Welcome to all the bloggers that joined me recently. I hope you’ll enjoy my trip around Greece.
Last week I started in lovely Parga – north-west Greece in the region of Epiros. I’m still there, but this time I’m taking you on some of the lovely trips you can do from Parga. My friends at the ITS (International Travel Services, near the bus stop) do a wonderful job arranging tours, hire cars, even drivers to take you around the attractions. Ask for Helen or Debbie for info, and Richard for driving – they are very helpful.
1. Paxi and AntiPaxi
From the Parga quay you can board an excursion boat to take you across the Ionian Sea to the tiny island of Paxi. It’s well worth a visit. The boat noses in through a winding waterway to dock at the main town of Gaios, which is breathtaking in its pink and cream Venetian-style buildings, and pretty waterfront. You can potter around the town, view its attractive shops, and its equally attractive tavernas, walk around the waterfront to the little beach and swim, or take longer walks. See if you can find the WW2 airplane engine tucked away along the waterfront! The boat usually takes you to the neighbouring island of AntiPaxi and the stunning beaches Vrika and Voutoumi, where swimming in the crystal blue water is quite an experience. Also the blue caves are amazing.
I could devote a whole post to the Ionian island of Corfu, but suffice it to say that a day boat trip from Parga is a must. The trip up the Ionian Sea to the island is pleasurable to start with, then, depending where you land, the walk through Corfu Town is fascinating. I have never thought of Corfu as a true Greek island – it is too influenced by its British (they still play cricket here), Italian and French past (and present), and its blatant tourism over-development, but I do love Old Corfu Town and its wonderful Venetian atmosphere. A wander through these delightful old streets to the Spianada and the Fortress can take up most of the day. I always stop and have a baklava and icecream at the Liston, a Parisian style arcade well-known to Grecophiles.
3. Other Ionian Islands
A very long day tour takes you by bus across the isthmus to the island of Lefkada and the town of Nydri, where you embark on a boat tour. This takes in the small islands of Skorpios and Meganisi on the way to Porto Katsiki on Lefkada. The beach here is unusual and a great place for a swim in those amazing blue waters. (More about Lefkada later.) From there the boat heads for Kefalonia and the port of Fiskardo, where at the least you will see about fifty yachts in situ and some great waterfront tavernas. Fiskardo is one of my very favourite places, although now perhaps a little too touristy. From there the boat heads to Ithaki and the tiny village of Kioni. Ah Kioni! More about you later too. Picture-perfect. The trip back to Parga is long but interesting, and altogether a most satisfactory day.
Because of the new motorway (the Egnatia) across northern Greece, it is now possible to make a day tour from Parga to Meteora, where the monasteries sit on top of the massive rock pinnacles in a kind of fantasy setting. If you haven’t a long holiday time, this day tour is worth it, for Meteora is one of the most visited and photographed places in Greece, and rightly so. Climbing the steps up to the monastery Moni Megalou Meteorou is an experience in itself, then a wander around inside is quite fascinating. See my photos in the photo gallery!
Yes. You can take a day tour into Albania! I did this one on my last trip to Parga. Travelling up through Igoumenitsa then across the border to the Albanian countryside, one passes pretty villages and cultivated fields set against a backdrop of mountains. The city of Saranda on the coast, about 4 kms opposite Corfu, is an attractive place to have lunch and sit and watch the locals go about their business. Walking along the beach is pleasant, for the waterfront is lovely – the day I was there not a ripple was to be seen in the water – with some very agreeable cafes along the perimeter. The tour then takes you to the Roman ruin of Butrinti – a place not many people know about. It’s a truly amazing place and well worth seeing, for some of the attractions are still being excavated – the mosaics of the basilica were being revealed as we passed!
So… Visit Epiros and Parga, not just to experience the Greek Riviera, but much, much more.
Visit my photo gallery for more pix.