Take me back to Thassos

 

I know, it’s frustrating. Outside we’ve got -15° C, the city is frozen in icy snow and the year has just begun so no chance for holidays too soon and I’m posting pictures from the lovely Greek islands. I’m ok with winter and all but let’s admit it, each of us has a happy place to go to when things or weather become too harsh. And today I choose to go to my place of summer, chill and love – Thassos.

As I look again at the photos taken there I remember that British woman , somewhere in her 40s working at a bar at Aliki beach. She came there every summer, spent the days serving people in scorching sun and when asked, she said that for her this was heaven. I was watching her going from one customer to another on the burning sand asking in her beautiful accent: ‘You ok love, shall I get you anything’, making it comfortable for all those tourists packed on the small beach, resting every now and then with a cold beer on the restaurant’s porch laughing and chatting with the locals. And it struck me that heaven was not just the sun and the lovely scenery but the very condition of being human, of serving others with kindness, of enjoying the moment immersed in conversation or gazing at the sea.

Thassos is not your typical paradise island. It’s beautiful and strange in the same time. The beaches are rather small strips of land, some with a fine golden sand such as Golden Beach here below, some are rocky and rather unfriendly. You have to feel the thorny bushes, hot pebbles and pieces of shells under your feet to get to the fine sand and the clear waters. Even then the surrounding mountains remind you that it’s not your environment, you’re only a guest.

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Greek taverns are mostly about simplicity of design in favor of taste. In a place where you eat for comfort, shrimps and ice cream and fried squids are the celebrities so the decor is almost always rather plain and rustic. We found a tavern that took the French chic elements to inspire tourists for a longer stay and have more wine than beer.

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The funny thing about going to natural wonders is that when you look at pictures on the Internet you get this expectation of a wonderful out of this world place where you are one with nature. And it is so, but one little thing extra: it’s packed with people! Giola, the natural pool created by the sea in the rocky shores of Thassos is such a place. As with any amazing spots on the island, you must walk for about 2 km on an otherwise unfriendly road to reach the place that has indeed a stunning beauty. That’s why it’s full with people at any time jumping in the waters, taking selfies, videos and making a lot of noise.

Once there you still don’t feel safe. Nature has created a soft spot in its harshness allowing man to play with it for its amusement. The rocky environment around feels anything but benign, there’s a strong wind blowing there threatening to sweep you off the shore and the wild and deep sea around the rocks may give you nightmares. However this places puts a spell on people who love pushing their human limits and jump in the natural pool from higher and higher points with a lot of technology to capture the moment.

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Marble Beach – no recliners, no big straw umbrellas for shade, no cocktails brought to you while chilling in the sun. Just yourself on a towel and the white pebbled beach, the turquoise waters and of course, hundreds of other people 🙂

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Those summer sunsets as well as sailing in the sea around the shores can get you in quite a meditative state. That’s when material accumulation seems unimportant, dysfunctional relationships are miles away and competition becomes absolutely pointless. Just by looking at the pastel colours of the sky or feeling the depth of the sea under the boat the mind seems to stop chattering and one is merely in the present moment.

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It’s not easy to go up whether in career, personal development or just hiking on the mountains of Thassos. It’s rocky, bumpy, dusty and there’s always the danger of falling back to square 1. On the way however it’s not just rocks and effort. Life puts little wonders meant to show you are on the right track. Signs are everywhere if you know where to look and how to listen. A red flag sometimes, a hidden cascade, people showing up to help or offering you walnuts honey – one is never alone in the quest.

We’ve taken the toughest road to the top which was actually closed and forbidden for tourists and after driving the ATVs through the forests along the steeps we found ourselves on the highest point of the island, at 1200 m above the sea.

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The view from above is beyond words. It makes one feel small and whole at the same time. It’s been quite a struggle to get there and the little vegetation sprung out from the rocky cliffs has a stubborn beauty like everything arisen from barren and harsh environments.

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When done with the adventure of climbing you remember you’re hungry, thirsty, the sun is burning your skin and there’s no shade up the mountain. That’s when you becoming anxious to see the villages on the way back where there’s food, water and most importantly the comfort of being back among people, civilization.

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