1982 on our introductory visit to Greece we included Paros. We didn’t get as far as Antiparos which was pretty undeveloped in those days, so we thought we ought to visit it. Our holiday didn’t start well. We flew on the day that Sleazyjet baggage conveyors at Gatwick were on the blink., We were lucky that we flew almost on time, many people were sent home. Our pilot disingenuously said : “We haven’t been able to load all the baggage.” When we arrived on Mykonos we found only 8 bags loaded for nearly 300 passengers. So instead of queueing for baggage reclaim we queued for report forms! Initial promise was luggage delivered to Antiparos “tomorrow”. In fact it came into Paros (via Athens) three days later and we had to go over to Paros to collect it. Our usual taxi driver from airport to port on Mykonos bemoaned the “wrong kind of tourists” they get now: cruise ship mobs and drunken teenagers. We thought our airport delays would mean we’d miss the ferry but as it was running half an hour late we made it OK. We waited 30 minutes for our pickup on Paros ( he was waiting for the wrong ferry!) but got on the small regular ferry to Antiparos OK (10 minutes 1€ 30 each).
Taxi waiting at port (as we didn’t have luggage we could have walked!). Kouros village smart minimalist apartment with great view over harbour and shallow sandy beach and Paros hills beyond.. Checked our entitlement to lost luggage compensation: £25 per person per day for 3 days. Bought T-shirt and shorts, S searched for a modest swimsuit (Sorry we’re out of larger sizes!) & toiletries. We were surprised that there was nowhere to buy ordinary undies etc but lots of overpriced classy boutiques aimed at Italian tourists. Everyone helpful, showed us sales items, added a sweet to the shopping bag, offered fake receipts etc! Before our cases arrived we had to do nightly washing, but at least clothes dried overnight. A lot of time in the first couple of days spent on phone or e-mail to find out where our luggage was. We met a Scottish family in the same situation and pooled resources as we had differing responses! We shared cost of their hotel bus on ferry to collect luggage from unhelpful Olympic rep. at tiny Paros airport. (everyone else, especially beleaguered woman at baggage claim desk on Mykonos, was very helpful). We were amused to finds our baggage labelled “rush”!
Antiparos is quite a low island, all the buildings low-rise in traditional blue and white. Ferries come from both of Paros ports every half hour or so with surprisingly large numbers of vehicles and there are day trip boats from Paros as well. Still quite a few small local fishing boats. Lots of places to eat and drink, all good. The main town and most of the sandy or shingle beaches were clean though some remoter areas were scarred by litter. Lots of recycling bins in town especially for plastic water bottles and tops. We were advised local water brackish so best to drink bottled
Our apartment had a smart bathroom in local stone full of hard and sharp edges for the unwary! It also had a pod coffee machine like something out of NASA that we didn’t try! The harbour had been beautified with several semicircular seats which in the evening were home to the local old folks debating society! Our nearest beach had free sunbeds and umbrellas provided by a taverna with no obligation to buy drinks. However the sea was so shallow you had to go about 100 yards out to be waist height. Ideal for kiddies. Apart from the dress shops the main street had usual supermarkets, kiosk, 2 pharmacies, butcher, 2 bakeries/cake shops and a hardware store where we bought an adapter so we could charge our phone before the luggage arrived (we had chargers in hand luggage but no adapter, something we’ll remember next time). The locals seem to have embraced relaxation of rules on cannabis, the pharmacies soled medicinal cannaboids and other shops cannabis cigarettes, though most locals seemed to be smoking tobacco rollups. Each unit where we stayed had a patch of sand in front with padded wooden sun loungers, unfortunately the local cats treated it as a large litter tray!
At the top of the main street was the 15th century Kastro. The fortress was now just a stone mound with a cistern on top but it was still surrounded on all four sides by the original 3-story residences, some with almost underground doors. We didn’t get any live music (only a tuneless busker at Pars ferry port on clarinet and single song). We saw a concert advertised at the Kastro for 8pm. I won’t start till 9 by the time they’ve had all the speeches we thought ( past experience) so had our meal and went up at about 9.45 to find the audience and orchestra leaving!.
We walked to some very nice beaches and caught the sole bus to further ones. Strong winds for a few days made walking a pleasure, and rough seas dramatic ( the Scottish family missed their flight home because 2 ferries were cancelled by weather). A couple of walks were vaguely waymarked. We passed the deserted official nudist beach- it had a volleyball net. What is it about nudists and volleyball... (shades of 1950s naturist documentaries!)?. There were several small islands off Antiparos, one privately owned, Revatonisi, with a mansion on it and lush vegetation, and one, Despotiko with an archaeological site (5th to 8th BCE)which we visited. It is the largest Temple of Apollo after Delos and is being restored slowly and expensively with handcut marble to replace missing sections. The site was fenced and off-limits but as there were only 6 of us on the boat across the guide/guard was persuaded to let us in and show us round (albeit in Greek, one Greek lady kindly gave us the gist where we couldn’t follow his rapid Greek). No photos inside the wire fence but OK with telephoto lens from outside!
One walk on the map took over from a dead end road where there was a structure. The gates were open at the start of the road. We found the structure to be a water treatment plant, great views of breaking sea. Then a honey wagon came down the road and the driver signalled. He had to shut the gate after himself. When we were out and they were closed there was a “no entry” sign that were invisible when the gates were open! If he hadn’t seen us we would have had to climb the chainlink fence! No sign of the promised path.
The bus driver gave helpful information on each beach he stopped at and carefully in Greek and English the return times. One sight we didn’t go to was the famous stalactite cave as you had to descend 100 feet to get to it and one report said fit young Scandinavians (and there were a lot on the island) came up puffing and panting. Old overweight Brits took note! The town museum although its opening hours were a closely guarded secret (none outside, website out of date) contained the usual personal collection of coins, shells, maps, books and folk items including a triangular washboard “don’t touch”.
Eating in the town very good for people watching. Like being at a fashion show some evenings. There were also some Northern Europeans whose plaited beards and shaved heads and vaguely Norse tattoos suggested too much watching of Vikings, Game of Thrones or Sons of Anarchy. There was a giggle of shop assistant in one cafe who had to keep leaving their table to go and serve when they saw a potential customer enter their respective shop. The main plateia looked a nice place to eat but the “cool” bars nearby were blaring out such loud music we tended to eat by the sea or in quiet backstreets. We were please to see our preferred pre-prandial tipple Lazarides “King of Hearts” was frequently reduced in local shops, variously 3€50 and 5€30 from the expected 7€. One evening “entertainment” was a guy who set up a large telescope for anyone wanting to do a little astronomy for a “tip”. We were told that Tom Hanks had a villa on the island and tavern owners all claimed he was a regular diner. The shops obviously expected the smart set 9sorry to disappoint them!), though we did see one Home Counties type Brit sniffing the cork and swilling and sniffing his wine, and not in an ironic way, in a simple family taverna! Helicopter tours were advertised but the only time we saw one was when guests were being ferried in for a wedding at one beachside hotel where there were impressive preparations going on all afternoon, sound guy setting up, flowers being brought in by the van load etc.
Our return journey started well. Although the plane was about 20 minutes late landing. Our luggage OK but closed junctions on M23 and M25 meant we were over an hour later getting home that hoped. Bed at 2pm. Now to clear the washing, tackle the garden sort the photos, some of which my identical cousin Thimbles O’Hooligan will put up on his Facebook page and now to think where to go next year (and go back on the diet!)..