As stated in my previous post, we weren’t expected to work everyday while with Jim and Irini. In fact, Jim made it clear that we needed to take breaks, and that our stay was not all about work.
We managed to make 2 day trips out and about to see what the area had to offer.
—Lefkes to Prodromos—
One Friday morning we started looking at bus schedules for the following day, because buses were the best alternative for us to get around.
Our new friend Tara, a fellow Wwoofer, was leaving on Sunday, and we wanted to be sure to spend a day hanging out with her before she left.
Tara has biked 8000km in 6 months across Asia and is now headed to Africa! Follow her incredible journey on her blog: Follow Margo PoloAs we read the schedule, we realized that there were very few buses on Saturday and much more on Friday. Irini suggested that it was a nice day, and we should just go that day, instead of waiting till the next. Sounded good to us!
We headed off to a town located in the centre of Paros called Lefkes. Jim had told us that it was a neat mountainside town so we decided to check it out. Before leaving, they also told us about an old trail called the Byzantine Trail, built 10 centuries ago during the Byzantine Era. The section from Lefkes to Prodromos is the most preserved section of a large network that used to connect many of the villages on Paros. And the good news was that we could catch the bus from Prodromos, and it was all downhill! Perfect!
We poked around Lefkes for a bit, then decided to find the trail and start heading down to our
potential lunch spot. We looked around for the trail head, referencing our large scale map that we had, hoping for a clue.
We finally came across 3 construction workers working in the town square. I asked if they spoke English. The answer did not surprise me “a little bit.” One of them said shyly. Now, it doesn’t seem to matter who we ask this question to, the answer is always some sort of shy rendition of “a little bit” to “yessssss??”, to my favourite taxi driver response “sommmmmetimmmes.” We always giggle and then ask them our question verrrryyyy slowly, and most of the time they know a great deal more than they think they do, and we are always impressed.
We showed our map to him and while pointing to the trail I said “We are looking for the Byzantine Trail?”
He knew what we were asking, but he just couldn’t seem to form his words right. For at least a minute he struggled for the words to tell us how to get there. We heard “left” many times, and there was lots of pointing. But that was about the extent of it. Finally he motioned for us to follow him. We literally walked 15 feet, and he pointed to a sign IN ENGLISH pointing to the Byzantine trail, that we had actually already walked past once. HA!! We thanked him profusely, and went on our way.
The trail started out amongst the tiny corridors of Lefkes, wound its way between buildings impossibly perched on the hillside, and then finally emerged below the town,showing us the valley below. It was a bumpy old track, and we discussed how difficult it would have been back in the horse (donkey) and cart days, to get around.We wandered along the trail, checking out the plants, and stopping for photo ops whenever we would round another corner and a new, and seemingly improved, vista would present itself . We marvelled at the terraced hillsides around us, and envisioned what life may have been like here 1000 years ago.
We all started to feel pangs of hunger about 3/4 of they way down. Jim had told us that there was a restaurant next to the central square in Prodromos. We were all quite concerned that it may not be open as it’s not exactly the tourist season.
As we approached the beginning of the village, there appeared on the side of a building, a neat little map of the town centre, and it had English on it! Clearly someone had thought this through! We wove our way through the narrow winding streets, and came out exactly where we needed to.
YES! The restaurant was open!
Lunch was lovely. The waitress, and I’m sure, Owner, knew just enough English to provide us with the options available. We had no idea what the prices were, but it was a modest little spot, and we couldn’t imagine it was too expensive. Besides we were HUNGRY! (Turns out the price was just fine.)
We ordered some local Paros wine to share, ate 2 plates of Cheese Saganaki (fried cheese, and my new favourite thing!), and other traditional Greek dishes.
Fun Fact: Wine is so abundant in Greece, restaurants often have their OWN wine that they make, and when they say house wine, they REALLY MEAN house wine! (Plus it’s usually cheap!)
Chris had an incredible Greek Salad that was topped with heaping scoops of the yummiest feta cheese we have ever seen. It was like they had used an ice cream scoop to scoop it, and it’s consistency was halfway between that of ice cream and whipped butter. It was the creamiest, yummiest, cheese we ever did see! And we all had to get in there and try it!We wandered around Prodroms for another couple hours until our bus came, and we were whisked back to the safety of Living in the Garden, Jim and Irini’s oasis.
