Tag Archives: Paros

Looking for summer in all the wrong places

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It can’t be helped. Twenty-two years are plenty enough time to build up an image of what summer is supposed to be like. And for me that’s high temperatures and wild winds. Swallowing sea water and dancing in the waves. Long walks under the setting sun and coffee outings that end up to bar visits. Summer is crappy radio signal, family movie nights out on the balcony, fresh figs straight from the tree and fingers sticky from melted ice-cream. And, most importantly, for me summer is feeling the sun on my skin and seeing the world around me through a golden glow. Or at least that’s what summer was.

Fast-forward to now and Yours Truly spending most -if not all- her summer in Nottingham. With its max of 22 C, its on-an-off rains and…well…come on! I could be in a Greek island right now! Does it really bear comparison? Why don’t I fly over you ask? Save us all the inevitable whining? To which I answer, I do want a pretty (preferably above 65%) grade to my thesis. I’m too much of a stereotype I suppose. I physically need sunlight to feel well after a while and of all the givens of childhood an extended summer vacation is the one I’m having more trouble letting go.

So here’s to trying to stay positive and see what a British summer is like. Though, given recent events, England could have the same weather as the Maldives and I would still contemplate not staying. Yes, I’m upset. Yes, I’m scared. And yes, I’m incredibly frustrated. 2016 has been developing like a bad joke, the kind that has a chapter-and-a-half devoted to it in history textbooks and is in the SOS list for final exams. I am not looking forward to telling my future grandkids about the Great Crazy of 2016. And no, the awesome movie line up is not making up for it (no matter how much of a huge nerd I am).

Here I am then. Dazed, confused and far paler than I usually am by the end of June? Any suggestions?

In which I flirt with sand once more

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I’m in a bit of a Mood this morning so, rather than working on what I should, I’ll transcribe one more day trip from July. Lucky you!

 

This time it was more of a half-day trip, since it wasn’t just me, or Cousin and I like last time. My friend K. was tagging along for the ride and she works in the mornings. (Unlike lazy me who pretends to be a child when it works for her…) So C. and I went to hang out to the cafeteria K. works at and distract her for the last hour of her shift, Such angels we are!

 

A fair amount of gossip and coffee later, we walked to the nearby bus stop (where we luckily did not have to wait) and off we were to Chrisi Akti (Golden Beach). The #5 bus line here in Paros is one of my favourites because it passes through nearly all the highlight beaches, meaning you can easily go in a completely different place every time. Also, lucky me, Punda Beach, which I always thought resembles Mykonos more than Paros, is a bit before our stop so all the screaming teenagers left in one go…Oh, the sweet sound of silence!

Oh the peace and quiet!

Oh the peace and quiet!

 

The bus route sticks to the main road unless it crosses through a village, so the stop for Golden Beach is actually a three minute walk from the coastline (five if your bag is heavy).

Yes, the outside isn't very promising, I know.

Yes, the outside isn’t very promising, I know.

But with signs like this...

But with signs like this…

And this! How can it not be cool?

And this! How can it not be cool?

The beach is well organised without it being overbearing.  On the side closest to the entrance you can rent water bikes and wind-surfing equipment, and there’s even lessons for the ambitiously hopeful ones.

 

Stretches of what I like to call free-for-all space (no charges, yay!) are alternated with rows of umbrellas and sunbeds managed by the beach bars and a hotel that must have been built before people starting frowning at you for building so close to the water.

Le grand bleu.  Not the right island but you get the idea.

Le grand bleu. Not the right island but you get the idea.

C. insisted on a sunbed combo so we only walked until we found a free one, about a third in. The beach is actually a pretty large one, although I’m not certain if you are allowed to swim everywhere. I think a few areas are cordoned off for water sports.

