Eugene writes a variety of articles on topics including health, technology, STEM, travel, cooking, home and garden.
A Holiday of a Lifetime: Athens, Paros and Santorini
After disembarking the flight from Athens to the Greek island of Paros, I was annoyed to discover after collecting my luggage that the material around the hinge area of my suitcase was damaged. This is the story of how I fixed it (with some sight seeing on the way!). You can use this method for similar tears in textile material.
We booked our holiday in 2019 and expected to travel in 2020, but COVID put an end to our plans. We had booked flexible tickets with Aegean Airlines so luckily we were able to modify the flight dates, but this ultimately meant a lot of hassle.
I was travelling with my two sisters and being the tech-savvy one in regards to navigating websites, I was unceremoniously awarded the chore of booking all the flights and hotels. Ultimately, three flights and hotel bookings had to be changed four times over a two year period. The vacation would last two weeks.
- Flew Dublin to Athens
- Flew Athens to Paros on arrival the same morning
- Spent five days on Paros
- Took the ferry the 50 mile journey to Santorini
- Spent six days on Santorini
- Flew Santorini to Athens
- Spent two nights in Athens
- Flew Athens to Dublin
Where We Stayed in Parikia
We stayed in the Oasis Hotel in Parikia, the capital town and main port of Paros island. This has a very good, 8.5 rating on Booking.com. It's centrally located, on Stella Nikolaou, five minutes walk from two supermarkets and surrounded by restaurants. The area can be busy and noisy, but the hotel was well sound proofed and you don't hear anything inside. Staff were really helpful and rooms were clean and modern. Generally a two star hotel of this standard costs about $80 to $90 per night with free cancellation.
Paros, a Historic Island in the Aegean Sea
Paros is a beautiful island, one of the hundreds of Greek islands you can hop between by ferry. It's very burned up in the summer like most of these countries in southern Europe, but beautiful nonetheless with blue skies, fields of grape vines, olive trees and mountainous peaks, pointed because they're young in geological terms. Paros is one of the 220 islands of the Cyclades group, the latter being one of the island groups which constitutes the Aegean archipelago. Sitting on a fault line between the European and African plates, tremors are not uncommon in this area. The neighbouring islands of Milos and Santorini are volcanic, but thankfully the volcanoes are dormant for the moment.
How to Get to Paros
There aren't any direct flights to Paros from other countries. You need to fly from mainland Greece or get a ferry.
- Aegean Airlines have a service from Athens to Paros (service provided by Olympic Air). The flight is about 40 minutes duration.
- Travel by Blue Star Ferries or one of the other ferry services from the Port of Piraeus. Piraeus is served by the blue and green Metro lines from the central Monastiraki station in Athens. Ferries usually leave early in the morning around 7:25 am or in the evening at 5:30 pm. Journey time is 4 to 5 hours.
Lots to See and Do
Apart from the beautiful scenery and landscape to explore, if you're not into hiking, Paros has lots of craft and gift shops, boutiques, leather and shoe shops and places where you can buy hats. Yes, you'll need one of these straight away to stop your head getting burned because the sun is high overhead at this latitude! You can also hire a push bike, quad, scooter, motor bike or car and explore the island. However roads can be very busy. I'm used to cycling, but I found the roads were a bit narrow and steep and it was safer walking. There are mountain bike trips you can book, both for beginner and more advanced cyclists. Apart from supermarkets, there are a few artisan food stores that stock specialist products from all over Greece. Arsenis is one worth visiting.
I Had To Fix the Case Before I Could Relax!
The case was probably 20 years old or more and I inherited it from my mother. The outer covering on these budget cases is probably made from polypropylene, nylon, polyester or some other durable synthetic textile. Maybe the material had deteriorated with age, but anyway somewhere along the line, baggage handlers had managed to bust it up, splitting the outer covering where it was stitched to the hinge. I filed a claim form in the small terminal building of the airport on Paros on arrival and was told I could follow it up and claim for the current value of the case or get a replacement case in an office in Athens. This didn't solve my immediate problem though.
The tear hadn't penetrated all the way through to the inside, so I wasn't worried about the contents spilling out as we got a taxi to the hotel. However, my case was fully packed as I had spent nearly two hours the night before, neatly stuffing everything into it, putting toiletries into footwear, and doing all the usual stuff to gain real estate in its interior! I knew we might end up buying stuff and I had a mental image of a bulging case and over-exuberant and careless baggage handling staff leading to the lid finally busting open in the hold and all my belongings strewn everywhere!
I tend to be a MacGyver type character, always trying to fix things with limited materials and finding solutions to technical problems. I didn't want to discard the case and buy a new one, so on arrival at the hotel, tired after being up all night, I made up my mind to spend the next day fixing it before doing anything else.
The Materials I Used for the Repair
The tear was nearly a foot long in the outer fabric, it wasn't exactly on the hinge but a little bit further away on the fabric on the lid. I knew pretty much straight away what I would need for the repair. There was no point just glueing the edges of the tear or stitching it with needle and thread. It would need to be covered with a patch that would be glued in place. So I needed:
- Cloth tape
Finding the Materials on Paros
Finding what I needed on Paros was a bit tricky.
Where Would I Get Cloth Tape?