The idea of our journey to Antiparos Island, the neighbouring island to Paros, was sparked when we learned that the ferry runs every half hour, and that there was quite a quaint and unique village over there to see.
We also had another reason. After much deliberation, we had finally decided to stay at Jim and Irini’s for Christmas Day, instead of joining the throngs of people who would be travelling around prior to the holiday. As they had Christmas plans already, we decided to cook our own Christmas dinner in our adorable cottage kitchen.
That meant we needed some supplies, so we decided to make Antiparos our grocery shopping mission as well.
We caught the ferry across to the island at about 9:30am. The tickets were sold once you stepped on the boat, and the man we bought them from attempted to communicate the return schedule to us while we stared at him dumbfounded, clearly not understanding his broken English. He finally just ended up showing us the copy hanging on the wall behind him. Apparently in the low season they only run every hour instead of half hour.
Now, we live in a ferry dependant community on the West Coast of Canada. One would think we should be sick of ferries. But, for some reason, I LOVE being on ferries. I don’t know if it’s the being on the water thing?, or the not being in a car thing?, or what exactly makes me love them, but I get giddy with excitement pretty much every time I go on one. We went up top to sit outside, and I immediately ran around and snapped pictures with reckless abandon. (But for some silly reason did not get a pic of the ferry itself.) The ride only lasted 10 minutes or so, then we were free to roam.
In behind the waterfront was a lovely little village that was mostly pedestrian only. We saw a couple mopeds zip by, but we were told that it’s likely not allowed in the summer months, when there are hoards of people walking around. Many artist boutiques and high end shops lined the main thoroughfares, but unfortunately they were closed for the off season.
We stopped in a small coffee shop to get a bite to eat. Even though it was only about 10:30 in the morning, we noticed Ouzo on the menu, and thought it was high time that we tried some real Greek Ouzo. Besides, it was almost Christmas, and surely 5:00 somewhere??
We strolled through town and came out the other side at a rocky headland and a little beach. Here, I finally dipped my feet in the Mediterranean Sea, or more precisely, the Aegean Sea.
Heading back through the village to find a place for lunch, but taking a different route than we had coming out (because exploring every nook and crannie is so much fun!), we came across a centre square with a church and an old castle.
As we rounded a corner, and came face to face with the church, 2 monks came walking out, creating a stunning picture. I quickly fumbled for my camera, but it was too late, they had ducked into another doorway. A few minutes later, we came around another corner, and again, they popped out of one doorway, and dashed into another, before I could capture them.
We climbed up on top of the ancient structure in the middle of the courtyard, and took in the views from above. From up there I could hear people talking below. I knew it was those monks, but couldn’t get a good look at where they were. I was obsessed! At this point I had made it my personal mission to capture those darn monks on camera, if it was the last thing I did!
We came back down from up above and rounded a corner near the bottom of the stairs. By now I had my camera in hand and ready to go, and lo and behold, there they went again, popping out of a doorway, and rounding a corner. I was quick enough to get a shot (only of one), but without the dramatic church background, it didn’t really do it justice. However, I was somewhat satisfied, so we went on our way. As fate would have it, a little while later, we looked back and there they were walking behind us, totally innocent, and completely unaware of my perverse need to get a good picture of them. I stepped aside and pretended to look at my iPhone for a while. They passed us and I FINALLY got my picture. But alas, STILL not as good as what I had seen earlier. I guess some pictures are just meant for our minds.
We wound our way back to the waterfront, had some lunch, and bought our Christmas dinner supplies. Our day on Antiparos was nice and very peaceful, but, I have been told that the island is turning into a sort of small version of Mykonos or Santorini. Apparently Sean Connery and Tom Hanks have houses there, and, if this is the case, it likely won’t be a cute quaint little place for long. Best to check it out while it still retains its charm.
Next I will be blogging about our time in Santorini. Despite its beauty, we have very mixed emotions about this place. Our travelling bubble of happiness and complete ecstasy burst a little bit. So to give you a hint of what’s to come, I will be naming the post Santorini or Bust(ed)!