Monday, May 19, 2008

Holiday in Paros

This was our fourth holiday on the Greek Islands, having previously been to Skiathos twice and Zakynthos once. We arrived on Saturday 12th August after an eventful 36 hour journey which will no doubt be a long running saga between the tour operators and ourselves. BE AWARE - HIGH WINDS IN AUGUST SOMETIMES STOP HIGH SPEED AND SMALL FERRIES !

However, once on the island of Paros it was everything we hoped it would be. We were actually grateful for the high winds referred to above because in the fortnight we were there we did not see a single cloud and the wind helped to keep the temperatures to a comfortable level.

We stayed in the Zefi apartments on the outskirts of Naoussa which is on the north of the island. Zefi - a family (all of whom made us most welcome - no doubt we will return !) run business run by Zefi (Mamma) a charming lady - who speaks virtually no English - her husband Babis (excuse the spelling) and their three offspring Christos, Yannis and Elleni (whose English is superb). Last but not least - Theodore - what a character, a wonderful dry sense of humour and a most helpful guy.

Enough of the advertisements, what about the island ?


There was no problem whatsoever in finding quiet sandy beaches even in high season, some within 5 minutes walking distance and others accessible by bus either from Naoussa or Paroikia the capital. This beach at Santa Maria - unspoilt, you can get sunbeds & umbrellas, although what few people we saw preferred to do their own thing; no tavernas on the beach so take your own food & drink unless you want a 3 minute stroll to the nearest cafe. This picture was taken about mid-day in the middle of August with Naoussa in the background.

This beach at Farangas on the south of the island close to Alykes, reached by car down a short dusty track. There’s a delightful little taverna on the beach where we sat and enjoyed a delicious cafe frappe before going for a swim. The high winds did mean that once or twice people on the beach were sand blasted, but a small price to pay for a beautiful setting.

We tried a number of beaches, each of which were charming in their own way but two we particularly liked were :

Ampelas - on the north east of the island, sandy beach,tavernas & charming little harbour.

Piso Livadi - a lot busier but well worth a mention if only for the fact that there is a free car park immediately by the beach and numerous tavernas.

Moving inland.

We attempted to get to the monastery of Agios Antonios at Marpissa, but after driving up a steep winding road for approx. one mile we found ourselves some 300 metres short of the monastery - which we would have to do on foot. I’m embarrassed to say that we just could not face this steep climb, but we did enjoy the panoramic views and marvelled at how the monks manage this journey on a regular basis. Driving further inland we came to the beautiful village of Lefkes with the classic method of cultivation, using terraces just outside the village. A short distance from Lefkes is Kostos, where we stopped for lunch. An idyllic setting on the side of the main road, the taverna being populated with many trees offering shade and a deafening chorus from the crickets when the wind wasn’t blowing. Having perused the menu for five minutes we finally decided what we wanted, only to be told by the lady of the house that there was only a limited menu at lunchtimes ! Oh well - what we had was delicious and the setting was superb.

The towns.

Oh how we fell in love with the maze of little alleyways devoid of cars in both Paroikia and Naoussa. I don’t think we ever found the same way to a particular shop or restaurant twice, but that’s what made it more fun, because we kept finding a NEW shop or restaurant. Each day would find another local inhabitant painting the gaps between the slabs in the alleyways adding further brilliance to the dazzling white of the towns.

Eating out

So many places to choose from each night, each with their own style.

Whilst eating in Naoussa did we want to :

a) sit in the midst of Naoussa and watch the whole world go by, marvel at the street acrobat and his daughter performing, watch the local artists at work.

b) sit in a restaurant with the drying squid as a backdrop

c) sit somewhere quiet and relaxing listening to simple Greek music

d) sit at a table on the beach or by the harbour watching the sun go down (Shirley Valentine style)

We did them all but for c) we’d recommend Pervolaria and for d) we’d recommend Mitsi or Meltemi, but for me nothing beats watching the sun go down in Greece.

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