Blog Mad, the new traffic generator, looks to be as fun as Blog Explosion. More importantly they are promising a 1:1 ratio. (one visitor to your blog for each blog you view).

Register with this link, please: http://www.blogmad.net/index.php?ref=d7a9e4f3a3ea1c2


BlogMad!


P.S. Happy Birthday to my Mom -- 86 today and going strong.


Our friend Ron sent this photo and message yesterday.

First see the attachment, me in the sea today, beach temp 19, water temp
15, very refreshing, stayed in about 10 minutes.

(In Fahrenheit that is 66 and 59)

Please comment with a photo caption!

While I lay sleeping. . .













This is what Karin was doing this morning.


--Without leaving our balcony !

















Karin enjoys the many photo opportunities on Paros. She took these three photos yesterday.

One is our landlord, Mathias, and some of his other tenants as they pass by our veranda.

The other two are on our veranda.






















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--If you are on our Newsletter mailing list you can skip this post. It is a slightly modified version of the December Newsletter.--

Greetings to one and all from the Shepherds on Paros,

Notice the figs on the tree outside the DEMA (city hall).

Many of you have been waiting months for our next newsletter. All I can say is that it never made it to the top of our To Do list. This year Karin has helped less at the hotel and spent more time housekeeping and nest building at our home in Aliki. So I have spent more time at the hotel and marketing, and . . . well, enjoying our island both in Parikia and Aliki.

So for those of you that like to keep up with island happenings we have an alternative. I have started a blog about Greek island life. In the blog I not only tell of anything interesting that we are doing but provide information about other Cyclades islands and Greece travel. I am enjoying the bloging sensation.

For the up-coming 2006 season we are emphasizing our Art Workshops with two scheduled in May and three in September. This year we are also marketing several villas in addition to the hotel. It is not too early to pick a date for your holiday here. Let us know and we will match you to the best location for you.

We are enjoying the quiet, non-commercial Christmas here. Read more about it on our blog.

Another big happening is that Karin and I are taking Greek lessons. We learned this:
ΚΑΛΑ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥΓΕΝΝΑ
ΚΑΙ
ΚΑΛΗ ΧΡΟΝΙΑ


If that is Greek to you, then try this:
MERRY CHRISTMAS
AND A
HAPPY NEW YEAR


Michael & Karin


P.S. Before the end of the year we are changing our web site hosting provider. So if any links don't work, please try again after 3 days.

For the second time this holiday season deTraci Regula of About Network has featured this blog on her blog and now her newsletter that goes out to boucou subscribers. So I feel compelled to talk more about Christmas on Paros even though I have been negligent about taking photos.

Last week we went to the local charity bazaar. It is quite well organised and very well attended due to participation by all the youth groups and other island organizations. On sale is everything from home-made baked goods to Greek pop music calendars as well as second-hand junk. Our friend Patricia who also runs her own bazaar in Aliki does quite well with her chutneys and specialty jams.

Karin spent time examining the hand-made jewelry while I checked out the main "grab bag" booth. For 5 Euro you got two chances at a dazzling array of prizes--from a new bicycle, used computer, to countless bottles of wine and bags of cookies. I should have been clued-in by the still large assortment on the last night, but I thought with so much available surely I will get something for my fiver. Wrong! I drew two blank pieces of paper. So the universal phrase comes to mind: Oh, well. It's for a good cause.

If my blog and web site is not enough Greek information for you, do check out deTraci's Greece for Visitors. It is very high quality and informative. She is a professional at keeping up on all things Greek.

What do beer and haiku have in common you ask? For the answer you have to go to


http://beerhaikudaily.blogspot.com/2005/12/beer-on-island.html


All I promise is that there is a Greek island theme and an excellent picture of Parikia after dark.

Yamas!



Not much happening on Paros so I thought I would show a couple pictures of Folegandros from our visit last April.

After reading the description of this island in guide books many people want to visit. Few do, however, because the ferry schedule makes it a very time consuming journey. In our case after 6 hours on the ferry we could see our Aliki end of Paros just a nautical mile or two away (on clear days we can see Folegandros from our balcony).

The island was an interesting change from Paros as it is mostly mountainous and is noted for still using traditional methods of farming and handicrafts. The history is also different as it was un-populated for various long periods of the past. Not much was open during our April weekend visit but we enjoyed the dramatic scenery as we mo-peded up and down the hills.

More on the Cyclades at our web site.


Athens city centre is very festive at this time of year. We were there 3 years ago and hope to get back yet this year. The press release below doesn’t give the full flavour of all the entertainment provided on the streets. There were countless unofficial performers, even a band from the Andes in South America, fun holiday booths, food galore and the tradition we have not seen elsewhere of Santa Clauses with ponies to ride.

I realise now that my photos and my words are not up to describing the glory and joy that one feels when surrounded by thousands of people all having a fun time. You have to be there.


From:
Travel Daily News

Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis presented this year’s “Christmas in Athens” programme during a press conference at City Hall.Excerpts of Mayor Bakoyannis’ address follow:

“For all of us, but particularly our youngest citizens, the Christmas season is the most magical time of year.We want all children in Athens to experience the magic, colour and joy of the season and, for that reason, the municipality has organised for festive events to take place throughout the City of Athens. The city is once again being transformed into a Yuletide wonderland, where those of us who are young-at-heart can relive the fairytales of our youth.

