March 18, 2009


The Room!Note: future apartment plan: Oh, Ouzo: "Just some bites to go with the Ouzo:" Galaxidi was about a 45 minute trip away , but close to Takis’ Aunt and Uncle. We stayed in at a bed and breakfast, and we had a very fun and traditional room. One of the benefits of seeing Greece in the off season is the lower rates, and many times, your pick of rooms. We were given a really beautiful light pink studio apartment room, with high wooden ceilings and a loft area above the kitchen. There was an open fireplace we kept lit most of the day and night. We went to a local bakery, and Takis picked out his favorite traditional greek desserts, so he made Greek coffee in our kitchen and we tried them all! I’m not usually a big sweets person, but what I liked most was the thick moist cake made of sticky rice and sugar. There was also baklava, and some crunchy phyllo dough and honey concoctions with cloves on top. A little spicy, a little sweet, and always dripping with sugar syrup, nicely washed down with super thick and rich Greek coffee. Definitely an experience! Just a few blocks away, the restaurants lining the water have stunning views of snow capped mountains. Later in the day we had cups of oozo (the licorice drink common for Greece) and a huge platter sampler of seafood and marinated veggies and cheeses. Simple, but fresh and amazing. It has to be impossible to not fall head over heals for the quality and taste of the food in the country. It was a beautiful day of walking around the quaint town and eating our hearts out... ha!

On the way to Galaxidi

I have to admit, some of my favorite times were just driving in the car and seeing the country side! On some of the roads, locals sell their wines, honey, vinegar, and fruits!

March 17, 2009


Port of Nafpaktos: (Like a scene from The Little Mermaid!)Frappe: Nafpaktos Castle:On top of the world! I mean castle: Yet another beautiful village nestled between the water and a castle on a mountain, Nafpaktos boasts thin streets lined with a charming personality. We stayed in a beach hotel, which was only $40 euros (for the cooler off-seaon), and had a balcony view of the street side cafes, the bridge going to the other side of the country, and distant mountains. We took a walk to the center of town by their small port, where you can sit and have a frappe and look at the traditional buildings and small boats parked beside you. One side of the port reminds me of a scene from “The Little Mermaid” where Ariel is first seeing people on land, and peaks up to the stone walls to see a horse drawn carriage (see picture). We drove the car up to the castle, and explored around it’s stone walk ways and remnants. At the very top, we could sit on top of the stone crescents and have a breath-taking view of the village, water, mountains, and surrounding towns. With the sun closing in for the night, it was shining just perfectly on the water. On the road leading to the castle, we found a small restaurant on the way down, looking onto the same breath taking scene. We were waiting for Takis’ uncle and aunt to call us, so we decided to relax there for a little while. After some time, met up with Takis’ family, and went to a Greek/American restaurant and had all of the wonderful appetizers plus Souvlaki, the thick wrap filled with veggies, tzasiki, and a meat. His aunt, uncle and nieces were all very sweet! After we said our goodbyes we checked out the local nightlife where cafes by day become night clubs!