 

Mercifully it wasn’t windy (because wind + sand=PAIN!) and the water was only cool. Just be careful if you ever visit, it goes from ankle-deep to waist-deep in a step. I’d like to come here really early one morning, before the crowds… Because of the sand and relative mildness of the wind it’s more of a family destination (screaming toddlers and disgruntled, I’m-too-old-for-this teenagers included). The two-sunbeds-one-umbrella combo costs 8€ (putting it on the cheap side) and if it’s not very busy nobody will look at you twice if you –ahem- borrow an extra sunbed. (What? There were three of us and we all wanted to take advantage of the afternoon sun!)

The notorious sunbeds in person!

The notorious sunbeds in person!

 

After we were sufficiently sun-baked (and certain people had taken enough selfies…don’t even get me started!) we walked back to the bus stop and to our next destination, the village of Drios. I had heard about this cool food place there and I wanted to check it out. I think C. and K. were just happy with the idea of food….Sometimes I wonder whether I am a bit of a slave driver…

 

Anyway, the Green Project sits right at the entrance of Drios, 5 minutes from the bus stop, which is further in the village.

Entrance sign. Keep your eyes looking for it. ;-) It's a bit like the Cave of Wonders in Aladdin.

Entrance sign. Keep your eyes looking for it. 😉 It’s a bit like the Cave of Wonders in Aladdin.

It’s a small oasis with herbs, trees and flowers growing around the garden and an outside sitting area so pretty that it made me wonder why they bothered with an indoor one too.

The outdoor area.

The outdoor area.

There’s also four adorable and very friendly cats roaming around as if they own the place (which they probably do…) and don’t be surprised if they approach you demanding belly rubs or food.

Well, hello there Miss Kitty!

Well, hello there Miss Kitty!

The Queen in repose!

The Queen in repose!

 

The place operates as a cafeteria, restaurant and bar, with all the ingredients being local. It’s not just an advertising line either. The three of us were sitting on the edge of the garden and at some point one of the guys working there passed us to go to the veggie-garden (that how it’s called?) to water the stuff there and “bring a couple of cucumbers on the way back, would you?”.

 

We all had burgers which were delicious and about the same size as those at TGI Friday so you can be certain you get your money’s value. That value being 9€ for a burger, which I personally found reasonable.

Munchies!

Munchies!

We were going to leave after eating since all three of us were knackered. Unfortunately the next bus passing near our place wouldn’t be for another hour and a half, so we decided to explore and –hopefully- find some place selling ice cream. We had already passed one, right next to the bus stop I might add, but where’s the fun in doing anything the easy way?

 

Which was how we ended up being followed by a very playful and very loud puppy. Let me take a stand here and say that I don’t like dogs of any kind, size or age. I’m a cat person through and through. So when Barks-a-lot Junior started following us and chasing his tail to show what a fierce hunter he was, I did my best to ignore him. Unfortunately C. and K. went into OHMYGOSHSOCUTE mode and then were surprised when the puppy figured they wanted to play with him. I tell you, I’ve never seen a person climb a fence (one of those love, wide, stone ones) quite so fast. On the one hand, I can’t blame the puppy for thinking they wanted to play chase. On the other hand it left me in the uncomfortable position of having to deal with a hyperactive puppy and my two jittery travel-mates when the only thing I wanted was an ice cream.

 

Eventually a couple passed by and the puppy found them more interesting so we were able to make our glorious escape. And that was how we ended up at that first café I told you about, killing time until the bus arrived (finally!) and we went home.

In which I go a’merry travelling again!

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Or rather went? I mean, the day trip itself was back in July but I just got around to uploading the photos on my computer so… Whatever! Point is, this is a little excursion my younger cousin and I took together.

 

There we were, relaxing in Paros (fancy, huh?), lazing away the days until I figured; What the heck? Let’s do something a tad different for once. Hence my dragging C. out of bed at the ungodly hour of nine in the morning, with the intention of visiting the beach of Marchello (oh the joys of transliteration!).

