Pristine, serene, an arid landscape peppered with white homes and enveloped by a cloudless blue sky. This is what we find arriving in Paros, a relatively untouched Greek Island, some 30 minutes from Athens on a tiny propellored plane. Some months before, after sifting through seemingly endless villas on different islands with the help of the fabulously patient people at White Key, Villa Farragas is the one for us.
For once, the reality outdoes the pictures on the internet and I find myself looking for the appropriate adjectives – a magnificent sea view, expansive outdoor areas perfect for dining or relaxing, a generously proportioned modern home yet in keeping with Greek tradition. Cleverly designed – even two of the showers have an ocean view – the home is beautifully styled.
Sweet couple Maria and Archie, who are live in staff, as well as Daria our concierge from White Key, are on hand to take care of anything we might need for the next eight days. We quickly realise this is going to be a holiday on steroids. The evening we arrive, Dimitris, a local cook, makes us feast of fresh stuffed sardines, pasta with lobster, and a mountain of Greek salad.
Armed with an appropriately compact set of wheels, we explore the island, which you can drive around in about an hour (unless you are like us and get totally lost the first night and take two instead), and there are plenty of charming villages and sandy beaches – Alyki, Parikia, Naousa, Lefkes, Golden Beach, Faragas. And as we meander through the alleyways, the shopkeepers are all happy to have a chat, delighted we have come all the way from Australia to their little island.
We feast on simple, fresh food – tomatoes so sweet that they could almost qualify as dessert, fresh seafood that has been caught by a local fisherman that morning, and cheeses we cannot pronounce. Fruit, local honey from wildflowers, and yoghurt are on the breakfast table each morning; we realise now that the ‘Greek style’ yoghurt we get at home is most certainly not the same as the real thing.
One day we hire a traditional wooden boat and Captain Petros takes us exploring. The water we see that day can only be described as a collection of jewels – sapphires, aquamarine, emerald, topaz. No camera can do it justice.
Part II of this little gem of an island coming up.