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Posts Tagged ‘Greece’

033 When does a busy Street Corner Diner make the grade? Since 1989, this Athens, Greece taverna, called EVGENIA. after the owner is a not so hidden of a gem, but, that few tourist would know about. The Nicodemou Street of the Plaka/ Constitution Plaza area is narrow and tremendously packed with taxis and delivery trucks, Yes, exhaust and noise is everywhere. The little Greek taverna tables and chairs are on the pedestrian sidewalk; ten in all. Why go to lunch or an early dinner here? The business folks, in suits, and the retail workers understand. The Small fried fish, called Atherina, or minnows, is the reason. There are traditional dishes made freshly each morning, like lamb meatballs in tomato sauce and moussaka. The tables get packed. The fried fish come out in a basket and are eaten like french fries, head and all, and very crunchy and good. An Alfa Greek beer helps the lunch thirst. Some diners linger, and others chow and bolt back to work. The traffic keeps up the tempo. Find the taverna on this street and one block north of the Electra Palace Hotel. Be willing to wait a few minutes for your table. Thanks to Kathy Gasparis, years back, for this great dining location tip.

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IMG_5494The central area of Athens, Greece, near the Governmental Parliament Building, offers a wealth of joy to the visitor or the local.  This area has something for everyone.  From the people watching, to food, to touristy trinket stores, and to some fine specialty stores, all engage the traveler on foot.  The narrow and cobble-stoned streets warrant good walking shoes.  The vendors of the small establishments often lean outside the doorway and beckon the foot traffic. Smaller side paths lead to more treasures and more obscure wares.  A store that is a wall on which hang antique door-knockers could be a good example. The owner would be a specialist in that trade.  Commerce is brisk in many shops, as there are lots of people.  As it is said, “better buy it now, as it won’t be here next time”, is very true in the Flea Market.

Take a stroll through this area. Getting to the flea market is easy. If you are coming from Syntagma Square you will be walking down Metropolitan Street, past the Cathedral and the square of shiny marble. There is a small Byzantine church in the shadow of the cathedral that you should take a look at called Agios Eleftherios.  I love the peace and solemn quiet in this space. The church has an Icon inside which they say performs miracles. There are some cafes in the square and this is where Pondrossou Street begins. This section of Pondrossou is the high-end section of Monastiraki. There is a lot of touristy stuff here. I bought a wonderful Bouzouki guitar here from John’s Music Store.  But in my opinion, the really cool stuff is on lower Ermou and across on small streets. If you seek originality and real antiques leave Monastiraki behind and wander around Psiri.

If you continue through the square you will come to Ermou and if you cross into Psiri there are people selling there too. The further you go the weirder it gets and by the time you get down towards Pireos Street you have very poor people buying and selling from piles of rags and little gypsy children running barefoot.  Some shops are not even stalls, only things hanging a some wall. All is for sale.  So… Gypsy, bad, bad, bad!

vendorGypsies are skinny and invisible to the human eye. They know where every wallet is in the world. Then they are quicker than the fastest I have ever seen, ( personal ). Your Sock “might” be safe.  Here is an example of one stealth group gypsy action, [sadly from personal experience, from a time ago] : I don’t look like a tourist, just a Westerner, Plus, I stay away from the logos on the clothing and designer accents. These are a beacon of light to the gypsies. The thieves work the odds and the angles.  Groups in skinny teams quietly surround the mark, i.e., the Metro train commuter, a narrow cafe; close in, as in a crowded space; press against the (now) victim; and fleece every zipper, pocket, nook and crannies. When the train opens at the station, the Gypsies evaporate and all is gone. Do not get in that position ever. Hint: position a mouse trap in your back wallet pocket! Wait for the …snap and scream!

Check out the morning meatmarkets, if available to your schedule in Psiri.  In the evening, the tavernas, ouzeries, and little restaurants are authentic & the nightlife is excellent ( Cab it back to the hotel in a metered vs. “Gypsy Cab”).

