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In which SWMBO lays low in Greece to avoid drawing the gods’ attention.

Lastborn buries herself in the sand, Leptokarya

Lastborn buries herself in the sand, Leptokarya

Here’s how it’s going to go down in Greece:

  • We’ll stay put at the same place for two weeks
  • We’ll beach and barbecue and bake in the sun
  • We’ll live sans wifi
  • We’ll play checkers and rummy and uno
  • We’ll head to the occasional taverna for stuffed vegetables, tzatziki and fried calamari
  • Then we’ll get the hell back out of the Schengen

That means, no Athens, no archeological sites, no Santorini, no Corfu, no islands at all, no Meteora, no Sparta, no Olympia. Shocking, I know, but sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. The homeschooler in me justifies it in this way: our curriculum this year focuses on Macedonian history, both within the Republic of Macedonia/FYROM and in northern Greece. We will therefore concentrate on archeological sites and museums there. This learning module will be split in two with a rest period in the middle to allow the content to seep more deeply into the conscious. Or some such nonsense. You know what, though? It’s not non-sensical, when you stop to think about it.

Back to our place: a nice house being rented for the first time. The owners are kind and we have everything here we need: air conditioning, large garden, barbecue, washing machine, breezy balcony, two bedrooms, parking, hot water, peace, quiet, safety, goats, view of Mount Olympus. The beautiful beach is an easy 500 metre walk away.

Beach in front of hotel, Leptokarya

Beach in front of hotel, Leptokarya

We are in Leptokarya, a small town on the eastern coast of mainland Greece about 100 kilometres south of Thessaloniki. As Venice explained in a previous post, we arrived a day early in high season and spent hours driving around trying to find a place to stay for one night. During that epic day, we saw every little village along this section of coast before giving up and driving inland to a larger town.

What I am trying to say in a roundabout way is that on that day we saw Leptokarya and it looked like hell on earth (or heaven depending on your age and tolerance for high alcohol/low sleep). The main street was a sea of rowdy twenty year olds, the parking was chaos, the beach appeared to be gravel and the band was loud. We were one day away from taking over an un-reviewed new accommodation listing right here. I secretly started to worry.

The worry was understandable but unfounded. Our house is great and situated outside of Leptokarya itself. We arrived three hours before the agreed upon time so of course, the owner wasn’t in, but his son was and suggested we head to the hotel down the road so the kids could swim in the pool. It sounded fishy to us.

Pool at "our" hotel

Pool at “our” hotel

We headed that way and found a beautiful beach in front of the hotel so we enjoyed that before heading back to get the keys to our place. We asked the owner where to swim and he told us to go to the hotel. He also told us to use the pool there. He conferred with his wife and then pronounced, “It has been confirmed, you can use the pool at the hotel for free.”

To be honest, we are not sure what to think. The hotel is remote and the only things around it are a handful of privately owned beach houses that seem to be used mainly on the weekends by owners in Athens and Thessaloniki. Maybe local people are permitted to use the hotel facilities?  The pool is always full of Greek people with no bands having fun.

Beach Bar, Leptokarya

Beach Bar, Leptokarya

The hotel is undoubtedly a boon to us. It is large, with hundreds of rooms and villas. Most people are wearing yellow bands, branding them as all-inclusive guests. Banded kids hover around the slush machine while banded adults roam the chaffing dishes of the buffet, picking and piling. But there are also a lot of people without bands.

We’re surprised to find that there doesn’t seem to be any discrimination against unbanded, (presumably non-hotel) guests. No one bothers the people who set up blankets on the hotel grass in the shade of the palm trees. The star belly sneetches don’t sneer at the sneetches without. No need for a star-on nor a star-off machine. Whew.

A Church with a View, Leptokarya

Church with a view, Leptokarya

Beautiful paintings and icons in beach chapel.

Beautiful paintings and icons in beach chapel.

Frankly, we are looking for ways to support this venture, but I tell you, it isn’t easy. The wifi is free and unlocked. There is ample parking, right beside the beach and yup, you guessed it, it’s free. No cost to use the beach or pool. Free washrooms (clean). If you feel any need for some prayer, you will find a little beach-side chapel in the running for cutest ever. Free.

The beach on either side of the hotel is gross construction gravel. In front of the hotel, sand. There is no shade on the beach but a wide section in front of the hotel has palapas and chaises lounges. It costs 6 euros to rent a palapa and two chaise lounges for as long as you want. We are SO up for that but we never get to the beach early enough to nab one of them so we are forced to seek shade slightly inland for free instead.

Beach turns from gravel to sand.  Personally, I prefer sand!

Beach turns from gravel to sand. Personally, I prefer sand!

Once you enter the water, there are large pebbles to trip you and hurt the bottoms of your feet. Next comes a thin band of deep water you have to swim across. Then, you hit pay dirt with a beautiful, shallow sandbar. The water is so warm, you walk right in. Lovely. You can spend all day there, in the waist deep water, frolicking and admiring the cute church.

From what I can see, the only way to give this fabulous hotel some moolah is to either book a massage on the beach or eat and drink. Fahbio and I have been ordering frappés as frequently as we can but I normally only drink one coffee a day. A frappé, BTW, is short for Nescafé frappe: instant coffee served iced with milk and a big spoonful of white sugar. It’s so much more delicious than it sounds and possibly the national drink of Greece. If you like it unsweetened, as I do, ask for, “Frappé sketo, parakalo.”

Private beach tents

Private beach tents

To avoid caffeine jitters, we will attempt to occupy one of the beautiful beach tents. I think we will have more luck. In those, there is a minimum order of 25 euros ($38) and you can set up camp for as long as you want that day. They are set slightly back from the beachfront and cost more than the beach umbrellas so there is usually one available. We plan to spend the day at the beach, have lunch in our tent and hide out there whenever we need a break from the sun.

We feel so lucky to have found this place: maybe Hera’s guilty conscious guided us here?