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Paralia Katerinis


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Ambivalences about Greece

Published by Dóra Csatári — 4 years ago

Hello all!

The following post is going to give a little overview about Greece, and its beautiful summer-resort, Paralia Katerini. I’ve already been at Paralia two times in my life during my high-school years. Once we planned a class-trip there, and after its success, the following year my entire school organized a journey to Paralia. The first and most important reason for choosing Paralia as holiday-destination was the fact that Paralia Katerini is a quite cheap location. Average Eastern-European citizens can easily afford it. The second reason why we chose it was that we wanted to swim in the Aegean Sea. And the third idea which influenced us, was the willingness to travel abroad, in a foreign country where none of us had ever been. My class and I have already experienced how Romanian sea, the Black Sea’s coast is, and we just wanted dream bigger and the idea of visiting a foreign country made all of us excited.

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Route Cluj-Paralia Katerinis was a 12 hour long exhausting journey. We traveled by bus, but cars or planes are other (more comfortable) opportunities for reaching Greece. However, the journey seemed to be infinitely long, we had fun, and we enjoyed beautiful sights as well. From Cluj to Giurgiu (the Southest locality of Romania, right next to the Bulgarian border) our bus went through amazing regions. We drove through the Southern-Carpathian and Subcarpathian mountains, than Romania’s greatest agricultural plain was next, and after all these, we could gain a bit inside the capital city, Bucharest. We didn’t enter it, because we were driving on the freeway, but still we could observe from far how the lights and taller buildings of the capital look like.

We arrived at the Bulgarian border, and from then on we absolutely lost contact with reality. At least, with the reality we were used with. Let me explain this. In Bulgaria Cyrillic alphabet is used and in Greece obviously the greek alphabet. Both are very strange, mostly looking like symbols and strange lines, having nothing to do with latin letters. Thus, we felt a bit uncomfortable and ‘vulnerable’ by not having the skills to understand the surrounding inscriptions. It was funny though, that some greek letters were familiar to us from physics formulas learnt at school, but that knowledge was way not sufficient to figure out everything. Sad thing is, that regardless the fact that Paralia and Bulgarian seaside are quite popular destinations frequented by tourists, the labels or legends are not translated into English. However, this language obstacle was only source of adventure, not a scaring factor really.

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A route Cluj-Paralia (one-way) costs approximately 50 EUR by bus. Accomodation varies between 20-60 EUR/night, depending on what You choose. We lived in a simple apartment house, where each room had 3 beds, own kitchenette and bathroom, for 25 EUR/night/person. I would recommend these 3-4 bedded apartment homes for students, couples and younger generations, because the price is very agreeable, and the conditions are as high as the expectations. What is great at Paralia, that the whole summer-resort lies paralelly with the coast. This means that the sandy beach is maximally 10 minutes walk away from each guesthouse. After arriving at the guesthouse, shortly we were already out again of course, way to the beach.

There were two important facts, which bothered me on the beach. Regardless those things the beach was perfect, the weather and the seabreeze was very pleasant. The first minus is that the sea was not as clean as I imagined it before. Papers and pieces of plastic could be seen between the waves, waste originating from human inattention and carelessness. The second negative impulse at Paralia was the mass of Romanian, Hungarian and Balkanian (Montenegro, Bosnia, Serbia, Albania) tourists. I don’t have any problem with these people, and I know we were at an international summer-resort where every nationality has the right to be present; however I missed English and German language, or at least, more of the Greeks. Paralia Katerinis actually looked like a neutral Balkan village, only the seaside was its ‘superpower’. For that amount of money we’ve spent on this trip, we could receive a ten time more civilized, clean or even more special resort. I’m not disappointed about Greece, only about Paralia. Maybe I am the source for this problem, but this location didn’t impress me. I absolutely missed Greek authenticity, it was a melting pot of Eastern-European citizens. I guess every summer-resort is like this, crowded by thousand of tourists, still I prefer being accompanied by people from all over Europe or other continents, than only Balkanian inhabitants.

I think there was a sea-cleaning staff, or just simply the waves made the waste disappear, because the following days water quality was perfect. Hungarian donut-sellers, African vendors, Turkish kebab-makers, colourful boutiques were one by the other on the beach. It often happened that in only 1 hour we were visited by the same vendor at least 5-6 times, hoping to sell us a watch, a painting or some bath accessories or jewelries. In conclusion the beach was like a huge bazaar, lively, buzzy and exotic.

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Swimming in the sea, building castles of sand, collecting shells were activities which purified our souls and minds though. In the evenings we used to go out and eat a gyros with tzatziki sauce. Tzatziki sauce was never as delicious as that tasted at Paralia. We tried the traditional greek salad and the souvlaki too. Souvlaki is fried meat-cubes on a little stick with pita and tzatziki sauce. Baklava was the dessert we used to have after our warm meals. And one day we tried moussaka as well. This is a potato or eggplant based warm dish, with lot of minced meat, vegetables, and cheese on its top. It’s a bit like lasagna, but without that special lasagna pasta or bolognese sauce. Each meal I’ve mentioned originates from Near-East, Arabic countries Turkey and Greece.

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Clubbing was our main night-activity at Paralia. There were several clubs with similer style and taste of music (mostly Balkan music) on the beach. Clubs didn’t impress us, but bathing in the Aegean sea fully dressed, was a memorable experience. Let's not forget about Uozo, a traditional Greek beverage made of anise perfect to drink in shots.

Once we were in Greece, visiting the Meteoras and the harbor of Thessaloniki was a must! Meteoras are orthodox monasteries built in cliffs and rocks. These temples are located on quite high altitude hills. Serpentineous roads lead to these treasures of UNESCO World Heritage. The view is stunning. Interstingly, some of these hiigh cliffs appear suddenly from nowhere, giving a frightening but amazing picture. Meteora gives home to monks, and near tourists it’s visited by pilgrims and wanderers. Our next stop was the port of Thessaloniki and the White Tower. This port is the busiest one in Greece. The city has many ruins, and archaic buildings, monuments worth visiting.

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In conclusion visiting Paralia Katerinis the Meteoras and Thessaloniki out of a small amount of money was absolutely worth, but next time I would prefer to travel to Athens or the Island of Creta!

Thanks for reading, Dora

(If You're interested about reading more writings of mine, click here)

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