The Aristotelian paths of Eastern Halkidiki are inaugurated with four separate routes.
When people in a place have an appetite, let alone when that place is Halkidiki (after all, it is well known that “like Halkidiki” does not), then the perfect conditions exist for the place to “blossom” and develop even more and in the right direction.
The Aristotelian paths: The precious heritage of Halkidiki
The 4 elements (water, air, earth and fire) make up the cultural mix of the trails in eastern Halkidiki with local “fairies” and their companions as guides. Tradition, local gastronomy, images, nature and aromas intertwine to create an unforgettable experience in the deep blue landscapes and deep green relaxation spots of eastern Halkidiki. The visionary of this ambitious effort is Polytimi Markogiannaki, founder of the company “Aristotle’s Paths”, while her helpers in this effort are worthy neighbors and local institutions.
We met with Polytimi during a guided tour in Halkidiki. Spartan looking, eager, full of appetite, university degrees (political science & master’s degree in thematic tourism) and many kilometers of working road. She spotted the opportunity in the market of cultural routes as well as the need for destinationbranding , embraced a group of people who live and create in the area, like-minded people – neighbours and started to “weave” the Aristotelian paths. The aim is for the traveller-customer to have in his suitcase when he leaves the essence of the place and the people who inhabit it even when the last visitor leaves, to have become a possession of even a piece of its history and to have wrapped with him the delicious products and aromas that put their stamp on the region. In other words, storytelling the right way.
On the routes of the Aristotelian paths, Polytimi has found valuable companions Christina, Anna, Konstantina, Zoe and Angelos and many others who take the thread, each from their own “edge” and business to guide us to all the beauty of the place. Let’s go meet them!
Underwater mountains, “salty creatures” and enchanting landscapes await us below sea level in eastern Halkidiki. The tranquility of the blue lures the eye to the edge of the horizon and all the senses are left to enjoy the unique landscape. A young Halkidiki woman with an excess of love for her place, Lebida Christianna is the orchestrator of the blue paths.
As she declares herself ” I never thought of leaving my place and Greece. I want the people who visit Greece to love it as much as I do and return again and again. With the experience of fishing tourism -also- we aim to extend the tourist season and attract travellers for a longer period of time. People who will plan their visit based on the experience and plan to come to Halkidiki in April or October. In other words, to change the type of tourist and enrich the classic tourist 3S: Sun, Sea, Sand.”
Christianna is just 26 years old with a degree in economics and specialization in hotels and tourism. Through the process of finding a job in her beloved Halkidiki, the family business of a cruise boat was fermented. They carry out itineraries to the monasteries of Mount Athos (500m away) in which mostly women participate, in Ammouliani, Vourvourou etc, creating an experience similar to that of the locals. “We give our love for the region and our work. To stay in the memory of the visitor”. The yeast of fishing tourism was the father who is a fisherman and will pass on his knowledge of fishing through 3 unique packages that will be launched this year, creating a new product called “fishing tourism”. They also have tour boats with 4 floor monitors through which passengers can observe the seabed and the underwater cellar.
The traditional cooperative Dryades
In Varvara Halkidiki we will meet Giannoula and 7 other villagers with a passion for the tradition of the place, its flavours and products. From “Dryades” we can buy the famous spoon sweets, fruity seasonal liqueurs, tasty jams, pasta and the famous trachana for which the cauldrons are fired with the rich goat’s milk of the region. Depending on the season, from the cooperative’s house (created with the support of Leader) we can buy bitter almond liqueur, cranberry, cranberry, cherry, cherry, cranberry pies such as trachanopita, rice pie, cheese pie, etc. On request, we may have the extraordinary luck to taste the wonderful pumpkin blossoms of the region. Varvara is famous for the production of pumpkin blossoms, which are an integral part of every feast and their recipe originates from the Ionians. The fresh onions and dill from the baksedas are fried with the strymonic rice and fill the barbarian courgette blossoms, which can be enjoyed as they were then, thanks to the Asia Minor culinary art that travelled to the peoples of the Mediterranean.
The golden Halkidiki honey from Chalkidiki – Gerogakas
Halkidiki is famous for its honey and especially its pine honey. But in the well-kept honey shop in Arnea we can find 8 different varieties of honey and the keen owners willing to introduce us to the secrets of honey, each category of honey, beekeeping and all the products that are produced with love, such as the famous Moudovina, which you will find only here.
