Paros has a laid-back feel, reflecting that enviable concept of “Greek time.” Unlike its celebrity neighbour, Mykonos, there is less glitz or glamour here. Paros has a beating heart.

Secret Paros

 

This is a guest post by Madi Dale @ Odyssean Slipstream.

Paros Island lies in the Cyclades group of islands in the Aegean Sea of Greece. The port of Parikia is one of the busiest in the vicinity. At the height of the summer season, dozens of massive ships and ferries berth daily, off-loading tourists by the hundreds.

 

Arriving from sea and rounding the headland into the large, natural inlet of Parikia harbour, is an unforgettable sight. Far above the white-washed spread of the town, a series of hills fold across a blaze of blue sky; below, bays and coves carve into the shoreline edged with tavernas, chapels and fishing boats.

 

blue star ferry arriving in to Parikia harbour on Paros Island

Blue Star ferry arriving into Parikia Harbour on Paros Island

 

Paros has a laid-back feel, reflecting that enviable concept of “Greek time.”  Unlike its celebrity neighbour, Mykonos, there is less glitz or glamour here.  Paros has a beating heart – and it is at the port of Parikia.

 

 

Near the bustle of the harbour, you will often see the traditional sight of a man and his donkey, or elderly ladies clad in black, children kicking soccer balls, or perhaps a small fishing boat with makeshift sails silhouetted against an incoming sea liner.

 

This island is many things to many people.  Day trippers will possibly experience a waterfront meal and a stroll before heading on their way.

 

view of an alley in the backstreets of Parikia on Paros island
Others have extended stays*, emulating the pace of Greek time, soaking up the atmosphere of this deceptively ancient island.

Some visit – and never leave. The magic works on them immediately. They have found their secret paradise. Nothing will budge them. Ever.

For Paros is an island of hidden secrets.

It has taken a while for me to discover the secrets. For many years I preferred the excitement of the waterfront and lazy days baking brown on the beaches. These days I prefer to return to my secret haunts.

It all started one night years ago, when a friend drove me along the winding mountain road to his home village.

The village was Lefkes: a diamond set in a valley deep in the Parian hills.

 

 

Lefkes was hushed. Perhaps a dog barked once or twice in the distance. Perhaps someone laughed. But mostly, I was aware of the silence. We dined in a traditional taverna hugging a slope of the valley from where village lights and stars intermingled as one. Mountain air wafted in; bouzouki music crooned from a street below.

 

I knew I had discovered a secret place. When I returned in daylight, I was again bewitched by this little village: the tangle of winding backstreets, the tiny cuboid houses, the welcoming people.

 

Lefkes has existed in the mountains for centuries, a time when Parians often hid out from marauding pirates. The maze of alleys and lanes in the village was deliberately configured to outwit and confuse the attackers. A little later I also discovered a nearby ancient trail embedded with marble, winding through the mountains to the sea.

 

blue and white chairs and tables outside a Greek taverna on Paros Island

Greek Taverna, Paros Island.

 

One might comment that this secret gem is no longer sacred now that I have exposed it to the wider world. However, my secret is already shared by many similar enthusiasts who are willing to experience the thrill of the bus ride from the port to the mountains, or who may hire a car to crawl along the hairpin bends.

 

I recognize them often, meandering through Lefkes with sturdy hiking boots. (I know exactly where they’re heading). Or they might be quietly sitting in a little taverna at the base of the valley absorbing the mountain tranquility. Or they might stop by at George’s taverna for a chat and a cool drink or a piece of bread.

 

red wheel barrow against white washed wall on Paros island

I know in my heart that not everyone who reads this will rush off to Lefkes to party or desecrate the ancient trail. Those who feel the tug of adventure and the call of a world almost vanished, may one day plan to see this place for themselves.

 

If so, I am sure they will also discover a peace within themselves, enriched by the memory of their time in Lefkes. And they too will be part of a small worldwide community who share one of the many hidden secrets of Paros Island.

 

* Rena Rooms at the Parikia waterfront makes a great base for exploring the island

 


About the Author
For 12 years Madi Dale has extensively explored Greece including solo backpacking for two months through the far eastern Aegean islands. She resides in Australia but is often seen wandering through the hills of Greece or sipping Retsina in a waterfront taverna. Madi is currently on a two month trip through the Greek Islands. She is also the author of two fabulous blogs: Odyssean Slipstream and Booked Out

Also by this author:
The Greek Side of March – Poros, Greece

 

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