Sunday, May 31, 2015

MENU's Aegean Odyssey. Day 11: Naxos to Athens

Our last day in Naxos. We awoke to find that the rain had stopped, but the entire town was coated in red sand from the Sahara
Another splendid Burgos breakfast
and back on the ferry to Athens. Sad saying goodbye to Naxos, we loved it.
The Venetian Palace
Backpack on, racing to get a seat with a view. The trip back was relaxing and we did get a window seat
Arriving in Pireaus we were delighted to find the Metro right across the road from the Ferry. Watch out for pick pockets and begging gypsies though. It was the first place we felt a bit cautious as they surrounded us
We checked into our hotel, the Epidavros, and our concierge George Kalogeropoulos, who is superb,
recommended a nearby Taverna
Red wine from the barrel and some bread. Note: You are charged for the bread if you eat it
We were presented with a free salad
Lots of atmosphere
And wine from all over Greece
Looking through a guidebook as we waited for our supper we were surprised and delighted to find that Greece now has an Ocean Basket in Glyfada, one of the seaside resorts south of Athens. We did wonder if Greek owner of the original Kloof St branch and now our Sea Point branch, has anything to do with this
We decided we should order the mixed grill for 2. Back to Banting?  It was very reasonably priced at €22 for everything.  We had no idea there would be so much meat on the plate.  It came with Tzatziki, more salad and chips.  Some of the meat was great, others like the sausages, less so
Mr Beauty Spot had a lot of character and entertained all the guests
Karaiskaki Square was buzzing with traffic even late at night. Our hotel, the Epidavros was just off Agiou Konstantinou and a short walk from Omonia Square so quite central. One side was quite smart, the other full of immigrant populations and quite run down
It had rained a bit while we were at dinner
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2015

MENU's Aegean Odyssey. Day 10: Naxos. A bus ride to the interior and a storm

We awoke to a lovely morning and started planning our only full day on Naxos
This was the way to breakfast in Katarina’s other villa
where she greeted us with a warm smile
On the way, some friendly German tourists greeted us
The best breakfast we have had so far. Cheese omelettes, fresh orange juice, yoghurt and honey, a Greek salad and good coffee. It turned out to be Nescafe, but was made hot and strong
And the view from the terrace was rather nice too
Don't come late or you have to eat downstairs
Off down the small alleys to town
This sign is for Burgos B&B, where we stayed. If you go to Naxos, do stay there
Shabby chic
Easy to get lost but, as long as you keep going downhill, you get to the sea front
An ancient vine
The front porch of another of the Burgos villas
Just a few more steps
The roses were superb
even though they don't get much sunshine in the alleys
The entrance to our Studio
Our room, No.3. Translation is Erotas
This wall, which is part of the Venetian Palace, is made up of ancient stones; the Greeks reuse everything. Who knows what they were originally part of, a temple, a church, a house ...
Red and yellow poppies on a bit of waste ground
A view from the top of the Chora. On a clear day like this you can see across to the island of Paros
Wonderful aged paint colours on this old door
and on these shutters
More of those enviable geraniums
And yet another Greek cat sunning itself
Shutters to keep out the heat and, we discovered later, the wind
We took a walk into town to see the Naxos gate, the remains of a temple to Apollo which was begun by the tyrant Lygdamis, who ruled Naxos from 545 to 524 BC. It was unfinished at the end of his reign and never completed
It is on a peninsula
Typical Greek church bells
We beachcombed a bit, finding lots of minerals and old marble pieces
An unfinished sculpture, emerging from the marble
The azure blue Aegean sea
A fishing boat returning to port
The local 'fynbos' also has mesembryanthemums (Vygies) and sour figs
The other side of the bay
The gate with a view of the Chora of Naxos through it
A panoramic view of Naxos from the Gate
A local artist in marble, no shortage of material for him on the beach
Wonderful reflections in the sea water with some small fish. We think these are what we had for supper the night before!
A bus company map of the island
We decided to take the bus inland to some of the older towns. These are some of the views of the ancient olive groves and terraces
Lots of local character in the bus
Ancient olive trees are still very productive
We were making two stops, first at Filoti and then onward to Apirathos
Ancient bush vines in Filoti
and magnificent tomatoes on sale
with other fresh seasonal vegetables
and fruit. The apricots were €1.50 a kilo. We bought two magnificent ripe peaches
A monastery at the top of a high mountain
so stark and exposed
A view of the hillside village
Lemons and garlic
Some Chinese tourists had also found the greengrocer
Time for some lunch at this roadside taverna
Yes, that pork kebab looks like our sort of thing
In the shade of some mulberry trees
Our hostess brought some cold Mythos beer 
sustaining lunch and beer for the price of ten Euros for two. Heineken and Amstel are brewed in Greece, but we chose to drink local brands Ajax, Mythos and Fix, all of which we enjoyed. Prices ranged from less than €1 for 500ml in supermarkets to €4 for 330ml in restaurants
An English couple who have obviously spent a long time in Greece
Menus in English for the tourists
And a special free dessert to share. Thick Greek yoghurt with homemade cherry preserve. We were often given extra complimentary items in Greece, a lovely tradition
An enticing menu. The Greek alphabet does not distinguish between b and p, so lamp chops are frequently seen
A lovely bougainvillea, not rampant like ours!
Poppy season
We took the bus onward to Apirathos
Through winding mountain roads
An old windmill
Warm countryside
The town is, unsurprisingly, ancient and lots of old artefacts have been preserved and incorporated into the modern buildings
Old arches frame landscapes
Beautiful modern pottery made in the old style. This is when Lynne wishes we could ship things home for our garden
The Greek version of bagpipes, with cowbell accompaniment
An old door spoiled by graffiti
What a stunning velvet rose
An ancient, derelict building overtaken by a vine
One of the narrow side streets, with more vines
An early Christian symbol in a tile
A tunnel beneath buildings. Spot the sparrow
Swallows were making their nests in the rafters
Vines flowering
Summer flowers
These old passages just have to be travelled; you want to see where they lead
They circle round as they give access to the houses on the hill
A pot of vygies
Coloured doors in white walls are de rigueur
Ancient and, here, more modern
An old mill wheel; we cannot imagine how old
From the highest point, you are above the church and the town
Some children came by with this baby bird they had rescued. It was petrified with fear and so sat still on the little girl’s hand
The locals having a lunch break. Yes, one is a Greek policeman in more informal attire
We needed a coffee and somewhere to rest our weary legs after a long climb
This waiter steps up and down here, effortlessly, all day
Another high hill landscape
a Greek red maple tree
How like our own little farm cottages
Having returned to town, we wandered up the hill and had a view of this lovely three-master
And, suddenly, it began to rain, so Lynne found some quick cover. The scirocco had been blowing all day and was bringing with it red sand from the Sahara
John took a long shot of the Naxos Gate
and we watched the ferry come steaming in to the bay in the rain
As the evening wore on, so the weather worsened
The three-master was still in port
The camera-shy owner of the Relax(!) restaurant we had chosen for supper. We went dressed in our plastic ponchos
We decided on a carafe of rosé wine for a change. There is not much you can say about the wine in restaurants, except to say that is has no faults and is drinkable with the food, and it’s cheap
Because of the heavy rain, the streets and restaurants were not at all busy
The menu
And flowers on the table
Aubergine slices topped with melted cheese. Delicious
Slow cooked lamb, falling apart, with boiled potatoes. Also delicious. We had seen it on the menu boards that morning, which made it our restaurant choice
Tzatziki to go with the lamb. Essential
We sat and watched the thunder and lightning show 
while the rain pelted down, and enjoyed our meal
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2015