Sozopoli and Chalkidiki – 6 days – 0 metre above sea level

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We waited 2 hours in a queue to reach the border post, sweating due to our motorbike gear. However, as we were entering European Union, the paperwork was done in only 5 minutes. 

A few kilometres further, we did our first break in the port of Makri. Already, the traditions were different. There was tzatziki on the menu and the Sirtaki music was replaced by the Oriental notes of the Turkish music. 

We spent the evening on the Imeros beach, 50 kms further. No highlights on this beach but the swim in the clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea was great at the end of this hot day. Later, we enjoyed our first Ouzo which is an aniseed alcohol, a Greek speciality. 

The following day, we woke up at 5am to drive with the fresh temperatures. We used a little path in the countryside before to take the highway to reach the Keramoti city. Our project was to reach Thassos, the touristic island reachable by ferry. But the ferry prices were very expensive. We changed our mind and preferred to discover the Kavala city. 

We parked on the heights of the city and went down, towards the port and the fortified city. We walked on a slope of 3.5 kilometres in narrow and quiet streets, with no one around. It was a Sunday, and only the end of the mass was stoping this peacefulness. 

On the port, the fishing boats were ready. The hulls were perfectly painted. On one of the boats, the crew was checking the nets. Above, there was the historic town centre. Its peninsula along the sea was perfect for a throwback. The architecture of the old city was made of coloured houses, wooden balconies and flowery courtyards. We went up to the fortress by the little paved roads under the ancient Roman aqueduct. During this quiet trip, only grandmas were stopping the peacefulness of the streets. They were chatting loudly in front of their houses, just after the mass. On one of the squares, in front of the white lighthouse symbolising the entry of the port, there was the statue of Mohamed Ali riding his loyal horse in front of his nice and old childhood house. This man was not famous for boxing but for battles that he lead in Egypt after the troops of Napoleon left. In the little streets, there were many watchtowers offering breathtaking viewpoints over the turquoise-colour of the Aegean Sea and the coast. 

We went back to our sidecars mid-afternoon and went back on the road to reach a wild camping spot located in a cove, just a few kilometres before the Olympiada city. 

The following day, we went towards the Ouranoupoli city. It was the last city before the border of the Athos Mount. Indeed, around twenty monasteries have been built on this peninsula. Around 2,000 orthodox priests live on this territory considered as independent. This area is prohibited for women ans its hard to enter for men who need to justify a pilgrimage to enter. 

Motivated to see this part of the peninsula, we walked towards the first monastery. This building was in ruins and located just before the border, kept by the local authorities. No other choice than going back, these monasteries were definitely unreachable. By a path going along the seaside, we arrived in Ouranoupoli. We passed by an old building of Pyrgos before to sat on a terrace to enjoy Spanakopita (puff pastry with spinach and feta) served with a tzatziki.  

We continued our itinerary by going up in the mountains to reach Arnea city. There were ancient houses from the beginning of the 20th century along the streets. In the respect of the traditional Macedonian architecture, the front of the houses were coloured with wide wooden balconies, perfectly refurbished. 

After a night of wild camping on a hill nearby the village, we woke up with the first rays of the sun lighting the bean fields where we pitched up the tents. After breakfast, we headed to Sozopoli, a little seaside city located 50 kilometres at the South-East of  Thessaloniki which will be our residency place for the 3 next days. 

Upon our arrival, we took place in our Airbnb where we have been welcomed warmly by three sisters, owners of this little house built around its garden. For welcoming us, they offered us an espresso fredo and a delicious slice of a marble cake. For this first day in this house, we enjoyed all the pleasures of the comfort of an house. Showering was energising after a week of wild camping, the washing machine never stopped and we did some DIY to fix shoes and trousers. 

At the end of the afternoon, we went to the Thessaloniki airport with our Ural sidecars to pick up Dominique and Daniel, Marie’s mum and brother, joining us for a week. For the end of the day, we enjoyed the garden and the terrace for a BBQ (with the noise of the washing machine in the background). 

This break in Sozopoli was also the time for recharging the batteries after the early morning of the previous days. It was great to enjoy the pleasure of the rythm of holidays with lie on and hearty breakfasts with the French specialities brought by Dominique: salted caramel spread, “andouille” (chitterlings sausages) and chestnut cream.

Once the laundry done, we left to discover the middle peninsula of the Chalkidiki region, and specifically the Armenistis cove. To reach it, the road was winding along the coast. The little beach in the cove was full of tourists from Eastern Europe. We noticed licence plates from Roumanie, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Belarus. The water was transparent. On the beach, each family was in the shadow of a beach umbrella. Without one, we enjoyed the shadow from a tree. In front of us, the Athos Mount was piercing the blue sky. After bathing, we left the peninsula to reach the historic centre. We walked in the old streets of the centre, before enjoying a break in the shadow of the terrace of the Platanos restaurant. 

At the end of the day, back to Sozopoli, we discovered the Retsina, a local white wine with notes of pine resin. It was time to enjoy a nice barbecue, but a violent storm arrived on the city. A sudden thunderbolt lit up the area which convinced us to shelter the sidecars and to finish our sausages in the living room. 

In the morning, no major damages. Just some branches from the trees and the terrace to clean up. Plus, no electricity and no water as the electric pump of the well was not able to work. The rest of the village was also impacted. The street along the sea was flooded. Temporary toilets from a building site ended sadly on the sand. 

An “end of the world” atmosphere which didn’t stop us for workout. We had a swim and did a few lengths between the buoys. I continued with a running session along the sea, up to the port of Nea Plagia. I swam again and considered it as a shower due to the missing water at home. Finally, at 10:30pm, the electricity was back. In the neighbourhood, it was like the victory of the Euro 2004, everyone was celebrating! 

The following day, after breakfast, it was time for cleaning and sorting out our belongings to leave this little house. With the sidecars, we avoided Thessaloniki and headed to the Olympus Mount to continue our trip. 

Where to eat ?  

Restaurant “Kantinara”
Kountouriotou 16, 65302 Kavala

Greek sandwiches savoured in the street, with a nice deco. Each one can take place around an old bike considered as a table.