Greece: One last beach day

Tomorrow’s our last day :'( But what better way to spend it than relaxing, drinking and soaking up the sun. We had heard of a beach or two around the island and visited a number already. We made our way up to the only corner we were yet to visit and to the lovely long beach of Santa Maria.

How long can a book be

Around 2 years ago, I received in the post a book about the offshore banking environment. I started reading it almost straight away. I am still reading it. However, finally I am getting close to the end, having made my way through around 150 pages in the week of holiday. Jenny on the other hand made it through two and a half books. This day was mainly for reading books sitting on the lovely beach and soaking up the final rays of sun.

Double Gyros

Greece Kebabs (Gyros) have chips within the wrap. This is a treat that we couldn’t turn down lightly. After our enjoyable swim in the sea, walk up and down the beach and a drive across the island looking to try and go horse riding. The stables were shut :(. So we made our way back to the quaint alley with the kebab shop, sat in the shade and enjoyed another tasty gyros.

We had to kick a group of travellers from South Africa off of their tables as they were taking up about 5 tables between 8/9 of them. And we then got to enjoy laughing at them argue over the payment of the bill which was arguing about “70 cents!, but that’s like 50 Rand”

Margarita’s House Crèche

The only issue with this day was finding a sunbed by the pool. For some reason, everyone seemed to be doing the same as us and there was very little room around the pool. In fairness there were two sunbeds, but the lobster hue of both of our skins made both of us prefer one that wasn’t in the sun. And we really enjoyed relaxing the afternoon away before making our way up to the sun deck to watch the final sunset with some ciders.

Our last supper

We wandered up and over the hill and into town for one last meal in Naousa. This is a really nice town, with so many options for eating, drinking, shopping and wandering. Luckily as well only parts of the town have become overrun with tourists, which for the most part we tried to avoid.

Looking out across the sleepy bay by Naousa

This night however we thought we would join the crowds, and enjoy a light lunch on the waterfront. Though we did end up staying at the quieter end of the waterfront. It was a pleasant restaurant called Mediterraneo with reasonable prices so we decided that we’d have small starters as well as a main.

More please sir

Well, the starters came. They were anything but small. Jenny had two whole halloumi-type cheeses wrapped in filo pastry and I had 5 balls or zucchini larger than golf-balls. To add to which I thought I would enjoy one final greek salad which always comes with two whole blocks of Feta. My gosh we were already getting super full

Halloumi Filo parcels and Zucchini balls

Before we had finished our starters (I still had half a feta to go) they brought our main courses. A whole plate of big prawns for Jenny and large plate with 4 pork steaks two pitta breads and what looked to be two portions of chips. I tried to eat it all, I did, but unfortunately I had to leave a small piece of pitta and a few little chips. I have to say though that it was really tasty. To jenny’s great delight, the neighbourhood kitties also thought our food was very tasty.

“Home James, please spare the horses”

And there you go! That’s the trip to Paros, Greece wrapped up. We got home, packed up our stuff and got ready for the long travel day ahead of us. A drive, a ferry, a bus, a plane, a train, a metro and finally a walk later, I am sitting at home writing this to you.

Paros is highly recommended to anyone looking for a sunny, relaxing and enjoyable time. On second thoughts, please don’t go, it’s our little gem.

See you next time!

R&J

Xx

Greece: Pounta Diving, Island Driving

As I said in yesterday’s blog we had another early start today to go diving. We made our way down from Naousa to Pounta again to get to Eurodivers. They seemed to be the most well organised dive shop on the island and when we arrived 10 minutes late they were very good at getting our stuff together.

The forgetful NAUI Diver

A feature of the day was both of us forgetting pretty much everything about diving, setting up the equipment, hand signals and everything else in between. This wasn’t helped by the fact that initially we had to admit that we’d also forgotten our certification cards. They almost refused us to dive, but luckily the NAUI site has a handy little tool to find your card number and we were on our way.

