Best beach cafes and tavernas in Greece

Best beach cafes and tavernas in Greece

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Greece’s best beach cafes and tavernas and  travel tips.  An ouzo or a cold beer after a day on the beach, freshly caught sardines on a Greek island …

Lela’s Taverna, Kardamyli, Peloponnese

Lela's

 

Overlooking the old port in this pretty village, Lela’s has a terraced dining area shaded by a vine-covered pergola, with planters tumbling bright red geraniums. You can dine while watching the sun set over the sea and the moon rise behind the mountains. Be prepared to spend your evenings here for the setting as well as the food, which is simple, traditional and delicious. There are no menus, the day’s specials are on the board. You’ll get addicted to the aubergine dip, and maybe to the sweet prawns in fresh tomato sauce with feta, too.

T +30 272 107 3541

Captain Pipinos, Agios Georgios, Antiparos

pipinos

 

This taverna is right on the water’s edge at Agios Georgios. We arrived there after a 12km cycle along the island’s coast, and had one of the best meals of our two-week island-hopping holiday. Delicious shrimp saganaki was washed down with a glass of wine while we looked at the drying octopuses and got sprayed by the waves.

T+30 228 402 1823

Gregori’s bar, Logaras beach, Paros

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A cafe with no food and where you help yourself to drink? And one that’s never called by its real name? “Sea Swell” at the start of Logaras beach will be forever known as Gregori’s, after its 80-year-old proprietor – who would be the most relaxed man on the island if it wasn’t for his son, Manolis, spending the day staring out to sea while his dad occasionally collects empty bottles of Mythos beer or local retsina.

Kohili, Samos

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Andreas and Tilly, the charming owners of Kohili on southern Samos, are wonderful hosts and great cooks. A walk along a rough, dusty track with the azure sea falling away on your left brings you to this stunning place with 360-degree views. We sunbathed and snorkelled on the beach below, got frightened by a tuna zipping past as we hung in the secluded cove below the terraces, and when the sun set we climbed up for a cold beer, delicious scorpion fish with lovely vegetables and to-die-for spicy meatballs.
T +30 697 766 4437

Kanali Taverna, Elounda, Crete

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Its setting is right by the sea on Elounda Bay. It’s on a conservation “island”, past the old salt pans and across a causeway – 15 minutes’ walk from the main resort. The setting is unique: on the shoreline by an ancient sunken city of Olous, with ruined windmills, a picturesque church and a mosaic from an early Christian basilica close to your table. The atmosphere is laid-back and you can enjoy delicious Cretan cuisine while you relax.
T+30 284 104 2075

The Cellar Tavern, Kissamos, Crete

kissamos

 

Stelio’s Cellar Tavern is on the beach at Kissamos – on the stunning but untouristy western tip of Crete. He’s cheerful and welcoming – and always remembers us. His cook makes the best moussaka I’ve tasted, and last year we asked if she’d teach us how to make it. We were invited into the kitchen the following morning; that evening we sat by the sea and ate the second-best plate of moussaka ever.
Telonio Beach
T+30 282 202 3883

Avli Taverna, Corfu Town, Corfu

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The Avli Taverna, in a secluded bay, is so beautiful you could sit there all day as the sun sets. Many people do, sipping ouzo under trees next to a sea so blue and calm you almost expect Pierce Brosnan to turn up on a boat while Meryl Streep emerges from the cafe singing Mamma Mia. Lovely food, friendly service and affordable prices add to its dreamy quality.
T+30 266 103 1291

Lepeda beach cafe, Kefalonia

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Lepeda beach is a few miles south of Lixouri, Kefalonia’s second town. An unusual rock formation girdles the sandy beach and the cafe with its tables and parasols. Fresh cooked food is available but I can only vouch for the beer and frappés. The sea is irresistible, and after a swim I stood thigh-deep talking to a Canadian woman; small fish nibbled at our legs and a kingfisher flew out of the sun and around the rocks. Seconds later it flew back; the shimmer of colour was just magical.

Peroulia, Messina, Peloponnese

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We’ve never stayed in the rooms available to rent but the food and sea views from the dining area are to die for. Gaze across 20 miles of blue sea to the Taygetus mountains beyond. There are only four or five meals on the menu because they are all cooked fresh every day. So, while the choice initially looks small, the taste and quality are fantastic. Sea view, carafe of wine, dinner for two, about €30.
T+
30 272 504 1777

 

 

 

Greece: Nymphaio, A Town with the Midas Touch

Greece: Nymphaio, A Town with the Midas Touch

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Everything you’ve heard about Nymphaio is true; it really is the most beautiful village in northern Greece.

