We disembarked the ferry in the heat of a July noon and drove up the road to Gaios, the capital of Paxos. Within minutes we found ourselves in the middle of town, twisting and turning perilously close to house corners, doorsteps, fruit baskets, and all sorts of items that framed the narrow streets of the town.
The salty Ionian breeze provided ample relief from the sun's hot rays as we made our way towards the apartment we had reserved for the next few days. Mrs. Florou who managed the Adamantia apartments, had met us at the ferry and guided us to the newly constructed stone building amidst an olive grove. There we settled with our daughters for four days, up on a steep hill, away from any city noise where the sun's rays labored to penetrate the olive trees, and the sounds of a thousand cicadas filled the air with an almost physical presence.
Paxos is a charming little island, easily traveled in a few days with a car or motorbike (both of which can be rented on the island). The architecture of the three main towns, Gaios, Laka, and Logos, exhibit the typical Ionian style with colorful two and three-story homes lining the promenades, while the rural landscape is filled with low stone houses surrounded by lush green gardens.
Our attention was captivated throughout our stay not so much by the physical riches of the island (though there were many), but by the ever-present kindness of local folk. A friendliness that manifested itself in the way they conversed and acted during our interactions with them, and in random acts of courtesy on the streets of the town and in the restaurants when they would spontaneously stop to talk to us. Though our stay in the island was short, vendors remembered us from one day to the next, and they would even stop their cars and bikes to greed us on the road.
We visited all three towns of the island, though we spent the majority of our time in Gaios, and our days consisted of relaxing, swimming, and sightseeing around the island.
The best part of our trip was without a doubt the half day cruise which took us around the island aboard the small vessel “Stephanos I”. We were apprehensive about parting with 20 Euro per person (kids travel free), but at the end we were more than happy we had, since the boat cruised around the West coast of the island with its spectacular wind-carved limestone cliffs, caverns, and sculptural rock formations. We found our way inside the Papanikolis cave, named after the Greek submarine of World War II that used it as a hiding place, and we dove off the boat in the crystal clear waters outside the Ipapanti cave a little further down the coast. The sensation of the cool water was clearly the highlight of our trip. A number of spectacular rock formations entertained us for the rest of the cruise on our way to the tiny island of Antipaxos where we disembarked around noon at the beach by the name of Vrika.
Our most memorable activities in Paxos include days filled with swimming, snorkeling and relaxing. After all, we disembarked on this tiny island not seeking parties and night life, but to relax and forget the world for a while. And along this plan we forced our car to traverse the long bumpy road (not really a road, but that’s another story) to the “Erimitis” (which means the Hermit) bar which sits high above the cliffs of the west coast and commands an incredible view of the sunset. Once in Paxos, a trip to Erimitis is highly recommended. Follow the road from Gaios to Laka, and somewhere along the way follow the signs to Ag. Apostoloi). The road can barely accommodate one car but once you find the bar treat yourself to a nice drink and watch the sun change colors on the horizon as it dives seductively into the Ionian waters.
We stayed only four days in Paxos, but it was plenty of time to etch our memories with the orange afterglow of the Ionian sunset, the azure blue of the ocean, and the murmur of the olive tree leaves lost in the piercing singing of a thousand cicadas.