Accepting that their paths have not crossed by some 2500 years, Mike and Jill Hampshire gained where Aristotle had lost out.
Loulou runs the Hotel Liotopi in Olympiada, a coastal resort in Halkidiki on the Greek mainland. From her initial warm welcome on our arrival and through the next 10 days, Loulou (and Tina) were always on hand to look after our every need and to ensure we were well fed. Loulou loves cooking and homemaking.
Breakfasts had a different theme each day and were served out on a garden terrace in the hotel’s delightful grounds with the resident nightingale serenading us. Our bedroom had a sea view beyond a big pomegranate tree full of striking red flowers and attendant large yellow butterflies.
Frequently, on returning to our room after a day out, there would be a small treat laid out on a tray or in the fridge; for example a little glass of ouzo and a snack on a cocktail stick all served on a hand embroidered tray cloth.
Loulou’s enthusiasm for cooking extends to her putting on weekly cookery demonstrations allowing guests to see how some of the Greek specialities are made. And tasting the end results with a glass of ouzo is compulsory!
Her small kitchen is tucked behind the reception desk and she is always busy in there making her own vinegar, jams and bottling various fruits and of courses dishes for breakfast. Cooking aromas were constantly wafting out into the hotel’s hallway.
The Hotel Liotopi is small with under 20 rooms and is full of individual character reflecting Loulou’s taste and interests. Evening meals are available on the sea front at a taverna run by Loulou’s brother where they serve a range of authentic dishes including the fish catch of the day; one evening a swordfish was proudly paraded. And Olympiada is famed for its mussel beds.
Where does Aristotle come in? Well a few hundred metres from the hotel, high on a tree-clad headland and above the sparkling Mediterranean, are the remains of Stagira, the birthplace of Aristotle.
Olympiada nestles under steeply wooded hills, and walkers and mountain bikers can explore the area and sense its history. The beach is gently shelving so swimming is safe and it is a joy to float in the warm waters watching the ever wheeling and swooping house martins and swifts.
And a final delight? On departure from the hotel, Loulou sends guests off with a homemade jam or fruit preserve.