The baker told me "with Zea's flour you should ferment the melomakarona very gently, with love..." and so I did and they came out delicious. Of course I used the wonderful honey of Paros!
The global travel trends and statistics are good and bad news for the macro economic development of the tourism industry and their environmental impacts.
The good news is that the percentage of people travelling around the world is expected to grow significantly, especially from huge forthcoming markets of populations in China and Africa who's standard of living is rising. The bad news is that the environmental pollution from travelling (primarily through the use of air travel and secondary through the non-responsible consumption of energy, water, food and garbage creation) adds on and is a significant percent of the total CO2 emitted in the atmosphere causing an incredible climatic change. We will see in the next years a lot of dramatic changes in our environment and also the first climatic migration. The extreme weather has become globally a brutal reality causing unbelievable human loss and drastic changes in landscape.
Especially in the Mediterranean and in our country Greece, the scientists predict and announce the following for the immediate years:
- an increase of 2% in the temperature of the surface of sea water,
- a raise of the sea level that will slowly make coastal line to sunk and vanish,
- the extinction of some fish species caused by the over fishing of our seas and also due to luck of legislation for the marine protection and bio parks.
It sounds dramatic and it actually is. Even our blessed “meltemi” wind that cools us during the hot summer days, is not sure due to the climatic change and raise of temperatures if it’s going to be unaffected or not! The reality is that we are not going to have any more tourists in Greece and the Cyclades if we don’t have any water resources due to the drought, or if there is no enough food to grow –even for ourselves!!
A new reality model needs to be immediately adopt by travelers and the tourism industry providers – the responsible traveler model and the sustainable tourism growth model respectively, seem to be the win-win situation for a society prosperity and is no longer considered a voluntary approach for individuals and professionals but a necessity for the survival of our species.
The strategic planning
Greeks need to adopt to an environmental friendly mentality and this involves a lot of work. We need to focus not only at the micro but also at the macro level. To manage to keep our businesses operating tomorrow and survive the economic crisis is important as it is also to maintain viable in the next years and to give to our children and the generations to come the possibility of drinkable water, a clean sea with fish in it and a natural landscape.
Actually we would need to start from scratch –from educating children in nursery school, elementary, gymnasium, lyceum, parents, industry professionals, the seasonal personnel involved and providing the tourism services and also the traveller himself and how he comprehends responsible consumption and acts. Every single one of us needs to change mentality and get a proper systematic education and training on environmental protection and good practices in every day live and in the tourism industry services consequently.
In local level, this systematic training can take place parallel to schools, to individuals/households and to bodies such as the Chambers of Commerce, the Hoteliers Associations and the Agricultural producers, as well as other local associations. Creating awareness and educating the local community in all levels on water and energy resources responsible consumption, the long term money saving and environment protection from the use of alternative forms of energy eg. the sun, the air and the sea and recycling the garbage (reusing, repairing and reselling).They consequently will need to sit down together in a table and set common goals, common grounds and policies and start collaborating regarding their mutual and society benefits. It is important that the local businesses/tourism professionals insert the local and traditional products in the tourism industry chain by either re-selling them directly or by offering improved gastronomic experiences to their guests. Either way they provide a cultural experience to the travellers.
Also it’s important that we take measurements for the protection and preservation of the environment (coastline, wetlands, wildlife, flora and fauna) and of our cultural heritage. We are very lucky to have an observatory of the environment on Paros and congrats to the people and the associations that have been pioneers by launching it.
Least important is that we must provide and create access and the infrastructure facilities for people of special needs to visit our island, our beaches, our museums and the most important sites of Paros. How many beaches on Paros and hotels are accessible to disabled people? I don’t have any figures unfortunately but I would say a very small percentage.
Having planned for all the above is essential – then we can all get together again and think of branding and promoting our island and our country as a sustainable and friendly destination.
A “katikia” is a traditional farmhouse in the fields of Paros Island. It provided
shelter and hearth to a family and its domesticated animals during various
agricultural seasons. A katikia traditionally consisted of various different
structures and spaces: indoors, a large wood-burning oven, a kitchen and a
bedroom; outdoors, a threshing floor (aloni), a stone grape-pressing basin
(patitiri), storehouses, cellars, a well, and the surroundings vineyards and
The katikia was used as the family’s living quarters, for baking bread, making
wine and cheese, and for the cultivation of wheat and vegetables.
