paros Park I drive to Lefkes, taking my time. I stop often enough for photographs (one 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. You can find old wash houses that are still used today. While walking I hear lots of cicadas and at nightfall apparently you can hear crickets and owls. The village attracts many tourists during the summer months, but today it is quiet. From Lefkes you have the most wonderful view: the sea and Naxos in the background. The houses 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 you can enjoy the most amazing view and have a great meal. It is busy on this Sunday afternoon. Hardly any tourists but mostly locals are enjoying themselves, which to me is 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. So I ask directions at Flora Tavern and drive all the way to the top. They were right; it is absolutely stunning.

Sping on top of Paros

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. The little church, 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 of 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 much as possible.

I return my car at night before the car rental closes. This way I do not need to hurry in the morning, since I will be leaving for Naxos. 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 still to go! I love Greece, I love life in the Mediterranean… can I move back… can I choose Paros?

Travel Blog by Elisabeth, One Lucky Traveller

May 21, 2018

Click here for part 3 of my Cyclades blog: https://oneluckytraveller.com/2018/05/24/naxos-greece/

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