Even if you have seen photos, nothing can prepare you for the surprise of actually being there. Its founders hid it so skillfully from prying eyes that the city offers no tantalizing glimpse from afar. Instead, you will ascend a seemingly interminable corkscrew of a road, practically straight up from the valley between Mt. Vermio and Mt. Verno, with the smokestacks of Ptolemaida belching in the distance and not a trace of habitation in sight. Even when you arrive at the gates of Nymphaio, there is only a large parking lot waiting to greet you. Beside it, there is the hotel-restaurant of Ta Linouria, an elegant grey-stone building enclosed by a green lawn, hinting at what is to come.

Unless you have booked one of Nymphaio’s six small pensions, you must leave your car behind and walk up the hill to the village proper, for most of Nymphaio’s streets are off limits to the motor vehicle. You will soon reach the main square, fronted by the Neveska hotel-restaurant and flanked by a café, a shop selling traditional local foods made by the Women’s Organization, and a grassy area where horses may be grazing. Though the horses of Nymphaio roam at will, unfettered, and unnoticed by the locals, visitors pursue them with their cameras.

Pleasant though it is, the square cannot compare to the houses surrounding it, each of which is a work of art, a poem written in stone. Rising above them all, Nymphaio’s largest building, the Nikeos School with its clock tower, looks as though it has been lifted out of Basle. A plethora of lovely villages abound in Greece’s mountains: the Zagorohoria in Epirus, Metsovo, Pelion – all of which were built by the master stone masons of so-called Mastorohoria in western Macedonia,  north of Konitsa. But in none of these other places are the homes so impeccably cared for, the cobbled streets so litter-free, the gardens so lush, the atmosphere so, well, unGreek as it is in Nymphaio. With its tin-lined roofs designed to encourage the snow to slide off, this is the kind of village you might expect to find in Switzerland, Austria, Germany, or France, up in the Alps.

Nymphaio is all the more remarkable because, only twenty years ago, two-thirds of its houses lay in ruins; only sixty inhabitants, mostly elderly, eked out a living there. For almost six hundred years it had prospered, as its Vlach citizens were among the most dynamic people in the Hellenic world. Whether as the thrifty peddlers of meat, cheese, hides, and weavings that originally habited the village, or later as the talented jewelers, or finally as the Ottoman Empire’s tobacco and cotton tycoons, the villagers of Nymphaio possessed the Midas touch for centuries. They called their village, hidden but not immune to Turkish attacks, Niveasta, which in Vlach has three meanings: Nymph because of the sylvan setting; Invisible (Ni Vista) because of its unique location; and Snow-covered because of the mountainous climate (Nives Ska). It was renamed Nymphaio in 1928.

The lethal combination of World War II, the Greek Civil War, and the rapid process of urbanization crippled Nymphaio. It might have remained a ruined relic were it not for the determination of a few visionary native sons led by writer Nikos Mertzos and winemaker Yannis Boutaris, or as they dubbed themselves, “The Last of the Mohicans.” They energized the drive to restore collapsed buildings, repave the streets, and install vital public utilities.

But a pretty face is not enough to bring a village back to life, and Boutaris, with his experience in the wine industry, knew that Nymphaio needed to attract the new leisure class of weekenders in order to survive. With them in mind, he created a dream place called La Moara (Watermill in Vlach) just outside the village limits, close to the forest that cloaks the steep hills above it. Though it has only eight rooms, La Moara has acquired renown as one of the finest small hotels in this country. It was closed when I visited in early June, but luckier friends extoll its comfortable rooms, superb restaurant, and warm, welcoming staff. As it has its own stable, riding through the woods around Nymphaio is yet another of the many joys that come with staying there.

Frustratingly, La Moara is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, but it can be substituted with another delightful option: Athina. Built in 1900, Athina was formerly a five-room house that has recently been converted into a charming traditional inn. Its owner, Yannis Papadopoulos, recommends that those who intend to stay at his inn book their fall and winter weekends far in advance.