 

So, after plenty of yawns, a quick breakfast and even faster double-back (because certain people forgot stuff…) we made it to Paroikia. For the uninitiated, this is the island’s largest village and where the boats from Athens (or pretty much any starting point) leave you. From there we took the boat (as in kaiki, not a proper ship) and made the short trip to Marchello.

 

There's this little kiosk where you can buy tickets and find out departure times right next to where the boat is tied.

There’s this little kiosk where you can buy tickets and find out departure times right next to where the boat is tied.

That's the inside of the boat! I swear one of these days I'll brave my seasickness enough to climb on the top deck!

That’s the inside of the boat! I swear one of these days I’ll brave my seasickness enough to climb on the top deck!

And here's Yours Trully! Picture kindly taken by Cousin who, although nine years younger, has a far better eye than I do for this sort of thing!

And here’s Yours Trully! Picture kindly taken by Cousin who, although nine years younger, has a far better eye than I do for this sort of thing!

 

A word from C.:

We stopped and bought some magazines to read on the beach!

 

Back to Yours Truly:

So, as you can see from the pictures, we get our own tiny tropical paradise complete with white sand and sapphire-blue waters! And all for less than 20 € too. The adult return ticket for the boat is 5 €, for the kids 3 €. Moreover, part of the beach in not what is commonly known here as “organised”, meaning you don’t necessarily need to pay for a sunbed/umbrella combo. And even if you want to treat yourself, it costs 7 € for the umbrella/two sunbeds, or 3€ for the single sunbed (for all you lonely souls).

 

The water was a tad cold, not all that surprising. For the past few days the temperature has been dropping and anyway, I never claimed to like the “cool” part of the spectrum… There was splashing around and swimming and laughing at those who had never been here before and did not know that a ship leaving the port on the opposite side is both impressive to watch and the cause for waves.

 

C. The water in the beginning was cold but then it got warmer.

 

To which I say: WHATEVER, I still got all tingly! –ahem- Yeah, at some point we decided we had enough of “swimming” and moved back to the glory that is the combination of dry towels, sunlight and sunbeds.

 

The taverna/changing rooms/sunbed rental place at the back of the beach.

The taverna/changing rooms/sunbed rental place at the back of the beach.

Pretty water is pretty. That's Paroikia at the back.

Pretty water is pretty. That’s Paroikia at the back.

I swear this picture was not staged. C. had my camera at hand and I was about to get back in the sunny bit of the sunbed and well...picture happened...

I swear this picture was not staged. C. had my camera at hand and I was about to get back in the sunny bit of the sunbed and well…picture happened…

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I would like to say at this point that normally I find fashion magazine B.O.R.I.N.G. but with the sun making me drowsy that’s just about what I can mentally handle. Cue the sunbathing time (I do love the heat) and obligatory laughs at some of the more outrageous designs.

 

C. The fashion magazines are not boring. Especially when they have summer clothes and swimsuits.

 

-sigh- Three guesses on who is entering their teenage years and who is happily out of them. We only left from the beach because our stomachs were growling and a nearby tavern was making us even hungrier with the smell of roasting meat.

 

A quick shift of clothes….

 

Have I mentioned how much I ADORE this dress?

Have I mentioned how much I ADORE this dress?

 

…and it was back to the boat and Paroikia for us,

 

This picture took way too many failed tries to take....

This picture took way too many failed tries to take….

C. Marchello beach was awesome. We had a very good time while we were swimming, talking, reading summer magazines and of course laughing. ^_^

 

You heard it! “From the mouths of babes”… There’s plenty of eating choices in Paroikia, but one of the side effects of coming to the same place summer after summer is that you will have your favourites (and will always go there). C. wanted souvlaki (not that I complained). Our favourite is Pepe’s with its great food and gorgeous prices.

 

Why yes, I do have a thing for taking pictures of signs.

Why yes, I do have a thing for taking pictures of signs.

