Category: Leivadia

Back to Athens

By , 21/07/2014 19:28


Above: The view from the house over the town of Leivadia.

As I write this evening, I am back at the Neos Olympos Hotel (Ξενοδοχείο Νέος Όλυμπος) in the centre of Athens, having finished my stay in Leivadia.

I was up at dawn this morning, packing my bag. After a quick breakfast I said my goodbyes to Dimitris and the family, and at 07:30 we loaded the car and headed for the railway station – a 15 minute drive away from the town itself. I took the 08:00 train – service 1511 – arriving in Athens shortly after 09:30 this morning.

I stayed around the railway station for a while; sitting in the cafe there for a drink, and a bougatsa (custard pie) – before heading for the hotel, just a 5 minute walk away. Check-in officially was not until midday, but the hotel receptionist, and his mother who works in the kitchen, remembered me from my first visit, and were more than happy to let me check-in to my room an hour and a half early. I told them that I would be leaving before breakfast tomorrow to travel to Syros, and he explained to me that he had just come from a trip to Syros!

This afternoon I spent a bit of time shopping; a 24 hour All-Athens Transport Pass costs €4, and once I’d got that I got the Underground to Agios Dimitrios (Άγιος Δημήτριος) – where (right next to the station) is Athens Metro Mall. There, I had a walk round looking at what shops they have there – and went in to Public.

Public is – if you can imagine this – a Greek chain store which is effectively PC World combined with Waterstone’s and WH Smiths. There I enjoyed browsing the book shelves, the DVDs, the CDs and the vinyls. I got myself a Greek CD – Christos Dantis (Χρήστος Δάντης) album Ένα Τραγούδι Ακόμα for €6,99.

At the same time I got some blank CD-Rs, which will mean I can burn some music from my laptop to CD to listen to in the car when my parents arrive next week: saving them from bringing all their CDs over. It’s not a good idea to rely on the radio in the car in Greece: being a mountainous country, you lose the signal with every turn!

I had lunch at the Metro Mall as well: there are a range of cafes and restaurants there including Greek chain stores Goody’s and Everest; there’s also Pita Plus, PizzaGR, an Asian restaurant… but I opted for KFC. I must say that ordering KFC in Greek is rather interesting!

I’ve managed to do some washing at the nearby laundrette too, so I’ve got lots of clean clothes to take with me to Syros.

I’m having a bit of a rest now. I’ll be heading for dinner at 9 – and then tomorrow I’m leaving at around 7am, for an 08:05 ferry to Syros.

Bye for now,


Almost Finished in Viotia

By , 18/07/2014 16:42

I have just two days left in Leivadia, before I return to Athens early on Monday morning. It will be strange to be back in Athens after 2 weeks in a very quiet town, but I am looking forward to returning to Syros on Tuesday, and seeing the rest of my family when they arrive in Greece in 12 days.

The weather this week has been cooler than my first two weeks – Tuesday was overcast, and wet with a short thunderstorm passing over in the morning, and a longer one lasting a couple of hours in the afternoon. Wednesday was just overcast. It made a nice change to be able to work in cooler weather.

The last couple of days, the weather has improved and the temperatures are heading up again, yesterday was sunny in Leivadia itself, but overcast when I went back to the beach at Antikyra. Today has been sunny in the morning, but it has clouded over now and we’ve had a (very light) rain shower.

This is probable the first time I’ve been in Greece and seen a prolonged spell of not-so-sunny weather – it is still warm though; I’m still only in t-shirt and shorts. I think from Sunday onwards the long, hot, sunny days I will look for when I go to the beaches of Syros next week will make a return. I think it is partly due to the area of Greece I am in that the weather is like this.

The Church On A Mountain

Leivadia Church

On Monday I decided to climb the mountain above the springs of Levadia, in order to visit the little church there is up there. It’s only small, but looks quite impressive built in to the rocks – especially at night when it’s all lit up. It’s quite a climb up there, but the views over the town from the top at the top are rather impressive.

