Three months have quickly passed, and summer is starting
full swing. The ferry port is evidence of this, as each ferry brings eager
tourists ready for island life. We have had our share of tourists here
at our pension: Scandinavians, French, New Zealanders and Israel,
to name a few. Even a surprise visit from Michael's brother and
sister-in-law who live in Virginia. And our son Justin, and his fiancée,
Ana from Oregon. So it has been a busy month, indeed.
Michael's brother and sister-in-law were unfortunately here
only a short while, but left marveling that they "love it here, and will
be returning soon... and wouldn't this be a fabulous spot for a summer holiday
house"...etc. Words we love to hear! Our son and his fiancée
made themselves right at home, and using us as a jump off point to visit other
islands when they needed a change of scene. We all managed to go to
Santorini together for an overnighter...and then they went to Samos and
Ephesus (Turkey) later. Definitely a trip we plan to make at some point.
Each island has something wonderful about it; either historically or
One day my son suggested we all go to the mountain town of
Lefkes and take the old Byzantine trail down 3 km. to the little sea
village of Podromhas. He knew it was something I was eager to do, and
had not done yet. We left one scooter at the bottom of the trail, and
ferried ourselves up to the top where we also left one scooter. (Lots of
songs and dances to figure the simple math of that one out - must be the heat
that muddles our brains!) We walked through Lefkes, admiring all the
little alleyways, and the view. I gave them a bit of history, such as
during earlier days Lefkes was the capital instead of Pariokia (now the main
town and port) because of the pirate raids! Safety in the hills! We
also attempted to visit the Byzantine Museum, but true to Greek style, it was
closed. While we walked we kept admiring the sea in the
distance, all around us were olive groves, tinkling bells of goats in the far
off ravines and old windmills on the hills above us. It was exciting to
know we were following in the footsteps of such an old and active time in
commerce...and pondered just who and why and when it all took place. The
walk was over before we knew it!
We left Michael and our son to go get the scooter and meet up
at the local park. In the meantime, Ana and I got lost in the little
village alleyways, and had to ask an old kindly gentleman the way out!
Neither of us could understand one word he spoke, but he told us over and over
with such a gleam in his eye I wondered just what he WAS telling us! We
nodded our faked understanding of his "instructions",
clucked in all the right places, smiled a lot...and proceeded to get lost some
more! Finally, common sense took over and viola! We found the road
and our fellas!
Weather-wise it seems to continue being quite windy.. thank
goodness there are coves that stay calm for swimming. The sea is
just now starting to feel definitely warmer due to hotter days. One day
recently, we purposely chose a beach that had some great breakers and found
ourselves body-surfing! We felt like children....laughing at each other
while letting ourselves be knocked down by very large waves; coming up for air
only to be knocked down again! (All that fun on the way home from
grocery shopping! ) One habit we have adopted is coming back, taking
a shower, and sitting down with a cold beer on our balcony to rest or flop on
the bed for a late afternoon siesta. Not a bad way of life, huh?
The owner of our building, Wolfgang and his wife and children
are taking a 3 week holiday in Germany. So we have become surrogate
farmers! Meaning that Michael feeds rabbits and chickens twice a day,
collects eggs, and waters what is left of his garden. I have taken over
washing and ironing the pension sheets and towels. The gardens in Greece
are interesting: in the States gardens would now be coming fruitful,
while here it is nearly finished. I am not sure when it starts
again....I suppose it finishes early because it starts much earlier than I am
used to. We are now picking just a few odds and ends:
green peppers, tomatoes, and lots of onions. There are several
rows of sunflowers that are grown mostly for the rabbits. They
really relish the seeds and leaves of them. The bunnies were
so tiny when I first met them, and now they are quite big, but still adorable.
Hard to believe they are being raised for food! I try not to think
about it. Also we are becoming more used to saving kitchen
scraps (vegetables and fruits) for the chickens. The compost pile in the
corner of their field is their gourmet restaurant!
We have a caper bush! Apparently this bush is quite
common to the Greeks and grows all over the Mediterranean. One day
Antonia, the owners wife, stopped by and in Greek and German tried to
explain to me about a low lying bush that was growing next to the road, and
under a taller bush. I was about to tell her that we almost pulled it out
because it appeared dead and only became green and full of lovely blossoms
that week. But from her motions and languages, I could tell she wanted
to tell me something...so I strained to understand her. In a few short
moments it was apparent to me that this plant was something special....she
knelt down and started picking the little buds and pantomimed saving them in a
container, putting water over them and then throwing the water away for 3
days in a row. Then, she shook something over them...what? what?
Ah, salt! Then throw that away, put them into another container, cover
with vinegar and store in the fridge for several months. After all that charades
and excited arm waving, I am amazed how women who don't speak the same
language can stand and "talk" - even exchange recipes!
I have carefully completed the instructions using salty sea water instead
of shaking table salt over them! At the moment they are in
the fridge, ageing. Not sure how long they are suppose to age....but the
internet is helping to fill in the gaps of this experiment. I tried
one the other day, and it was not particularly good, so perhaps it takes
longer to age.....I will try again later. You can't hurry a good
thing! Fingers crossed.
