With Sally and her friend Charlotte we arrived at the apartments in Parakia on Paros and things immediately went badly wrong! What a DUMP! newly built the web site said. Newly built, my arse! The Parthenon Museum will be finished before this place! There was also an intimidating huge dog and an owner with a severe b.o. problem. This was the Greek equivalent of the Bates Motel and as we checked in I made a mental note to remember to sleep with one eye open tonight.
Oh, there was more. The apartments were not just next to a building site, they were a building site! The room was adequate but nothing special, the shower didn’t work and neither did the fridge so I had to call the owner in to make repairs. It was one of those rooms that had electrical sockets in unusual places, some close to the ceiling and uselessly out of reach, and others with wires dangling alarmingly from the wall. The view from the balcony was not the sea as promised but a construction site with a mechanical digger moving rocks from one side to the other and then returning them back again to their original position again for no apparent reason!
I won’t be recommending the Capricorn Apartments to anyone! That’s the Capricorn Apartments on Paros!
The girls were good and tried to cheer me up and we went to the beach, which was a really very nice beach but it was very, very hot and I couldn’t settle down so I walked back to the apartment to get my snorkel and then went back to the beach for a bit of a swim and then I walked back to the apartment again to get my book and went back to the beach again for a bit of a read.
To keep going back was a big mistake because each time I just got more wound up about the place. Then I had a brilliant solution, there was a hotel just down the road on the way back to the beach so I’d book in there and move out of this substandard dump. I walked there and swept through the lush hotel gardens, past the fabulous Olympic sized swimming pool and the well stocked poolside bar and into the air-conditioned reception and enquired about the price of a room for three. One hundred euros, brilliant, this was a seriously nice hotel and my spirits were lifted immediately. “OK I’ll take one” I said and then my spirits were immediately dashed when the desk clerk said “sorry no availability”. What a jerk, why didn’t he say that in the first place? With no result I had to return to the beach defeated.
So we decided to go back to Parikia by the water taxi to try and cheer me up. Parikia it has to be said is not the most picturesque of Greek island towns, it has a very functional appearance and the first and lasting impression is a harbour front predominantly given over to ferry booking operators and car hire offices. But the streets leading off the busy front were much nicer and we found an agreeable bar with twenty minutes Internet free with every drink so we bought three and the girls amused themselves for an hour.
Well, the situation did start to improve I have to confess, I had a Mythos or two and sort of got used to the room and when I reflected upon the state of affairs this place did have a very good beach and the snorkelling was the best yet. It wasn’t that bad after all and things always seem more cheerful viewed through the bottom of a beer bottle and this state of unfortunate affairs was no exception. We drove out of town, stopping to buy some supplies, and we found a beachfront taverna that looked very nice so we pulled in and went inside. It was a pizza restaurant with the compulsory cats for company. The food was very good; we had a substantial meal and free drinks to finish and then went back to the apartment.
The next day we took a drive to Noussea and dropped down into the village and into the bustling harbour. It was a lovely place, a genuine combination of tourism and local industry with fishermen mending their nets and preparing last nights catch next to their gaily painted fishing boats of assorted shapes and sizes that were laid up bobbing gently and resting against the harbour walls. This was a much nicer place than Parikia with lots of charming little streets and hidden nooks of interest.
Next we drove out of Noussea and found a beach on the northern tip of the island. The beach was wide and sandy and we found a spot in the sand dunes to put down our towels and sunbathe. I went into the sea and when I was far enough out to be discreet I slipped off my swimming trunks and enjoyed swimming without them for a while. After a drink at a beach side taverna we returned to our apartment stopping on the way back to buy some drinks.
We walked back to the beach, past the nice hotel with no vacancies, and spent a leisurely afternoon swimming, snorkelling and sunbathing and at one point I spent thirty minutes at the bar with a beer. Back at the apartment Sally and Charlotte completed their post card diaries and gave them to me to post to boyfriends and families when I returned home.
Later we went back into town to return the hire car and to have our last evening meal together before I had to go back to Athens to return home. We walked through the town and the girls used the Internet once more. I checked the Easyjet site again, just in case, but the airfares remained stubbornly high and I was resigned to having to return home according to my original schedule and not enjoy the enticing two extra days that had been beckoning me.
We had dinner on the sea front in a friendly little taverna and I had my first and only moussaka of the holiday, the girls tried the vegetarian versions and then they shared mine with the cats.
My ferry was due to leave at 10.30 and against my better judgement I was talked into relying upon the water taxi that was scheduled to start its shuttle service at 10 o’clock. I was a bit nervous about this but went along with Sally’s arrangements. We walked to the taxi quay in good time and arrived with a lot of it to spare. I anxiously scanned the sea for any sign of the little boat crossing the bay but it stubbornly refused to appear. After a while, ok actually only a short while, I began to panic especially when the Blue Star steamed into port bang on time!
By ten past ten I was certain I would miss my boat and even when the ferry finally appeared at quarter past I remained deeply pessimistic. Of course it was full of the slowest people in Greece who took ages to disembark and we finally set off for the ten-minute journey at eighteen minutes past. Sally was cool and tried to persuade me that my watch was fast but I was not convinced and it got very, very tight and I paced the deck nervously. Finally the boat arrived and tied up and I made a dash for the ferry with the girls shouting encouragement from behind and imploring me to run faster. I made it but I was disappointed that I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye properly. And then the boat was ten minutes late leaving anyway so I needn’t have panicked after all. I waved goodbye to Sally, Charlotte and Paros and then settled down for the three and a half hour journey to Piraeus.