Christmas in Athens is also very important for another reason. It presents an opportunity for us to promote the capital abroad and bring more tourists to the city, who, in turn, generate economic benefits. Following the successful staging of “Christmas in Athens” festivities over the past two years, we believe we have set the foundations for an institution unique to this country.

Our motto this year is “Christmas lights, trees and friends, the party in Athens never ends” and we invite all to join in the fun - to dance, play and celebrate! The party begins on December 15, when the Christmas tree at Syntagma Square will be lit, and continues through to January 8.

On December 17, Kotzia Square will come alive in the form of the Land of Gifts and Goodies. It will feature 52 miniature log cabins full of Christmas decorations and gift ideas, a Christmas tree and a second carousel.

At the Zappeion Gardens, one will encounter “The Crystal City” and within this wonderland is a 450-square metre ice-rink where all are welcome to test their skills on the ice.

On December 21, Omonia Square will get into the spirit of the season as the Sparkling Tree, a beautiful white Christmas tree adorned with thousands of shimmering lights, is illuminated.

And finally, the New Year’s Eve concert at Kotzia Square promises to be a rousing celebration with an exclusively Greek flavour.”

In an earlier post I mentioned the social whirl as people left for the winter. Well, we missed out on one party this Tuesday because Monday we learned there were various strikes scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. So our Dutch friends had to leave Tuesday morning instead of Wednesday. Their flight doesn't leave Athens until Thursday so that means two nights of expensive, big city hotel.

Unfortunately this type of travel uncertainty is part and parcel of island life. Usually, however, it is just the winds that cause us to be flexible. We always tell visitors to save seeing Athens for the homeward leg in order to buid in a time cushion.

To explain the strike situation is way beyond me. I have read several news reports but it does no good with out a glossary defining the alphabet soup of labor association names. The short version is that transportation workers are striking for a few hours each day on Tuesday and Thursday and government workers are striking on Wednesday. The practical version is that the traveler has to check with their airlines constantly for updated information and that they must allow at least half a day for every hour of travel distance.

Fortunately the Greece strike season is mainly during non-tourist times. The labour movement knows it would kill the golden goose if too many tourists are inconvenienced. Occasionally we will have a strike or two in June but never July or August. Also in most cases there are alternative means of travel. Part of the Greek experience is for nothing to be precise

In case you are wondering, the strikes are part of a continuing dispute between the government and the unions about measures being taken to modernize the Greece economy after 20 plus years of a socialist government.

I just finished eating two absolutely delicious soft-boiled eggs. Every time I eat eggs I think about the last time we visited my mother in Oregon. The supermarket eggs there were completely tasteless. We even tried paying more than twice as much for free-range eggs. They were only slightly better.

I think maybe I should design a spread sheet to compare and contrast Paros life versus USA life. It is so difficult to remember something so simple as tasty eggs when you are wrestling with the likes of incompetent help at our Parikia supermarket.

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Last night, Sunday evening, was the lighting of the town Christmas Tree. We were surprised how similar it was to others we have been to, yet pleasantly different in a Greek way.

The manger or creche contained school children dressed elaborately for their roles. The carols had familiar tunes with Greek words. The brass band were in their one and only uniform, that is the same one they wear on all occasions. The Mayor's speech was surprisingly short. Santa Claus was a minor figure; the emphasis was on the birth of Christ.

We were very impressed when two men lifted two of the younger manger characters to the stage who then spoke out loud and clear with prepared speeches that were several sentences long. These were pre-schoolers who were not affected by the crowd or the microphone and knew their parts perfectly.

We were also impressed when the tree lights came on. Before we had only noticed a string of large bulbs, yet the tree was completely covered with small lights. The large bulbs were just flashing blue highlights. The amazement was that coming on all at once they didn't blow a fuse for the whole town!

By the way, most people know that the buildings in the Cyclades are 95% blue and white. I find it interesting that blue lighting is as popular here as our English traditional red and green.

More later.


Oh, the relentlessness of island social life; it can be wearing, you know. While a few of the expats reside here year around, most also have homes in their countries of origin that they return to periodically, usually during the winter.

This means, of course, that we must have a going away party when they leave. And, of course, we must celebrate their return as well. I will drink to that.

So yesterday we had a going away lunch for John, a popular waiter here in Aliki, with all his favourite foods. He claims he hasn’t eaten that well in years because he usually grazes through restaurant leftovers.

We ate on the patio; acknowledging why we live on our island with the winter sun muting the usual round of complaints that make up the trade offs for our life here.

Paros is a great island for the leisurely bicycle riders because you can go around the whole island with only one major hill climb. Yet you still have spectacular scenery. You can also take shorter rides on nearly flat back roads with a plentiful supply of beaches and tavernas. The enthusiast has more than one hill climb into the mountains.

One island resident, Len Rooks, has caught island fever, however. It is so easy to get overly enthusiastic here, but most people temper it by getting second opinions over an uozo at the taverna.

Len has created and is strongly promoting a challenge for himself and others. He will be 60 in 2006 and is in a two year training regimen to ride the same distance as the Tour De France--3,639 kms (2,275 miles) over 21 days riding, with 2 rest days. There will also be other distances and courses for less fit and for off-road riders. It should be a fun event for all bicyclists and their friends.

More information at Tour of Paros: A charity cycle ride coinciding with the 2006 Tour De France in July.


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Conventional wisdom says Christmas is not as big a holiday in Greece as Easter. Compared to the US and many other countries this is probably true. Easter here not only has the huge religious significance--as it does elsewhere--it is one of the traditional family reunion times. Usually held in good weather I have heard it described as Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Easter in one holiday.