We have enjoyed watching the World Cup from different places:
our reception room TV, and local tavernas where it is interesting to
be a part of the crowd, listening to people make comments about the different
teams. We watched the Americans play in just such a setting. Most
of the Greeks were rooting for the American team, so we could shout and
carry on without any evil glances! Our office TV has only 3 channels,
and they do not come in very well. But we enjoy videos on our own
TV...and are amazed at the selections to rent. We are looking for one
that one of the town policemen we have met is in! It shows him waking up
a crowd who are asleep on the beach, using a megaphone. Actually, he
told me that scene really happened in real life. Back in the 1980's
tourism was just starting to take off on the islands. The problem was
not enough hotels rooms. So the people just took to sleeping on the
beach as the ferry had left and they had no place to stay. One problem
compounded another....and the police did not want them sleeping on the beach
night after night...so decided one of them had to go and wake the tourists and
get them up and moving on their way. Well, back then, the police had not
learned many manners, I guess, because the tourists where rudely
awakened...which angered my friend, Dimitris. So he complained, and as
we all know, the complainer gets to think of a better way! Which
he did. He got a megaphone, went to the beach early in the morning (8:00
AM), loudly, but in a friendly voice said, "Good morning tourists!
It is a LOVELY day, and you must GET UP NOW and SEE IT! BREAKFAST is
waiting your stomachs, so please wake now, and enjoy this lovely day!
THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!" He became famous amongst his colleagues for
that episode, and when the Brits came to make a movie (unfortunately a Grade
B) he was asked to do this part for the scene! I guess that makes him a
star! He certainly is handsome enough!
I have been meeting some wonderful Greeks and local expats,
which give just the right flavour to the day. Dimitris is one...he is
very knowledgeable about Greek history and loves to share it! A Swiss
painter who paints without a brush, using only his hands...and shows his
artwork all over the world....(it is not my taste, but he and his partner are
so very interesting and friendly) and a lovely Australian women who just had
twins...and loves people to stop by and entertain them to free her for awhile.
A walk with a pram on a beach is quite an interesting way to meet people and
start conversations! So our days are not only the pension, but
intermingling with others here on the island. Everyone has a story...
I write only the about fun and interesting things, because as
we all know there are downsides and boring times as well. Fortunately,
very few. I just don't want people to think we are living in utopia and
having nothing but fun. We work, and we work hard, but we enjoy life
also. Just the other night Aliki had a local festival with free grilled
octopus, retsina, music and a big beach bonfire. The party was in
celebration of a religious holiday called Whit-Sunday, and Whit-Monday.
It went on for a long time: we finally came home and went to sleep with the
faint sound of the music in the background, but it did not deter the puppy
across the way from yelping all night long! We still have to spray for
bugs, the mosquito's still love me (not Michael), my scooter had a flat and a
new tire cost as much as a car's, the hotwater tank sprung a leak, and I
got a parking ticket! So, you see, island life is just like anywhere
else! The nice thing is that for the most part, our hotel guests never
have to experience it....they just party late, sleep late, read and swim a
lot, and get to eat out more because they are on holiday!
From what I am hearing from our guests, they enjoy Paros and
each person has found areas they feel are special to them, or discovered areas
even I did not know about! They are filling up our guestbook with lovely
I will end with this: just watched a gigantic red sun completely
and quickly swallowed by a blue sea! In my mind it is totally
comprehensible how ancient Greek mythology and pagan beliefs came
about....nature is awesome.
Michael's meagre contribution: a little philosophy.
Karin does such a wonderful, evocative job of describing our
life on Paros that I see no gaps to fill in. If any readers have any
questions of us, please ask.
As I browse travel sites on the internet and read questions I
try to answer what I can in order to share our knowledge. Also I enjoy
and learn from other's answers. Just last week someone wrote to say they
were planning a three week trip to Greece. What should they look for?
what to avoid? which islands were best? any tips? Someone else wrote
back the perfect answer. "I recommend the Lonely Planet Guide Book.
They take about 750 pages to answer your questions."
We are glad to help with specifics such as ferry schedules,
rates, good places to stay, eat, local buses, what things should cost and the
like. Yet each visitor is different; there are no bests. No one
likes to suffer the consequences of a mistake, yet having an adventure turns
an ordinary day into a lifetime memory (Ask Karin about our Samaria Gorge
experience!) A little discomfort from stretching your boundaries is good
for the soul, I believe.
My major advice to prospective travellers is to have a good
attitude and everything else will fall into place as it should. You may
not walk the most direct route to your destination but you will learn,
experience and grow more by not trying for pre-packaged perfection.
Besides plans never work out anyway.
Finally, we have all heard the number one travel advice:
Pack light! This month I finally met someone who follows it.
Experienced travellers who were here for a week with only what the rest of us
would call a day pack each. Well done, Doug and Maryrose.