After a taxi ride to the bus depot south of town (local busses on strike), we set off on a three hour bus trip south along the Sithonia Peninsula. For those of you who like locating places – there is a large three fingered peninsula south of Thessaloniki the whole thing is referred to as Halkidiki. We are near the southern tip of the middle of the three fingers. Still no “typical” southern Greek blue and white buildings but the countryside has that wild scrubby with olive orchard flavour. Gold sand beaches interspersed with rocky cliffs. Numerous small bays, that perfect post card Mediterranean water. There are a few German and Russian tourists here – but most of the little hotels and guest houses are closed for the season. The grocery store is open for the rest of this week then closes as well.
We are staying in a nice little studio a block back from the beach along a dirt track with a ramble sham property and half finished place across the road. This place is neat and clean and brightly painted – but the surroundings – so decrepit. However the beach is clean and long and scenic.
Yesterday we managed to walk almost all the way around a bluff to the south of us before the tracks all disappeared into prickly dense brush. We returned and went round by the road (novel idea) into the next bay. Another village, here a marina with a lot of expensive yachts – mostly Greek registered by the way and all in pristine condition. There is money in this country for some people. On our way for this little jaunt we stopped for a coffee. It turned out to be one of those mix deals – Nescafé probably. Pat has this thing about Nescafé – she hates it! Instead of hot milk we had cold whipped cream dumped on top. The cups were tiny. The cost – euro 3.50 EACH. The woman who made this overly priced nasty coffee didn’t speak much English but her German was good. My German also good enough to let her know that for 3.50 we should have had decent coffee with hot milk. She was of course unrepentant, but we came away with two 500mls of “free” bottled water.
Pat and I shopped at the little grocery store. We bought breakfast and lunch supplies. Breakfast supplies included, yoghurt and granola, coffee (Nescafé) and milk. We made ourselves coffee this morning. I heated the milk. We poured it onto our coffee and it curdled. Could it have gone bad already? No, that wasn’t the problem. The problem was that we had bought drinkable yoghurt! So here we sit sipping Nescafé made with hot yoghurt. Odd flavour. Desperate times!
Our task today (once we recover from our coffee mishap) is to walk north along our beach – it stretches as far as the eye can see. We are trying to keep up with some walking during this hiatus so we don’t loose the hard won leg and foot toughness developed over the past three weeks.
We have also come up with an alternate walking plan for the next stage. We’re sure some of those Romans decided to explore the coast line between Stavros and Kavala – I mean why wouldn’t they? So we are abandoning the impossible VE for this stretch in search of a coastal route. One which has a few accommodations along it. We will take the bus from Thessaloniki to Asprovalta and walk from there. There is one stretch along the coast that is too long for us to accomplish in a day so we will “bus assist” for that bit as well.
Once again we are feeling positive and determined. This break has given us the time to unwind and get perspective. However it does remind us of our privilege. We can take a break and rest. We can take a bus or a train. We can find alternatives. Not so easy for the thousands of refugees. As you know we’ve dedicated our walk through MSF to a Syrian refugee family. We are humbled by their struggle across this less than easy land.
We thank the many of you who have donated generously to our fund raising efforts. Our team is doing well. Pat and I better keep on walking to keep up our end of that deal! Anyone wanting to check out MSFs coverage of our walk can google “Walking Without Borders Challenge – team – 2 Women Walking.
Might now have to go find a real coffee before our beach exploration.
Pictures of our current accommodation – Fotino’s Studios