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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 09 November 2019
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 9 NOVEMBER 2019 15 TRAVEL Dignitaries and many others come from far and wide to remember. Those interested in learning more about the history of the place don't need to wait for the anniversary to do so. Hire the village taxi or get an obliging villager to take you to the region, just four kilometres uphill from the new village. A huge cross monument tours over the countryside, paying tribute to the dead with their 238 names chiselled in white marble. A short walk will take you to a chapel where the bones of the massacred are kept. The views from the destroyed villages are breathtaking and you can see the Tomb of Amphipolis from the back of the church of St John. From there you can also see how Alexander the Great would have used Amphipolis and the waterways to launch his ships. For further information go to https://dimos-amfipolis.gr ARCHAEOLOGY The new village is rich with free old things to see. The new church, St Anargyroi (named after ancient twin philanthropic physicians), houses artefacts dating back hundreds of years. For a full collection of the artefacts rescued after the Nazi massacre, visit the church's hall downstairs. Stop to contemplate the commemorative panels with the 234 males massacred on the outside of the hall as you leave. At one edge of the village is the five-metre high Lion of Amphipolis, which is said to be connected to Alexander the Great's admiral. On the other edge, opposite the beach, is the colony of Ancient Argilos. A joint Greek-Canadian excavation, marvel as local and University of Montreal students shift through the sand every summer and bring an ancient civilisation to life. Go to www.argilos.net MUSEUMS Six kilometres from my village is the historically important village of Amphipolis. Amphipolis is connected to the life and times of Alexander the Great. He met his army there and began his Persian campaign. His wife, Roxanne, and heir, Alexander IV, met their end there. Take the bus for a couple of euro - about $4(AUD) one way - and head to the Archaeological Museum of Amphipolis. Headed by my cousin, it houses many treasures from the area, including the sphinx head found at the Tomb of Amphipolis. THE TOMB OF AMPHIPOLIS A recent find, this tomb is considered to be of enormous historical significance. It is the largest tomb in Europe, covers about 20 acres and dates back to the time of Alexander the Great. Locals believe it is the tomb of Alexander the Great himself. Excavations have resumed recently and access is denied to the public. But, there are already tours to the area and there is much to see, including the ancient villages of Amphipolis and Messolakia. Go to www.theamphipolistomb. com and www.greece.com/ destinations/Macedonia/Serres (then the village name) CHURCHES The Nazis left the four churches standing when they destroyed my ancestral village. From the back of St George, at Lower Kerdillia, you can see where Alexander the Great would have launched his ships. You can sit at the amphitheatre and drink water from the 'holy well' at St Anargyri. Over hundreds of years, these churches have been looted with village priest, Father Michalis, known to live in the churches for weeks at a time to protect them. The villagers keep up the restoration works and the young marry and baptise their children there, just as my parents were baptised there, and their parents before them. Tourists are welcome, too. You can borrow the keys Note that when the live music stops, the Greeks leave, so the music doesn't stop. My village had two dances. I danced to the drums and clarinet at the festival celebrating the church's patron saints and we also had the time of our lives at the 15 August village dance. There was also free theatre at the primary school my brother and sister went to in the 1960s and even the circus came to town. ASSUMPTION to the four churches from Father Mihalis and see the ancient icons and ecclesiastical architectural beauty up close. For further information go to Father Mihalis Theoharidis facebook page http:// enoriakerdillion.blogspot.com SUMMER FESTIVALS Summer is festival season in Greece. Every village puts on free music and dance shows. Just find out the date and time because the venue is easy: it's always at the town's central square - the 'plateia'. Superseded only by Easter and Christmas, Assumption on 15 August is one of the holiest days in the Greek Orthodox calendar. Southern Christian Europe closes down for three days, but in Greece, most people take their summer holidays from the 1 August. For two weeks, Greece stops to holiday, party and travel. Book ahead if you want to, too. FOOD Everything I ate in my village and around regional Greece was delicious. Greece is known as the food bowl of Europe and my village, situated in the farming-belt province of Serres, ensured that recipes used the finest ingredients. I ate fish at taverns metres from the shoreline, devoured fresh fruit and vegetables from farmers who came to our door to sell their produce and got spoilt with homemade cakes of all kinds from relatives who came to see us. If you don't want to cook, go the restaurants in Nea Kerdillia, that maintain their village charm, or the plethora of beachside restaurants and taverns in nearby Touzla, Asprovalta and Nea Brasna. . For further information see asprovalta-vrasna.gr and www.tripadvisor.com.touzla BEACHES My village has a nice beach along with a beach bar, known as Bratsaki. For the full Greek beach experience, catch the bus for 1.90 euros (around $3) one way for a 20-minute trip to the long shoreline beaches at resort towns, Asprovalta and Nea Brasna. For the price of a coffee, lie on a sun lounge, enjoy the groovy music, play beach volleyball, barter with the travelling salesmen (some told me they came from as far away as Bangladesh), or enjoy the warm sea. A half-hour trip in the opposite direction, takes you to the thoroughly modern sea-side town of Paralia Ofrinio, but everyone calls it by its Turkish name, 'Touzla'. There the sea-side cafes with sun lounges are so close to the beach that if there were a slight change in tide patterns, you'd be sipping your Gordon's Gin in the water. BAZAARS Another day another bazaar. On Monday morning, go for a swim at Asprovalta or Nea Brasna before shopping at the bazaar along the beach promenade. For the ultimate fleamarket experience on Mondays, head to Touzla's bazaar on a Monday. It is huge and has everything from stalls that sell everything for one Euro to more. The bazzar gets even bigger in July when the resort town celebrates the church's patron saint. On Wednesday's, it's Mavrothalassa's turn. A short bus drive from my village, this was a favourite. It had fewer stalls with better quality wares. Go by bus to all of them. If you haven't got one, simply buy a trolley at the beginning of the bazaar, fill it up with your clothing, linen and fresh food needs, secure the flap, put it for free in the bus's luggage compartment and go back home knowing all your week's shopping is done. Giant cross monument: Erected at the site where the destroyed Upper and Lower Kerdillia meet. PHOTOS: DORA HOUPIS Amphipolis, Nea Kerdillia: (left to right) Angela, Dora,parents Spiros and Panagiota, Maria and Tom. PHOTO: DORA HOUPIS COST Europe is expensive for us Australians. I got clobbered this year with the exchange rate, that at one stage hit $1.75(AUD) for one euro. Even so, many things are cheap and your Aussie dollar goes a long way. * Dora Houpis is a Melbourne writer. She travelled to Greece at her own expense.
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