Because studying abroad is such hard work, we had a break in the middle/end of March. I took this opportunity to visit two islands in the Cyclades (group of islands in the Aegean), Paros and Naxos. Initially planning the five days for a solo trip, I was pleased to be joined by the company of Miranda who had a last minute change in travel plans. Setting off early in the morning, we began our five day bonding adventure.
Part I: Paros
Upon arrival, we realized that March is not a popular time to visit the islands as we were given the strangest looks by locals as they questioned our presence. Nonetheless, we enjoyed our surprisingly vacant island. The three days we were there consisted in both exploration and relaxation.
Day one included some wandering through the main town we were staying in, Parikia, with a trip to the Church of 100 Doors (Panagia Ekatontapyliani). I didn’t count them, but it did have many doors. This Byzantine church is said to have been founded by Saint Helen when she stopped here on her quest to recover the relics of Christ’s Passion from the Holy Land.
We then climbed out onto some rocks to enjoy the sunset and exchange life stories. Important Note to Those travelling during a Greek Spring: It can get real hot during the day, but don’t be deceived because once that sun goes down, it gets surprisingly chilly. Pack layers!
Based on the aforementioned information, Miranda and I went back to our little studio to put on virtually all the shirts we had packed before finding a place for dinner. We ended up at a charming restaurant called Ephesus where we shared an amazing meal in true Greek style: sharing multiple dishes, drinking wine, and talking for hours.
Day two was a bus trip to Naoussa. Although my motion sickness made the transportation a little touch and go at times, it was well worth it. Once again, we were lonely travellers as we explored the quaint town. The main theme was “Not until April”. We asked if they had sunscreen, “Not until April”. We sought out a boat rental place in hopes to find a kayak or canoe, “Not until April”. However, the lack of activities available in March didn’t stop us from enjoying every bit of our days. Just look at that water!
Back in Parikia we enjoyed another sunset and met a group of college guys that were travelling from Germany. A bad call on my part of showing directing them to where we were staying so they could rent their own room (the Aegina incident apparently didn’t teach me anything after all) ended up working out in the best possible way. We enjoyed some wine and conversation with our new neighbors before calling it a night.
Day Three was a day spent exploring with our German friends. They generously offered to give us a ride on their rented four wheelers to a town in the center of the island that Miranda and I wanted to hike from. We walked in the scenic hills as they explored Naoussa and then we met up on a beach to make our way back around the island making stops and beaches and on top of hills, and concluding the night with some star gazing and a delicious meal cooked for Miranda and I. We couldn’t have asked for much better (or caring) company for the day of exploration to cap off our time on Paros.
Part II: Naxos
I will spare you of the blow by blow account of our two days in Naxos but will provide the general overview. Miranda and I pretty much just ate our way through Naxos. This included pancakes (REAL pancakes. a little different, but still) and delicious fruit and yogurt by the seaside, mulitple coffee breaks, and full dinners. When we first arrived we instantly noticed that there were far more people on Naxos than on Paros; however apparently they were all just in the main town because when we ventured on a bus deeper into the island to visit two town on the request of our hostel host we encountered a very underpopulated locations. We did see a lot of sheep though.
In Apeiranthos we enjoyed the gorgeous sceneray on a walk followed by coffee drinks. In Filoti we ate some gigantes (giant beans) and fried potatoes and chatted then walked across the street for some hot chocolate in the biggest mugs as we waited for the bus. I also forgot to put my memory card back into my camera this day so I have few pictures. Like I said, lots of food and drink. I also found my way to the surprisingly only archaeological destination of the vacation, the temple of Apollo that you see as you enter the port of Naxos.
These five days were a true vacation. I ate well, slept well, laughed well, learned well, talked well, and listened well. Not only did I get to experience some island life, but I got the unexpected opportunity to grow in friendship with a lovely woman.
“Truly it is a blessed thing to love on earth as we hope to love in Heaven, and to begin that friendship here which is to endure for ever there.” ―St. Francis de Sales