Christmas here is gaining ground, however. Especially in the amount of decorations. The villages all have decorated street lights and there are a scattering of houses with exterior decorations. In early November we were quite surprised at the large stacks of Christmas lights on sale.

The highlight for Karin and I is all the music programs. Paros is blessed with two active art schools that produce programs at the end of each term. So, for example, this week there are three choral concerts being presented. The venue is usually one of the smaller churches so the beauty and acoustics lend a lot to the quality of the voices.

This week we also have the annual Bazaar put on by the volunteer organizations as well as the official tree lighting in Parikia. Doesn't that all sound like Christmas elsewhere?

If I cared about keeping my suntan, I would have been out laying in the sun today. It had real heat to it. Instead I am thinking about taking up fishing--become a real Greek!

Last February, March in Parikia I saw the kamaki (hotel tout) who found me my first room on Paros years ago out at the end of the bay fishing most days. I thought then maybe I should do that as well; then we would be healthier from eating more fish. But I noticed that he spent most of his time just staring at the water, and, of course, the few boats bobbing on it and the scenery in the background. I knew that wasn't fore me; I would rather read or "work" on the computer.

This autumn nearly everyday I notice someone sitting on a pier or the rocks in Aliki harbour with pole in hand. It looks like an attractive way to spend some time in the sun. Now if I could see that they actually catch something, maybe I would give it a try.

We do see more professional fisherman out now and through April because it is the main occupation for those who spend their summers working in the hotels and restaurants. The Parians that is; the Athenians have all gone back to the big city and whatever they do there while waiting for the season to reopen back on Paros.

Today was especially warm so Karin and I decided to take some sandwiches and go for a moped ride up into the hills. It was delightful little jaunt into the history of the island.

During the Byzantine period (1600 give or take a few hundred years) the entire island population lived in the hills, mostly around the village of Lefkes. That area is great to ride and walk through because of the evidence of the by gone era. Today we were on the back side of that same mountain in the vicinity of a village that just died off in the last 20 years. There are still one or two farmers using the fertile but narrow river valley, including the only cherry orchard on the island (supposedly). Mostly, however, the few remaining houses not in ruins are holiday homes. They have a quiet, relaxing atmosphere with a distant sea view but also a hellish road that is a river bed in the rain.

In other words the mountain valleys--there is another word for these narrow gorges with occasional terraces, but I don't know it--are a separate world from the coastal villages that have grown up since tourism came to Paros in the last 20 years.

Today I got a haircut. Big deal you say. Yes, it shows how nothing is simple and easy on a small island. To start with I went by the barbershop on Tuesday morning before noon and no one was there--there have never been any signs--nor was the barber in his usual coffee shop. So I wait for the next trip into town. Maybe he was gone a few days because today I was 3rd in line.

This is my third barber in the six years that I have been coming here (not counting a couple tries at hairdressers where they charge stylist prices for mediocre cuts). He is finally learning how I like my hair. Of course, it is complicated by the fact that he is deaf and mute. Although given my command of Greek that is a minor difference in communication.

I have a history of miscommunication with barbers here. No matter what I indicated they would cut my hair too short. So I had a friend write a note in Greek to just take a little hair off; the barber read it as just leave a little, I guess. So when another friend recommended the deaf guy I had him write a new note since I figured this barber would be better at following written instruction. Nope, same result.

So I don't bother getting a haircut very often and alternate between the shaggy look (Irish) and the shaved look (German). Though one benefit of the deaf barber is that I don't need to bother with small talk or listen to his view of American politics like most other barbers. There are always trade-offs in island life, you see.

I don't want this to become a weather blog, but it has been a major factor lately. We have had a couple weeks of cold, windy, wet weather; lots to complain about, except for the fact that it not near as bad as the more northern areas of Europe, or more northern areas of Greece for that matter.

But today we are back to warm, calm and sunny. I did not need my jacket on my morning walk today. Now for the interesting part of this post. After the several days of southerly winds our Piso Aliki beach is covered with small bits of seaweed to foot or more in depth. The next storm will wash it all away again, so I have gathered some as mulch for our flower garden and fertilizer for the vegetables next spring. I feel like such a resourceful pioneer.

It does make us feel good to use local products whenever possible. Years ago Karin went out with one of the Greek ladies gathering horta (wild greens) in the fields, but she didn't go back soon enough to remember what to pick. Now when I see something that looks lush and green I ask her but we are both too timid to pick it, cook it and then eat something we are not sure about. So we need to watch for another Greek lady out in a field.

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Statistics time: In one of our Paros newspapers the local Port Authority was quoted as announcing that tourism had increased 35% this year over last year. I found this hard to believe. True last year was down considerably--due to the Olympics everyone said; if people weren't going to the Olympics they tended to pass on Greece that year. True this year was quite busy in the few days of high season--many more Italians than recent years for some reason (if anyone knows why, let me know, please). But most of the season was normal for hotels. Of course the port activity would include Greeks visiting friends or using their holiday homes. Private home construction has been booming on Paros. Another explanation is that many Athenians did not holiday last year; choosing to stay in Athens for the Olympics.

Now comes another set of numbers from the Institute for Touristic Research and Forecasts (ITEP) indicating that the regional areas of Greece, including many islands, experienced flat to declining numbers. They did not list the numbers for Paros, but we were not included in the list of islands with positive increases. Go figure.

