|Friendly fishing village
Best seafood restaurants
Marauding geese and stalking cats
Our time at Mykonos had come to an end and we were waiting in the cool by the hotel pool for our transfer to the port. A crazy local man explained to us that many, many people were going to the port today at the same time as us, so we took an earlier transfer and found ourselves sitting for hours at the port - admittedly on very uncomfortable concrete seats, but at least it was in the shade and very cool. The whole experience could have been boring but for the free entertainment - a fantastic 'port puppy' - a cool, cute and wind swept mutt with white curly (check that - knotty) fur. His dad was the rope man at the port and he helped out where he could - everytime a ship came or went, he was barking with excitement and grabbing onto the end of the ropes thrown ashore for tying on, in a great game of 'helpful' tug-of-war. We've been disappointed since then that other ports didn't have 'port puppies'.
We were pleasantly surprised that it was only a 45min hop over to Paros. Our transfer bus was a hair raising ride to the second biggest village on Paros - the fishing village of Naoussa. We later discovered after covering most of the island on a quad, that it was the most beautiful part of the island so we were very happy. Our hotel once again was lovely and we had a pool side room with the great novelty of shutters in the front door. Great for Liz posing for stupid photos! Our private balcony had a view of the ocean and down to the village and later provided the perfect spot to enjoy a bottle of the local rose and begin Ian's birthday celebrations. But I digress.
We arrived mid afternoon so we headed straight for town to seek out some eats. We were a bit worried to begin with as it was 'quiet time' and many places were closed. We stumbled on a great gyros and souvlaki café though in the back alleys and Ian got an ice cold beer (worthy of a photo it was that cold) and we had great souvlaki pitas - we've had far too much of these lovely inventions since arriving on the islands! We were very lucky to discover this place so early - it was the best place in town for this type of food, great friendly service and on our second visit we even got a discount for our repeat custom! We couldn't resist the temptation shortly thereafter to have our first genuine greek lucomades... well actually it's been the only lucomades on this trip so far. They're basically a type of donut ball dipped in honey - evilly unhealthy but delectably delicious! Had to mention them for Jakki's benefit
We absolutely loved our little fishing village of Naoussa - interesting alleyways full of cute shops, cafes and the locals - yes a place that at least at the moment had more locals than tourists. Friday and Saturday night were just great with the place being lively with locals. They were also so very friendly and the service in the cafes and restaurants was so warm and generous that you felt you were eating in somebody's home.
Definitely a highlight of Naoussa was 'Meltemi' - the best restaurant in town (well to be fair, the only one we tried, but it was fantastic!). Great views, extremely friendly staff who chatted with us and explained how things should be eaten - we think we earned their respect by ordering 'steamed greens'... we didn't know exactly what this would constitute, but we wanted to keep up our veggie intake. It turned out it was the local wild green leafy vegetable (Ian commented it tasted a bit like nettles) and having it steamed, and adding some olive oil, lemon juice and salt was the way any self respecting greek began a meal. They did the best grilled prawns and calamari and on Ian's birthday night we even tried the grilled eggplant and it was too good to describe in words. We sat there for hours watching the world go by and when we didn't think we could eat anything else, they gave us compliment halva cake and glasses of raki for dessert.
Anyway, it seems I've said enough about the food in Paros! Paros, like Mykonos seems to have plenty of locals and that's only the cats! Kitty cats everywhere. We were very amused on an early morning stroll on Ian's birthday to have one follow us half way around town - Ian's own birthday stalker! Perhaps it's the smell of all the lovely seafood that keeps the cats multiplying. Here on Paros we saw the first squid hung and drying in the sun - we've since seen this being done in lots of places. How does it not go off?
Another unique sight on Paros was a gander (is that the right word?) of local geese. We first came across them on our first afternoon, toddling and waddling down the main road into town (check out the photo). We saw them every day in various places around town amusing themselves. Hilarious!
On our second day at Paros we once again hired a quad bike to do some of our own exploring. Paros seemed much flatter and had wider, better roads than Mykonos so it seemed a great choice. We didn't count on the gale force winds though - it was so windy on the back of the quad it almost drove us mad... and the bit of sanity that was left at least for Ian I managed to destroy with my nervous backseat driver tendencies. We saw some lovely scenery - at one stage we made our way up one of the highest peaks following signs to the sanctuary of Apollo - great views, but no sanctuary nor Apollo were to be found. We also found a great quiet beach to have a picnic lunch (after rejecting the commercialized doof doof extravaganza 5mins away), but let's just say it wasn't the fun experience we'd hoped for. Nerves were frayed I did however discover the glory of coffee frappes today - so refreshing on a hot day, but definitely a habit I mustn't embrace!
We surprised ourselves at Paros realizing we could actually read a bit of greek writing - okay - often we didn't know what the words meant, but the realization kicked in that calculus with it's greek lettering was a very good start to understanding the writing and pronunciation - we impressed the waitress at our favourite gyros/souvlaki bar with our smarts.
Ian got to celebrate his 28th birthday on our last full day in Paros. A very fitting location with its quiet charm and beautiful seafood restaurant Meltemi where we could go to celebrate in style. He had a great day and we were genuinely sad the next day to leave our favourite spot on the trip so far. Never mind, new discoveries are to be made every day and we're off to Naxos!