Monday, September 05, 2016

24 Hours in Paros & Video Diary

Paros wasn't an island I was super excited about, mostly because it was chosen simply as a way to break up the ferry ride from Santorini to Mykonos; I didn't think we could survive 4+ hours on the sea. So, I did some minor research which led me to choose Paros over Naxos (because according to Wikitravel, it's considered the most beautiful island of the Cyclades). Fortunately, it was a lovely surprise how much we enjoyed our short time there.

First of all, the island isn't quite as "spiky" as Santorini or Mykonos, meaning there are no real steep climbs to reach the picturesque towns. We only stayed in Parikia, but everything was settled rather close to the water so we didn't have to get our sweat on constantly as we explored. Secondly, the beaches here are gorgeous and sandy, not gravelly. We walked 5 minutes from our hotel to a beach by the port and it was so beautiful and won my heart as my favorite of the trip. Lastly, the vibe here is so laid back, the hoards of tourists are much more minimal, and the people are so friendly and welcoming. They genuinely want you to have a good time instead of just trying to take your money. It was certainly the most affordable island we visited - the lodging was cheap, as was the food and the portions at restaurants was quite generous - and if I were European and looking for a laid back trip, this is where I would go.
Our journey to Paros started in Mykonos. I booked ferry tickets online a few days prior (since it was high season, I wanted to make sure it didn't fill up).

BLUE STAR FERRIES
The ferry was actually really nice and pretty luxe. Because so many people got off in Santorini, it was essentially empty when we got on board which meant that we had our pick of seats. We settled into seats on the right side of the ship, so we could get lovely views as we were leaving, and got nice and comfortable. We loved our experience with Blue Star and I definitely recommend them.
The windows were a bit dirty so I didn't get the most captivating snaps of Santorini, but I was too happy in my plush chair to make the journey to the outside deck. But that's a nice thing to note as well: there is seating outdoors if you prefer it and if you're prone to seasickness, it's nice to get fresh air. My sister and I both get motion sick, but we took some Dramamine beforehand and we managed just fine.
The ferry made one stop before hitting Paros: the island of Naxos. For this, I overcame my laziness to go outside and grab some photos. This looked like a much busier island than Paros so I'm glad with our decision. But, maybe someday I'll visit because you can't deny that each and every island in the Cyclades is bursting with charm.
After about a three hour journey, we arrived in Paros and were herded off the ferry like cattle.
AKROTIRI HOTEL
Our hotel had arranged a free transfer for us so they picked us up promptly at the ferry and took us to our hotel, which was just a short five minute drive from the port. The view from the hotel was fabulous. We paid $120 for the night and this was the cheapest room of the trip, but most definitely the most hospitable.
Before checking us in, they offered us fresh homemade lemonades (which were so delicious and a welcome refreshment after our sea journey) and then showed us to our rooms.
Our room was cozy and quaint and looked like it had be remodeled recently. The bathroom was modern-looking (though we still couldn't flush toilet tissue) and clean.
Around 20:00, our hotel offered to drive us into town (as the driver was heading into pick up more guests from the port anyway) so we took them up on it.
Once we got to town, we walked along the water's edge and enjoyed the scenery just as the sun was setting.
KORALLI
For dinner, we took our hotel's suggestion and dined at Koralli. They had lots of fresh seafood on offer, which we were pretty excited about.
I went all out and got a beer, and went with Alfa, at our waiter's suggestion.
For our starters, we got the taramasalata and the steamed mussels in wine. The taramasalata was salty and creamy and really quite delicious. The mussels were tender and cooked nicely and I really liked the briney, winey broth.
For the main, I think there was some miscommunication because we ended up with just one slab of fish to share between the two of us, but we just went with it. The fish was fresh (it was their fish of the day) and prepared in a simple, delicious way. We squeezed on a little lemon and dove right in.
Since we were underwhelmed by the quantity of food, we also asked for a Greek salad; gotta get that five-a-day, right?
After we paid the bill, we were given complimentary slushies, which were nice but also just pure sugar so we couldn't take more than a couple of sips.
Afterwards, we ended up walking back to the hotel, taking a rather long route home, but I think we really enjoy getting our steps in our health app on holidays so neither of us minded much.
The next morning, we were up nice and early, per our usual schedule. We headed down for breakfast, which was served buffet style.
I'm not going to lie, we really missed our Strogili House breakfast. The yogurt here had the consistency of ricotta and it was just too thick. However, I did enjoy the bacon and eggs on offer. The eggs were apparently from a local organic farm; they were bomb.
Immediately after breakfast, we packed up some towels and made our way down towards the water.
LIVADIA BEACH
For practical reasons, we settled in at Livadia Beach, as it was the closest beach to our hotel that also offered sunloungers. Technically, it was €3 to borrow the loungers but since the beach bar wasn't even open yet, no one bothered us and it was free.
When we arrived, there was a group doing water aerobics in the sea, which I thought was really cool. If I lived by a gorgeous, crystal clear sea to do water aerobics in, I would. Like I mentioned above, this was easily the best beach we visited. The sand was powdery soft, the water was really clean and nice to be in (not rocky in the slightest) and the water was shallow for a ways out so there were no boats interfering near the swimming area.
After our beach time, we showered and checked out and decided to spend the hour or two before our port transfer hanging out in the lounge area. There was an adorable dog (owned by one of the staff) meandering around the property and all she wanted to do was play so I indulged her.
Our hotel dropped us off at the port with our bags and we wandered around town looking for a lunch spot. We could have certainly done a bit more exploring of the town (I actually completely forgot about Panagia Ekatontapiliani, a.k.a. the Church of 100 Doors) but I think it would have been too cumbersome with our luggage.
ELAEA RESTO
We ended up eating at Elaea, which was a nice choice as the staff were super friendly and the portion sizes were insane and the prices were dirt cheap.
For starters, we had a warm feta which was coated in a sesame seed breading and drizzled with honey. This was so delicious, my mouth is watering thinking about it.
Our second start was dolmades. Again, these were delicious; you really can't go wrong ordering traditional Greek food in Greece.
M went for the sardines and since it was only €8, she was expecting a plate of maybe six fish. Instead, she was brought more than a dozen. These little fish were super fresh though and really tasty.
I went for the kebabs, which were really good. They were served with some sort of aioli though and I wished there was tzatziki, but it was still a really satisfying meal anyway. I especially loved the grilled pepper.
After lunch, we made our way to the port to wait for our ferry. Unfortunately, it was an hour late, which was rather annoying because we could have spent more time at the beach or done some exploring around town instead of wasting time in the little jail cell-like waiting area. But hey, part of having a relaxing holiday is to just roll with the punches, which is what we did.
Here's my video diary:

And here's my map of our Greek isle spots (visited spots are in red and didn't-get-to-visit spots are in blue):

xoxo.

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