 

And by gorgeous, I mean cheap. And by cheap, I mean broke student friendly. 😀

 

C. The souvlaki was really tasty and the chips were even better.

 

We had a quick lunch there and went for a stroll, which –because this is Paros- meant that we ended up at a coffee shop, specifically Distrato (again, joys of transliteration). It’s one of those multi-purpose places where you can have breakfast, lunch, in-between coffee, sit down for a crepe or an ice-cream, or even have a beer. Nobody can say anything about the adaptability of a “café-restaurant”. I would whole-heartedly recommend the  sweet crepes there, as well as the coffees.

 

C. I had a banana milkshake! 🙂

 

Banana –shudder-…

 

Anyway… After a blessed (and much needed) coffee break there was more aimless roaming, and drooling over jewellery store windows. I just looooooove gemstones! It’s sorta funny walking in Paroikia this early. Nearly all the shops are closed for lunch break or siesta break (call it what you will). So you actually get to see the buildings instead of being dazzled by the waves of people around you.

 

Unfortunately at this point C. started realising that she was tired so we caught the bus back to Naoussa (a village closer to our own place) and waited there for mum to pick us up. (Love you mum!)

 

Bag doubles as pillow...

Bag doubles as pillow…

 

Overall a fun day methinks…

Summer Day

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Rose-pink silk stretching

Across a gossamer horizon.

White and blue collide

In a sky warm as a mother’s embrace.

 

Gold light upon orange earth –

A haze on the horizon.

This time demands

That all be quiet.

 

Royal purple cloaks the sky;

Childish treasures, pirate hunts.

The sea turns grey, the wind is soft,

This hour is ours, the best of all.

 

Bleeding red or silver white

The moon is rising in blackened sea and sky,

To guard our games and light our path,

When one day ends and another began.

Πειρατές

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Μέσα απ’τη λάμψη και τον καπνό των βεγγαλικών ξεχυνόμαστε στο λιμάνι. Νωρίς είχαμε βγάλει τα καΐκια στ’ανοιχτά, και τώρα με κραυγές και τραγούδια κάνουμε ρεσάλτο. Κρύψτε τους θησαυρούς σας όπου μπορείτε, κι αυτά που θα βρούμε θα είναι δικά μας. Απόψε θα κοιμηθούμε στα σπίτια σας το πρωί θα ξανοιχτούμε.

In which there is coffee….

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For the longest time I refused to drink coffee. Even the smell of it made my skin (figuratively) crawl. Like many things in our lives I can blame this on my mother. You see, she loves coffee (as in OTP) and one of my earliest memories involves scarfing down my breakfast in order to catch the school bus while the entire kitchen smelled like Starbucks during rush hour. Pleasant smell yes; but really bad associations. Earlier this year I caved to my inner masochist and bought a mocha in an effort to stay awake during my (boring-to-tears) Journalism seminar. I can’t say it was love at first sip but it did the job. Mocha became my substitute when I didn’t feel like hot chocolate. -Ironically I managed some really nasty burns with how chocolate, which has always been my favourite, but never with anything remotely coffee related-

And then summer came, and I came back to Greece and eventually in the small island of Paros which I love to bits but which does not serve mocha. Anywhere. And believe me, I’ve checked. But a girl needs to force herself awake somehow, especially when there are day-trips involved, and in a second masochistic impulse I tried a… freddo cappuccino. Now, I’m sure most of you have watched Looney Tunes at some point. You how Speedy Gonzales speaks when he’s on his rapid-fire mode? Well, I was like that. Gods know what I was babbling about, I can’t remember. I do remember that at some point there was a sing-along involved (one that lasted at least 30 minutes…). Point being: my father’s reaction when I made it home giggling like a madwoman: “Are you drunk?” No, daddy dearest, I’m not…

Am I going to drink coffee again? Should I? I think the answers are occasionally and no. I must admit it was funny having the world about me look like an episode of Looney Tunes (even if Taz didn’t feature, pity!) but I can achieve the same results with two strawberry daiquiris and frankly the context in which I end up with a coctail on each hand sounds more promising in terms of F.U.N.