The Tourism Police are an integral part of the Hellenic Police (ELAS), consisting of men and women especially trained and competent to offer tourists information and help, whenever they have any problems. They are also competent to solve minor differences between tourists and enterprises. They all speak foreign languages. You can recognise them by the shoulder badge Tourism Police on their uniforms. Tourism Police operate an emergency telephone line on a 24 hour basis (just dial 171 any day, any time, from all over Greece).

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Sunkist2 Island Traveler

This page gives you a little insight of my Travels through my lens.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Curves

Challenge: choose an image that denotes: Curves

Paraportiani Church, Hora, Mykonos, Cyclades Islands, Greece

This little structure is really three small churches in one.  Located near the famed windmills on the port near “little Venice”,

the Church is active, ideal for wedding services, and photography in the many hues of the Aegean light.

Paraportiani3

Paraportiani2

Greek Orthodox Church, Mykonos

Greek Orthodox Church, Mykonos

Paraportiani4

Paraportiani4

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Sunkist2 Island Traveler

This page gives you a little insight of my Travels through my lens.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fleeting

Challenge: choose an image that denotes: Fleeting

Imerovilgi, Santorini, GR Fleeting Sun
Imerovigli, Santorini, GR Fleeting Sun

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Sunkist2 Island Traveler

This page gives you a little insight of my Travels through my lens.

Beyond

High in the Mani Region of Southern Greece Mainland perches the village of Vathia

High in the Mani Region of Southern Greece Mainland perches the village of Vathia

Tripod mounted Cannon 750, late afternoon sun of September. This village is beyond the reach of most European Tourists, hint-hint!  ~Ron

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I have alway been mystified by amber, from the first time I held a small piece to the sky, and behold, a tiny insect came to light, trapped in the yellow resin for all eternity.  Worry beads first appeared in India. They were invented to help count prayers and consisted of a series of fruit pits, punctured and strung on a piece of string. Over time fruit pits were replaced by amber, ivory, coral, semi precious stones, or other precise stones and noble metals. A tassel and a “papas” (the bead that marks the beginning and end of its cycle) were eventually added. The people of India embellished worry beads in various ways and thus created a work of art. Worry beads evolved into a collectible jewel that soon became a symbol of wealth, prestige, power and culture. They were something between jewel and sceptre . Today, they are still used to count prayers.

The Greek word for worry beads is kompoloi (Greek: êïìðïëüé), often spelled koboloi, komboloi, or coboloi and was first introduced by the Turks.  Kombolois became popular among the common people as means for meditation and to calm the nerves.

During that period worry beads were  popular among religious Greek people.  The most common name for the religious worry beads is worry knots or komposkini (Greek: êïìðïóêïßíé), meaning a rope with knots, because the religious persons use  each knot to say a prayer.

You would be hard-pressed to not see a senior citizen Greek man sitting at a tavern or ouzo bar table without a komboloi in hand.  Twirling one is not that easy.  It took me many ouzos to learn the technique! In my right hand, the tassel is held between the middle and first finger second joint, with the tassel in the palm, lying down. A flick of my wrist in a counter clockwise motion, launches the beads over my hand and wrapping around my little finger, I then repeat the motion, releasing the Papas, shield, bead and tassel. My komboloi is silver beads on a silver rope chain with dark yellow amber beads disbursed throughout. It fits my palm size. I have owned plastic ones.  Ancient Persian komboloi can run at $1,000 for large hand hewn Baltic amber. Nice!

When tourism development in Greece occurred, komboloi, being an important element of Greek culture and tradition, became again popular but this time as a souvenir sold to tourists. Then and today, komboloi can be a trinket usually made of plastics, metals, or machine-made silver platted beads and had nothing to do with the jewel of superior aesthetics and a symbol of wealth, power, freedom and prestige that used to be in the past.

In our age, when  stress, shopping, drinking, smoking, depression and antidepressant drugs have become a matter of everyday life, kompoloi made a dynamic comeback and offer many solutions to the “vices” of contemporary life. My chain-smoking Greek shipping friend stopped cold turkey with one komboloi; twirling away the vice.