ITEP does predict an overall increase in visitors to Greece of about 6% for 2006. We hope to do our part with just friends and family.

Ha, there is no such thing. But the blog authorities are going to zap me for going a week without a post, so I have to write something.

Actually, my wife, Karin, decided she wanted to show our English and Dutch friends what an American Thanksgiving was like so we had 6 people over for a Turkey dinner with all the trimmings as they say--except no pumpkin pie. She couldn't find any pumpkin on Paros. It was quite an experience getting the fresh turkey from the local butcher who doesn't speak English. Karin started out wanting about 18 lbs. or 9 kg. He agreed to 7 kg.; when we went to pick it up Wednesday it was 5.5 kg. So not a lot of left overs.

Karin has decided she likes a fresh turkey better than frozen, but it may be better because it is local free range. When we take our morning walks we pass by several plots with turkeys.

Anyway the food was all perfect and we had a great time explaining the food and holiday meaning. The only things missing, other than pumpkin pie, were football and family.


I can not resist commenting that today is wonderful: calm, sunny, fresh clean air (from short thunderstorm last night); our neighboring islands are back after having disappeared for a couple weeks.

So perhaps an appropriate photo is this one of Santorini by a 2004 guest, Ray Keppie of Australia. You can actually see about 50% of the island. Santorini is an ideal overnight trip from Paros. It is too small to spend more than two days there but we recommend that everyone sees it. It is both fantastic and unique.

Looking for a catchy introduction to today's blog I did some research and actually learned something. The phrase "100 kinds of snow" was in my mine but I wanted to check the fact for the exact number. I learned the Eskimo's had only two words for snow--as a skiier I had a lot more than that--yet variations of this phrase are frequently used in introductions to compare to the writer's 100 variations of something.

So moving on, I will use another cliche' instead. Here on the island the "different drummer" that we march to is the wind. Yesterday the prevailing North wind let up in the morning so Karin and decided to drive our mopeds into Parikia. Usually the strong North wind adds 10 minutes to an otherwise 20 minute journey. Well everything went well until the trip home; a Southwesterly wind had sprung up and we now had the headwind on the way back.

Since we were a little chilled and had company coming over we decided to build a fire in the fireplace. By the time I had it burning well, however, the wind had swung around to full Southerly and was quite warm. Karin said it must be hot in Africa and I responded, Yeh, we are helping make it cooler there. HeHe

Well our visiting friends fell asleep in front of the warm fire while watching our favourite video: Waking Ned. Karin and I have seen it at least five times and still laugh through it because we miss Ireland very much.

Though we wouldn't trade it for life here, would we??
Share our Piece of Paradise on Paros



Nothing interesting happening today. I am doing odds and ends on the computer as well as sorting through boxes of files--the paper kind--looking for some old records. Maybe even getting a little organised from the last 3 or 4 relocations--that's house moves for Americans.

So I thought I would post two more of Yolanda's creations. Both photos taken in Aliki. The two bugs, uh boys, are in front of Manoli's, the most popular eating/drinking place in Aliki. We hate it when he closes for Christmas and January.

There are more photos of Ric & Tim throughout our ParosParadise web site.

We just got back from our first Greek language class. It went better than everyone expected, i.e. virtually no grammar. The teacher started with asking us what Greek we already knew and building or reinforcing from there. That is we had all heard and repeated words and phrases that we had questions about. Later the teacher said we would not be conjugating verbs, rather we would memorize and use common forms from everyday speech. Great!

We six students are a mixed bag; one has been living here for about 10 years, Karin and I for 6 seasons, three others just moved here this year but holidayed in Greece before. All of us past the age of easy learning. None of us able to speak a full sentence of Greek.

The hardest word to pronounce χτεσ (htes or chtes) meaning yesterday.

Yassis!

Gazoo



After rocks the most common collection on Paros are urchin shells. Everyone does it.

This photo adds the artist touch. Again by Yolanda.

(For you photography purists, this is a reduced pixel version.)



A few weeks ago Anita Miller, who will be conducting a Greek Experience Oil Painting Workshop on Paros in September 2006, wrote the following:

"The unparalleled beauty of this enchanting island offers painters a symphony of blues and golds to inspire their work."

Yesterday Karin and I noticed this photo taken by our friend, Yolanda Verhulst of Amsterdam. A true symphony of blues and golds it was taken on Paros in August 2005 at Aliki, I believe.

Yes, if you are an olive oil fan or just a greekophile, check out this site.

Liquid Gold



Hey, how's this for keeping current? These photos were taken today.

Karin and I rode our mopeds up the hill to our friends, Eddy & Louise, of cooking school fame. From there we walked about a mile further to a cross planted above a small monastery.

It was a pleasant stroll past a few farms but the scenery was muted by the heavy autumn moisture. Still beautiful and relaxing.

Before we left I had mentioned to Eddy that I would like a beer upon our return. He was out of beer so he gave us ouzo. Well, ouzo must be served with something to snack on so he also had prepared egg salad on toast, sardines on toast and a beef & pasta dish that we didn't catch the Greek name of.

Not a typical island day; but close enough!


I saw this on another site and thought it was cool.

I understand the links will change so search for Einstein Blackboard Generator to make your own.


About 12 years ago when I first visited Ireland I was disappointed how modern the housing was because the guide books only showed the quaint thatched roof cottages.

