It’s a March type of day: the sun is warm, but the wind is cold. Moving closer into beams of light that edge around the corner of the bakery, I sit tucking into Pefkochori’s finest spanakopita from Kostas Mbugatsa. It’s my favourite breakfast in Greece – a filo pastry pie filled with spinach, spring onion and dill. I mix mine with a cheese pie too and it’s too good for words.
It’s the kind of: ‘summer in the sun’, ‘winter in the shade’ type of day – the typical Greek transition between winter and summer. It still shocks me how much the village transitions between those long busy summer months to the bitterly cold and silent winter days. I don’t know if it’s the scent of the warm sea, the clogged up tourist beach front or simply the return of warmer summer air that turns Greeks from their winter slumber into mechanical toys, just released from being over wound.
As I look out now, the main road that links the villages is near empty, the bakery’s, cafes, bars that surround are boarded up – closed for the cold winter. Not only does the atmosphere change, but the villagers change too. The crowds of tourists who marginalise the beach front have disappeared. All that seems to be left is an elderly Greek man walking beside the waves in the diminishing sun; he has seen the transition so many times before.
It makes a change to strolling down Queens Road on a cloudy Sunday morning to my usual Netball match and library session. Here, I love walking around the almost empty streets in the morning with the rising sun shining across the beaten roads.
Without the tourists, Pefkochori becomes a ghost town – something not to be cherished in the winter. But, once the sun stretches out across the village, it is even more beautiful than summer. Without the hustle and bustle of visiting tourists which pack the streets from day to night, the village welcomes passing strangers with a yassas here and kalimera there by old Greek women dressed in long loose fitting clothing.