The Byzantine Trail of Paros

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It’s back to the Middle Ages on the road from Lefkes to Prodromos – or is it only back to the 1950s?

"Part of the Byzantine trail of Paros"

Hiking on the Greek islands is overall a very pleasant experience. The blue skies and the blue sea can be counted on to provide an attractive backdrop, and there are always plenty of things to discover.

It’s all the more a pity, however, that not everywhere more efforts are made to exploit this potential. It is not enough to provide the landscapes: you also have to make them accessible.

For this, some form of infrastructure is necessary: you need markers, proper paths and people who clear them of weeds at least once a year. A little bit of public transport would also be nice. Otherwise, even with a hired car, you will find that you are severely restricted.

One island where such efforts are made is Paros. There is a solid network of paths, certainly big enough for a few days …

"finger post indicating a hiking trail in Paros"

… small maps with descriptions in English are freely available from the local tourism office, and there is even a network of local bus routes to take you from trailhead to trailhead – and back. This is why the two last posts about our trip to the Cyclades are dedicated to the paths of this island.

In Paros, the most attractive hiking trails start in Lefkes, the island’s highest and most centrally located village.

So does the island’s most famous easy hike route: the old Byzantine trail of Paros from Lefkes to Prodromos.

First, take a leisurely stroll through the village of Lefkes (which you can conveniently reach by bus). It is not easy to say or to describe where exactly the trail starts, but if you just walk through the village centre and keep your eyes open, you will eventually spot one of the many signs that are pointing you in the right direction.

"Finger posts indicating direction of the Byzantine trail of Paros"

The trail leads you up and down a historic road which was, until recently, the only connection between the towns of Lefkes and Prodromos. (Now, they have a new street that you can occasionally glimpse in the distance.)

Actually, our guide Christina told us that her grandfather had still used the old road, riding on his donkey. That would have been, based on a quick calculation, some time in the 1950s. Imagine that!

"Stone path of the Byzantine trail of Paros"

But how old exactly is old? That is – as always when it comes to roads or buildings – a very difficult question to answer. Parts of the road have been obviously repaired or even extended until the 20th century, but the essential structure is probably a thousand years old – as, no doubt, are some of the cobblestones that you will be treading upon. It is only impossible to say which ones.

"Easy Hiker along the Byzantine trail of Paris in Greece"

The early part of the trail is the best one – before you pass the ridge, from where you have excellent views over the island and the Mediterranean Sea, and from where you eventually start the descent to Prodromos.

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Once there, you have the choice of either returning to your base or of continuing to the near-by village of Marpissa and to Pisso Livadi by the sea – where, provided you started on time, you are faced with another choice: have a late lunch or take a swim. Or perhaps both?

Such is the nature of the hard choices on the Cyclades. Decisions, decisions …

 

We thank Mr George Bafitis, owner/manager of Hotel Kalypso (and who also happens to be the President of the Paros Hotel Association) for his warm hospitality on our stay in Paros.

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