Europe: Paros, Greece

Paros, Greece

September 16-18, 2013

Recovery: After a whirlwind weekend in Istanbul with my cousin Dante and friend Tina, I arrived in Paros, Greece. Still recovering from the weekend festivities, I could barely keep my eyes open. However, I do remember seeing the sun rise over the islands through the tiny window of the plane. It was one of the most beautiful and exciting sun rises I had ever seen… I was en route to the Greek islands!

Sunrise over the Greek Islands

Sunrise over the Greek Islands

I was greeted by paradise when I arrived at Minois Village (http://4sq.com/1amfNew). The hotel grounds were gorgeous. A sense of calmness took over me as Loanna, the hotel manager, gave us the tour of the property. I highly recommended the hotel if you plan on visiting Paros. It is located about 10 mins from the main town, Parikia, and about 10 mins from the airport. Also, Parasporos Beach is about a 5 minute walk from the hotel, so the location is perfect!

Minois Village

Minois Village

Relaxing in the fresh salt water pool

Relaxing in the fresh salt water pool

After a delicious traditional Greek breakfast served at the hotel, the hotel driver will take you to Parikia or you can arrange for a taxi which is about 8 euros/each way. Parikia is a very cute, traditional Cycladic town with narrow cobblestone paths, old churches, white houses, blue doors and windows, and of course, colorful flowers. Walking through town and getting ‘lost’ within the streets was my favorite thing ‘to-do’ in Paros. It was lovely and, honestly, quite refreshing after such an intense weekend in Istanbul. I really needed the alone time.
Tip: Beware of the cats! If you’re allergic, brings lots of Claritin or Zyrtec, they’re everywhere!
The Streets of Paros

The Streets of Paros

Churches of Paros

Churches of Paros

Church in Parikia along the waterside

Church in Parikia along the waterside

House in Parikia, Paros

House in Parikia, Paros

After settling into the hotel, I relaxed and soaked in the sun at Parasporos Beach and had my first real Greek salad on a real Greek beach! Later that evening, I walked through Parikia and had dinner at Levantis (http://4sq.com/1ggEJfW). Again, highly recommended! I usually do not eat meat but I had the lamb because the nice gentleman from Holland recommended it. He and his wife had been there for about a week and said Levantis was the best restaurant in town. The restaurant is hidden off the main tourist streets of Parikia.
Tip: There will always be the restaurants with the flashy pictures where the waiters try to convince you to come inside, but those places are a tourist trap (in any country)! I personally love finding the hidden gems and Levantis was just that! As I mentioned before, use Foursquare’s Explore feature to find restaurants in a foreign country. It has never failed me!
Parasporos Beach

Parasporos Beach

I'm in Greece!

I’m in Greece!

Tip: there is a charge to use the lounge chairs and umbrellas at the beach, but if you order from the bar first you can avoid the fee.
By the end of the first day, I started developing symptoms of the cold, flu, whatever I caught from my cousin (he was really sick when we first left the U.S.) and I am sure going out in Istanbul didn’t help, along with the food poisoning. I felt as if I was on my death bed! I never thought I would have to call American Express’s Global Assist, but I did and I didn’t even have enough energy to stay on the phone with them.
Tip: You do not need a prescription to get antibiotics in Greece. Unfortunately, I didn’t find that out until a week later.
Luckily, the next morning, the hotel staff was very helpful – they felt like family telling me what to buy at the pharmacy. One of the girls even gave me her cough drops to help soothe the irritation in my throat. Day 2 was a struggle, but Panagotis (the driver) took me into town and I headed straight to the pharmacy (and to visit the Church of 100 Doors).
Sometimes the bad things that happen to us put us directly in the path to the greatest moments in life.
You have to let yourself be open to those experiences. I always try to find the good in every bad experience. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. Whether it be a bad breakup, an injury (I have had plenty of those), a layoff… when one door closes, another will open. You can either cry and play victim or you can take control of your life and seize opportunities for greatness.
I could feel my body getting weak so I stopped at a cafe in front of the church and rested for about two hours to regain my strength for the day. Prior to sitting down, I felt like I was about to keel over and kept thinking “how could this happen to me in Greece?!” All I wanted to do was explore and see the city. After about five minutes of sitting, I realized, “this is exactly where I am supposed to be. Here I am, relaxing at a cafe on a beautiful September day in Greece. Life doesn’t get any better than this!”
I enjoyed my first Greek coffee, yes, in Greece (my actual first time was with my friend Lauren at a Greek Church festival in Los Angeles back in 2009) and another Greek salad – this time with the feta! The tomatoes in Greece are delicious – definitely different from the tomatoes back in California. They’re huge, crisp, and meaty – is it weird to describe a tomato as meaty? They’re just very plump. Greeks love oregano too, it was on everything! Oh, and the capers, so delicious! I never thought I’d be so excited to describe such a simple salad: tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, capers, onions, olive oil, feta, and oregano.
Greek Coffee - don't forget to let the grains sit before you start drinking it!

