Piso Livadi

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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The Little Hotel on The Rocks

 

IMG_4843When you first walk off the ferry on the Greek Island of Paros the sights and sounds can be overwhelming. The excitement of a vacation in the Cycladic Islands is suddenly overshadowed by hordes of locals offering rooms for rent or looking for loved ones, not to mention throngs of tourists wandering around aimlessly trying to get their bearings.

If you are a first timer, it is easy to succumb to one of the many offers of cheap rooms and, if you’re lucky, you may end up in satisfactory accommodations, but once you’ve visited the island a few times you know exactly where you want to wind up once the commotion of a ferry landing dies down and you are ready to start adjusting your body to the circadian rythms of the island.

Head to the right once you disembark and follow the waterfront through the port town of Parikia until you reach an island landmark, the giant windmill on a rocky bluff overlooking the town. The windmill, tattered and worn from years of sea spray and trademark Cycladic winds, is something of a marker for the Pandrossos Hotel, which is nestled just behind it.

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Upon arrival, stop to enjoy the view and let the island breeze wash away the stresses of travel so your vacation can finally begin. From the outdoor bar/sitting area situated in front of the hotel, the entire town of Parikia can be seen. By day the Aegean Sea stretches out endlessly in front of you and the Portes, the famous doors to the island (two giant rocks jutting out of the water that mark the entrance to the port as well as a tragic shipwreck) can be clearly seen. At night the sparkling lights of the bustling little port play out in front of you while the sound of waves crashing against the rocks below you lull you into a hypnosis that is unique to the Greek Islands.

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Cornelius and his wife Mary have been running this little family-owned inn for years. They run day to day operations personally and treat each guest like family. Whether it be arranging for a rental car or recommending the best place for fresh seafood on the island, they help with all the particulars. Their attention to detail makes everyone feel right at home – that’s why customers return year after year. My family has been visiting Pandrossos for more than a decade now and we have no intention of stopping.

The charming hotel offers all the usuals including an in-room fridge, free Wi-Fi, and a refreshing pool to refresh you after a long day in the Greek sun, but it also nurtures your soul. Sitting on your personal balcony or in the common outdoor bar area, your cares are washed away and your worries are quickly assuaged. At Pandrossos, as is generally the case on the Greek Islands, time seems to slow down and the problems of the outside world seem to melt away.

 

Pandrossos is not only romantic and charming, but convenient as well. From the hotel you can easily access the whole island – it is walking distance from the Parikia shopping district and just minutes from the main road. The fact that Paros is a small island doesn’t hurt, either – you can travel all the way around the island in just a few hours and have plenty of time to stop and enjoy yourself along the way. One of my favorite ways to explore Paros is by driving along the coast road and stopping at random beaches, hoping to find the best one on the island. In fact, I highly recommend this method when visiting any Greek Island.

No matter how you spend your day on the island, make sure you are back in time for the sunset. In Greece the sunsets are supremely important – and just one sunset seen from the porch of Pandrossos will make you a believer. Relaxing with a drink in hand and loved ones all around you while the sun makes its nightly descent into the depths of the sea is the epitome of relaxation – Greek Island style.

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Sadly, all good things must come to an end, including those unforgettable Greek Island vacations. Each time I prepare to leave Pandrossos I find myself planning my next visit and taking note of my hotel room number so I can ask for it next time (in case your wondering the best room in the house is room 213!), and instead of ‘goodbye,’ it’s more like ‘see you soon!’