Most of us, I am sure,do not think of choral singers as being professional.  They may be very talented but how would they earn a living in that musical genre’?

CappellaWell, Oregon Music News has provided us with an insight to the life of one such person, Stephanie Kramer.  She is a member of a great many groups including Cappella Romana which performed to great acclaim here on Paros this last September.  Stephanie is second from right in the photo.

Here is one quote from the article:

“And of course it’s always frustrating when you have to stop in the middle of a great take because of a motorcycle going by or a rooster crowing.

A rooster crowing?

Kramer: That happened on the Greece tour. We were recording in a lovely little country church on the island of Paros, and a rooster crowed during one of our takes. We all burst out laughing.”

Read the complete interview at Stephanie Kramer tells about life as a professional choral singer

By the way she states she has recorded in over 60 CD’s!

From deTraci Regula of About Greece Travel:

“While financial support for Christmas cheer is nearly absent at the national level, the municipalities are stepping up to fill in the gaps. Athens has a rich slate of Christmas activities, many of them staffed by volunteers. Many decorations will be provided by schoolchildren and art students; empty shop windows near Syntagma Square will be filled with Christmas displays. It should be a bright holiday season in Greece. If you've been deriding the "commercialism" of Christmas elsewhere, maybe a visit to Athens this year will be just the antidote.”

ChristmasBoatAnd even more so on Paros!  Yes, I am confident the Greek people and especially the islanders will overcome the difficulties and economic depression to still celebrate Christmas in style as they do all other holidays.

Read about our past Christmases on Paros and in Athens.

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Great minds think alike.  In June 2010 we hosted a Study Abroad program from Lake Erie College in Ohio, USA.  For 2012 the University of Arizona has announced a program on Paros that appears to have many of the same elements.
After all Paros is perfect for combining study, reflection and fun.  The Arizona description includes “exploring the connectivity between periods, cultures and disciplines” when specifically listing the university departments of anthropology, architecture, art, classics, communication, economics, engineering, geology and history.
The Arizona in the Aegean program is led by Dr. Eleni Hasaki, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Associate Professor of Classical Archaeology.
Here is a video of the Lake Erie Students on Paros
Paros Hospitality continues to offer hosting and logistics to colleges and universities for whatever academic program they design.  More at Paros Learning, Reflection and Fun

The international newspaper is not linking Paros with the economy or finances but another claim to fame – art.  The article is about Konstantin Kakanias who splits his time between Los Angeles and Greece.  He is currently on Paros collaborating with Monique Mailloux of Yria Ceramic Studio.  See the article and photos at Still Life with Chickens

 
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This article continues a theme that locally produced food is more healthy than mass produced and that where you eat and drink greatly influences the taste.

Years ago we had a program on Paros for guests to help with the olive oil harvest in exchange for a portion of the oil.  However, the scheme died because not many people want to travel to the Greek islands in November which is harvest time.

Grevena3Now I see that the prefecture of Grevena in the central mainland of Greece is hosting the 9th Panhellenic Mushroom Festival on November 4 – 5.  They say over 5,000 varieties of mushrooms grow wild in Greece and over half of them can be found in this region.  They probably have nearly as many recipes for the fungus including liquors and candies.  Local as well as international chefs will be attending the festival.  I hope they get a few tourists as well.

More on this theme:  Proven: Greek islanders live longer

                             Island wine: Taste the place

octopusWe see a lot of octopus caught and eaten on the Greek islands.  Years ago I read something to the effect that they are more intelligent than we think.  Which is not a very pleasant thought when you are chowing down on their arms.

 

 

Matthias and Sheep 4We also see and eat a lot of sheep and have observed how dumb they seem to be.  Well a traveller named Alejandro Read has done “some” research and rated the 15 most intelligent animals.  Sheep come in higher than I thought at #15 and octopus lower at #12.

See his article at Most Intelligent Animals

Steve Jobs stories have been number one in all news media around the world.  Today I was very surprised to see Paros and Antiparos mentioned in an article about Jobs.  In the Hollywood Reporter the head of Fox Films, Jim Gianopulos reminiscences about negotiations between the studios and iTunes about online marketing of Hollywood movies.  He quotes from a 2006 email from Jobs:

We need to talk and if that's not possible over the phone or via e-mail, then I need to come to Paros and go for a walk on the beach with you and resolve this. The time is now to begin creating a new online distribution vehicle for movies, and Apple is the company to do it. I need your help.
How do I find you once I get to the airport on Paros?
Thanks,
Steve

The whole article is at The Hollywood Reporter

I had 23 September marked on my calendar as Arthur Guinness day, but for some reason it was 22 September this year.  So I joined the trend sweeping Ireland—that of drinking at home instead of at the pub.  Quite a contrast with last year.

