Quiz: Is Paros Island Right for You?
Have you been wondering where to travel next? Well, I prepared you a short quiz, which may reveal if Greece, and in particular the Paros Islands, is the right place for you.
1. What kind of nightlife atmosphere do you prefer more?
a) Laid back with cozy bars/small restaurants (3 points)
b) Posh with lounge bars/sophisticated restaurants (1 point)
c) Somewhere in the nature with a beer or a wine bottle (2 points)
2. What scenery attracts your eyes the most?
a) Green hills and rich forests (1 point)
b) Rocky brownish and dry hills/mountains (2 points)
c) Sky blue sea with tiny islands (3 points)
3. Which colour combination do you like best?
a) Green and yellow (2 points)
b) Blue and white (3 points)
c) Metallic grey and black (1 point)
4. Can you stand public smoking?
a) Yes, I smoke myself (3 points)
b) I don’t care (2 points)
c) No, I hate it (0 point)
5. Are you annoyed by expressive and loudly speaking people?
a) Yes (0 point)
b) No (3 points)
Now, count your points! If you collect 10 or more, I definitely recommend that you visit Greece! Once you book your flight, be sure to follow my advice for your trip.
First of all, I don’t recommend buying any travel packages from agencies. Even though they are efficient both financially and for visiting as many places as possible, I suggest you avoid fast island hopping. In order to experience the real Greece you should pick one or two places and stay there longer, meet the locals and get involved in their small town communities and gossip. Well, it’s easy for me to say that because I had the opportunity to live on the Greek Islands for 3 whole summers during university breaks. That feeling when you meet locals unexpectedly in the white narrow streets and they say “Kalimera, Adele! Ti kanis? Kala?” (Good morning, Adele! How are you? Good?) is unforgettable and heart warming. You are no longer a tourist. You have become a summer resident.
When we were asked for the address where our lost luggage could be sent, we realized that our hotel did not have a proper address, as is typical for locations on small Greek islands.
The first time I visited Paros Island (one of the Cyclades islands on the Aegean Sea) was in 2011. I went there thanks to a summer job with two friends. Our trip was not easy, the plane from Lithuania was delayed, we almost missed a transfer flight in Kiev and we finally ended up in Athens Eleftherios Venizelos airport at 3am without our luggage.
Then we got our first lesson about the Greek islands. When we were asked for the address where our lost luggage could be sent, we realized that our hotel did not have a proper address, as is typical for locations on small Greek islands. You see, the towns’ communities are so small that everybody knows everyone. Hence, when you say Siroco’s Rooms and Studios in the middle of Athens airport, Greeks somehow manage to know where your luggage must go.
Paros island is not a posh place. You will not see super fancy restaurants, world-class DJs or high-end brand shops. That’s what makes it authentic. Paros Island is not as shiny as Mykonos or not as known as Santorini–at least internationally.
To be honest, I have not met many people who are aware that this island even exists except for Greeks. And since I spent all of my summers there during an economic crisis, I saw the struggles that locals go through and then promised myself that I would spread the word about the beautiful island.
So what are the best ways to reach Paros? Forget about the ease of getting to Crete, Kos or Rhodes Islands thanks to cheap flights from many European cities. In order to reach Paros you have to try much harder! First stop is always Athens. Since Eeftherios Venizelos airport is pretty far away from the Piraeus port (around 1.5 hours with a bus X96 which departs every half an hour), be sure that if you arrive after 4pm you practically have no chance of reaching Paros the same day. The summer schedule of ferries has not changed since I was there. You can get a Blue Star Ferry at 06:45, 07:25 or 17:30. Bear in mind that it takes around 4-5 hours to reach Paros Island. The one-way economy class ticket usually costs around 36.5 euros.
If you have more cash at your disposal, you can try to catch a “fancy” smaller and more cozy Hellenic Seaways ferry on which you get a seat (departs 07:55, takes around 4 hours) or on a high speed vessel Sea Jets (departs 16:50 or 17:10 depending on a day, takes around 3 hours). Yes, you do not get a seat assigned to you on Blue Star Ferry if you buy the cheapest ticket. So, I recommend that you board as soon as possible in order to grab a seat; otherwise you end up standing outside the whole way. In the early morning, that’s not a bad option. However, when the sun goes up it becomes pretty hot.
Blue Star ferries are usually huge, and have several inside and outside cafeterias or fast-food restaurants. Paros Island is one of the first stops for these ferries. So, during your 4-5 hour trip you run into people of many different nationalities who are heading to other islands as well.
Rushing downstairs with luggage and waiting in a huge mainly Greek-speaking crowd until the ferry doors opened were the last minutes separating us from our normal life back home and summer paradise.
Here are some tips for your ferry trip. Do not pay extra for the WIFI connection, since it is really poor on board. Second of all, have in mind that if you sit on the open air decks, you will be covered in salt. Drink some cold Greek coffee and enjoy staring into the horizons.
When you start to wonder if you’ll ever reach Paros, a voice from the loudspeaker will announce that you’re approaching the island. To be honest, I do not have words to describe that feeling. It was always a mixture of excitement, joy, fear and interest of what the summer would bring. Rushing downstairs with luggage and waiting in a huge mainly Greek-speaking crowd until the ferry doors opened were the last minutes separating us from our normal life back home and summer paradise.
Stepping onto Paros feels like you’re in a different world — beeping cars, creamy white and yellow architecture, messy and shouting locals advertising their car or scooter rentals, hotels representatives with posters, a crowd of people leaving the ferry, and heat. We had finally arrived.