But Nymphaio is not just a wonderfully executed reconstruction of a fascinating era. It is also a thriving town that is actively fighting for its two vanishing species. The Arcturos refuge for bears has almost nothing to do with renowned wine that shares its name, other than that it too owes its existence to the affluent Boutari family. From its headquarters in Thessaloniki, Arcturos set up a sanctuary for dancing bears just outside Nymphaio in 1993, and then another one for wolves at Agrapidia off the main road to Kastoria in 1998. The refuge also runs an environmental information center/veterinary clinic at Aetos, located between the two sanctuaries. Not all the farmers in the area support their efforts; some even accuse Arcturos of releasing their bears and wolves into the wild to savage their livestock.

So, when you go to Nymphaio, make a point of visiting and advocating these important refuges. It is not often you can lend Mother Nature a helping hand while indulging all your senses so magnificently.

How to get there:
Nymphaio lies 610 km north of Athens, west of Veria, east of Kastoria. The most direct route from Athens is via Larissa and Kozani; from Thessaloniki drive west through Yiannitsa and Edessa.

Where to stay:

There are six small pensions in Nymphaio, none larger than ten rooms. La Moara, 8 rooms, tel. 2310 287626; price includes breakfast and dinner; Ta Linouria, 10 rooms, tel. 23860 31133; Athina, 5 rooms, tel. 23860 31141. La Betlou (23860 41282, Enterne (23860 31230) and La Galba (23860 31314) are other, slightly more economical possibilities. La Moara has its own stables but the other pensions can also arrange for horses and guides if you’d like to ride.



Where to eat:
Besides Neveska and Ta Linouria, La Betlou has its own taverna, and the  Archondiko serves traditional dishes, too. But for a special meal, try Thomas’s Taverna at Sklithrou, on the main road to Kastoria. It is known for miles around for its cava (liquor store), which lists almost 300 different Greek wines.

Mount Taigetos

Mount Taigetos

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As the highest mountain in the Peloponnesus, Taigetos is redolent of myths and secrets.

Surrounded by orange tree orchards and endless expanses of olive trees, Taigetos is the highest mountain of Greece’s Peloponnesus. Despite the small settlements that climb shyly on the foothill, the 2400-meter-high mountain seems formidable and intimidating. Even the great castle-city of Mistras seems to disappear into the mountain’s white winter ridge.

The ancients believed that the goddess Artemis herself, protector of the hunt, made her home within the thick forests of Taigetos. The pretty nymph Taigeti, from whom the mountain gained its ancient name, also took shelter amidst the enchanting woodlands. During the middle-Byzantine period the mountain was called Pentadaktilos.

In the words of author Kostas Ouranis, “I could never have imagined that there would be a mountain with such character, such individuality. Its image was unapproachably magnificent.. Taigetos rises unhampered, straight, beautiful and strong – with a proud exaltation – right to the height of its snow-covered peaks.”

Similarly, writer Stratis Mirivilis attempts to convey the breath-taking landscape: “Taigetos is indescribable, impossible to express itself without Beethoven’s music. So thick, so overbearing is its enforcement on the soul of each man. It’s the same as looking at huge monument of genius. The impression is vague about the details, but its meaning is upright. It makes you stand upright yourself and accept it. Accept it in your heart as a huge blessing, or as a calamity that strikes your soul and looks in you imperatively for an answer.”

Islands Close to Athens, perfect for a long weekend

Islands Close to Athens, perfect for a long weekend

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Here is a list of Islands situated close to Athens which are indeed  perfect for a long weekend!

Agistri Island

Agistri is a small island  in the Saronic Gulf,  only 19 nautical miles away from Piraeus and very close to the larger Saronic island of Aegina. Azure waters, pine trees and lush vegetation (where many bird species find refuge) are the main characteristics of this tiny, yet charming, island.

You can spend the night at  Kekrifalia Hotel found at a lovely spot, right by the sea, in the lush green area of Skliri, on Agistri island. It is only a 5 minute walk from Skala village, where most of the fish tavernas are situated.

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Poros Island 

The town of Poros is built in the shape of an amphitheatre over two hills. Lush pine trees vegetation, crystal clear beaches, a lively waterfront adorned with cosy cafes and tavernas, the town full of grand traditional mansions and picturesque cobbled streets, is a perfect spot to visit very close to Athens.  Poros is also famous for its beautiful beaches, stretching uninterrupted along the island’s coastline.