Pandelis Zoumis’s “Katikia” is one of very few that remain on the island of Paros. He
has lovingly preserved it exactly as it was more than 100 years ago, with all its original
elements intact and still fully functional.
Pandelis is an environmentally conscious organic farmer, a wine maker, an artisan
blacksmith, and an amateur folk musician. He enjoys showing and sharing his little piece
of paradise with visitors looking to experience an authentic and graceful way of life from
bygone years and an exceptional feeling of peace and tranquility.
Sited on the highlands of Paros, just outside of the village of Kostos, Pandelis’s Katikia
is a bridge from the present to the past. Here, visitors can get a glimpse of life as it used
to be, wander around, browse the blacksmith workshop and ironworks, relax under the
shade of the old fig tree, listen to cicadas, taste organic wine and other fresh delicacies,
and connect with the earth and nature of Paros.
Katikia is an intimate place that Pandelis has embraced and preserved with care and
craftsmanship. It attracts nature-lovers, inspiration-seekers and exploratory travelers in
search of history, traditional culture and authentic flavors. If you’re looking for the kind
of simplicity and charm one sees in postcards but rarely finds in real life, this is a place
and experience you’ll love.
The hidden treasures of Parikia - 4 hour archaeological tour -Οι κρυμμένοι θησαυροί της Παροικιάς , 4ωρη ξενάγηση της Παροικιάς
The hidden treasures of Parikia
Discover the history and beauty of Parikia through a special tour in time and space.
Parikia, a town with a history of 5000 years, has been one of the most important centers within the Cyclades since prehistoric times until today. Thanks to the precious Parian marble, widely used in the monuments of the town and the fine artistic sense of its inhabitants, Parikia gives out a feeling of subtlety and nobleness well hidden in its alleys.
The 4 hour tour starts at the ancient cemetery, includes the open air sanctuary and the mosaics of the Hellenistic and Roman houses and completes the acquaintance with antiquity at the Archaeological Museum, one of the most important museums in the Aegean. Follows the visit of the Ekatontapyliani, the most remarkable early Christian church in the Mediterranean after Aghia Sofia in Constantinople. After a short pause we will resume our walking tour into the Old Town with the impressive mansions and the traditional Cycladic houses and chapels, the marble fountains and the well cared gardens up to the Kastro with the characteristic marble Venetian tower and down to the pleasantly busy Old Market.
The tour will be led exclusively by the professional tourist guides of Paros. Minimum participation 6 persons. Price 30 €, children under 17 years old free of charge.
Possibility of guided tour in English, French, Italian and Greek.
Οι κρυμμένοι θησαυροί της Παροικιάς
Ανακαλύψτε την ιστορία και τις ομορφιές της Παροικιάς σε μια ιδιαίτερη ξενάγηση μέσα στο χρόνο και στο χώρο.
Η Παροικιά, μια πόλη με ιστορία 5000 χρόνων, αποτελεί ένα από τα σημαντικότερα κέντρα των Κυκλάδων από τα προϊστορικά χρόνια εως σήμερα. Χάρη στο πολύτιμο Παριανό μάρμαρο, τον λυχνίτη των αρχαίων, που χρησιμοποιήθηκε απλόχερα στα μνημεία της πόλης, και την καλαισθησία των κατοίκων της, η Παροικιά αποπνέει μια σπάνια αίσθηση φινέτσας και αριστοκρατικότητας καλά κρυμμένης στα σοκάκια και τους δρόμους της.
Η ξενάγηση, διάρκειας 4 περίπου ωρών, ξεκινάει από το αρχαίο νεκροταφείο, συνεχίζεται στο υπαίθριο ιερό στον Άγιο Παντελεήμονα και τα ψηφιδωτά δάπεδα των ελληνιστικών και ρωμαϊκών σπιτιών για να ολοκληρώσει την γνωριμία με την αρχαιότητα στο Aρχαιολογικό Μουσείο, ένα από τα σημαντικότερα του Αιγαίου. Ακολουθεί ξενάγηση στην Εκατονταπυλιανή, τον σημαντικότερο παλαιοχριστιανικό ναό της Μεσογείου μετά την Αγία Σοφία στην Κωνσταντινούπολη. Μετά από μία σύντομη στάση θα αρχίσουμε την περιπλάνησή μας στην παλιά πόλη με τα πανέμορφα αρχοντικά, αλλα και τα παραδοσιακά κυκλαδίτικα σπιτάκια και παρεκκλήσια, τις μαρμάρινες κρήνες και τους φροντισμένους κήπους με στόχο το Κάστρο και τον χαρακτηριστικό μαρμάρινο ενετικό πύργο, για να καταλήξουμε στην πολύβουη Παλιά Αγορά.
