I left you for a couple of weeks with a picture of my shadow in my garden on a sunny day whilst I took a trip to the small and relaxed Greek island of Paros in The Cyclades. Well my shadow came with me and very much enjoyed it’s walk along the golden sands of the beaches in the little town of Naoussa.
I left not knowing if I would be deeply bored after a short time on an island where there was not much more to do than soak up the sun or swim in the Aegean sea.
I got back last night and, first of all I have to tell you, that I more than survived lulling around in the sun with temperatures pleasantly endurable beginning at 26 Celsius and rising to somewhere approaching 40 by the time I left. Sometimes there was really nothing you could do but swim in the Aegean or find some shady place to read or to have a drink. I found out that relaxing is really not difficult at all and I am missing that warm, clear blue water already.
I flew from an overcast London Gatwick airport to the volcanic island of Santorini, the most southerly of the Cyclades where the second largest volcanic eruption in human history permanently changed the culture and the geography of Greece and beyond in 1500 BC.
Arriving there was my first experience of Greece and nothing could have been more different from damp leafy England. The towns of Santorini are perched precariously on the cliff edges as I was to find out when I returned for a twenty four hour visit at the end of the holiday. For now though it was just a view from on board the ferry which took a leisurely three and a half hours to navigate its way through the Cyclades to Paros in the North.
It might not have been one of the Onassis luxury yachts but it did it for me and was my own modern day Odyssey – giving me my first glimpse of those islands previously only read about in Greek mythology.
Our only stop was for Naxos, Paros’ larger, more mountainous and greener neighbour. It was, as all you Greek scholars also know, the island where Theseus abandoned his lover, the beautiful Princess of Crete, Ariadne who stayed on to find a much better lover, the God of wine, Dionysus, who was also a lot more fun than boring old Theseus who was much better at fighting Minotaurs. Naxos, less dramatically, is also known for its excellent potatoes. Believe me, I have eaten them.
Naxos was also where I saw my first Ancient Greek ruin, as we steamed by the remains of a temple top the sun god Apollo. Everyone on that ship was a sun worshiper so it seemed appropriate to thank Apollo for the perfect weather conditions.
Actually, the temple isn’t really a ruin at all, it was never finished in the first place. Well, it was much to hot to imagine anyone wanting to lift all that stone especially as there were so many temples all over Greece, they must have thought the God wouldn’t have missed this one. Better to grow a few potatoes and fry up some chips as an offering.
With Naxos behind us, it was only another half hour or so before we arrived at the island’s largest settlement, Parikia. Somehow, its remoteness from England was already apparent by the epic nature of the journey to get there, by train, plane, taxi and boat.
One of the first things I saw in Parikia harbour was a lorry with the Greek word metaphores emblazoned on its side. Now here was a place, I thought, for poets. Here on Paros, they actually have lorry loads of metaphors….the life blood of poetry. OK, I know the word really means furniture in Greek, but I was on holiday that was also a metaphor for escape.
Sitting on the balcony as Apollo drove his chariot beyond the horizon to the West, as Homer used to say in the Iliad, I sat on my balcony in the heat, listening to the cicadas and crickets and toasting that other God from these parts, the wine god Dionysus. If you want to know how I got on, there will be more tomorrow.