- Photo Essays
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Also by this author:
The Greek Side of March – Poros, Greece