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In the breakfast room, Maria told me the forecast did not look good. Rain was expected, possibly all day. Since this was my final full day on Paros, I had been hoping to rent a mountain bike and cycle to Kolimbithres — but there was no point in going to a beach in the rain. So I took my time having breakfast, checking email and making notes in my travel journal. Only four other people — two couples, not together — came down for breakfast while I was there. All were newcomers who had arrived at the hotel only the night before. Maria and I both said good morning to all, but only one couple responded. There was almost no conversation in the room, as everyone basically ate in silence and then left.


 Hotel Manos

Yesterday’s brilliant sunshine gave way to a dull, cloudy sky this morning. I shot this pic on the Hotel Manos grounds on my way to breakfast.

  Antirides Hotel Naoussa

Dark stormclouds move across the sky above the Antirides Hotel in this photo I shot while walking to the Naoussa town square. Just a few minutes later, a sudden downpour forced me to take shelter in a clothing store for a few minutes.



A sudden heavy downpour

Around 11 a.m., I left the hotel to get some exercise. I planned to take a long walk through Naoussa and then come back to read a book if the weather didn’t improve. I was only a minute away from the town square when the storm started. It sprinkled light rain initially, but then the clouds burst and rain teemed down. I ran into the closest store — a sportswear shop, where the proprietor was pushing racks of clothing under an awning so the garments wouldn’t get wet. He let me wait inside until the rain stopped — luckily,  less than 10 minutes later. Good thing I had been able to take refuge in the shop because otherwise I would have been completely soaked. As I left the store to resume my walkabout, sunshine started streaming through gaps in the thick stormclouds, and the stone pavement quickly began to dry. But the dark clouds threatened that more heavy rain was a possibility.

Just like yesterday, the town streets were practically empty. I encountered very few locals and only a handful of other tourists. It was incredibly peaceful and quiet.

The clouds continued to break up and the sky got sunnier. It looked like the day might turn out to be nice despite the forecast.


geese in Naoussa

Ducks and geese swim and wade in the water under the bridge near the Naoussa town square. The main street behind the bridge actually is a river, and was constructed with channels that re-direct water to the harbour.


Meltemi Taverna Naoussa

Morning view of Meltemi Taverna, where I had a delicious meal the night before


Naoussa waterfront

Stormclouds linger in the sky as the sun dries rain that fell on the wide stone-paved promenade at the Naoussa harbourfront


Venetian fortress at Naoussa

The Greek flag flutters in the steady breeze above the Venetian fortress


Naoussa waterfront

Taverna tables and chairs in a square next to the Naoussa fishing harbour


Naoussa harbour church

Tourists and a fisherman sit outside the white church at the harbour


Big Blue and Barbarossa at the Naoussa harbourfront

The Big Blue and Barbarossa bars at the harbourfront. Click on the photo to view it larger size.


geraniums in Naoussa

Red geraniums add a bold punch of colour to white steps on a building near Agios Dimitrios beach. The director chairs and tables in the lane are part of the Kosmos Café Bar.


a lane in Naoussa

A quiet lane in Naoussa. The shops and bars along this street come alive in the evening.


bougainvillea in Naoussa

A white truck parked beside a huge display of red bougainvillea


a church in Naoussa

A small chapel on a residential street


Promising sunshine

Clouds breaking: The weather improved during my 70-minute walk. Sunny periods were frequent, and it turned quite warm. It even looked like the sky might clear up altogether, so I thought this unexpected change in the weather could be a window of opportunity to see Kolimbithres. The bicycle shop near Hotel Manos quoted me €10 for a 24-hour mountain bike rental, so I paid the fee, handed over my driver’s licence as a security deposit, and rode off. I had been comfortable walking around Naoussa in my T-shirt and shorts, but by the time I reached the Naoussa town limits, on the highway to Parikia, I had to stop and put on my jacket — a strong, chilly wind was blowing across the bay.

I reached Kolimbithres less than 15 minutes after leaving the rental shop and discovered I had the entire beach to myself. No wonder — the wind on this side of the bay was even stronger, at times gusting so fiercely it practically sucked the air out of my lungs. The wind made it an enormous challenge to hold my camera steady while taking photos and videos, but I persevered — I really wanted to get some decent shots of this very scenic beach. Actually, Kolimbithres is not just one beach, but a series of sandy coves separated by long ridges of smooth-sided rock, about 5 meters tall, that jut into the bay.



Constant strong winds

I spent slightly more than half an hour at Kolimbithres, wandering from one beach section to the next and taking photos of Naoussa on the opposite side of the bay.  I would have stayed longer, but it just wasn’t comfortable being there in such windy conditions. The constant wind  hurt my ears and gave me a headache, and at one point I had to rest in a wind-free sunny spot behind some rocks to give my ears a break. Swimming was, of course, totally out of the question. If not for the wind, Kolimbithres would have been the perfect place for some sunbathing and swimming — it’s a beautiful area.

