Sitting quietly at the small wooden table of the Pefka Taverna in the Golden Beach resort of Thasos, we stare at each other, not knowing what to do next. It is past 9 in the morning and the tavern right by the beach is completely empty. Even the two young waiters are still looking sleepy while they smoke a cigar at a table near the entrance of the kitchens. They look at us, we try to look away unsure of what we should do. The four of us have booked this trip to Thasos some weeks ago and we also included the optional breakfast. Served at a local tavern, it’s very close to our accommodation at Lina Apartments, just several hundred meters away, right by the beach. “Maybe it’s still closed?” I express rather my wish, not knowing what to do, now that we decided to sit down. Five minutes later, not knowing what to make of us, one of the waiters arrives with the answer.
“What time did the agency tell you to come?” Says the young Greek politely, but almost hiding a smile. “They didn’t tell us anything about the hour, so we came as soon as we could”. He starts laughing with his perfect white teeth, complimented by his dark skin, probably from serving in the sun all summer. It’s already September in the Greek island of Thasos and things are way slower in every way. “We start serving breakfast around 11″, he says still smiling. The waiter is so polite that we start feeling ashamed for disturbing their morning routine. He starts blabbing in the bad Romanian he must have learned from the thousands of tourists coming here each summer. He explains that things are slower in Thasos and we should come around later tomorrow, slowly leaving for the kitchen. It was the longest breakfast of our lives, but didn’t mind at all, sharing the boiled eggs, cheese, tomatoes, butter, toast and honey with the local bees. I imagine how someone allergic to bees would find the island, while I continue watching what I put in my mouth. The freshly squeezed orange juice is the perfect ending to our first Greek breakfast and by the time we finish, the rest of the tables are set and an elderly couple has joined our solitary party.
In the following days, we became friends with the waiters, leaving higher tips each time. We spent most of our days tanning at Golden Beach or some other beach in Thasos, trying to find the best spot around the island. My favorites are Aliki, Golden Beach and Paradise Beach, mainly because I fell in love with Aliki. Its beach is rather small and I imagine it being very crowded during the high season. We find the beach by chance one day, driving along the winding road down the southern coast, looking for new places. I’m instantly struck by the beauty of this place. Aliki is actually a small peninsula that must have been important in ancient times, at least the several archaeological remains suggest so. The small peninsula is tied to the island by an isthmus about thirty meters wide. On one side, the small sand and pebble beach profits from the natural protection, its turquoise bay has no waves so it’s perfect for swimming. When the sun becomes merciless, I grab my shirt and start exploring the place. Behind the beach, on the side, I find a few meters of shaded beach and some ancient ruins. On the peninsula, there are more ruins of what must have been a small settlement, with a few temples, two paleo-Christian basilicas and a marble quarry. Marble was one of the main resources of Thasos, the white cliffs still being visible down beneath the blue-green sea. We returned another day in Aliki, admiring the yachts and boats passing from time to time through the bay.
The next day, walking along the cobblestone pedestrian streets of Limenas, I’m still thinking about the bay of Aliki. The capital town of Thasos enticed with several historical highlights. After passing through the ancient Agora, filled with marble slabs and columns, we walk through an area of the town with typical Greek houses, built on a steep incline, with narrow alleys and stairs. Several fat cats draw our admiration trough the fig trees and pink oleander flowers. We all begin the ascent towards the Acropole site on top of the hill overlooking the Agora and ancient port of Limenas. Not even thirty minutes later, I continue alone the rest of the steep hike. The trail leads through dried pine woods and wild olive groves, passing past the ancient amphitheater, with an astonishing view over the city and its bay. I continue to the top, reaching the Acropolis for another perfect panorama of Limenas. I allow myself several minutes just to take everything in, thinking about the experience of discovering this place, before I head back down to meet my friends who discovered the sweet treats of the island. Sure, there aren’t many things to do on Thasos, besides relaxing by the beach while you try to keep your gyros from the bees, drinking a Mojito in a taverna with lit up torches reflecting in the night waves or taking long meditative nature walks. But then again, some people, me included, like it like that… Actually, I’d imagine even a Hollywood star going unnoticed in one of the forgotten stone villages of Thasos.
I’m already missing it, sitting in the blue ferry taking us back on the continent. One hand hanging from the deck, the other holding the camera, I’m looking back onto the green hills above the old port of Limenas, the island getting smaller and smaller. The steely cries of the seagulls bring me back into the real world. People are feeding these winged pirates and among them, a young girl in a white shirt. She’s thin and graceful, even as she raises the breadcrumbs to the sky. “She’s beautiful!”, I say to myself, not able to look away. Not that kind of flashy beautiful that takes your eyes and your mind. She has that simple beauty that stays with you even after she’s gone, making you want to see her again and again, without being able to pinpoint an exact reason why. Kind of just like Thasos…
Cover image by Anton Sulsky on Unsplash
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