Here’s a link to NMA including Greek related family activities https://www.nma.gov.au/whats-on/family-activities

It’s been a very long time since I posted on my blog (a rather tedious story with life getting in the way), but the recent Ancient Greeks Exhibition at the National Museum of Australia (see pic below) and then a visit for lunch to the Hellenic Club Canberra, I was inspired to start again. (Not sure why feature photo is repeating…will try to fix soon once I refamiliarise myself with WordPress again:).

OUR MONTH IN GREECE IN MAY 2014…plus glimpses of Turkey and Sicily (Italy) nearby where the Ancient Greeks influenced the culture, including the architecture and food of/near the “Mediterranean” sea.

We arrived in ATHENS, GREECE 🇬🇷 (a flight from Malta 🇲🇹) and had a fabulous 5 days in this awe inspiring capital city…

Tony at the Parthenon, Greece 🏛 … early in the morning we walked up the hill from our hotel in central Athens and we were lucky to avoid the crowds that were just arriving as we left.

It was one of our most wonderful days as the weather was perfect in mid May…we were lucky as I’ve heard it can be very hot.

From Wikipedia… “The Parthenon (/ˈpɑːθəˌnɒn, -nən/; Ancient Greek is a former temple[4][5] on the Athenian Acropolis, Greece, dedicated to the goddessAthena, whom the people of Athensconsidered their patron. Construction began in 447 BC when the Athenian Empirewas at the peak of its power. It was completed in 438 BC, although decoration of the building continued until 432 BC. It is the most important surviving building of Classical Greece….Its decorative sculptures are considered some of the high points of Greek art. The Parthenon is regarded as an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece, Athenian democracy and Western civilization,[6] and one of the world’s greatest cultural monuments.”

Parts of the Acropolis, (“settlement by Ancient Greece built on elevated ground”…Wiki) such as this amphitheatre, has been restored (and modernised somewhat) so it can sometimes be used as a theatre today.
Another perspective of the ampitheatre – Theatre of Dionysus

We visited a similar Greek amphitheatre in Sicily, Italy (Taormina)…see previous post if interested – just as awe inspiring – with views towards both the sea and Mount Etna – a still active volcano…fortunately not during our visit! That Sicilian region (now part of Italy of course) was founded by Greek colonists in the 3rd-4th Century BC.

We loved this view from the Acropolis with the ancient temple on the RHS and the large group of tourists on top of the cliff on the LHS
This was my favourite view of/from the Acropolis with glimpses of the city of Athens in the background.

This link … https://www.britannica.com/technology/caryatid … explains the significance of the female form in this part of the Acropolis and elsewhere.

After an hour or two walking around the Parthenon and other parts of the Acropolis, we took the much more leisurely walk down the hill to the Acropolis Museum, a very contemporary museum exhibiting ancient history of the Acropolis. Here’s their website… https://www.theacropolismuseum.gr/en/content/museum-history as well as a photo from that site below…

As can be seen from this photo, it was an easy walk down the hill (about 5 min stroll) to the Acropolis museum. We stopped to take a few photos, including one from the upmarket residential area – see our photo below.

WHERE WE STAYED IN ATHENS…

Athens has some very upmarket & $$$$ inner city areas eg near the museum mentioned above, as can be seen in one of the photos below, but like most cities, arty/edgy/interesting precincts have also been developing near older inner city housing which is gradually being restored/refurbished/“gentrified”. We stayed at a small/“boutique” hotel ($$$) and loved it (will note the name on request as post pandemic may have changed of course). The hotel recommended a few bars/restaurants in the near vicinity…so easy walking distance to good food at reasonable prices with many locals going there so a good sign too. We didn’t try any fine dining restaurants as our days were so full-on we just felt like a laid-back place to dine as described above.

The top photo shows upmarket residential area near the Acropolis Museum; the bottom photo has a mix of restored/refurbished buildings – we wondered what the owners of some freshly renovated buildings (like that on the LHS of photo) thought of all the graffiti painted on the bottom of their buildings?!Seemed almost like a protest (some would say vandalism?) against gentrification of the area?? Interesting!

