29 August 2006

Greece is the word

Click on the images to enlarge them

See Sky - I take pics of octopus too!

At this time for the past 2 years, we’ve holidayed in Greece with a whole group of friends – sunbathing, relaxing, excessively eating and drinking and having a great time.

Circumstances prevented us from doing it again this year, but seeing Sky’s images and recounts of her recent time in the Greek Isles made us remember our times there in past years.

The Acropolis from our hotel balcony

We spent 2 days in Athens just after the Olympic Games in 2004. It was the best time to see it – clean, bright and uncrowded. We loved walking through the streets, and we walked for miles from the hotel to the Acropolis and through many side streets, outdoor markets and historic sites.

A corner of the Parthenon on the Acropolis site

In 2004, we went for a week to Lesvos, then flew to Santorini for 5 days before going back to Lesvos. We only lasted 3 days - the island was beautiful, but after a day we had driven around the whole thing and were bored silly, plus it was expensive and our friends weren’t there!

Across the clifftop from Fira looking towards the watch tower

Nea Kameni volcano
We also caught a boat out to the volcano crater in the middle of the harbour and walked in the boiling sun up to the crater’s edge. The most spectacular part of this trip was to look back at Santorini with its towering cliff face upon which perched the white buildings of the towns, looking like snow on top of a mountain range.

Walking down from the crater and looking at Santorini

A very touristy thing to do is to head out to Oia to view the sunset. If you don’t get there an hour before the sun goes down, you may as well forget about trying to find a perch with a view of the setting sun. It’s madness – people are everywhere.

An Oia dog with a bird's eyeview - check out his elaborate collar!

We did have one of the best meals of our lives at 1800 Restaurant in Oia. Don’t ask us what we ate because we can’t remember, except that we ordered from a menu that made our mouths water just from the description of the food! After the meals arrived, accompanied by the waiter’s recommendation of a local white wine, we were lost in the sublime taste of the food, the aromatic wine and the gorgeous atmosphere - dining under the stars on the rooftop balcony with soft classical music playing in the background as we watched the ferries leaving the harbour on their way back to Athens. We floated back to the hotel giving thanks to our Greek friend Lianna who had recommended that we eat there.

On the second day, we hired a rental car and drove down to the base of Oia to a little fishing port called Ammoudi. We had dinner and watched the sun set in comparative peace and quiet when compared to the insanity at the top of the cliff.
Ammoudi at the base of the cliff with Oia at the top

M was amused by the local dogs. A little white Westy-cross accompanied us across the rocks to watch the sunset, and the local king of the dogs – a big Rottweiler – sat halfway up the cliff staring out to sea. As the sun dipped below the horizon, he barked a few times, howled once, and then walked back up the cliff to Oia! The night before, we had encountered the Rottie in Oia’s town square while waiting for the taxi back to the hotel, after eating at 1800. Most people would be intimidated by his size, and he certainly wants to show
everyone that he’s the boss. As he approached M, he sniffed her outstretched hand and then opened his mouth to hold her hand in it. He was just playing with her and meant no malice, but the tourists standing beside M nearly fainted as they thought that the dog had just bitten her!

Also called Lesbos, this is our favourite island - laid-back, quiet and with good prices in comparison to other parts of Greece.

Skala Eressou
Skala Eressou

This is our hangout, and after flying from Athens to Mytilini, the nearly 2 hour trip in a taxi driven by one of the Eressou taxi mafia is best done with the passengers’ eyes averted from the road or firmly shut!

Women in the alley peeling potatoes as they chat to the souvenir store owner

We have managed to stir ourselves off the beach at Eressou and into action on a couple of occasions to visit other parts of Lesvos.

This is the township just up the road from Skala Eressou. In winter, all the locals move from the beach up into the town. The Greek villages are centered round the town square and many restaurants are set up around the circumference. We ate great food at Sam’s restaurant.

Sam's in Eressos

A very quiet little fishing town which was obviously much busier during WWII, as evidence of a deep water port for navy vessels still remains, with the wreck of a tank still sitting on the wharf.

The leeward side of Sigri - the windward side lived up to its name!

Postcard beautiful

A beautiful town at the northern tip of the island, we ventured there on a stinking hot day. Nearby is a natural hot water bath right on the beach which is known for its healing powers. The process is to alternately dip in the hot, hot water in the pool and then walk outside to dive into the cold, cold sea – repeating this at least 3 times. Turkey seems so close across the water.

The upper walkways in Molyvos

A little picturesque town in the hills between Mytilini and Eressos. Lesvos is renowned for its quality of ouzo, and in Agra we found this cute little shop where the shelves were lined with every type of ouzo that is made on the island. The shop owners were a lovely couple who posed bashfully and proudly for M’s camera, but were happy to do so after we had purchased some of their better ouzo brands!