 

To Arthur!

 

 

 

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Karin and I took a Sunday drive yesterday; kind of a farewell tour of the east side of the island.  We still find it amazing how some parts have changed so much since we first arrived 11 years ago.  For instance the rough road between Ambelas and Santa Maria used to be our favourite “wilderness” getaway with special coastal features.  The dramatic coastline is still there but now the road is paved and lined with large villas amidst landscaped gardens.


On our jaunt we had a delightful upscale lunch at Siparos which always gets rave reviews.  When I last ate there it was a traditional taverna with good reviews.  I am glad to see their success because we also saw many places boarded up with For Sale and For Rent signs on them.


Over the years I have taken many photos of Golden Beach at different seasons.  Below are two from 18 Sep 2011.  See same shot in High Season


 


Speaking of autumn, the weather here is usually delightful but the visitors are sparse and it is difficult for restaurants and other service providers to stay open.  An exception this year is Oona Giesen’s Yoga Workshops.  She has added sessions in October and November.  Check it out!


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Port2001What should the first time visitor to Greece know?  What would they like to know?

I have just accumulated a few words of wisdom into a new web page.  But please don’t look at it until you comment to this post.

What advice would you as a resident or visitor to Greece give?  Or having never been to Greece what would you most like to know?

I am looking forward to your comments.

Cheers,

The photo is of Parikia port in 2001.

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clip_image001Here are a few items that I should have reported on earlier.

The archaeological excavations on Despotiko off the south coast of Antiparos produced major finds this summer.

While uncovering a wall of an archaic building they discovered half of a “kouros” that matches the other half found in 2005.  They found a head in 2010 that may belong to the same statue.  All of which are of excellent quality and are of a style used on Paros in the 500’s BC..

It is possible to arrange boat tours of Despotiko and adjacent Tsimintiri where other large ruins have been unearthed.  That is on our list of things to do this September.

Another positive achievement for 2011 is flat taxi and limo rates between the Athens airport and central Athens.  In the past this was a major sore point as many taxi drivers took advantage of unaware visitors.  So now you are aware of the following:

Fare for Taxis

DAY TIME FLAT FARE (05:00-24:00)

€35 AIRPORT TO ATHENS CITY CENTRE INNER RING

€35 ATHENS CITY CENTRE INNER RING TO AIRPORT

NIGHT TIME FLAT FARE (00:00-05:00)

€50 AIRPORT TO ATHENS CITY CENTRE INNER RING

€50 ATHENS CITY CENTRE INNER RING TO AIRPORT

  1. The flat fare price depends on the time of arrival to the destination.
  2. The flat fare includes all applicable surcharges (V.A.T., meter start, luggage, toll fee, and airport charge).

The fare to Piraeus is not fixed but under normal conditions it is officially indicated as €47 Day time and €72 night.  You still have to be aware of attempts at over charging or taking slow routes.  The best defence is to agree a rate in advance.

ParosWinejpgFinally be on the look out for Greece wines at your local importer.  Prior to the economic crisis 90% of Greece wines were consumed within Greece.  Read why I think this best.  But now sales are down by about 40% so winemakers have an incentive to export.  Undeniably the quality of the better Greece wines has increased over the last decade and are able to compete with the best from France, Oregon and other wine countries.  So help a Greek; drink a glass of wine from Greece.

CapellaRomanaAs usual the summer Paros Life is chock-a-block full of music concerts and art events.  One that did not make the listing deadline has an Oregon connection. Also it is coming to Paros at the instigation of our American friends of Scooter Rally fame, Al and Ardy.

The Cappella Romana from our home city of Portland, Oregon is celebrating its 20th Anniversary by singing at the Patmos Sacred Music Festival and on Paros at the Church of Panagia Ekatontapilliani  which is one of the oldest and most important churches in Greece.

The group will sing music ranging from Medieval Byzantine chants to modern choral works by Californian Greek composers, including rhapsodic works by modern Greek composer Michael Adamis.  The Paros concert on 5 September at 8:30 P.M. will be recorded by a Grammy winning record producer.

