A mouthful right? I know. It took me a while to pronounce it correctly too. Uh-tha-nus-ee-ors (but without the r – my way of explaining the “or” sound.) Thee-ak-ors (again without the r.)
When you think of Greece, I’m pretty sure you, like me, think of the bright blue waters and islands full of cobbled streets, white buildings dressed with blue shutters, bougainvillea flowers and wild olive trees.
Getting to experience a very different part of Greece is pretty spectacular and when we visited the village up in the mountains for the first time in 2014, I thought I’d been whisked to Switzerland. Sox’s brother in law, Kosta has a holiday home there and we reunited with the family on this trip.
It’s the most magical place and still one of my favourites – the energy is incredible, everything is so pure. It’s high in the mountains, in a forest with a river that runs through.
Speaking of river, the thing that blows me away is the water. You cannot buy water in the village. Sounds crazy right? No one sells it. You can’t buy water because the water constantly runs out of various water points (fountains and even trees) strategically set up all over the village and the water comes straight from the river. The filter system is all natural and the water has a sweetness to it. It’s delicious. You’ve never tasted water this good before.
There is no off-switch; it permanently runs and there is always an abundance of fresh water. Restaurants and café owners/waiters take big jugs, walk up to the trees or fountains running water, fill them up and place them straight onto the table, for you to help yourself.
You’ll find children running up, filling their water bottles or simply drinking straight from the source. It’s amazing.
I’m a city girl (who loves nature), so experiencing a village like this is pretty incredible. There aren’t any “Woolies” that you can pop into. There is a small store with some basics in the town square. You grow your own fruit, veggies and herbs, or you buy from the farmers around. Everyone supports each other and it’s a real sense of community.
Farmers actually drive through the villages with their fresh produce in the back of their cars and speak into a loud speaker with their advertising. I liken it to an ice cream truck. You’ll be sitting inside and hear the announcement and if you want something, you come out and buy it.
Everything is fresh and delicious and organic. The milk, cheese and butter comes from the local farmers from cows that actually roam freely, bread is baked daily, honey comes from the local bee keeper. See the bee hives below…
The village square is where the community gathers and they’re incredibly welcoming. There’s a beautiful church, 2 restaurants, a coffee shop and a giant tree (with the water running from it) that provides the water and the shade.Families gather for meals and children run around. People play Backgammon (Tavli) whilst sipping thick Greek coffees and biting into pastries; while others sit under the tree reading their books. We didn’t twirl the coffee mud at the end for a fortune reading… You’re supposed to swirl it and then turn it upside down. I only turned mine upside down, so it looks like this:
If anyone knows how to read coffee cups (if it is even readable) please let me know 😉
Here is Sox and his nephew, George. That’s the funny thing – now that we’re married, he becomes my nephew too. George and I actually share a birthday, but he’s 3 years older than me. We always joke that he has to call me “Thea Bailey” – which is Greek for Aunty Bailey.
When we arrived, I was introduced to little Eleni. She didn’t speak a lot of English and I don’t speak a lot of Greek, although I’m learning quite fast.
Communicating with each other was quite funny and we looked like we were doing sign language most of the time, with the odd Greek and English word thrown around.
Sofi had told Eleni about my love of braids and she sat patiently while I braided her hair, Game of Thrones inspired. We became besties after this…
We arrived a few hours before a Christening of twins. The entire village was invited to the celebration – even us. After the church service, we all moved into the Square that had been decorated and set out with big round, white table clothed tables. Huge Greek salads and full platters of lamb were presented at the table. Beer, jugs of wine and water were provided for everyone and afterwards a live band provided the entertainment for the Greek dancing. It was like being at a wedding. Imagine that – you invite the whole village (even the villages guests you don’t know) and pay for everyones food and drink! I felt like I was in the movie Under the Tuscan Sun or A Walk in the Clouds (if you haven’t seen them, you must!) The hospitality was so warm and welcoming!
Here is my Mom in law, Dimitra and my sister in law, Sofi…I love this stolen moment (even though it’s blurry)
George and Sox sharing a joke…
It was a huge party that went on until 3am.
The next morning (late morning), the family went to the Kafe Taverna for breakfast…
Sox and his Mom…Here’s the thing…they drink wine or Raki (a very strong neat alcohol) with their eggs. Greek salad goes with every meal and in this case it’s the juicy tomatoes, feta, olives, onions and lots of olive oil.
I know this doesn’t look appetising, but the combination of scrambled eggs in butter, feta and grated tomatoes all mixed together with a crack of black pepper is a winner and washing it down with white wine, is quite something at breakfast.The elders of the village all gather for their eggs, a game of Tavli and a chat.
We wanted to walk off the wine at breakfast, so we took a walk through the forest…After working up a bit of a sweat, we grabbed our swimwear and headed to the hotel just outside the village, to soak up the sun and use the swimming pool.
Our last leg of the trip was going to be in a coastal town, called Stoupa. We drove down the mountain, back to Athens (our base), where we packed a fresh bag and then took a 5 hour bus ride to Stoupa – the final honeymoon travel diary.