A tale or two : Chalkidiki

Mount Athos beach, Halkidiki

Ouranoupolis beach, Halkidiki

Serene, isn’t it?  I was curious to see a little of the Greek mainland.  Yet of all our Greek holidays, like this photo, it’s a little hazy in my memory.

Halkidiki (though I rather like the silent C) is the distinctive-looking three-pronged peninsula in the north of Greece.  Our base was at the tiny resort, Polichrono, on the third “prong” known as Kassandra.

Map of ancient Chalkidiki, from Wikipedia

Map of ancient Chalkidiki, from Wikipedia

The sheltered beaches of the most westerly peninsula were quite popular at that time, the main resort being Hanioti.  Popular was not what I was looking for, and the peaceful sandy beach at Polichrono was timeless in its appeal.  I planned, of course, to visit Sithonia, the middle “prong”, and hopefully Thessalonika.  The third “prong”, Agion Oros, with its mysterious monasteries, was only accessible by ferry and with special permit.  A ferry ride was always on my list.

For 2 year old James, life was a beach.  With the purchase of a large green crocodile, he sealed the friendship of a lovely blonde mop-headed little boy called Kirk.  Not in the least shy and very adept in the water, Kirk led the exploits, grappling with the croc.  Land-based, their activities included constructing a huge, sand Tracey Island (for Thunderbirds fans everywhere) with a little engineering help from Michael.  Sometimes, while Dad worked, the boys drifted off to play with the Lego pirates, or Stingray- another favourite.

Life's a beach!

Life’s a beach!

Come on, Mr. Croc!

Come on, Mr. Croc!

Please don't eat me, Mr. Croc!

I know he won’t bite, but….

After a few days of lazy sunshine, the urge to travel was with me again, and we signed up for a coach tour of Sithonia.  An early start, in ‘jamas, was becoming the norm.  The scenery was pretty along the coast of Kassandra, becoming more dramatic as we rounded the curve to travel down the western shore of the middle “prong”.

Neos Marmaras made a sunny, pleasant, coffee stop, then on to some castle ruins at Toroni, and up the east coast of Sithonia.  A series of lovely bays, a lunch stop at Sarti then heading back, it was a bit of a marathon day.

Flat calm in an idyllic bay

Flat calm in an idyllic bay

Naturally, beach time followed, and to my dismay the prospect of a trip to Thessalonika was vetoed.  Still, I had one more treat to come.  Mount Athos was an intriguiging destination.

Yet another World Heritage Site, Mount Athos, the “Holy Mountain”, is home to 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries.  The number of daily visitors to Mount Athos is restricted, and all are required to obtain a special entrance permit.  Residents must be males over the age of 18, and must be either monks or workers.  Women are expressly prohibited from entering the territory, known as the “Garden of the Virgin” by the monks.  Quite sensibly, the reason for the prohibition is to make living in celibacy easier for those who have chosen to do so.  Knowing that I was forbidden entry didn’t spoil my day out.

The enormous ferry, complete with swimming pool, set sail from lovely Chroussos Bay.  3 and a half hours at sea passed surprisingly quickly, especially the last half hour, spent looking out for 8 of the monasteries perched along the coast.  Ouranoupolis was a pretty little spot for lunch and a paddle, before the shorter, more direct sailing homewards, excitingly accompanied by dolphins.

Ag. Panteleimonos monastery, Mount Athos

Ag. Panteleimonos monastery, Mount Athos

Moni Grigoriou

Moni Grigoriou

The Mount Athos peninsula

The Mount Athos peninsula, Agion Oros

Our destination, pretty Ouranoupolis

Our destination, pretty Ouranoupolis

And so, another chapter in my Greek odyssey comes to a close.  I’m leaving you with a calm Halkidiki sunset.

Sunset, Halkidiki

Just one last Greek story to tell.  Can you guess which island I’m going to next?

91 comments

    1. Glad you liked it 🙂 Thought it would make a start point for your series, and yes, I’d be extremely flattered if you reblogged. Hope your dreams come true and you get to explore Greece in person.

