Spending Easter with Alkis' family in Greece has always been a wonderful holiday to look forward to and a great family get-together. On Thursday, May 2, we flew to Thessaloniki feeling excited about meeting family and friends who we hadn't seen for a year. Thanasis, Alkis' youngest brother, picked us up at Macedonia Airport and drove us to Serres, Alkis' hometown, which lies at about 83 km from Thessaloniki. In about an hour, we arrived in Serres and checked in at Philippos Xenia Hotel - our favourite hotel in Serres. Soon after check-in, which was amazingly fast and efficient, we realised that we were starving as we only had a snack on the plane. Late lunch at Ouzomagies was very rewarding! I fast during the Holy Week and was pleasantly surprised to see the variety of lenten dishes available at the tavern. There's one thing I regret, though. I was so hungry that I forgot to take photos of all the great food we had there. Later in the evening we had dinner at the hotel's splendid roof garden restaurant with Zoe - Thanasis' daughter - her husband Stratos and their beautiful daughters - six-year-old Maria who's already been to Primary School and can read very well and four-year-old Alkistis, our goddaughter.
This is what we woke to the following morning.
At Philippos Xenia Hotel, we had a beautiful, spacious room overlooking the back yard. This was only a small part of the evergreen city of Serres. We rented a car and soon after breakfast we explored the surrounding countryside. Serres boasts the most beautiful countryside in Northern Greece, off the beaten track. The park at Eleftherias Square in the city centre matches the beauty of the country. We enjoyed coffee and bougatsa there and just before lunch an ouzomeze
On Easter Day, May 5, we had the perfect traditional Greek Easter lunch at Gazoros - a small village at about 25 km from the city of Serres. Thanasis proved to be a master at making the traditional ovelias- lamb on the spit. Alkis was just a ...sous-chef (under-chef) and was only trying to help! The result was simply delicious!
On Easter Monday, we left Serres for beautiful Thessaloniki - also known as the nymph of Thermaikos. We stayed at Macedonia Palace Hotel which we didn't really like and regretted not booking Electra Palace, but we got better prices at Macedonia Palace. We got a double room for €100 a day vs €170 at Electra but it wasn't good value for money, anyway. However, this did not spoil our holiday. We'll simply not go back again!
Alkis and I walked along Nikis Avenue to Aristotelous Square and had a great dinner just the two of us at Roumeli Tavern by Athonos Square. Walking back to the hotel was an invigorating experience after all the great food we had there.
On Easter Tuesday, we were invited for lunch by our great friends Irini and Stelios at Scholari - situated at about 25km from Thessaloniki . This is where I met Aspa - a wonderful person who I consider to be a wonderful friend now, even though I've only known her for a few hours!
We had such a great time there and enjoyed it so much. Irini proved to be a top chef but we also loved the men's cooking,... like the baby goat on the spit. I know Stelios contributed a lot but my congratulations go to Asterios! Believe it or not, we had a huge dinner at Anestis Tavern in Perea, Thessaloniki. We were invited by Antonis - Alkis' cousin - and his wife Irini. And we still had a lot to eat and drink.
Wednesday morning was shopping day. Thessaloniki made me reconsider shopping in Athens! In the evening, we had another great dinner at Roumeli Tavern with Antonis and Irini.
A few years ago, I was quite reluctant to spend Easter with Alkis's family in Greece. I thought I'd feel a stranger being from Cyprus. But his wonderful family made me feel I'm part of them. I would like to thank everyone for their wonderful hospitality and for making me feel at home.