As Constantina says, “she is impressed by the development in the area and the opportunities it offers as well as the different activities. Especially at weekends the paved areas are filled with people visiting for a weekend or day trip as the area has a lot to offer”. Picturesque colourful houses with the special architecture of the place, museums, a choice of taverns – restaurants and special activities. The shop offers tastings of all kinds of honey (many of which have won awards both in Greece and abroad).” He tells us about the special susura/heather 1 plant that blooms 2 times a year with different white and purple flowers and gives 2 separate types of honey when conditions favor it to produce a sufficient amount of honey. For example this year -2021- there was flowering but no honey while it is in very high demand. People are very interested in honey and ask for details about each one more specifically e.g. cotton which is very helpful for the stomach.
The honey tasting is completed with the most special product of the region, which goes by the name of moudovina, is a Protected Geographical Indication and closes the aromas of honey in the wine distillation. A very special and unique process from the washing of the candle waxes that were harvested to the distillation, which is carried out by her father-in-law. A local spirit with particular organoleptic characteristics. The family currently has about 500 beehives at its disposal, while in the shop you can also find Easter candles made from pure wax from Chalcidiki, decorated with Constantina’s joy and care.
The natural aromas of the place | Nymphaea Physis Aromas
Natural perfumer by profession. As soon as you listen to Zoe Strantzalis, the love and warmth of her voice with which she tells you about her profession, her activity and the floral path that led her there, you want to let yourself be guided on this aromatic journey and be initiated into the magic of aromas that Aristotle first described and recorded with such precision and clarity. Zoe practices a primordial art that remains unchanged through the centuries and introduces people to the language of the plants that are their fragrances. She has named her company after the myth of the nymph Philyra, nymph of perfumes and beauty, whom Saturn transformed into a linden tree. Perfumes have their own way of evoking memories, bringing joy, carefreeness and new visions. This is the “heart” of my work. To connect the essence of perfume with our land’s tradition and heritage of fragrances, and how perfume has been used over the centuries. Based on the routes that Polytimi has designed for Halkidiki, I have designed four different fragrances – seals of the place, each based on the elements of the route (such as the waterfalls have the element of water) and will act as a seal of this memory.
Wine tourism at Domaine Agrovision
DomaineAgrovision is a gem of an estate in Halkidiki that masterfully marries wine with the history of the place and the tasting experience. On her itineraries Polytimi enlisted an Angel (name and thing) of wine to lead us to enjoy a unique experience in the ancient vineyard of the winery. A dinner in the vineyards a summer evening full of passion for the authenticity of food , with the amazing goddess that the Persian King Xerxes gazed upon the bay of Acanthus. The Athonite cuisine at its best, with excellent local products of the region from the specialized chef in the cuisine of Halkidiki, we can indulge in an unforgettable experience full of flavors and aromas of the place tied with passion, cheerfulness and plenty of wine.
The Athonite cuisine at its best, with excellent local products of the region from the specialized chef in the cuisine of Halkidiki, we can indulge in an unforgettable experience full of flavors and aromas of the place tied with taste, fun and plenty of wine. Akanthios wine is a traditional product of Eastern Halkidiki, the cultivation of vineyards for wine production dates back to the 7th century BC. Domaine Agrovision is at the forefront of ecological actions, such as the circular economy where the wine lees are used in the production of pizza dough, bread and local delicacies, and maintains two cellars, one underwater and one underground. The actions available are divided into options according to the preferences and interests of the customers. For beginners and more experienced divers, a dive can be made in the underwater cellar of Domaine Agrovision, right in front of the Alexandros Palace 5* hotel, where, in addition to the sight of bottles of wine in the rocks, the diver can choose his bottle from the underwater cellar, (Ieris Oinos, red, 2017), which is aged in completely different conditions. This is an organized dive with an instructor, where depending on the diver’s training, it will be promoted to a different level. Point highlights: excellent visibility, absence of currents, Mediterranean water temperature, rich underwater biodiversity.
With a woman at the helm of the family business | Anna Vasilouda
Anna is the successor of the family business started by her father about 20 years ago (in 2003). Anna took over in 2015, and in 2018 she opened the branch in Arnaia, which she took over entirely.Her agency specializes in transport with 12 privately owned buses. Although the bus industry is more male-dominated she copes with the challenges of the profession and everyday life such as the pandemic with grace. Due to the circumstances they have had 2 years of regular service and the business operates with the support from refundable advances but also from rides provided by local businesses and schools as well as strategic partnerships with the municipality and people who have a vision for their local area such as Polytime.
With such beautiful and creative initiatives, we hope 2022 will be a year of recovery and creation!
*Each route has the aroma of Akanthios Oinos – Lavender, Arnea – Pefkos, Varvara – Cedar. The music that will be played in the van will be instrumental.