Sunday, 10 June 2012

Traditional Greek Food

Nothing feels more like serious leisure time than sitting in a Greek beachside taverna feasting on calamari or souvlaki, a skewer of fresh meat, served with grilled pita bread, tzatziki, fresh tomatoes, onions and fried potatoes dripping with lemon, garlic, and oregano – food of the ancient gods indeed.

Greek families like to eat out and when they do they choose to eat traditional Greek cuisine which has been prepared almost the same way for 4,000 years. Their classic Mediterranean food starts on the foundation of olive oil, wheat and wine. Being a nation of surrounded by water it is no surprise that their diet includes lots of fresh seafood. Sheep and goats provide most of the land-based protein and world famous cheeses and yogurt. Desserts tend to be made from honey and nuts.

Menus do vary from island or region but the main choices will be found in all tavernas and restaurants. Increasingly one can find establishments offering cuisine, including fast food from other countries, but mostly there will be hearty rustic delicious Greek food.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Santorini Deco

In my previous blog I coined the phrase "Santorini Deco." Well I thought I coined it. A Google search for the phrase took me to an elegant photograph on Flickr which someone had titled  by that same moniker. So I guess there are at least two of us who see a connection between the uniquely traditional Santorini style and the Deco school of design.

I also mentioned in the last blog that Cycladic architecture has a distinct attraction to artists and sculptors who for decades have been drawn to the islands. That is especially true of Santorini, partly due to the stunning Caldera vistas, the cylinder shaped roofs, and the incomparibly rich Oia sunset. Consequently, Santorini takes on subtle shades of pastel overlayed on the basic white Cycladic stucco. And why not, Oia turns delicious orange and mauve every night at sunset anyway. Who can blame them if there souls have been tinged with pastel.

Deco design may in fact be a derivative of traditional Greek jewelry and tile design, with its spiraling squares. It is a small step indeed for someone like Klimt to discover the visual magic of spiraling circles - all of which gets played out in the black ironwork gracing entry ways.

And dare I forget the timeless contibution of the ancients with the ultimate elegance of white and creme marble sculptures. Greece is the world's vanguard of design - even when it is looking backwards! (OK, maybe the Romans and Italians also made a huge contibution, but where is their Santorini?)

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Cycladic Architecture - Greek Islands

The bright whitewashed cubic structures shining in contrast to the intense cobalt blue of sea and sky are the signature of the 220 Cycladic islands. Villages often look like organic reefs that have grown out of the sea clinging to the cliffsides or up the sides of mountains. They showcase the centuries old ingenuity of the Greek culture adapting to the necessity to conserve space while still expressing their expansive vision. The Cycladic chain includes twenty of Greece's main inhabitated islands, each having evolved its own character, based upon its unique geography, materials and history.


As residents and visitors stroll through narrow alleyways they see glimpses of blue shutters and doors, balconies covered with bouganvillas and flowers, and another strata of life perched on roof tops overlooking the alleyways below. During the summer the white walls reflect the intense Greek sun, whilst the densely packed buildings provide shelter from the fierce winds that can blow in as the high season fades in late September. Each locale adapts accordingly with the building materials that are available - stone, straw bricks, caves, etc.


Because of its sculptured beauty, human scale and integrated style, the Cycladic islands are often described as fairylands or movie sets. And indeed their beauty has attracted many an artist and sculpturer who have added to the indigenous architectural artform.



Sunday, 29 April 2012

Ferry to Anti-Paros

If you are ever in Paros - and you would be foolish if you weren't - you should definitely take the short ferry over to Anti-Paros. You can easily make it over for lunch or dinner, stroll around a bit and be back within a couple of hours. Anti-Paros has the reputation of being a laid back Paros, although I always thought Paros was laid back enough. In any case, it is also a magnet for Scandinavians, so if you don't have blonde, blonde hair you may start to wonder how you got invited to the party.

The main street is a pedistrian mall that has great outdoor cafes seated under an avalance of bouganvillas, lots of fun shops and great people watching.

Little Anti-Paros looms large  on the horizon off the western coast of Paros.
Ferry docks at Anti-Paros harbour

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Nauossa Paros

Nauossa is the primary tourist centre on Paros. Ferries may arrive in Paroikia but the good times are to be had in Naoussa. Although that said, Paros is a relatively small island and if you rent a car or motorbike there isn't any place that is far away. We tend to stay south of Naoussa and come in for the evenings as we are inclined. However we have also stayed in a very nice hotel just on the outskirts of Nauossa that had a lovely beach and it was just a couple of minutes to the city centre.

Nauossa has a fairly significant harbour for fishing boats which means the many fine restaurants have wonderful fresh seafood. We also like to breakfast at the cafes along the harbour and watch the tourists and fishermen all buzz about with their business in the warm morning sun.

The many quiet bouganvillas lined back alleys are also a great place for shopping, dining or just strolling. Although somewhat smaller and more quiet, Nauossa has much the same flavour as Mykonos and is well worth a stop on your island hopping in paradise.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Try the Peloponnese!

Dear Neptune Poseidon,

First and foremost I would like to thank you very much for your very informative website. I am fond of Greece and have vacationed there many times, especially the Greek islands. My last vacation was in September 2011 when I spent some days on Crete, as well as on Rhodes. These two islands along with the other ones that have been included in your website are undoubtedly some of the most unique destinations in the world.
The main reasons that I was drawn to your site was the impressive photography that really captures the flavor of the Greek Islands. I also appreciated that you included information on the famous Greek cuisine, jewelry, artwork and crafts. The general travel tips are essential if you are visiting for the first time.

Your site is accurate and well organized so one can get the information without wasting a great deal of time. I always recommend Top 10 Greek Islands to anyone I know who is planning a vacation.

PS. I hope that in the foreseeable future you will create something similar for the mainland as well. There are so many beautiful places on the mainland which are more easily accessible as well. Two years ago I and my family visited “ MANI ” one area that is located in the southern most and middle peninsula of the Peloponnese. This particular district is a treasure trove of Byzantine and post Byzantine churches, Frankish castles and stunning scenery. Furthermore, the whole area provides unlimited possibilities for excursions to unique natural beauty areas and some of the best beaches that I have ever seen. I have include some photos if you would like to share them with your readers.

All the Best, Michael

Friday, 9 March 2012

Mykonos Town

Over the last forty years Mykonos Town evolved from traditional Cyclades, to hypster, to jet-set and finally to an international tourism destination. Fortunately, it has retained characteristics of all those phases. It is a circus of shops, restaurants, galleries, clubs and hotels - yet it is still a laid back beach island. There are good beaches in and around town, and fabulous beaches a short distance from town, with shuttles buses to the more distant beaches (as in 10 to 15 minutes away).

Mykonos is second only to Santorini in terms of its stunning visual impact - Cycladic cubist architecture, white stucco-ed, cobble stone alley ways drapped with vibrant bouganvillas. In some senses Mykonos is a victim of its own success - a bit crowded and commercialized, but there are advantages to that as well. And you can always get the best of Mykonos and then move on to a quieter nearby island to recover. That is the wonderful thing about the Greek Islands - so much variety and things to discover and just a short ferry ride to the next experience.