Aloura (So in Italy), Vale (okay in Spain) Now Greece and how can one say the submissive gesture that says "don't worry?"
I did get to Paros despite a cancelled flight and knew I'd leave there eventually despite another cancelled flight. And in the inbetween time spent at Maria's Village in Aliki--a nice new cottage just 100 yards from the Sea, then time at Eddy's cooking school on the nearby mountain, who knew how much fun and learning would go on?
My sister, Joanie, was waiting to greet me when the plane landed on Paros. It didn't take long to get settled in and walk "into town" to enjoy a really find Greek meal of Tsatiki and sausage. Walking on the beach and through the small town (think Riverside or Encampment), and just enjoying being together; later enjoying a bottle of the local red wine and supper of boiled sting ray, grilled swordfish, pork steak and the usual Greek salad.
After breakfast on Friday morning we were met by Eddy, the chef/teacher of our Greek cooking experience. In the environs of a 250 year old (barely renovated) farm house, we learned cooking from a Dutch computer engineer, who believes he has a Greek heart. Specializing in how "they" did it in the old days when the farm was new, he is transforming the house and barns and teaching everyone (even Greeks) how life was lived.
So it was that cooking on small marble slabs heated by very low heat on gas burners, he simulates the ovens of old bakeries. We made 11 different recipes to make a full lunch for 5 and a dinner for 9 during our 12 hours with Eddy. We split the timebetween active chopping, slicing, mixing, sniffing and tasting with tours of his ouzo distillery, the nearby monastery, the goat farm and with rest on the patio sipping wine, listening to Greek music and relaxing.
And when it was all over for the day we had made Tzatziki, Scordalia, Keftedes Courgettes, Briam, Papousakia, Keftedes, Stifado, Marouli, Rice and Horta. It was a wonderful non-stressful time following Eddy's method of Greek cooking in which there can be no panic. It's all fun and enjoyable. I'm still amazed at what we accomplished on less than 2 square feet of counter space with 3 frying pans, 1 dutch oven, 1 sauce pan and 3 marble slabs on a primitive gas stove. Joanie compared it to cooking in a sheep wagon.
The following morning we caught the ferry to Athens as our flight had been cancelled with no provision for our return. The 4 hours on the top deck, soaking up the Greek sun was most relaxing. So who can worry?
In Athens we quickly checked into our hotel before heading to the new Museum of the Acropolis. It's built over ancient ruins and in places, one walks on glass floors in order to look below at some of the seven layers of the excavated city. Unfortunately, the Acropolis was closed for the night so we weren't able to "summit" it.
We joined a tour group Saturday to tour the Pelopynesian Penisula. Our guide was an amazing teacher who easily kept our interes as he introduced us to Greece from the Bronze Age on. Myths, legends, history all came alive as we went from place to place. I particularly enjoyed his insights about how to "read" a frieze and how sculpture changed through the ages.
Spending one morning in ancient Olympia was a real treat. It is amazing that the ancient games were held for nearly 1000 years beginning in 776 BC; during that time only 22 cheaters broke the stringent rules for competition. Their punishment included having their names, the names of their fathers, the cities they represented and the nature of their infringement etched on marble and placed near the entrance to the stadium. Their shame was so great most committed suicide. A big difference from now with some of our heroic athletes.
While there we watched the rehearsal for the lighting of the Olympic Torch which takes places next week in preparation for the Winter Games in Calgary. Runners will carry the torch to Athens where it will be flown to eastern Canada where runners chosen by lot will carry it across the continent in the following weeks.
Touring with a group has been loads of un as we conversed on the bus and shared meals together in the evening. I thought my trip was significant until visiting with several who have been "on the road" from 7 weeks to 8 months. Those Aussies really know how to travel.
This morning we spent touring the ancient site of the Temples of Athena and Apollo where the oracle of Delphi is located. It is an amazing site where mountains, rivers, groves and the sea all converge. It is easy to see why it has been considered a holy spot since antiquity. Consulting the oracle leads me to believe that this will be my last post on this side of the Atlantic. We fly back tomorrow morning. Since I am unable to upload photos at this place, I will try to blog soon with some photos of the some of the amazing things we tasted and saw.