Ready on the boat to dive
Ready on the boat to dive – yes that is toothpaste all over my shirt

Water like a mirror

Even having grown up near water, spending time on boats and being a reasonably proficient swimmer, I am not particularly fond of small boats. Unfortunately this was a small boat, a 10 foot (or so) rib with a solid hull, fortunately, the weather was perfect, the sea was barely moving and the sky was a beautiful clear blue. We made our way to the dive sites, both of which weren’t too far from the dock and prepared our equipment.

Under The Sea
Under The Sea

Diving

The diving was nice, though there was not a huge amount of coral or fish. Annoyingly, the GoPro decided to fog up on the first dive, though I managed to fix that for the second dive by holding it in the sun for a short while. The second dive was quite interesting and we went a bit deeper and through a pretty cool archway tunnel.

Around the island we go

A few days earlier, a very offended sommelier had informed us that Paros “was not that small”, so we decided to confirm that for ourselves by using the afternoon to drive around and through the island. We can confirm, it is small. It doesn’t take an hour to drive around the whole island, but he was correct that it is indeed not that small.

Jenny wanted to practise her driving so I focused on giving her directions, and she did a really good job. But this did mean that we didn’t get many/any pictures of the beautiful scenery but the Greece Travel Guide website has some lovely photos of Lefkes that you can look at.

Parikia

We had somewhat turned up our nose at the main port town of Paros, thinking it to be too loud, too dirty or not classy enough. We were however pleasantly surprised. Walking around in the day, there are a number of winding narrow streets similar to those of Naoussa or on Antiparos. With little shops selling souvenirs, close or ice-cream. We found the ice-cream.

Lovely staircases down winding alleys
Lovely staircases down winding alleys

 

Staircases, cafes and bougainvillea are everywhere
Staircases, cafes and bougainvillea are everywhere

There are also many windmills on Paros, with a lovely one looking over the bay and over the town. Within which there is a bar/cafe, for some reason it was closed, which we were a bit disappointed about, but we walked up and around anyway, enjoying one of our last few days on the beautiful island.

Alexandros Cafe Windmill looking across the bay
Alexandros Cafe Windmill looking across the bay

There is even a “castle” built out of scraps from local ancient Greek ruins. Or as an american tourist said “why did they build the wall from mill stones”

Castle wall built from Ancient Greek pillars
Castle wall built from Ancient Greek pillars

 

 

Another lovely meal in Naoussa

The one issue with Margarita’s House (our lovely hotel) is that to do the short walk into town you have to walk up a steep hill and then down the other side. The upside of this is that you can get some lovely photos, and get to walk off the meal at the end of the night.

Naoussa has a beautiful skyline
Naoussa has a beautiful skyline

The meal was a pretty standard fare in a Greek tapas restaurant which we happened across as it’s on the same street as Le Sud and Soso. The food was good, and the price was reasonable, we drank a litre of wine. The atmosphere also was pleasant and the waitress was very nice. Unfortunately, she was a little forgetful, and we had to ask her three times for our water, and she never brought my coke. But she was extremely apologetic about it, and you couldn’t help feel for her running around all evening.

The sign outside with the name
The sign outside with the name

 

Inexpensive wine in a carafe
Inexpensive wine in a carafe

 

Jenny looking beautiful waiting for her food
Jenny looking beautiful waiting for her food

 

Naoussa port - most restaurants were here, but they were a bit more tacky and had hundreds of tables
Naoussa port – most restaurants were here, but they were a bit more tacky and had hundreds of tables

Another day gone, there is only really one more to go before our travel day!

😥

See you tomorrow

R&J

Xxx

Greece: And the day you’ve all been waiting for: Our Anniversary

This trip was mainly to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary and so today was the all important day and right in the middle of the holiday too. It was a really lovely one.

