I was really hesitant to write about these islands because I wanted to keep them all to myself! But, I am afraid that the word is already out about the absolute beauty of them so here is my contribution on our visit there.
If there was ever a place to kick back and totally relax this, is it! From the moment you disembark in the port town of Parikia, you begin to unwind and get into low gear. A lively port with one café after another as far as you can see, plus the Old Town where you can meander up and down stone streets and browse or buy in the various shops offering clothes, jewelry, household goods, souvenirs, beach wear, etc. We walked through these little streets and found ourselves climbing towards the fortress but as we looked up the stairs to get to the gate, we decided “enough for us retired folks!”. A number of travel offices here give you choices for next stops in the Aegean or back to the mainland. Word of caution: both going and from Paros, we had to wait about five hours for the ferry after its original departure time! Worker strikes spring up when you least expect them!
We drove to our hotel about 15 minutes away from the port, just outside the town of Naoussa. Right on the water, a beautiful setting of whitewashed townhomes with balconies and a gorgeous pool surrounded by the bar and outside dining area completed the serenity we felt when we first got to the island. Speaking of whitewashed, it seems that this is the favorite color here (almost everywhere in Greece in fact!). Coupled with the “Greek” blue doors and windows, often tables and chairs in the tavernas too, it is indeed the images you see of Greece when on social media or when doing your own online search, or in the myriad of books and magazine articles about this truly “Blue” country – blue sky, blue waters, blue décor! Couples with the white light of Greece – magical! We ate here often down by the port watching the people strolling by and hearing the boats bumping and squeaking along the pier.
Paros was on our bucket list of islands to visit but when childhood friends reached out to me on social media saying that they would be visiting here this summer, it made it more of a definite decision. Our first night, with one of the brothers and his family, was at a small but elegant restaurant in a tiny port about half an hour away from our hotel going south. Unbelievable that I can see my friend again after 35 years in the country of our heritage! Zaf and his family sat on one side of the table and kept their conversation going, knowing that my friend and I had much to talk about – about our childhood and all the memories we shared! And then, a few days later, his brother flew in and we got together at their beautiful villa where they prepared a most delicious dinner and we talked and laughed into the night! So grateful that we were able to connect after all these years!
Speaking of day trips, we took the ferry once again in a different direction to the nearby island of Naxos. Upon arrival, we were greeted by Naxos Portara (The Great Door) – The Temple of Apollo. Named so because the temple faces the island of Delos, where it is believed the place where Apollo was born.
This island has a really terrific port – a long line of restaurants hugging the shoreline, a great strand for strolling and tons of shops! It’s quite pretty and a great place to sit, eat and relax. The town of Naxos is yet another beautiful place with whitewashed buildings cascading down hills…the port is alive with cafes, restaurants, shops and a magnificent view of the sea. There are amazingly beautiful beaches along roads that are dotted with pretty towns and ancient ruins to be admired for their awesomeness. We are not “beach” people, we both get antsy after a bit and want to be on the move. So, we took a long drive and then enjoyed the walk through the old town and kastro and lunch at the port. Naxos, a haven for beach lovers!
Right at that tiny port in Paros, where we had our reunion dinner, a little ferry took us across to Antiparos. A really small island with a delightful port with tavernas and shops. Intertwining cobblestone streets made up the little town there and we had fun going down one street after another until we went to a street that was a dead end and we had to back out all the way down to the main road – maybe it would be a good idea to post a sign! We then drove to one end of this small island and saw the beautiful sea from several different spots and then wound back to the port for a light lunch. A great day trip from Paros for us.
Overall, our retirement plans to explore restful serene places definitely included these islands. The magic happens when you come here and look out into the deep blue sea and feel young at heart!
Retire well, Helene
Photograph of a Paros beach from The Personal Collection of Helene and Zaf
Photograph of Naxos Portara from The Personal Collection of Helene and Zaf
For more information about Greece, visit: www.travelguide.com