After 2 days in Thessaloniki it was time for the proper holiday to start. Up to now it had been all about travel and setting off for the next place, now it was to be about sitting on a beach.
We had hired a car so, with Chris as driver, her driving style being more suited to the streets of Thessaloniki, we set off. As far as we could tell there is no good street map of Thessalonika and my GPS showed the city as being two roads crossing. So navigation was a hit and miss affair – rather like the traffic. But between us we managed to get on the main road to the Halkidiki without too many angry words exchanged.
We were headed for a Bed and Breakfast place called Sarti Vista which is on the east coast of the Sithonia Peninsula. This is the middle peninsula of the three fingered Halkidiki. Mount Athos is just across from the house. And we are a short drive from Sarti which is an ever expanding resort doing a good trade in family friendly beach holidays. Much of the visitors to Sarti are from Eastern Europe – this part of Greece must be the closest bit of Mediterranean for many people in Hungary, Bulgaria etc.
Sarti Vista is placed some distance from Sarti and some distance from, and above, the sea. For us the best feature was the balcony from which we could see Mt Athos. The mountain was not as clear as we would have liked but summer dust and atmospherics were the cause. Mt Athos is virtually independent from Greece and is controlled by the Orthodox Church. Resurgence in religious activity in Russia has led to more monkish activity on the peninsula.
One of the delights of dining next to the beach in Sarti was watching the full moon rise over Mt Athos.
Breakfast at the B&B were a delight. They were outdoors on a shaded verandha, looking out over the sea. And the food was good too!
Nearby there were a lot of wide open beaches offering sun, sand and sea and, when windy, sand blasting. But there were also small coves with a strip of fine sand, rocks, warm sea, sun beds, umbrellas and a convenient taverna. The sun starved Scotsman’s idea of heaven.
And the holiday spirit was beginning to affect the members of the party.
But all good things must come to an end so on the Saturday morning we set off back to Thessaloniki. We decided to take the scenic route through a part of Greece neither of us had seen before. This was in the hills to the north of the three peninsulas, and the highlight was the village of Arnea which looks positively Alpine.
Eventually we got to Thessaloniki Airport and returned the car, took the bus to the Bus Station where we found that the bus to our next destination was slower and arrived later than the train so went to the Railway Station and bought tickets for Kalambaka – the Gateway for Meteora! of which, more anon.