Guide to SKOPJE

Holiday in Greece – villas instead of white little houses, off-road vehicles instead of donkeys


I am preparing for my summer vacation in Greece for the fourth year in a row now. I usually dislike travelling to places where you can’t see or learn anything new, so we go to a different place every year. After Nei Pori, Polychrono and Nea Vrasna, it was Leptokarya’s turn to have us as guests.

Polychrono 3

I still can’t understand how it is possible that accommodation for a family of four can cost €100 to €130 per week. Well, it’s two adults and two very young children, but still, it’s too inexpensive, even if we take into consideration the fact that the beginning of June is considered low season and these rooms cost double or three times the price in July or August.

But let us remember that Greeks are often said to be very good salesmen. Although stereotypes are by definition a wrong attitude towards people or things, their accuracy has been confirmed too often, that’s why we should not doubt that they have found a way to profit out of this deal.Leptokarya 2

I had never travelled to Greece before 2010. I could not stand that European visa barrier and I could not imagine going through complex procedures and exposing myself to a potentially humiliating behaviour, for just one trip. Were we supposed to beg to spend our money? I knew it just wouldn’t work.

grcka granica

When someone visits a a neighbor who has lived near their house for thirty years, people might talk about anything. Greek resorts usually have white houses with blue roofs, very similar white churches and narrow streets paved with stone, all of them finely lined, as if we were in Lego Land. And it didn’t seem like that only to me. When I talked to people who live far from this area and I mentioned that I regularly spent my holidays in Greece, they always asked me about  the beautiful white houses placed almost on top of the hill. Of course, we were talking about the island of Santorini.santorini
Amazing how this small town, nearly isolated in the southern Aegean, has become the stereotyped image of vacation throughout Greece. But perhaps it is not as big a surprise if we know that it is the star of all tourism campaigns. Foreigners in Macedonia would expect to see churches built on cliffs that hang over the lakes. But there is only one Ohrid and St. John Kaneo church. The island of Santorini is unique (well, not only one, but several small volcanic islands,r). In fact, we know that Mykonos is almost the same, also parts of Crete and other islands, but their numbers are far from creating the image of a typical Greek resort and are only a rare example.

Travel Agencies in Skopje sometimes put a poster of Santorini and below it the caption “New arrangements for Greece.” These places can’t be found in regular tourist arrangements, and are far beyond the financial capabilities of an average Macedonian citizen. It is an interesting situation when your first contact with Greece is with one of its complete opposites – Nei Pori.Nei Pori 3

Especially, when you see the wide boulevards, just like New York avenues, and even more! It’s impossible to see that in any other seaside village. So, you think, this must be those high European standards. Until recently, the European Union, and Greece, seemed a place where everything is perfectly planned and everything runs smoothly. But Nei Pori is not a reflection of Greek urban standards, but those of the U.S. Army. According to legend, it used to be a military base some 40 or 50 years ago, but then the Americans moved out and left the network of streets available. Then the locals came, made houses and brought tourists. In Greece, around the world you can’t find a place that is so well built and planned. Not even Thessaloniki.

Polychrono 2

Polychrono is more like a “real Greek” town, small and hilly with winding, narrow streets. But we didn’t see a donkey anywhere – the symbol of exotic, rural culture of this country, whose images and figures fill the windows of souvenir shops. Why then, did the farmer come to the beach selling fruit and vegetables from the back of his huge, expensive 4WD pickup? Where are the donkeys? Obviously they are not to be found easily.

marijaThese images of Greece seem typical, but it turned out that they are not. There is another one though, – the coastal villas in Greece are usually managed by a landlady, a middle-aged women, a little overweight, wearing too much make-up, difficult to understand although they speak Greek loudly and are often called Maria. This description may sound funny, but we find this type of women everywhere we go. It is considered a remnant from the traditional role of the woman as the pillar of the home, the one who takes care of everybody in the house, or the guests in the hotel rooms.

What kind of tourists are the ones who come from Macedonia? Are we really the worst type of tourists who only use the sea and the beaches, and carry everything they need with them? Indeed, not every family can afford three meals a day in the taverns. There are inexpensive solutions but you must understand that what we carry with us also costs money. Why have we packed lunch food for seven days? The answer is simple – toddlers. Families with young children are among the most common visitors to Greece because of its proximity. Children do not want to sit in a restaurant, they have no patience to wait for the gyros, or to shop in the supermarket. The better preparations are made in advance, the easier it will be for everyone. But children grow up, they say, and you do not change. Well, in time it has became a habit.

Hanioti 2

We are not stingy as proven by our next feature. Before setting off we pack everything we might need, and before we leave we buy everything from the supermarkets to bring home. If you ask our fellow countryman which association first comes to mind when you mention Greece, it will rarely be the Acropolis. More likely it will be “Lidl”, “Cosmos”, “Jumbo” or “Ikea“.

4.1.1  lidl

All in all, Greece always manages to surprise us. Whatever you think of it, the image may change. And you will surely like it!!

Nei Pori 2

Goce Trpkovski