Chalkidiki - 40 years ago
Chalkidiki has always been an unique escape to Thessalonians during summer vacations. Thessalonians could not afford the luxury of “running” to the islands, since the islands nearby do not exist, as there is no good ship transport in order to reach them, so the city realized its summer dreams from the sixties on two fingers of Chalkidiki. At that time, these two fingers, if were not covered with swamps, were left to fate.
The local inhabitants of Chalkidiki, until they discovered the value of their place, left the seaside places for their sons, while they kept the hilly ones for their daughters, considering them more valuable, in order to better marry them. In the sixties, the road barely came to the town of Moudania, which was then a fishing village and from there across the country roads and across the sea, the first tourists began to discover a true paradise, wild and unused.
Beautiful sea, incredible beaches with white sand, separated lakes and all this away from the eyes of others. And from the inhabitants of Chalkidiki, that are unhypocritical and suspicious of everything that is new. In the early sixties, the myth of Chalkidiki came to the ears of Athenians. Yachts with famous names arrive, including a couple of Giannis Carras and Melina. From Kassandra, they admired the Holy Mountain and Sithonia from afar, choosing a place for their future, mythical Porto Carras.
The first finger at the time of the late sixties and seventies, at the time when there were no motorways, became the favorite destination for the Thessalonians during the summer. The opening of the hotel chains Xenia by the Tourism Organization of Greece is becoming a must of a high society in the city. Coming to one part by car and from there by wooden vehicles to the hotel, the most famous families of Thessaloniki spent at the hotels of Xenia many summers. Hotels each year kept the rooms with same number for their guests so as not to feel the “shock of moving” and guests were great names of that age which wanted to rest and spend unforgettable flights in a discreet environment and without strangers. “I’ll retire to my room,” “a new, extraordinary chef comes in,” “evening of kum-kana” (a card game), were just some of the phrases that marked that age.
The column of Lefteri Kogalidis in Greek North (Ελληνικός Βορράς), the first column about tourism and summer, transmited every Monday what was happening in the hotels of Xenia and the unknown Chalkidiki and ordinary people followed it with enthusiasm. The opening of the Mendi and Ammon Zeus hotel and later the big Palini complex, are collecting slowly well-known couples and high society in Kallithea. The fashion of private so-called weekend houses begins to flourish in the late seventies.
Flegra, a complex a bit remote from Palini, was attractive to entrepreneurs of that age who are struggling to choose the best cottages within the complex. Opening of Elanis, another complex was built in which the most famous families of the village buy houses, forming the so-called neighborhoods that descend to the sea, raising prices and creating a general hysteria. In the nineties, the attraction attracted villas which are within the complex of Sani, where a truly earthly paradise was created. And after that the new neighbors have been sprouting from day to day and sprout until today.
Sithonia for estates
If Kassandra represented the cosmic boom of the seventies, then the isolated earthly paradise of Sithonia would become an alternative solution of the eighties. The path to the second finger was opened by the shipowner Giannis Carras, who convinced Karamanlis to introduce electricity and build the asphalt to Marmaras. The opening of the legendary hotel complex Porto Carras, in 1979, leads to the complete withdrawal of entrepreneurs, artists and intellectuals into its walls. The port that opens becomes attractive to yachts, and guests of the hotel during the summer evenings in the port compete with the splendor with those in Cannes. Guests of the hotel were both Greek and foreign most famous personalities, from queens to Arab tycoons and from premiers who play golf to Salvador Dali. All of them meet at the shipowners’ dinner in the mythical Villa Galini, for whose invitation it was supposed to fight.
Author of the text: Giorgos Toulas
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