We are really looking forward to this event.  The first concert that I attended on Paros was held in the courtyard of Ekatontapilliani and I still remember the magic.

Believe it or not, all good things come to an end; that includes our paradise on Paros.  Karin and I have decided that our needs and desires have changed.  So we are moving on to greener pastures literally and figuratively.

Hopefully we can carry on the lessons learned about integrated lifestyle from the previous post as we change the Greek taverna for the Prague pub.  I have initiated a new web site to go along with the change:  www.TravelShepherd.com  Please take a look.

TSscreen

As you will see on the new site we will not be abandoning Paros.  I will continue posting in this blog as items of interest to grecophiles come to my attention.  I will continue to host workshops and market private villa rentals, actually expanding this to include holiday homes around the world.

Our primary “home” will be moved elsewhere but we will return to Paros as often as business dictates. So please help us get back frequently by signing up for art or cooking workshops or hiring a villa by the sea, its cheaper than you think.

Cheers,

NetDanceI have written before about our healthy lifestyle on Paros.  Now there is a scientific study about longevity on Ikaria.  It’s percentage of residents over 90 is 10 times the European average.
The study was wide-ranging so did not come to any absolute conclusions but pointed out what the older islanders did versus their younger relatives and the rest of the world.  "Fish, fruit, vegetables, legumes and tea shield the cardiovascular system. Moreover, daily use of olive oil is beneficent to sexual activity and, if added to the moderate consumption of coffee in the afternoon 'siesta', form the ingredients that may compose the secret of longevity," the researchers said.
Of course they also throw in that genetics and physical activity may have something to do with it.

The only conclusion I draw is that you can not pick any one factor as the solution to a long, healthy life; it takes an integrated lifestyle.  More on this theme of Live Long & Prosper
The photo is by Karin taken in Parikia Sunday evening.

Its slow going but Karin and I are getting better at assembling videos.  Here’s one of the brush fire near Aliki on 13 July 2011.

 
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In past years we have seen groups that island hop by swimming from one island to another.  Paros is always included because it is less than one mile to Antiparos and a little more than a mile to Naxos.  So when we heard about a cross channel swim from Paros to Antiparos with free food and drink at the finish, we decided to participate—as observers not swimmers.

We enjoyed a delightful Saturday evening.  It was a great photo/video opportunity so we assembled a few of them in this video.

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal published an economic profile of the upstate New York dairy industry and its leading star Chobani.

I enjoyed the way the article opened with the 2005 factory closing by Kraft foods which resulted in the loss of 55 jobs.  Since buying the factory in 2007 Chobani now has 600 employees and is still growing.  The Greece company Fage has also opened a plant nearby and the local dairy farms are racing to keep up with the demand.  Chobani ships to all 50 US states; 1.2 million cases of Greek yogurt each week.

yogurtfruitWhen we have written about Greek yogurt before I thought it tasted better due to higher fat.  But the WSJ says it is less salty, less acid and more tang and protein than normal USA yogurt.  Thus it is popular with the weight conscious as well as the gourmet.

As an aside the founder of Chobani (Greek for shepherd) is from Turkey and said it could have just as well been called Turkish yogurt.

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VerandaFor the last couple years we have been advising travellers to ignore the news from Athens.  The trouble spots can easily be avoided and once you get to the islands everything is peaceful and quiet.

This advice was reinforced yesterday.  The news headlines and travel advisories were full of details of the national strike of the major unions including all government employees.  So imagine our surprise went we went into Parikia to find everything open including the government offices and even the post office.  Banking business was normal and there were ferries coming and going as well as Olympic flights.

Evidently the only direct effect on the islands was ferries leaving the major port of Piraeus and some flights arriving and leaving the Athens airport.  We are guessing that the island people, including government workers and union members, realize the damage that demonstrations and strikes are doing to their livelihoods and do not want anything to do with it.

So, again my advice is go ahead and plan your trip to Greece--without a visit to Syntagma Square—and only pay attention to your own flights and ferries.  Ignore the alarmist press.

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I have posted often about the many art activities on Paros.  Karin and I missed the Art Appreciation talks this year and the artist in residence at the Apothiki gallery so we made it point to go to the Stella Lubsen photography exhibition at the Monastery of Aghios Ioannis near Monistiri beach.