Errands

We exchanged cards and gifts and ate breakfast in bed. But we needed to go into town since, as the car rental man put it, “I think someone drive fast into kerb and bend tire.” “Oh no!”, we both exclaim. “Oh, no problem, we take sledgehammer; bang bang all ok”

We had to wait 30 minutes for the wheel to be repaired and reblown. So we wandered into the lovely winding streets of Naoussa. Where I finally found myself some replacement flipflops, the shop owner even let me try his own to show that they become more comfy. And I convinced Jenny to get a Gyros for lunch while we waited.

Sand and Sea

This trip has mainly been about relaxing. Where we’d normally take the opportunity to see ruins or read placards on museums we have taken more opportunities to read our books and sit in the sun. This day was just the same, we made our way down to the beach next to our hotel and sat on the rocks, swam in the water and relaxed in the sun.

Yummy Dinner

To be honest that was most of the day done and we came back to our hotel and lay down and caught up on an episode of “The Bridge”, it’s getting very tense.

The one booking we made before getting to Paros was dinner for our anniversary. Hearing the best place to eat in Greece was Siparos in the north this was the place to book.

From the street it is relatively unassuming, quaint and beach bar like. Inside it is too not ostentatious but it is obviously very nice. We started with cocktails, had some lovely starters of mussels and vineleaf parcels and finished with some delicious mains.

My main was a veal fillet lightly cooked, with a hot stone and fragrant salts to finish, they even carved at your table. Jenny went for the fish spaghetti, which even I thought was delicious (and I don’t eat fish).

And the view

All of the above. But the view as well. This place is lovely. There was a small sailing yacht and a small jetty which got momentarily used. And you could look across this calm but beautiful bay back to Naoussa. The weather has been so beautiful you could see Mykonos in the background about 40 km away. “Best weather in 20 days” according to Captain Ben (see tomorrow’s blog for that)

See you tomorrow!

R&J

Xxx

Greece: oh how relaxing you are Paros

Now three days into our trip to Paros, relaxing really is the theme of this trip. We hoped to go diving but waking up too late and not being able to get through on the phone we resigned ourselves to reading our books and watching the boats sail past.

Time to move

After a few hours of increasing our chances of skin cancer we got going to a fish restaurant recommended by our good friend Chris. So we made the long drive of 15 mins over to the east side of the island.

Christiana looks like an average beach bar/restaurant but the staff were really lovely and the view across to Naxos was completely charming. You even got to choose your fish from a drawer in the counter.

Road trip

Refreshed and having walked the front, we set off once more. Jenny again at the helm. Becoming quite the driving pro. We decided to cruise around all four corners of the island of Paros to get a feel for the place. We lucked out and came across a nice little town called Piso Livadi, which had a lovely beach with calm warm water and friendly people. We stayed a while and soaked in the water.

Due South

Having been unable to dial through on the phone we decided it was best to head to the dive center directly. Eurodivers shop is a standard beachy chilled out place with pleasant staff. We booked on to two dives on Monday which we are really looking forward to. The drive to get to the dive shop was spectacular and compares to those in Montenegro, see our other blogs about that.

Moriatis Winery

We finished off our relaxing day with a 12 wine flight of tasting at the Moriatis Winery. This is the biggest winery on the island of Paros and the staff here were absolutely charming. They really made the experience. (Un)Fortunately we got a little bit tipsy and had a bit of a wandering route home in the dark.

We managed to inhale our taco leftovers which were still super tasty and tried to drink our free bottle of wine (a treat for our anniversary) which was not as tasty before hitting the hay and calling it a night.

What a lovely day of just relaxing. Oh and we even managed to book onto Ben’s sailing tour for Sunday! Very excited!

R&J

Xxx

Greece: Lazy days and eating Paros and Antiparos

The last few days have been very lazy and yesterday especially was mainly about the eating and drinking that we had to do. Although booked for our one year anniversary, alot of this trip is about us being able to get away and recuperate some energy. To really exemplify this we slept in past mid-day.

Shopping

When most people talk about shopping on holiday they mention the new handbag, shoes, purse or shirt. For us we talk about the supermarkets, the cat treats and the vegetable section. This trip is the same as any other and we made our way to AB Market, which seems to be the only viable supermarket on Paros.

