Recent Posts by Akritidou
Halkidiki: the home of Greek Christmas trees
The first Christmas tree in Greece was lit in Taxiarchis village in Halkidiki! On Monday, November 7th, on the eve of the holiday of the patron and defender of the village of Agios Archangelos and after the solemn service, the highest “green beauty” was installed on the village square and the festive illumination was turned on.
With more than 85,000 lights, thousands of colourful ornaments and a large golden star at the top, the 16-meter-high fir tree that dominates the centre of the square of the mountain village of Taxiarchi, in Halkidiki, was illuminated.
The countdown to Christmas 2022 has begun!
The University Forest of Taxiarchis -a 5,800-hectare state-owned forest - is found in the centre of Halkidiki and concretely in the Southern and South-western slopes of Holomontas.
The unique agriculture found on the Mountain of Holomontas, which can survive at these winter conditions -low temperature, is the agriculture of Christmas trees, which are planted by seed in its fields (trees are not cut from the forest). For every tree that is felled, two more are planted and after 15 years of growth, the trees are sold, during the Christmas period.
Halkidiki: an alternative view | #TheLocals
Most of us when we think about Halkidiki we have images of crystal clear, transparent waters. Sandy beaches in an enchanting blue-green setting dominated by pine tree forests. Beautiful bars and tasty taverns.
But for me, when I think about that blessed peninsula, stones and woods come along with all the other beauties of Halkidiki. The architecture of traditional villages all over the area is stunning!
To begin with, Arnea, located at an altitude of 600 meters in the eastern part of Halkidiki is truly a gem! The traditional houses of the village were built from the beginning of 19thcentury until the middle of the 20th. Made of stone the two-story houses are often painted in blue, pink and ochre colour while most of them are fully restored.
Afitos: an island on the mainland! And indeed you have that feeling as you walk around the narrow cobblestone paths or enjoy the breathtaking view of Toroneos Gulf. During the evening the centre of the village which is dated back to the 3rd century BC transforms into a pedestrian area, ideal to explore the hidden stone made houses.
There are times that you just need a lazy afternoon coffee or a cool cocktail. The best option for those days is old Nikiti. Stone-made mansions with beautiful yards and balconies full of flowers will take you straight to the main square of the village where you will be able to feel the real spirit of Greece!
A refreshing change from the beach? Parthenonas has the best view towards turtle island and the most spectacular sunset of Halkidiki. All the houses of the village, built in the traditional Macedonian order, are fully restored. The way on the top of the village by foot is eye candy. Don’t forget to check the centenarian tree of the main square!
Last but not least Paliouri is an authentic Greek village. Low houses with big yards – most of them with gardens full of flowers and vegetables. Taverns with outside sitting offering homemade products. Local sellers of exceptional honey. Few tourists, many locals and the sense of serenity.
By Anastasia Nikolaidou | Hotel manager at Stratos hotel
Halkidiki. My summer home
To be completely honest I can’t remember one single summer of my life that I did not spend in Halkidiki, whether that would be for two long, lazy, carefree months when I was fortunate enough to still be in school, or for some shorter periods of time when school life was over and career time kicked in.
Thinking about it, Halkidiki has been more than a destination; for me, Halkidiki has been a part of my life, it’s an idea, a refuge, a place that most seamlessly addressed my needs through time during the 42 summers of my life.
As a child, I spent hours swimming and snorkelling in its crystal waters, playing with friends, running off to get ice cream, being taught by my dad about fireflies hiding in the grass at night or about which urchins were edible and how we could take them off their rock without being poked! Hot, carefree summer days that started with bougatsa (a typical fyllo-based breakfast option in Northern Greece) for breakfast, beach time that was followed by fresh fish for lunch, an afternoon nap with crickets singing us to sleep and endless afternoon playtime, until my parents drove us to one of the most hospitable tavernas in a near-by village to taste grilled local meat dishes, golden hand-cut French fries and fresh salads, very often picked from the owner’s own back veggie garden.
Later on, while studying in the university and still enjoying long vacations, the trendy beach bars became a daily must-go habit. Friendly staff serving ice coffee welcomed you to their venues, and a minimum 6-hour stay at the beach bar was filled with water sports “contests”, flirty encounters with other regulars and cocktails at sunset time. And then, rushing back home for a quick bite, shower and dress up a time to kick the night off in one of the many truly cool bars, followed by another drink at a more lounge-logic small club, only to end the night dancing to the tunes of an in-house or guest DJ at one of the big clubs all around the area of Kassandra. Somewhere around 6.30 to 7 am, sunglasses were on and just before going home, you had to make a stop at one of the many bakeries just opening up and serving the freshest and most delicious cheese or spinach village pies, sausage or kasseri-filled pies and sugar-coated donuts, always accompanied by the classic choco-flavoured milk. Driving back home while enjoying the sunrise, sleep and then up again at around noon to start the day over. Oh, those times!
And somewhere at around your 30th birthday, when the 2-month holidays were replaced by weekends starting in May and ending in September and a 15-day work break in August if you were lucky, things took a more… serene turn. Kassandra was “replaced” by Sithonia and its beautiful, traditional guesthouses or cosy summer apartments awaited. Either with your loved one, your family or with a small group of friends, a Greek coffee with fresh fruit, some feta and a sesame “koulouri” (haven’t tried it yet? Well, it’s your loss!) was the ideal way to start your day.
Some relax time reading your favourite book under the shade of a tree and off to one of the many secluded beaches or lounge beach bars, swimming, chilling, cocktailing and snacking until around 6 pm. The fancy dressing that was imperative during your 20s was now replaced by a dry bathing suit and a pareo or a pair of shorts, and you were ready for a traditional restaurant right by the sea or a fancier one that still admitted you in your casual apparel. For those, like me, who wanted to end their day chilling, we head back home and continued our night with some home-made cocktails under the stars. For those who still longed for more fun, easy-going outdoor bars were ready to welcome them. And yes, let me say that up to this very day, whenever I get to spend such a weekend in Halkidiki, I do prefer to wake up really early on those Monday mornings when I have to go to work, rather than “sacrifice” my Sunday evenings driving back to the city; after all, isn’t it better to spend just some more hours in the place that makes you feel like you want to stay there forever?
By Lina I. Vanidhis | Marketing Communications Strategist, MindTheLab.io
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