You can spend the night at «Sto Roloi Hotel» located right underneath Poros’ picturesque landmark, the “Roloi” (meaning “Clock Tower”) and only a few stairs above the romantic harbor.

poros

 

Hydra Island

Hydra, built in the shape of an amphitheatre on a slope overlooking the Argosaronic gulf, is one of the most romantic destinations in Greece. Hydra’s unspoiled charm remains intact even though the island can be reached with flying dolphin from the port of Piraeus in only an hour and a half. It is one of the authentic paradises in Greece and has been truly appreciated by world known artists like Henry Miller and Leonard Cohen, who have had houses there for their vacations.   
You can spend the night at ΟRLOF hotel  , a historic house, built in 1796 by Count Orloff of Russia, on the remains of a convent.  Orloff Hotel has since been lovingly restored to a Boutique Hotel

 

hydra

Andros Island


Andros Island is the northernmost island of the Cyclades and can be reached by boat from Rafina Port, close to the “Venizelos” Athenian Airport . Andros is one of the most popular close 
cultural destinations definitely worth a visit thanks to its museums. The globally acknowledged Museum of Modern Art, managed by the Vassilis and Eliza Goulandris Foundation holds the most incredible collections. The archaeological museums in Hóra and Paleópolis represent the ancient history of the island with their exhibits. 

You can spend the night at hotel Onar, a true paradise found at the eastern side of the island on the beach of Ahla. 

 

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Kea Island 

Due to its proximity to Athens, Kéa (also called “Tzia”) is an easily accessible beauty with a scenery variety: steep mountains, small fields, olive groves, vineyards, valleys, picturesque coves, exciting hiking trails and off-the-beaten-track beaches. You will reach there by a small ferry from Lavrio port, very close to Athens airport.

You can spend the night at Αegis suites in the village Vourkari. 

 

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Weekend Escapes in the Peloponnese

Weekend Escapes in the Peloponnese

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The southern region of mainland Greece is known as the Peloponnese. Below, you will find some suggestions from the Gourmed Team for idyllic weekend getaways, along with charming hotels to accompany such suggestions. Click on the hotel names for more information!

 

Mani

 

A visit tο inner Mani, the middle peninsula οf the southern Peloponnese, is always a somewhat mystical experience. This is the land that, throughout Greece’s history, foreign occupiers never quite managed tο control. Maniates, men and women alike, have always been known for their fiercely independent spirit. You will hear myriad hair-raising stories, not only about the region’s ferocious battles against the Ottoman rulers, but also about bloody family feuds. Just like its people, the landscape οf this southernmost part οf the Greek mainland comes across αs stark and forbidding. But the spectacular coastlines and barren mountain ranges, dotted with small clusters οf fort-like tower-houses, never fail tο captivate those passing through.

In contrast tο the untamed wild beauty οf the Inner Mani, the Outer Mani that lies tο its north is much more friendly and lush in appearance. Set against the back οf the Taygetοs mountain range, the area is one οf the most scenic in Greece (though οf course the country has many!). The landscape is marked by hills covered with olive groves and punctuated by cypress trees, lovely tower-house villages, wild oleanders lining the winding road south, tiny Byzantine churches, and a beautiful coastline with emerald green waters. It has remained blissfully unspoiled and is still relatively undiscovered – the tourism that makes it tο this out-οf-the-way corner οf Greece is generally the “good kind:” people looking for natural beauty, tranquility, and a few sights, rather than beach entertainment and nightlife.

Notos in Mani, Peloponnese

A little rest in a beautiful environment was precisely what Maria Malliri had in mind when, about ten years ago, she came tο Kardamyli οn holidays.

Kyrimai on Gerolimenas

Clοse tο the southernmost tip οf Mani lies Gerοlimenαs, α tiny fishing port. Its development dates back tο 1870, when a local businessman…

Monemvasia

Built on the top of a steep rock in the sea, connected to the mainland via a long causeway, the ruined fortress of Monemvasia, along with its fortifιed ‘city,’ is a monument to the Greek turbulent history of the past thousand years. This Byzantine/Venetian city castle, near the southeastern tip of the Peloponnese, holds an inescapable magic. Imagine something like France’s Mont St Michel, but less touristy and on a smaller scale.
When you pass through the narrow entrance gate to the so-called Kastro (Greek for “fortress,” how locals refer to the settlement), you step into α different world. There are no cars or mopeds. The few shops are either endearingly old fashioned or artsy and tastefully done. A handful of restaurants and cafes, all of which are small and cute, constitute the only nightlife spots on the rock. And, most importantly, there is not α single architectural faux pas. The Kastro is under strict archaeological protection and the only type of construction allowed is restoration.

