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On our first days in Greece we visit Chalkidiki

Home -> Europe -> Greece -> Travelogue Greece -> 16 to 20 May 2019

Thursday 16 May, on our first days in Greece we visit Chalkidiki

It rains a lot when we leave the apartment and it is very cold. Before we leave Sofia, we first go shopping for groceries in the large supermarket nearby. Bulgarian beer is on sale, € 0.37 for half a liter (Teije is already preparing for a warm summer and in Greece you pay at least 1 euro for a beer in the supermarket), a can of sardines costs half a euro and so we buy even more groceries than we think we might need. At the cash register we can pay with our remaining levs and then pay with our debit card the rest. All in all, apart from this shopping, we have spent € 44 in 2 days on food, drinks and museum visits.
Bulgaria from a parking lot along the E79 at Strumyani A modern parking lot with clean toilets along the highway in BulgariaWe leave Sofia a lot easier than when we entered it and soon we are on the road to the south, partly highway and partly 2-lane road. To use the highways we had to purchase an e-vignette (€ 7.50 for 8 days) and it seems that not many local people are willing to pay that because it is very quiet. And yet there are many traffic controls. The road is very good and the parking spaces with toilets seem to be just newly laid out and are very neat and well-ordered. The rain has stopped and the temperature is already rising, great, I can't wait until it gets nice and warm. Just over the border, which we have just passed, the temperature meter already shows 24 degrees.
If you are interested in the border crossing, have a look on our YouTube channel or watch it below:

Nea Moudania in ChalkidikiBut we still have to cross a mountain ridge and there it starts to rain and the temperature drops to 12 degrees again. Only when we drive down the mountains does it slowly rise to 23 degrees.
At Serres we reach familiar terrain and head towards Thessaloniki and then into Chalkidiki to the south. Our first stop is in Nea Moudania to find a terrace. Everywhere in the town works are underway on the roads and our usual parking area is closed for a makeover.
Finally nice weather along the sea in Paralia Dionysiou The sea at Paralia Dionysiou, ChalkidikiThe first days we stay with Michael and Kiki, owners of a number of apartments in Paralia Dionisiou who have become friends over the last few years. When we arrive there is nobody at the building and we first walk to the sea for something to eat. We are immediately recognized by the owner and he even remembers that Teije speaks a little Greek because he immediately starts a conversation in Greek. Teije is totally happy because he can finally practice his language skills again in real life. And I think that goes pretty well when I hear that.
Kitchen in our apartment, Paralia Dionysiou Bedroom of our apartment in Paralia DionysiouAfter the (tasty) food we walk back and after a while Michael shows up. But just as we want to catch up, an angry customer appears, a man and a woman we saw hanging around here this afternoon. They are angry that there was no one at the time and the room looks also slightly different from the pictures on the internet. Well, those are the problems that you probably have as an apartment owner on a regular basis. The hotel is officially not even open for the season and we get a spacious apartment in the building next door on the 3rd floor. We have never had any complains about the rooms here.
View from our balcony in Paralia DionysiouAfter we have settled in, we spend the evening with Kiki and Michael. They tell us about their trip to Australia, where Michael was born, and Fiji. Fiji was very touristy, but they spent a wonderfully relaxing time there and try to take a lot of 'Fiji time' this year, so take it easy. They tell about a local employee at their hotel who had put poles in the ground. After a few strokes the man lay down on the beach with a hat over his head and after half an hour did a few more strokes and then lay down again. That is Fiji time and should also become our slogan for this holiday.

Friday 17 May 2019, to the peninsula Kassandra

Michael's mother baked cake for usWe start with breakfast on our balcony and then drink a cup of coffee with Michael and Kiki. Michael's mother remembered well what I like because she baked a cake especially for me, she had already done that last year, as well. After half an hour we get in the car for our first car trip. We are here now for the 4th year and know the area reasonably well but there are always nice trips to be made. Today we will go along the west coast of Kassandra, the westernmost peninsula of Chalkidiki that points south like a finger.
Unfinished house at Elani on the Kassandra peninsula The coast at Sani on KassandraOn the northwest coast there are mainly private resorts that have occupied the most beautiful parts of the beach. But we also see a lot of buildings and complexes that are unfinished. During the economic crisis, many projects were stopped in Greece, simply because the money ran out, and now those skeletons are just standing. We rarely see work resumed and we wonder who now owns some of those buildings. There is a lot of money here in stones that no longer have any value.
We don't see anything after this first sign, Kassandra On a terrace in Possidi, on the Kassandra peninsulaNear Kalandra we see a 'brown' sign that often refers to a place of interest. But we also know from experience that they usually stop suddenly. But Teije always wants to try so we take the road to old Mende, which was very famous for its excellent wine, but we see no other signs and we have to guess where we have to go at an intersection. We will find the right path later on the internet, but not today. So we turn around and stop in the resort of Possidi for a cup of coffee. The beach looks attractive but we will go there later, it is not that warm.
Chapel by the sea at Xyna on KassandraKassandra is very green and has beautiful landscapes, but what I like most is the roads: not too many narrow, steep, scary roads that Teije loves so much. In the interior there are traditional villages where people live from olive oil production and other agriculture but also more and more from tourism (you can buy local products everywhere here) and on the coast are fishing villages where now more and more tourists come for the beautiful beaches. We are now going to the southeast side of Kassandra where tourists come less often.
A short impression can be seen on our YouTube channel or here below:

