Trip Start May 20, 2008
Trip End Sep 15, 2008

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Flag of Greece  , Cyclades,
Monday, June 23, 2008

6/23 It was very windy on my ferry ride from Mykonos to Paros. I was on what they call a "super-fast" catamaran which tops out at 36 mph (or is it knots?). Anyway, they are the fastest way between islands and not much more expensive than the "slow" ferries. The "super-fast" catamarans tend to handle the most popular routes with Paros being the hub for ferries in the Cyclades Islands.

When I arrived in Paros I saw no sign of my host despite his promise the day before to meet my ferry. It would not have been a big deal if I was staying in Parikia, where the port is, but I'm staying in Naoussa which is the second largest town on the island and closer to the best beaches. After waiting around I finally walked down to the bus station and took a bus to Naoussa. I had no idea where the hostel was in town since it was not in any of my guidebooks.

Entering Naoussa I saw a sign for Hotel Galini so I felt relieved to know where it was. I got off at the main stop and walked up the hill to the hotel but no staff was there (very common at smaller properties). I left my big bag and walked back to explore town since I don't wait well. I stopped by the hotel again an hour later and an employee came out when I rang the bell for assistance. I said I had a reservation and she quickly told me that, "No, you do not." I explained how I made my reservation but she obviously knew what the problem was.

My reservation was with Villa Galini and she was Hotel Galini. I figured they were the same thing since I've encountered this before and, also, could there be 2 Galini places to stay in in this tiny town? Apparently so. After lamenting the confusion the names cause and emphasizing that her hotel was there first, the employee at Hotel Galini gave me directions to Villa Galini. I was bummed since Hotel Galini was pretty nice.

I took my 50lb roller bag and walked across town and then saw a sign for Villa Galini up at the top of this incredibly steep hill. Great! I pulled my bag slowly up the hill as sweat poured off me. I kept thinking of the little engine that could. I was still fuming from not getting picked up at the port and this was making it worse. I would have just found another place to stay had I not paid a deposit.

I found one of my hosts who gave me a room key after some conversation with her husband who was fixing something on the roof. He made no mention of not picking me up so I finally said I didn't see him at the port. He then tells me that his car went "kaput" the night before. Uh huh. I thought there were a lot of other ways he could have handled the situation besides just letting me fend for myself (i.e. asking one of the other Naoussa properties to get me along with their guests). The host did apologize later but I had gotten a good workout thanks to his car problems.

This was the first day in a long time where I never made it to the beach. Just as well since I could tell I was starting to get pink eye. The pink eye seemed to occur suddenly so I picked up some medicine at the pharmacy in town hoping to keep it from getting any worse.

The next day I went to Antiparos which I put in a different entry to separate the photos.

My pink eye just continued to worsen to where both eyes were very bloodshot and painful. I tried going outside but it was just too painful so I spent most of the day in my dark pension room. I was having to wear my glasses but also needed my sunglasses so I tried various combinations to see what worked the best. I had to have the sunglasses so I cautiously walked to town squinting and trying not to trip or get hit by a car. It was very uncomfortable but I was going stir crazy staying in my pension room.

The trip to town wasn't very successful since I had just wanted to use the Internet and even the Internet screen was too bright for my eyes. They hurt and would tear non-stop. Disappointed, I walked back to the pension and tried to catch up on my sleep. That was easier said than done since my hostel only had room fans and not AC! I sweltered on top of the sheets making it tough to get any decent sleep.

As if I wasn't messed up enough, the worst neuropathic pain I've had in several years started and lasted for the next 30 hours. There wasn't much I could do except wait for the eyes to recover and the pain to stop. I knew both were temporary but that didn't make me feel any better. I just stayed in the pension room and thought about what to do in the days ahead. I decided that since my days on Paros had primarily been spent in the pension room that I would just stay 4 more days (rather than going to Milos) and give the island a "do over." I hadn't seen any of the beaches but I did change pensions to one with AC!

Once the sun started going down I went into town since 2 days stuck in my pension room was all I could handle. The town seemed to come alive after dark (I had no idea since I was always at my pension by dark before). Visitors were nicely dressed as they strolled the lanes filled with upscale boutiques and cafes. My guidebook had said Naoussa was a "cosmopolitan destination for the jet set with expensive boutiques and relaxed bars." I had wondered if they had been to a different town until this evening.

The next morning I took a taxiboat to Monasteri Beach which was supposed to be one of the nicer beaches on the island. What a disappointment! It was small, with no services, quite a bit of trash and irritating flies. I would not have stayed long at all except for the taxiboat schedule which only had boats every couple of hours. I did explore the rocky peninsula which was made almost entirely of the white marble Paros is famous for. It seemed odd to be walking on virgin marble which would make such nice floors or countertops. Where the marble was exposed to the sea it even looked polished and ready for use.

I just loved the AC in my new pension! In retrospect, I should have stayed at Young Inn instead of Villa Galini the whole time since they are about the same price. I went back to Antiparos today which I covered in a different entry. In addition to the kiteboarders there were plenty of windsurfers out today as well. Returning from Antiparos I stopped by the Church of 100 Doors in Parikia which is the oldest church in continuous use in Greece. It dates from the sixth century but has been modified numerous times making it tough to see the original structure. The church doesn't actually have 100 doors but that was the plan.

The next day I took a taxiboat to Leggeri Beach which my guidebook said was one of the best beaches in Greece. I'll agree with that assessment! The beach didn't have any services and is pretty isolated making it difficult to reach but I think that is what has kept the beach unspoiled. It is actually a true sandy beach with sand dunes too! That's a rarity in Greece. The beach was quite long covering most of a large natural harbor so there was plenty of room.

I went back to Leggeri Beach my final day and wished I had visited sooner so I wouldn't have bothered with the other dud beaches. Today the taxiboats weren't running because the water was too rough so I ended up having a nice walk of 5k or so each way. I needed the exercise since lounging on a beach reading day after day doesn't burn many calories. It's been almost 6 weeks since I've seen a gym too although I'm not complaining. I did manage to swim a little bit today although both pair of goggles continued to leak (I'm thinking now maybe my face is the problem).

I'm glad I decided to extend my stay on Paros since my first 4 days didn't leave me with a good impression of the island and that would have been unfair. Leggeri Beach is definitely the best of the beaches I visited although there are supposed to be many others but they are accessible only by scooter or car. I think having AC also made everything look a little better to me. I liked Naoussa and think it would be preferable to Parikia if spending several days on Paros. Now it's off to the mainland where I can't wait to see my friends!
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