Byzantino and Hammam- Monemvasia

When she was a little girl, Anna Traiifοrοu loved roaming around in the Kastro οf Monemvasia. She was one οf only a handful οf children growing uρ surrounded by the medieval fοrtificatiοns…

Ardamis- Monemvasia, Peloponnese

Guesthouse Ardamis is among the oldest and most beautiful buildings in the Kastro. It is estimated to be at least 800 years old and was used as a governor’s office dur­ing the Venetian rule and the Turkish occupation.

 

 

Nafplio

 

Greeks don’t really dο “city escapes.” In the winter, people prefer trips tο the mountains, and αs soon αs the weather turns summery, weekends are spent οn the beach. This is not all that surprising: most Greeks already live in the city and would rather escape from it than go to another one— unless of course they’re heading towards Rome, London, or Paris.

The only town in Greece that is appreciated as a city weekend-break destination is Nafplio. Steeped in history, it is one of Greece’s most fascinating towns. Its development dates back tο the Neolithic period and, through the centuries, it has been under Minoan, Roman, Byzantine, Frαnch, Venetiαn and Turkish rule. In 1828, it became the first capital οf the modern Greek state, remaining as such only until 1834, when the administration was moved tο Αthens. Although the odd mosque remains a stark testimony to the Turkish occupation, the historic part of town is saturated with Venetian influence.

It is not difficult tο explain why Athenians happily drive over on Friday night for a (romantic) weekend in Nafplio. It is barely two hours away by car from Athens, and apart from its beautiful architecture and its great setting by the sea, it also has an excellent choice of restaurants, bars, cafes, boutiques, and little art shορs. Truth be told, Nafplio is only α small town and, compared tο Athens, it seems like a village: everything is οn an infinitely smaller scale, the atmosphere is easy-going and — what a relief — the air you breathe is clean.

Iliοn Suites Hotel- Nafplion, Peloponnese
Tucked away in a narrow street in the historic part οf Nαfρliο, Hotel Ilion Suites perfectly fits the bill οf α romantic escape.

Kyveli Suites
Open All Year… The bold colors, the oak floors, the ceilings from Swedish fir, the traditional comfortable furniture, abundance of space, traditional balconies in combination with the atmosphere of the center of the old city ensures an unforgettable experience at the fascinating .

Nafplio, 857 Steps Above the Sea

Nafplio, 857 Steps Above the Sea

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In front of the blue Argolic Gulf and under the walls of the Palamidi castle, lies one of the most beautiful towns in Greece. The remains of the Byzantines, Franks, Venetians and Turks make this former Greek capital, unique.

Joy of the eyes

Mansions that combine Venetian and neo-classical elements, narrow alleys filled with flowers, stone-paved squares, traditional taverns and beautiful, small shops, combine to create the charming town of Nafplio. Its trademark is the Palamidi castle, which seems almost unreal when lit at night. You can climb the 857 steps to the castle above the city, to wander among the flowery remains, to find the cell where Kolokotronis was kept. Going down towards the fortress complex of Akronafplia, you can follow the paved road by the sea up to the rock and five canons. After taking photos of the Bourtzi that seems to be floating in the Argolic Gulf, enter the Staikopoulos park and rest at the Xira Gate next to the waterfall. The route is full of sights to see; Armansberg’s house, the Town Hall (in the building of the first state school), the first pharmacy, the first hospital, the first Judicial Hall, Kapodistria’s statue, the Army Academy, the old Parliament, the mosque, and the houses of Kolokotronis and Aggelos Terzakis.

The route followed by the little train towards Proneia, the suburb built by Kapodistrias, is most enjoyable. On the way, the sunny Trion Navarhon and Syntagma squares, amazing buildings designed by Bavarian architects like Ziller, parks, statues, marble tubs, fountains and churches like Agios Georgios and Agios Spyridonas, where Kapodistrias was murdered, become unforgettable images. Later, there must follow a visit to the distinguished museums of the town; the archeological museum, the military museum, the folk museum, the National Gallery and the unique Kompoloi Museum. Our tour is completed with a boat trip towards the Bourtzi or a swim in the waters of Arvanitia, Karathonas and Red Rock.