We were certainly glad we did and if you are on Paros before 30 June we urge you to attend.  The photographs are enlightening and the story of Gisele d’Ailly is inspiring.  Gisele is a well known Dutch artist and personality aged 99.  She is of aristocratic background and has contributed much to Amsterdam we are told.  She came to Paros in the 60’s and arranged with the church to rebuild an abandoned monastery in return for living there.  She hosted many artists and dignitaries including Stella Lubsen who has returned to Paros every year since.

WindowViewStella’s photographs show life on Paros before tourism; both the hard labour and the celebrations.  The setting of the display helps envision what life was like then even though it is now situated between a beach bar and a yacht marina.  These two photos are taken from the windows of the exhibition rooms.

Afterwards we went for lunch at the delightful Anemos taverna at Kolimbithres beach which on this day included live music.  The drinks were cold, the food good, the breezes gentle . . . the life good.

Eclipse1

Well for once a celestial event took place at sociable hours!  Every July and August here on Paros we are treated to a fine meteor shower—shooting stars.  But the best time for viewing is in the early morning before dawn—not my time of day.

 

 

Eclipse2But last night the Eclipse of the Moon started here at 9:50 P.M. and reached 100% about 10:20 P.M.  There were a few wispy clouds but all in all a good show.

The first photo is about 75% into the eclipse.

 

 

Eclipse4The second is just before full eclipse. 

 

The third is at 100%.  If you zoom in you can see the lunar landscape a bit.

 

 

 

Eclipse5

The last is about 50% out of the eclipse and obviously too much light for a photo.

 

 

 

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Today is a negative wind chill day.  That is the high temperature is 84 F (30 C) but “feels like” 89 F (32 C) due to low winds and high humidity.

So instead of a walk I went swimming for the first time this year.  Quite nice; the water felt cold for less than 30 seconds.  Karin has been several times already; her first was June 2nd evidenced by the blurry photo.  Island with a palm tree

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Having grown up in a semi-rural area of a small state, Oregon, I have always favored Buy Local campaigns as a neighbor helping neighbor effort.

Now Greece businesses are asking consumers to purchase Greece products as a way to help the overall economy.  They are launching a campaign in the supermarkets to highlight those products grown and processed in Greece.

rtomatoesKarin and I buy local whenever possible mainly for quality and flavor but we also take price into account.  Paros honey, for instance, is great, but very dear.  So we usually buy the brand that is produced on the main land.

When we are off island in the USA or elsewhere I find it difficult to choose between price and quality.  Are the farmer’s market tomatoes at 2.50 per kg going to taste better than the supermarket ones at 1.80?  What do you think?  How do you shop in your city?  Please comment.

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ArahovaDetailFinally summer has arrived on Paros as we have no rain or even heavy clouds in our forecast.

Also today brings the prospect of more flights to Greece from all over the world.  Hellenic Imperial Airways has announced that starting June 24 they will be flying between New York and Athens four times per week—followed by other countries later this year.  To quote from their press release:

“In phase 1, Hellenic Imperial Airways will be connecting Greece with non-stop scheduled flights to and from USA (New York), Syria (Damascus), Romania (Bucharest), U.A.E (Dubai), Morocco (Casablanca), Saudi Arabia (Jeddah), United Kingdom (London), Switzerland (Geneva), Canada (Toronto- Montreal) and France (Lyon, Marseille).
In phase 2, aiming to be implemented towards the end of 2011 Hellenic Imperial Airways aims to expend its network of scheduled flights to the Far East and Australia.”

I did not find these flights in a fare search yet but they claim the rates will be competitive but more importantly to me they say:

“their planes have 217 seats in the same space that Olympic Airways formerly fit 263”

Hellenic Imperial Airways has been operating as a charter airline for over 4 years and their international flights use pilots and planes from the former Olympic Airways.

Here's to the lazy, hazy days of summer.  Hot smile

GoldenBeach

As I have written before Paros has beaches of every description for every taste.  This photo is of  the largest, Golden Beach, at high season.

I call this a full service beach with wind surfing, kayaking and the like as well as food and drink on offer.  The last few years we have also seen a new service:  Asians giving low cost massages.  I have never had one but they do look like a pleasant way to break up the tedium of sun bathing.  Hot smile

But evidently the bureaucrats don’t agree, on Crete at least.  So far this year on the beaches there they have arrested 25 foreign nationals for being unlicensed masseurs.  From my own experience I know it is next to impossible for a foreigner to get a business license without even getting into the expense.