Η ξενάγηση πραγματοποιείται αποκλειστικά από τους διπλωματούχους ξεναγούς της Πάρου.
Ελάχιστη συμμετοχή 6 άτομα.
Δυνατότητα ξενάγησης στα Ελληνικά, Αγγλικά, Ιταλικά και Γαλλικά. Τιμή 30€ , παιδιά κάτω των 17 δωρεάν.
Nobody does Easter better than the Greek island of Paros, where visitors are treated like family. Author Carol Mason finds herself hypnotized.
April 1, 2010
You can believe, or not believe. But you can't fail to be immersed in the spirit of Easter in Greece.
It's the most important holiday in the Greek Orthodox calendar: a bigger to-do than Christmas. The Greeks, as we know, invented theatre – and Easter is a giant, living, breathing, immortal piece of it. From Athens, the spectacle spans to the tiniest of the 160 permanently inhabited islands, and everyone is into it. So don't go looking for a party-mate at 11 p.m. on Easter Saturday. Virtually the entire country will be in church.
The island of Paros does Easter better than anywhere else. It's the third largest in the Cyclades group, where you'll also find Mykonos and Santorini. Picture whitewashed churches with blue domes, orange blossom and bougainvillea tumbling down nearly every wall, mysteriously interlocking streets with no names that are no wider than the expanse of your outstretched arms, sugar-cube houses piled up on hillsides, or dotted sparsely on the windswept edge of a cliff. Paros's charm feels effortless.
Ordinarily, it has a population of 17,000, but this doubles around Holy Week. Tourists, most of them Greek, arrive for the festivities – especially for the re-enactment of the Passion of Christ. On Good Friday, the hillside village of Marpissa puts on a series of tableaux performed by locals, dramatizing the last days of Christ's life. Acting? Or have we biblically time-travelled? You could almost be fooled into thinking it.
There's a huge build-up to Easter, but it really gets going with the decoration of eggs on Holy Thursday. Families dye the kokkina avga the traditional red (to signify Christ's blood, with the egg representing new life) by boiling the skins of yellow onions in water and vinegar.
Locals say there are 200 or so churches on the island – many are the size of your master bedroom – and congregants keep an all-night vigil around the epitaphios, the bier that bears a replica of Christ's body. Women adorn it with fresh flowers; great pride is taken.
On Good Friday, a solemnity falls on usually convivial Greeks. Funeral bells ring out all over the island, this mourning melody carries across the swell of the blue Aegean, where brightly painted fishing boats bob alongside the real working boats that feed the island and send the fresh daily catch to the businesses in Athens. Flags fly at half-mast. Even the horn of the Blue Star ferry wails in respectful lament.
From midday on, each church has its bier lying in state. A steady stream of people comes to pay their respects. Many don't stay for the full service, yet in Paroikia, the island's capital, the Church of Our Lady of a Hundred Gates is almost impossible to leave. The strange humming of voices is hypnotic. I watch the course of impenetrable rituals from the open doors, then I sit outside on the step, eyes closed to the sunshine beating on my face, lulled by the sombre rhythm of a language and devotion that I don't understand. I may be the only person not dressed in black.
At nightfall, everyone heads to Marpissa. From afar, this amphitheatre of a white village is a-twinkle with hundreds of candles carried by the crowd that follows the epitaphios through the main streets. The pitch of their grief can't fail to move you. A choir sings; women sprinkle flowers and oregano, and burn incense. Others lean off balconies. The procession stops along the way, and at each pause, men, women and children dressed in costume perform various chapters of the Easter story in an orb of light: Christ's entry into Jerusalem, the repentance of Mary Magdalene, the Last Supper, Jesus praying on Mount Olive, the hanging of Judas and the Crucifixion. The whole thing is eerily realistic.
On Easter Saturday night, the church congregation sits in darkness holding long, unlit candles. When the clock strikes midnight, the priest lights the holy flame to symbolize the resurrection. The light from one candle is passed on until every candle is lit, then firecrackers burst into the sky. Christos Anesti. Christ is Risen! they shout. Alithos anesti. Truly, he is risen!
And from there on, it's a party. People mill about, carrying their glowing candles, winding the labyrinth streets to their homes, where the candles will be placed above the front door to burn in the shape of a cross. After the egg-cracking – a metaphor for Christ freeing himself from his tomb – everyone tucks into supper. It's traditional to start with mageiritsa, soup made with lamb organs, but it gets better after that: hiroméri, smoked salted pork; touloumisio, local cheese aged in goat skin; tsoureki, the sweet, braided, egg-washed bread; grilled vegetable dips to make you crave your five servings a day, and plenty of wine, ouzo and souma (a particularly head-blowing brew of pure alcohol made from distilled grape skins). The feast goes on all night.
Sunday brings more eating: The Marpissa football grounds is home to a Festival of Love, all laid on courtesy of the municipality. It's a merry occasion, with traditional music and dancing while a whole lamb revolves over a charcoal fire. Relish this with salads, seafood specialties, wine, ouzo and more ouzo. Everyone is invited. If you're on Paros at Easter, someone somewhere is going to make you forget that you are a tourist.
Then, on Monday, everything returns to normal. You're done with Easter, and eating, but you may never be done with Paros.
The gleam of morning sunshine is almost painful on the eyes, and seems to endlessly reflect off the white houses and mellow sea. And while, in April, the sea might not be at its warmest, if you stroke through the ribbons of sapphire and emerald, you’ll experience that ebullient illusion of being the only person swimming in the Aegean. As the Greek composer Giannis Markopoulos said, “In the Cyclades you are never a stranger. Immediately the earth, human, sea, its sky and houses make a dialogue with you.”
And this is true. From the minute the tiny Olympic Airways flight circled the island to land, Paros spoke to me, and kept on saying all the right things. On my first venture into town, an elderly man gave me a rose. Someone else tried to offload a kitten (cats run amok on Paros because the Greeks don’t spay and neuter; some people own about 20). The clothing boutique owner couldn’t bear to see me in flip-flops – 26 C being winter for a Greek – so she gave me a free pair of brand-new imported Italian shoes. When I protested that I couldn’t possibly accept her offer, she charged me a token two euros. Then, ironically, I did catch a cold, and the local café owner fed me a bottomless cup of hot souma with honey, and someone else bought me socks. As a tourist, I was hardly a rarity. But Parians take an interest in you. Of the Northern Europeans I met in the month I was there, it was easy to see why they had been coming back for 20-plus years.
Thankfully absent are the rows of accommodations that pockmark the shoreline of so many of the bigger islands popular with budget-conscious travellers. On Paros, you don’t feel like you’ve been segregated to your designated zone by locals who don’t want to see you in your drunken glory or your Union Jack shorts. There is a sense of the undiscovered here, especially in low season. You can spend days exploring diminutive churches, rarely seeing anyone who isn’t Greek. Or hike the Byzantine Way down to the sea from Lefkes, the island’s highest village with one of the most breath-catching 360-degree views I’ve seen in all of Europe. Or check out the sound of silence in the Marathi marble quarries – the stuff used by ancient sculptors to make, among other things, the Venus de Milo. Then there is always the neighbouring island of Antiparos, which I had almost circumnavigated before I spotted a single other car on the road.
I’d like to own a house here. Or come back every year, for Easter, or for any other excuse. To sit one more time in the fishing village of Naoussa, in an open-air taverna at the water’s edge, and eat sun-dried mackerel, charred on the grill, while half a dozen kittens chase after the front-runner who has the whole sardine in its mouth. To dip coarse-textured golden bread into yellow fava beans that glisten in the sun with pools of green olive oil. To sip a glass of insanely affordable Moraitis reserve red from the local vineyard.
Happy Easter? How can it not be?
Bestselling writer Carol Mason is the author of The Love Market.
Share your photos and videos from your holidays on Paros or any valuable tip for future travellers. I look forward to hear your opinion and experiences of your travels to Paros and your ideas about becoming a sustainable island. Send your posts at the e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org