Earthly enjoyment

In Nafplio it is worth buying an amber komboloi from one of the famous komboloi makers, or a traditional Karagiozis figure. Dine at the same places that Kolokotronis and Kapodistrias ate; the “Palia Taverna” will serve us, as it has done for the last 200 years, fried bread, leek pie, rabbit stifado, lemon seasoned pork, fish spaghetti and local wine. The nostalgic atmosphere of the town is perfectly captured in the “Marianna” hotel and its 250 year old building; a magical view, rooms with stone floors, wooden furniture, metallic beds and careful decoration.

 

 

Greece: Pelion in Autumn

Greece: Pelion in Autumn

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There is no specific time of the year to visit Pelio, as it is amazing all year round. In autumn, however, nature is especially creative with this mountain.

Pelion is where the Olympian Gods took their vacations and where a plethora of Nymphs and Centaurs sought refuge.

Autumn! The senses are awed with nature’s metamorphosis. The rustle of dried leaves, the thousand colors that brighten the scenery, the soft refreshing rain, the smell of damp earth, and the taste of a freshly cut apple. The road I like to travel, in autumn, begins 13 km north of the town of Volos; there, where the houses are spread out amphitheatrically 600 meters above see level, at the “Gate of Pelio,” the village of Portaria.

Every time I visit Portaria, I am swept away by the majestic architecture of the well preserved mansions. Such structures portray the affluence of the village during the 18th and 19th centuries, when silk cultivation and trade bloomed. Apart from walking around the stone-cobbled narrow lanes, visitors can rest in the central square of the village at the traditional coffee houses -“kafeneia”- under the shade of the ancient plane trees.

Tasting spoon sweet preserves, made with the local variety of apple called “phiriki,” can prove to be a very invigorating experience. Sit down at a taverna for a splendid feast with the traditional meat dish called “spetzofai,” a dish made with pork, accompanied by delicacies made with lamb, or others made with intestines or with veal. Be sure to try the typical Greek “fasolada” (i.e. giant beans soup), and homemade savory vegetable or cheese pies, all of which should be accompanied by tsipouro, a very strong, very traditional spirit.

In the main square with the water fountains, stands the metropolitan church of St Nicolas with the embossed Byzantine representations. On the church’s grounds also stands the church of Virgin Mary, a subsidiary to the old monastery of “Virgin Mary of Portareas” (15th century) that gave the village its name. It is worth entering into one of the stone houses, roofed with ceramic tiles, to see the carved ceilings and the antique furniture.

When I have the time, I walk the “Centaurs’ Path” that leads to Hania. The more athletic types will instead climb to the mountain top “Pliasidi,” 1546 meters above sea level. Both paths offer breathtaking views of the valley of Thessaly.

Just 4 km away from Portaria is the beautiful little village of Makrinitsa, often referred to as the “Balcony of Pelio,” as it rests above Pagasitikos Bay. It is a picturesque settlement that has been acclaimed a Cultural Heritage site. Scattered among the chestnut, walnut, oak, and plane trees lie single-story or three story houses, depending on the slope of the ground. The village, that reached great economic growth during Turkish occupation, invites inquisitive natures to explore its stone canon-towers and to admire the wooden, carved ceilings.

Following the narrow lanes uphill, I arrive at the village square that is renowned for the fountain the “Water of Immortality.” Initially the sole source of water for the village, this is today one of the village’s fifty fountains that run continuously. In the shade of the centuries-old plane trees, next to the church of St. George, I drink my coffee in the community kafeneio (traditional coffee house) called “Theophilos,” named from its mural painting by Greek painter Theophilos, a painting that presents the death of local hero Katsandonis. 

A visit to the Folklore Museum that is housed in the Topali Mansion is very interesting. It is a replica of an old mansion, complete with all household items. In each room, there is an exhibition of local dress, books, tools, weapons and tools. Before leaving the village, I usually stop at the little church of St. John the Baptist, a beautiful sample of the local stone architecture.

Traveling downhill from Portaria, one reaches the coast road east of Volos. Apple, pear, apricot, orange, mandarin, and lemon trees surround the village of Ano Lehonia, the place where the old “Moutzouris” begins its trail. Mouzouris is the local steam train that burned coal and carried people and goods between the “hind villages” and Volos for 70 years, beginning in 1895. It has been placed back on track as a tourist attraction, offering a memorable ride to those who decide to travel with it to Milies. Traveling 16 km in thick forest, through tunnels and over stone bridges, is truly a pleasure ride. Though the train was designed by the father of famous painter De Kiriko, the iron bridge and the village’s railway station are also very impressive.