This also reminds me of the crack down on street performances in Parikia years ago.  It used to be such fun to stroll along the harbour front watching the jugglers, dancers and musicians.  Then suddenly they were gone as the police were requiring a license.  No longer was there much joy or excitement along restaurant row.  Thankfully, however, either the license edict was relaxed or the police found something else to emphasize because the performers are back, though in smaller numbers it seems.

So we will have to wait and see if the licensing foolishness infects Paros beaches or if it is like most regulation in Greece, never enforced. 

If you are looking for a quiet beach on Paros go here

If you want to know more about clothing optional beaches go here

When he was mayor of Paros I was impressed with what Yannis Ragoussis was able to accomplish in comparison to the previous mayor.  Now I am impressed with what he hopes to accomplish for the long range future of Greece government.  Read previous reports here and here

Ragoussis2While Prime Minister Papandreou is active in saving the country in the short run Interior Minister Ragoussis is working on modernizing the entire government structure.  We see a lot more Turkish byzantine bureaucracy than the Greeks will ever admit to.

This is from the Athens News Agency report:

He stressed that human resources - the civil servants themselves - will
be the main focus in this drive for a reformed state, which would be
free of pockets of corruption and mismanagement.

Ragoussis said that the effort would require great political will and a
willingness to ignore political cost, given the attitudes that dominate
within the two main parties and high-ranking trade unionists concerning
the civil service and broader public sector.

One of the pillars on which the new, reformed public administration
will be based was the decision announced by the prime minister a few
days earlier to convert the status of civil servants to that of
'employees of state', breaking down the barriers between each ministry
and introducing evaluation mechanism for ministry staff.

Ragoussis noted that the more important change this introduced was not
the power to fire employees but a process of evaluation that would
reveal who was unfit to be in the civil service'. He expressed the
opinion that the simple knowledge that they would be evaluated would
prompt employees to "do their best" so that the majority would not fail
such an evaluation.

"One of the major problems of the Greek state is that there is no such
evaluation system for many years now, therefore no one ensures or has
any incentive to perform better".

It is very unusual to see such blunt language indicating that pockets of corruption and mismanagement still exist as well as resistance within is own party for reform.

Although he is a member of a Socialist government we can only wish Ragoussis well in bringing Greece that much closer to modern governance.

The photo in my first post about him is only a few years old yet he looks much older in the photo above.

AlikiWedding

 

Would you want to get married at the same place as you live and work?  If that was the village centre of Aliki, I think you would.

 

 

 

AlikiPier

Most of the centre with its various restaurants, tavernas and other businesses is owned by different branches of the same three or four families and they were all turned out in their finest clothes for the wedding celebration of one of the restaurant owners.

 

 

fromΣΤΑΥΡΟΥΛΑ ΤΡΙΧΑ

 

My night photos did not turn out well so I lifted this one from Facebook.  Thank you ΣΤΑΥΡΟΥΛΑ ΤΡΙΧΑ

 

 

More about planning a wedding in Greece on this page of our Paros Personalized Travel Guide.

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The following is a guest post by Fiona Hilliard who usually advises people about car rental Crete on award-winning blog http://blog.arguscarhire.com. Today though, she has taken some time out to share her top tips for driving in Crete…

Crete is the perfect place to drive as it is home to a wonderfully varied set of scenic routes that are just waiting to be explored. A brief word of warning though - when you drive in Crete, you should always take things SLOWLY and employ caution at all times – driving in a strange place requires alertness, but in Crete this is a MUST!

Danger! Danger! Dry Roads:  Seasoned drivers say there is no such thing as good quality roads in Crete. A large improvement was made to surfaced roads in Crete following road projects several years ago, but the level of grit/traction on many of these roads is still way below what many people are accustomed to. Worryingly, some of these road surfaces have mostly become polished by daily wear and tear, especially at dangerous parts such as corners.

Tip: Plan longer stopping times and lower your speed on corners.

Rockslides:  If driving in hilly or mountainous terrain, be careful of rocks which have fallen down onto the road. These roads are especially dangerous after rain or when goats play in the hills. Drivers should always be alert and check the road surfaces ahead.

Drive on the Hard Shoulder:  On roads where there is a paved lane, you should make like a local and drive on this part of the road to let other drivers pass or overtake you, whether you are driving behind or if other drivers are in the opposite lane, overtaking another car that is approaching you – just watch for the other drivers doing the same. You won’t find this information in the rules of the road, but it seems to come natural to locals, so go with the flow!

Double Check Red Traffic Lights:  Just because your traffic light turns green, it doesn’t mean you should be the first to get away from the lights. Instead, ensure that the oncoming traffic has stopped at their red light, once you know it’s safe, by all means take off.

