Out with famine, let there be wealth and health!

Text: Danae Tal | Photos: Dimitris Vranas

The cry as used in symposia has been recorded by Plutarch in his Symposium Books.

Uttering the very cry ourselves, we boarded the ship, myself and Mr Knister, naturally, my four-legged companion for those who are reading me for the first time. Heavy clouds were following us, just like ghosts from the winter we’ve been leaving behind. Because in the present we’ve got Paros and its own present. This is the good side of being on the island. Time and place are precisely defined. Here and now. As simple as that.

We’re ready for diving into the sea, into the souma (local raki), the local wine and most importantly in the arms of the people of the island. Year after year, even Mr Knister has found his own local friend, Kanela, a famous dog at Lefkes, waiting for him at Kostas Fifas’ s pottery workshop. Myself, I am expected by my summer gang, the Parian 6. This year it seems we’ll be at least 11! I’m going to introduce them to you at another occasion. What’s certain is that the Parian 6 know everything about the island, what kind of wind will be blowing telling from the moon, which is the best beach of the day, all the rocks of the island and all the good places around. They even know my repressed feelings. All these years, as soon as I arrived at Parikia we would rush to some place or other. This time we leave the car behind and make it through the narrow streets to Distrato cafe-bar.
We sit on the green couches and enjoy the generosity of the giant sycamore: shade, cool, a breath. On our table there’s a huge tuna sandwich, a refreshing gin tonic and rich ice cream. This is an excellent start to our holidays. I stretch out on the green couch and eat the left-overs of Alexis’s ice cream. Delicious wild cherry sauce and the welcoming wishes of my friends complete the picture. “What would you like to do this year?” they ask me ready to make all sorts of suggestions. Well, what would I like to do this year? Last year I had dived in the depths of the Golden Beach. “This year I’ve been galloping at a pace of many changes in my list of priorities and I don’t really know what I would like for my holidays”, I explain rather reluctantly. “Why don’t you gallop on a horse? It should make you feel better”, says Vanele. “A few riding lessons will put you back on top form” adds Assossketo. “I’d do it, but who with?” “Don’t look at me, it’s not my cup of tea”, Gabi points out having given up smoking. I wouldn’t go horse riding on my own. This plan will most probably be referred to next year. So, no plans whatsoever. Here and now.

The “beach of the day” is nothing but the holiday game. You need two players. The one who chooses the most suitable beach according to where the wind blows is the winner. At high wind the game is easy. But when there’s no wind? Things are tough in that case. Which one should you choose? Kolymbithres, Golden Beach, Parasporos and of course Laggeri amongst the best known and most popular and others, quieter ones, such as Boutari and Kalogeros, offering clay for a self-made spa and Farangas.

If you fancy walking – walking is the best medicine according to Søren Kierkegaard, not a member of the Parian 6 himself but a Danish philosopher who never made it to Paros – our island’s pathways are waiting for you. This is Alexis’s specialty, you can read his article and don’t hesitate to ask if you’d like to know more. You can find us on Facebook, too, at www.facebook.com/ParolaFreePress.

My personal recommendation would be a drive on a long winding road going up and downhill, starting just behind Lefkes. Take the ring road heading towards the mountain. You will soon see a sign on your left saying Lagada . Take this turning going downhill and toward one of the most beautiful landscapes in the Cyclades.

Ranges of hills, curved with retaining walls, at the distance the open sea and the islands, Naxos, Ios, Amorgos. Choose the time when the day surrenders to the night and that odd dark light falls, that light which is neither light nor dark and it’s what gives birth to night. At the bottom of the hill a new sign will direct you to Afkoulaki, a magic place ideal for island fairies and elves with the little chapel and the path leading to the water source, the water following you all the way .

When night finally falls, Dryos, Piso Livadi, Logaras are good destinations for food, entertainment, relaxation and so much more. Dryos is the ultimate destination for full moon nights. The island seen across is Dryonissi with its beaches all on its hind side. We reached there on canoes from the Golden Beach.

Here and now on the island. Even so time flies, unfortunately. Parian 6 never liked goodbyes. I leave Paros on my own, a small ritual taking place at “Idea”, one of my favourite cafes, across from Ekatontapyaliani, under the County Court. It’s the holiday final countdown. A short account of what’s been going on lasting as long as a freddo and a very appetising toasted sandwich. This year Paros has shown me not only its natural beauty but also its hidden power. The straw in my freddo glass gives its known noise meaning my time on the island is up. I am at the same point but a new light has been shed onto my mind.

“We need a number of lives
to get to know the magic world
of the Aegean islands
A myth in every inch
An emotion in every turning
It takes training to appreciate beauty
or it is washed away by water
like water colours on a wall
and then it’s gone
and you get confused
cursing for remembering so little
it takes training to appreciate beauty”

“Odes to the Athina”
Kostas Gouzelis, Pontoporos Publications 2012

Stay well, here and now and till next year.