Good Road…this is the one phrase we have heard over and over again here in Greece. It is a wish for your journey ahead. And since we are on our Retirement Journey – it fits right in with how we are kicking off our retirement with a six month stay in Greece.
Everyone we come in contact with from the hotel staff, the restaurant staff, the guys in the kiosks, the shop owners, the toll booth people, etc. say this to us wishing us well on our travels ahead. The open heartedness of this expression is given with warmth and sincerity. The Greeks love their tourists and want us to enjoy their country which we are definitely doing.
Hitting the Road
Kalo Dromo to us also means ROAD TRIP! We have traveled all over Greece in a rental car going through mountains and tunnels, over bridges large and small, into small towns curving our way to each destination. The National Roads are excellent, in very good condition and with clear signage of where we are and where we want to go. The rest areas are numerous – offering food and drinks, bathrooms, outdoor sitting areas, some have shops as well. All clean and comfortable. Typically, the gas station is right next door so you can fill up as well and off you go!
The secondary roads are also good, most of them are asphalt with some minor exceptions where it is still gravely in smaller more rural areas. Then we have the country/local roads (in some cases they are called the old road) which is where the fun begins!
These old roads have proven to be the best experience for us. Tiny, twisting lanes have led us down to beautiful little coves with tiny tavernas offering the fresh catch of the day as we watch the local fisherman in his boat.
Sometimes it can be a little hairy, where a road suddenly ends and there is hardly any room for us to turn around! Zaf has become a master U-turn driver! Exploring is what Zaf and I enjoy the most as it takes us away from the typical crowded places where the tourists go. We like seeing the inner Greece where the people who work the fields and tend the sheep live and work. It is said to note that this is the side most tourists don’t see, which is unfortunate.
One time, on a previous trip, as we crossed a little bridge, high in the mountains of central Greece, right across from a little white church stands a little house-like structure – my cousin told us to stop there for some delicious meatballs. From the outside it didn’t look like much, but we took a chance. Walking up to what was a little patio, conversation stopped all around. I walked into a little sitting area with a kitchen attached; a woman looked up at me in distress…she knew I was a foreigner, but she didn’t speak any other language but Greek. I smiled and said to her in Greek “I heard you had delicious meatballs.” She burst out laughing and waved her hands in the air inviting me in…I told her my husband was outside so she rushed out and told her husband that we were Greek! The chairs were pulled out, a white table cloth appeared and we sat down. We ordered and the questions started flying…where were we from? What were we doing here? etc. Not only from the owners of the place, but from everyone on the patio! I told them that my parents came from the surrounding villages and that we were on our way there to see the ancestral homes. We ate well, paid the bill and bid them Yiassou! They said Kalo Dromo. The beer was on the house!
As we were driving along, I fiddled with the radio and found a station that plays Greek music from our own generation as well as modern hits. Playing it loud, to the amusement of the toll booth people when Zaf rolls down the window to pay. I dance in my seat, waving my arms and snapping my fingers, to the amusement of the truck drivers who can see me from where they sit. We drive through the beautiful country, sometimes singing along, enjoying the fact that we are there!
I just want to point out that no matter what direction we go in the sun is always on my side. My right arm is typically draped by a light sweater to keep the sun rays away. No matter how much sunscreen I use, I got to cover up. Once in a while, my feet are in the sun as well, so another sweater has to go there. I can’t figure it out but I think sometimes Zaf is doing it on purpose! 😊
Another expression said often is Kalee Sinehia…(see-neh-hia) which means good continuation or good progress. They want us to enjoy every single moment ahead and wish us well as we drive on to our next destination. Sometimes we see them in the rear-view mirror as they wave yiassas (goodbye) to us!
It has really left an impression on us. Two simple phrases, given in good cheer, send us off to the next adventure with a warm and fuzzy feeling in our hearts. These moments are what travel is all about – connecting with other people who live in another country. Exploring in our retirement is not just about monuments and museums, beaches and bridges. It is about humanity shining through.
Retire well, Helene
Photograph of the National Road with a view of my birth city, Lamia, in the background From the Personal Collection of Helene and Zaf
Photograph of tiny cove in the Southern Peloponnese from the Personal Collection of Helene and Zaf
For more information about Greece visit: www.travelguide.com