Stick to the Speed Limit:  Locals seem to have a hard time sticking to official speed limits, but this doesn’t mean you can’t he a good, law abiding citizen. In Crete, the official speed limit is 90kmph on highways, 70km/h outside built up areas and 50 km/h inside built up areas such as towns and city centres.

Slippery roads:  Standing water on old road surfaces means you have to allow much more time to slow down for stopping. You may also have to drive at slower speeds than you would usually use for corners/winding roads.

One Way Streets:  Look out for people driving or riding motorbikes the wrong direction on one way streets. This happens mostly in towns and villages but is a danger nonetheless.

Wild Animals:  Giddy goats, pigs, piglets and sheep are a common site on country roads.

Tip: Lower your speed and they will usually move aside. If they are accompanied by a shepherd, he/she will normally try to move their animals out of the way for you, patience is a virtue – you might as well sit tight and enjoy the scenery while the animals cross the road.

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In case you didn’t know, the first Friday in May each year is International Female Ride Day—motorcycles and scooters, that is.  Karin and her friend Ardy rode to Piso Livadi for coffee and sent their photo to the sponsoring web site.  Now they are internationally famous as their photo is part of the slide show at the top of the site.  Go to http://motoress.com/ and wait for it!

More about Paros riding here and here

Enjoy the journey as well as the destination was never more true than for the Greek island of Sifnos. This small island in the Cyclades group is a string of delightful villages separated by interludes of gorgeous mountain and sea vistas. The closest thing to a main town is the sprawling village of Apollonia in the hills near the center. Since the whole island is only about five km wide and 15 long, reaching each of the other villages is an easy, enjoyable journey to a beautiful and relaxing destination.

Vathy, Sifnos, Cyclades,GreeceKarin and I stayed in a traditional pension in Platys Yialos at the southeast of the island. It has one street and a beach which serves as a pedestrian street as well. Our first morning we took a wake up ride to the south western port of Vathy for breakfast.  It was both beautiful and relaxing.

Later we rode our motor scooters up to Kastro. It is difficult to convey the sense of this cliff top village on the opposite side of the island.  It is ancient and overflowing with antiquities sitting everywhere.  There are no vehicles because it is all stairs.  Even the locals must carry their groceries from a parking lot on the edge of town.

Another unique attribute of Sifnos is its cleanliness. We were very impressed that there is no litter, the houses are kept up, even the farms were tidy! Not overdone, just well kept. Sifnos is relatively small so the tourism volume is low. This helps keep the island more pure and more traditional Greek. We were we first directed to Sifnos by some friends who are great walkers.  While we are not, we did see some scenic trails that look intriguing.  Buy a quality local map and you will find them.

Heronisos, Sifnos, Cyclades, GreeceOff by itself at the north end of the island is Heronissos. Until recently this narrow harbor village was mainly accessible only by those with yachts or sailboats. Now there is a new road and we found it quite grand to be scootering along the island ridge and then steeply down to a still old fashioned Greek fishing village.

Sifnos is most noted as a potters’ island. It is not known when pottery began on the island though it is mentioned in the third century B.C.. By the eighteenth century potters from Sifnos were traveling and relocating all over Greece to spread their industry. But at the main ferry port of Kamares you have your choice of several ceramic factories still owned and operated by local families.

As I mentioned Sifnos is not on the major ferry routes but can still be easily reached from Athens/Piraeus along with neighbors Milos, Serifos, and Kimilos.  You can also get there from the other Cyclades by way of Paros and Mykonos and perhaps other islands as the schedules vary each year.  We recommend this collection of jewel like villages for any island hopper's itinerary.  It is the perfect size for finding new discoveries around each corner and did I mention that it is beautiful and relaxing.

You can view our collection of photos starting with Day Four of our Picasa album.

Or read about all of our Cyclades island adventures on our web site.

clip_image001We spent a pleasant Easter Sunday. 

It started well with one of our rare sightings of a migratory bird.  Karin took this photo out our lounge window.  I tried to sneak around the corner to get a clear shot but the bird took off immediately.  It easily had a six foot wing span.  I thought it might be a stork but the color appears wrong.  The closest I could find on the internet is a Purple Heron, but the color is wrong there too.  Any ideas?

 

lamb on spitThe weather was warm but there was a strong North wind that I didn’t notice until we were driving our scooters into it.  Even so we battled our way to the farthest point of the island from us to have traditional lamb on a spit with other expat friends.

