PAROS IS THE ARK THAT
saved the Malvasia grape
from extinction,’ says Savvas
Moraitis, standing in the
stone cellar of his winery
in Naoussa. ‘We were the only place not
affected by the phylloxera that wiped it out
in the rest of Europe.’ He pours a glass of
Malvasia and takes a sip. ‘See, it is clean
and crisp, just like the sea.’
The ocean is never far from the thoughts
of Parians, even when talking about wine.
The sea breeze, limited freshwater and loose
sandy soil create a terroir unique to the
islands, producing wines different to any
in Europe. In pride of place in the Moraitis
winery sits a model of Seveasti, the boat that
once transported their produce all over the
Aegean, setting sail from a nearby beach.
‘The sea is why anyone on this island is
here,’ explains Savvas.
Down in the harbour, a short walk away,
white-haired men sit chatting on benches
from dawn to dusk, rising occasionally to
check their fishing lines. Costa, a retired
engineer from Athens, spends six months
of the year on the island. ‘This is my work
now,’ he says, gesturing at the water. ‘I fish,
I eat fish, I watch the fishing boats come in.’
He is not the only one drawn to such simple
preoccupations. As the shadows start to
lengthen across the cobbled quayside,
the tables fill at restaurants that sit barely
a metre from the water’s edge. Waiters hang
octopus from the doorways to advertise
their wares, and sardines, lobsters and red
mullets are put on ice at high tables, to the
immense frustration of local cats.
Fishing boats come and go, puttering out
from the harbour, past the fort that once
protected the town from pirate attack. In
unlikely homage to those days, the familiar
skull and crossbones of the Jolly Roger flag
flies over several of the town’s bars, their
interiors liberally decorated with fishing
nets and glass floats.
Customers flit in and
out, seeking a position closest to the water,
trailing snorkels and beach bags.
Most spent the day dispersed around the
island, on the hunt for a beach that’s just
right. Everyone has a different definition of
what that means on Paros. There are sandy
beaches accessed by clifftop paths lined
with heather and buzzing with cicadas.
Beaches where children search through rock
pools, keeping their catch in plastic buckets.
Beaches whose rocks have magic exfoliating
powers when rubbed on the skin. Beaches
where teenagers play keepy-uppy before
heading out to windsurf. Beaches with
parasols and pedalos, and beaches where
there is nothing but pebbles, the gently
lapping waves and the wide sky above.
Olivier Kindinis maintains, however, that
the very best beaches can only be reached by
boat. The owner of activity company Paros
Adventures, he has teamed up with local
skipper Ilias and his converted fishing boat,
Rofos, in a mission to reveal the hidden
coves and islands of the Parian coastline to
summer visitors. ‘I’m a city boy originally,’
says Olivier as the Rofos eases over the
crystal-clear waters of the Blue Lagoon,
its sandy bottom clearly visible 14m down.
‘But being by the sea, you wake with a smile
on your face.’ The boat passes Nikolas
Church, built on an islet in honour of Paros’s
fishermen, candles in its windows doing the
job of a lighthouse on dark nights. Drawing
into a sheltered bay ringed by tall cliffs, Ilias
cuts the engine. ‘If you come to Paros and
don’t go out on a boat, you miss the whole
point of it,’ says Olivier. ‘You miss all this.’
He gestures at the luminous water, sun
bouncing off the surface like diamonds.
The only spectators are the swifts circling
above. It’s impossible to resist diving in.
Source : Lonely Planet UK