By 5pm my nose was confirming what I had suspected in the previous night: I have a cold. When the group met I warned people but nobody seemed perturbed. At 6pm we headed out walking the narrow, side-walk-less streets of Paros. Actually the town’s name is Paraikia(?). There is absolutely no concession to the handicapped in the Greek islands (or Athens, now that I think back). In a wheel chair? κρίμα για σένα (kríma gia séna, too bad for you).
Anastasia’s first target was a combination of architecture and archaeology. She led us to a tiny chapel obviously made of old marble, on the edge of a bluff over the beach, and explained this was the butt-end of what had been a much longer temple to Artemis, but the hill collapsed into the sea, creating a big jumble of marble. Then for the next 20 minutes we went through the streets behind, spotting pieces of marble, slabs and the round drums of column segments, incorporated into houses and walls.
From there we wended through many narrow alleys to the historic 6th Century Church of Panaya of Ekatontapiliani, Church of Our Lady of 100 Doors. Whuh? There are supposedly 100 doors, or windows, not clear which, of which 99 are open but the 100th will not be opened until Byzantium is free of the Ottomans, i.e. never. I was feeling pretty tired by now, possibly with a bit of fever, so didn’t properly appreciate this place.
There we were met by our coach and bused to a restaurant for supper. This featured a glass of Ouzo for each. I can dig ouzo. Sipped slowly, the anise flavor is nice and complements food. Back at the hotel about 9:30 and I crashed.
I woke frequently to blow my nose, and decided to down-rate this hotel from 3.5 to maybe 1.5 stars. One: no A/C, the only way to cool the room is to open the french doors onto the garden (Correction! There is A/C, I just didn’t know how to start it). Also the room has no box of tissues, so I’m blowing my nose on toilet paper. And you aren’t supposed to drink the tap water, but they charge 50 cents for bottled water. And the wi-fi is one of those annoying ones where you have to “log in” to their landing page every time you close your laptop, although it makes up for that by being weak and slow.
At 4:30am the local roosters started crowing. The first lorry went by at 5:30, so I got up.
I’m feeling better this morning. Very possibly this virus will be a light one. Washed myself and my laundry. Went out to the lobby at 6:15. Breakfast service won’t begin until 7:30. Anastasia had pointed out a bakery down the road so I walked there, but it wasn’t open. There turns out to be a lot of people staying here, mostly Greek. At breakfast, which was available by 7:20, there are at least 50 people chattering loudly and cheerfully in Greek, plus our scatter of Road Scholars.
At 9:30 we boarded our coach for three stops. First was the quarry where for from before 1000 BCE fine white marble was dug to make the statues and columns of the classic temples. Unfortunately it isn’t much to look at now. There’s a deep hole in the hillside from which marble was once dug, and some buildings that remain from an unsuccessful attempt in the 1990s to revive the marble operation. We got to look at some samples of marble and admire how you can hold an inch-thick chunk of the real stuff up to the sun and see the sunlight passing through it.
On the way to the quarry, driving across central Paros, I could see that this island is quite a bit more fertile, less desert-like, than Mykonos, although still not exactly lush.
Anastasia pointed out a grove of particularly ancient olives.
Next stop was the town of Lefkes, the original capitol of the island, sited high on a hill in the center from when people wanted to be safe from pirates. Here we walked around a bit, looking at this and that. I was feeling somewhat ratty with my cold, and having to blow my nose every few minutes. In the central square, Anastasia declared a free hour and pointed out two different routes people could take, to look at an old church and graveyard, or something else. I opted to sit in the shade and drink a cold coke.
We returned to the coach and went to Nauosa, pleasure-boat port on the northern coast, for lunch in a restaurant. After lunch we had another free period. I wandered the town center a bit, looking at tourist shops, then bought an ice cream and found a shady wall to sit on.
The architecture of this town, like the preceding ones, is cubical stone buildings covered in stucco, piled up in interesting and seemingly random orientations around steep, twisting, narrow streets. The decorating rule seems to be, if it doesn’t move, whitewash it, unless if it sticks out, paint it blue. See the picture in Day 301.
I am still slightly puzzled by the absence of any tiled roofs. All house roofs are flat; the only non-flat roofs are barrel-vaulted roofs on the many little churches. In Italy and the south of France, all roofs are sloped and tiled, and the climate can’t be that different. Or can it? Maybe they didn’t have clay for tiles; I note even the Roman-built structures appear to use brick sparingly. But how do they seal the flat roofs?
During the ride back to the hotel, Anastasia announced a “teeny tiny problem”. It seems there might be a general strike in Athens tomorrow, and if so, the Blue Star ferry that we were to take to the next island will not run. In which case we’ll take the Sea Jet. So: if a strike, we leave at 8am, if no strike, at 11am. She hopes to know for sure by 5pm. (Who wants to be a tour guide? Can you imagine the phone calls?)
Meanwhile we are on our own for supper tonight. I decided I will hole up in my room and not try to find a restaurant. I walked to the Mini Mart across the street and bought PowerAde, a protein bar, and trail mix. If I get hungry that will do. Otherwise I will just chill in the room.