We were allowed a sleep in today as our first appointment was at the Army Border Post at Niki and we were not expected until 1000. We therefore left our hotel at 0930 and proceeded up the valley towards the Montasir Gap which lies beyond the border with FROYM. This is the Former Republic of Yugoslavia Macedonia and known as such by the Greeks. This Republic is causing issues as the people are pushing the name of Alexander and they state they descend from him. The truth is that they are of Slavic background and have no Greek ancestry. But, historians can write what they believe and expect others to agree, it happens in all areas, even at home in Australia.
The Company located at the Border Post is part of an Armoured Brigade and from the Stork Division. The Regimental Commander met us, made us feel welcome and his greeting was followed by a full briefing by his Battalion Commander detailing the history of the region, the history of the Battalion and the role at the post. The briefing was followed by morning tea and an opportunity to mix with the soldiers at the Post.
A very successful visit with great hospitality given to us by the Colonel. He wished us well and hoped we visit next year. We left Niki and headed to New Kaucus, a village 10 km south of the border where we were greeted by Anna. Anna is the cook at the hotel, midwife in the area, runs the family cafe and on the Board of the Cultural Centre.
Anna likes us to visit her village and we have done so since 2012 except for last year when we did not come to Greece. A small morning tea with Anna is the same as a big lunch and she is not prepared to reduce the food offered. Great food, great company before we walked to her Church where we were shown the ikons and their significance to the village.
The snack developed into much more so we decided that was lunch and left, heading back into Florina. We drove through Florina and drove up the mountain to a restaurant that has balconies overlooking the city. A relaxing coffee overlooking that view was enjoyed by all before we left and headed to Xinon Nero where we conducted a small Service at the 6th Division Memorial. The local Priest from the village and 2 young soldiers assisted our Service.
Following our time at Xinon Nero, we returned to our hotel for a well deserved rest for tomorrow we head south to Kozani.
When we were in the village we were notified that most of the families had come from Turkey, on the Black Sea, as part of the expulsion of Greeks from Turkey in 1923. The shot here of one of the original houses shows the hardship they must have endured. Each settler was given 1.5 hectares for the home block and 3.5 hectares of paddock. A few of these 2 room houses remain.