Joined August 2015 Message
  • Day16

    Day 3 Aegina

    September 7, 2015 in Greece ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

    Our third and final full day o  the Island was very chilled. I had a late night Skype session the night before so slept in till 10 or so before walking by myself down to the cafes and taverns in Perdika. I had a cheese, bacon and tomato crepe which was a little thick and filling, but nice nonetheless. Accompanied of course by a few short espressos. A short wander around the town led to some good sanity reclamation in the growing heat before going back to the Antzi Studios (our lodgings). I chose to lay around and not do much for most of the afternoon before facing the parents again. A quiet afternoon tea of melon, pistachios and Baklava followed by copious 500 games was very enjoyable. Also a drink by the pool was nice, despite the overwhelming heat.
    The olds have gone down to the beach for one last swim in the Aegean before our final dinner on Aegina.  .ate than I would like but oh well.
    Tonight will be packing and sorting out what our plans tomorrow are. Boat, train and aeroplane from Aegina, through Athens and ending up in ... LONDON. Familiar languages and culture will be nice, but Greece has been an excellent country

    A late night dinner turned out to be the best Greek food we have had: boiled octopus, boiled greens, bread with a creamy chese dip + tapenade, lamb souvlaki, slow roasted lemon lamb, grilled red mullet, stuffed vine leave (brown rice made a welcome change and nuttiness), beer, and more French pastries for dessert.. all, for 30 euros.. the waiter undercharged us but when we tried to pay more he just kept saying "THANKYOUUUU" and shooed us away.. he must've like us.
    Straight to bed with a little packing and off to sleep.

    P.s. oh and I found a pomegranate tree!!
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  • Day15

    Day 2 Aegina

    September 6, 2015 in Greece ⋅ ☀️ 36 °C

    The second day day here on Aegina followed similarly to the first. We had breakfast at the motel and went out for a couple of coffees. Our day was spent winding our way around the island and looking at the sights to see.
    We stopped in a small town on the north end of the island for some cheese and calamari for a snack before continues on trying to find our way up to the top of the island. After half an hour or so we realised we were very lost and very low on petrol. The next hour was of course spent trying to find  an open petrol station in a Sunday on a Greek island.. not easy but we did it in time.
    Upmwe drove to the top of Aegina, past ancient churchs, monasteries,  olive trees, fig trees and pistachio plantations for which the island is famous.
    At the top of our drive was an ancient stone temple like a baby Parthenon.  Apparently built prior to and the inspiration for the afore mentioned monument. However this one was in far better condition and virtually empty of tourists and sightseers, so a marked improvement. Accompanying it was an excellent museum full of artifacts and reconstruction. A real hidden secret of Aegina.
    Of course there was an accompanying cafe where we had cold drinks and ice cream - again much needed as for the mid-late 30s degree heat with little shade.
    Our descent back towards the comparitive civilization was quick and easy and didn't stop until back in Perdika. We did a supermarket and afternoon tea run, just some bread and tzatziki with some Greek pine needle wine, not as nice as it sounds.
    Dinner was just simple bread, cheese, figs, jam, honey and fruit juice. A late night game of 500 and a quick swim finished off the evening nicely. All in all an OK day.. full,  of the same, frustration but managed to get away from the antagonist enough for it to be bearable.
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  • Day14

    Day 1 Aegina

    September 5, 2015 in Greece ⋅ ☀️ 31 °C

    Our first full day on Aegina started with our first in home breakfast of muesli, yoghurt, figs and fruit juice, followed by a coffee after our drive from Perdika to Aegina town. In Aegina we took in the Greek people and culture by exploring backstreets and shopping. We bought new shoes and light weight hot Greek weather shirts from a crazy Greek shop owner who greeted us with "hello there! Thank you for coming and saving my country!!" And old but effective means of luring unsuspecting tourists into his shop. The clothes and shoes we bought were nice and comfy, perfect for the 35-40 degree sweltering temperatures. From the clothes shop we found a bakery and bought some lovely bread, sesame bagel type buns and Baklava... sold by the kilogram. After the bakery came delicious figs, fresh feta cheese - firmer and less salty sharp than we are used to in New Zealand - and gelaato to sustain us for our walk back to the car.
    As we,  as food we bought some local newspapers and small presents to take back home. We returned home and ate the food we had bought, along with some wonderful honey from the day before, and had a swim in our motel's pool; a welcome event during the brightest and hottest part of the day.

