Greek Island Hopping – The Cyclades
I arrive in Paros in the dead of night on the ferry from Athens and am instantly drawn to the strip of bars and eating places lining the harbour entrance. Although it’s getting close to 11pm most are nonetheless open and I accept a pork souvlaki.
I used to be final right here almost 40 years in the past so that is an train in nostalgia and it doesn’t disappoint. Diced items of meat with salad plus just a few fries topped with yoghurt in pitta bread, washed down with a carafe of native wine, does the job.
Paros nonetheless retains its island character with no huge motels and meandering slim roads. Planning laws restrict the peak of buildings and specify white for the partitions, with a selection of solely 4 colors for the woodwork, blue being essentially the most outstanding.
The countryside is peppered with snow-white villages and blue-domed church buildings and the inhabitants is round 15,000.
Next morning I get to discover the city behind the busy harbour. It’s a labyrinth of slim lanes, too small for automobiles, with artisan boutiques surrounding the ruins of the Kastro, a small ruined tower constructed by the Venetian Duke Marco Sanudo in 1260.
The Panagia Ekatontapyliani, courting from AD 326, is definitely three distinct church buildings, surrounded by a terrific wall to guard its holy icons from pirates. The chapel of Áyios Nikólaos is an adaptation of a pagan constructing courting from the early fourth century BC whereas the remaining was constructed within the sixth century and altered after an earthquake within the eighth century. The Byzantine buildings are within the form of a Greek cross and there are apparently 100 doorways.
Half an hour to the North East is that this trendy resort with a sexy marina. It was as soon as a sleepy fishing resort however now its shores are lined with wonderful eating places and an ever-expanding variety of stylish beachside motels, cafes and bars.
As regular, the outdated city is a maze of slim, whitewashed streets however it’s value climbing as much as the church for a view over the massive Plastira Bay. There are good seashores close by.
I climb as much as Lefkes within the centre of the island, the capital of Paros through the center Ages when piracy was rife. It sits in a pure amphitheatre surrounded by ruined windmills on the skyline, its white homes tumbling down the hillside.
Nowadays it’s a sleepy little place with slim alleys house to quite a few cats. A Byzantine footpath passes by means of right here, linking each coasts, a terrific stroll you probably have the time.
Paros is understood for the purity and transparency of its marble and in classical instances provided round 70% of Greek sculpture. The historical marble mines lie simply outdoors Lefkes at Marathi and the final slabs had been quarried within the nineteenth century for Napoleon’s tomb. This was the tip of a convention that started in 3200 BC and the stone was extracted from deep galleries by the sunshine of oil lamps. Marked paths result in two large entrances which you’ll be able to discover with a torch and robust footwear.
Paros is stuffed with sandy seashores so that you’re spoilt for selection. South of Parikia, on the west coast, is Pounta, a hub for water sports activities actions, with shallow water making it superb for all ranges of windsurfing or kiteboarding.
Following the coast spherical to the opposite facet is Hrysi Akti (Golden Beach), with good swimming, windsurfing and diving operations. Further north is the engaging village of Pisso Livadi with a small harbour and engaging eating places.
Nearby is Kalogeros, a hidden cove close to Molos, which accommodates deposits of Azul, a blue rock which you pound with water and paint in your physique. Locals say that whenever you wash it off, it makes your pores and skin easy like a fish. It definitely feels good, however sadly, I leap into the ocean earlier than it’s had its correct probability to work its magic.
FLY: Wizzair has low cost flights from London Luton to Athens.
GETTING AROUND: Paros is a ferry hub so superb for island hopping. The boat from Piraeus takes round 5 hours, with Naxos lower than an hour away. Although there are restricted bus providers on the islands, a rent automotive is helpful.
STAY: Hotel Anthippi has a handful of easy rooms above the city.
Taverna Paros, within the centre of Parikia, serves good worth conventional dishes.
Piatsa, in Naoussa, serves wonderful fish.