From then on, I was careful to seek all necessary information before venturing into culinary adventures. And that did help me, for if I had not, my aversion to consumption of mutton would have kept me off some wonderful goat yoghurt with honey. Apparently no goat had to sacrifice its life for this cause – it was just yoghurt made out of goat milk. Lest the reader assume this trip was nothing but food, let me move on to other things. but not before a passing mention of the wonderful Greek coffee offered by our hosts. However I must mention I am no coffee connoisseur, and all I can say is it was some kind of dark coffee - not the usual espresso, and it tasted good.
Let us now go back and start where it all began like one of those lengthy English classics. It all started one lazy afternoon at the 18th floor of the tallest building in Bonn, the erstwhile capital of West Germany. I was doing my summer internship and the coming 4 day weekend had sapped away any enthusiasm for work. I was idly browsing through travel websites when suddenly an offer caught my eye. To and fro tickets to some place called Kavala for a mere 99 Euros! I had never even heard the name of the place but a true blooded Indian I would have grabbed a journey to burning pits of hell with both hands if only it came cheap. A bit of internet research showed me that Kavala was the closest airport to a Greek island called Thassos. We had never heard of that island either but we were able to book an economical bed and breakfast place through HostelWorld.com. If we could book accommodation through the internet, the place must be having internet. And any place having internet can’t be too bad, eh?
I had traveled a bit around Europe and thought I had a good measure of the continent. But I was not at all prepared for the sights that greeted me at Thassos. The vegetation, the housing, the people – everything was so different. Lovely looking olive trees dotted the entire landscape. The buildings were exactly like those of Greek Civilization in the ‘Age of Empires’ game. Looking at those buildings from my window, I almost expected hoplites and phalanxes to emerge out of those buildings. The people there seemed larger than rest of Europe and friendlier. Most of the people we met seemed so eager to make our acquaintance and were very chatty in their singsong Greek accents. The place had a nice rustic feel to it with a hill at the center and the sea all around. It was a small island that we could traverse entirely on foot.
One interesting thing I noted about the place was that I did not see a single Indian during our entire three days stay. In case one fails to see the significance of this fact, let me contrast it with my experience in rest of the Europe – nowhere else in Europe have I walked more than 10 minutes without catching sight of an Indian face! That took away the whole novelty and special feeling of doing something different. But in this island, the utter lack of Indians made us feel almost like the first men on moon – the first people to hoist the Indian flag on this Greek island. We were further flattered by the attention the locals were giving us. As we walked through some interior streets, old grandmas, lovely village lasses and children could be seen peering at us in wonder from balconies and windows. We felt grand like some adventurers landed on an unexplored alien planet.
The Mediterranean cuisine coupled with anise flavor of Ouzo completed our culinary experience while the fragrance of olives combined with the fresh sea and hill air to enrich our olfactory experience. The scenic beauty was balm to the eyes while the gentle Mediterranean breeze gently caressed our hands, feet and faces. Greek music playing everywhere from taxis to shops to restaurants completed the entire spectrum of sensory experiences. Seeing our fascination with their music, the guy at the restaurant was kind enough to gift us a CD containing the songs that were playing to take back home as a souvenir. That was just one of the numerous experiences we had of Greek generosity.
The entire trip was like a dream and it hardly cost us anything with flights booked at an offer price and lodging at a home converted into a bed and breakfast place. I really wish I could experience the whole thing again sometime.
This post is for a contest sponsored by Sky Scanner where they have asked us to write about out dream travel destination for 2014 and how we will travel smart. I am not sure what destination I want to travel to, but would definitely like a trip to a surprise destination with experiences similar to the one I have described here. The accompanying picture is not clicked by me but a free for use or share taken from here.