The island has a couple of supermarkets, gift stores, boutiques and loads of restaurants. Large hardware stores like B&Q or Home Depot were out of the question! The first task was to find cloth tape. The receptionist at the hotel was very helpful and must have thought I was mad, but she found a few possibilities on Google Maps where I could get the stuff. I discovered a small general/hardware store after doing some wandering around in the 30 C (86 F) heat.
Using Google Translate, I explained what I needed. Unfortunately, they didn't have any of the items and directed me to a shop that sold cloth and curtains and seemed to be like a tailors. The girl behind the counter who was in the process of altering some item of clothing, greeted me with the Greek Καλημέρα (pronounced "kal e mare ah") meaning "good morning", and luckily had exactly what I needed. Several rolls of cloth tape were perched on the shelf behind her. I told her a metre would be sufficient. I paid €2 for the segment and made my way back to the hardware store to see if they had glue.
Trying to Buy Glue
Well the hardware store didn't have any glue when I showed them the Greek translation of the word on my phone, but they said I'd be able to buy it in a book shop. Apparently bookstores are where you buy glue, maybe this is a Greek thing because I couldn't find it in a supermarket earlier. Luckily there was a book shop a few blocks down from the hotel and I managed to buy a tube of contact glue, the Greek equivalent I guess of "UHU".
Back to the Hotel to Repair the Case
Armed with my cloth tape and glue, I made my way back to the hotel. The receptionist smiled and gave me a big clap for finding the materials! She must have thought I was bonkers!
How I Repaired the Case
- A piece of tape sufficiently long was cut to cover the tear and I allowed about an inch more at each end.
- I used contact glue for the repair. The advantage of this type of glue is that it doesn't require parts to be held together with clamps, tape or other means until it dries. It bonds on contact and holds firmly after being allowed to semi-dry.
- Glue was spread on both the tape and the area either side of the tear. I didn't have a spatula for spreading it, but a piece of stiff cardboard or plastic would be suitable. I gave it about 5 minutes to become tacky and then held the tape above the tear, but not in contact, to align it properly before applying. Then I carefully lowered it down into place, starting from one end and pressing it into contact along its length.
- The tape was firmed down by hand. A hand roller, jar or tin is a good makeshift roller for firming down.
Next Day: Case Fixed and I Could Get Down to Exploring
While my sisters were content with visiting the many small craft, clothes and gift shops, enjoying the local cuisine and sitting on the beach, I was more interested in hiking up the mountains to enjoy the scenery and take photos. Parikia is busy with lots of tourists zooming about on scooters, quad bikes and in cars. I wanted to get away from all the hustle and bustle and donned my backpack a few times during the five days or so I was there to trek up the narrow roads into the mountains. The first area I visited was the Agios Charalampos-Lagkada Park and nature reserve, shaded in green on the map below. There's a butterfly farm there, but I didn't manage to get to see it.
Nice and Quiet for Hiking
The rural country roads of the island are nice and quiet for hiking on. I stayed off the main routes which can be dangerous with heavy car and quad bike traffic, and instead travelled cross country, using Google Maps as a guide. (Make sure you have a power bank in case your phone dies). I had visited a bookshop close to the hotel earlier and tried to buy a paper map, but I found that most of them just had the main routes shown. Some that looked more expensive but were sealed up and I couldn't open without buying, looked more promising and seemed to be proper detailed maps.
The White and Blue Churches of Greece
A typical sight along the rural lanes is the many Greek Orthodox churches that dot the island, with their distinctive white walls and blue domed roofs.
Flowers on Paros
Paros like many of the islands is adorned with beautiful, colourful flowers. Different flowers grow at different times of the year. In the summer when we travelled, the ground was scorched and dry, but some vegetation, with small leaves to reduce transpiration and water loss thrive under these conditions. Small sub-shrubs such as yellow sedum and lilac coloured wild thyme are a common sight along the roads and on rocky outcrops. Oleander bushes with rose coloured blooms are also to be seen on the country roads.
The Archaeological Museum of Paros
I hadn't made an itinerary of places to visit while on the island and apart from hiking and going to the beach with my sisters several afternoons, I did a lot of wandering around the narrow streets of Parikia, looking at the old quaint, whitewashed and flat-roofed buildings that are typical of Greece. White and blue are the colours on the national flag and all the buildings on Paros seems to use this theme. While walls are white to reflect the sun and keep buildings cool, window frames, gates and fences are often painted a pretty royal blue. Google Maps is great for showing places of interest so on my wanderings I discovered the Archaeological Museum of Paros and
What's the Food Like on Paros?
I'm not a foodie and I'm extremely picky, but I enjoyed the food. Paros like many tourist destinations has lots of restaurants and because of the heat, the norm is to eat outdoors under shade from the sun. Typical dishes include moussaka, giros, souvlaki (gyros), pastitsio (Greek lasagna) and salads. Don't ask me to describe them, suffice to say they were enjoyable. Ingredients usually include tomatoes, peppers, chicken pieces and the ubiquitous feta, a soft, brined white cheese, made from sheep or goat's milk. This usually turns up in dishes or is served along with them. Another food speciality you'll encounter in the bakeries is spanakotiropita, a Greek savoury, spinach pie. These are made from a type of flaky pastry with spinach and feta cheese sandwiched between, a filling snack to take in your back pack while exploring the island.
Wikimedia Foundation. (2022, August 13). Cyclades. Wikipedia. Retrieved October 20, 2022.
Wikimedia Foundation. (2022, October 1). Feta. Wikipedia. Retrieved October 20, 2022.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Eugene Brennan