Leivadia View from Church

Above: View of Leivadia from the church.

Below: Inside the Church.

Inside the Church

I even got the chance to take a video (below)…

Back to Antikyra

Ag. Isidoros

Yesterday afternoon, in need of another swim, I got the bus back to the coastal village of Antikyra (Αντίκυρα). The end of the bus line is at the beach of Ag. Isidoros (Αγ. Ισίδωρο). It was very busy on Saturday, so I left in in favour of Antikyra’s own beach, which is narrower – and therefore not as busy. Yesterday however, it not being a Saturday, it was quieter.

It was also overcast by the time got there, but that didn’t put me off: I found a nice spot at the end of the beach, under a tree, and went for my swim. It was my first “proper” swim of the holiday: I was in the water for a good 45 minutes.

It was the first beach quiet enough that I had plenty of space, with the added bonus that I didn’t need to worry about leaving my valuables unattended (when I was on the beaches near Athens, that was always a concern). I also enjoyed being able to swim quite far out and still be standing not more than waist deep in water. It’s also sandy underfoot once you get away from the water’s edge.

After enjoying my swim and drying off, I walked back in top the main village – about a 15 minute walk. With the sun setting, another hour until the bus, and another hour after that until I’d be back at the house in Leivadia, I went in search of something to eat. Though Antikyra has it’s tourists, they are mainly Greek, so the tavernas and restaurants were empty even at 8 in the evening. This turned out to be quite useful when I chose a cheap little gyro place to have a cheap bite to eat.

After so many years coming to Greece for my holidays, I am more than comfortable ordering my own food & drink in a taverna, and asking for the bill, etc. Even when I’m not the one paying, as the Greek speaker in the family I’ve been the one asking for the bill probably for the last 10 years.

It was when we were on Thassos I learned how to ask for the bill in Greek, so that would have it at either 2004 or 2006. Usually I’d say «Ο πατέρας μου θέλει των λογαριασμό» (“My father would like the bill”). This year I’ve been doing it the more Greek way, saying simply: «Παρακαλώ…» (to get the waiter’s attention): «Να σας πληρώσω». This more colloquial expression I copied from a group of Greeks in a taverna in Delphi the other day.

Arriving in the little gyro place on the sea front in Antikyra, I ordered my food and started talking to the waiter there; he could tell I was not Greek bus wasn’t sure where I was from. For some reason, when I explained I was from England, he asked me «Ξέρεις Εδιμβούργο;» (Do you know Edinburgh?) Anyway… I used this as an opportunity to explain to him how I’ve learned Greek, and about my Grand Tour of Greece – where in the area I’m staying and about the work I’m doing in Leivadia.

I get a huge amount of satisfaction from being able to hold a long conversation entirely in Greek, especially when it ends with «Μιλάς πάρα πολύ καλά Ελληνικά, έχεις καλή προφορά». I now know that προφορά = accent or pronunciation.

After paying my bill (just €3), the waiter thanked me, wished me «καλό ταξίδι» (good travel) – and before I left I managed to get him to take a photo of me.

By popular request (repeated texts from Mum ever since I got here), here is a photo with me actually in it, taken by my friend in Antikyra, just next to the table where I sat for my meal.

Me in Antikyra

This is one of the reasons I love coming to Greece so much: the φιλοξενία (hospitality – the Greek word for which is made of the words “friend” and “foreigner/guest/stranger”): they welcome everyone to their country as friends, and they definitely appreciate any effort made by a foreigner to speak their language.

Right… I’m off for a short siesta now. I’ll try and write again once I get back to Athens.

Bye for now,


Antikyra and Delphi

By , 14/07/2014 18:58

Today sees the start of my second week in Leivadia. It is just 8 days now until I head to Syros – which I am really looking forward to.

This weekend saw me using the local bus services a couple of times. After work on Saturday, I decided I was in need of a beach: I took the 5pm bus to Antikyra (Αντίκυρα) – the small town just along the coast from where Dimitris took me a couple of days ago. I had a walk round, had something to drink, and had another swim.