Afterwards we stopped in Naoussa for coffee and happened to be there in the middle of their traditional commemoration and procession, the main element of which is very loud firecrackers.

Then back home, still in the sun, for a quiet evening recuperating from all the food, drink and noise.

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It took me most of a whole day but I think I have created something cool.  A survey form for Paros beaches using Google Docs.  The responses will be automatically tabulated in a spread sheet.  The next step will be to learn how to display the results but I need more responses first.  So please do your part by participating in the survey.

You can go to our our web site page Paros Beaches to see a list and photos of most of the beaches.  The survey is there as well.

Cheers,

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Although I blogged about it at the time nearly two years after the fact I have finally written an article about our trip to Milos in June 2009 and created a web page for Milos.  This is part of my trend to provide personalized travel guides for the places that we have been.

As experienced Greek island hoppers we were not quite prepared for Milos. As our ferry powered into a large open harbour the vista was of hilltops broken with mining scars. The port town of Adamas sprawled up a hillside with remnants of industry here and there on the fringes. When we were in the town everything appeared dusty. In certain places on the island we would get a whiff of sulphur. Yes, Milos was noticeably different and has a unique history due to its geology.

During our three days there we grew to love that diversity and found many intriguing places to visit. The islands Mining Museum is a new building full of interesting old stuff and a fascinating display of minerals. Over the years many different products have been mined. We wanted to find the abandoned sulphur mine because we had heard stories about how strange it was.clip_image002

The visit was a haunting experience ​even eerie, you would have to be there to know what I mean. The buildings (many not shown in the photo) had a heavy, slightly sinister feel to them.

We also enjoyed several beaches as we toured the island on our motor scooters. These included Firiplaka and Provatas. The most starkly unique was Sarakiniko; like a lunar landscape yet unreal.  Very white convoluted rock formations reach out towards the sea as if a monumental sculpture.

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Below the central towns of Tripiti and Plaka are ruins of an old Roman city. On the way there we stopped at the cave where the famous ancient sculpture Venus de Milo was discovered in the 18th century. This statue, by the way is carved in marble from our home island of Paros. Also near here are ancient Christian catacombs where the early, persecuted Christians secretly buried their dead.

Our other side trips included Klima where the houses butt up to a hillside with boathouses in caves below them.  While we chose the central town of Adamas for our stay the village of Pollonia especially impressed us.  It reminded us of our home village, Aliki, Paros.

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Another highlight of our Milos visit was a meal at the O! Hamos taverna (O! Xomos in Greek, means The Mess).  We have never seen anything like it in Greece for charm and character.  It was funky, had writings on the walls and chairs and lovely pottery cups to drink our ouzo from. Then we were pleasantly surprised by friendly, efficient service and to top it off, the food was great.  I strongly advise any island hoppers who are getting tired of the traditional taverna to make a point of discovering this place at the edge of Adamas.  As it is right on the beach, we ate, walked across the street and swam and laid in the shade. It’s worth writing home about!

Milos is certainly not your typical Greek island for sea, sand and sun but we highly recommend it for its unique character and style. Since it is on a different ferry route than the main Cyclades of Paros and Santorini it is less busy and more of a Greek experience. Yet for most of the year there are daily ferries between Athens/Piraeus and Milos. This route usually includes stops at Serifos, Sifnos and Kimilos; all attractive little islands. There are also flights from Athens. Greek island hopping is a fun travel adventure, dive in.

Next I will update the Sifnos portion of the trip.  In the meantime you can see Karin’s photo journals starting HERE

Spring is in the air.  We are finally having some warm weather.  Houses are being aired and our neighbours are starting on all the weeding and painting that has to be done before Easter.

We are anticipating a traditional lamb barbeque on Easter Sunday afternoon at Margaritas, one of our favourite tavernas.  Below is a link to Karin’s photo account of an August afternoon there and elsewhere on Paros.  Note that this was an August afternoon when the island is supposed to be over crowded.

A Sunday Afternoon on Paros

 

This year we may even go again to the dramatic parastaseis in Marpissa.  The print edition of Paros Life has published some brilliant colour photos by Photo Frank.