March 16, 2009


The Old Prison of Nafplio: In Town:At the top of the Castle, looking out onto Nafplio:Typical Greek appetizers: Our first mini road trip took us to Nafplio. It is a village with a cafĂ© lined water front, watching an old prison floating in the water. I suppose escaping from the old jail was a bit tricky while being surrounding by water! Nafplio was lined with narrow streets, accommodating a wide range of shops – from funky boutiques, to souvenir shops, to bars and restaurants, to contemporary shops. Behind and beyond the village, 999 stairs climb up to the town’s castle perched a top a tall hill. The trek is worth it, as it provides a gorgeous view of the orange-roofed town, the surrounding villages, the sea, and mountains. The castle is fun to climb around too! After all that climbing, we built up an appetite, and upon recommendation, we went to a restaurant a little past the main street, quietly sitting right beside the water. Many of the traditional appetizers are vegetarian, and the cheeses are almost always local. Now, brace yourself, because I tasted the best food of my life in Greece! Firstly, the olive oil used for dipping bread into, as well as cooking, is so incredibly fresh, rich, smooth (you could describe the oil like a fine wine!) it makes all the dishes have an unmatchable taste. The fresh ingredients, including lots of vegetables, are much healthier then any typical American fare. Tzatziki is one of the most famous sauces - a dreamy, garlicky, cucumber, greek yoghurt concoction. There is also Tirokafteri, a spicy cheese spread, and an eggplant dip called Melitzano salad that's chunkiness makes is shy of baba ghanoush. We had Saranoki Cheese, which is a salty fried cheese, and Saranoki Shrimps, which is a rich tomato mixture of soft cube cheese, spices, and large shrimp. Other dishes included – balsamic soaked portobello, Peppers stuffed with a form of Tirokafteri, Gigantes (Giant beans sometimes mixed with tomato sauce), Crete Salad (tomatoes, feta, basil, olive, on top of hard brown bread) and thinly sliced sardines (not my taste, but a favorite of many). After all the tasting and eating, we headed for our home for the night. A 10 minute drive from the main part of the city, we found a group of traditional homes, with rooms for nightly rent. The large house we stayed in had 4 residencies. Ours was a large stone-walled room, with a fireplace, kitchen, and on a sectioned off place for the bedroom. From the windows, we could see the lit-up castle we had climbed just hours before, and all of the town’s lights that looked like fallen stars at the bottom of the mountain. It was a very pretty landscape, and it was nice to be able to watch it from the secluded distance.

March 12, 2009


The temple of Posidon the beautiful lobby at the Margi hotel the famous Greek singers, Elena Paparizou and Terazis duet

Traveling by cruise ship is one of the most luxurious ways to travel, but one of the down sides is that you can only experience a port for a handful of hours, or if you are lucky, an overnight. Myself being a night person, I like getting my feel for a new culture by experiencing evenings of music, dinner, being social – and that makes it a little hard when traveling by ship. So after my cruise contract (a whole 6 months!) I decided to do some traveling on my own.

I went to Greece to visit my boyfriend, Takis, who lives in Athens. I was able to dive right into the culture by spending quality time with people who actually live there!

For my 13 day stay, Takis planned a small tour of the country by car. We started in a town outside of Athens, called Bouliagmeni. We stayed in a gorgeous hotel, The Margi. Out of all the places we stayed, this was at the top of my favorites. We had a balcony view of the ocean from our spacious and calmly colored light orange-yellow room. The hotel had a modern bed and breakfast feel, but with a lovely first floor with open areas of wooden floors, comfy leather sofas, a big fireplace, and numerous candles at night. It felt like a romantic home away from home. During our stay there, we drove about 45 minutes along the coast to the temple of Posidon. It looks like a mini acropolis, except it’s overlooking the water and mountains. The Greeks strategically placed this temple at the center of mountains so they could see the enemy from all angles, if they were about to be attacked. We witnessed a gorgeous sunset right over the mountains and water.

My first experience of Athens was one I will never forget. Takis and I met up with his best friends, including his brother and giflriend at Ieraodos (Ee-ra-o-dos, meaning holy street). They all spoke English, and 2 of the girls are English teachers in Greece. I actually tended to feel a little like a jerk because I was the only one who spoke just one language. We went to see one of the most famous shows in Greece! There were lots of long tables (kind of like a dinner theatre) and all 12 of us sat there. The show opened with young pop singers and dancers, singing some English songs and some Greek. Next was Elena Paparizou, a famous and beautiful girl who won Eurovision (like american idol but huge for Europe). Lastly, the vetern Greek singer Terazis a very respected singer of the country. He sang until 5 AM!!!! What an exceptional passion. There was lots of traditional Greek dancing! In the middle of the night, everyone got on stage for a little while (yes, of course I went) and danced!