Achingly smug holiday-related post alert … don’t say I didn’t warn you.
We’ve just got back from a splendid 10 days on Thassos. 10 days! On holiday. In the sun. With no rain.
If you’ve never been to Thassos, you should go. It’s a gorgeous place with pine-covered mountains, beaches around every corner, and a sleepy, laid-back feel (in June anyway, I can’t speak for the school holidays).
I love how Thassos attracts a broad range of tourists. On the roads you’ll see Romanian, Bulgarian, Serbian and Macedonian number plates, as well as Greek. (Turkish number plates, too, at our hotel.) English is just one of the languages you’ll hear on the beaches. In fact, Thassos is perhaps the only Greek island where a fellow tourist might come up to you and ask, in all seriousness (and in Serbian), ‘Do you speak Serbian?’ (To which I was delighted to reply, ‘Well, I speak Bulgarian…’ The two languages are so similar we understood each other.) The locals, especially those who work in hotels and restaurants, not only speak perfect English and German, they also speak enough Bulgarian and, in many cases, Romanian to get by. It’s amazing to see. Even the elderly shopkeeper in our village flitted between English, Greek and Bulgarian with ease.
(By the way, Romanians have the nicest cars. Take note, Daily Mail journalists: not all Romanians are itching to come over and steal our jobs while simultaneously scrounging on benefits and robbing people blind on the streets of London. Plenty of them are doing just fine where they are.)
Anyway, we basically spent the entire holiday hopping from beach to beach. On the one really cloudy day, we went to Thassos Town (much shitter than I remembered – although if you’re looking for amusing fridge magnets featuring huge penises, Thassos Town is the place for you). We also spent a day at Giola, a natural pool in the rocks by the sea. I even swam in Giola, even though it’s filled with sea anemones and is clearly a bottomless pool of death. Otherwise, we just lazed on beautiful beaches, swam, dozed, read, and ate tons of amazing food. It was definitely my best food holiday so far. My colon needs a meat-free month to recover and I’m concerned the garlic smell leaking from my skin might be permanent. My blood is also 90% Retsina (or, as we like to call it, piney wine). Mmmmm, piney wine.
There was also, sadly, football. Thankfully, I managed to avoid most of it. We all watched England v Russia together at the hotel. Well, I watched the first half, fell asleep around the 47th minute and woke myself up with a loud snort somewhere around the 60th minute. At that point I gave up and went to bed. I bravely managed to stay awake all the way through England v Wales (it being a 4pm and pre-Retsina kickoff). Overall, I thought Wales had a) the nicest looking kit, b) significantly better looking players, and c) the most magnificent beard I’ve ever seen on a footballer. Most of the England team looked like they’d just come from hanging out in the Coop carpark, but they did seem to be better with the football. I even cheered. Once.
Then it was time to endure the bus journey back to Sofia. A bus journey in 35°C heat, with no air conditioning and only a decorative toilet. (Why can we never use the toilets on Bulgarian coaches? Why? What’s in there?) We then had to get the usual two buses from Sofia to our house. The bus back to our village was a delight – everyone on the bus knew everyone else, the driver stopped off to pick up some milk from someone’s house, then delivered a bottle of beer elsewhere along the way. It’s so nice to be back in Bulgaria, we kept saying. You know you’re #winning at life when you don’t have that sinking, end-of-holiday feeling, and you’re actually looking forward to getting back to reality. We celebrated being home by making a feast of buttered turnips, tzatziki, courgette omelette, and a spinach, beetroot and nasturtium salad – all from the garden, which has been very busy while we were away. And then we caught up on Gardeners’ World. Holidays are the shizzle, but sometimes there’s no place like home.
|Feeding the gulls on the ferry from Keramoti to Thassos.
|Giola, the bottomless pool of death.
|We stayed in Kinira, a small, villagey resort on the coast. It’s just big enough to have a few nice tavernas
within staggering distance, but small enough to have almost no one on the beach.
|Our hotel. Kinira island in the background.
|Tiny chapel by the sea.
|Secret beach. No, I’m not telling you where it is.
|The church in Panagia village.
|Sunrise over Kinira.