So in the interest of enlightenment over sales copy I am showing one of our ordinary photos of our ordinary Aliki village festival--the mix of the traditional and the modern. My pictures of young people jumping over the large bonfire didn't turn out.

This is the festival of Aghios Ioannis (St. John) on 24 June when the May 1 wreaths are burned. Free food and wine insure a good time for all.

For several years the summer ferry schedules to the islands were reasonably predictable (although the official schedules are not published more than a few weeks ahead).

Last year, however, that began to change as the Greek fleet is aging and the current government is not as liberal with subsidies as the previous socialist government.

Another factor is changing ferry use elsewhere such as the Baltic and the UK to France routes.

So in 2005 there was a definite shortage of "economy" or deck seats during the high season. But plentiful first class tickets on the high speed ferries at nearly double the price. From what I have read this trend will continue as more standard ferries age and more high speed are moved to the Aegean from elsewhere.

This may hurt the student backpackers' budgets but most travelers seem to have more money than time, so they will be O.K. in their island hopping.

There are more particulars on our Greece page.

I am reading a collection of short stories about expatriate life in the Caribbean: Easy in the Islands by Bob Shacochis.

I was struck about the similarity of the following to my own situation:

. . . "down the glorious green lawn crazy with blossom, down, hot and sweaty, to the palm grove, the bamboo beach bar on its fringe, the lagoon dipping into the land like a blue pasture, Tillman walking with his hands in the pockets of his loose cotton pants, reciting a calypso and feeling, despite his troubles, elected, an aristocrat of the sensual latitudes, anointed to all the earthly privileges ordinary people dreamed about on their commuter trains fifty weeks a year. No matter that in a second-class Eden nothing was as unprofitable as the housing of its guests. Even loss seemed less discouraging in the daily flood of sun."

Thinking ahead I just checked on dates for Easter in 2006. Easter in most of the Western World will be 16 April 2006; Orthodox Easter will be 23 April 2006.

Traditionally Easter is the start of the season here. That will definately be the case this year. There is no school the week before and Athenian family members return to the island for Easter Week events including lamb barbeque on the big day.

There are more descriptions on our web site: http://ParosParadise.com


On a personal note: I finally ran out of execuses to start my winter exercise routine. So I did a few stretches this morning. Tomorrow Karin and I will start regular morning walks. You can see I start slow; I also build slow, but I usually stick with it. He affirms.



Karin is a morning person and took these photos from our balcony during sunrise last week--long before I arose. They are prize winners, if only we had a contest to enter.

Here it is November and many of the remaining shops, restaurants and bars are closing with their proprietors going back to Athens until next April or Orthodox Easter, whichever comes first.

Still, Paros and especially Parikia still has some bustle. I recently went through the commercial section about 11 A.M. and was quite impressed with all the activity of people going about their business.

Paros is truly a year around island. There are no large employers; I am guessing the school system is the largest as there are a lot of kids around. After that it is the rest of the government and utilities as large employers. The rest is small scale fishing and farming--or maybe construction. Everyone who lives here is concerned about all the new construction. You know the syndrome: Now that I am in, let's raise the drawbridge.

Anyway, we still have a good choice of stores, restaurants and bars and even the archeological Museum stays open through the winter. Come take a look at what has been found on Paros.

Learn more at our web site.


Since this blog is supposed to be about Greek islands, I will include some other Cyclades at least.

Mykonos is the most well known and, in my opinion, the most over-rated. The other islands has everything it has, except for glitzy nightlife, at a lower cost.

To try and generate some Comments--especially any Mykonos lovers out there--my photo is of a typical Mykonos beach, which is much more commercialised and crowded than the typical Paros beach. We do have a couple very busy ones though.

Our favourite beach on Paris is Agri Irini. There are photos in our web site Photo Gallery. Enjoy.

OXI MERA No Day celebrating the Greece entry into WW II on the side of the allies against first Italy and later Germany.

Here on Paros it is sunny, warm and calm. We have no military to speak of so it is the day all the school children dress in their school uniforms or white shirts and dark trousers or skirts for those schools without uniforms and march in a parade with the brass band and anyone else who has a uniform. Lots of flag waving.

Learn more at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxi_Day


This is my lovely wife, Karin.

It is difficult to know which pictures to post--fantastic scenery, quaint local scenes, or something of personal meaning.

This one has some of each, I think.

Traditionally Karin and I go to this Windmill bar on my birthday to have a drink before dinner. At sunset it is the most photographed place on Paros.

I always feel proud when I see so many people excited about capturing a moment that I experience daily.

Many more photos on our web site, of course. www.ParosParadise.com


I have just been browsing some photo blogs and decided perhaps I should show more pictures here.

This one looks like October but was actually taken May 05. It is the Parikia harbour with a Blue Star ferry docked into the West wind.

This is not my favourite; just the easiest to call up because I used it on my desktop for awhile. Because the evenness of the colour it worked well for that. Feel free to do the same.

I just discovered a traffic generation program that appears to be well done.
Check it out! Some work, some don't.

Hits 2 U

Aaah, our nice weather is back. Warm and sunny with just a slight breeze. I walked down to the beach and sat reading for awhile. Satisfying to be warm.

Which brings up another project that I am working on. Off season rental of a very nice villa. You take a chance on weather but it can be fun during a storm as well, especially if you like to eat, drink, read, play games. Come on, enjoy life on a Greek island.

I suggested to the owner to put the following 3 x 5 card up on community bulletin boards. Everyone is welcome to do the same--just personalize it. Maybe you can earn some free nights by sending me business.

