September 13 – 16
The two-hour ferry ride from Naxos (12.40 euros for the two of us) went quickly as we crossed the gulf between the two islands and rounded the northern tip of Paros. After landing in Parikia (the capital of Paros) and locating our luggage, we walked off the boat and were greeted by a son of the owner of Swiss Home, our lodging for the next three nights, who would provide us with our shuttle ride.
Swiss Home had garnered rave reviews and although located on the north side of the island near Naousa (a town I’d stayed near in 1979), the rate of 60 euros per night was quite reasonable given the great breakfast we’d get each morning.
Our driver was quite talkative and provided us with quite a bit of information about the island as we made our way to the hotel.
Upon arrival we checked in, dropped our stuff off in the room, admired the view, and returned to the lobby/bar/breakfast room to enjoy a local beer and chat with the rest of the family.
Being midafternoon and somewhat stranded, (we resolved to rent a car the next day) we spent the rest of the day working on the blog, catching some sun on the balcony, and drinking some of the green liqueur we’d picked up on Naxos.
It had a minty character to it, but was a refreshing tonic for that time of day. For dinner, we decided to eat on property as the owner’s wife, Ana, had received rave reviews for her cooking.
I’ll cover this meal and one more in a Trip Advisor review I’ll reprise later in the blog, but for now I’ll say this was a very nice dinner. Marco, the owner, acted as Maître d’ and asked us if we wanted some wine. When we said yes, he brought out a bottle and opened it for us. Although a posted sign indicated that dinner is an ala carte affair, it turned out that it is fixed menu. We started with a very good Greek Salad (the beauty of Greece is how good the produce is), had a braised vegetable mixture for a second, and one of the best Moussaka’s we’ve yet to experience. A cake like dessert finished off the experience.
The next morning, we enjoyed a full breakfast, a tremendous variety to choose from and more than enough to fill one up for most of the day.
Not long after we finished eating the rental car (35 euros including insurance) we’d arranged for was delivered and soon thereafter we took off for a driving tour of the island. Our first stop was Parikia, where we parked near the harbor and began walking around.
We wound up in the center of town and entered the courtyard of the Panagia Ekatontopylani (Church of the Hundred Doors), one of the oldest churches in the world. Only 99 of the 100 doors have been found; legend has it that the last will not be located until Constantinople is Greek once again.
The church dates to 326 AD and its oldest features likely predate the adoption of Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire in 391. The site was badly damaged by an earthquake in the 18th century, but gradually restored and is a a renowned Marian pilgrimage church of the Aegean, second only to the famed Megalochare church on nearby Tinos Island.
We had arrived on the day when some celebration or observation was taking place, this having to do with the herb plant basil. We weren’t able to get a good explanation at the time and I can’t find anything online about it. But it was impressive none-the-less, the fragrant aroma of basil permeating the church and courtyard without.
Finished with Parikia, we hopped in the car and began our circle of the island, heading counter clockwise and turning slightly inland to visit the Butterflies Valley.
This area is known as the home of the brown and yellow Tiger moth with its black and white spots and two orange-red back wings that appear when it flies.
The butterflies gather at this specific area in June and leave in August. This happens because in September the female butterflies search for bushy areas to lay their eggs and then, they die. The caterpillars come out of the eggs in October and they turn into butterflies in May. In June, the butterflies return to the valley and they stay fixed and almost still on the trees till August, when they mate.
We roamed the complex for an hour or so and with the help of some other visitors finally located a couple of solitary butterflies.
I can imagine what it must be like when the place is inundated with them; we had an experience like it in December 2004 on a trip to the bay area. We’d spent a couple of nights in Santa Cruz and stopped at Natural Bridges State Park to view the Monarch Butterflies that winter . From late fall into winter there. The Monarchs form a “city in the trees” as the area’s mild seaside climate and eucalyptus grove provide a safe place for them to roost until spring.
We left the preserve and continued driving counter clockwise until reaching the area around Naousa. The rest of this day would be devoted to revisiting the places I’d spent time at in 1979 during my here with Janis and Elfreida, the American and German girls, respectively, that I’d met on Corfu at Pelekas and traveled with to Athens, and then down to Paros.
We spent two weeks in total on Paros, the first wild camping on the beach at Piso Livadi, the second at Kalimbitres across the bay from Naousa.
We’ll cover the rest of the day in my next post; it would be a fun time revisiting the journeys of my twenty-eight year old self.
Swiss Home Hotel: http://www.swisshome.gr/
Panagia Ekatontopylani: https://www.greeka.com/cyclades/paros/paros-churches/paros-panagia-ekatontapiliani.htm
Butterflies Valley: http://parosbutterflies.gr/index.php?lang=en
Natural Bridges State Park: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=541