Last Night in Greece with a Full Moon lighting the Acropolis

On a brilliant blue-sky day in Greece, after awakening early to say goodbye to Paros, return my bike, and take the last walk along the port and through the old settlement village, Luciano walked me to the ferry. I settled into my seat on the top tier outside with the wind against my face and bid a fond farewell to an island that captured a huge part of my heart. With hundreds of people on the Saturday afternoon boat, what was my surprise to literally bump into a woman who had been in my yoga class? We enjoyed each other’s company for the five-hour boat ride discussing lives lived thousands of miles apart, bound by the threads of womanhood, using fragmented sentences, facial expressions and highly active hands.

Paros to Athens was similar to the earlier transition of Edinburgh to Istanbul. So much activity, bustling, rapid movements, looking left to right to ensure safety of one’s life while crossing streets, and lots and lots of people everywhere — until I reached the sanctuary of Joe’s home in the neighborhood of Mets. After welcoming the evening with a delicious Greek Rosé on his patio, not far from the Acropolis, we enjoyed dinner at MAHNMAHN, an upscale restaurant, which specializes in modern Greek Cuisine. The food was simply delicious.

The story I wish to tell, however, is the walk after dinner beginning at midnight. The full moon was bright enough to allow us to safely stroll along cobbled streets to the top of a hill where we had an exquisite view of the Acropolis. But it was the getting there that took my breath away. With each step we saw different perspectives of the Acropolis surrounded by old parts of the city where the architecture and history came alive as Joe, a Greek architect, described to me in great detail the history of what we were seeing. We came across a small, very old church, which had centuries ago been elegantly landscaped and designed with a minimalist’s eye, and I breathed in the history of this ancient city.Postcards from Paros 19Postcards from Paros 20Postcards from Paros 21Postcards from Paros 22

Eating my way through Paros, Greece

For twenty glorious days, I ate my way through Paros. My favorite restaurant was Kopanni. It is near Tango Beach and where I first discovered grilled sardines, which became my comfort food for the duration of my stay on Paros. Everything at Kopanni is fresh, local and delicious and their specialty is, of course, fish.0. Sardines02. Greece landscape

Levantis offered the most elegant food of my adventure in Paros prepared by Chef Georgios Mavridis. A husband/ wife team owns and beautifully manages this small, elegant, delicious restaurant located in the central market street of Parikia.

Il Susuro del Pino is a garden restaurant with absolutely delicious fish and other Greek specialties. With all seating outside, it offers a delightful environment, especially if one is fond of cats.

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Niatsa Estiatorio is an Italian restaurant in the quaint town square of Naoussa. Luciano and I bicycled the 15+ kilometers from Parikia to Naoussa, stopping to swim and sight see along the way, so we were well rewarded upon reaching Niatsa.  

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Ouzeri-Tavern in the Port of Alyki on Paros was one of my favorite dining experiences. After Yoga, I enjoyed a sumptuous white fish dish baked in parchment paper with assorted vegetables. It was exquisitely prepared and the afternoon was memorable with a gorgeous view of the Aegean, children playing in the sea, and fisherman returning to the port.06. FoodAlykiVivason a small cobbled-stone street in Antiparos, was perhaps the greatest culinary surprise of my stay on Paros. Most of the restaurants were closed for the season by the middle of October when Nico and I took the ferry from Parikia to Antiparos. We were delighted to taste authentic Greek dishes expertly prepared from local products.IMG_326609. Nico08.

My favorite vendor was a woman by the name of Chrysoula Kazakidou. Although she offered wellness services such as Reiki, craniosacral and relaxing massage, which I unfortunately found out about too late for my visit, it was her shop with all local products from cheese to wine to Greek olive oil based Shea butters that initially caught my attention.  She was even so kind as to pick wild thyme from her garden for me to send to my cousin Susie….Chrysoula’s shop is right on the port across from where the ferries come and go… x.kazakidou@gmail.com

Wine, Words and Wonderful Living in Paros, Greece

I asked Colin, the co-owner of the Greek Cafe, where he bought his wine, and he sent me to the island wine broker, Yannakos Mourlas. It turns out Yannakos’ warehouse was merely a short bike ride from my house. Yannakos welcomed me with a lengthy conversation, as he pointed out his favorite Greek wines. Mind you this was quite a task, as he has between 800 – 900 bottles of Greek wines on his shelves.

A few shelves from Yannakos' warehouse

A few shelves from Yannakos’ warehouse

You can only imagine the fun I had tasting through some of these wines. Fortunately, I had brought with me Tara Q. Thomas’ review from Wine & Spirits August 2013 issue of “Year’s Best Greece.” Yannakos was quite impressed with her reviews, so I recommend that you defer to Tara for Greek wine selections. Here are some photos of Yannakos’ favorites. 

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As for weather, today I’m sitting outside wearing two wool sweaters and a cashmere scarf braving the elements because I don’t wish to be inside in Greece in the beginning of October.Postcards from Paros 1The place I am staying is lovely — centrally located and small, with one double bed, tiny bathroom and a second room with convenience kitchen, couch, table et al. No view of the sea, but moments away on foot. One by one, many of the resorts are closing for the season and today the weather is windy and cold, and I am delighted. I am being kept company by the paper mache ax man and the colorful guy in the corner, and of course the incredible books that grace the shelves at Connie and Rod’s house in Parikia. Susie had recommended that I read, “My Name is Red,” by Orhan Pamuk, a talented Turkish author, as I was headed to Istanbul from Scotland. Alas, there it was on the shelf.

