Island Hopping – Paros

Well Paros didn’t get off to the best start did it? We weren’t originally going to come here but a last minute change of plan had us thinking fuck it, let’s have a look shall we? The ferry crossing wasn’t long, only a couple of hours, but the wind was insane. The crew handed out sick bags at one point. I’d taken a Kwells so my brain had turned to mush, and in a related note, if anyone knows of a travel sickness tablet that doesn’t relieve you of your basic motor functions please share.

Naoussa wanderings.

You have no fucking clue what’s going on when one of these ROROs gets to port, they like to get them unloaded and reloaded as quickly as possible. What it feels like is a handbrake turned executed by your mate Dave in his Golf GTI. By this point you’re all gathered in the garage ready to be herded off, the doors start coming down way before you’re docked and the scenery flies past as the boat spins into place.

Are we ever getting bored of these pavements with white walls and pink flowers? Probs not.

We pulled into Paros port, then immediately pulled out again as crew barged through the crowd and yelled into walkie talkies. Someone had fucked up. We span around again and finally pulled in and the mass of flesh and hair spilled off the boat and into Parikia where there were KTEL buses waiting to take people to their destinations.

In lieu of a photo of the main port which isn’t overly inspiring, have a photo of the port in Naoussa instead.

There are three campsites on Paros; one was closing for the season, the best located had the worst reviews that made it sound like you’d come away with several different types of medieval diseases, so by process of elimination we ended up at Blue Aura near, but not in, Naoussa.

We knew there’d be a walk from the bus to the campsite but when the wind is trying to relocate the sea to the shore it’s not a very dry walk.

Dear fucking lord above, don’t bother. You could forgive the location if they, y’know, actually opened the mini market or café they claimed to have. They don’t, so your nearest shop is a 30 minute walk away. It’s also filthy. I’ve stayed in some utter shitholes in my years of travel. I’ve shared showers with ants. I’ve watched a dark shape scurry across the floor and hoped to fuck it was a small mouse and not a massive spider. We even wild camped in a woodlouse invested lookout hut on the South West Coast Path and all of the above made my skin crawl less than this shithole did.

I wish I’d taken more photos of this place but I didn’t think. It actually looks deceptively nice in this shot.

We could probably have coped on account of the price, we could have made it work but it was so fucking dusty. The wind is no one’s fault but the area you pitch your tent was just this fine dirt which coated everything. It was fine enough to get through the mesh of the tent inner, everything was covered in the shit and when I woke up several times wiping the grit out of my eyes and mouth that was it. No way could we stay here. We booked the cheapest room in Naoussa we could find the following morning and bailed.

That was an absolute game changer, just being somewhere we could have a shower and not feel dirtier than when we went in. We were minutes from all the action too. We’d intended to rent a quad bike today but by the time we’d settled in we decided to just do as little as humanly possible because fuck it, we’re on holiday. We’d had a boat tour booked for the following day but the crazy winds had forced that to cancel so we figured we could just go for a ride then. We spent the afternoon strolling the streets of beautiful Naoussa, applying freddos and beer to our faceholes.

On a still day this would have been a nice place to sit but today you’d just end up covered in a fine layer of sea spray and grit.

The following day we found a place that would lend us a quad bike, our theory being that it’d be more stable if a gust of wind came at us sideways. Four wheels good, two wheels bad sort of thing but without the horror of the person controlling the vehicle being on the left hand side. I’m only just coming to terms with driving on the right, it requires a lot of thinking. I’ve got over 20 years of driving on the left to undo which is fine but I’ve not had to face a roundabout yet and I can’t guarantee I’m not going to just start crying.

Well we won’t lose it in the dark.

We headed to a nearby peninsula to have a stroll to a lighthouse because why the devil not? It’s near Monastiri Beach which has a restaurant, and they’ve completely covered the beach in sunbeds and parasols. It’s a nice, albeit dusty walk to the lighthouse with some cracking rocks that had been shaped by the wind. We chilled there for a short while, chatting to a bloke with a gorgeous doggo who told us Paros was the most diverse island with a bit of everything. Cute villages, nice beaches. It just didn’t do any one thing particularly well.

