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I admit it! I avoided this destination until the age of 28. I have traveled around the globe, though I only arrived in Greece this year for the first time. Why? Because something inside me thought that it’s trivial, easily accessible and that it won’t provide outstanding experiences.
I visited two islands in Greece, Santorini – a dream destination, which has been on the bucket-list for travelers from all over the world for the past few years, and the second island, the one from which I got back now, is Paros, an authentic place, untouched yet by the masses of tourists.
If you ever saw me in Greece, you would see that I eat the same thing during every meal: Tzatziki, grilled octopus and Greek salad. That’s it! I tried to order something different, but I regretted every time but. I love these dishes. Always accompanied by a glass of white wine, because for me Greece means pampering. A feast of the senses. So, much of this Greek story will somehow make a reference to restaurants.
In Santorini that magnificent view over the caldera (the wall of the coast on which the buildings stand), the impeccable white buildings and vivid blue roofs are breathtaking. Oia, is a small town as if created especially for perfect pictures and for the most romantic moments with your loved one. Here we walked on the streets, we enjoyed the sunset and a romantic dinner at the Ambrosia Restaurant. .
Imerovigli is the place what won me over, perhaps as beautiful as Oia, though much more quiet and much more stylish. Here there were only tiny restaurants, with 6-7 tables, private 40-square-meter-villas and steaming Jacuzzis. To get anywhere, you had to practically go through people’s terraces, by the pool where they were enjoying their champagne or by their bedroom. But there’s nothing that can bother you there, because you feel so lucky that you can savor that moment in a magical place.
I spent the most beautiful evening at The Athenian House Restaurant which I warmly recommend. After your meal you can climb a few stairs and reach a little Buddha Bar where you can enjoy a cocktail.
I was at the beach in an area with black sand, specifically at Santorini Wet Stories. A beach bar, good music, but for me, the food was not quite authentic. So we would go to a neighboring tavern, called Fratzeskos.
We were accommodated in the South-Western part of the island, where there were very few tourists. Though here, during my first evening in Greece, I chanced upon a gorgeous tavern that had tables right on the pier into the sea. I think it was called Asterias Restaurant. At that moment I understood why Greece is so fascinating. It was night, the breeze was cool, the waves were hitting the rocks and were slightly sprinkling us, the blue wooden table seemed half rotten, we were enjoying a mediocre white wine from some rather small glasses and the waiter / owner of the restaurant was morosely serving us the tastiest seafood.
Santorini is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, but I recommend you visit during a period in which there aren’t very many tourists, in late spring or early autumn. I will definitely stay in Imerovigli next time, right on the caldera, in a little white house, perhaps even with a small swimming pool in front. Can’t wait for it!
We arrived in Santorini quite difficult, inbound we had two stopovers, and upon return, only one. But in high season, travel agencies sell charter packages, i.e. hotel and direct flight. I think it’s a pretty convenient option.
NB: this island is still known by few, should you decide to visit, try to keep the mystery and authenticity.
Paros is an island of which many foreign tourists have not heard about yet. It is a treasure that only Greek tourists and some French or Italian tourists enjoy, who have heard of this place the same way I did, through some acquaintances in the area. Paros was recommended by a Greek, telling me to visit if I seek relaxation, serenity and an authentic experience. I told him that I only wanted to walk the cobbled streets, eat some octopus, drink wine and spend beautiful moments with my partner. Well, this is what Paros has provided me, plus a little extra: it showed me the authentic Greece.
Where did I start this week of relaxation? I understand that the island has two main areas, Parikia and Naoussa. But we were recommended Naoussa, so we got our accommodation a few kilometers away from this center. Accommodation was at Stagones Luxury Villas, in a two-bedroom-villa, cool, quiet, but with a few accompanying cats.
This was the starting point of each explorations. Near the villa we had a very good tavern with an amazing view. The tavern is called Christiana’s. Here you have a totally insane traditional fish soup, but you must order it with an hour or two in advance. I do not recommend to order anything on the side because the portion is huge.
This is how our schedule looked like for 8 days: Wake up – Go running (once or twice) – Food – Beach – Food – Sleep – Food – Sleep – repeat. So I will have plenty of restaurants to recommend. But before that, I can say that I’ve crossed this whole island far and wide, I saw every beach, every bay, I visited every village and town. That’s why I recommend you rent a car. The island has a length of only 21 km but has many interesting places to see.