Exquisite Quiet

The Paros Paradise of this journey in many ways in the most glorious silent retreat. Day after day, there is exquisite quiet and no one with whom I am interacting regularly.

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Yes, I speak with vendors to buy succulent fruit, colorful vegetables, exotic cheeses and yoghurt that tastes like clouds on the tongue, and I meet along the way other travelers with whom I compare notes and sometimes share a meal. I’ve even found a world-class Iyengar Yoga teacher in Aliki, on the south side of Paros, and Denise, a gracious woman who is the wife Yannakos Mourlas, the island wine broker, picks me up and returns me home to Parikia. Although Oona teaches Yoga in English, just about everyone in the class speaks a different native language and has the ability to speak at least three. Talk about flexibility in body and mind!

Oona of Alyki Yoga School - www.yoga-paros.com

Oona of Alyki Yoga School – http://www.yoga-paros.com

Yet, my favorite people with whom to break the silence are Luci, Luciano and Nico, who live downstairs and who already feel like family.

Nico, Luci and Luciano

Nico, Luci and Luciano

Spending time with Luci and Luciano - Nico was taking our picture.

Spending time with Luci and Luciano – Nico was taking our picture.

Taking Nico for his first visit to the Antiparos Caves, where he climbed as only an 11-year-old boy would do up, down and around the 45 million year old Stalagmite rock formation that rises from the floor of this amazing cave, as a result of accumulation of material deposited on the floor from the ceiling drippings, was a sight to behold.

Nico climbing on the Stalagmite formations in the millions of years old Cave of Antiparos

Nico climbing on the Stalagmite formations in the millions of years old Cave of Antiparos

We descended 411 steps into the heart of the cave, which has a depth in excess of 100 meters. Decades apart in age and having been raised in different cultures, Nico and I shared overwhelming feelings of awe and wonderment. My teacher instincts were brought to the surface as Nico often consulted his brochure, and I felt a deep joy that I had the privilege of introducing this fine young man and myself to one of the great wonders of the world.

Touring with Nico

Touring with Nico

Another adventure took Luciano and me to Naoussa, a charming seaside village about 15 km from Parikia, where we explored by bike the Environmental & Cultural Park of Paros among many other sites. Of course we stopped to swim all along the way…

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Then off to Yoga… and another day to reflect, to be, to read, to write, to marvel at a sunrise, sunset, the ebb and flow of the Aegean Sea, and to witness the change of weather with the wind announcing the coming storm. To be caught off guard without a moment’s notice by the beauty of Paros — it takes my breath away.  Ahhhh Greece!

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Sunset tempest Greece

Postcards from Paros, Greece – October 1 – October 19, 2013

First Day 

Alone in Paros

Alone in Paros and ready for adventures!

Awakened early and followed my feet…

Home Again in Greece at Connie & Rod’s home on Paros

Home Again in Greece at Connie & Rod’s home on Paros

Street in Paros

Street in Paros

I walked and swam and walked and swam and walked and walked until I found myself at the end of the island climbing into the hills, until I could go no further, as I marveled at the coast below – a blue/green unlike any other than the Aegean Sea. I found myself alone with nature, one day after the season in Paros – Greece had ended. Brazilian wood lounge chairs abandoned, tables folded, bars shuttered — alas, my kind of Paradise!

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Parikia, Paros, Greece

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Day One – Ahhhh Greece!

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Another Day in Paradise

I discovered a long dock with a bamboo covering and textured carpet, perfect for Down Dogs and Hero poses.

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Yoga on a deserted dock in Paros

Down Dogs from every possible perspective

Down Dogs from every possible perspective

 

After many inversions in which I examined the sea from many perspectives, I headed for the perfect rock I had noticed on the way in. Slipping from a smooth stone decorated with algae I sank into the velvet of the Aegean Sea, where I remained for what seemed like hours — experiencing the ebb and the flow, allowing the Greek sun to do its magic, while I completely forgot about all things other than the here and now. I remembered the joy of being in a place where it takes all day to do nothing, as my cousin Susie and I experienced 35 years ago together on Hydra, where she lived then. 

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Ahhhh Europe, everyone is speaking a different language and yet we all communicate. It always amuses me how people knowing that they are not using the same language continue to speak using hands and facial expressions, with a pure desire to be understood, louder and slower, speaking over each other with the two languages, and miraculously half of what is said is communicated. I’m so happy!

…Sitting in a small Greek Cafe on a cloudy, windy day talking to German tourists when the music switches to Pachelbel Canon in D minor. My heart literally bursts into feelings — first in remembering my mother and of how happy she would be that I’m back in Greece, a place I love dearly. Then, in remembering my children walking down the aisle on their wedding day to this music. Joy fills my heart as I take another sip of my beetroot, carrot, ginger, and blood orange juice… and continue talking to the Germans in a smattering of languages.

Colin & Stella’s Greek Café – Best juice on the island & Thursday night Quiz Night

Colin & Stella’s Greek Café – Best juice on the island & Thursday night Quiz Night (Colin is English, Stella is Greek)

Ah to be living with such an open heart that is old enough and well-worn enough to take it all in…