We are in a different building in Paralia Dionisiou than last year, quite nearby the beach on the edge of the village. After we have first swum for a while, we drive to Nea Moudania where we take a walk through the town. The city was founded in 1922 by refugees from Asia Minor when the Greeks were driven out there by the Turks. Well, after the Greeks had first sent their armies to expand their empire, at the insistence of Italy and the English. Finally, in 1922, a forced migration of Greeks and Turks was arranged and most of the Greek refugees from Asia Minor came to Chalkidiki, this area. Nea Moudania is named after Mudanya, the place in Turkey where the inhabitants came from in 1922.
Nea Moudania is now a modern tourist center although fishing is still being done. It is the gateway to the 3 fingers of Chalkidiki, the island of Kassandra and the peninsulas Sithonia and Athos, which pierce the Aegean Sea (they are also called the trident of Poseidon). There live about 10,000 people in the town and we think it is a nice place to walk along the boulevard. Of course I also want to visit a bookstore to buy a Greek book and try my Greek. Full of enthusiasm I started a course New-Greek last year after the holidays but it is a difficult language (many inflections and different verb forms) and this is only the first time that I can use my knowledge in real life. And that is not easy, but I start everywhere in Greek and see how far it gets me. Also in the bookstore I manage to buy a book without using a word of English. It is the Seagull Jonathan Livingston by Richard Bach, a not too difficult book of which I have a Dutch copy at home.
Then we drive to Kassandra which is separated from the mainland by a narrow channel. There are 2 bridges over the canal and soon we drive through the green landscape. There are many nice fishing villages but you notice everywhere that tourism is also emerging here. Kallithea, on the east side of the island, is the largest tourist center and we are already looking for the souvenirs that we want to take back home with us. Souvenir shops can be found everywhere in Greece, but we have discovered that here they also have some special things and that they are relatively cheap compared to many other places. And of course we take an extended break on a terrace.After we have made a tour on the island, we look for the beach because it is nice and warm. We go to Kalyves where we found a large and pleasant sandy beach last year, say our favourite beach. Behind the beach construction work is underway and it is only a question for how long it stays quiet here. But today the beach is almost deserted and we can fully enjoy the sun and the water. The beach slowly descends and therefore the shallow water just off the coast is wonderfully warm.
In the evening there is a Greek music evening at the hotel. Or actually it is an apartment complex with spacious rooms that each have a large balcony. Dionisos Plams is about 100 meters from the beach and the owners Michael and Vasiliki are very friendly, we can get along very well with them and drink a cup of coffee every morning and evening.
Music already played an important role in antiquity during classical Greek civilization and was part of a good education and would stimulate the mind. The philosopher Aristotle said: 'The music serves to disperse, for education, to the incitement of spirit and heart, and to the liberation of the soul from the passions.' Our word music also comes from Greek (moosiki) and originally meant the 'art of the Muses', 9 daughters of Zeus who were the embodiment of the inspiration and creativity in art, music and story. Temples for the Muses were called a Moosieon (I write it here as one pronounces it) and from that our word museum is derived.
There are many kinds of Greek music but the most famous is the Rebetika, a kind of oriental blues and still very popular. Various instruments are used, but nowadays bouzouki is the best known, although it did not become popular until the 20th century. For tourists there is the special 'tourist' music but tonight we get to hear traditional Greek music and soon a group dances between the tables with tasty snacks. Making music and dancing are inextricably linked in Greece and if there is no dancing on a music night there must be something wrong.We have at least a fun, pleasant evening where we get in touch with people from all kinds of countries and Greeks themselves, of course. All chances to practice my language skills.
Thursday 15 June 2017, to Polygyros
The next 2 days we drive around a lot in the area. We have already done that extensively last year but there are those areas where you can continue to do so. A favorite spot of us is also Polygyros, which is centrally located in Chalkidiki in the mountains. It lies at a height of 550 meters and especially when it is very hot at the coast, it is cooler there. And we know a nice restaurant where we like to eat, that's what we do now. The Albanian waitress likes to take a picture of the both of us and so we are together again on a photo. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, more than 200,000 workers from Albania came to Greece in search of a better life, although they almost always have the worst paid jobs.
Polygyros is the capital and administrative center of Chalkidiki and has been built in the form of an amphitheater against the slope of Mount Cholomondas. There is a small pedestrian zone in the center and behind it is the St. Nikolas church, a traditional Greek-Orthodox basilica with a separate bell tower. We still want to visit the archaeological museum that is here, but just like last year it is still closed or closed again. But Polygyros is also a nice town to walk through with the many traditional buildings.When we leave Polygyros and stop to look at the map, a pickup with a Dutch license plate stops next to us. The driver asks in English if we need help. He turns out to be a Greek who is married to a Dutch woman who has a shop here. Well, I would like that too, having some bussiness here.
From Polygyros we drive to Galatista, a traditional mountain village at the foot of the mountain of the Prophet Elias (there are a lot of them in Greece, at the top often stands a sanctuary or church dedicated to this saint). In the village there is a Byzantine tower where little is known about. The lower part was built in the 11th century and the upper part in the 14th century. Inside is an exhibition about the towers of Chalkidiki.
When we drive back to the coast we pass one of these towers. This is somewhere in the middle of the landscape and we do not know exactly where. There is no information sign, but the sign in Galatista did not tell much more than that little is known about these towers. This trip too, we have a camera with us that basically would have to store the gps-coordinates but it has some trouble with it. Sometimes there are no coordiantes at all or they are a bit behind. In this photo, the camera thinks we are still in Galatista, half an hour ago.
So we have a few very relaxing days where we spend a lot of time on the beach, driving around or visiting terraces. For shopping we go to the supermarkets in Nea Moudania and for terraces we look in the various nice coastal villages, some of them traditional but not all. The place where we are now, Paralia Dionisiou for example, is really a tourist village. The buildings are almost all rented to tourists and the owners often live in Thessaloniki and in winter it is a ghost village.