Only three other people came to the beach while I was there. A man and woman arrived on a scooter, walked briskly to the beach to take a quick look and a few photos, and then climbed to the top of one of the rock formations to take “I was there” shots of each other with the beach providing a scenic backdrop. They left immediately afterward. I watched a woman wearing a red hoodie and grey sweatpants walk down the hill from the highway and lay down on one of the empty lounge chairs. She didn’t undress to a swimsuit, though — probably because it would have been too chilly. But she appeared to enjoy laying in the sun despite the gusty conditions. I couldn’t handle all the wind and had to move on. I stayed a few minutes more before getting back on my bike and continuing on my way.


Kolimbithres beach

One of the coves at Kolimbithres beach. I had to stand between the rocks in the foreground for a few minutes to escape the strong wind — the constant gusts made my ears ache.


Kolimbithres beach

One of the rock formations that separates the sandy coves at Kolimbithres. I think this particular rock outcropping resembles a rhinoceros that has collapsed head-first into the bay.


a beach near Kolimbithres

View from one of the rock formations at Kolimbithres toward another nearby beach in a quiet cove


a beach near Kolimbithres

A telephoto view of the beach shown in the previous photo


Kolimbithres beach

Looking toward the nearby beach from the side of one of the smooth rock formations that gives Kolimbithres its distinctive, unique setting


Kolimbithres view

Kolimbithres view toward the southwest end of Naoussa Bay


taverna at Kolimbithres

A dilapidated taverna at the east end of Kolimbithres. There were at least three tavernas a short walk up the hill from the beach.



View toward Naoussa from Kolimbithres


 Some video views of Kolimbithres


 More video views of Kolimbithres


Above is my Kolimbithres Beach album on Flickr. Click the arrow once to view a small-format slideshow, or click twice to open the album and view the 74 full-size photos individually.



The park on the peninsula

Paros Park: My next destination was the Environmental and Cultural Park of Paros, which is situated on the Agios Ioannis Detis peninsula at the northwest tip of Naoussa Bay (basically, at the end of the same road that leads to Kolimbithres). The 80-hectare site, which boasts several beaches, hiking paths, an amphitheatre and even a monastery, was established “out of an urgent need to stop the degradation of the peninsula and the blind exploitation as a place of uncontrolled sheep grazing in the hinterland and even mass tourism on the beaches,” the Paros Park website explains.

It took me around 10 minutes to cycle there, passing impressive scenery the entire way. The road follows a hillside on the northwest side of Naoussa Bay. While there wasn’t much to see on my left, the views across the bay were terrific. 

I was relieved to discover that it was considerably less windy at the peninsula than it had been at Kolimbithres. Although at least a dozen vehicles were parked near the beach, I didn’t see any other people around — they may all have been hiking the peninsula on some of the established footpaths. I started to follow one of the trails myself, but as I got higher up the hill and looked to the south, I could see stormclouds approaching in the distance. I didn’t relish the thought of getting caught in a downpour on the middle of a hike, so I returned to my bike and started riding back to Naoussa. Unfortunately, I wasn’t going to see the Park this trip. But seeing the lovely turquoise waters in Agios Ioannis Bay off Monastiri beach, as well as the views from the road, had been totally worthwhile.


Naoussa on Paros

Looking toward Naoussa from the road between Kolimmbithres and the Agios Ioannis Detis peninsula. Agia Kali is the blue-domed church on the little island in the bay.


field near Naoussa Bay

The view across a field on the northwest side of Agios Ioannis Bay


house on Naoussa Bay

A house in the field has views of sailboats in adjacent Agios Ioannis Bay


Agios Ioannis Bay near Monastiri beach

Sailboats in Agios Ioannis Bay near Monastiri beach


a beach near Monastiri

A small beach strip a short distance to the south of Monastiri


Monastiri beach on Paros

Regrettably, my photos just don’t do justice to Monastiri beach. In person, the beach and the turquoise water of the bay look absolutely gorgeous.


Monastiri beach

Looking across Agios Ioannis Bay from the light brown sand of Monastiri beach


Agios Ioannis bay at Monastiri beach

Another view of Agios Ioannis bay


sailboat in drydock

A large sailing ship parked in drydock near Monastiri beach



 Video views of Monastiri beach and Agios Ioannis Bay


 Above is my Monastiri beach album on Flickr, with a few more photos of the beach, Agios Ioannis Bay and surrounding area


Return to town

Short rental: Riding back to Naoussa was more difficult than I had anticipated because of the stronger winds that were blowing another storm toward me. But I was determined to get back to town before the rains, and rode as quickly as possible. I reached the bicycle shop in less than 20 minutes, surprising not only myself but also the store employee who couldn’t believe I wanted to return the bike with 22 hours left on my rental. I told him I was bringing it back because a storm was coming, and I didn’t intend to ride around in the rain. He suggested I keep the bike overnight so I could go riding the next morning — the weather was supposed to get better, he said. But since I would be checking out of the hotel in late morning and flying back to Athens the next day, keeping the bike wasn’t practical. It wouldn’t get used. I had enjoyed my ride and the sights I saw, and thought the €10 cost had been reasonable — taking a taxi to and from the peninsula would have cost me a lot more.

By this point the stormclouds had moved right over Naoussa and I sensed that rain was imminent. I didn’t feel like sitting out the storm in my hotel room, though, so I walked briskly to the town square to Xamilothoris Patisserie, where I ordered coffee and baklava. The rain started only a couple of minutes after I sat down, and poured with a vengeance for over an hour as the thunderstorm passed over the island. Although I was sheltered from the wind and rain by the transparent windscreens that enclosed the patio, I did find it quite chilly. At least I was dry. Two young Australian tourists who rushed into Xamilothoris during the storm were completely soaked, and shivered while they sat out the rest of the storm with a cup of coffee. When the rain finally stopped, they went shopping for an umbrella — to be prepared for the next storm.

 Naoussa thunderstorm

Watching the rain through the transparent windscreen on the Xamilothoris Patisserie patio


Xamilothoris Patisserie

The baklava and coffee I enjoyed at Xamilothoris Patisserie while waiting out the storm


Xamilothoris Patisserie in Naoussa

Xamilothoris Pâtisserie after the downpour. The proprietor kept the windscreens pulled down for awhile — just in case another storm approached.




Another afternoon walk

Threatening clouds: With the rainstorm past and the sun breaking through the clouds for steady periods, it was time to get moving again. I strolled through the rain-dampened streets for over an hour, gradually making my way back to the harbourfront where a few tourists were taking photos of ducks and geese that were wandering around. I stopped at Kiranos Café for a Greek salad and a drink and then slowly worked my way back to the hotel as evening approached.  The sky was still filled with dark grey thunderclouds, and it looked and felt like we could be in for another downpour. Fortunately, it didn’t rain.


main street of Naoussa

Looking down the almost-deserted main street after the storm


Agios Dimitrios beach

Stormclouds and sunshine at Agios Dimitrios beach


Agios Dimitrios beach

Looking toward Agios Dimitrios beach from the seaside next to one of the buildings in the photo above this one


steps in Naoussa

Steps between buildings on the hill behind Agios Dimitrios beach


a lane in Naoussa

A rain-soaked lane on a hill behind Agios Dimitrios beach


a street in Naoussa

Most homes along this street were shuttered tight; only a handful appeared to be occupied


bougainvillea in Naoussa

Red bougainvillea catches some sunshine as the stormclouds break up


a house in Naoussa

Something that struck me about Naoussa was how neat and tidy the homes and businesses were. Properties were kept in immaculate condition. This house and yard were among the few exceptions — but they certainly were interesting to look at.


a house in Naoussa

This rustic building was also among the few that weren’t in pristine condition


a house in Naoussa

This house probably looks spectacular once the bougainvillea is in full bloom


a house in Naoussa

Lanes pass along both sides of this row of houses


church in Naoussa

This chapel was just a stone’s throw down the road from the Epi Studios Matsas Windmill


Naoussa geese

A gaggle of geese strolls along the harbourfront


Kiranos Cafe

Kiranos Café and Crêperie at the harbour, between Meltemi Taverna and Mediterraneo Ouzeri. I stopped here in late afternoon for a Greek salad and drink.


Kiranos Cafe in Naoussa

The view from my table on the terrace in front of Kiranos


Piperi beach at Naoussa

A solitary sunbather on Piperi beach basks in the early evening sun


geese in Naoussa

Fourteen geese make their way down a lane behind Kiranos Café


There are dozens more photos of Naoussa’s ducks and geese in my Naoussa’s waterfront waterfowl album on Flickr.


Naoussa Bay

Stormclouds continue to sweep across Naoussa Bay


Naoussa Bay

A few patches of blue sky offered hope that the storm was over for the day


stormclouds above Naoussa Bay

A thick mass of stormclouds passes above Piperi beach


hotels at Piperi beach

More thunderclouds advance toward Naoussa

 Hotel Manos

The weather looked more promising from my terrace at Hotel Manos …


Naoussa sunset

… and a short time later I managed to get a decent sunset photo as the sun dipped behind mountains on the west side of Naoussa Bay


Dinner at Open Garden

Superb meal: I had already decided where I was going for dinner — Open Garden, a restaurant I had passed several times during my walks. I had looked at the menus posted out front and thought it would be a good spot to treat myself to a nice dinner for my final meal on Paros.

