Travels in Halkidiki

Many have visited Greece and concentrated on Athens, Delphi, and perhaps a few islands. I suggest your next trip to Halkidiki (some spell it Chalkidiki), that region of 3 “legs” or peninsulas southeast of Thessaloniki, the 2nd largest city of Greece. The first leg, Kassandra, is very popular to Thessalonikians as a summer respite and many maintain summer homes there. The second leg, Sithonia, as you can see is more sparsely settled. The third leg, Aghion Oros, is populated by monks and many monasteries, requires a “visa” to enter, and blocks all women visitors. It is said that even female animals are not allowed there; however, how do they get eggs or milk? Anywho….

Afitos (also Athitos), on the eastern side of Kassandra, is a wonderful village to visit. We spent six weeks at the Stamos Hotel and walked to the Moudounou beach every day. As you exit the hotel, turn right and keep walking down towards the water. Your walk ends at a wonderful restaurant we recommend right on the beach owned by two brothers. Most days we walked to the beach about 11am, rented a couple of chairs and an umbrella, and stayed until 2:00pm when we ate our midday meal at this restaurant without walls–just view. A typical meal might include fried zucchini with tzatziki, taramosalata with fresh crusty bread, retsina wine (ask for soda to dilute it a bit, and you’ve got champagne!), fresh fried sardelles or souvlaki. The cool sea breeze on your salty warm skin. THAT was living, my friend.
I remember one time on the beach a topless tanned young foreign woman wearing just a thong bikini pranced by and saw my husband’s goggles and snorkel beside us. I bet she was about 20 or 22 years old. She hopped over to my Greek husband and in broken English asked if she could borrow them. “Of course,” he said. The other Greeks on the beach were obvious about ogling her gorgeous body emerging from the water and then diving down again, and she knew it. That day we’d over-stayed our time in the sun, so I suggested we wrap up the mermaid ogling and head back to the hotel. When she saw us stand and gather our things, she came out of the water and had a sea urchin in her hand. As she reached out as if to give him the black spiny creature, she asked my husband (funny, she never addressed me!) if he knew about eating sea urchins. He told her that “Greeks know how to eat them” all the while trying to look over her shoulder, down at the sand, not boob-level. It must have been a real struggle for the poor man. She replied with a beautiful smile, “Aren’t you the clever one?” as she handed him the snorkel gear and turned back to the water. The young Greek men next to us whispered to each other, “Po, po, po! Tin eides? Po, po, po!” “Wow, did you see her? Whoa!”
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