A top tip from us, is to never buy the breakfast offered by the hotel since it is rarely that good and instead choose something at the supermarket that you woud really like. This often works for us since we like to stay in places that have a kitchenette that we can use.

Breakfast on the balcony, overlooking the pool and sea
Breakfast on the balcony

We finished off the daytime eating with some prosciutto ham sandwhiches by the pool and a lovely bottle of apple juice before a drive out to the centre of Parikia (the main town on Paros) to see what was happening. Already we could tell we loved Paros, with its steep winding roads and beautiful scenery, so we walked into the centre of Naoussa for a drink and dinner.

Karnagio

We moved through the small streets of Naoussa and along the waterfront until we found a few different bars offering cocktails at highly inflated prices. We settled for one and it was lovely; secluded, at the end of the path looking towards the town and out to Sea. The cocktails were also delicious, with a novel approach of adding a scoop of jam in the top, which you can either mix in or eat outright. Well worth it.

Drink by the sea before dinner - blurred background girl drinks through straw
Drink by the sea before dinner

Fotis by Barbarossa

We were just on our way to get some dinner as we were getting hungry after a few hours of not eating. When we stumbled across another Bar called Fotis, which sat right out on the beach. Ok, it was next to the beach on fake pebbles, but that made it all the more comfortable and pleasant. We gave over our hard earned cash again, we could see this night already starting to add up. But the cocktails were tasty, the views were brilliant and the company was bearable.

Fotis bar on the beach overlooking the sea at sunset
Fotis bar on the beach overlooking the sea at sunset

Le Sud

Eventually, we made our way back up the hill and to the same street from the previous night with Soso restaurant. This time we went down a quaint alley into this beautifully decorated courtyard, where we were greeted in french accents and sent to our seats. The food was amazing; really beautifully presented and favours to match. We had the full three courses, and felt right pigs all the more for it. The pictures below, can’t do it justice.

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Le Sud Desert - Pavlova
Le Sud Desert – Pavlova, Yum!

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Antiparos

At the southern tip of Paros, seperated only by a small strip off water is Antiparos. We made our way down there, with a 15 minute drive and 6 minute ferry as soon as we had managed to peel ourselves away from our sheets. The journey is quite pleasant

Looking across the sea in Antiparos
Looking across the sea in Antiparos

Antiparos Caves

One of the major attractions on the island are some lovely and quite deep caves in the centre of the island (a ten minute drive). The walk down is relatively easy and there were ot many people in the cave with us. Unfortunately, in some places people are climbing over the barriers and this is causing damage to the natural environment, we even witnessed this first hand, however it is still a lovely place to visit.

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Antiparos beaches

Driving around the island we noticed that there were alot of little bays and beaches that anyone could enjoy. These beaches were all a lot quieter and more secluded than the beaches in Paros, so we sat on the beach ate our sandwiches, soaked up the sun and enjoyed the sea. It really was a lovely relaxing experience.

Beach in Antiparos
Beach in Antiparos
Beach in Antiparos
Beach in Antiparos

Jenny can still drive

Heading back, Jenny plucked up the courage and practised her driving, something that she did very successfully and navigated the whole way around the winding roads going steeply up and down the hills. This took us all the way back to Paros and back home after a quick ferry ride. We even managed to stop off and pick up our favourite ice-cream, a snickers ice-cream.

Streets of Antiparos
Streets of Antiparos

We can hopefully go diving tomorrow and report back on the quality of the scenery under the sea also. I am betting it is just as lovely

R&J

Xxx

First few days: Kolasin: 1450

Location

Most people don’t seem to know where Montenegro is, or confuse it with Moldova, Monaco or other countries starting with an “m”. Indeed Montenegro is a relatively new country, gaining independence from Serbia for the first time since World War I. Bordering Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo and Albania; it is located in the Balkans and looks across the Mediterranean to the east coast of Italy.