FROM ATHENS – SAMOS…

We took a flight onto Samos (more in previous post if interested); and from Samos we travelled onto Kusadasi in Turkey (details re hotels etc in previous post as well).

Dinner at Samos waterfront… “Apollonia”…it was lovely chatting with another couple from Sweden who regularly visited Samos as “a direct flight” for them.

The cost of a 2 course dinner at most restaurants on this waterfront area was 45 Euro including a tip! All the staff could speak some English but as usual, we learnt basic greetings etc in local language – in this instance Greek of course. Our pronunciation was sometimes wrong…but generally people can understand and respond kindly if they can’t understand us.

We usually avoid the “tourist belt” when finding a restaurant but in this instance it wasn’t particularly touristy ie there seemed to be lots of locals and family groups there as well. We did go for a wander to look at other restaurants a km or so away, and if we return again (like so many Scandinavians often do), we would be more adventurous. We were only in Samos a week.

Not only did we just relax by the ocean and the pool in Samos (photos last post) but we also did some day trips around the island (if interested see previous post about ancient town of Pythagorion). We returned to this town for dinner one night – The Four Seasons – again on the waterfront and interestingly €45 again including the tip. That included a bottle of wine + complimentary Ouzo at the end. So Samos isn’t an overcrowded tourist destination and we loved the quieter pace compared to Santorini…which was also fabulous (even if pricey)… but in different ways.

VIEW OF THE HARBOUR IN SAMOS FROM OUR TABLE AT RESTAURANT

We loved just strolling around the streets as well (the weather was beautiful in May) and below is one of my favourite photos of the local school. Unfortunately we weren’t able to read the name of the school.

After long days out and about, we sometimes had something light back at the hotel – Fito Bay Hotel – they had a small restaurant…again on the waterfront, with lots of light meal options. Photos of hotel in a previous post.

TAKEN ON OUR STROLL AROUND THE LOCAL NEIGHBOURHOOD IN SAMOS…A LOCAL SCHOOL

THEN ONTO TURKEY 🇹🇷! This trip was recommended to us by a Greek man we had met on our travels through Slovenia (think I wrote about that in a previous post) and what a great recommendation it was – such a wonderful day!…

DEPARTING SAMOS, GREECE 🇬🇷, ON THE FERRY TO TURKEY 🇹🇷

I’ll write more about our month touring through Turkey another day…we’re so pleased (and feel very lucky) to have been able to do that trip before the world changed with Covid in late 2019-2020.

MEDITERRANEAN RECIPES…from Greece and Turkey… older kids could help with prep; most reasonably kitchen savvy teens could independently prepare the lamb (main) + Greek salad/side.

LEMON AND GARLIC LAMB KEBABS RECIPE from “World Table” cookbook (AWW)

Ingredients for 4:

750 grams lamb fillets (cut into 3 cm pieces…roughly cubed shape); 3 cloves of garlic (crushed); 8 x 15 cm stalks fresh rosemary; 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind; 1 tablespoon lemon juice; 2 tablespoons EVOO

METHOD:

1. Remove leaves from bottom two-thirds of each rosemary stalk; sharpen trimmed ends to a point.

2. Thread lamb onto rosemary skewers. Brush kebabs with combined garlic, oil, rind and juice. Cover; refrigerate until required.

3. Cook kebabs on heated oiled grill plate (or grill or barbecue), brushing frequently with remaining garlic mixture, until cooked.

4. Kebabs could be served with a Greek salad…see recipe below.

THE NEW GREEK SALAD”… recipe & image from The 5-Minute Salad Lunchbox…available from many public libraries in NSW/ACT

THE NEW GREEK SALAD

INGREDIENTS: large handful of grape (or baby plum) tomatoes; 1 Lebanese (short) cucumber, diced; 1/4 yellow capsicum (diced); 1/4 red onion (thinly sliced); handful of pitted Kalamata olives; 50 g crumbled feta; 1 teaspoon dried oregano

METHOD:

1. Toss the salad ingredients together, then place on a serving plate OR tip into your lunchbox.

2. Combine the dressing ingredients (listed below), in a small jar or container with a tight-fitting lid.

3. Pour the dressing over the salad just before serving and toss well.

GREEK DRESSING:

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar; 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil; salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste