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Published: June 14th 2014
Unique old beach house on Marathon Beach.
I found this building so attractive set as it was right next to high-end homes.
After crossing nine time zones from Calgary, Alberta, here we are finally in Greece for one week of relaxation on Marathon Beach before starting the planned tour of this ancient country.
After picking up our rental car at Athens
airport and following the directions given, we headed off to the resort, or so we thought. First of all, we landed earlier than planned which gave me my first opportunity to use my new international phone to call Kosmos Car Rental. Anyway, the employee brought the car to us and he said that I should follow the sign to Marathon
. I recall bypassing a sign which said "Marathon Avenue" without realizing that that was the one I needed and sure enough Jeanette eventually picked up that we were headed in the opposite direction. A quick retrace to the same Marathon Avenue, then we were truly on our way passing though the town of Rafina before getting to Nea Makri where our resort was located, right on the Bay of Marathon.
Before going any further I should tell you of a potentially serious incident in traffic soon after I took the highway upon leaving the airport. I signalled to change lane
into the slowest one, probably doing no more than 80 kms at the time when I heard a loud roar. Suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere emerged a recklessly speeding motorcycle which almost clipped my right flank at a speed I estimated at 200 kmh at least. Swerving through vehicles ahead as the rider leaned from side to side, the two-wheeled "accident waiting to happen", quickly disappeared into the distance. Phew! That was a most unnerving close encounter that I hope does not repeat itself. But it made me super conscious of the reputed hazzards that Greek drivers are reputed for.
While here at the resort our main purpose is to totally relax because of the hectic schedule that awaits us. For our first evening we drove to the marina area of Nea Makri although we were warned that parking would be difficult. We found throngs of people milling around and after walking the strip settled on a restaurant and enjoyed a very tasty meal of anchovies, prepared in two different styles. Before that we tried roasted corn which we bought from an older lady as she hunched over her crackling fire tending her simple offering. The atmosphere was
lively as we watched Greeks of all ages mixed in with visitors from all over Europe and elsewhere, enjoying the seaside under the starlit Mediterannean sky.
The next morning, standing on the beach and looking out towards Marathon Bay, I cast my historical imagination back several centuries to 490 BC and pondered about the Persian fleet that would have laid at anchor there having been sent by King Darius 1 to attack Greece. On the plains at nearby Marathon his army outnumbered the Greeks who sized the opportunity while the Persian cavalry was away from camp, to attack. The Persians
panicked and headed for their ships. Although historically inaccurate, the Greek messenger Pheidippides (Jeanette and I recently enjoyed a movie about it) was said to have run to Athens to deliver news of the victory, inspiring the marathon race of today and which was first included in the 1886 Olympics.
So far all our meals have lived up to expectation including the pork gyro that we had for lunch during a brief visit to Athens. As I write this entry, we have just returned from dinner at a restaurant just up the beach from our resort. Spiros, the
One of several restaurants on the beach, Isidora's is famous for her cuisine.
There are a great variety of restaurants on the beach near our resort where we enjoyed wonderful fresh fish meals. We met Isidora herself as we sought directions to the Athenians' tomb and promised ourselves to have a meal at her well regarded place.
owner and his son, were both very hospitable. Jeanette had her sardines which were grilled to delight and I had grilled octopus like never before. It was succulent and easy to chew and digest unlike my first attempt somewhere in Florida years ago which was all too tough. I had to wait for Greece to enjoy octopus.
We have been enjoying regular walks along the beach in either direction every morning since arriving here including a long walk to a supermarket some 3 to 4 kilometers away which is proving an adequate substitute for our gym work back at home. Along the beach many private homes may be seen some obviously summer homes for absentee owners while others clearly showed permanent residence. Our walks were reminiscent of early morning walks along Reduit Beach in St. Lucia with our close friend Lorna. We are usually one of the first on the resort to rise, waking regularly at 5 am and proud to be averaging 5 kilometers plus each day walking.
As happens daily, the smell of fresh baked bread wafts across my nostrils as I head to the reception area to access the internet with our Samsung tablet3. We
My grilled octopus meal nearby.
Nothing surpasses the taste of fresh seafood grilled to perfection.
can hardly resist the European bread anyway, so that surely translates to extra pounds around the waist. But, I love it!
I had re-injured my right shoulder a few weeks ago playing an awkward defensive tennis shot and found a Chinese lady called Chin on the beach who gave me one of the best massages ever, resulting in significant relief. I had a second one the following day and Jeanette also had one. I had not previously had an experience with any of the Calgary physiotherapists that comes anywhere close to what this lady did for me. On this penultimate day on Marathon Beach we finally gave in to the ocean's invitation and had our first swim in the Mediterranean. The crystal clear water was most refreshing, especially with the 30c temperature and cloudless sky we were enjoying. It took three trips to Europe to finally venture in. Frankly the Caribbean is very hard to beat but it was wonderful.
And what a joyous evening I had amongst many others, watching on the big screen my most beloved football team, Brazil, win their opening game 3 - 1 in the World Cup, after a most nervous start, beset
as it was with the weight and pressure of a nation's expectations, complicated by understandable social pressure and frustration.
And so our final evening on Marathon Beach. Wasn't it ever great with one word only to describe it - magical! Magical because we had dinner at Fodors Travel Guide
which we walked to along the beach about a kilometer and a half away. Our table was on the sand just three feet from the rippling water's edge under starlit skies and unbelievably, a gloriously orange hued full moon which seemed within touching distance. The meal was superb with almost too much to consume. We opted to have our starters with the main course and they comprised beet root specially prepared in olive oil
and a succulent dish of egg plant
. Jeanette decided on Kebab
while I could not resist another meal of Grilled Octopus
. Isidora out did herself. We chose Greek red wine and enjoyed a half carafe. It was fine dining at the Greek best with a simply unbeatable ambience and a professional waiter whose grace complimented his surroundings. To top it off, we were served a complimentary dessert that came floating on a dish of
local honey and accompanied by Isidora's own homemade liquor. Superb. Pictures could never convey what we experienced.
What amazed us was how exceedingly safe we felt walking the distance back to our resort at midnight. There were people strolling, many still eating and several swimming in the ocean and just having fun.
Ultimately this sojourn here will end when we later transfer to our hotel in Athens to begin enjoying all the magnificent history and ambience of that famous city before eventually commencing our Aegean cruise to the islands and later the land tour.
In the midst of all this is the friendliness and easy going nature of the Greek people themselves who never hesitate in offering help where needed. It's an old world characteristic that we find most appealing.
By the way, the plethora of confusing signage almost exclusively in the local language makes me now understand the origin of the phase "It's all Greek to me
" and hence the title to the blog segment. Enjoy the pictures that follow.
My plan is to focus the next blog on Athens and we can hardly wait for the next phase of this wonderful experience.
As always, kindly take the time to leave a comment on my blog please as it is really appreciated.
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