I must say I am looking forward to next week where, barring my few days in Kalambaka and Thessaloniki, I will probably be on the beach at some point every day for the rest of my tour. It is still extremely hot here.

The bus journey to Antikyra takes about an hour from Leviadia; and about half way between, from the bus I could see a small wildfire burning on the mountainside – with helicopters and planes circling ahead, taking it in turns to come down to drop water on the fire. It was all out by the time I went past on the bus back a few hours later.

Photo below: Antikyra – Looking towards the beach.


Sunday was my day off, and Dimitris suggested I take the bus to Delphi (Δελφοί / τους Δελφούς) for the day: It’s just under 45km away, and the bus journey takes 45 minutes.

Delphi is, along with the Acropolis, one of those ‘must-see’ sights of Greece. There’s a museum there, and the archaeological site (I’ll put more photos up a bit later) – entry for EU students is free. On that note: Φοιτητικό εισιτήριο is one of the most useful phrases I have used since arriving here. I estimate it’s probably saved me €20 on entrance fees – maybe more!

Treasury of the Athenians

Photo above: Treasury of the Athenians (next to the Treasury of the Boetians – Boetoia/Viotia/Βοιωτία) being the county I am in now).

Just a few minutes walk from the archaeological site and museum lies the modern village of Delphi – it’s a nice little town, with the main road running through on two levels: one level for traffic coming one way, one level for the other. The roads are narrow and there are lots of tavernas, bars, restaurants and hotels there. I walked up to some of the back streets on the upper levels and found the church, opposite the police station.

Photo below: Narrow street in the modern village of Delphi.


Delphi Church

Photo Above: The church in Delphi.

Photo below: There are excellent views from Delphi down towards Itea (Ιτέα), a coastal town where the bus between Athens, Leivadia and Delphi terminates.

View towards Itea

Today I am having a quieter day – just sitting in my cafe in Leivadia having a drink an an ice cream. I think I might go back to Antikyra again later in the week, and maybe head back to Delphi or even to Itea again on Sunday.

Tonight: I must e-mail the hotels/apartments I’m staying in next week and let them know what time I’m arriving – particularly for Syros, where I will be able to get a free transfer from the port to the village.

Time to pay up and head back to the house.

Bye for now,


Living Like A Greek

By , 11/07/2014 20:54

Aspra Spitia

While I am in Leivadia (Λειβαδιά) I really am living like a true Greek. It is a very Greek town – no tourists (any that are here are Greek)… the kiosks don’t sell postcards, or, annoyingly, stamps. The post office closes before I finish work!

As in Athens, I am generally getting up around 7 in the morning – the difference here is that breakfast is almost straight away, not at 8. By 8 I am starting my day’s work: mostly work in the garden, such as collecting dead leaves, cutting the grass, cutting wood for the fire etc. I finish my day’s work at 1.

After 1 I have an hour to get ready for the main meal of the day – the food here is quite good, and always home cooked. It feels strange sitting round a dining room table eating lunch in Greece; I’m normally used to sitting in a taverna for these sorts of meals.

After lunch the family go for their siesta, and I go to explore: I’ve walked up in to the mountains overlooking Leivadia for some wonderful views, I’ve sat by the springs and read my book, each evening I’ve gone in to one of the cafes by the springs for a drink and an ice cream (the banana ice cream is particularly nice).

Yesterday was a good chance to get out of the town for a bit: Dimitris and his sister took me to the beach – we went to Aspra Spitia (Άσπρα Σπίτια) beach – pictured above. It is  just along the coast from the town of Antikyra (Αντίκυρα), which also has a nice beach. Next week I might take the bus and go to the beach on my own. There aren’t many busses to there, but there is one at around 5, and one back at about 8.

In the evenings, a light meal around 9: yoghurt, feta cheese, bread etc. Sometimes leftovers from the main meal if there are any.

Today’s big achievements: Having encountered a problem on my laptop leaving me unable to access my e-mails, I took my laptop today to a computer repair place in Leivadia, and (bearing in mind all my Greek tech-vocab is entirely self taught) I successfully explained in Greek what the problem was, and they were able to fix it for me: I was out of the shop after less than 5 minutes.

Also today I used a cashpoint in Greece for the first time. I’ve never been here long enough to need to use one before!  On the ‘select language’ screen I selected Greek. It’s quite fun using the cashpoints and Athens Metro ticket machines without needing to put it to English! The money I withdrew today is the money I’ll need in Levadia for the next week, and for my return to Athens in a couple of weeks: I don’t trust the cashpoints in Athens, there are all sorts of dodgy looking people lurking nearby!!

Normally at this point in my holidays in Greece – I’d be just 3 days away from flying home. Not this year! Tuesday is not the day I return to the UK: It marks instead one third of the way through my Grand Tour of Greece. By Wednesday, I will have been in Greece for 15 days: Longer than I have ever been in this country before.

Off downstairs in a minute for some dinner, and then I’ll head to bed.

Bye for now,


Heading North

By , 08/07/2014 21:51


I’ve come North now – I am 130 kilometers (or 81 miles) from Athens, and I am now in Leivadia (Λειβαδιά) – the capital of the Voiotia (Βοιωτία) county.

For the next two weeks, I am staying with a family in the town; In return for free food and accommodation, I volunteer to do work. Here, it’s light, easy work – and after 1pm I am finished for the day. We have lunch at 2, then I am free for the rest of the day. This morning I was putting all the dry leaves from the ground in to crates, to feed to the rabbits.

This is my first time staying in an actual Greek house: It’s a nice little place. But I shall be honest, I miss the air conditioning of my Athens hotel room – and I got away with not having insect repellant in Athens, but I’ve got one bite on my arm now, not sure what from.

The family are good English speakers – Dimitris used to be an English teacher before he retired; they regularly have foreign tourists stay with them and speak to them in English –  but I have been speaking Greek with the family. There are certain words and phrases I’ve known for years but have never been placed in a situation where I’ve needed to use them: Staying with a family, I have been able to do so. As an example… You wouldn’t really go in to a taverna in the evening and tell the waiter how well you slept last night.

Even just sitting and listening to Dimitris talking with his sister and his daughter (and to the dogs), I am picking things up: I can take part in family conversations which the majority of their foreign volunteers can’t do! Dimitris’ daughter’s reaction when she realised I can speak Greek: “We must be careful”. And so must I: My German language skills have made an unexpected re-appearance. I should point out I haven’t actually spoken German yet, but I’ve had German words on the tip of my tongue on more than one occasion.

Another big achievement today: Talking to animals in Greek. The two dogs here are rather big. They’re not bad, in fact I’m starting to quite like them in a rather strange way. That said, the “social boundaries” I set for dogs are different to those I set for cats. The main words I’ve used when talking to the dogs: ΗΣΥΧΑ! (QUIET!), Μη (Don’t), Όχι (No), Φύγε (Leave/Go away), and Έξω (Out).

The dogs are only trying to be friendly, but I’d rather not have them jumping up at me, or trying to lick my feet – in particular, they seem to like my right toe a lot: the one which is all horrible. It’s really quite annoying!

After lunch this afternoon, the family went for their siesta and I headed in to town to explore – I went to the springs, which they call η κρύα (the kria) because the water is cold. There, I sat for a few hours reading my book; spoke to Mum on the phone for the first time in a week, and I spent a bit of time sitting in a café…and had my first ice cream of the holiday!

It is two weeks today that I had to Syros, which I’m really looking forward to. I’ve got my Syros calendar with me, up beside my bed! Also to come on my Grand Tour of Greece: Kalambaka, Thessaloniki and Thassos. Maps all somewhere in the bottom of my suitcase.

I think I’m off to bed now.

Good night,


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