After the busy streets of Mykonos, the myriad of bars, clubs and pubs and the party island feel; Paros was another world entirely. Our Busabout group arrived at our lovely accommodations, just a short walk away from the quiet main street in Paros, and settled in to home for the next two nights. The first night, Dax took us on a walking tour of Paros with the major highlight being the Church of 100 Doors. Although the significance of the church seemed to be a bit of a mystery all around, the legend says that, of the original 100 doors, only 99 remain, the final door having been stolen by the Turks. It is said that if the final door is ever returned, Istanbul will fall. With that bit of pseudohistory to entertain us, Dax led us to a great seafood restaurant where I indulged in some swordfish kebabs but unfortunately by that point I had realised that lack of sleep, the stress of planning a trip and the ability to relax in Greece had all combined to slam me with a rather nasty cold. Instead of join the group for an evening of partying in Paros, I instead returned to the hotel for an incredibly early night in the hopes that the cold would clear by the next morning for our boat ride.
Since we met in Athens, Dax had been talking up the Paros excursion, a day-long boat ride from Paros around the neighboring island of Andiparos as one of the highlights of the entire Greece trip. Not only did we spend the day at sea on a boat, but lunch saw us stopping off at a small, isolated beach where our boat captain would grill up fresh octopus, sea urchins and crab along with pork and chicken skewers. This would be served alongside Greek salad, fresh bread and as much Ouzo as we could be convinced to drink (Ouzo is the local alcoholic beverage of choice, tasting a bit like sambuca crossed with motor oil). Of course the boat would be well stocked as well with an endless supply of red and white wine to take the edge of the sea breeze and cliff jumping.
Despite my still rather stuffy nasal passages, with all of that in mind I had no intention of having anything other than a fantastic time so, sunscreen, tissues and camera in hand, I boarded our sailboat.
It was without a doubt, one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, and the sea air definitely had a positive impact on my cold. Between dancing on the deck, lounging on the beach, tasting octopus and sea urchin and managing to get red wine all over EVERYTHING in sight, we even managed to take a few rolls of pictures and videos which were converted into the following music video for the day’s theme song (note, if you’re offended by bad language, this song is about as bad as it gets. The song, ‘I’m on a Boat’ is done by musical comedy troupe Lonely Island known for their funny yet rather graphic songs that have appeared on SNL).
After a day on the boat, our return to Paros was marked by most with another night of partying but still nursing a cold, I decided to take another night in, hoping I would feel better the next day for our early transfer to the island I had been most looking forward to seeing – Santorini.
While I saw very little of Paros, between our boat trip, the amazing food and lovely hotel I have some of the best memories from that little island. However with my health returning and Santorini ahead, I had plenty more to look forward to….
So, having had a few days to recoup from the epic adventure that was my Greek Island tour, I suppose it’s about time to start recaping what exactly went down in the Aegean. I’ll break this up into different posts based on the islands we visited and what we saw there but first a recap of the trip overall.
I travelled to Greece to meet up with the Busabout Adventures Greek Island Hopper group. Busabout is another tour group under the umbrella of Radical Travel so this now marks my third trip with them (previously I travelled to Ireland with Shamrocker and Wales with Haggis Adventures). I met up with the group and guide to get all of our transportation details and itinerary for the trip at the port in Athens at 6:30am, approximately seven hours after I had arrived the night before so I wasn’t exactly bright eyed and bushy tailed. Because we were one of the last tours, and just squeezing into the end of the off-season, there were only nine of us in the group but the people on my trip ended up being so much fun that it was hard to imagine that an increase in group size would have done anything except make our transports more crowded.
The ten of us, including our guide, got to know each other on the first boat – a five and a half hour ferry ride to Mykonos, our first port of call. Along the way, the ferry stopped off at Syros and Tinos. Anyone who had been napping was given a forceful wakeup call at Syros where local vendors selling the island specialty, homemade nougat, boarded to sell their wares – a process that involved shouting in Greek at the top of their lungs about the quality of their goods, the price, the nougatiness of the nougat and possibly a wide variety of other things we couldn’t understand.
