Our fabulous hosts at Mycenae
AirBnb offers something that a traditional hotel doesn’t: contact with local residents. We met Kostas and Toula on our first night in Mycenae after three weeks on Skopelos Island.
That day, we had ferried to Skiathos Island, flown for 25 minutes to Athens, then taken a bus to Athens’ KTEL terminal, and finally taken a 1.5-hour bus ride to Fichti, which is just down the road from Mycenae.
Kostas was waiting for us under an olive tree in Fichti. When the bus stopped, the driver made no announcement and there were no signs indicating we were at our destination. Mitch decided to ask the driver where exactly we were and when the driver replied, “Fichti,” Mitch scurried to get our luggage from the hold. At that point, I realized that Mitch was not coming back. (He told me later he thought iI was right behind him.)
So I quickly grabbed my purse and hurried off the bus.
Kostas was expecting us to be arriving on this particular bus. I had been in contact as our plans unfolded throughout the day with his daughter Sophia, and she had kept him in the loop.
However, since we had booked our Airbnb under my name, when Mitch climbed down from the bus first, Kostas asked him, “Marilyn?”
But then Kostas saw me climb down, realized that Mitch was not Marilyn and we made our introductions.
Kostas was so friendly. He talked the whole drive back to our apartment. He told us about his daughter and son, who currently lives in Canada. In fact, Kostas lived in Canada at one time for several years, which explains why we were able to communicate so well. He struggled with finding words at times, but overall his English is excellent considering he is a native Greek and nearing retirement age.
When we reached the little town of Mycenae, where our apartment was located, Kostas pointed out the mini-market and two or three tavernas, which we visited the next day.
Inside our apartment, Kostas and Toula showed us around the one-bedroom apartment. It had a nice living room, large eat-in kitchen, full bath, and plenty of seating with an extra couch tucked here and there. There was WiFi, air conditioning, a washer, and a large tile front balcony with clothesline.
They also took great pride to show us the fridge, which they had stocked with six eggs, a small carton of milk, local honey, a loaf of bread and toasts, apples, oranges and apricots. Kostas also showed us a bottle of olive oil fresh from his groves. (He farms olives and oranges, he told us.) We used the olive oil to cook eggs for breakfast the next two mornings. They also provided instant and Greek coffee, which we made on a single-burner stove.
Their generosity and hospitality were incredible… above and beyond! They have definitely mastered the art of what AirBnB calls “the extra touches.”
The next evening, we visited with the couple again when we inquired about how to get a taxi back to Fichti. We visited inside their apartment, which was located on the ground level of their three-story building. Over small porcelain cups of Greek coffee, water, and fresh apricots, Kostas offered to drive us back the next morning, as he and Toula were making a trip to “the big city” of Argos.
We also met their sweet little Chihuahua-mix dog, Kirra, who sat on my lap and stared deep into my eyes. She is very old, Kostas said, which you could tell from her fully gray nose and jowls. She rolled over on her back in my lap as we talked.
Toula, who speaks as much English as I speak Greek, multi-tasked all the while. (Several times, Kostas would stop the conversation and translate to Toulah.) She kept her eyes on a TV program, and occasionally listened in our conversation about Kostas’ and our kids, job prospects in Greece for young people (there aren’t many, he said), the cycle of world superpowers, and how Greece needs the help of larger countries to succeed.
Kostas also told us that it had been several years since he had been up the hill to the Mycenaean ruins. In fact, when he had been there before, he had been working there. “They charge too much to see it,” he said. “They think they are the United States and charge a lot for it.”
We explained that the 12€ tickets didn’t seem that high to us, but then again the culture of Ancient and Classical Greece is revered perhaps more when you don’t grow up around it. To us, it’s an amazing site. Perhaps to Kostas, it’s just a bunch of old rocks.
We then made arrangements to meet outside the apartment at 9:30 the next morning for the drive back to the Fichti bus station. Kostas also said he would help us buy our bus tickets back to Athens.
As promised, we all met the next morning… fifteen minutes ahead of schedule.
The four of us made the ten-minute drive back to Fichti. We unloaded our luggage, then I sat with it under a tree while Mitch and Kostas walked across the street to get the tickets. Toula waited in the car. After a few minutes, she emerged from the car, and we hugged, kissed cheeks European style, and said, “Thank you,” to each other. Soon, Kostas and Mitch emerged from the bus station with tickets in hand.
Of course, Kostas absolutely would not accept the 20€ Mitch tried to hand him, waving his arms and stepping back when it was offered. So, while Kostas and I hugged, Mitch tossed the bill onto his car seat. With her limited English, Toula couldn’t refuse it.
We took our seats under the tree, and turned to wave goodbye to our hosts. Kostas, now finding the bill, shook his head. “I don’t want it,” he said.
“Goodbye!” we shouted. He continued to shake his head.
“We would have spent it anyway for a taxi. You take it,” Mitch explained.
Kostas finally conceded, smiled, and pulled away. “It’s been good to meet you,” he said.
“It was good to meet you, too,” we replied.
7 replies on “Meet our AirBnB hosts: Kostas and Toula”
Loved this story. Just wonderful to visit so much with the hosts. You learn so much about their culture . I felt that I was right along with you– loved the pictures and the load of apricots.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Yes. We had a really nice stay. Great people.
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