Paximada is a promontory on the South Euboia. At this point the seasonal summer north wind meltemi, μελτέμι, exceeds 100 km/hour. The sea becomes rough and dynamic, you feel sand and rock dust on your teeth, you can’t walk vertically, the air is full of music of spheres, finally, meltemi can just take you like a sand grain and throw into the sea. This almost happened to me once, but I grabbed the air with my terrified hands, and that was what saved me from the falling from the rock. Victim of the small stones shrapnel, I got red bruises on my legs… What an adventure!
How did I start my everlasting discovery of Greece? By chance.
In 2003, I came to Athens for one year as a scholarship holder (thank you, IKY!) and as a doctorate candidate in order to work in the libraries and to gather material for my thesis that I was writing in Ukraine. The monthly amount was 500 euros, and most people told me that was a very good money. At the beginning, I had no studio, no hotel room reservation, of course. Such things were unthinkable that time for me, who was going to visit Europe for the first time and who only had 50 euros which my mother gave me in case I need money if my scholarship is not paid quickly by the IKY.
I only had come contacts, and, thanks to them, one Athenian family offered me shelter for a couple of weeks until the moment I find something to rent. But in one or in two weeks, Sophia, her husband Sakis, and the rest of her family proposed me not to leave their house but to stay as long as I need. The whole year. For free. And they would feed me. I asked but could I pay at least for water or electricity. – No, that’s too little money. And we need millions, – answered Sophia, then working at the National Bank of Greece.
Here’s my benefactors’ portraits made 5 years later, in 2009. We went together to the village Loukas on Peloponnese, place where Sakis grew up.
This unexpected confidence, friendliness and generosity of the Greek people that I did not know at all and who did not know me became the source and the possibility of my escapades from Athens, of my discoveries of the Greek islands, like Crete, for example, and all those lands that I saw not only during my stay in 2003-2004, but also afterwards, because when one throws the ball, it never stops.
Once upon a time, I came to Sougia just for one night. That was one of the most ridiculous and funniest trips like those when you come somewhere and can’t stop laughing. Because of a kind of absurdity which is difficult to explain. Sougia, that’s roughly a few houses and a beach between the rocks, on the southern Crete. The tiny village where I came by bus from Chania in the afternoon and understood straight away upon my arrival that there was nothing to do. But that’s a nice place for doing nothing.
There were a few Greeks at the bus stop, who hoped for some tourists. I asked how much would be your room. 11 euros, one said. Ok, let’s go. It was 50 meters from the sea, in the building the first floor of which occupied the local police office.
The room of an hermit like me was very small, but I only needed a bed.
I had some time before sunset for a walk towards the ancient Lissos, not enough though to reach it and to come back.
Better to come here early in the morning. The next day, I had to return with the first bus to Chania…
Ταλαγάνι. We’ve discovered talagani from Messenia, Peloponnese. It is very good, not so salty, elastic, edible with anything you might imagine (coffee, honey, for instance). A bit expensive: more than 14 euros for 1 kg; 3.40 euros for these 2 slices, or “fetas”, as the Greeks say). We bought it in Kritikos supermarket in Karystos in 2017; the next year, unfortunately, Kritikos did not have it any more.
When did you see the night sky last time ? the sky incrusted densely with the stars so that it becomes white, so that you don’t need any light?
Well, if you do not remember this moment, you have to take a boat from Kymê on Euboia which will take you to Skyros, Sporades, and after arrival head to its north-western part. You will go south next time, first enjoy the pine forest that covers the nothern half of this tiny island the port of which meets you with pompous (and funny) orchestra music.
Go ahead and find a place on one of the beaches, and spend a night or two there. Listen to the sound of the wind in πεύκα, pine trees, to the waves, look deep into the sky – it is extremely generous during the night – and try not to fall asleep as long as you can.
And after all, the next morning, visit the miniature church by the sea, Κυρά Παναγιά.
Find ticket prices and timetables Kymi-Skyros-Kymi (+ other Sporades islands) here.
I’ve regularly visited Greece for vacations since Crimea is occupied. As I am a student having only a part-time job in Paris, I have to think carefully of how to spend my limited resources. My first apartment in Greece that I rented three years ago for only one month, July, 2015, had 2 bedrooms, a living room with a kitchen, a balcony with the view to the bay, bathroom & WC with everything you need there. The hosts, a Greek couple with a lot of children, asked 600 euros for this.
Next time I found a much bigger apartment for a much lower price which I will not tell you 🙂 There is no view but two floors and a tiny back yard. I come there back with my friend again and again. And we’re dreaming about staying there at least three months. Our maximum was 2.5… It’s never, never enough. The flat is not quiet, however: cats, dogs, roosters, cars and neighbours… But it’s so nostalgic.