We didn’t know what to expect, our first holiday with a teenager, so we let her choose the accommodation. We decided on Syros Island in Greece, the least visited by tourists but still in reach of Athens. It was Camilla who chose an organic farm as she had just declared herself vegetarian.
The accommodation we booked turned out to be a series of ancient stone houses, perfectly restored with minimal, but really comfortable beds and linens. The views were fabulous, right out to Serifos island across the Bay of Poseidonia. I’m a coffee addict, so I was thrilled we had a real coffee machine, fully stocked. My husband was equally pleased with the selection of Greek wines in the fridge.
Camilla explored the vegetable gardens, but felt nervous about picking carrots in case they turned out to be potatoes. She isn’t used to eco holidays or organic vegetable growing, even the range of herbs was a mystery to her. Simon, our fourteen year old, took one of the many bikes available at the Greek organic farm and immediately rode off with a towel in his backpack. We watched him disappear down the valley path to the beach. “Don’t worry,” the owner told us, “we get one car every ten minutes on that road and the beaches are the safest in the world.”
Living on an organic farm in Greece, in a rural agricultural area by the sea is a very special experience. We have had seaside villas before, with glamorous disappearing pools and cocktail bars, but this was different. All around us were working farms. We watched a new foal dancing around his mother, goats being moved from one field to another, boats coming in and out of the nearby harbor, and even the ferries moving sedately in the distance, powering home to Athens. The night sky was bright with stars and the scarlet evening sunsets perfect for sundowners. In fact, we got so used to enjoying that magical hour, we only ate out for lunch – the family barbecue became our daily ritual.
The owners showed us how the olives are picked, (note – next time we will come for an olive picking holiday), how the vineyard is managed and a great deal about the new Greek wines, most of which are organic. Our days settled into collecting our fresh breakfast bread by bike, farm eggs from the chickens and a relaxing breakfast. Camilla picked salads, herbs and tomatoes for our evening barbecue while the boys planned our daily outings – usually to a new beach or Ermoupoli to explore Syros’ Venetian cultural heritage. Lunch was either a picnic or beachside taverna. The food was consistently amazing.
I am hooked now on eco tourism, the kind of accommodation that allows you to live in a real place and be part of the local community. Eating food freshly picked from an organic vegetable garden is so different from supermarkets. Even our “salad shy” son came on board. And of Syros, I can’t talk highly enough.
by Margot Thompson November 2015