We arrive at Paros’s capital and port of Parikia. Here you may wander around its bright, cheerful town with peaceful narrow streets which surround the 13th Century Venetian kastro (castle). The fortification crowns a slight rise above the waterfront which is located not too far from the ship. The busy hub of Parikia is the windmill roundabout right near the dock. The main square, Plateia Mavrogenous, where you can find small souvenir shops and a few restaurants, is straight ahead from the windmill. North along the waterfront there is a fenced ancient cemetery dating back from the 7th Century BC; it was excavated in 1983. Roman graves and burial pots are floodlit at night. If you are interested in beaches, there is a beach located walking distance from the ship. Just make a left along the coast (1 km down).
8 Sep: We pulled into Parikia at 11 am, and were ready to explore Paros straight away. Our plan for the day was to explore Lefkes (a tiny town with beautiful architecture that emerged in the Middle Ages to escape the plundering coastal pirates), Naoussa (a colorful and festive port town), and whatever else tickled our fancy.
First stop was at the super friendly Europecar rental, where we rented a compact for 30 Euros. After pumping the recommended 5 Euros worth of gas, we headed north towards Naoussa until we saw signs for Lefkes. The drive out to Lefkes was quite scenic, and we could see that Lonely Planet’s description of it was accurate, “Lefkes clings to a natural amphitheatre amid hills whose summits are dotted with old windmills.” After parking in the shade, we strolled through Paros’s highest and loveliest village.
Sometimes LP has a bad habit of over touting a city’s virtues. However, Lefkes did not disappoint, and we wandered its cobblestoned streets in awe of its beauty. It truly is a picturesque village, crowned by the Agias Trias Cathedral. After being inspired by the alleyways and buildings (and getting lots of construction ideas for our future home), we stopped at the town’s only supermarket and stocked up on lunch supplies. The central square had several benches that were perfect for an afternoon picnic, and over a glass or two of red wine, we kept philosophizing to ourselves that “Greece truly rocks”.
After lunch, we drove up towards Naoussa to soak up the harbor’s fishing village atmosphere. We read that Naoussa’s quaintness has been slightly ruined by the tourists who now overrun the place. We didn’t find that to be true (the quaint fishing village part is true but we didn’t find the harbor to be overrun with camera toting tourists). What we did find were colorful fishing boats strewn with fishing nets, rows of dried octopus baking in the sun, and a laid back ambiance that was very appealing to the senses. While we wanted to stop and have dinner here, Bob was ready for some beach time, so we headed up north towards Santa Maria beach (known for its decent windsurfing). Bob and Ann plunged into the Mediterranean for a cooling dip, while Becky & Robby took a snooze and read their paperback novels.
Seeing all the wonderful seafood on display at Naoussa put us in the mood for some, and we decided to head back towards Parikia and scope out an eatery there. First, we decided to drop our stuff off at the cruise, and return the rental car. We pulled the car into a tight parking spot, and jaunted over to the car rental agency and told the owner that we were done for the day.
When the jovial owner asked us where we had parked the car, we pointed in the general direction, and asked him if it would be a problem to have left the rental agreement on the cruise. Little did we realize, but his eyes were fixated on a dilapidated, red compact car parked haphazardly on the curb. He must have been furious, as we couldn’t understand why he sprinted out towards the bombshell and started examining it in an agitated and panicked state. We kept trying to grab his attention to let him know that our rental car was further down the street, but he was so attuned to every scratch, bump, and tear on the car that he paid us no mind. Finally, after Becky grabbed his arm and twirled him around, he looked up in shock and slowly came to the realization that he had been looking at the wrong car. Only after he finally saw his rental car returned in its pristine condition did he let out a loud sigh of relief…and all of us laughed out loud at the sheer comical turn of events. Now fast friends, we asked him for a recommendation for a good seafood joint, which he readily described and pointed out down the street.
First we wanted to walk around Parikia town, and we got lost in the labyrinth near the Frankish castle. There were plenty of trendy stores selling the latest fashions, while outdoor cafes and waterfront restaurants vied for our business while showcasing their menus and latest offerings. It made for a pleasant stroll about the town, and after working up an appetite, we headed over to what our car rental contact had proudly described as Parikia’s best seafood eatery. We can’t remember the name of the joint, but it was several hundred meters to the left from the port.
Dried fish and octopus greeted us as we entered into this simple eatery, and our meal choices (calamari, boiled and grilled octopus, fish platter, ouzo, house wine) were absolutely scrumptious. After topping off dinner with some gelato, we strolled back through Parikia before calling it a night. Paros ended up being an unexpected surprise, and we enjoyed this island immensely.