Although it's really an adventure to drive there, because of the lack of propriate road signs on the way from Serres to Sochos (notice that even my GPS was inadequate!), the traditional carnival of Sochos worths a visit. It has nothing to do with the more popular, though "industrialized" ones, carnival of Xanthi or the carnival of Patras. This event is an authentic experience. The main theme of the festival is based on the parody of a marriage. I was there on Forgiveness Sunday, but, as I was informed from friends, the events taking place on Ash Monday are more interesting!
The best experience in Greece could well be the "Uninhabited Island Hopping" - Robinson Crusoe Expedition.
An expedition that takes adventurous travelers to small uninhabited islets and islands in Northen Greece: We all met in the hostel (Backpackers Refuge). Our captain packed our gear and his in the little 4X4 pick up and load the 4 of us in his car. 100 km later we faced the raw beauty of the forest coming down the sea. In front of us we could see several islands and strips of land that created a secluded and crowdless area. We jumped on the tiny boat not knowing where we are heading. We landed on an island with deep blue waters and olive trees. For the next 4 days we lived a surreal experience of exploring beaches, islets, cooking our fish and all that in perfect harmony with nature. Captain Greg insists in minimum technology usage while in nature. He is knowledgeable of the waters and he has the aurora of a man who has traveled the world. This experience takes you to the ultimate nature and travelers who cannot part with comfort should give it a miss. If you do it however, you will never forget it!
Do not miss the chance to visit the nice beaches of Halkidiki! I certainly recommend the mid peninsula of Sithonia, where fewer of the 2 million Greeks spent their summer holidays...
The most distant, and still most popular village in Sithonia is named Sarti, 3 hours drive from Thessaloniki.
If u favour camping sites there is an excellent place called ARMENISTIS, with all camping facilities.
My journey to Mt Athos starts with an early rise to catch the 6am bus from Thessaloniki to Ouranoupolis. The bus was quite full, a mixture of monks returning to Mt Athos, passengers for other towns along the way and 'pilgrims'. I sit next to a young Greek boy who was interested in why I was going to The Holy Mountain.
I have had an interest in the area since I visited the monasteries in Meteora back in 1997. Maybe it is a fascination with the monastic way of life, maybe because Mt Athos is a rather unique area. Whatever the reason, I was about to realise a long held ambition.
A couple of days previously I had made my application for entry to the Pilgrim Bureau at Thessaloniki. I had expected perhaps a more thorough process, but all they wanted to know was my passport details, what my religion was and when did I want to go.
There are restrictions on the number of people admitted to Mt Athos - up to 120 Orthodox Christians and 14 people of other religions are admitted each day. Only men are allowed into the area!
We reached Ouranoupolis after a journey of about two and a half hours. Here I line up at the Mt Athos office and pay my thirty euros and receive my official entry certificate. Then it is a wait on the dock for the 9.45am ferry to Daphne, the main port on the peninsula.
I look around me at my fellow passengers as the ferry leaves. No women on board of course, but groups of men sharing the pilgrimage together, monks, fathers with their sons, and some solo pilgrims like myself.
I try to focus my thoughts but it is difficult with the hubbub of excited talk, mobile phones ringing and the noise of the boat. A monk approaches me with some trinkets for sale - I decline gracefully and he wanders on.
The boat travels down the coast. Soon the peak of Mt Athos comes into view as we call in to a few of the monasteries. Firstly the port for Zographou Monastery, then the monasteries of Docheiariou, Xenofontos and Panteleimon.
Panteleimon is one of the monasteries that I intend to visit but my plan is to go to the port of Daphne and then walk back up the coast.
We arrive soon enough, and I sit for a while. Daphne is a small place, a few buildings, a restaurant and some souvenir shops. A little way up the road a group of new arrivals are gathered around the bus that will take them onto the administrative centre of Karies, and then by taxi to their monastery of choice.
But my journey is to be a solitary one. The bus leaves, and I shoulder my pack and start off up the road. According to my map, a path to Panteleimon should branch off the road to the left. I find one track but it is not sign posted. I walk along it for a while but it goes no-where, so back to the road and I walk on. Ah - here it is, sign posted (in Greek) and heading in the right direction.
I take it slowly. It is a pleasant walk closely following the coast. Then there is an old stone bridge crossing a dry creek bed and I take a couple of photos.
It is early spring, and the wild flowers are starting to come out, dotting the sides of the path. It is peaceful.
The monastery is now in view ahead as a young monk passes me going the same way. We exchange 'hello' as he walks on.
You can read more at my personal web site
What shall we do?
Alonissos Island of course! Its the best place around here.
And how do we go there?
By sea! Its only eight hours.
Why don't we go by plane?
Sorry mate, no plane today.
Alonisos is an island that belongs to the group of Sporades Islands. It has a pure natural beauty like few other islands in Greece. Its beaches are probably of the cleanest in Greece. It is also one of the resorts of the Meditteranean seal, an animal under the threat of extinction.
About an hour drive on the way to Kavala is Amfipolis. Search for the Leon of Amfipolis, a -manlike- lion on the tomb of Alexander the Great's favorite fleet commander which was placed there to honour the dead for his courage and virtues as a man and as a fighter. Also, the Amfipolis museum is very interesting (in the village of Amfipolis).
Located just 100 km south of Thessaloniki, Olympos is an extremely pleasant and easy mountain to hike (on summertime only, as it is 2918 m. high).