Until this summer I had never been to any of the Greek Islands. I am not entirely sure how this one passed me by. I put it down to my fascination with the Middle East. Many years ago I jetted off to mainland Greece on a college field trip. My poor teacher, Natasha, had to take about twenty of us reprobates from Richmond Upon Thames College on a tour of Greece to acquaint us with the sights we had been so diligently studying. For us it was fabulous, happy days smoking cheap fags and drinking even cheaper wine and doing absolutely nothing on our itinerary. For her, poor love, it was a disaster. Despite the fact I remember almost nothing – funny that – I was enamoured with Greece and have always held on to those haze memories fondly.
Fast-forward twenty years to summer 2018 when I bagged an invite to my sisters birthday on Paxos – the deal being I cook dinner for her party and in return get four blissful days with my amazing family in a badass house overlooking the sea. Win! I hopped a fancy Ryanair to Corfu, which was literally cheaper than a cab home after a night out in London, and then jumped onto a ferry and made my merry way to Paxos.
For me a relaxing holiday is about doing very little. I want to wake up, sit in the shade and breakfast for hours, during which time I expect to be chatting about the serious business of lunch and possibly making a nod to dinner. Organisation people! Around 10:45am, but let’s say 11:30am to make me sound better, the rosé simply must be popped open and poured into an ice filled glass. And so goes the afternoon. I want to chat, play on my phone and read. I like to potter around food markets, sling back a few drinks in a local bar and feast on the best meal in an ageing restaurant that hopefully has a killer view. I also like to be away from crowds of people. This might make me sound like a miserable old git but I live in London and have a hectic life, so a bit of peace and quiet is bliss.
If Heineken did holidays, for me it would be Paxos. The island is so laid back and a world away from the thronging crowds of Corfu. I can only assume the ferry ride, pebbly beaches and lack of whooping hotels feeds into this. The restaurants are fabulous; serving gorgeous Greek and breezy Mediterranean food – my favourite is Bouloukos. We ate several luscious lunches here with the table groaning with great big dishes of crisp calamari, braised octopus and lobster spaghetti.
Paxos, and all the Greek Islands, is all about the sea and here you can swim in azure water, cleaner and clearer than anywhere in the world. It’s Instagram gold dust I tell you. There are plenty of beaches to drive to around the island. The real gems are accessed by the water, the vibe being to grab a hire boat and set off around the island or pop over to neighbouring Anti Paxos (if, no when, you go to Anti Paxos, book lunch at Bella Vista. Climb the steps up the to restaurant and feast on incredible seafood with one of the greatest views in the world beneath you), where you can find a quiet cove with no one around and spend the day diving into the inviting water, all to the mellow sound of the cicadas playing their enchanting summer tune. Heaven.