Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Paros I, Greece

Once we had gotten from Athens to the port city of Piraeus the rest of the journey to the island of Paros was relatively easy – board the ferry and enjoy the ride. There are dozens of daily ferry boat departures leaving from the port. We had pre-booked tickets to ensure a spot, and although this turned out to be unnecessary as it was a very large boat, the advance research was helpful as there are different companies and different speed boats operating. The Greek ferries database website suggested by my friend was a great help in understanding the options, as most ferries also stop at more than one island.

Upon arrival we disembarked in the town of Parikia, on the west coast of the island of Paros, an island of the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea. Known for its flawless white marble, the term “Parian” is now used to describe marble or china of this translucent, high quality. Our first impression of Parikia was of whitewashed walls, blue windows and doors, flowering vines and a sparkling blue bay. The houses are built and decorated in the traditional Cycladic style: flat roofs, the white walls and blue-painted doors and shutters. We followed Evdoxia through alleyways painted white to our apartment, cool and calm with a courtyard that looked straight out of a magazine. Orange trees shading a hammock with white walls creating an oasis within the town, I had a fleeting thought that perhaps I wouldn’t have to leave this very spot the whole time we would be here…
Lauris had his own tour guide, Marina

We dined at the restaurant of the Argonauta hotel, fresh seafood paired with a refreshing white wine. Lauris must have been exhausted, but his excitement of being reunited with his friend Stephan in addition to a plate of a favorite food (fries) kept him awake and smiling; the giggles continued late that evening as we enjoyed the company of good friends in a setting worthy of the cover of a travel magazine.

The Argonauta hotel

Breakfast was had in the courtyard of the apartment after which we received our first tour of the town. In the main square is the largest church, the Panagia Ekatontapiliani, which means "church of the hundred doors". These "doors" include windows, and 99 of them have been discovered/uncovered. It is said to have been founded by the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, Saint Helen, during her pilgrimage to the Holy Land and possibly dates back to 390 AD. Evdoxia’s brother had been married here just two nights previous and I could imagine the hundreds of guests gathering to partake in this family honor.

"The church of the hundred doors"

We also stopped at the archaeological museum housing some of local finds such as the Gorgo statue from 580 BC and the figure of a Nike from around 480 BC. There was a piece present from the Parian Chronicle, a marble-chronology of ancient Greece describing events from 1500 BC to 264 BC, which seems like a short time ago upon learning the earliest traces of habitation in the area (islet of Saliagos) date to the Late Neolithic period (5300-4500 BC).

By the way, this is PH... PRE haircut

As the sun reached its peak and the heat became unbearable we retreated to our oasis to rest. Later, refreshed, we departed for the beach opposite the town across the bay, a thin strip of sand with a wall of rocks providing shade from the still-hot sun. Even with Mikus in my arms I could have spent days lounging in that beach chair, reading a book, or maybe borrowing goggles and a snorkel to explore the rockier shore a little farther down. The afternoon passed in a flash, as Mikus swam in the Mediterranean for the first time and Lauris learned to float with the aid of little floaties encircling his upper arms. The soft white sand and fresh cobalt waters provided us a respite from all the traveling, planning, and chaos of the transition period we’re in that we had not been able to find in Clermont-Ferrand.

And for dinner? Again, fresh seafood. Catch of the day, calamari and shrimp with Greek salads and fried cheese appetizers once more served with a local white wine brought me to the realization that I love Greek cuisine more than any other I’ve had the luck to sample in my time in Europe. The feta and honey, the seafood and olives, many of my favorite ingredients were presented in endless variations on this trip, and the only thing that prevented me from ordering more and more was two little children whose patience for dining extends only as long as iPad battery life.

Our evening ended with a stroll along the main drag next to the bay, teeming with tourists enjoying the food, wines and cool breeze off the sea. It was tempting to put the boys to bed and return to sample the nightlife ourselves, but once the two finally closed their eyes the fatigue from the sea and the sun caught up to us as well. We crawled into bed and dreamed of blue sea and white walls, of which there would be plenty more of in Santorini, our next destination.


  1. I really enjoyed this post. The history you share about the places you visit is always so educational for me. I also love the picture of your sweet little one with his "tour guide". That should be on a tour booklet. I can't wait to see your Santorini post.

  2. Oh, it sounds absolutely dreamy!! We've definitely got to get over there!

  3. What a wonderful day! I almsot feel like I was there. You'll have to post the 'post-haircut' pics next!

  4. What an exciting adventure you're having. I love Greece but I've only been to Skiathos. I really hope to get back there, and your photos are making me envious.

  5. Oh Liene, what an enchanting post. You write so evocatively. I feel like I was there with you - thanks! The blue and white would have had me swooning. I adore that shot of Mikus holding his foot - he is scrumptious! J x

  6. This sounds so heavenly. The perfect place for a vacation.

  7. i have never been to Greece, but I know I would love it-the beautiful buildings and the great food!


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