Saturday, July 10, 2010
We've had a week away in a part of Greece that I knew absolutely nothing about until Mr Spouse told me - his cousin lives there. It was too short but I know we'll be back.
I was an au pair about 20 years ago in Rhodes and although it is lovely there, it is a lot hotter than here and - even though I was with the family and not doing many touristy things - it was really touristy even then, lots of "resorts", and I'm sure it's a lot busier now. This week we've been on Thassos (no, I'd not heard of it either) and over to Kavala, on the mainland, which is where the cousin lives with his wife and (when he's not at university in the UK) their son.
Thassos is a charter destination and we decided it would be a lot easier to do it as a package - Mr Spouse came independently previously - but we've got the typical 7 nights hotel, bed and breakfast and foraging for gorgeous food in the evenings. It's the kind of destination which attracts couples like us (over 25 and no kids) though most of the tourists aren't British - there are quite a few Germans, who tend to drive here, and a lot of Romanians and Bulgarians - it's just over the border from Bulgaria and a couple of hundred km from Istanbul.
It's also really popular with Greek families (it's a lot cooler than most other places and has nice sandy beaches) so seems to be a lay-on-the-beach holiday for most. That's not really our thing and the island is 100km round and the highest point is as high as Snowdon, so you won't really be surprised we headed up into the hills a couple of times for short walks. There is a mad lady who goes round and spray paints route marks onto rocks and trees and has written a little book. We didn't make it all the way up to the top... though we had planned to go on a jeep tour, it absolutely poured with rain the night before so the tour was cancelled. Several of the tours available were cheesy beyond words but it is the kind of place that you can drift from cafe to cafe (I'm very fond of Greek coffee), sample the pastries, read by the pool, and generally chill out.
Probably because of my exposure to home-cooked Greek food, I adore it, and we don't get very much of it in the North of England (some Turkish, and the same in London, where there is some Greek food, but it's not quite the same, plus I know the Greek words for it rather than the Turkish). I had some peaches the other day that were, seriously, the most peachy peaches I have EVER tasted in my life - including peaches in SoCal and in the south of France and in Spain.
The city where Cousin Spouse lives is apparently the largest seaside city in Greece - as I say, completely off my radar and indeed everyone I have spoken to about the trip. It is ripe for the city-break picking, I'd say. Unfortunately the only direct UK (and other N. European country) flights are weekly charters - not ideal for weekends - but you can go via Athens or I think some other choices. Easyjet are missing a trick. You've got gorgeous ocean views, steep rambling historic streets (though some of the historic buildings are a little hidden), harbourside restaurants, a bit of light shopping (there's Max Mara, Zara, and a street market that Primark-lovers would drool over, which also has olives, herbs, flowers, and a load of gorgeous fruit and veg you couldn't really get in the suitcase); Thassos itself is famous for olives and honey.
It's not what you'd call unspoilt as it is a big city with its own life and sadly - state of the economy and that - lots of empty shops - but we haven't seen or done everything by any means. We didn't venture inland but hiring a car and pootling round a huge set of ancient sights should be on the agenda at some point (heard of Philipi? did you know Drama was a place?). It's very historic in itself - a Byzantine aqueduct, as well as Roman/Ottoman/I can't remember ruins - it has a couple of small museums but typically they were "under renovation" - but the new museum on Thassos was pretty fabulous, so we didn't feel hard done by to miss that.
Cousin Spouse and his wife are lovely - he is very good value, full of stories, she is quite quiet and I felt a bit bad that she was always getting things for us, though I do know this is fairly typically Greek and even when I was "staff" people would get things for me, "people" especially meaning "women". We took a couple of group photos to prove for the adoption profile that Mr Spouse does have some family and I can't help feeling a little relieved that Mr Spouse looks younger than Cousin Spouse, even though he's 5 years older. We've been working on our profile and browsing other people's profiles and thinking we might play down a little the "we-are-always-travelling" angle as it can come across that couples don't have time to have kids - but it should be nice to show that the cousins live in a gorgeous Mediterranean city.
Anyway last night tonight and we're going back to the best restaurant of the week (there's always one we say 'got to go back there') for the mixed meze.
Posted by DrSpouse at 4:23 pm