The ouzo sellers!

Nisi harbour just on dusk

Thank goodness for Lianna – she knows all the good restaurants. We’ve ventured to Nisi on a couple of occasions which is very brave of us considering the state of the road, the dark of night and Lianna’s rally driving!

Big groups are fun - especially at ouzo time!

It’s well worth the effort and risk, because right on the beach is a house where a lovely Greek couple cook food in their kitchen and serve it to guests who sit outside at tables on the beach - drinking wine, beer and ouzo and having a wonderful time. Home-cooked food – fish, prawns, lobster, potatoes, salad, feta cheese and the tastiest tomatoes, followed by fresh fruit such as watermelon – totally delicious.

The chief chef cuts up the dessert - sweet juicy watermelon

We hope that we soon get the chance to catch up with our friends again, to create some more great memories and wonderful times!


Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

What a lovely collection of photos and descriptions. Ammoudi looks intriguing. You are lucky to live so close to dozens of different countries with rich cultures.
Hey, those octopuses or is octopai look like aliens! I have never really liked to eat octopus - either as curry, or bashed to death and cooked in lolo.

clayfuture said...

Beautiful pics! Always wanted to visit greece and italy! hmm.. someday!

Seabee said...

That's it, having seen and read this I have to go.

Pandabonium said...

Terrific photos and narative. Just beautiful. Thanks.

Momo the Wonder Dog said...

I like the picture of Oia enjoying the view. Looks like my dog cousins in Greece have it good. wag wag wag

Keefieboy said...

Stunning photos, as always!

Shaykhspeara Sha'ira said...

Fantabulous images! I wanna go I wanna go I wanna go!

I'm never satiated...sigh...

Dubai Sunshine said...

I wanna go too!!!

moryarti said...

Sho hada? is there a competition for who posts the best summer holiday pics???

nice photos as always though :)

nzm said...

Thanks for the accolades!

Wendy: the best octopus is bbq'd, or sliced and lightly panfried in white wine and lemon juice. On last year's trip, an octopus made its home in some rocks under our floating lilo. It was great to check up on it everyday and see how it had moved the rocks to make its home. Of course, we didn't tell anyone that it was there, except for our friends, as we didn't want anyone to kill it. There's a difference between eating strange octopus and octopus that you get to know! lol.

Momo: Welcome to our blog - has Pandabonium hooked up the internet in your kennel yet? The Greek dogs on Santorini were very well-looked after and we were impressed by this. In comparison to other parts of Greece, they had a good life.

Mory: so where are your NYC pics then - or were you too busy shopping? :-)

moryarti said...

I still need to download NYC pics from the camera .. i did post some of shots i took in vegas here...

AdventureGirl said...

You're a GREAT photographer! Such a photogenic part of the world isn't it!??

kaya said...

You were so right about that post by carpe diem.
The pictures as usual are beautiful.
This year we didnt get a lot of great pictures, which is too bad. We were so busy enjoying ourselves, and holding on to the kids, and lugging around our backpacks, that most of the times we forgot amidst our oohs and aahs!
But as usual yours are serene.

Jin said...

Hubs & I had a wonderful time in Greece a few years ago & your stunning pics have made me think back to the great time we had - thank you!
Is it octopus' octopuses or octopii?

Mise said...

Greece is one of my favourite holiday destinations, although I haven't been there for years now, and of course we didn't have digital cameras then ...all the prints are in a box somewhere in the attic...your photos brought back some great memories :-D ... Hope things are working out on the job front.

kaya said...

Hey nzm, I need your help on two issues regarding photographs.
Can u be emailed? or do I have to publicly embarass myself here? :D

nzm said...

mory: great Las Vegas pics - reminds me of when I took mine in 1999, roaming the streets with my camera until 4am!

adventuregirl: thanks and welcome! I enjoy reading about your worldly exploits and TNB!

jin: it's octopi!

mise: thanks for the thoughts and we're sorting it through. It looks as if we may have to leave the UAE for a while, but we really do aim at coming back. More to be revealed when the plans are more concrete.

kaya: you can reach me at: matdxb (at) freenet.de

sky said...

I am seriously about to cry nzm...I miss Greece!
Gorgeous photos...which make mine look quite amateur-ish...were you trying to steal my thunder?

Glad my trip took you on a trip down memory lane!

nzm said...

sky: on both occasions that I've left Greece, I've cried - J just doesn't know how to cope with that! :-)

I think that it has something to do with being in a place where all we do is totally relax, have a great time and also have the time to truly be with each other and our friends, with no daily interruptions or distractions like email or phonecalls or work!

It also helps that Greece has an ancient soul that is almost visible through its vibrancy and energy, and I can't help but be influenced by that.

Your images are truly beautiful - and what makes them more special for you is the memories that they evoke of the great time that you had - and that's priceless.