LON>PODGORICA flight map

The flight is relatively painless, except for the price and flying with RyanAir and takes just over two hours which conveniently leaves enough time for us to watch a movie on our tablet. The airport itself is small but clean and seems quite new. A man with an Alamo sign greeted us and took us to our car in the car park. It turns out that Alamo don’ have an office or desk in the building, but the system works relatively well.

Arriving in Kolasin

The roads in Montenegro are generally only one lane, which is not an issue as there are very few cars on them and the signage is very easy to follow, that we didn’t need to make use of any satellite navigation. The route itself to Kolasin is amazing, and we immediately knew we ewre going to love being in Montenegro, one lane winding up the steep gorge with a sheer drop on one side and a steep cliff on the other. The weather was leaving a little to be desired, but this added to the experience, as we plunged in and out of tunnels carved out of the rock with no lights or concrete covering where water poured down in waterfalls onto the road below.

We arrived just as it got dark and pulled up to Chalet Kolasin. This is an absolutely lovely building, which seems to be relatively newly built, the owner is a lovely man who met us at the front of the building and showed us to our chalet style room, gave us some recommendations for restaurants and told us how to get around.

Skiing in Kolasin: 1450

The drive to the ski-area is very straightforward and you follow one road the whole way meeting very few other drivers on the way. The conditions on the first day were not that good, it was snowing and icy and there had been little cleared off to the sides but as the days went on the road was very clear and easily passable, though the car park was quite muddy and icy so I am glad I had a 4WD.

The system to hire equipment and buy ski passes was a little confusing, we approached two desks each time being told it was the wrong one, but not saying which was the correct one, but eventually we got ourselves sorted. This is the only negative about the ski-area, the equipment is in very bad condition. My boots had no insoles and the skis were very damaged on the surfaces with a large amount of material having been scraped away, but the whole affair was cheap coming in at around EUR150 or £130.

The ski-area itself is a little limited. They claim to have 7 lifts, but in reality there are only 3 proper lifts other than the ones used to learn to ski. One of these lifts was closed the whole time we were there and one was extremely slow and uncomfortable, this really only left one viable lift. Therefore we just pottered up and down a few times, choosing slightly different routes each time, trying out by the end of the week every different run at least once. Three days skiing at this resort is absolutely plenty, until the new lift opens next year.

Eating in Kolasin

Food at the resort for lunch was more expensive than the surrounding area, but we managed to each burger and chips or pork and potatoes with a few drinks each for less than £25 a day.

Food options in the town of Kolasin were fairly limited and seemed to be predominantly focused on traditional Montenegrin food of potatoes, cream and cheese in a big dish – Kačamak. Also no restaurant ever had more than one table of service in addition to ourselves, which was unusual.

The restaurant “Konoba” on the main square of Kolasin is decorated in a very quaint and charming way, and the food was ok but we wouldn’t recommend the wine. On the completely other end of the wine and food scale was the main recommendation from our hotellier – Vodenica. It was only around the corner from our hotel in an Old mill house with beautiful old fashioned decor and a pleasant atmosphere. As always the portions were huge but extremely tasty and the wine was also delicious. This was all perfect for us as we celebrated 6 months of being married.

 

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All these meals added up to around £250, which wasn’t too bad. And we ate breakfast in our hotel room, so the supermarket bills were only around EUR35.

 Relaxation

Not as common in Europe as it is in the USA is a post ski jacuzzi dip and relaxation, so we hunted out and found that the four seasons hotel allows external persons to come and use the spa for EUR10. It was just around the corner and Jenny even additionally had a massage for an additional EUR 25.

Also there is Nordic skiing available in Kolasin:1450 and snowmobile hire too, though we did not try any of this ourselves.


Costs so far

Carried forward: £1520Ski hire and passes: £130
Lunch at the ski-resort: £75
Dinner X2: £250
Spa experience: £40
Supermarket supplies:£30

Running Total: £2045