Now, we have arrived at the place that used to be the center for art and culture across Greece- the village of Milies. Like the other villages of the peninsula, Milies will enchant you with its amazing combination of architectural and environmental charm. Moreover, the vast importance that the village once held as a scholarly and art centre is reflected in its great library, one that holds manuscripts and maps from the war period of 1821, along with relics of the School of History founded by scholar Anthimos Gazis. The town is also home to an interesting folklore museum.

Walking around stone-cobbled lanes, one admires the 200-year-old mansions. I like to rest in the square, where the church of Panmegiston Taxiarhon is situated, with its fantastic murals and intricate wood crafting. I like to drink from the water fountains, the most famous one being that of John the Baptist. There, the priest blesses the waters on the Day of the Epiphany, by lowering the cross into its waters, if the weather is too rough to go down to the sea. I enjoy talking with the local street venders, displaying their first apples of the season.

With my arms filled with the abundance of Nature in this blessed place, I bid farewell to autumn with the sweet and sour taste of apples and know in my heart that I will return soon, because Pelio is even more magical when dressed in white.

mediterranean travel guide

Mediterranean travel guide

med-travelFrom the snow-capped Alps in the north to the sun drenched coastal villages of the south, mediterranean unfolds like an ancient tapestry.
Its cooks compose mediterranean dishes from a palette of exotic spices that may leave a lingering taste of aniseed.
At times threadbare and fading, the land stretches from desert dunes and scattered slums to the rich embroidery of ancient, jewelled palaces, and the majestic domes of forgotten empires.
Since the first civilisations rose on the banks mediterranean has given birth to many religions, been touched by the Empire of Alexander the Great,
seen the ancient empires rise and fall, and has traded with Caesars.
Mediterranean is a feast for the senses; where the air is heavy with the scent of jasmine and dancers trail frenetic melodies in colourful silk saris.
In mediterranean cities, the stench of slum living competes with the cacophony of seemingly endless traffic and a myriad of other textures, colours and movements all jostling for your attention.

Red Lentil Soup

Red Lentil Soup

soup-tomato-croutons

The title of this recipe leaves you with the impression that you will be making a soup with lentils just like you are used to th only difference being the red lentils. Well, you are mistaken this soup uses the lentils to thicken and give texture, and is topped with a nice creamy finish.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup red lentils 8 cups meat or vegetable stock 2 middle sized onions diced 2 tbsp butter 1/2 tbsp flour 1 cup milk 3 egg yolks 1 tbsp salt 1/2 tsp black pepper 6 slices of bread cubed 2 tbsp oil a little chopped parsley

Procedure:

  1. Put the lentils in the meat stock and 1 cup of water. Cook for 35-40 minutes until they are tender. 2. Strain and pass them through a sieve mashing them with the back of a spoon. 2. Melt the butter in another saucepan. Add chopped onions and fry them lightly for 7-8 minutes. 3. Add the flour and cook until it goes light brown. 4. Add the flour and onions to the meat stock along with the lentil puree. Add salt and pepper and let simmer until it has become a nice thick texture.  Add water if it is too thick. 5. Beat the egg yolks with cold milk. Add a ladle of the soup to it, mix well and then pour it back into the rest of the soup. Keep mixing and take off the heat. 6. Serve with bread cubes fried in oil and chopped parsley.

Haricot/White Beans Soup in Tomato Sauce – Fasolada

Haricot/White Beans Soup in Tomato Sauce – Fasolada

soupe-fasolada

 

Fasolada (white bean soup), is Greek, is hearth, is filling and warm, is village, is winter, is mother or grandmother, is feeling.
If you want meat in, you may add sliced sausages to the soup to enrich the flavor..

Ingredients:

1 small bag white haricot beans – 500 gr- rinsed and soaked over night.
2 large onions, cut the same size with the beans
3 medium carrots, sliced
1 bunch celery, cut the same size as the beans
2 mature tomatoes grated
1 cup of olive oil
2 lemons mixed with 1/2 tbsp flour

Salt, pepper

Procedure:

1. Wash and boil the beans in plenty of water for 15 minutes skimming off any froth rising. Add oil, onions, carrots and celery and tomatoes.

2. When half-cooked, mix in salt and pepper and continue to boil stirring occasionally.

3. When the meal is cooked, add 1/2 teaspoon of flour to the juice from 2 lemons and pour it into the soup. Let for 5 minutes and serve.