Share our Greek island villa
We are part owners of a 2 bdrm house(sleeps up to 9)
that needs more use. Low, off season rates.
Located near the beach on easy to reach Paros, Greece.
www.parosparadise.com/Villa or Phone me at


Part of this blog is supposed to be about we are doing. But even if it is not interesting? Or if it is marketing our programs?

Karin is having an interesting time helping out at an Aliki taverna style restaurant while the owner is in Athens for 3 days. She will have to tell about that later, though.

I have been working on marketing materials for the Plein Air oil painting workshop in May 2006. Above is a picture from the 2005 session. Some typical comments were:

Thank you so much for your warm and friendly hospitality and "behind the scenes" hard work. I enjoyed the week immensely. D.S.


The best thing about the week was seeing the island and visiting the different villages, with plenty of time to paint. A.M.


Thanks for a wonderful first trip to Greece. You have taken the worries out of many aspects of traveling solo. D.P.


See more on our Art Workshops web page

Well winter appears to have reached Paros. Although we still have expectations of warm sunny days we do need to start dressing warmer and close the windows and doors occasionally with day time highs of only 62F / 17 C

Another aspect of winter is sharing our home with guests. We have participated and/or made offers in numerous home swapping/sharing groups--really too many to list. If you are interested, do a Google search and browse a few. The opportunities to expand or enhance your travel experiences are great.

If you want to come to Paros for a short, free visit or a long, low cost stay email us about your situation. We may be compatible.

Interesting? I have received a few enquiries for next summer from groups of 3 and 4 families --12 to 20 persons--. We have had a couple such groups in the past and they do have a lot of fun. Going their indivdual ways as the mood strikes and then getting together for evening meals or sharing a boat trip or windsurfing or the like.

I know of no accommodation specifically for such groups but there are many pensions--small hotels--of 8 to 12 units that work well. Also we know of small groups of villas for that extra touch of comfort and luxury. Groups do it cheaper!

Look for more particulars on our web site or email with an enquiry to host@parosparadise.com

Here I am spending time on this blog instead of re-organising and updating my photos. Oh well, maybe next time it snows here I will do that.

In the meantime take a look at the old ones in our photo gallery

Or best go to Webshots and search Paros--or any other Greek island. There are innumerable interesting and beautiful shots there. You can add yours as well.

Enjoy!

Imagine, 3 days since my last post. Once a day seems to come along so frequently. Thursday I didn't have anything to say and Friday just disappeared in unexpected activity.

Still, I did find time to drop by Paros Kiteboarding Center--not to be confused with Paros Kite Pro Center, of course--for a chat with George Georgoudakis, the owner. It was a beautiful warm day without much wind so everyone there was mellow. One old gent caught some nice fish off the pier; if he was a kite boarder anybody can do it! I think he was hosting his 20 something grandkids, though. Anyway, George and I will be working on some package deals for next season. So start thinking about your wind surfing or kite boarding now. Look at the cool pictures on George's site: http://www.paroskite.gr/index.htm


As I have mentioned before, Culture is big on Paros. This year the International Paros Art Circle, IPAC, has made great strides under the leadership of Peter Seibt and Heidi Mazenauer. The graphic is a self-portrait of Peter.

The IPAC web site has a fantastic gallery of local offerings.

They also published an Art Map of Paros that shows numerous studios that are open to the public--more I am sure than most large cities.
Paros is truly an art lover's paradise.

Well, it’s that time of year. Each fall as I think about the long, slow winter invariably I tell myself: You must learn some Greek! Some winters I have done pretty well, but then come summer I am busy with visitors, few of whom speak Greek, and I lose it rather than use it.

A popular book here is “Learn Greek in 25 Years” by Brian Church. It is a collection of humour articles about how difficult the Greek language is.

I will give a couple examples. Now that I have been in Greece for six seasons I no longer ask at tavernas for butter with my bread mainly because few have it available. But voutiro was one of the first words that I learned; pronounced boo tear o, it seems simple. But in real Greek it is βουτυρο.

Hopefully the most common word that you will hear is Thanks, relatively easy at efharisto’, according to the books pronounced ef har ees toe, but I have yet to hear a Greek say it that way. What I hear sounds like pear as tal. Yet when I have asked Greek friends about it, they have no idea what I am trying to say.

Trying to explain all this I have bitten off more than I can chew. So more later—if my winter intentions remain, that is.

"Matt Barrett - that quintessential Greek island expert - even states that if he had to relocate to a Greek island, then Paros would be the one. And that's high praise indeed. "

This quote was taken from the Paros Web Message Board

http://www.parosweb.com/paros-messageboard/index.html

Sunday is a good day to for a browse of local property offerings. There are plenty on Paros. There has been a building boom here with no end in sight. Mostly holiday homes for Athenians and a few people from other countries rather than hotels or tourist facilities.

Here is an excerpt from our Local Information Page

  1. Kristel Henauer of Kastro Real Estate in Parikia. She speaks German and French as well as Greek and English.

  2. Kalligrammon Designs - is a full service atelier providing design, construction and restoration of homes, businesses, interiors and furniture.

  3. Aegean Villa--Paros - Stone villa construction and other properties on the island. Make your dreams concrete and stone!

A good source of information about Greece travel—if you don’t mind advertising—is “Greece for Visitors” by deTraci Regula of the About Network.  We occasionally trade ideas as shown by the Press Your Own Olive Oil piece she wrote about us.

