Antiparos – You Haven’t Changed a Bit!

We wake up at 9am after just 6 hours sleep, so relieved to be here on the beautiful island of Antiparos.  Our eagerness to go and explore outweighed any exhaustion we still felt.  We showered and flung on some clothes and as we left the room we took time to appreciate the pretty little terrace outside our room – Pimms and lemonade tonight I think!

We took the short walk back to the little main street. Everywhere is quiet and the streets were still quite empty.  One of the first cafe’s we spotted was a small place called Cafe Babel.  The lady who seemed to own the cafe, took our order in between tending a small baby.   I think both Peter and I were in need of sustenance so we ordered a breakfast of fried eggs and bacon with toasted bread and tea.  Within minutes an older lady appeared to take over the kitchen duties.  When breakfast arrived the eggs really were the most perfect ones I’d ever seen or tasted!

I had a strong urge to visit Psaraliki Beach of which I had such fond memories.  I remember it was a short walk from the town but instead of taking the direct route we decided to walk further up into the town and access it from over the main road. The beach was exactly how I remembered it.  A narrow stretch of sand and small stones, curving around the sheltered bay, lined with a row of tamarisk trees. It’s parent island Paros provided some shelter and helped keep the shallow waters warm.  I get the feeling that today is going to be a very lazy day.

We spread out our towels and lay under a tamarisk tree which covers us in its dappled shade.  The branches dance in the gentle breeze, fanning us slowly to sleep.  The hypnotic sound of the waves rolling in and out and the sound of the rustling leaves were broken periodically by the sound of shrill chirping from cicadas.

Between short bouts of sleep we take occasional dips in the sea, the beach gently shelving into deep turquoise water.  The most activity we experienced was a swim over to rocks at the end of the beach – Peter snorkelling whilst I clambered between the rocks under which green crabs scuttled to seek shelter.

We stayed  on the beach until about 5pm and then we walked back to the port past the old windmill and the blue domed church.
Not wishing to be caught out again we decided to purchase our tickets for Folegandros and made our way to the nearest ticket office.  We had planned to spend 4 nights on Antiparos, leaving on Tuesday – the end of the festival.  The tickets were 10 Euros each for the Speedrunner high speed ferry.  The lady in the ticket office tells us that today is the festival of the boats.  Later on I try to find some more information on this festival but can’t seem to find a reference to it anywhere.  Anyway, I’m not sure what the ‘boat festival’ is but there is certainly a lot of activity down by the marina.  A number of boats have been arriving at the island throughout the day,  There are gazebo’s along the marina – whatever it is seems to be sponsored by Viper and we also see a poster with the picture of a musician on it promoting an event this evening in the square.  We are told this is part of the boat festival – oh to be able to read Greek!
After a walk along the marina we return to the room for a shower and Pimms and lemonade on our tiny terrace under the Bougainvillea canopy.
Still tired from the travel yesterday the Pimms nearly wipes us out. We force ourselves to get ready and head back to the marina to find a restaurant to eat. The marina is full of life. Families and groups of young people sitting in cafes or promenading along the harbour.  We can see rows of chairs stacked up against the church wall in the square, ready to be set out for the music event later that night.  I like to think that I can stay awake that long!  As we walk to the end of the marina it begins to feel less populated.  We survey the row of restaurants but it is difficult to choose which one.  We eventually decide on Restaurant T’ageri in the corner.  A pretty little spot overlooking the end of the small marina.
We chose really well.  This restaurant more than exceeded our expectations.   The waitress Maria introduces herself to us and asks us where we are from.  She tells us that she has been to Cairo and liked it very much – we both agreed that we didn’t really like Alexandria.  Peter was keen to have sea food and chose crab. I didn’t have much of an appetite and chose meatballs  – I think I know who’s looked most impressive!  This was all washed down by a glass of cold, crisp dry white wine.  I think I had a second glass whilst Peter concentrated on extracting the crab meat out of the shell.
Maria told us that she was from Patras, opposite the coast of Italy. Giorgios the chef and the owners were also from there.  This is only their second season in Antiparos and they tell us that it hasn’t been easy.  Giorgios told us that because they weren’t locals, the council hadn’t  been very helpful.  He said that some pipework repairs had been carried out outside the restaurant over the last few days and this had left a lot of mud all over the road.  He had phoned the council a number of times asking them to clean up the road because it looked bad for the restaurant.  In the end he did it himself by hosing down the street and cleaning the mud away with a stiff brush – he wanted to make it better for the customers!
Giorgios goes on to tell us about how hard they have worked to develop a very special menu in the restaurant.  He wanted us to try his crab salad and brought us out a sample – I’m not a lover of seafood but this crab salad was absolutely fantastic. He spoke passionately about how he loved his kitchen and every day he cleaned every part of it down with oil. We ordered desert – a local dish with a sponge base and fruit jelly topping.  My description here hasn’t done it justice but the food here is absolutely exceptional! Everyone here has been friendly and accommodating and we will definitely be back another night.
We decide to walk back along the marina to see what’s happening in the square.  The little marina is so pretty at night.
The show is now in full swing and gregarious Greeks are dancing and singing along with the musicians on the stage.  A man fills a endless plastic cups with water and hands them out amongst the crowd.  Above the small stage, children sit with their legs dangling over the church wall to get a birdseye view of the entertainment.

After the musicians have delivered a couple of numbers, a group of men get on stage to make a series of announcements which is met with warm applause.  The night is rounded off with a final piece from the musicians and a small firework display which we see burst into life from behind the village church.  I’ve enjoyed this mysterious ‘boat festival!’

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