The "Our Lady of the Hundred Gates" monastery has 3 different churches and is said to have 99 gates.
The legend says that whenever they find the number 100, Istanbul will be "returned" to Greece!
Prombona Street, close to the bus station.
LEFKES CYCLADIC HOUSING
It is a charming town to simply wander about in, admiring the whitewashed Cycladic houses, adorned with gorgeous flowers. Streets twist and turn, leading to the big Catholic church. Naxos is far off across the waters to the east. Silence holds fast in the afternoon heat.
Paros...our favourite Greek Island
We arrived at Parikia, (on Paros) by ferry from Santorini about mid-day. The sun was blazing, blue sky, with a wonderful breeze to evaporate your body fluids.
First experience, the local businessmen who meet each ferry, and try in desperation to sell you accomodation. An absolute mad house, everyone calling out, falling in step with you as you attempt to navigate through the masses. Everyone very pleasant, polite, but insistant.
Who can you trust, should you just ignore the people, should you simply push your way through, what was the right thing to do?
We didn't know, and weren't prepared for it.
We explained that we already had accomodation, then they asked "Where", and when told Margarita's Studio, one fellow walked slightly in front of us and said he would take us there. We hesitated, then another fellow stepped up and said he was a good friend of Margarita, we still hesitated, then I became a bit rude and refused his offer. The poor fellow looked quite insulted, and kept saying he was "a friend, a friend". We just kept walking...but this time... alone.
If we had only listened to him, we would have saved ourselves an hour and a half of wandering about in the blistering heat. I admit I expected a scam, and that after guiding us to our destination, he would expect a hefty tip (or fee).
Turned out he was a friend, and Margarita had asked him to look out for us, and to lead us to Margarita's Studio. There is a lesson on trust to be learned from this, but after travelling around Europe for awhile, running the gauntlet of beggars in Rome, we found it rather hard to 'let go' of our hard earned instincts. Sad, but true.
Parikia is very much like Kamari, our favourite town on Santorini. It has all the typical tourist type signage, advertising for camera film, hotels, scooter rental, and of course the numerous shops selling the same hats, postcards, and so on, but Parikia has a softer edge to it.
Paros is a Greek Island, and, as such, tourism is important to the economy, however everybody is laid back, a little sleepy and relaxed, but so accomodating and friendly. You feel welcome, not like the intrusive tourist that we began to feel like on Santorini.
We learned that Paros, just this year, appointed a Minister of Tourism in order to deal with this unexpected popularity. What changes can we expect, only time will tell.
Prices were reasonable in each restaurant we visited, and the food was very good. Greeks do pasta very well, by the way.
Streets were immaculate, no overflowing waste bins, no litter gathering along the curb, and no garish lights attempting to attract shoppers like moths to a light bulb.
However, there is the trashy souvenir shop owner who had installed fluorescent tubes overhead, creating a blaze of intense light, totally obscuring the legal lighting of other shops on the strip.
Sulla Luna, our favourite gelateria, is his unfortunate neighbor, and her efforts to entice customers has been greatly comprimised. Customers have a difficult time seeing the pastel colours of the shop when trying to see past the glare. Most unfair...
From what I understand, Parikia has very strict regulations regarding the installation of high wattage lighting on the exterior of commercial establishments. Just soft, incadescent bulbs are allowed in order to retain the romantic feel of the island. Great rule, makes sense, but somehow can be ignored by a select few.
"A visit to Market Street...absolutely necessary"
Parikia has a fantastic market area. Find your way to Market Street, and enjoy the countless little shops nestled along the narrow, cobblestoned sreeets, lined on both sides by typical whitewashed stucco buildings. Great fun to wander about and feel the energy, the vitality and joy of this small community. English is spoken by many of the townspeople, and I never had any difficulty making myself understood.
Shops generally remain open until the wee hours of the morning, but mostly close during the heat of the afternoon. If a business typically displays a lot of goods on the street, they often remained open because it just wasn't worth having to close and then set up again. The shops who could easily close their doors with no muss or fuss, usually did, and enjoyed siesta time with their families.
Everything you could imagine, from spices, tea, brass what-nots, to carvings, hats and bathing suits could be yours for the asking. Once again, reasonable prices seemed to be the norm. There does not appear to be any attempt to inflate prices, even though the tourist has no other alternatives. Each shop keeper greeted us warmly, and though attentive, did not follow us about with one sales pitch after another. A blessing after previous shopping experiences.
No visit to Parikia is complete without a visit to 'Pebbles', our favourite bar, located just moments down the strip from Suna Luna. Great music, often blues or jazz, served with cheap, but filling omlets, and real filtered coffee. Late night snacks, breakfast, or after dinner drinks, all are served with a fantastic view of the strip or sea, no charge
The people of Parikia were great. As mentioned in our arrival, the businessmen meeting the ferries were selling accomodation, but they also provide a service to the spur of the moment visitor who did not plan ahead, and give much needed directions to confused travellers.
We later met one of the fellows who had 'tried' to help us out on the pier, and after intoducing himself, he expressed concern that he was unable to explain himself sufficiently in order to convey trust through his words. I felt a bit shamed by his simple explanation.
All in all, we loved the town of Parikia, and vow to return to Paros. Next time, we will rent a car, and spend more time exploring other communities and the more remote parts of the island.
We did travel to Lefkes, which is a very remote town in the centre of Paros, but had to rely on bus service for our return. The town was very quaint, worth a stop, but hard to justify the hours spent waiting for public transportation. We did watch an elderly gentleman roll oranges past our feet, which provided him with great amusement as the orange continued its journey down the hill and around the bend. The town does not have a 'centre' as such, and we found exploring rather difficult as there is no signage with which to navigate.
We saw much less than we had planned, so a return visit is in the preliminary stages. The heat does tend to slow you down. Denise, order more cones. The Kettles are returning...