Sailing the 80 miles or so from Patmos to Paros with only a slight break in the constant Meltemi winds was a bit of a challenge. After our first long day sail with a way too gusty arrival at Dhenoussa (30-ish knots) we broke the remaining upwind stretches into a few legs in the early morning to try to move before the wind started "cooking". By August 13th we sailed into the bays across from Paroika, Paros and found an "oasis anchorage" - calm breezes despite high winds 'outside', clear swimming water, beautiful scenery and great access to town where hundreds of tourists disembarked from up to 5 ferries per day.
We timed our arrival to catch the August 15 "Panaghia" (Virgin Mary) festival at the impressive Ekatontapiliani church - the so called Aghia Sofia of the Aegean because the builder was an apprentice to the builder of the real Aghia Sofia in Constantinople. The bell tower pealed from early morning as thousands of islanders and guests gathered, including we two and Barbara and Rick from "Far Out". The procession, led by bearded and crowned priests culminated with the icon of the Virgin Mary and wound its way through the labyrinthine streets of classical Cyclades white and blue buildings of the old town. That evening the Far Out crew joined us on Sangaris as the night sky was lit with fireworks.
Here are a few scenes from a walk thru town - another "iconic" landmark (well, not quite, but a good watering hole, nonetheless), around the corner from one of dozens of small chapels. The flowered cross is mounted on Parian marble - the local material from which Venus di Milo was sculpted as well as most of the works on nearby Delos. Typical taverna wine pitchers on the hardware storefront round out some of the local color and fittingly, the "I" - Information booth, is housed in a centuries old windmill.
Festivites continued the next day, but these were of the art and jazz type. Rick and Barb introduced us to a few contemporary Dutch artists who run the "Holland Tunnel Gallery" with locations in Brooklyn, NY and Paroikia, Paros. We shared a wonderful night in a couple of galleries with painting, photography and sculptural displays, plus live jazz and traditional lyre performances. The large canvases are by Jan Mulder, one the artists we befriended. The fun went on late into the night back at the Pirates' Bar (last photo) with swinging Brazilian jazz.
Now, around Milos are several delightful little towns, including Lefkes, a short bus ride for us. It was serious siesta time when we arrived so we wandered the pristine alleyways and made our way to the impressive Cathedral of Agia Triada across from which courtyard cafes welcomed all to a quiet afternoon repast. And, for the first time in months we actually saw clouds in the sky that seemed to signal the inevitable end of summer that's just around the corner.
The next day's short bus trip was to Naoussa town with its many artistic venues. The Meltemi was still piping up as the waves attest, but the art was striking. Here's a painting from "Sea Bed" where the artist captures sea creatures in sunlit waters above undulating sandy bottoms. And, speaking of sea creatures, the fresh octopus drying in front of the waterfront tavern announce that dinner tonight will be fresh, indeed. Finally, a local artist, Dimitris, greeted us and showed us his shop with an eclectic collection Byzantine style carved rings, paintings of local scenes, and a simulated cave replete with spray foam stalactites and stalagmites. Strange and fun stuff.
A great highlight of Parioika is free walking tours each evening. The town was originally walled and the top center is one of the main gates. Below that in the center is one of three fountains the towns patron installed. Atop the old city is the Frankish Fort from the 1200's which used the rubble of previous Greek temples for it's construction - hence the pieces of marble columns in the fort walls. Above the fort is a somewhat more modern church, again made from old temple rubble. Katherine is sitting on the steps of it's entrance. Finally, the watchword of sailing in these parts is the north wind which is called the Meltemi - here it is carved in stone in Greek letters.
Cruiser's Notes: The town quay at Paroika has laid moorings on the inside or use your own anchor on the outside, which is fine in calm wind,, although some waves from ferries. Mooring is free, but 10E for water and electric - water man comes in the morning and evening.