A winding of small paved streets, white buildings, fuchsia flowers and bohemian little churches. In the middle, there is a small fishing dock, which makes up the perfect scenery to have dinner at one of the restaurants on the side.
Here, the best restaurants are: Barbarossa, Mario and Blue Fish.
After we landed, we left the luggage and came to this port, to the Barbarossa restaurant. I was in ecstasy. It was during sunset, there was almost no one there, and fishermen were preparing their boats for the night. I got a glass of white wine, a Greek salad and brightened up. I didn’t know how to feed more from the perfection of those moments.
In the following days we began to explore the entire island, tough Naoussa and these taverns from the bay remained my favorites.
The capital, Parikia (or Paros) is also very beautiful, but slightly larger with a more commercial feel. Here, we ate at the Dionysos Restaurant which was exceptionally good. Sardines in particular. I spent no more than a couple of hours here, but I cannot say that I regret it.
Near Naoussa, somewhere on a coast, it is a very famous restaurant called Siparos. It’s a more pretentious restaurant, it requires booking in advance for the evening and the prices are a little steep. I ate tagliatelle and was disappointed, though the octopus was perfect.
In this area there are two popular beaches: the two Santa Maria beaches
One of them is called Piso Livadi, and there you have many tavern options right in the fishing port. Next to it, there is a small beach in case you want to lounge a little after a plentiful meal. I ate a very good fish soup at Markakis Tavern..
Near Piso Livadi is one of the most well-known beaches, Golden Beach. This beach is wide and you will find all kinds of bars, sun loungers or restaurants.
Another traditional town located right in the port is Aliki.
Here we ate at this very nice tavern. It was called Taverna Il Balcone. Usually, there was nothing to do in these locations but to eat, to walk and to lounge at the beach. Everything in Paros was about and for relaxation. Nothing else.
I don’t recall the next stop after Aliki, but I can tell you how we went about it. We started from point A, on Google Maps and stopped at each bay and beach on the map. The roads are mostly with gravel and wind along the sea. This is how we discovered many beautiful coves, unspoiled and with very few people. We were on a beach all alone were we wanted to be ‘all natural’, but the wind and the occasional gusts of sand made us feel a little uncomfortable.
There are countless beaches, managed, unmanaged, accessible, less accessible, with rocks, sand, with and without trees, with turquoise water or with deep blue water, true corners of Paradise as if discovered only by you. I haven’t written them all because there were at least 20, but here are a few that I managed to remember from our tour around the island:
Kolimbithres– a beach with some very interesting stone formations. Here we stayed on our first day.
Pounda Beach – among the few beaches with a bar, loud music, even a swimming pool. I can’t say that this was what we were looking for in this vacation, but for a sunset it was ok.
Trypiti si Glyfa – gorgeous bays, only slightly managed.
Molos – just a few meters of sand and a dock into the sea.
Paros Kyte Beach – this is the only area where people are somewhat active, an immense beach with hundreds of kites, trailers and a hippie lifestyle. I liked to sit on the sidelines and admire.
Palm Beach – this is where this view is, but the sun loungers are not right on the beach and the wind can be quite strong in this area of the island.
I recommend this article where several beaches in Paros are listed, or for you to discover by yourself by car using the map. Though, I’m warning you that some roads are actually tiny alleys full of boulders. This is what authenticity means!
Lefkes is a small town in the centre of the island, a small town where everything seems to have remained the same for hundreds of years, a huge Church watches over the entire valley and a magical tranquility settles over the entire place after sunset. Old men have a drink in front of their house and smile warmly when they see the surprise on your face. The surprise that few times I have been given the opportunity to step into such an authentic place, so beautiful and so unspoiled by the influences of modern civilization.
We got lost on the streets for a while, through the yards and through buildings, until it got way too cold. The temperature had dropped well beneath 20 degrees. But then we stopped in a restaurant that had been recommended to us, FLORA. Now the seafood dishes had been replaced with lamb, pork and beef meet, and Greek salad with moussaka. A great experience, an insight into a ravishing authenticity.
We spent 8 dream days, during which we totally relaxed. Now coming back to my passion for Greece – Why, where from? Because it has all the elements needed to create a space where you can truly indulge, you spoil all your senses through culinary art, architecture, music and countless beaches. I wanted a holiday to relax, to not visit anything or to have class after class. And this is what I received, one week along with my partner where we didn’t do anything important, where I didn’t question immortality, a week in which I simply enjoyed life, food, love and wine.
Thank you :*