Monday, July 16, 2018

Our Heavenly Hellenic Honeymoon: Part Four: Paros

The final stop on our journey was at the recommendation of Lenni's parents. The island of Paros had been their happy place during the earliest days of their relationship and we couldn't say no to their romantic descriptions of private coves and traditional Greek island life.

Parikia, Paros ended up being our favorite place that we honeymooned. It has been challenging to gather the words to accurately illustrate our experience. As we stepped onto a 600 person boat with only about 50 other passengers, we knew we were about to experience something much more personalized than the touristic island life that we had left behind on Santorini and Mykonos.

Our AirBNB
This traditional blue and white bougainvillea draped home was just the right place to end our trip. Our AirBnB hostess made arrangements to have us picked up from the ferry, although it was only a 5-7 minute walk from the harbor. Almost immediately, we realized that this home was in the best possible location: 3 minute walk to beachfront and 2 minute walk from the main restaurant and shopping strip in the center of the traditional town of Parikia.

With two bedrooms and a full kitchen, the space was almost too much for us. We decided that we would be remiss to not at least cook our own breakfast in this beautiful space, so we made a short walk to the grocery store. Making our own meal in this home sounds forgettable, but it was a highlight of our stay. The windows, balconies, and decor had us daydreaming about what it might be like to leave our home in Boston and put down roots in Paros.

Must- Dos
The best advice we can give you when traveling to this beautiful island is the same advice Lenni's parents gave to us. Pick up on the slow pace of this stunning island, revel in its beauty, listen to the water and relax in the sand. Talk to locals as you wander in and out of the beautiful shops. Have a true Greek experience with no frills.

Beaches and Sunsets
If you are at the harbor with the ferries behind you, take a left
and follow the road along the beach. Walk past the tavernas directly on the beach until you hit a narrow and rocky "goat path" (pictured here in Lenni's father's map!). Stick to this uphill hike for about 20-30 minutes and as you descend you will come along a less populated beach with the clearest water. Here there are also a few restaurants with sunbeds if you prefer that style. For more privacy, continue past this beach back up the dirt path to discover a series of secret coves and smaller beaches for the clearest waters and an intimate swimming experience- these beaches put Mykonos beaches to shame!

Use the beach by the Harbor as your sunset point. Eat dinner at any of these waterfront restaurants (most of the food in Parikia is homecooked and traditional style), grab a drink at the windmill bar, or just sit on the rocks directly in front of the water for the brightest, reddest sunset descending behind distant rocks and ruins.

Wander in and out of the artist's shops. It is not a very long stretch- we went into every single shop. Life is at a much slower pace here. You will find that some stores close in the afternoon for a few hours before reopening in the evenings. Most of the clothing and jewelry designers and artists are the shop owners. They love talking with tourists about their hand-made merchandise. We were so enchanted by the authentic goods and ended up doing most of our souvenir shopping in Parikia. We also found that the vendors were grateful to an endearing point, which in turn made us feel great about our spending!

Quick Tip: Everything is cheaper on Paros! If you are buying souvenirs or plan to go shopping, do it on an island like this!  Also, you'll find that a typical lunch or breakfast with coffees and fresh juice or smoothies was only about 15-20 euros for two people and dinner never cost us more than 30 euros for two...about half the price of Mykonos and Santorini.

If you are lucky, you may also find yourself in the middle of a free traditional music event performed by locals of all ages!

There are some historic sites to see, including the Paros Archaeological Museum, most famous for its statue of Gorgo (Medusa), and many haunting headstones. This museum is small but worth a look.

Nearby, you'll find the enormous the Church of Panagia Ekatontapilian, which houses the Byzantine Museum. In the middle of the main hub are the stacked remains of the Frankish Castle. There is no guide or tour needed for these sites. Just relax and enjoy!

After three perfect sunsets, we left the final destination of our Greek experience feeling satisfied with our Hellenic Honeymoon. Paros was the cherry on top of an ideal and decadent dessert! Although there were other areas on Paros that we could have bused over to visit (the very hip Naoussa and the quaint traditional mountain town of Lefkes are on our list for next time!), we could not get enough of Parikia and made it our own. This intimate experience allowed us to leave feeling as if we were taking a piece of Greek island life home with us.

Paros, we will be back for you. Until then, we daydream about your quiet and humble majesty.

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