Another article is about Volunteer opportunities in Greece.  It is at
http://gogreece.about.com/od/jobsingreece/a/volunteergreece_3.htm

On our site we have a section listing volunteer opportunities all over the world.  The link is  http://parosparadise.com/World2.htm

Antiparos back country

Yesterday was cloud free so Karin and I decided to take the afternoon off and explore a back road on Antiparos that we had not traveled before.

Although windy it was a delightful day and we helped replenish our suntans.  It was actually quite hot while we ate our picnic lunch on a small isolated beach.  We thought it was the end of the road until afterwards we noticed a mast sticking up between the hills and thus discovered a tour group having lunch on an even better beach.  While the guests waved the boat operator seem perturbed that we had spoiled the exclusivity of his offering.

We just moved on to explore some unusual rock formations and some other back country curiosities.  For our swim we shared a beach with a retired couple and their camper van at one end and a young nudist couple at the other.  We were in the middle literally and figuratively.

Official naming of Blue Star Paros

The most common question that we are asked about travel involves ferry schedules. Ferries are subject to a great many more variables than trains, for instance, so they are seen as "unreliable". To me, rather, it is just part of the Greek island experience to be more relaxed and tolerant of the uncertainties caused by wind, water, holidays and even labour strikes.

Also there is constant tussle between the ferry companies, the government, island interests and who knows who about which islands should be served how often and costing how much. As a result final schedules are usually not available more than a few weeks ahead of the new season. So the traveler finds it impossible to fully coordinate flights and ferries--again part of the Greek experience. More than one travel advisor has warned that precise planning and Greece travel are incompatible.

My favourite site for ferry schedules is Greek Travel Pages Others like Greek Ferries

More information about getting to Paros on our Greece page at http://parosparadise.com/Greece.htm

While living in Ireland we got used to starting and finishing, if not dominating, every conversation with comments about the weather. Upon moving to Paros, however, we just got blank stares from the locals when we commented, "Nice day!" Everyday here is nice.

Not quite, but it is all relative. Lately we have been having some unseasonal coolness and showers. Average day time high: 75 °F / 24 °C Average night time low: 69° F / 21° C

Starting to think about wearing long pants and shoes, but not yet.

There is more about typical weather here and seasonal averages on our Paros Page


BlogSweet appears to be a good source of interesting blogs.


I just realised that not only am I way behind in sending a newsletter, I have not posted the most recent one to our web site. So I will post it here for now and upload it there later.
The newsletter archives are located at: http://parosparadise.com/RecentNewsletter.htm


Greetings from Paros! June 2005

Summer has arrived after a very interesting and different spring. Different in the sense that while the cold did not linger on, the warm weather came slowly. Usually the cloudy spring sky gives over to total blue with haze out at sea, but this season the sky was full of clouds and we could see the surrounding islands as if they were "right in front of our face". So now if anyone wants to know what is typical spring weather I could not say for sure.

To start the fun was a painting session! No, I did not paint, but we did host a group of talented painters who came for plein air instruction from an American painter from Cincinnati, Ohio, Ron Johnson. The group was 16 total, including a few non-painting partners; most were Americans, but two were Greek and two from Belgium. Some where talented in another art medium, but wanted to learn the plein air technique. While trying to "stay out of their way" and still be a part of it, I discovered that I have absolutely no talent....but certainly did enjoy meeting everyone and seeing their progress as they brought back their day's work. The week long session ended with a beach party at our house in Aliki....where they still brought their sketch pads to paint the lovely church next to us and the sea view. I guess once an artist always an artist! From all of the above, they left me with a desire to learn to sketch--a nice quick way to capture your surroundings--combined in a journal with some descriptive words...wow, what a memory book that would be! (See note at bottom about September watercolour workshop.)

So far we have attended two concerts. One a Mezzo Soprano and flutist from New York who comes every year, lately combined with a very good pianist and the other was a wonderful night of Archilocos (An ancient Parian poet). His words in ancient Greek were set to music by a local group who beautifully and hauntingly sung them to an enraptured audience. How fitting that it was held in the local "Archilocos Hall". I admit to liking that event the best. It was so Greek!
One of our guests, Rob Magson was there as part of a degree project on the Poet. If you are interested in ancient poets, see his site at: http://magson.org/indexarch.html

Lots going on....Joyce and I took a cooking class. We learned a different style of Greek cooking from a Dutchman! He has a unique old farm house up in the hills with a view to die for! He has selected various areas where we eat our creations in the evening...these areas being under his olive trees with a sea view, on his terrace (pergola) with a sea view and another very special spot by a stone wall overlooking a fantastic view of AntiParos, with sunset included! We took the class with two other women from Amsterdam and received a lovely cookbook afterwards of all the recipes we learned to make. The problem with the class is that Joyce and I have now lost all desire to eat out in a taverna or restaurant. Eddy's style of cooking is so spectacular and wonderful, we are spoiled and most restaurants just pale in comparison! His secret is slow cooking and fresh spices. Eddy cooks only on top of his stove, using no oven. He picks his own herbs from the surrounding hills, and knows who to go to for local olive oil and tries to use mostly local products. We really learned a lot! He has a website if you want to see for yourself. It is in Dutch at the moment, but he is working on an English version. Click here.


We are doing more traveling this summer so next issue I will tell more about some other islands and the many local activities that are available.

Yiasis. (Young people now shorten this greeting to: Ya!)

