i was two domestic flights away from achieving gold status on star alliance, so i decided to book the cheapest round-trip ticket i could, to tick that box and also see an island i hadn’t visited yet. i chose paros, in the cyclades, with the idea of doing some photography; and, because it’s annoying to stop and start the car every time i want to take a photo, i decided i’d rent a bike instead. i haven’t been on a bicycle for 2½ years, but given that i’m recovering from shin splints and so cannot run, i figured i’d get the added benefit of three days of low-impact aerobic exercise as well. win-win all around.
i had an easy half-hour flight and a quick taxi ride to the lovely seaside town of aliki to pick up my bike.
|typical greek harbor village amazingness.|
suitably provisioned with helmet, water and snacks (and about 20 pounds of clothes and camera equipment on my back), all was good for three minutes, and then i came to the base of the first of a series of hills where the road turned inland. i assessed the state of my quads and realized that this was one of the stupidest ideas i’d ever come up with.
|the first of many reality checks; and things i saw along the way, including a pretty sweet house in the hills; two proskinitaria,memorials to the victims of a road accident (i’ve just released a book of photographs of proskinitaria – check out www.paulcohnimages.com for more information); and cows.|
my destination was 21 km away, a hotel i’d booked that morning to be assured of having some place to stay. because it’s still march, most hotels are still closed for the season, but a few stay open longer into the fall and open earlier in the spring. despite having a booking confirmation from agoda.com, however, it turns out my hotel is not one of those. after some discussion, they opened a room for me anyhow. it’s just one night, but i don’t think they’re so keen on the extra money that they’re glad to have me.
|the view from my hotel room.||i earned this today.|
after a rest and a large meal, i decided to follow up my 21 km bike ride with a hike up a hill to visit the church of saint anthony, about 170 m above sea level. because honestly, at that hour, there wasn’t much else to do with the day. on the way up, i came across the ruins of a venetian castle, carefully protected from the main road by a single rusted strand of barbed wire.
|windmills in the village of marpissa on the way to saint anthony; ruins of the castle.|
the hike was long, but not overly difficult, and the view from the top was fantastic. the church grounds themselves were empty – not a person to be seen.
|the church, from the base of the hill; the view from up top; the church lends itself to abstractions.|
next: day 2