    After our swim and siesta time we went for a drive along the hill tops to try and find a so-called picturesque mountain side village. The "village" of a few houses and not even a taverna turned out to be a bit of a let down, accompanied with the supposedly wonderful beach at the bottom of the steeply sloping hills and valley... also a let down.
    Dinner was had at one of the little restarts on the quay in Perdika. We had taramasalata, boiled greens, bread, little grilled sardines, grilled swordfish and moussaka, with Mythos beer and a little cake and watermelon complimentary. It was all nice but nothing spectacular. Again my phone died for some of this day so I may have to steal a few photos from someone else. Also generally feeling pretty down, tired and grumpy hasn't inspired me to take many photos but this will hopefully change (or like I say, steal someone else's photos). In fact it seems as if I took none this day.. oh well tomorrow will be more!!
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  • Day14

    Athens to Aegina

    September 5, 2015 in Greece ⋅ 🌙 27 °C

    Another day of travel and sorting out began again hot and dry. We descended the streets down to Dmitris for a coffee and some more friendly discussion, mostly political, with one of our friends from the previous day.
    From Dmitris, a quick tube ride with and interchange followed by another tube ride arrived us at Pireaus, the port town of Athens. Pireaus is a bustling port full of cargo, passenger and fast ships and ferries. We stopped for a cold drink as the temperature rose and I explored the various maritime shops that lined the streets. I managed to pick up a small folding knife both because it's handy to carry one round and also because one cannot have too many knives!
    From our coffees we went in search of the ferry office; a 15 minute walk left us sitting in the shade with homeless immigrants - we assume recently arrived from North Africa - begging around us. The first real sign of the huge social issues surrounding Greece and the immigrant problems of Europe.

    We boarded the ferry to take us to Aegina: a hydrofoiling high speed "flying dolphin" which was a fun, if a little bumpy, quick ride to the island. We disembarked and waited in whatever shade we could find for George to drop our hire care off to us. George was friendly and certainly perked up once learning that we were not from the UK but rather New Zealand "ahh good place!". George had seen much of NZ from his time as an engineer on big ocean going cargo ships.
    We drove (on the right) along the coastline to our little apartment motel in Perdika, a small town on the Western end of Island full of restaurants and fishing boats. We lunched on the waterfront in a small taverna. We had excellent baked mushrooms, baked peppers, stuffed peppers and tomatoes, souvalaki, and fried little fish. The baked mushrooms and peppers were roasted in a dish with heaps of different cheese, both halloumi and melty delicious stringy tangy cheese. The stuffed toms and peppers looked good but I didn't taste them, with the souvalaki nice and highlighted with an excellent garlicy tzatziki. My little fried fish were just what the menu said: fried little fish. To be eaten heads and all, slightly crispy and fried with just a dusting of flour, very nice. All washed down with beer, Coke and Fanta.
    From our restaurant we meandered along the waterfront gazing at the water, rocks, distant islands, churches and general passers by. I got once again more and more frustrated at the argumentative, put downy, arrogant manner in which conversation is often had these days so I decided to walk ahead of the others and sit on the waterfront by our car for 10 minutes while I waited for them to catch up. We went from there to a supermarket to quickly pick up some general groceries and returned home. The night was spent relaxing, eating melon and drinking pomegranate juice in my room. Another grumpy and not all together happy end to what should've been a lovely day.
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  • Day13

    Exploring Athens

    September 4, 2015 in Greece ⋅ 🌙 23 °C

    Our second day dawned bright, hot and cloudless as the day before, yet with a heightened anticipation of fun and exploring. We left our lodgings after a quick shower and plan and headed down the road to find the closest coffee and breakfast we could. We came across a small roadside cafe where Dmitri brew up 3 of the finest, shortest espressos we are sure to have all trip. As we sipped our coffee we chatted with the locals and firmed up our plan for the coming few days.
    We moved on to breakfast which turned out to be just a few minutes up the road and another few away from the Acropolis. Through a mixture of pointing and sign language we managed to order 3 servings of cheese and spinach crepes and 3 orange juices. The juice was freshly squeezed and delicious while the crepes we gentle, filling and lightly flavoured; rustic and satisfying. It was thoroughly enjoyable just watching Greece go past, with basil bushes lining the roads, trucks and bicycles zooming by and friendly people muttering "calimera" (good morning) on their way past.

    Onwards we went up to the Acropolis, baking our way up the few hundred metres to the summit where the Parthenon and other temples, ruins and ancient artifacts reside. It was HOT, and with no shade and nowhere to rest there were many complaints from my traveling companions. I tried to block it out and take in and admire the incredible history of what I was looking at, and the incredible views over the whole of Athens, Pireaus and out to sea.
    From the Acropolis we had lunch at it's accompanying museum just down the hill and viewed more historical artifacts and reconstructions of the ancient Parthenon - all of course within the safety of air conditioning. It was both interesting and enjoyable, while lunch was another authentic and odd experiece. I had wonderful little pikelet pancakes with thyme honey, tahini and grape molasses, Joy had a sesame bagel type bread roll with cheese, and Vernon had strange donuts covered in honey and pistachios: nice but cleaner frying oil and some contrasting fruit wouldn't have gone amiss. Afterwards we descended the streets into normal Athens and took the tube again back to our hotel.

