An Idea Into A Lived Dream
I am Thea Parikos. I was born in Detroit Michigan, which is where my mother's family moved to from Ikaria as first-generation American immigrants. When we were kids, my Mom would take my brother and me back to the island every summer, to visit relatives. I still remember the nine-hour boat ride from Athens, the salty air, the misty mountains and the goats’ bells ringing. Every time I stepped off that boat, I felt like I was truly at home.
My parents hoped that I would get into a good college and have a professional career in the city. But all I could think about after I finished high school was going back to Ikaria.
During my gap year after high-school, I went straight back to the island, and it was during that year that I met Ilias, a local boy, who would later become my husband. It was hard for my parents to understand my decision to leave my life in Detroit, but I knew where I belonged.
It took three years to carve the foundations for ‘Thea’s Inn’ – which included the restaurant footprint and the five guests rooms on the second storey. Then in 1995, we welcomed our very first guests. There was no phone line back then, certainly no internet. People who booked our rooms either happened upon us, or someone, (usually a relative), would give them the number of the one telephone line in Nas – then someone on the street would yell out, ‘Thea, someone needs a room.’ These were our humble beginnings.
I couldn’t imagine that over twenty years later, our tiny corner of Ikaria would develop a very special draw. Most of our guests pride themselves on never going to the same place twice – then suddenly they find themselves coming to Ikaria every summer.
I have now guided hundreds of people personally in meaningful experiences of the island – including groups of researchers studying degenerative illnesses, students interested in natural health and seekers looking for a different way to experience life – and helped them bring what they learn on the island back into their everyday lives.
‘If you love this place, she’ll get under your skin, and you’ll be coming back forever.’
In the press
Over the years I have been fortunate to have shared my experiences and knowledge with international media outlets all over the world including ABC, CNN, NBC, and 60 Minutes. Here are some examples: