By Catherine Tsounis
It is thirty years since I went to Chios. All our family is deceased. I asked Panchiaki Koraes Society of Flushing, New York for a travel agency. Their response: Chios Tours. The agency is owned by Michalis Kolokythias, who has family ties with the village of Tholopotamousis. His uncle is the internationally famous educator Constantine Parthenis.Chios Tours was established in 1980, representing numerous tour operators, charter airlines and international cruise ships. Their website shows promotions at Karfgas Beach, Megas Limnionas, Sun village Hotel, Agia Fotini Beach, Avgonina Village and Olympic Village. I emailed for hotel reservations and island excursions. Twenty-three year olds Maria Kolokythias and Katerina Samata took personal interest in arranging my trip.
Greece 2007 is in the hands of enterprising young businesswomen and educators with a pro-American attitude. They are fluent in English. Their objective is to help the American tourist get the most from their currency so they will return. This is difficult with sixty-nine cents of the dollar equal to one euro. Olympic Airways, airports, businesses and higher education institutes have focused women proving they can shape the future of Greece. When I arrived at Chios Airport, I noticed the Chios Tours information booth. The travel organization is located at 4 Kokkali Street, around the corner from Handris Hotel. Their official email is firstname.lastname@example.org. The website is Chiostours.gr. Eleni and Katerina are shaping the destiny of Chios Tours.
My flight to Chios through Aegean Airways and return flight to Athens with Olympic Airways was economical. An American passenger from Tennessee Said “these airways have the best pilots in the world, because of their military training.” My flight, 6 a.m. from Athens gave me a whole day of touring Chios on my own. The five day hotel reservations at Handris Hotel had a spectacular view of the sea and Tseme, Turkey.
My first Chios South tour was to Armolia, Pirgi, Mesta and Emporios with a Dutch group that was exactly what I needed. Peace. Quiet and with persons who knew some English. They were polite and courteous. I had a guide book and read all in English and Greek while the guide communicated in Dutch. The second tour of Central Chios was in cooperation with Kanaris Tours. Both travel organizations work harmoniously together providing more travel opportunities for the foreign tourist. The excursion included Nea Moni, Avgonima and medieval Anavatos with a Norwegian group. We communicated in basic English and had a wonderful guide called Helge Andersen. Eleni Kolokythias calls him “our Helge.” A Norwegian tourist said she “comes back to Chios for two weeks during the past eleven years. I love Karfa Beach and the people.”
My grandmother, Despina Gagas Pappas (Pappantonakis), lived in Chios during her youth. She was part of the first refugee expulsion of 1914 from the prefecture of Tseme and the town of Kato Panagia. Our home in Astoria and Bayside, New York was filled with folk and religious art work from St. Constantine and Helen in Cambos, Chios. The island wasreturning home to me. Chios Tours made this possible.
Instead of returning to Athens, Eleni and Katerinaki personally arranged a two day visit to Samos. They selected Samos City Hotel, overlooking the seashore. They called me on my cell phone during excursions to see if I was satisfied. In Athens, they emailed me to find out my impressions of Samos. This unique service represents the image of Greece 2007. Visit website chiostours.gr/tours.htm.