These two ports separated by a single letter, sounding so similar must have been confused more than once but famously by Joanna Lumley who starts her Greek travel series oozing off the ferry in Poros under the illusion, swiftly cleared, that she was in Paros. No matter, both places are very charming. Paros is in the Cyclades, east of Siphnos, south of Mikonos and west of Naxos. Poros is 100 miles to the west and 40 miles south west of Athens. Our trip to Paros was not our first but in previous times we were under pressure of either weather or time and had not been able to fully explore the town. We really liked it; typical Cycladian white houses, narrow winding streets, bougainvillea cascading over walls. The white so dazzling it hurts the eyes. The corners of the streets have rounded edges from the times when loaded donkeys and mules passed by.
Having deposited our laundry for a ‘wash only’ we wandered and settled under a shady canopy to have a good coffee and watch people go by. We weaved our way up past the Kastro by steps of translucent Parian marble. Parian marble is considered to be the best quality marble for sculpture in the world. We found ourselves overlooking the bay to the west beside the church of Aghios Konstantinos. There is a cross above the entrance made of Iznik tiles, only the upper arm is antique the rest are modern. To the side is a pretty portico.
Time for the laundry to be picked up and hung around the boat, it seems to dry in an instant at this time of year. There is something uplifting and joyous about laundry dancing on a line but even more on a boat in the middle of an anchorage.
Inside the complex of the Monastery of the Capuchins, there is a church that is, and again I quote from McGilchrist, ‘the oldest and the most historically important church in the Aegean Islands’. There was a service going on. Greek Orthodox churches don’t seem to mind, in fact it appears quite normal that one can wander in and out and not even be connected to the event that is happening. It was a funeral so we didn’t linger but returned later to take in the luminosity and brilliance of the light inside and notice the stone arched women’s gallery running around the interior as you enter.
This is Parikia, I forgot to say! It is the main town of the island. As in ancient times it still seems quite well to do with masses of individual little shops; clothes, souvenirs, clothes, jewellery, art, leather, more clothes, exclusive and expensive. Later we had Margaritas as the sun went down, so delicious, limey and salty.
I realise I have been making a bit of a boob in Greek, not the first, in fact one of rather too many. Sometimes the rhythms and sounds of a particular word get stuck in my head and then get associated with the wrong meaning. So it appears to have been with the word alcohol or non alcoholic. For a while now I may have been asking for analgesic beer or, horrors, anal beer. No wonder the confused looks. The words sound so similar and I got the wrong one! I know now – χωρίσ αλκοόλ – no confusion!
The following day we captured a great photo of the ferry whose company strap line writ large on its side declares “Sailing together to the sustainable side of life” which was a laugh because as he left he was engulfed in a cloud of dirty black diesel smoke.
We stopped in the bay of Kolona on Kythnos on the way to Poros. I found the hot spring on the beach and had it all to myself. The sea had been a shock to my warm body but settling into the little pool, crudely surrounded by rocks and stones I stretched and relaxed listening to the waves rippling onto the shore – pretty special.
A large catamaran anchored nearby appeared to be doing a ‘wellness’ sailing week and we were treated to the sight of eight women led by a muscular young man in red going through their sun salutations in varying degrees of co ordination. As was fitting it was a peaceful boat with no loud music and in the early morning, as we left, some of them were meditating in the rising sun.
Weather, Weather, Weather, it is a constant feature in our narrative. Andy pores over it endlessly. There was a warning of strong northerly winds, yet again. So we had to find a safe and comfortable place to be for the two day duration, the town quay is not such a place. Just west of Poros town we dropped our anchor and took ropes back to the shore in a little nook. There is a narrow channel that takes you through Poros, past the buildings and boats anchored along the south west. It is such a pretty town, rising up a wooded hill and the shutters in absolutely every colour all effortlessly blending harmoniously. As we came past on the way to our little nook we were hailed by Andromeda or rather our friend Nick. We were asked to lunch the following day and so having spent a night aboard and assured of her security we left Selkie Dancer and took the hour long walk to the town.
It was lovely, it is still not high season and I’m really liking that. Lovely lunch and company and of course technical issues to discuss….
The following day was spent on the boat, the only disturbance, the wake from the Flying Cats and Dolphins – the ferries that roar between Athens and Porto Xeli – which you hear rather ominously gathering speed to a crescendo as waves advance crashing along the shoreline to rock the boat furiously. Other than that we had bird song, the occasional goat bell and a lovely lunch.
Once the wind had died we went onto the dock for a night for water, hair cut and another lunch! And we saw such a sight, an influx of young men in navy uniforms, streaming through the town with their friends, with mum and dads or with their girlfriends. There is a Military School here on the island and this was basic training before they are dispersed to one of the three services. Conscription still happens for a short period. This was the first ‘break’ in the middle of the course and they were allowed ‘out’. There were queues outside the ATM’s, outside the laundries and the cafes were full of chatter and life.
So now we are away from Poros and in Epidaurus, one of our favourite places and here we are pulled back on the rocks for the first time. We are busy planning and sussing out suitable places to take Nick and Lachie. They have such a limited time and all depends upon, guess what? the weather! We have a variety of plans and places to take them to and will just react in the moment. We are so looking forward to it!