As I crossed the restaurant’s extensive outdoor terrace and walked tentatively into the dining room, I felt apprehensive. What if I got the same treatment here as I did the night before at Yemeni and SoSo? That would totally ruin my evening, and would bring my second Paros visit to an awful conclusion. However, there was no chance of that happening at Open Garden — when I walked inside, the staff greeted me with smiles and warm hellos and invited me to sit wherever I wanted. (Three tables were already occupied, but several more were available.)


An outstanding, delicious meal

I ordered some red wine and the kolokythokefthedes — zucchini, feta and mint croquettes packed with delicious flavours and served with a spicy dipping sauce. That was my starter. Next came my second selection — moussaka made with white aubergines, and served with a side of fried potatoes. The moussaka was light and fluffy — not dense and heavy like it tends to be made in many restaurants — and I absolutely loved it. And I really enjoyed my third choice, too — the fried calamari. Dessert was a trio of delectable sweets, including a “hot chocolate,” crême brülée and ice cream. A wonderful finish to an outstanding meal! The company during dinner was great, as well. Koula, the resident cat, wandered over to see me from time to time, and I had good chats with the waitress and the restaurant owner.  Other customers thoroughly enjoyed their meals, too — on their way out, everyone stopped to pay their compliments and comment on how good their dinners had been.

Thanks to the excellent food and the good conversation, my evening at Open Garden more than made up for the bad experience from the day before, and left me with a good impression of Naoussa.

Moments after I walked out of the restaurant a light rain started to fall, and it sprinkled all the way back to Hotel Manos.  I didn’t get very wet — I was wearing my waterproof jacket — and I didn’t mind, because I only planned to return to my room and get a good night’s rest. 


Open Garden restaurant

I went to the excellent Open Garden Restaurant for my final dinner on Naoussa


Open Garden restaurant

The Open Garden Restaurant dining room


Open Garden Restaurant

Dining room view of the Open Garden kitchen


Koula at Open Kitchen

Koula, the Open Kitchen kitty who kept me company part of the evening


Open Garden Restaurant

My yummy dessert: “Hot chocolate,” ice cream and crême brülée

 Open Garden restaurant

Open Garden had an enormous outdoor terrace. The restaurant has since relocated to a new space in the heart of Naoussa for the 2013 travel season.



Friday May 25 2012

Departure day: As luck would have it, I awoke to a gorgeous sunny morning. Of course it had to be nice — I would be flying to Athens in several hours and wouldn’t be able to take advantage of the great weather. The same thing had happened to me on Mykonos — my final full day on that island had seen some rain and lots of cloud, followed  by beautiful beach weather the day I was leaving on a ferry to Paros. 

If only the sunshine could have come a day sooner, so I could have had time to relax on Kolimbithres beach for a few hours and spend a few more exploring the hiking paths on the Agios Ioannis Detis peninsula. But that will have to wait for a future visit to Paros, and it gives me a good reason to go back!

At least I got to have breakfast outside, on the Hotel Manos terrace. It had been too windy the other two mornings.

I checked out of the hotel around 11 a.m. The woman working the desk that morning asked if I was sure I wanted to leave. She said my room was still available — bookings were down for May, and quite a few travellers had cancelled their summer reservations because they were worried about what might happen in the upcoming Greek election. The uncertainty over Greece’s future in the Euro zone had persuaded many people to plan holidays to alternate destinations, or postpone their bookings in Greece until the election was over and the country’s future direction a little more settled. “Tell everyone you know to come to Paros,” the receptionist said — just as Christos, the taxi driver, had urged me on the ride to the hotel three days earlier.

And speaking of Christos, he drove me to the Paros airport for my 12:45 flight to Athens. He had given me  his phone number, and the hotel receptionist called to see if he was available to take me to the airport. As before, our conversation along the way focussed primarily on the state of the Greek economy and tourism. As he dropped me off outside the terminal, Christos urged me to tell people that Greece remains a great place to visit. I assured him I would — I always do.

An hour later I was on Olympic Air Flight 65, which landed in Athens around 13:30. My island hopping holiday for 2012 was over, but I was about to spend the next three days in the Athens beach suburb of Glyfada with a group of friends from Athens and from the U.K. It promised to be a wonderful weekend.

Below are links to some of my Flickr albums with many more photos from my brief visit to Naoussa.


My Noussa album on Flickr contains more than 230 photos I shot in and around the town.


My Naoussa Drinking and Dining album on Flickr features more than 100 photos of restaurants and bars in Naoussa



My Naoussa waterfront scenery album on Flickr contains more than 140 photos of harbour and waterfront scenes



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