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…
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 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, and one of the world’s greatest cultural monuments.”
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.
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…
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.
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).
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.
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.
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!…
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
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
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
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.
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar; 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil; salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste