I believe I can say I’ve been to many places, I’ve met many people… some that for sure I already forgot, some who are being wiped from my short memory hard disk, and some I will never forget even though it didn’t seem of any importance back in the day I met them. A life proof of this, is an old man. An old man that I met back in Greece, in Kalamariá.
Kalamariá is the second largest municipality in Thessaloniki, an incredible city located in the northern part of Greece, where the Aegean Sea meets the Balkans. I may forget about several things as the years pass by, but I believe there is one moment and one person that even though I won’t ever see again, I will always remember. I am talking about an humble old man, who was sitting in a Café’s chair, holding nothing but a walking stick and enjoying the beautiful and sunny afternoon chatting with some other old person who was just about this age.
Me and my girlfriend were crossing Kalamariá by bicycle on two Thessbikes that we rented in Aristotelous Square, and we wanted to drink something as we had been cycling for some good kilometers, facing a temperature of over 35 degrees Celsius. As we had all of our belongings in our bicycles, including smartphones, action cam, wallet, etc, we didn’t want to leave them behind and enter this random Café. Some old greek man, through gestures, explained we could park our bikes right there that he would look after them. So, I went inside, as I knew there would be someone looking out for my items, even though I was kind of worried for pickpockets.
Right after grabbing a smoothie I came outside, and the man told me to sit next to him and his friend, and started asking several questions, such as where I was coming from… well, I can imagine he made those questions. I told him I was from Portugal, and he was very happy to know he had a portuguese couple crossing Kalamariá by bicycle. Indeed, we were not just crossing Kalamariá, we were trying to ride all the way to Epanomi’s beach, which never happened. I politely asked the man if he could speak either portuguese, spanish, french or english, but no luck. However, he understood we were crossing all the way to the beach, in order to swim (he made several swim gestures). I told him it was correct, and through google maps, he showed me the best beach close by, explaining everybody would travel to this place, including people from Germany, Bulgaria, France, the Netherlands, et cetera. (Yeah, the easiest part was to understand the name of the countries which is very similar in any language). The place he was so much bragging about was Nea Potidea, which later I googled and seemed to be extremely beautiful. However, it was impossible to get there by bicycle in a single day.
Unfortunately, it was time to keep moving. I entered the Café’s employee how I could say thank you and goodbye to this really sweet person who had just made my day, and confirmed the fact that northern greeks are one of the most welcoming and the most educated people in the world.
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