“This is the sort of place I’d like to be able to roll up and put into my pocket,” remarked Justine Picardie’s husband, after an especially satisfying lunch at a fish taverna on Paxos.
In a recent travel article in The Telegraph, Picardie, a British novelist, fashion writer and biographer, heaps praise on the tiny Ionian island, describing her experiences during an idyllic family vacation last May: “our first time traveling abroad together since before the pandemic.”
All the stress and anxiety of the trip soon melted away when they arrived on the “pint-sized isle,” just over 10km long and 3km wide, a stone’s throw from the southern tip of Corfu. After settling into the luxurious “bougainvillea-clad Villa Alexa,” surrounded by enchanting grounds, terraced gardens, and an infinity pool, the family explore the local village of Longos, its eateries, bakeries, and the white-pebbled beach at nearby Kipiadi.
“Part of Kipiadi’s serene attraction is there is no access by road, and its rocky shoreline remains wholly underdeveloped,” describes Picardie.
Ideal for families
The author was especially taken by the island’s cuisine, in particular a traditional family-run taverna called Bouloukos, beside Levrechiou Beach, “quite simply, the best Greek restaurant I have ever visited.” Here, the family enjoyed platefuls of “delicious, freshly caught fish, irresistible courgette and calamari fritters, homemade taramasalata and tzatziki.”
The tiny island, which lies some 15km south of Corfu, is famed for its crystal-clear waters, quiet beaches, and bucolic coastal villages. While it shares many of the same features of its much bigger and oftentimes overcrowded neighbor, including lush green olive groves and Venetian architecture, its pace is much slower. As such, those in the know often tout this tranquil little corner of the Ionian Sea as the ideal holiday destination for families.
Aside from walking, eating, and swimming, Picardie and her family also enjoyed a boating excursion, sailing around the island to the “rugged west coast, where vertiginous white cliffs give way to what mariners call the ‘blue caves.’” She also describes the island’s mythical origins, created by the sea god Poseidon by striking off a small piece of Corfu with his trident, catapulting it into the Ionian Sea as a quiet hideaway to for his wife Amphitrite. “Their palace was supposedly hidden in one of the secret caves of Paxos,” she adds.
“Ionian home away from home”
Enamored by the island’s “gentle rhythms,” the British author further muses about its links to Homer’s “Odyssey,” serving as inspiration for the sorceress Circe’s mystical island: “It might have been easy to forgive him [for staying so long], if it looked anything like it does today: a truly beguiling place, with rose-gold sunsets, pine-covered slopes, and stone buildings standing against misty, blue horizons.”
Whether exploring the rugged coastline by boat, traversing the winding roads in an open-top jeep, or simply lounging by the pool at the Villa Alexa, Picardie’s family, including her husband, two sons, their partners, and her five-month-old grandson, clearly had a joyful and much-needed post-pandemic vacation. “And such is the sense of freedom of Paxos that each member of our party had the chance to do what the enjoyed most,” she writes.
In a final glowing endorsement, she looks forward to returning again in the not-too-distant future, to her “Ionian home away from home.”