Sunday, July 31

(N)ever Changing Greece: Paros

I just returned from my 21st visit to Greece. It never gets old, it never gets boring. And of course it has changed. A lot. "It's not like it used to be," I often hear. No, nothing is. But for those who have not yet been - you have no previous memories for comparison. And for those who have been - well, it's still a beautiful, sun drenched, aqua-sea and marbled landscape. Despite fiscal austerity plans, demonstrations and strikes, millions still pour into this tiny country yearly for the experience. (The tourist bureau says it's more that 15 Million!! Do try to avoid Greece in July and August!)

Actually, I think the Greeks have been participating in demonstrations and strikes ever since they first created 'Democracy'. The craftsmen probably weren't happy with their work hours  when Pericles planned the building of the Parthenon on the Acropolis in 447BC, and told him so with work stoppages. It's just what Greeks do when upset with their government.  

Each year, I usually pick a few islands to spend my time on; painting on each for a few weeks then moving on when I get restless. This time I spent 5 weeks just on Paros. I rented a small house right in the Old Town of Paroikia. My adventures were reduced to fixing blown fuses and minimizing the effects of stray cats and flies. But still, it was wonderful. And I got a lot of painting done, which is always my focus and point of view when I'm in Greece. And my excuse for coming back again and again.

Paintings from Paros by Amy Stark
My friend Anna had lived on this island in the 1970's. She wrote to me while I was there: "So sweet to imagine you in a house on Paros 40 years later. I turned 20 there during the junta, and there was only sometime power in the town, none at my place, almost no cars (the police had one), the Eli [ie: the ferry boat] came in 2x a week, we took things on baskets down to the baker to cook after the bread was out."

Now there are cruise-ship-sized ferry boats and truck-carrying catamarans. (The ferry I took from Piraeus had two escalators to get to the main deck. And when I was exploring, I noticed the elevator said I was on the 7th level!) Cars abound, as do motor bikes. Buses take you all over the island, helpful in finding the right beach experience. The bakeries serve croissants along with spanakopita. An Iced Cappuccino is as available as the Greek's Nescafe version: a frappe. And you can read newspapers in many languages. And on your iPod Touch thanks to Wi-fi. 

But some things don't change: the great food and drink; the music; a photograph calling out to be taken around every corner; sunsets shimmering on the Mediterranean . . .

. . . the strikes . . . 
. . . and the power still goes out.

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