I am a Peloponnesian through and through, born and bred literally where the Ionian waves break upon the shore. She is a self-confessed “hillbilly”, raised in Northern Greece but long since ensnared in the south’s net of charm. The decision came out of the blue; from Thessaloniki, instead of going back to base, we would make a short detour. For her, a trip back through her memories; for me, a new experience.
From courgette flowers and honey fried bread to transparent waters
Our First stop was Kallikratia, at her aunt’s place. Every self-respecting Greek northerner has at least one aunt in Kallikratia. Hers welcomed us with a huge hug and an equally huge platter of fried courgette flowers, dusted with sugar and cinnamon. As we were leaving she handed us a perfectly rounded loaf of honey fried bread & cheese. “For the road,” she said and I was convinced that getting to our next stop would take about five hours. Well, in less than an hour I was experiencing the magical, crystal-clear waters of Halkidiki for the first time, in a tiny cove in Sani, where fragrant pines bow down to the shore and scent the air. I swear I could see the bottom all the while I was swimming and it was genuinely difficult to wrench myself out of the friendliest and best-natured sea I had ever encountered. A bit further north, the hospitality and air of discrete luxury and refinement we experienced at Ikos Oceania makes the perfect complement to this journey… and that was just after checking in!
Late afternoon found us in Athytos, wandering the picturesque alleyways and then ensconced in a gourmet restaurant in the village, tucking into coq au vin and sipping wine courtesy of the gorgeous Claudia Papagianni and the mountain vineyards of Halkidiki.