Sunday, August 21, 2011

Welcome to Paradise - Paxos, Greece

On Wednesday, Aug 12th we left Athens for what will be the final part of our VistaBreak and the final trip for this summer.  After a whirlwind of trips just in the last 8 weeks (we’ve hit 7 countries in that time!), I thought I’d be too exhausted to enjoy this one but I think after the few hours we’ve spent here on Paxos, there is no doubt that this will be our favorite. 

We flew to Corfu in the Ionian Islands (between Greece and Italy) this morning and then hopped on a hydrofoil to get to Paxos as there is no air service here.  It was a quick and easy 1 hour trip to get here on the hydrofoil and a representative from the travel agency that owns the villa met us at the port.  We had prearranged the ferry and the taxis to/from the ports which was a nice convenience albeit slightly more expensive but it was worth it to not stress about how we were going to get to our villa given there are only 5 taxis on the whole island.  Yes, it is that small.  The taxi driver I think must have gotten his license in NYC as he drove like a crazy city driver.  I saw the speedometer going over 80 a number of times on 90 degree turns… I was holding on tight and just praying that we wouldn’t die before seeing our villa! 

As we got closer he had no choice but to slow down as the main road became a windy narrow dirt path that he had to drive down.  The houses became fewer and further apart.  Finally we came up to a fenced area and a sign that said Villa Katerina.  We were home… for the week at least!
The dirt "path" the taxi had to drive down to get to our villa (this is actually in front of our villa) 

When we walked thru the gates, it was just breathtaking.  The house itself is a little less updated than it appeared in the pictures but overall it’s exactly what we knew we were getting and we immediately went to the balconies to get a look at the view.  And it’s probably one of the most breathtaking ones I’ve ever seen.  The water is maybe 50 feet below us though the path that takes us to the water is about a 5 min walk to get down to the beach to the right of us. 
Outside the front of the villa
Aidan on the main balcony overlooking the harbor - Josh and I also have a balcony above this that is a part of our bedroom.

View to the right of our villa - you can make out the beach below...

View to the left of our villa (the island to the left that's kind of a shadow is Corfu)

View from upstairs balcony
View behind our villa

We are the last villa before the end of the island!!!

While I unpacked Josh made the trek into town to go to a grocery store… he walked as we did not rent a car for this trip figuring the point is total relaxation and to enjoy the beach and the scenery around us.  I think we’ll manage that just fine.  The poor guy had to walk downhill, then uphill, then downhill again to reach the town which is just on the other side of the harbor from us – about 900 meters away.  But it was 90 out today and he came back a sweaty mess but with wine and food! 
So after a shower and a glass of wine on the balcony, we set out to check out the beach and to grab some dinner and more supplies in town (he could only carry so much and while yes he got us some food there was no point in going into town this evening unless we were going to eat as well).  The beach is white rocks though supposedly once you get in the water it becomes all sand.  There is a beach bar there along with chairs and umbrellas.  We plan to get there early tomorrow and spend the day!  It is also shaded by trees like much of this island, many of them are olive trees (over 300,000 olive trees on the island!). 
The path to town is next to the villa
It's actually a pretty steep path not that you can tell from the picture - thankfully we only had to do it at night in the dark once (by the light of my iphone!)
The beach below from the path
There are 3 villas at the top of the hill - ours is the one in the middle
Aidan - ecstatic to be by the beach!  The beach was white rock which they called shingle but once you were in the water it was beautiful sand!
One of 60 churches on the island (remember, the island is all of 6 miles long!)
Playing by the harbor looking for crabs

Some of the harbor and town
Paxos itself is only about 10km long by 4km wide so a pretty small island when comparing to some other Greek ones.  And it’s the small size and the lack of urban feel that drew us here.  It was recommended to us by a friend and I’m so very glad I took her advice when we started to plan our trip to Greece.  The town we are in, Lakka, sits in a small harbor set in a beautiful little protected cove.  Walking thru the little streets of town there were cute restaurants and shops that we will definitely be checking out in the coming week! 

We went to a small convenience store (their idea of a grocery store) to get a few supplies like toilet paper and paper towels and then Josh went in search of a fruit/veggie store for us to get those tomorrow when we go down to the beach.  For dinner we ended up in a cute restaurant that drew us in by their English menu since we don’t read Greek…at all.  Aidan ate fried anchovies – when they said fried fish we figured maybe fish sticks.  But the kid was a trooper and ate them – even pulled out the bones to eat them.  He’s so not my child!!! 

After dinner we went to a tourist shop to buy some beach towels.  We knew we wouldn’t really need them in Ireland and we didn’t want to haul them here in case the rental had them (towels and linens were included but apparently not beach towels).  They are ugly as sin but will do the job tomorrow when we hit the beach!

Josh sporting his new hat... yes, I know...

Harbor as the sun begins to set

Behind our house as the sun sets

View from next to our villa as the sun sets

Moon starting to rise behind the hill - can you see it??

And it gets higher...

And higher...

And higher...

And done taking pics for the night :)
The kids are super excited about this new vacation and are really looking forward to the beach during the week!

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