May - June 2019
  • Day26

    Day 26 Scooting home

    June 6, 2019 in Greece ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    Surprised that I felt so tired in Athens yesterday but the uneven footpaths and crowds take their toll.
    Sadly time to leave this adventure !

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  • Day25

    Day 25 Athens

    June 5, 2019 in Greece ⋅ 🌧 17 °C

    My room in Bed in Athens not only has a nespresso machine but my favourite Volutto flavour - no milk required !
    Had the best hot fresh from-the-oven kolouri from Koulouri of Psirri just round the corner and that was breakfast.
    Finding navigation rather difficult in Athens and had headed in the anticlockwise direction rather than clockwise to go to the new Acropolis Museum or vice versa. Impressive building, opened in 2009 and down near Art Gallery Pension with a clear floor enabling viewing of excavations. Many familiar pieces - pensive Athena, blonde boy, kritios boy and kore. What was innovative was next to some they had built fake copies and had coloured them, also signs saying archaeologidts are available to answer questions. Top floor displayed mostly fake plaster casts of the pediments and interesting film on where the originals are. The Louvre actually has some but it is the ones taken/saved by Lord Elgin in early 1800’s that were the focus. The film showed a picture of the Parthenon and then particular pieces flying out of it with commentary saying Elgin took them - kind of amusing representation of a touchy subject. There was a dramatic display of the cutting of the friezes in order to reduce weight. Also the ship transporting them sunk and they were retrieved from the ocean floor. The museum’s top floor has been built in the same dimensions as the real thing suggesting that it’s all ready for them to come back ! There were tiny sad bits of the original shown in a couple of cases.
    Came out feeling rather flat so sat in the shade and met english lady from a cruise ship and then US couple from same ship who thought I was one of the 2,600 on it.
    Got some energy to tackle Plaka - very similar but more graffiti and any loud venues seem to have been moved out so very sedate except for agressive jewellery sellers. Lots of Acropolis views, yum scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, avacado and salad, then loukamades !!!!
    Back home for a rest as the crowds and rough footpaths are causing some grief for my toe. Out again round Monastiraki, then ouzo in Psirri where it feels much safer than out in Ermou and Monastiraki.
    Roast lamb dinner.
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  • Day24

    Day 24 Thessaloniki to Athens

    June 4, 2019 in Greece ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

    Pleasant 4 hour trip in first class with two paramedics from Hobart (doing the self guided Vikos Gorge walk) and a couple from Thessaloniki going for holiday to Hydra and Spetses. Apparently my favourite wrinkled black olives are called Halkidiki olives.
    Getting a taxi from Larissa Train Station for one is not possible. The drivers would walk the queue, select unrelated people going to similar destinations and charge the total fare three times ! Everyone was a local but eventually I was allowed to join two men going to Omonia. Driver then took me for a ride even knowing i was watching my phone so presumably GPS. I pulled him up and then got to Monastiraki quickly.
    Bed in Athens is really nice inside with modern bathroom (without bucket), big window with flyscreen overlooking derelict block but quiet. The Psirri neighbourhood was the new trendy up and coming area last time i was in Athens circa 2003 and has only built on that with cafes, bars, restaurants galore.
    Found the Mavro Gatos round the corner and as i only had Total yoghurt for breakfast treated myself to kolokothakes keftedes with mint yoghurt (zucchini fritters) and 1/4 kilo white wine for a 3pm lunch.
    Walked round the neighbourhood, up crazy, busy Ermou and round till dinner back at Mavro Gatos. They had Spicy Cheese which i had never seen on a greek menu before! I had eggplant starter and chicken, peppers and mustard sauce - ok but not brilliant.
    Slept well.
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  • Day23

    Day 23 Thessaloniki

    June 3, 2019 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Fun day visiting 4 churches, 2 museums and had my nails done.
    Enjoyed Blue Bottle breakfast of spanakopita, bougatsa, boiled egg, yoghurt and berries and good cappo.
    Agios Demetrious (roman remains underneath), Profit Ilias, Agia Sophia but standout was St Davids with 5th century mosaic looking like an eye!
    Enjoyed the hilly graffiti streets of Ano Poli, look a bit dodgey but perfectly safe. Then spontaneously got nailed for 8 euro.
    Archaelogy museum was unchanged from last visit - gold jewellery, diadems and Diverni crater.
    Lunched at back of white tower at Middle East with excellent falafel, homous and tabouli for 3euro with random english woman who has convinced me to go to Crete.
    Back to the Byzantine museum - good but too much information.
    Dinner again at same place as last night - octopus with fava beans ( i thought it was avacado) and complimentary dessert of stringy baklava base topped with cream.
    Great stay in Thess - 3 days was perfect. Athens tomorrow !
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  • Day22

    2 June Dinner in Thessaloniki

    June 2, 2019 in Greece ⋅ 🌧 22 °C

    Thought this worthy of its own footprint.
    All the streets look a bit dodgey with graffiti, plumbing and motor bike repair shops, junk on side of road yet they hide excellent eating places.
    This is E Kanoula where I had a great lamb, apricots and big cous cous. Wine was 1.50euro a glass.Read more