Dolphin statue in Chaniotis on the Kassandra peninsula Church in Chaniotis on the Kassandra peninsulaAlong the east side of Kassandra are a number of nice villages such as Pefkochori, a popular seaside resort but with a very nice old center. A little more to the north is Chaniotis, which was destroyed by an earthquake in 1930 and no longer has an old center. In the summer it is also always busy here but we are very early this year, because we want to avoid the crowds and the beaches and terraces are pretty empty. And when we meet tourists, we can't believe our ears: Dutchmen! Wherever you go on this planet, you will find people from Holland. We wonder sometimes if there are any people left in our country to do the work?
Chaniotis is situated in a bay and is surrounded by dense forests. In 2006 there was a large forest fire when thousands of tourists (and residents of course) had to be evacuated. When you see the peaceful scene now you can hardly imagine how devastating such a fire can be in a short time. The trees here run to the beach and due to the drought and the heat, a small fire can quickly grow into an enormous sea of fire.
View of the Sithonia peninsula from ChaniotisLast year almost 100 people died in a fire near Rafina near Athens because the fire spread so quickly and people couldn't get away. Here too, many people sought refuge on the beach and in the sea during the fire, but there was only one victim, a German tourist.
In the distance we see the middle peninsula of Chalkidiki, Sithonia. That is a bit rougher than Kassandra and we will probably go there later this holiday.
Slowly we drive further north, back to Paralia Dionysiou which means the Beach of Dionysios. And they have a beach here, from Nea Moudania it runs for miles to the north. We take another drink on a terrace and go to our apartment. There we meet Michael's mother and Teije has a conversation with her in Greek and thanks her for the delicious cake. In the evening we spend a few hours with Kiki and Michael who are still on Fiji time, they don't feel like opening the hotel yet and are bickering about the date they officially will open. Sounds like it will take a few weeks. We have had another wonderfully peaceful day.

Saturday 18 May 2019, a few quiet days

There are still few tourists in Nikiti, ChalkidikiToday we are finally going to lie on the beach at Kalyves. A large apartment complex has been opened since last year and the beach, which once was so peaceful, is now a lot busier, even halfway through May. With 20 to 24 degrees and some wind it doesn't feel very warm and the sea is still cold. I think a little paddling is enough. And of course we alternate sunbathing with rides through the area such as to Polygyros where we are recognized by the waitress at our favorite restaurant and a little later the owner comes to us to welcome us warmly. And because we have been coming here for a number of years, that happens more and more often at several places.
For example, we are welcomed as old acquaintances at a beach bar in Paralia Dinonisiou and the Austrian owner comes and sits with us for a while and tells us about the latest special rules with which the government is trying to raise money. More and more sectors (including in tourism) are obliged to offer the possibility of debit card payments. This is by no means everywhere the case and Greeks often prefer cash, which means that authorities do not have a clear view of the actual income. Ordinary tax evasion is quite easy, we would say. It seems to work because hundreds of millions of extra VAT income have been paid since 2016.
According to her, another rule, which we have never heard of and about which we cannot find anything, is the obligation to have a menu in Braille as a restaurant or bar. We wonder if her information is correct but she claims that it really is. To us it seems like a strange rule and that while in many restaurants not everything on the menu is always available and often the waitress simply tells us what you can there is to eat.
View of the holy Mount Athos from Sarti on Sithonia View of the holy Mount Athos from an empty beach in SithoniaWe go a day to Sithonia, the middle peninsula of Chalkidiki. We have been here a bit longer in 2016 (see May 31, 2016) but we would like to get back there because nature is a bit rougher than Kassandra. Here too, parts of the coast have been claimed by tourist complexes, but fortunately there are still plenty of nice villages and beaches. And it is still quiet, plenty of room on the many terraces. In the distance we see the holy Mount Athos where only men are allowed to come for that reason alone we boycott it (at least Teije does, I cannot even go there!).
We also wanted to go to Thessaloniki for a day, but since Teije has left his walking sandals in Sofia (he thinks, we will find them back home, when unpacking the car) we now skip that and look for shoe stores. Slippers are for sale everywhere, but we only find a good quality sandals after a few days of searching in Nikiti. Teije still has a toothache but now also has a bad cold and he thinks he has some kind of sinus inflammation that makes his teeth feel so sore, so we are also looking for a pharmacy to buy something, I don't know the word in English, to open your sinuses; you put it in boiling water and then put your head over it. I cannot even explain it well in English, but in Polygyros Teije tries to explain what he is looking for in his best Greek but the man behind the counter apologizes, his wife is normally standing here and he knows nothing about it. But apparently he thinks it is sad to send us away so we get a bag of tissues. At a next pharmacy in Nea Moudania we are more lucky and the lady immediately knows what Teije means. He will continue to steam for the next few weeks and luckily it gives some relief. He just doesn't want to go to a Greek dentist.
View of Sarti on the Sithonia peninsulaThe days after the wind blows harder and lying on the beach is sometimes no longer fun, we are sandblasted now and then. Then we go back to a sheltered terrace or make a trip through the mountains or drive along the coast, so we spend the days very relaxed.
On the last evening we go with Michael and Kiki to a restaurant in Nea Moudania and spend a pleasant evening. That is nicer than sitting at the hotel where they are always disturbed by telephone, emails or passing visitors.
Tomorrow we are going to the next place, 5 nights on the Pelio peninsula, where we will again meet acquaintances. And then to areas that are still unknown to us, then we will tell you more about the area and the region.


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