We headed to one of the aforementioned nice beaches, Golden Beach, but it really wasn’t the weather for it. The wind whipped the sand against our legs but it was the first beach we’d visited since we got to Greece so damn right I’m dipping my toes in the Aegean. We popped to a bar for a soft drink then headed back to the bike. The beach wasn’t going to work out for us, let’s try a cute village.

It would actually be a great beach in the right weather.

Lefkes doesn’t disappoint! It’s a pedestrian only village but there are loads of places to park. Tell you what though, Paros roads are definitely busier than Tinos, mostly filled with tourists on quad bikes, and the entrance to the village was lined with rental vehicles. Despite this it didn’t feel too busy.

Cute village? Check!

We wandered around and found the big church which was closed for siesta. This is another thing we weren’t aware Greece did but it makes sense given how bastard hot the afternoon is. Quiet hours at the places we’ve been staying are from around 2 or 3pm through until 5.30pm, then again from 11pm. It’s a very cool church though, it’s a shame we couldn’t go inside.

I’m obsessed with the bell towers on pretty much all the churches on these islands but these are particularly spectacular.

We strolled through the narrow streets, happy to get lost but not too lost lest we end up wandering in infinite circles then dying of dehydration and they find our dessicated corpses being nibbled on by cats, until we found a tiny, shady square which somehow managed to cram two cafés around the edge and sat down for our daily freddo fix. I’m not sure how I’m going to cope without my little doses of caffeine, sugar and ice. I mean, I know iced coffee isn’t exclusive to Greece but they just do it so bloody well.

A nice place to sit and chill.

That was enough motoring for one day. This particular quad bike wasn’t actually much fun to ride, it felt like the wheels were going to rattle off when it got to 50 kph and we’d been warned that they were easy to tip. It was definitely preferable to a scooter given how fucking brutal the winds still were but yeah nah, that’d do.

We’d intended to have a few drinks at a gay friendly bar we’d seen but that didn’t get going until quite late so we headed to a place we’d had a decent breakfast this morning to have a bottle of wine. Turns out Greek wine is pretty alright. I like dry white wine and the staff at La Zucca knew what they were on about when we asked for a recommendation. It was lovely actually, just chilling by the harbour. By the time we’d finished the bottle we were too relaxed for a late night bar and headed back to our room. Paros, mate, you redeemed yourself today.

We’ve been trying to save money on eating out by cooking one-pot camping food on my little stove. It’s working quite well but I can’t guarantee we won’t die of malnutrition before we leave Greece.

Jump to “Useful shit to know…”

Paros, South Aegean, Greece / Πάρος, Νότιο Αιγαίο, Ελλάδα

Stayed at: Blue Aura Camping, Livadia and Kamara Rooms & Studios, Naoussa

Blue Aura Camping. Very cheap but absolutely filthy. The location is terrible too, they’re meant to have a mini market but it’s not open so the nearest shop is a 30 minute walk away. There’s no atmosphere on the site. You’re best off splashing out on a room in Naoussa.
Kamara Rooms & Studios. Really lovely, really clean. Close to all the action but on a quiet enough street that grandma here can get her sleep. It’s air-conditioned too and the shower is the best we’ve had since we got to Greece.

Useful shit to know…

  • The bus terminals at Parikia and Naoussa have kiosks where you can buy bus tickets. It was €1.80 each one way. I believe tickets are available at shops and kiosks.
  • If you’re staying at Blue Aura (but seriously, don’t) or anywhere else in Livadia, get off the bus at Crossroads Kolimpithres.
  • Bus schedules can be found here
  • There are plenty of places to rent quad bikes and scooters but we found ML offered the best price. They have two branches.
  • The small quad bikes are rarer than rocking horse shit, I guess because if you have a European car licence you can ride one. Americans need a motorcycle licence.
  • ML charged us €45 for one day for a small quad. It’s cheaper if you rent for multiple days. Larger quads are €65, the biggest were around €80. Buggies were between €80 and €100.
  • Petrol ranged from €2.21 per litre up to €2.31 per litre.

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