Greek Coffee – don’t forget to let the grains sit before you start drinking it!

Greek Salad w/feta

Greek Salad w/feta

My view from lunch

My view from lunch

Past the walls, the Church of 100 Doors

Past the walls, the Church of 100 Doors

Church of 100 Doors

Church of 100 Doors

The people in Paros were kind and full of compassion. Everyone I met seemed to have a certain calmness in them, maybe its a European trait or a result of living the island way of life. Most of the people spoke English (Europeans have to learn 5-6 languages in school), except for the older Greeks. I met an older woman while shopping for a necklace for my sister’s wedding. She had been making and selling her own jewelry for over 40 years. Although we could barely understand each other, I knew she was an honest woman who had many stories to tell. I bought a small gold necklace from her for the wedding – light gold with a shiny “mother of pearl.”

I also had the opportunity to hang out with one of the receptionists from the hotel at the beach. She knew I was alone and had offered for me to come hang out with her and her friends down at Parasporos after her shift. Most of the employees were from the mainland, Athens or Patras. During the summer months, they come out to the islands to work and to enjoy the summer. I can’t remember her name (I wish I did! Can i blame it on my memory issues?) but it was great getting to know her.
She’s from Patras (the city my brother-in-law is from) and she told me about her dreams to travel back to New York. She had been there once in the winter and fell in love with the city. It was nice to hear about someone else’s travel experiences and aspirations. We are very similar in that we are both independent women who wish to travel the world. She’s around my age and isn’t quite ready to settle down yet, so our priorities are a little different than most of our friends. Speaking to her made me realize something: while her dream was to travel back to New York, it had been my dream to travel to Greece and there I was… I was in Greece!
The Streets of Parikia, Paros

The Streets of Parikia, Paros

I found this church overlooking the Paros bay as I was waiting for my ferry to Mykonos. Again, you often stumble upon great things. Don't go looking for them.

I found this church overlooking the Paros bay as I was waiting for my ferry to Mykonos. Again, you often stumble upon great things so don’t go looking for them.

Notes & Quick Links
Nousa is much more lively than Parikia, especially at night. Kolymbithres Beach is worth visiting – definitely not like any beach you’ve seen before. Check out the link below for a guide to the beaches of Paros!
Transportation
Taxis are easy and usually cost about 8-10 euros from Parikia to any hotel outside the town. There is a bus from Parikia to Nousa (1.60 euros/one-way) – it looks like a tour bus – which is very easy to take. The bus stop is located right in front of the ferry port. Otherwise, a cab is about 15 euros from Parikia to Nousa. I didn’t rent one here, but I would suggest renting an ATV while in Paros. I rented one in Mykonos and Santorini and absolutely loved it! Best way to explore an island by far!
Airport
The airport is very small. There are a few cabs at the airport but it is best to arrange for a car service if you are flying into Paros.
Ferry
The ferry departs right from the center of Parikia. You can easily get a cab once you arrive or even stop to have lunch in town before you head to your hotel. The ticket office is right across the street from the port.
Links
3. Panagia Ekatontapillani (Church of 100 Doors): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panagia_Ekatontapiliani
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3 responses to “Europe: Paros, Greece

  1. Pingback: PAROS ISLAND IN GREECE IS ANNOUNCED AS OFFICIAL TRAVEL DESTINATION | Tropic Travel·

  2. Pingback: PAROS ISLAND IN GREECE IS ANNOUNCED AS OFFICIAL TRAVEL DESTINATION | Lake Massawippi Lodge·

  3. Pingback: Greece – The Cyclades | Sun Diego Eats·

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