Tour 2009 - Churches, Mosques & Bath Houses Oh My! - Agia Sotira

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October 17th 2009
Published: October 7th 2013
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OK... FINALLY a good Internet connection!

So first some thoughts on Greece... Love it! Reminds me of my extended family 😊 Greeks sure know how to have a great time! I'm not sure though, if anyone actually works in this country... during the day, all the cafes, restaurants are always full, and people in the streets shopping. The afternoon is for siesta - we forgot about this and mistakenly go for walks during this little break to get a bite to eat - slim pickings! The one thing that strikes me is the amount of smoking that goes on! Everyone here smokes, and you can't get away from it. In restaurants, hotels, and hospitals - you name it! You go out to a restaurant or cafe, and the first thing they bring you is an ashtray. There is also no such thing as a non-smoking section - I think I'm going to go into nicotine withdrawal when I get back I’ve been exposed to so much! Oh well....

So the weather here is just plain shitty. It rained all day on Wednesday, and was overcast and cold yesterday. It's supposed to warm up on Monday - go figure. It's very uncharacteristic weather for this time of year. Yesterday - we rented a car and headed out to Agia Sotira - The village where my grandparents came from. The whole driving experience in Greece was interesting... Awesome new highways... crazy drivers though... most of them think they are in the grand prix. Just have to drive defensively... Anyway, the village is about 350Km from Kavala, most of it on the main highway, but it is way up in the mountains... so it only took 3 hours to get to the turn off, but another hour to get through the mountain highway - very windy roads! We went to Pendalofos first, because there was a restaurant and we were starving. Also because we passed the village because my ability to read Greek road signs, although improving, was not adequate to translate while driving. We had lunch and took some photos around town. Nothing like a bit of name-dropping to break the ice... especially when neither of us speaks Greek. I really wish sometimes that I did! In my limited Greek, I just say who my grandparents were and the names of a few family members that came from Pendalofos and everyone is interested 😊 There aren't too many people around in the Villages right now, most people today use it for summer getaways... It is so pretty there, way high up in the mountains, so quiet, just stunning. It's too bad it was foggy, we didn't get to see it in its entirety. After lunch, we went to Agia Sotira, which is about 7km or so from Pendalofos. We pulled in and it was soooo quiet - I wasn't sure if there was actually anyone around... After some wandering - we ran into a gentleman who didn't speak a word of English, but directed us to where The Gotziaman and Lolas houses were.... I do have to work on the Greek pronunciation as it wasn't until the third or fourth time that he understood me 😊

After some more wandering - We ran into a lady named Morphia, who I also told who my yiayia and Papu were, and she had us in for tea 😊 She also does not speak a word of English, so she called Christina (who is apparently my third cousin), who luckily was also in the village that day to translate for us! Woohoo! We had a lovely visit, took some amazing photos, and got the grand tour of the village. I have to say I was immediately attached to that place... there is just something about it that will always draw me back... It's just so quaint, quiet and I don’t know - I just felt very connected with it. It was definitely worth the trip - I'm very happy we made the long drive to and from 😊 After some good-byes and promising to learn to speak Greek for the next time I come... we got in the car for the 4 hour drive back to Kavala.

We got back to Kavala around 8pm, returned the car and back to the hotel. The hotel we stayed at in Kavala, is run by this older Greek lady - she actually lives there as well... It's an older building with loads of character and overlooks the harbor. She was really cute - she was wondering where we were all day - getting worried for us 😊

So we set out for Serres this morning - weather was still overcast and a bit cool, but at least it wasn't raining. I was really tired from driving yesterday - so struggled a bit... we did some climbing through the mountains today, but all in all wasn’t too bad - about 90km. We go in and again Barry was sweet and sat me at a cafe so I could have my cappuccino while he searched for a hotel.

The next few days are going to be interesting - The weather is supposed to improve slightly, but we're now headed north into Bulgaria, where they have had some snow... So we'll play it by ear, if it's really bad, we may have to bus or train it to Sofia... But if we do decide to ride, it will be cold, and we will be climbing into the mountains again.

I'm off for a nap - I need it today... last day in Greece so want to be rested for tonight!!

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