Karin


From Michael

Building on the success of our May Plein Air Workshop we are now holding a September Watercolour Workshop with Marianne Gabriel of Athens. If you know of anyone who wants to improve their painting abilities please pass on this link.
This workshop also will be suitable for beginners. What better way to pursue that first step into painting than in the light and air that has captivated artists for thousands of years—Greece.

I won’t bore you all with the gory details but we had to unexpectedly change buildings in the middle of May. So we are now doing business as Paros Hospitality—providing our special brand of hospitality in a choice of locations. See our web site for photos of the current building or here for the Villa Randiana that we also manage.

Adio until next time
Michael

Many people ask how Karin and I came to be living on Paros. This article written a couple years ago is the long answer.
I start it here and finish it on our web site at http://parosparadise.com/NewsMay02.htm


Inside Out or Outside In?

Have you ever walked down a residential street at twilight as people have turned on their lights but not yet closed their curtains? The homes look so warm, cosy and inviting that you envy these strangers their ideal lives. For that is what they appear as you pass by on the outside, looking in. On such an illusion our ex-pat life is based.

Hello,
I have been to Paros many times and I recently wrote a poem about my experiences there. People who have read it say it makes them want to go to Greece immediately, so I thought you might be able to use it on your website. Hopefully, it will help increase your bookings!
The Greek people have always been very kind to me during my visits so I would love to be able to give something back to them.
I have posted the poem below. You can also view it with reader's comments at this page -
http://allpoetry.com/Poem/889027
Thanks and best wishes,
Mark Rickerby

Paros

Raven hair falling across the pillow.
Denim hanging over a wooden chair.
Half-written poems litter the table.
The village is dancing, everywhere.

This frenetic crossroads of the world,
bursting with life, is heaven to me.
So many people I haven't met yet!
So many places I've yet to see!

The wind is cool but the sun is rising.
Bikes are waiting, tickets to anywhere.
We'll ride this morning through the hills
then relax in the sand without a care.

Tropical oils are carried by ancient winds
as life-loving hedonists deepen their tans.
A girl weaves bright threads into your hair.
A radio plays melodies from faraway lands.

I dive from a cliff into the bright blue Aegean
and return to you, fresh as a newborn child.
We lie together on rocks 'til we're golden brown,
then rush back home to heed the call of the wild.

On the way, a smiling man sells us homemade red wine
as a spectacular sunset ends one more perfect day.
The yellow lights of the village flicker and twinkle
inviting everyone to come and eat, dance and play.

What else could we need in life? What else but this?
Reveling in all that it is to be human and young.
How many live lifetimes never knowing this feeling?
How many die with their sweetest songs unsung?

So come with me, now - not tomorrow or "someday".
Right now! Pack your bags. We're leaving tonight.
The wide world is throbbing outside our windows.
It's time to do EVERYTHING we said that we might!

- Mark Rickerby
www.markrickerby.com

Read all about an exciting new program for olive oil without leaving your desktop!
http://www.oliveoilgoesglobal.com/members/paroshep/index.htm

Karin and I just got back from two days of touring Naxos. It was our post season break; we found it enjoyable and relaxing. We spend most of the time winding up and down the mountain roads and found it quite interesting to compare and contrast to Paros and the other islands that we have visited.

I have advised many travelers that Naxos is much like Paros except that the tourist facilities are all in a strip along the West coast. This is true in comparison to the islands of Mykonos, Ios and Santorini which are each distinctly different. But it is not complete in that Naxos does have a unique character in its mountain villages, its extensive agriculture and it's relatively large central city.

We do need to get out more. There is so much to see through out Greece and we have yet to make it Turkey.

The next big event in our island calendar is the olive harvest throughout November.

Greek Olive Oil has been called the Elixir of Life

Now --during November and December-- you can harvest and press your own. . .

On the fantastic isle of Paros, Michael & Karin Shepherd have arranged with local farmers to help harvest their olives in exchange for 25% of the first pressing.

You can share the experience with us and supervise your own olives, your pressing and your bottling--then print your own label!

All while experiencing our village and island in the usually delightful weather of November and maybe early December. We can also arrange cooking classes in how to best use your own Greek olive oil -- or we can point out which local tavernas and restaurants have the best chefs.

Come share our piece of paradise on Paros!

Please email for specifics and visit our web site: www.ParosParadise.com

Yours for fun and health,
Michael & Karin Shepherd

This is a reprint of a two year old article--without updating our web site link at the end. The corect link for more info after you enjoy the article and photos is http://parosparadise.com
The link for the article is: http://gogreece.about.com/b/a/197692.htm

Speaking of our Dutch friends: Eddy Hopprod has perfected a style of cooking using Greek recipes and local ingredients. He has spoiled us for ordinary taverna food. A portion of his web site is in English so look for the British flag, but enjoy the photos on the Dutch site.

A friend of ours on the island, Hans Giesen, is a well known artist in Holland and Greece. He just opened an exhibition at the Netherlands Institute in Athens. See the post below for a link to his web site.





I am trying to learn blogging by doing. So bear with me, please and this should get more interesting. That is if you are interested in the Greek island of Paros or the "living abroad" life.

In trying to decide dates for September 2006 art workshops I have been asking "old timers" about late September weather. They all say that it is always good. Occassional showers don't start until October. Last year, however, October was especially nice.

Hi,
I am not sure how I will be using this blog. Since everyone is interested in the weather I will start by saying it is now quite warm and sunny after starting out clowdy.
Michael


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