    (Unfortunately my phone died up the acropolis so the centre part of this day I failed to document. However I may steal some pics from v and j and upload them later)

    Next stop on our day was the markets, which are deserving of their own entry in this blog, but which took up the majority of the afternoon and ended us up back at Syntagma Square (Parliament in Athens) and at yesterday's hotel for another cocktail. This one was not nearly as strong and harsh, but a floral and beautifully scented Lychee Martini, one of the nicest things I have ever drunk.
    From Syntagma we again took the tube home and went out to dinnner: my choice as I so highly recommended the small taverna I visited the night before. We were not let down and consumed the following: cheese, bread, fava bean dip, bread, prawn saganaki, meatballs, sausage with red beer stew, mustard chicken, bread, beer, sangria and some strange deep fried salty chocolate covered pancakes. Weird but excellent.
    From dinner we went to our hotel again for a final nightcap of hot chocolate whilst looking up at the illuminated Parthenon from the hotel's garden roof top restaurant and went onto bed. A decidedly better day than the one before.
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  • Day12

    Athens Day one

    September 3, 2015 in Greece ⋅ 🌙 22 °C

    I'm a little late in writing up this entry as a lot happened in the space of 1 day.

    We flew in over the sea and many Greek Islands before approaching Athens over Aegina, the island 30 miles off the coast where we will be spending most of our time in Greece. It was a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky even from 36000 feet up and a crystal blue water without the fainted ripple on it's surface. The city of Athens stretched out like a blanket over the Greek countryside encompassing all but the highest mountains and most sparse plains with beautiful terraced white houses as far as the eye could see.
    Navigating the airport was quick and simple; customs was as much a joke as it was non existant .. same with Singpore: not even a security guard to be seen.

    The taxi ride was long through the city and to our hotel, including stopping for "gazolini", but we weaved our way through the tight compact little Greek streets with no trouble. Checking into our hotel was easy and our rooms are lovely: top floor looking over the pool area and - although at a stretch on the balcony - the Acropolis and Parthenon. We also have long view across Athens with houses piled one behind the other seemingly endlessly. We were greeted with iced water and plesent air conditioning, which we quite some relief from the 35 - 40 degree heat.

    We left our hotel to wander around the markets and find a bite to eat. After a long peruse over many shoe, clothing, spice, souvenir, incense and bead shops we found ourselves in a large Greek taverna. We ordered food, a simple moussaka and some stuffed vine leaves, and proceeded to have a near hour long raised and heated argument about how much money we were spending and how everyone was contributing.. it ended very badly and I nearly walked out, packed my bags and booked the first flight home no matter the cost. It was awful. Everyone was left with a sour taste and a foul mood afterwards. It was hard to admire the stunning Byzantine churches that we explored and the bustling city afterwards whilst everyone was fuming and forcing bitter conversation.
    The obvious answer to this of course was to find the most expensive and beautiful bar in the most expensive and beautiful hotel looking over the whole of Athens from the highest vantage point, excepting the Acropolis, and order the strongest and most expensive cocktails I've had in my life. The mood after that - coupled with jetlag - made everyone just have to go straight home and to bed but after half an our or so of stewing in my room, I decided to leave the hotel and have an evening to myself.

    I wandered down the road and found the first taverna I could, immediately went through the menu, ordered food and beer and indulged. It was glorious. Just myself with lovely service, lovely food in a lovely place.
    I had deep fried squash balls, filled with flavour and aromatic herbs, beautifully seasoned with a generous portion of tzatziki on the side, followed by a prawn dish (which I cannot recall but with try and locate) in a kind of thin stew with capsicum and tomatoes, garnished with delicious feta and with a perfect Greek feel to it. This was accompanied by delicious complimentary bread, and finished off with a free palate cleansing plate of watermelon. BELLISIMO (or the Greek equivalent). The food as excellent, just what I had imagined and desired the food to be: nothing tacky, nothing over or under done, nothing just to appeal to tourists and nothing over priced. Less than 13 euros for a very filling and delicious meal with drinks was perfect. I could live here very happily.
    From there the night ended, I returned to my room and slept, waiting for a new - and hopefully better - day.
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