Upon our arrival at Mykonos, we got some of the local history and mythology from Dax, our Busabout guide. With the most interesting mythology of any of the islands we visited, Mykonos is famous for being the battleground of the Olympians and the Titans (the precursors and parents of the Olympian gods including Zeus, Apollo, Athena and all the rest) where they fought for control of the world. Mythologically speaking, this explains the barren, rocky, wind-swept landscape of Mykonos; supposedly it is still scarred from the epic, godly battle. Mykonos is also the point of departure for any tours of Delos, one of the most sacred places in Greek mythology and the birth place of the twin gods Apollo and Artemis. In more recent and verifiable history, Mykonos was also subject to repeated pirate attacks which explains the maze-like streets and impossible-to-navigate city centre.
I was disappointed to learn that Monday, the only full day we’d spend on the island, was the one day tours didn’t run to Delos so I would miss out on the chance to visit that particular historical site but my disappointment was quickly driven from my mind when I saw the beach where we would be staying. In a set up highly reminiscent of my trip to Cancun, beach chairs, a nearby bar, clear waters and sunny skies characterised the landscape and although our basic sleeping conditions certainly weren’t any five star accommodations, the beach more than made up for it.
After getting settled, Dax took our group into the town of Mykonos for a brief tour. We started out at the famous windmills which previously covered the island, working quite effectively in the high island winds, but now remain just for tourist photos; then followed Dax into the maze of the town. A particularly beautiful part of the city was known as Little Venice for it’s seaside dining and beautiful buildings. After a traditional Greek dinner and some cocktails in a bar overlooking the Aegean, I turned in early to catch up on my sleep and prepare for my own tour of Mykonos the next day.
As Delos was unavailable, myself, a the other girls on my trip, decided to head back into town for exploration, shopping and lunch before relaxing on the beach the next afternoon. We had an amazing morning wandering through the streets, getting entirely lost and, to our amazement, beginning to figure out how to navigate the maze by the time we were ready to return to the beach.
It seemed like far too short a time on Mykonos before we were loading our bags onto the less than affectionately named “vomit comet” or high speed ferry that would take us to Paros, the second island in our tour, but we had a fantastic first island experience and were all looking forward to part two!
- Ooh look at that! The acropolis! Waiting for area to open for whirlwind tour before heading off to the airport. #
- http://twitpic.com/jkt4m – Wowed by the parthenon 🙂 #
- Whew, so, saw a bit of athens and now am on the metro heading to the airport. Sad vacation is ending but excited to get back to london. #
- Just boarding flight to london, goodbye greece! I’ll definitely be back 🙂 #
- Hellooo london! Back in the uk. Now a rather hectic afternoon of laundry and chores. Think i’d prefer a greek beach! #
- Our flight has been waiting for gatwick to tell us where to pick up our bags for nearly 45 min. This is ridiculous. #
- Lost in ios: my sweater and my dignity. Found in ios: good times all around 🙂 #
- I just can’t believe this is our last full day in greece! The last few days have gone so fast. Back to athens on the boat… #
- Last few hours of sun,.. Can i stay here please? #
- Rugby on the beach and more sunning now it’s off to the port for our ios to athens transfer. #
- Blindingly tired and still another hour on the boat to athens. Looking forward to some sleep! #
- Back in athens and time for a bit of rest before an early start, quick tour of the acropolis then midday flight back to ldn. #
- Ugh. Totally sunburn free until the last day… And today i get fried. Oops. #
- Yep, party capital. Just made it back at about 4 am. Definitely bedtime. Water sports and beach fun later today… #
- Note to self, when plan is to sleep for ages be sure to turn off yesterday’s alarm. #
- Amazing morning hike through the hills of ios, views were incredible! Now some watersports perhaps? #
- Ooh change of plans! Atv-ing it to homer’s tomb on the other side of the island. Cool! #
- How great was that? 4 of us atv-ed to see homers tomb. A few hours of rugged greek terrain to see a national hero 🙂 #
- Last night to party in ios… Better make the most of it! (oh and turn off the alarm for tomorrow) #