A tiny sea-side harbour next to Athens
I have been sharing my days between my parents’ home and my new flat. Amongst lots of unpacking I have managed to escape for afternoon dips in the sea and enjoy leisurely evening strolls.
Varkiza is a small seaside town with a tiny fishing harbour. If you are into modern Greek history you have probably heard about the Treaty of Varkiza. Most likely though, you have passed through on your way to Cape Sounion. Only 20km to the south of Athens, Varkiza has always been very popular with heat-addled Athenians during the summer months. It’s hardly a surprise though, with 15,021 km (9,334 mi) of coastline our parks are not bushy nor very green but wet and sandy or pebbly.
I managed to dig out this picture from the ERT Archives, showing an unadulterated sea front.
The photo was taken in 1917 by Petros Poulidis, the first Greek photojournalist, and it really seems so far removed from modern Varkiza. Now, there are smart, organised beachfronts with bars, restaurants and vibrant nightlife. For something a little more down to earth we also have a less-developed beach, hosting a cosy taverna next to a bustling water-sports club (I have spotted Nikos Kaklamanakis there training!).
As well as the beach, Varkiza has a tiny harbour with a few operating fishing boats.
I haven’t managed an early morning trip to the fish market yet, but I did find these little guys on a tiny counter by the shoreline.
Even if time has transported us far from pristine beaches and an unspoilt shoreline, I can still say “I remember when this was all fields”. My parents bought their house here 25 years ago, back then our garden (and the whole neighbourhood for that matter) was full of pistachio trees. Way too hard to maintain, they eventually gave way to more manageable lemon trees and, in amongst it all, my mum’s favourite rose bushes. Although many pistachio trees still survive amongst Varkiza’s unruly developments.
These still need a couple of weeks to mature, so luckily I have some from last year’s crop. I really enjoy munching on them for breakfast with yogurt and honey. And yes, these pistachios are free range as well, nobody tends to them anymore, so you can pick as much as you please…
I am pretty thrilled to have some 100% Greek yoghurt from the dairy shop too. I had almost forgotten how good our local Greek yoghurt is. Oh and the creams they make…yum yum
And finally, my old favourite: the open air cinema. Sitting down to a movie with friends, fresh popcorn and a cool night’s breeze is a great antidote to the stifling summer heat.
In my eyes nothing can rival the open air cinema. The smell of salty pop-corn, the freshly made strawberry and lemon sorbets, the friends. The beers and the expectant whispering, the smell of jasmine blankenting the walls. I better go catch a film!by