Back to Greece, my father’s home, after many years. The last time I had been to Greece was before I went abroad and came back, before I started my own business and failed, before the end of my almost-marriage, before burying my idea to have kids, before the Greek financial crisis, before visiting half a dozen new countries, before the time when I started appreciating spending time with my parents.
So here I am staying with my mom and dad in this guesthouse without a name or entry in any of the usual online channels that we have traditionally stayed in for a month per year during my childhood (until I found it uncool to go on holidays with my family and moved out). It is the closest beach location to my father’s home village that is about 50km away, thus the choice. The rooms are sea facing, with three beds each, big balconies and a kitchenette. I remember that we all shared a room together back then, the four of us, though that hardly can be true. Now we all have a separate room and rooms are still damn cheap, but also very basic – I notice the shortcomings now. We have all gone up the income and lifestyle ladder it seems. None of us minds the simplicity though.
We have either lunch or dinner in one of the Tavernas a couple of driving minutes away (everything in this village called Kastrosikia is closed because it’s off-season), with the other main meal consisting of salad and snacks we keep in our fridge and prepare in the little kitchenette, in the evenings along with wine that we try opening with our Swiss knife. In the mornings we have Tiropitas from the mobile bakery that drives by every morning, and the hostess whose name I keep forgetting serves us Greek coffee (aka Turkish coffee which Greeks don’t like calling it so) whenever we want. Panagiota (I now remember the hostesses’ name) is a kind, talkative woman with a big heart. Her husband’s breakless talking is rather unnerving than sociable, but thankfully I understand only half of it.
My dad has been coming here every year since the eighties, continuing our family tradition, while my mom, brother and me have stopped joining in the mid 90s. So while my mom feels as curious and alienated about this place as me, my dad feels very much at home. He is very comfortable sitting downstairs with the hosts, he seems to know all the eateries and bars around, and he calls up people I never heard of to ask what they are up to. When we are out he sometimes starts little chit-chats with strangers. I almost don’t recognize him, who is more of a shy lonely wolf in Germany. He clearly feels more comfortable here, at least socially. It’s like my dad’s own little world that I never got to know, until now.
Everything I have seen so far strangely is more beautiful than I remember it. Which is interesting considering how spoilt I have become in terms of travel experiences since then. The nearby town Preveza for example where we went for lunch and shopping today. A charming place, with its many small alleys, its Paralia full of cozy cafes and the amazing fish eateries filled with people in the old town. I had an even more striking experience of positive surprise with Thessaloniki that we passed through before coming here, but since we will spend a couple of days there at the end of our trip I will comment on Thessaloniki then.
I am glad I came. How comfortable I feel shows in one simple thing: I have been speaking Greek with my hosts today, something I usually never do out of a false perfectionism. I intend to keep it up. Off for a game of cards with my parents now, I will report again when we will head for Ammotopos, my father’s village, with all my relatives that I have not seen in almost 20 years.