They are not exaggerating  when they say “show me your worry beads and I’ll show you who you are”.  Choices include the size, color, number of beads, shield, tassel and priest head (papas). In order for a komboloi to be functional as a twirling toy, it is said that they should consist of an odd number of beads, with a sum always equal to a modulus of four, plus one.  I was told they should have forty beads in the body: representing the 40 days of Jesus on earth before ascending to heaven.  The Plaka District in Athens purports a plethora of shops. Nafplion, Greece has a museum dedicated to the art. My favorite shop was on the rim of the volcano in Thera, Santorini, Greece.  Sadly, the old artisan closed the doors some years ago, though, I will keep my komboloi close at hand.

Komboloi of every size and style

Vitina Village Bead Shop in the Peloponnese Mountains with artisan.

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Mykonos nightsThere is a group of folks who taught me to live life to the fullest.  I call them the “September Club”.  Many years ago, on the island of Mykonos, in the Aegean Sea of Greece, a birthday party of  night revellers spilled over onto my hotel’s accessible balcony. These people knew how to party. They came from all over Europe, a few Greeks and several Americans. Some were on perpetual holiday and others had jobs, like airline flight attendants, teachers and Club Owners.  They had bonded for several summer seasons in the month of September. The invite to join them could not be refused. I was part of the September Club.

MykonosThe owner of the fun bar, called Uno Bar, Michael, lived on Mykonos and was well-connected and part of the group.  He had a large speed boat and many toys.  He was good at organizing beach parties. With a well planned Saturday outing of 40 people on two commissioned Greek fishing boats, we headed for the tiny island 3 Km off of Mykonos and near Delos Island.  Uninhabited, yet home to dozens of goats, this idyllic spot and the little sheltered-cove sandy beach promised a full day of pleasure.  We were not disappointed.  Soon after the beach chairs, volleyball net and kitchen BBQ area were arranged, Ouzo and Mythos beers flowed.  The Greeks and several Europeans, a very un-modest bunch, jumped right into volleyball, sans clothing.  The same was for the two beautiful Uno Bar Waitresses, as they proved they could somersault the whole beach. They could and they did.

The highlight of the afternoon became the feast. Lamb chops, fried zucchini, feta cheese, marinated chicken in olive oil and fresh oregano were prepared. Michael’s boat had snorkel equipment and three of us headed into the cove to gather the spiny black sea urchins amongst the rocks and sea weeds. With a potato sack full, I was to learn the secret of the Greek fisherman’s Sea Urchin salad.

There is danger to this recipe. We used Diving Gloves to hold on to the spines as we applied the Dive Knife to the crown of the Urchin’s mouth area. These slender tubular black needles penetrate the palm of my hand easily and biting them out with front teeth is an art.  Yet, in little time the stainless steel 10 inch salad mixing bowl had a pound of the roe ( some believe its gonads), in the bottom. The one inch ocher colored sacks give off a salty aroma and glisten.

compliments of Fotosearch Stock

Greek fisherman’s Sea Urchin salad, ala Mykonos Beach Party

  • 1/2 kilo Black or Red Sea Urchin Roe, one pound approx.
  • One cup soft White Loaf bread cubed without crust
  • One half cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • One freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/4 cup
  • One tablespoon Sea Salt
  • One half tablespoon Greek Oregano
  • Fine ground black pepper to taste.
  • All ingredients are whipped in the Stainless mixing bowl to a semi smooth blended consistency.
  • The bowl may be floated on cracked ice.  Prepare the White Loaf Crusty bread in two-inch cubes for dipping.

We did not need the bowl on cracked ice, as it lasted for five minutes and satiated about 15 people.  The rest of the September Club folks were still running around naked or sleeping after too much Ouzo!  These summers, the group has dispersed. I have seen a few a while back.  The Uno Bar has changed, and not in that great traditional spot in Mykonos.  The Urchins are still there and I now live life to the fullest, waiting for next September.

 

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