Piso Livadi, you have my heart.
Back in the nineties my brother and I visited the Greek Island of Paros when we were in college. We only spent a few days there, but it was enough time to start a love affair with the island.
One of the best days was spent exploring the island by car. We drove wherever we felt like, taking little unmarked roads not knowing where they would lead. Sure enough, they all led to paradise, usually in the form of some of the most beautiful, undisturbed beaches in the Aegean Sea.
One particular road led us to the little fishing village of Piso Livadi and a little piece of my heart was left behind, waiting for me to return one day.
On a recent family trip to Paros I finally had the opportunity to retrieve it. Although I’ve made trips to Paros since that first visit in the nineties, this trip was my husband’s first. I insisted that we make the trek to the little fishing village that has occupied a special corner of my memory for over twenty years. Despite constant griping from the rest of the group, I put my foot down and would not relent. My brother didn’t remember it and thought there were better things to do, yet he humored me. My father, on the other hand, grumbled loudly that we were wasting our time.
We found the turnout for the little fishing village on the eastern side of the island and, despite the gripes, took the little road. We drove down the hilly road through a patch of trees and, as we approached the waterfront, the path narrowed to a single lane. As my excitement grew, so did my apprehension. What if my memory was deceiving me? What if we really were wasting our time and the fantastic village I remembered was actually just a rundown smattering of houses on a dirty beach?
I pushed the negativity aside and brushed off the continuous barrage of complaints. “There is nothing here!” “Why are we wasting our time?”
As the trees gave way to a few traditionally white-washed island homes, the complaints abruptly stopped. The narrow lane suddenly opened up into a bustling little fishing village with a calm pristine lagoon and a beautiful stretch of sandy beach. The waterfront was lined with shops, restaurants, bars and coffee shops, yet the vibe was laid-back and not in the least touristy.
We had found the Piso Livadi of my memory, almost completely unchanged from our last visit over twenty years ago. The complaints quickly turned into praise for the beautiful spot I had found for the family to stop and enjoy an afternoon meal. We quickly parked the car and walked along the waterfront until we picked a lovely little restaurant where we feasted on one of the best meals of our trip. We enjoyed steamed mussels, grilled pork belly, and a family favorite – grilled octopus.
While some of the family felt the need to round out their meal with a traditional Greek coffee in a local cafeneion, I grabbed my husband for a dip in the lagoon. As the gentle waves lulled us, we soaked in the refreshing waters and late afternoon Greek sun.
Eventually I had to face the reality that we couldn’t stay there forever, although to this day I have my doubts. Rather than collecting the piece of my heart that had been awaiting my return for over twenty years, I decided to leave it there for the next time. After all, I will return again. There isn’t a doubt in my mind. How can I possibly not?