      1. I’m sure it’s just like yesterday in your memories, Jo! Did you have to scan the photos? I want to go back and relive all my early vacations, before digital cameras. But I know it will take a lot of digging to find the photos and scan them. Or is there another way? I wondered if you can take negatives somewhere and have them put on disc?? Anyway, it’s fun to relive those old vacations. Looks like it was a lovely time that holds great memories for you. 🙂

      2. I did scan them by hand, Cath. I’ve done them in small batches because it gets tedious and then you’ve got to shape them all up. I thought it was worth it because some of Mick’s old shots were stunningly beautiful.
        BUT I believe there are companies that will do the job for you. A friend (Lucy Dodsworth of On the Luce- well worth knowing if you don’t already) gave me a website address but I can’t remember where she left the comment! I think she sent the photos off rather than negatives but not sure. If you Google it you’ll probably find it, Cath, otherwise I can get back to Lucy?

  1. I love that expression ‘life is a beach’. Ah, James lived it well 🙂

    Great post – love the old wikipedia map, & the pictures.

  2. You have always taken beautiful photos Jo .. even back then. James was so cute!!! Is that still the fact that women are not allowed to the Holy Mountain???

    1. Caught out again! Most of these are Michael’s on his old Brownie, Paula. Lovely aren’t they? Back then I just did the scribbling.
      I believe that is still the situation, even in these days of Women’s Lib. 🙂

  3. I really enjoyed looking at your photos Jo. Having just returned from the Aegean and not being able to see much of the culture due to the overwhelming abundance of tourist shops and cafes, it was a delight to see how things used to be.

    1. Good reason to only go back in the memory then, David? I’d heard that Mykonos was very touristy, and I expect Rhodes too. The trouble with being on a cruise ship is that you can’t really get to see much of the place, but got to keep the missus happy, and I bet you had some nice sunshine! Best place? Bet you got some cracking photos of Ephesus- never been there.

      Thank you 🙂

    1. They were lovely together, though each going their own way from time to time. (as we do!) As an “only” there were lots of friends over the years, but this one was very sweet. Many thanks to you, sir.

  4. Loving your trip down memory lane Jo 🙂 Your photos are fabulous considering they are so old! Love the one with the red boat. Look forward to Crete 🙂

    1. Mick had a really good Brownie camera in those days and his photos always looked like postcards. I’m still playing catch up, Madhu. The water was crystal and made for the best shots! Thanks, hon. You back to “normal” again?

      1. Much better, thanks Jo 🙂
        Catching up seems rather overwhelming after a break, and we have had to take off so often in the last month. Off again on the 25th for a wedding! .

  5. Fantastic photos, Jo. They look almost other-worldly. So idyllic, and I love the one of the two boys with the green crocodile. 🙂 Of course, the first pic is my favourite too. I look forward to your last Greek episode.

  6. Thanks for whetting my appetite. What is to not love about these memories and lovely pictures. I wonder how different it is today or if it always looks this idyllic. Love the curly blonde hair and fanny. Priceless. Soooo innocent.

    1. I’m told it’s pretty popular today, but I don’t actually know anybody else who’s ever been! I think it’s an all-inclusive kind of place, but there’s no shortage of coastline and pretty bays, Lynne.

  7. Oh, I do love these photo’s of yours Jo and it looks like James had a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing once again hon. 🙂 *hugs*

      1. Oh, I am sure he won’t mind hon. His photo’s are just as gorgeous as yours are. 🙂 *hugs*

  8. Wonderful gallery – Greek is so breathtaking …. and the quality of your photos are amazing – they have some years on their neck. Love when you go down memory lanes. Next weeks island ???? There is thousands to choose from – Corfu maybe. Thanks for bringing me along again.

    1. Hi Viveka. Hope you’re feeling loads better?
      Thank you! Chronologically I should have started the series off with Corfu because we went there before the Cyclades. But it was just for a week and funnily I can find neither photos nor postcards. I thought that Athens made a good dramatic start to the series, so I opted to leave it out. (but it was a nice holiday and we stayed up at Kassiopi)

    1. I’ve heard good things about Thessalonika, Andrew, and I always wanted to do Meteora. Not too likely now.
      After the Greek series do you mean? Probably not because I’m in Poland with Dad from 30th April and hopefully back to my neglected Algarve in the near future.

  9. We had some of those inflatable toys when we were kids. I loved playing with them. Your photo brought back some lovely memories, thank you.
    Amazing beaches, lots of sun and fun times!

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