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Small is beautiful; The Greek isle is hideaway of the gods Paxos.

Byline: By AVRIL CADDEN

It is said Poseidon struck the southern part of Corfu with his trident and made Paxos the smallest of the seven Greek Ionian islands.

Different versions of the story say he wanted a place to rest but I prefer the tale that he wanted to create a hideaway for his lover Amphitrite.

Although the mighty god supposedly lost his trident in the process, which the Paxiots later claimed as their emblem, the ruler of the seas was no fool.

He created a perfect hideaway - the island, only 9km by 3km, has great weather, noisy cicadas and aquamarine seas where ramshackle fishing boats nestle alongside huge yachts.

Despite the hot climate, it's fertile and covered with olive groves - said to produce the best Greek olive oil.

There's no airport on the island so, together with my husband Stephen and our 11-year-old twins Nicholas and Christopher, we flew from Glasgow to Corfu and took a one-hour boat trip from its main port to Paxos' biggest resort, Gaios. You can also get a seaplane, which takes 20 minutes.

A friendly girl called Renia met us as we docked and took us the five-minute drive to our James villa. We were immediately impressed by the large accommodation.

From private barbecue area to a massive TV and DVD player, it had everything we needed.

But the best bit was the private swimming pool, which kept the boys entertained for hours. This let us sit and read books on our private terrace among the lime and lemon trees while watching the boats on the Ionian waters and the seaplanes coming in to land.

Around 2300 people live in Paxos, which has three resorts. Gaios is a small but bustling port and is perfect for people watching. Greek fishermen tend to their fluorescent yellow nets while rich tourists in luxury yachts sup wine and play cards.

Gaios is a wonderful warren of alleyways and most meet in a large square which houses a church and various bars, tavernas and kafenios (traditional Greek coffee houses).

It's perfect for exploring the quaint little gift shops with their array of scarves, jewellery, pottery and natural olive oil beauty products. There are also lots of good bakeries selling delicious sticky cakes.

Paxos can get quite busy as many Italians sail over and spend the summer there but the island still has a laid-back atmosphere.

After relaxing for the first part of our break, we hired a car for a few days to tour the island but it's so small it did not take long.

One of the two other main ports is Longos. This pretty little harbour has a shingle beach where small tavernas line the waterfront and add to the area's quiet peaceful atmosphere.

The other port is Lakka. Arriving by car or foot doesn't give the same effect as if you were on a boat as its harbour is shaped like two big arms welcoming you inside.

It's a small, compact port with tavernas and bars dotted all around glistening water, each one giving spectacular views.

It's perfect for whiling away a few hours and watching the world go by. In typical Greek fashion, nothing is hurried. People come and go, arriving by dingy, leaving their private yachts moored in the water beyond, to lunch or shop. Jet skis buzz around and many people hire boats to take a short sail and investigate the many little coves and caves.

There's not much in the way of beaches in Paxos.

Most of the shingle bays are tucked out of the way and can only be reached by boat but they are wonderfully quiet. The biggest beach is Mongonisi, one mile south of Gaios. It can be reached by foot or car and can get quite busy.

Unsurprisingly, there are lots of sea trips on offer.

One of the best is a glass-bottomed boat journey to the island of Anti-Paxos, around three kilometres south of Paxos. It's small, quiet and the clear blue seas are perfect for snorkelling and swimming.

While everything about this corner of Greece seems small, it is not insignificant. Paxos isn't merely a discarded chunk of Corfu. It has developed a Greek charm and beauty all of its own.

It just proves that sometimes the best things do come in small packages.

MAILFILE

We stayed with James Villa holidays. They can arrange everything for you, from flights and accommodation to transfers. They have more than 40 villa destinations. Log on to www.jamesvillas.co.uk or phone 0800 074 0122.

For more island details, see www.paxos-greece.com

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Ring 0141 304 5800 or visit www.barrheadtravel.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

The brothers explore the harbour and boats; Quaint shops sell olive oil beauty products; Twins Christopher and Nicholas soak up the sunshine on Ionian coast; Many of the island's bars have views of the scenic coastline
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 5, 2008
Words:943
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