The second part of my Greece expedition was spent on Paros. We left Santorini around 4am and arrived in Paros at 7:30am. (For all you ferry travelers, you’ll soon discover that the ferry doesn’t always run on time) Right from the start I could sense a difference. The tourist season was definitely on its last leg. There wasn’t much going on, and rather quiet—too quiet. Nonetheless, I was going to discover what the island had to offer. I do have to say Paros has very beautiful towns
My first discovery was gyros! So good and yet so cheap! I seriously became a gyros addict before I left. Gyros is meat, tomato, onion and tzatziki sauce. I thought while on the island on Paros I was getting a bargain of 2.50, but when I went to Athens I discovered they only charged 1.80 Euros for gyros. Oh well, all I can say is it was worth every penny! There is a great gyros place in Parikia. It is literally a minute walk once off the ferry. Can’t miss it! In two days while on the island, one of the cooks knew my face. I guess I ate there too much, or the season was so slow that they could remember their customers.
In comparison to Santorini, I treated Paros as a relaxation vacation. Don’t get me wrong I relaxed in Santorini, but here literally much wasn’t going on other than my book, exploring the very small towns and dinner in Paros. The best way to travel around is bus. For 1.40 I took a bus ride from Parika to Naussa. Not a bad way to see the island. All of the towns are spruced apart. We spent an hour in Naussa before heading back to the hotel. Because the tourist season was winding down, so was the bus schedule. It was either spend an hour in the town or three hours, and three hours would have been too long. Naoussa felt like a ghost town, not a lot of stores were open and not a lot of people, unless they were locals. Most of the hotels were boarded up and the owners nowhere to be found. However, I did make a new friend. While waiting for the bus back to Parika, a cat came up and I couldn’t help but pet it. (Although in my head, I was praying the cat wouldn’t give me fleas)
In the afternoon, I took the bus to Alyki. When we first got on the bus, I knew something was very wrong. There were tons of air freshners hanging from the ceiling, and then the smell hit me—strong, unbearable body odor. For the first time I wished I was my roommate, in the aspect of that she has anosmia—no sense of smell. Lucky for her she couldn’t smell a thing, on the other hand, I was gasping for air. Right before the bus departed, a bunch of school kids boarded the bus and the smell only intensified! The tour bus becomes a school bus during the off season, and it just so happened I was on the bus during the time school let out. Although the smell was horrendous and I almost regretted the trip, there was a lesson to be learned. I saw how another culture lives. Opposed to my sheltered life back in the states, some of these kids had to be shuttled for 45 minutes just to reach the school! One kid had a twenty-minute bus ride and in addition had to take a small boat in order to reach his home on another island. I used to complain about walking to school which was only 10 minutes away, and yet this kid had a far more challenging commute than I did and had to do it five days a week. When we reached Alyki we soon discovered there wasn’t much going on other than octopuses being hung out to dry—literally.
Just like Naoussa hotels and houses were vacant. There were a few locals sitting in chairs chatting, watching life pass by… I suppose. I walked around, checked out the beaches and came back to the bus stop and read my book. When I returned to Parikia it was completely necessary to get a gyros and a piece of apple pie! The next day would bring more adventure. I was leaving Paros and going back to the main land determined to find more action than what Paros had to offer.
From Paros I took the ferry back to Athens. I only had a day and a half to explore, therefore I had a lot to do in a little amount of time. The first night I walked around Athens, and of course had gyros and a Greek salad! There is a lot going on in Athens and the first thing I noticed is the culture is a lot more relaxed than the Italian. One example is the way they dress. You can wear sandals and jeans and casual clothes and not be judged by the locals. There also was a lot more poverty there and I wasn’t able to relax with my bags. There are always big crowds, and I knew with big crowds there would be pickpocketers. So when you go, keep your bag close. Lastly, there are many stray dogs. In Italy there are tons of cats, in Greece there are dogs—and some dogs that are not so tame.
Our hostel was a few minutes walk from Monastiraki square. From the square you can see the Acropolis. At night the Acropolis is lit up and looks extremely inviting to explore. I couldn’t wait for the next day to wake up early and finally see one of the many great wonders of the world. But before retiring for the day, I kept on sight seeing on the streets and looking at the small shops. While walking, I got a huge craving for hot chocolate. (The few things I miss about the United States is the hot chocolate, it doesn’t taste the same in Greece). I couldn’t help to think if only there was a Starbucks in Greece I would capitalize on the opportunity. There must have been a Starbucks god out there because right as I was thinking that and walking around a corner, THERE WAS A STARBUCKS! I know I am suppose to embrace the culture, which I did—gyros, but I couldn’t resist and had to stop. Let it be known Starbucks is extremely expensive in Greece. But it was well worth it!
The next morning my roommate and I set off on our mission to conquer the Acropolis! We faced a challenge or two. I hate to say this but we got lost. I know this sounds crazy you can’t really miss the Acropolis, it is one of the biggest buildings in Greece. But we couldn’t figure out how to get to the top. We kept on taking the wrong trails. I wish I could describe where we were, but in all honestly I had no idea where I was. After numerous times of asking people where the entrance was, we prevailed! On a side note, I am glad to report that FINALLY my student card paid off. Because we had a student card, we didn’t have to pay the entrance fee. Thank you very much! On the way up to the Acropolis there are Greek ruins that are worth stopping and reading about. As I approached the top, with all the anticipation, I was shocked. Pictures in texts books and travel books do not do the Acropolis justice. It is incredible and at the same time overwhelming. I am really glad I got there early because as I was leaving swarms of people came, and it became impossible to navigate around without bumping into someone.
After visiting the Acropolis I ventured down to historical Greek ruins museum… more like an outdoor museum, as well as inside. There we saw more ruins and Greek buildings. I could spend all day there, but daylight was burning and I had to get to the airport.
Greece was a change of pace than I was used to in Italy, but I was glad to have the break. I can’t believe how fortunate I am to have this opportunity to experience other cultures. I am glad I am doing it now rather than later, because mostly likely later would have never happened.
Where to go next? Well its time to move to Florence! I have no idea what is in store for this Roamin’ Roman but I’ll be sure to write about it!
PS. The frozen yogurt in Greece is something not to be missed