Behind us were rocks, bushes and an abandoned tiny beach house, and spreading before us was the grand blue sea and golden sand, scattered with umbrellas of every color.
The next morning we settled ourselves in the car and started our journey to Drakeia. The way up to the village was fairly easy-breezy. A passing storm had made the atmosphere a bit fresher than the previous days, so fresh that I almost closed the car window as we started our ascent. Plane trees, walnut trees, ferns, little pines and an assortment of bushes and flowers, still green during the midsummer, hugged the road corners.
Drakeia is in the eastern part of Mount Pelion, 17 km from the city, and is inhabited by almost 400 people. Built in a height of 500m, it preserves the traditional architecture in its own unique way. By not being one of the most popular Pelion villages it maintains a certain laid back vibe, away from tourists and grand hotels. We strolled around briefly and made it to one of the two squares of the village, the one that was constructed to commemorate the martyrdom of more than 100 men that were executed during the Nazi occupation of the area in 1943.
The food and wine was brought to us by a friendly waiter in the Taverna Palia Plateia. The sun came out by noon and suddenly the entire village revealed itself before our eyes, green and golden, spotted by the stone brushes of the roofs. The conversations were lit by the Sunday bliss and my friend had a chance to relax and talk to us about her dissertation, about life and death. We exchanged opinions about previous lovers, future plans and the pandemic. The plane tree gave us seldom shadow but as the day progressed the sun was getting hotter and we decided to return home.
Like all return journeys, we were back home faster than we realized. It was still early so my buddy and I decided to take our swimming suits and get to the beach for an afternoon swim and a sunset view of the gulf.
We settled for a close by destination, Kato Gatzea, a village of the community of Southern Pelion, inhabited by approximately 350 people and situated right on the provincial route of Volos-Neochori, just half an hour driving from the city. We parked the car on the one side of the village and walked along the long promenade to the other side where it is free of cars and with a few scattered restaurants and tavernas sitting peacefully by the sea. We decided to settle at the beach at the eastern part of the village, right in front of Sikia camping. A sandy beach, narrow and ideal for families, with a majestic view of the gulf and the village. The sea was balmy and clean, although there were quite a few people on the beach, we managed a bit of beach and some shadow under an olive tree. We stayed late to enjoy the grand sunset, strategically falling over the village houses, bathing the scenery in pink and lavender.
Even though we were not on an island and there was significant car time involved in our excursions, the tranquility and placidity of the nature surrounding us worked its magic and by the last day my dear friend had ousted the excess stress, and I was barely touching the ground that I stepped on. It was Monday and it was our last day together, before she would get back on the bus to Athens. It had been years since we had the chance to vacation together…
…It got me thinking of our last destination that far away day a few years ago spent on Potistika beach.
Potistika beach is Located in the southeastern part of the Pelion peninsula and only reachable by car, it is an ideal all day haven with its wide and long sandy beach, and deep blue water through which you can clearly see the bottom of the sea, it offers the perfect sun trajectory for spending your entire day splayed out on the ground and fooling around with the little pebbles and stones like a child.
It had taken us an hour and a half to get there, driving again on the provincial route of Volos – Neohori and then through the village of Argalasti and the beautiful thicket debouching around the road. The down was twirling and the old car was slightly moaning, but it didn’t last long and we made it to the sandy “parking lot” that led to the beach. Behind us were rocks, bushes and an abandoned tiny beach house, and spreading before us the grand blue sea and golden sand, scattered umbrellas f every color. We picked our spot, far away from the beach bar, and we added our own colorful umbrella to the scenery. The day passed by smoothly with us gazing at the sun moving slowly towards the mountain, eating green beans and feta cheese that my mother made and drinking freddo espresso. The sea was a bit wavy, hence the Aegean Sea situation, but it was crystal clear and fresh. I spent an hour swimming and watching the people playing with the waves, until the sweet exhaustion from the heat and the wind and the driving hit me.
My buddy and I, slowly moving through the sand; sporadically carrying our stuff, in the mental fog of a relaxed day, we went to the car only to realize that the car had sunk into the sand. I was ready to just sit there and wait for the tow truck, but luckily a bunch of people came to our rescue. They helped us pull and push and after just 20’ of sand fighting, the car was out the parking lot and we were on our merry way…
…Fast forward to today and here we were driving back that same route listening to classical music, enjoying the last moments of tranquility, as we advanced through the twilight while cherishing the silent moments of gratitude, those precious moments only possible between two old partners in crime.
Four days flew by, swift and condensed as a breath of fresh air and the discontinuance of the time spent exclusively with my family. It gave me some space. It’s always so nurturing to be with your tribe, the people that you have chosen as your family, sharing your fears and your joys and maybe just some silent moments. In times of crisis and vast uncertainty your tribe becomes a shelter for the emotional being that you hide, from your parents especially and at times from the world.
The last evening of my Decameron was full of flavor and the Haydn “Erdody” was traveling with us, accompanying my thoughts as I was smoothly steering, slightly accelerating at the exit of the turns. Somehow, three weeks had already passed since my arrival in Volos, my time to go back to Athens was approaching much too fast. I felt like I had just scratched the tip of the iceberg as far as what the land had to offer. My Pelion Decameron, allegedly in confinement, transformed into a voyage through the vastness of the Greek countryside, leaving me wanting more…until next time.
Read Parts One and Two of this epic Pandemic Decameron –
PELION DECAMERON: My ten days in Pelion, Greece
Pelion Decameron Part Two – My family, and a friend