21 June 2015
Plaka, Kastro (the Venetian Castle)
A 13th century castle – what little remains of it – on top of the hill. The village expanding around it, all narrow winding streets and steps. A path leads to the top. There is a lot of stair-climbing, puffing and huffing involved, but the view is magnificent.
Plaka is car-free. And, yet, I saw cars parked in front of houses in alleyways with steps(!) How did they get there I wish I knew, it must be quite a spectacle. Car-free to the rest of us visitors means the earlier you arrive before the dinner-time rush, the better your chances are to park closer to the main square where the road ends. For the late comers there is ample parking at the foot of the hill but then the ascent is forbiddingly long (and sweaty).
That said, you can always boost your energy with a generous piece of Karpouzopita (Kαρπουζόπιτα = Watermelon pie), a traditional Cycladic delicacy, at the cool terrace of Palaios, a family run confectionery that has been sweetening people’s holidays for many years. Conveniently situated in the aforesaid square – your starting point for a calorie-burning and extremely rewarding climbing to the top which will leave you breathless, and not only from the effort.
– ‘Wait, there is more? Well, we came up to here, we might as well go all the way…!”, climber fighting exhaustion with resolve, two-thirds of the way through.