Bridgette Bardot escaped to a rustic cabin in the French fishing town of Cassis. Sophia Loren and Lauren Bacall had the picturesque Italian fishing village of Portofino. Well, I am having Parga. This gorgeous fishing village sits on the Ionian coast between the cities of Preveza and Igoumenitsa. It is nestled snugly in the dramatic hillsides of Epirus and has a vibrant, welcoming atmosphere.
Cosy bars and colourful tavernas run along the main promenade. On dusk, you can see the local priests, young families and yiayias and papous taking their early evening, "volta" - a leisurely stroll along the promenade by the seaside and the bright pastel houses, stopping to chat with their friends or neighbours. Mr K sipped on a milky white ouzo and I enjoyed a chilled red wine, an Agiorgitiko, at Sugar Bar as we watched the sun set on this beautiful scene.
Behind the promenade, their are small winding passageways dotted with whitewashed houses and bright pink bougainvilleas. There are a number of small churches, their doors open wide. From the passage ways you can see the flicker of soft candlelight reflecting off the gold and silver icons of the saints.
After enjoying our apertif, we settled into one of the promenades many resturants to take a little mezedes. At Sodia Restaurant-Mezedopolio, we enjoyed some freshly grilled kalamari, some domatokeftedes (tomato fritters), tzatziki, sweet red peppers stuffed with beautiful local feta (Epirus is famous for its creamy tangy cheeses and other dairy products) as well as some fried potatoes, generously showered with rigani. To accompany this delicious food, we enjoyed a light red wine, which was bought to the table in the traditional bronzey colored metal jug. Before sitting down at Sodia, we did wonder whether the promenade might be at little touristy in terms of the quality of the food. However, the food at Sodia was lovely and of very good quality. It was also a bit of a bargain, with the total bill well under €30.
After dinner we returned to watch the sunset over the horizon pool at the very beautiful hotel, Salvator Villas and Spa Hotel. Salvator sits in an elevated position, in the lush green hills overlooking Parga. It is a stunning hotel, filled with a gorgeous colour pallet of green, reflecting the scenery of the olive grove and cypress dotted hillsides which surround it. Salvator would have to be one of the most beautiful and thoughtful hotels I have ever stayed in - not only in Greece, but most of Europe. It is completely luxurious filled with terraces and balconies which take in the breathtaking views of Parga, state of the art spa bathtubs, fireplaces, fruit platters and mineral water...need I continue? The villas even have private pools. As it is low season in Greece, we had the hotel all to ourselves and were generously upgraded to a junior suite. Lefteris, the Opertaions Director and the lovely Debbie, completely spoilt us.
In the busy season, there is a shuttle bus which runs guests up and down the hill. However, as it was low season in Greece and we were the only guests staying at the hotel, Lefteris had kindly arranged to drive us to and from the main town and beach, as we needed.
Waking up to the hotels beautiful colour palate, the soft glow of the morning light over Parga and twinkling pomegrantes and oranges in the hotel trees, left us feeling absolutley serene. At breakfast, we were warmly greeted by Debbie, who offered us a glass of juice freshly squeezed from the oranges in the hotel’s grove, with just a touch of lemon. Next came aromatic coffees and individual platters with french toast, omlettes, a delicious selection of meats and cheeses, fresh plums, a little sandwich bun, croissants, thick peach and cherry jams bursting with chunks of fruit, nutella crepes and huge bowls of thick, tangy, creamy Greek yoghurt. If you have ever eaten the Fage 'Total' yoghurt, you will understand why I am an addict. But after tasting this yoghurt - I have a new Greek yoghurt crush, Dodoni. We can get their lovely feta in Australia - but sadly not the yoghurt. On the premise, I happily ate a second bowl of it! After this feast, we thought it best to skip the offered lift and walk into town - and back!
Neither of us wanted to leave this beautiful fishing village and hotel, but sadly we had too. We could easily have stayed for a full week or more. We both agreed that this was one of the most beautiful parts of Greece we had visted and that we were very privileged to have enjoyed the warm hospitality of Salvator Villas and Spa Hotel. If you are planning a trip to Greece, I would highly recommend adding Parga and Salvtor to your itinerary.