  • Day22

    Day 22 Escape from Nikiti

    June 2, 2019 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Apart from ktel bus being the usual half an hour late turning up, the trip was easy.
    The Blue Bottle Hotel staff are so nice - welcome cappuccino, croissant and a chat. So had such a nice day except for some limping due to smashing my toe at Nikiti - but it didn’t stop my steps, just slowed then.
    Great day exploring the town despite shops being closed on Sundays so things a bit quieter. Saw the roman agora then the ceiling mosaiced rotunda. Roman built with a minaret later added. Next a thunderstorm hit and Via Egnatia, the main street could not cope at all - completely flooded so that I could not cross the road.
    Stopped for a gyros then onto the White Tower. Bought the 5 museum pass - I am so enjoying museums this trip - go as slow or fast as i wish! Nice view from the top and good audio on the history of the city.
    Waterfront was busy with everyone having afternoon frappes, ouzis etc in the sun. An hour later and another thunderstorm.
    Rested and researched at BlueBottle, then dinner at E Kanoula - so good, lamb, cous cous and apricots ( tasted morocan). Really were it not for google one would not eat in a narrow graffitied street but so glad i did !
    So far only 3 things have changed in Greece since circa 2003 and all are restaurant related :
    1, olive oil is no longer on the tables
    2. if you order retsina the waiter will question whether you are really sure
    3. A complimentary dessert is given - orange syrup cake tonight.
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  • Day21

    Day 21 Nikiti

    June 1, 2019 in Greece ⋅ ☀️ 14 °C

    I’m just not into Nikiti - I’ve given it a chance but this is the first time I can recall I am leaving the coast early. 8:30am bus tomorrow morning back for an extra day in Thessaloniki. Feel bad that I will not see Mount Athos but the thought of a whole day with the eastern bloc on a boat is not a good one. I would have done this trip earlier but it only goes on a Sunday and sadly my patience level has steadily declined each day.
    Easy beach day today with nice swimming. Gyros and mythos beer with lemon for lunch, then more swimming.
    Home dinner of ouzo, olives, tomatoes and dolmades.
    Nikiti is both too crowded and too deserted. The main area is noisy and busy but get out of the main area and it feels very uncomfortably empty.
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  • Day20

    Day 20 Nikiti

    May 31, 2019 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    Weather was a bit cloudy and the forecast not great so I had breakfast omelette, toast and jam and nasty filter coffee in the hotel. Lucky Friday is market day in Nikiti back up on the main road. It was rather impressive - vege stalls of course (cherries predominated but also strawbs, apricots and hard peaches), wine stalls, ouzo, olive stalls and loads of italian beachy clothes. Photo shows vine leaves to wrap dolmades, ouzo, wine and samphire grass.
    Sat on beach but darkish clouds came across so found “Plaisir” cafe with modern street front but traditional look greek bakery and sweets out the back. Here I had my first nespresso cappucino in Greece with nice sweet and water, being both the best and the cheapest cappo in Greece at 2.30euro.
    After some rain i walked up to old Nikiti which was really peaceful with just a couple of bars - one i probably should have visited.
    Very nice steamed mussels at hotel.
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  • Day19

    Day 19 Thessaloniki to Nikiti

    May 30, 2019 in Greece ⋅ 🌙 22 °C

    Nikiti is as expected Little Moscow and/or Bulgaria so my plan was to walk 6kms to the nicer but less touristed beach of Vourvouras. The plan failed as after a few kms the road went through the seaside village of Kastri which felt like a nuclear bomb had zapped everyone. There were villas, domatia, houses but no sign of any life until a yappy white guard poodle ran round the inside of a fence. Next was a track over the headland which felt like gypsy territory so back to Kastri for a quick swim - water was delightful, then started to stride back until a herd of 100+ goats (many with nasty looking horns) blocked the road out..... nothing to do but wait. Ute came along going my direction which parted them so I snuck through on his wake.
    So had a couple of swims at Nikiti main beach, even buying tzatziki to get use of a beach lounge as the sand was scrappy.
    Had dinner at Marina Hotel where I’m staying - nice grilled octopus, horta and retsina.
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  • Day18

    Day 18 Kalambaka - Thessaloniki

    May 29, 2019 in Greece ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    Two trains to get to Thessaloniki but what a sensory impact this city has !
    Very byzantine feel, chaotic but get off the main Via Egnatia and its quiet but interesting.
    The Blue Bottle Hotel staff were lovely - free cappuccino, croissant and water for 20 mins while room cleaning was being finished.
    Explored down to the main square onto waterfront and into the street markets. Cafes galore, sweet shops galore.
    Joined the “free” walking tour of the upper town (ano poli) at 6pm meeting at Profit Ilias. Giorgos was a great talker and historian and musican but he didnt really show much. Nevertheless the Profit Ilias was great (why did he not even mention it?) and we walked to the acropolus of the town which i wouldnt have done for great views. Past the church of St David with amazing mosaic as evidenced by the picture he showed us (poor marketing to me). He played us two rembetika songs on bouzouki also. Noted some street signs show distance, minutes to walk and calaries you will burn.
    Long walk home so dinner at Extravaganza - pea risotto with greek rose and yum Samos vin doux.
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