 

We have written several places about Easter Week on Paros but today I want to mention an excellent article by Carol Mason in Canada’s Globe and Mail.  She writes:

The island of Paros does Easter better than anywhere else. It's the third largest in the Cyclades group, where you'll also find Mykonos and Santorini. Picture whitewashed churches with blue domes, orange blossom and bougainvillea tumbling down nearly every wall, mysteriously interlocking streets with no names that are no wider than the expanse of your outstretched arms, sugar-cube houses piled up on hillsides, or dotted sparsely on the windswept edge of a cliff. Paros's charm feels effortless.

And later:

From the minute the tiny Olympic Airways flight circled the island to land, Paros spoke to me, and kept on saying all the right things. On my first venture into town, an elderly man gave me a rose. Someone else tried to offload a kitten (cats run amok on Paros because the Greeks don’t spay and neuter; some people own about 20). The clothing boutique owner couldn’t bear to see me in flip-flops – 26 C being winter for a Greek – so she gave me a free pair of brand-new imported Italian shoes. When I protested that I couldn’t possibly accept her offer, she charged me a token two euros. Then, ironically, I did catch a cold, and the local café owner fed me a bottomless cup of hot souma with honey, and someone else bought me socks. As a tourist, I was hardly a rarity. But Parians take an interest in you. Of the Northern Europeans I met in the month I was there, it was easy to see why they had been coming back for 20-plus years.

Read the whole article  HERE

You can see it is easy to love Paros.

Hey, any of you dear readers have Nokia mobile phones?

A while back I discovered this site for adding one’s blog as an App for Nokia.  What the hell, I’ll try anything . . . when it comes to marketing.

Which reminds me, please Like my up-dated Paros Hospitality page on Facebook.

Get Paros Paradise Blog now.

 

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Paros and its Church of 100 Doors have made the literary pages of the Irish Times in a big way.  Perhaps more accurately, Poet Michael Longley has immortalised the church and the romance of Paros by writing poetry about it.

This is the introduction of the book review by Theo Dorgan:

“THE TITLE OF Michael Longley’s new book comes from the island of Paros. Helena, mother of Constantine, had a wooden church built there, and two centuries later Justinian the Great had the church rebuilt, commissioning Isidorus, one of the two architects of Hagia Sophia, to undertake the work. Isidorus farmed out the work to his apprentice, Ignatius, but was smitten with jealousy, legend has it, when he arrived to see the magnificent dome that crowned the great church. Enraged, he pushed the apprentice off the roof; Ignatius, grasping him by the ankle as he fell, took Isidorus with him. The island wisdom is that the church has 100 doors, 99 of which are known; the 100th, they say, will be found only when Constantinople is Greek again.”

Use this link to read the review including some of Michael Longley’s poetry:  http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/weekend/2011/0319/1224292565665.html

Use this link to buy the book:

Athens has never been my favourite city and famous travel writer Rick Steves agreed with me.  However, he thinks better of it after a tour of three of its neighbourhoods.  Read more about Exarchia, Psyrri, and Gazi at Rick Steves  

 

ChinaPhotosThe developing Greece/China friendship paid off for Nicole Georgakelou, wife of the Greece ambassador to China.  Her photo Lotus won first prize in a Beijing photo exhibition entitled China in My Eyes - A Photo Exhibition of Female Diplomatic Envoys and Wives of Diplomatic Envoys in China  

Among those attending were everyone and anyone female connected with diplomacy in China including a great many female Ambassadors.  The exhibition was hosted by Le Aimei, wife of the Chinese Foreign Minister. With a name like that I imagine she has an interesting story, but I couldn’t find it on Google.  Maybe it is censored?

Spending the winter on an island can cause people to do strange things in search of interesting activity.  They may even take up blogging.

This photo is from the newest blog from Paros.  The Parianos is a fun combination of wit and whimsy.  Check it out, but don’t forget to come back here once in a while for that is my posting schedule.

Cheers

This last autumn Greece had a popular TV series based upon the Victoria Hislop novel The Island.  Afterwards it was announced the islet of Spinalonga would re-open as a tourist attraction.  The novel featured this former leper colony, supposedly the last one in Europe.  It is located off the southeast corner of Crete.

Previously the island had closed from lack of interest but now the local municipality will be offering free boat trips on weekends through the winter and hopefully daily during the summer.

Panoramic view of Spinalonga

This photo is from the Spinalonga Island Travel Guide which provides a lot of information about the history and current tours to the island.

By the way, Karin read and enjoyed the book.

There is also a locally written and produced book:  Spinalonga, The Isle of the Damned by Victor Zorbas.  It can be found at Abe Books

 

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